Whole Dog Journal's Blog October 12, 2015

Research the Breed!

Posted at 08:38AM - Comments: (13)

Why do people get certain types of dogs, dogs who were bred to have very strong behavioral tendencies, and then try everything they can to discourage those behaviors?

I'm talking about people who want a small dog but hate barking, German Shepherd Dog lovers who despair of their dog's predatory urges, and fans of Vizslas or Weimaraners who don't have time to run their dogs enough to make them tired. I'm talking about hound owners who go bananas when their dogs bay, and Australian Shepherd owners who hire trainers to try to make sure their dogs don't try to herd or nip the neighbor's active, outdoor children.

When you are considering getting a purebred dog, make sure you aren't falling for just a certain appearance or coat, without also being ready to embrace the behaviors that the coat usually covers.

And when you adopt a dog of unknown parentage, one that strongly resembles a certain breed, take the time to research those breeds, even if there isn't any guarantee that the dog is for sure descended from that lineage.

It's unfair to adopt a dog whose very cells are calling out do perform certain behaviors - as in sighthounds, herding breeds, protection dogs - and then punish or eliminate all of those behaviors.

Don't forget to research the health problems that commonly affect the breed of dog that you are considering. You shouldn't be surprised when that Golden or Flat-Coated Retriever gets stricken with cancer at age 3, or that Boxer is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.

Comments (13)

I recently adopted a Scottie from a rescue. This is her 3rd home. It seems she didn't fit in the homes she was in--probably too much Scottie personality! She is beautiful, and probably was adopted because of her looks. As a result of who she is, she didn't fit, and because of lack of socialization, she has some problems with other dogs. I love Scotties and she has quickly settled in and become trusting and happy. She had to learn to accept the other dog here even though it took some time and patience on everyone's part. But now they accept each other even though they are not best friends. We still have some training to do to overcome the dog aggression, but there is plenty of time for that. Love, understanding and patience will do it. Meanwhile she is loved because of who she is.

Posted by: maisie | November 17, 2015 3:14 PM    Report this comment

In response to Chi Mum's comments, her point is well-taken that not all purebreds conform to their stereotypical behavior traits. This is certainly true, which any breeder of purebreds can confirm. This is why one should evaluate the individual dog's temperament before picking out a puppy or adult dog of any breed or mix. A good breeder wants a puppy buyer to be happy with their choice and also wants the puppy to have a permanent home, so the breeder will usually try to pair a potential owner with the right individual based on questions answered about what that person or family wants in a companion. Many breeders won't even sell to someone they believe is not a good match for the breed they have. Of course, when obtaining a dog from a shelter or rescue group, they are just happy to find any home for their dogs, and so mismatches do happen. To their credit though, some rescue groups do try very hard to match up the right dogs to the people who want to adopt from them, and even require that the dogs return to them if the adopter doesn't want or cannot keep the dog anymore. Despite the stereotypical descriptions of the various dog breeds that appear in books on "which dog is right for you", a potential buyer/adopter should actually meet with the dog that interests them and look for one that displays the temperament that would suit their lifestyle. With a mix, this is all anyone can do, as there is really no telling what to expect, even if it is described as part this and part that.

Posted by: Diana in Md | October 26, 2015 9:36 AM    Report this comment

I posted this comment below and got no advice it was being moderated so I should wait for it to appear, and it hasn't posted so trying again - sorry if it's a repeat!

