As I write this, I have the live UStream feed of the Westminster Dog Show open in another window on my computer. Right now, the English Bulldogs are on the floor. Not my favorite breed from a veterinary perspective (any breed that has lost the ability to give birth on its own has some serious issues), but I have to admit the individuals on display are certainly handsome.
In the spirit of Westminster, I thought I’d throw out this question: "What are your favorite and least-favorite breeds and why?" From the offset, let’s all just agree that these types of opinions are usually based on limited information (e.g., a favorite childhood dog) or gross generalizations. Fantastic and less than fantastic individuals can be found in every group.
That said, I’ll start us off. I’m going to take the point of view of which breeds elicit the biggest grin or cringe when I see them on an appointment schedule. I’m not talking health issues here, just which breeds I enjoy interacting with the most or least. For simplicity’s sake, I’m excluding mixed breeds, even though they tend to be high on my "favorites" list.
Favorite: Boston Terrier
With one notable exception that was verging on evil, all of my Boston patients have been exceptionally sweet and charming. I adore their devil may care, come what may outlook on life. They are the perfect size to hold in your arms for a snuggle or a kiss, and they are willing to accommodate even when they know perfectly well that I have something unpleasant, like vaccines, in store for them.
Most Bostons seem to be able to balance a terrier’s tenacity and intelligence, which makes some other breeds more difficult to handle, with a big dose of kindheartedness. And that face … I can’t help smiling when they tilt their head just so and stare lovingly out at the world with their chocolate brown eyes.
Least Favorite: German Shepherds
In an attempt to fend off attacks from German shepherd folks, let me reiterate: I know there are perfectly lovely shepherds out there; I’ve met some of them. I just have trouble reading a shepherd’s intentions. I’ve dealt with a number of aggressive German shepherds in my career, and they tend to be sneaky about it. Maybe it’s just me, but in the exam room shepherds all seem to be exuding "It’s cool, come a little closer" vibes. The good ones mean, "Come a little closer so you can rub my belly"; the not-so-good ones want you closer for more nefarious reasons.
Other breeds, Rottweilers and Pit-types come to mind, are perfectly straightforward when they are unhappy with what I’m doing. They look me in the eye, raise a lip, and say, "Grrrrr, you might want to reconsider." I respond with a "Thank you very much for the warning," and change my approach. Since I don’t expect similar warnings from German shepherds, I can’t help but get a little nervous when I’m around one I don’t know well, which surely doesn’t help the situation.
What’s your take on the best and worst breeds out there?
Dr. Jennifer Coates