While I’m an advocate for adopting mutts, I realize that purebred dogs have their appeal and purpose. In my book, It’s a Dog’s Life … but It’s Your Carpet, I talk about what dog breed is best for you.
While there are numerous "what kind of dog am I?" tests out there on the Internet, don’t believe the hype ("You’re tall, skinny, and blonde. You like pink skirts, fake tans, Gucci purses, and have pink bows in your hair. You are an Afghan."). Having sampled a few of these Internet "what breed I am?" tests, I’ve found I’m either a Bassett Hound or a Boxer. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not even close to a laid back Bassett — I’m more like a hyper, athletic, OCD-ADD Jack Russell terrier. Personally, I liked being a Boxer much more … but one great thing about online tests is that you can take them to your heart’s desire until you get the answers you want.
So, don’t use Internet quizzes to pick your life-long, four-legged companions. If you’re debating about what type of dog to get, make sure to do your research. Check out reputable sources (such as the American Kennel Club). Talk to your veterinarian. More importantly, talk to people who actually own the breed. Finally, make sure you’re aware of what inherited problems that breed of dog may be predisposed to — like hip dysplasia, heart murmurs, cancer, etc. — and their average life-span. Want a Great Dane? Are you OK with it only living for 5-7 years?
Start by determining which overarching category of dog breed is best for you: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding…
In today’s blog, we’ll talk about sporting, hound, and working dogs.
Sporting breeds include the retrievers, spaniels, pointers, and setters. These dogs are, in general, hyperactive. They are extremely curious, active, likeable dogs who are well-rounded. These breeds are used for hunting or field activities in the woods and water, and require ample exercise and field access. If you don’t have time to run, play, fetch, Frisbee, or hunt with these guys, this may not be the dog for you. This group goes well with active, outdoorsy, hunting types, renaissance revivalists, and runners. (This type of dog is typically found in the back of a Subaru.)
The hound breeds vary from giant Irish Wolfhounds to Dachshunds, Norwegian elkhounds, beagles, and Afghans. They used to be used for hunting, and may have a very strong scenting ability — in other words, you may never be able to take a beagle off the leash because of his strong drive to chase a particularly odorous squirrel. Some of these hounds may also produce an unusual "bark" known as a baying. You may think this is cute at first, but you (and your neighbors) will need to get used to hearing it constantly. (This is the sound that drove even Elvis to complain). That said, hound dogs are extremely loyal, affectionate, and generally low-maintenance. Because there is so much variety within this breed, consult with breeders or experienced hound owners first. And invest in a good set of earplugs.
Working breeds do it all: Some are active guard dogs, police dogs or sled dogs, although many of these breeds have evolved into more recent couch potatoes. Some examples include the St. Bernard, Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler, mastiff, Siberian husky, and Great Dane. Because of their massive size, strength, and possibly aggressive nature, I’m not usually an advocate of these dogs for families in small homes with young children. Working breeds may get out of hand just based on their size alone (imagine Pluto stepping on Junior’s face), and therefore should be appropriately trained.
Of course, as we dog owners are all aware, we each have our individual breed bias (me, I’m a pit bull fan!).
Have any buyer’s remorse for your breed of dog?
Dr. Justine Lee