Very disappointed to see this comment: "people who want a small dog but hate barking". I would've expected better of WDJ, surely the author knows it's a myth that all small dogs are barkers, or as some call it 'yappy'?! They're no more prone to being 'natural' barkers than any other size of dog. And the main reason there are barking issues with some small dogs is the fault of not the dog but the human owners - coddling the small dog and not training even the basics (sit, stay, come) which leads to an undisciplined dog, and the excessive coddling leads to them being overly possessive and protective of their owner resulting in territorial barking. Often smaller dogs are not walked either (the ignorant excuse being they're small and don't need any more exercise than running around the house) and this lack of socialisation makes the world a scary place when they do venture out, resulting in barking at people and other dogs for example. I've had many dogs - some of the big ones barked, some of the small ones barked, but there was no way the small dogs were always more likely to be barkers than the bigger dogs. I have a tiny Chihuahua and she rarely barks - not even when someone knocks at the door. A previous Pomeranian cross was very quiet also. Most of my neighbours currently have large dogs and they're always barking! By perpetuating this myth that people who hate barking should not get a small dog this article does a great disservice to all small dogs out there, and unless the author can provide scientific research etc proving small dogs are overwhelmingly likely to bark (as the sentence implies) I believe you should remove that sentence from this article. I'd hate to think of people bypassing my gorgeous little Chi in a shelter because they'd assume she'd be a barker!

Posted by: Chi Mum | October 14, 2015 7:50 PM    Report this comment

Very disappointed to see this comment: "people who want a small dog but hate barking". I would've expected better of WDJ, surely the author knows it's a myth that all small dogs are barkers, or as some call it 'yappy'?! They're no more prone to being 'natural' barkers than any other size of dog. And the main reason there are barking issues with some small dogs is the fault of not the dog but the human owners - coddling the small dog and not training even the basics (sit, stay, come) which leads to an undisciplined dog, and the excessive coddling leads to them being overly possessive and protective of their owner resulting in territorial barking. Often smaller dogs are not walked either (the ignorant excuse being they're small and don't need any more exercise than running around the house) and this lack of socialisation makes the world a scary place when they do venture out, resulting in barking at people and other dogs for example. I've had many dogs - some of the big ones barked, some of the small ones barked, but there was no way the small dogs were always more likely to be barkers than the bigger dogs. I have a tiny Chihuahua and she rarely barks - not even when someone knocks at the door. A previous Pomeranian cross was very quiet also. Most of my neighbours currently have large dogs and they're always barking! By perpetuating this myth that people who hate barking should not get a small dog this article does a great disservice to all small dogs out there, and unless the author can provide scientific research etc proving small dogs are overwhelmingly likely to bark (as the sentence implies) I believe you should remove that sentence from this article. I'd hate to think of people bypassing my gorgeous little Chi in a shelter because they'd assume she'd be a barker!

Posted by: Chi Mum | October 14, 2015 7:45 PM    Report this comment

Great advice. As one who got incredibly fortunate with an (unwanted) Aussie who turned out to be really smart but almost totally lacking in herding drive, I won't push my luck again. He's perfect because he goes against some of the usual breed temperament, and no one can expect to get that lucky twice. Too many 'love at first sight' mismatches out there already...

Posted by: Buddy's mom | October 14, 2015 6:21 PM    Report this comment

Agree with the cautions in this article. As for training, I don't believe in training out a breed's natural instincts, but I do believe in some civilizing. Wanted a smart dog for personal protection. Lord help me, I got a Malinois puppy. Smart, exceptionally, ( the dog!) but I quickly knew I was in over my head. I tried several unsatisfactory training situations; tried to donate her to the local pd' s K-9 unit. They refused. The man who came out to evaluate her said that I just needed to get through the "teen" months & recommended a trainer who had a Mal of his own. In my learning to accommodate to HER needs, this dog changed my life--much for the better. At 2 yrs, she's my dream dog. She certainly protects, "minds" when it's a safety issue, & clearly is the most intelligent household member. My message: if you need a trainer, certainly get one, but find one who knows the breed and who will work toward giving YOU the confidence to train your dog appropriately. PS: I lost 20 lbs the first 6 months I had her & have kept it off. This breed needs lots of excercise!

