You Can’t Judge a Dog by It’s Color

5 Aug

Someone at work today sent out an email to the entire company trying to find a home for his 9 month old Black lab because it has too much energy. After working with and around dogs for as long as I have, it still surprises me when people pick the breeds they do to become part of their lives. Picking a dog should be like the TV game show “Dating in the Dark” – where you have to get to know the person before you see him/her.  It’s the same thing with dogs. People pick dogs because they like the way they look – and that is the absolute last reason you should select a certain breed. If you have done your homework and research on dog breeds, traits and characteristics and have narrowed your choice down to a few – then you can pick on looks from those finalists.

Terriers aren't the best herders - hence the muzzle

I have well-behaved, trainable, happy healthy dogs for a reason. Besides great nutrition and wellcare, I satisfy the mental and physical requirements of all of my dogs, pretty much every day. It’s not always easy but I knew what I was getting into with each breed. And there is  a reason my latest addition is a Japanese Chin from the Toy Group.

If you do your research about Labs you will find that they “were initially used in work alongside fisherman,  helping to pull in nets and catch fish that escaped from fishing lines”. Those skills, strength and stamina were bred into Labs for generations. The dogs that could work the hardest and the longest passed on their genes. So then where does that leave the Lab that is the family pet in the house all day? The dog that gets to see the family for an hour in the morning before everyone leaves for the day, maybe gets a walk around the block at night, then sits around with the family and watches TV. The skills, strength and stamina of the fishing dog are still in there – and those physical and mental needs still need to be met. They might be met with an aware owner with clicker training, jogging, daycare, games, dog diving, hiking, agility etc. And if not, the restless Lab will find a way to meet them. This usually is in the form of chewing, digging, barking, and whatever else he can do to release some energy.

Most dogs can’t be happy in their own skin and turn be the fabulous family pet you have always wanted unless their mental/social/physical needs are met first. The intensity of those needs goes hand in hand with what they were bred to do.

If you want a mellow dog to hang out with the family, don’t get one that has been bred to herd sheep for 10 hours a day. If you want a jogging partner, make sure the breed (or mix of breeds) you select wasn’t genetically refined to sit on laps and snooze.

If you are considering adopting a dog – the same rules apply. Do your breed research first.  Instead of walking through the shelter looking for a brown fluffy dog like the dog in the latest movie – be asking for any Poodle mixes (or whatever breed you decide most matches your commitment level) Like dating, there should be someone or some dog out there for everyone. And remember in the dating world how much going just on looks can get you into big trouble!

No herding required

Here are some “general” guidelines when picking the perfect dog breed for you:

The Sporting Group:

Naturally active and alert, Sporting dogs make likeable, well-rounded companions. Many of these breeds actively continue to participate in hunting and other field activities. Potential owners of Sporting dogs need to realize that most require regular, invigorating exercise

NOTE- Invigorating exercise doesn’t mean a walk around the block on leash…

The Hound Group:

Most hounds share the common ancestral trait of being used for hunting. Some use acute scenting powers to follow a trail. Others demonstrate a phenomenal gift of stamina* as they relentlessly run down quarry.  Some hounds share the distinct ability to produce a unique sound known as baying. You’d best sample this sound before you decide to get a hound of your own to be sure it’s your cup of tea.

NOTE- Phenomenal gift of stamina. What would that look like after being inside all day when you were at work?

The Working Group:

Bred to perform such jobs as guarding property, pulling sleds and performing water rescues. Quick to learn, these intelligent, capable animals make solid companions. Their considerable dimensions and strength alone, however, make many working dogs unsuitable as pets for average families.

NOTE – Not the best for the first time owner

The Terrier Group: These are feisty, energetic dogs who typically have little tolerance for other animals, including other dogs. Their ancestors were bred to hunt and kill vermin. Many continue to project the attitude that they’re always eager for a spirited argument.

NOTE – Terriers are my favorite 🙂

The Toy Group: The diminutive size and winsome expressions of Toy dogs illustrate the main function of this Group: to embody sheer delight. Toy dogs will always be popular with city dwellers and people without much living space. They make ideal apartment dogs and terrific lap warmers on nippy nights.

NOTE: After having 2 Jack Russels, I am LOVING my Japanese Chin from the Toy Group!

Terrier Beach Fun. We would drive 6 hours to Saint Simons so she could play

There are more groups and more dogs besides what I mention above.  Please use AKC.org like I did as a research tool when selecting the best dog for you.  Research, read, and talk to other owners who own the breed you are interested in.  Onofrio.com lists upcoming shows around the county where you can see the breeds in person. If you are considering a mixed breed do you general research anyway to again allow you to make an informed decision. Remember – unless you can give your new canine companion the mental and physical stimulation levels it needs on a daily basis – you will have a hard time finding harmony with your hound.

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