Changing the actions, aptitudes and attitudes of dogs and their people
What Breed Should I Get?
Question that arrived via email: I read your article on How to Choose the Right Breed: Work Drive vs. Biddability. I just adopted a dog from a shelter, thinking it was a cattle dog mix, but he seems really more of a terrier type. If I had to guess it would be cattle dog / Basenji / bull terrier or other terrier. Here's the lifestyle I wanted for myself and my dog: - no separation anxiety while I'm at work for 4 hours at a time- able to hike with me off leash in the mountains where I live and stay within 50 feet or so- able to travel with me to cities and be OK on leash in situations where there are other dogs around and maybe a lot of people- medium size (40 - 50 lbs). I've only had this dog for a month. When we are outdoors in the woods (where it's safe), his natural inclination is to run very fast and chase things and go out of my sight. He stays within a certain range of me and checks in with me but he is not right near me, as I had hoped. I don't want tokeep him on a leash, for both our sakes. He needs to burn off energy and I need to be able to walk and hike freely. I was looking for a cattle dog thinking they stay close because they like to herd. And I thought he was more cattle dog than he seems to be. What breed should I have gotten? My Answer:All of your criteria for your "desired dog" are rooted in TRAINING, not breed type. No breed is born with "separation anxiety". People create that with poor management, insufficient socialization and/or lack of training. No breed will stay within 50 feet of you during a hike because of its breed, exclusively. That comes with proper management, socialization and training. Some breeds are much easier to teach to stick with their handler. The dogs that rate high on biddability (desire to please) are more apt to do so - but, even members of those breeds can choose to race off if they are not trained properly or have an up-side-down relationship with their owner. That can be resolved through proper socialization and training. All breeds should be trainable to a level to be able to travel and walk with a handler on a leash in the presence of distractions. If you go to a Dog Show, where they present nearly every type of breed, the dogs are properly social to be around hundreds of other dogs, on a loose lead, and they had to travel to get to the show. So, even the breeds that are known to have more powerful personalities should be able to accomplish this goal. Good breeders do it all the time. We rehabilitate anti-social dogs of all breeds, whether it has "separation anxiety", doesn't like to travel or is aggressive with other dogs. It's all about TRAINING, not the breed. Mixes of "breeds" do not necessarily represent the written breed standard / description of the purebred dogs from which they are derived. In fact, it is my greatest pet peeve when someone says, "I have a Golden Retriever....." and they go on to explain the problem they are having. I am assessing their words with the understanding that they have a Golden Retriever (and all that a Golden Retriever is). Then, 3/4 of the way into the conversation I am told it's a mix and maybe it doesn't have any Golden Retriever in it. People who do not recognize that breeds were created over hundreds of years to have specific type might think that it's no big deal to lump all dogs into the same category - but, that's just not reasonable. Do not rely on Shelter personnel to determine breed (even pure bred dogs) and don't assume anything regarding a "mix". Shelter folks are trying to place dogs and they may describe a dog as a mix of a more popular / desirable breed to make a placement. I think that happens quite often. You can't use the article I wrote to assess generalities of mixed breed dogs. If you want to use my evaluation of breeds, you will be best served to identify a purebred and seek a highly reputable breed from which to acquire it.You might also consider the following, as a place to start:Personality vs. Behavior