Editorial March 2016 Issue

Favorite Dog Breeds: Everyone Has One

Oh yeah, I'm going there.

It finally hit me: I’m now a pit bull owner. I’ve never been able to say those words before. When my son heard the news, he called – from work! – to ask how I was, was I okay? A sensitive young man and a dog lover himself, he knows I’ve been fighting off some lingering sorrow over the numerous sad events in my life in 2015 by indulging in perhaps too much fostering. But he also knows that the bully breeds have never been my favorite, and he must have worried that my judgment has been compromised by depression.

Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns

Is it shocking to hear the editor of a dog magazine say she doesn’t particularly like bully breeds? I could go farther: I’m not a fan of Boxers, Mastiffs, or Bull Terriers. I tend not to enjoy terriers of any kind. Yorkshire Terriers, ack! When I was a young adult, my parents had some that I honestly loathed, and they sort of ruined the breed for me.

That’s not all! I actively avoid the company of dogs who have so much hunting instinct that hunting is all they want to do outdoors. I like to be able to walk with a dog and relax, for crying out loud! I don’t like having to be vigilant every step of the way, or to have to keep a dog on leash on every walk, lest she run so far after game that she disappears (for any length of time) or threatens to harass or murder some other animal. I have so many friends who have German Wire-Haired Pointers, and I can’t say I’ve ever liked a single one of them.

While I admire the work that some of the German Shepherd-type dogs do (GSDs themselves, as well as the Malinois, Tervuren, et. al.), I wouldn’t want to live with one. I love Border Collies but for what specific reason I cannot say, I tend to dislike Aussies.

That’s just off the top of my head. Who haven’t I alienated yet?

If I have alienated you, I have to ask: Can you honestly say you love all breeds equally? You’d be just as happy with a pack of Chihuahuas as you would be with a Great Dane? You could give your heart to a Great Pyrenees as easily as a Chinese Crested?

I don’t think it’s disrespectful or insulting to admit that you have favorite breed types, as long as you respect the fact that other people have favorites (and most-disliked breeds), too. Especially if you are open to the possibility that there may well be individuals among the breeds you say you don’t like that you could absolutely love.

Maybe this is all just rationalization, because that’s what’s happened to me: I fell hard for an individual of the most maligned not-breed, the most feared and misidentified type of dog in this country, the dog that is over-represented in every open-admission shelter in the country, the pit bull terrier-mix.

But I haven’t undertaken this adoption lightly. I happen to believe that the owners of this type of dog – and all large, powerful dogs – need to be willing to take more than the average amount of responsibility for the socialization, training, management, and utter control of their dogs. When someone neglects the training or socialization of a cute little poodle-mix, and the poorly behaved, fearful dog ends up in a shelter, the odds are usually pretty good he’ll get a second chance at a nice home. That’s just not true for anything that looks like a “pittie.” Pity. There are countless reasons for this, some valid, some pure fiction, but it’s true: this type of dog has cultural baggage.

My hound foster is a master of door-darting, and we’ve been working daily on “wait” at the door. But she caught me being inattentive the other day and darted out the front door just in time to accost a woman walking a Chihuahua. Yes, I became that person. “She’s friendly!” I cried as I raced after the hound, but the lady wasn’t the slightest bit alarmed; she smiled at the hound’s bouncing around and goofy goodwill. That won’t be true if my pit-mix does the exact same thing – so I will be doing everything possible to make sure it just doesn’t happen.

Comments (5)

The first 16 years of my life was spent pleading for a french poodle. My cousins all had poodles. My first dog was a mini schnauzer rescue. I've had an aussie-lab mix,2 Samoyeds ,a Bearded collie, a Mastiff pit bull mix 2 Cocker Spaniels and now a 1/2 Yorkie,3/8's Poodle and 1/8 Pomeranian.Love them all.

Posted by: NWnudge | March 29, 2016 12:55 PM    Report this comment

As the Mama of 2 tiny chi's & an 80 lb pit/border collie mix, I SO identify w/ this article. The funny thing is....my pit LOVES tiny dogs & small humans, my chi's....not so much! 😏

Posted by: ChiMama | March 7, 2016 4:32 PM    Report this comment

I totally identified with this! I have a Weimaraner, I love her but not a breed I would not get again and an Aussie that I adore. I really love the herding breeds, but I am Nancy in reverse, I am not crazy about Border Collies. My friend LOVES pitties and while I like them, I don't want one. My fiance wanted a Jack Russell puppy, I nixed that as well!
Love WDJ!!

Posted by: KimmiJo | February 25, 2016 8:12 AM    Report this comment

At the smaller end of the spectrum, I can't seem to quit collecting miniature schnauzers...but I really dislike labrador tails. With a labrador around, you can't set anything on shelves that are tail-height, 'cause it'll surely be wagged away and broken. The schnauzers can be a little yappy, but they have sooo much personality and devotion!

Posted by: MCBrom | February 21, 2016 4:27 PM    Report this comment

Isn't life with dogs grand? I 'mom' an Aussie, not a breed I would EVER have considered appropriate for my age, lifestyle, energy levels, etc. Also not a typical Aus - moderate energy level, low herding drive, attentive but not velcro... A perfect fit.
Your comments on responsible dog ownership are right on target. Irresponsible humans turn dogs into unwanted baggage. What a shame!
Blog on...

Posted by: Buddy's mom | February 18, 2016 12:16 PM    Report this comment

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