Posted by: Stella's Mom | October 14, 2015 8:41 AM    Report this comment

Somehow or other my comments on this article went into unknown cyber space before I could finish my first sentence. Bravo for this, unfortunately most of the people who read this are already responsible pet owners and as an adult, I instinctively knew that I couldn't get my first dog until I stopped moving around so much and had a nice stable home near walking and water. When I did I knew that children might be in the future too. I really researched breeds, because I wanted a bread that I like and that was gentle with children. Also an animal that would welcome an addition to the family. A no brainer after studying was a golden retriever from a reputable breeder. I never had children, but I had 4 golden retrievers and I also fostered many of them. My dog days were over when I lost my home and had RA, but my neighbor was going to put her son's chocolate lab in the local no kill shelter and she knew I loved him and gave me some time, before I made up my mind for his sake, didn't they need to run 20 miles a day. Not this one, after nurturing him through his grief and loss of family and also helping him heal his leg, which was a torn acl, he is great at 1-3 miles, and a bit of a couch potato. We are best friends, but I feel terrible when I have a flare and can't walk him very far and no one else can handle him. Luckily we are moving to a ten acre farm with 2 other dogs and a cat, all rescues and he'll have a big family again. Thanks for your articles, but how can we stop people who buy the latest fad for a dog and quickly tire of it and trade it in for another "trendy" model. I don't get it and wouldn't allow it if I was a breeder or a shelter. Maybe records could be kept? Any ideas?

Posted by: Karenpowers1957 | October 13, 2015 9:30 PM    Report this comment

Too much press and public pressure is devoted to dog training. Where does it stop?

This assumes adopters know the breed. I fell in love with a tiny puppy, 9 wks old, at a PAWS festival. I knew she was small and long coated. They told me the owner said she was a "something terrier". As her coat grew over the next two years, I found out that she was a Tibetan Terrier--a perfect type and gorgeous. I didn't know the breed had a sentry heritage, often doesn't like other dogs, often should be an only dog. I love her and accept her as a boundary barker and a dog reactor. Fortunately she loves and accepts the other household dogs. But, people act like and assume that she needs to be trained to ignore our perimeter and be friendly and eager with other dogs. Training is far overrated, and she has a right to be a TT. Tell everyone to stop glaring at us and keep a distance.

Posted by: Lambchop | October 13, 2015 3:51 PM    Report this comment

The Sheltie comments reminded me of a young man I used to see when walking my dogs. He was on a bicycle with a Sheltie on a leash. I thought, "that poor dog has to run so fast to keep up." One day he was having bicycle issues and they were stopped. We chatted and during that conversation he told me that he had to pedal as fast as he could to keep up with the dog! Beautiful dogs, but I knew immediately that was a breed I should never consider.

Posted by: MJC | October 13, 2015 12:54 PM    Report this comment

This is in reply to Sheltie rescue comment. Lots of Shelties here get de-barked! A breeder does it (?), and the Sheltie agility dogs have a bark that you'd expect to hear from a throat cancer patient. So sad. My mutt has Sheltie in her and loves to bark, yet we found a way to let her bark when she needs to, then calm her down.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | October 13, 2015 12:25 PM    Report this comment

Our beautiful red and white Border Collie was picked up by Animal Control when he was one-year old and never claimed by his owners. This, we learned, is all too common with active dogs who have grown out of the cute puppy stage. Nearly six, now, he is calming down and probably reaching the activity level his original owners could have "handled." Fortunately their loss is our gain - understanding Border Collies, we have been able to give Gabe the home he was meant to have.

Posted by: Robin Chaffey | October 13, 2015 10:41 AM    Report this comment

We're in Sheltie rescue, and we are faced with this over and over. Shelties are beautiful dogs, and they're also herders and barkers and need lots of exercise. Too many folks come to us with their "shopping list" of dog traits they want, most of which are not Sheltie traits - things like: couch potato, cuddler, loves children (many Shelties do NOT), doesn't need much grooming (believe it or not!), never barks, can stay at home alone for 12 hours at a stretch. I could go on and on. Great advice in this article. I hope that your readers will pass it on to a wide audience. Thanks for all your excellent advice.

Posted by: MHeisel | October 13, 2015 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Great article with helpful information. Encourages owners to "look before they leap" into falling in love with a lovable face without researching the breed for their special talents which they may not appreciate once the dog enters their home. Owners are finally forced to understand the breed's special behaviors which may not be what they wanted. Who ends up paying the price for poor spontaneous decisions--the dog.

Posted by: Genie | October 13, 2015 8:22 AM    Report this comment

New to Whole Dog Journal? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In