So often, I have clients choosing dogs based on the popularity of the breed or because they "met a really nice one." Rather than giving thought to where they live, how they live, and how much time (and money) they have to spend on training, coat care, vet services, etc. And then there are the clients who choose a dog breed based on appearance alone without any thought to what the dog was bred to do. Don't get me wrong, I love the soft coat, 40 lb body size, and beautiful brain of a Border Collie as much as anyone else. They are not, however, the best choice if you are frail, inactive, work 14 hour days, or have an aversion to exercise. Border Collies that don't get enough mental and physical stimulation every single day are difficult to live with. And, yet, I've had clients choose this breed because they are "so cute and so smart" without any idea of how they will challenge that dog for the next 15 years. Same goes for the clients who love Beagles, but have given little thought to the fact that they howl and bay to communicate, often have poor recall because their noses get the better of them, and can escape any enclosure you attempt to confine them in. Again, I love Beagles. They are a great size, have a low maintenance coat, and usually love kids. However, if digging, barking, and running off are a problem for you, then this isn't your breed. Border Collies are herding dogs and Beagles are scent hounds. Knowing whether you can live with the traits inherent to those classifications is key and simply must take precedence over outward appearance, popularity, or the fact that you met one once that stole your heart.
Finally, there is the client with the Dachshund who has complained that he doesn't have any stamina when she runs with him. If she wanted a running partner, she should have chosen a dog with longer legs! Dachshunds are scent hounds whose bodies are designed for digging and tunneling after badgers, rabbits, etc. They are not built for long distance running. Same goes for the client in Arizona with the English Bulldog. She complained that she had to keep the A/C on all the time just for him and it was costing her a fortune. Umm. English Bulldogs are brachycephalic. They have difficulty breathing in weather extremes. While Bulldogs like to lay in the sunshine, they overheat and will seek out a cool place. She lives in an area of Arizona that is routinely in the triple digits. That may not have been the best place to retire with her Bully.
Why am I telling you all of this? I guess because it isn't just the general public (or ill-informed CNN correspondents!) who don't understand the importance of the different dog breeds, why they look the way they do, and what they were bred for. Even dog lovers can get caught up in the hoopla and lose sight when trying to find the right canine companion for their living situation.
As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, (or you want to talk about dog breeds!), you know where to find me.
Ozzie is a Collie which means he is a herding dog.
This is him waiting for his turn to go in the pen and round up some sheep.
Collies live for that!