What are the best dog breeds to own?
Breed all about it!
The discussion about what are the best dog breeds to own brings up a wide variety of views. Almost everyone has an opinion, and of course as a dog behaviorist I always find it fascinating to hear about everyone’s different experiences with the various dog breeds. There is one point that is confirmed through every conversation I have though; no dog is ever the same. So where does the breed come into it?
I know some people won’t agree with me – it is generally thought that each breed of dog has a certain temperament and that’s that. But I see different breeds of dogs just like a race of people; within each culture you have a whole spectrum of personalities, from happy people to excitable people, to quiet and grumpy people. And having done the job I’ve done for so long, I have seen every type of personality within every single breed.
I often find a family that, for example, has one Husky, then decides to get another because they love the breed. So they introduce a second and are amazed that the dog is completely different. Which is obviously frustrating for the owner, but it isn’t unfair or bad luck, the reality is that no two Huskies are actually the same.
What’s in the box?
Within a litter of puppies it is pretty much accepted that you will have a dominant puppy, a submissive puppy, a clown and perhaps a thinker. That litter of puppies is all the same breed, yet they are all different in terms of their personalities and character.
I have seen almost every behavioural issue within every breed of dog. Blue Heelers have a bit of a stereotype of being a nippy and biting breed, and I have worked with several who do display these traits. However I have also worked with almost every other breed of dog who also nip and bite! So once you have seen it across the board you stop thinking it is purely a breed behavior. It is not so black and white. In fact aggressive dogs can be any breed, shape or size, including little lap dogs.
That said of course, if you are bitten by a 60kg dog it will be a lot worse than if you are bitten by a 3kg dog. So size does come into it.
Go beyond the breed books
Most of the dog breed books out there talk about each particular dog being friendly, loving and good natured. But 90% of dogs are categorised in that way, so when it comes to choosing a dog, you need to go further than what a breed book may say.
Of course there are certain physical attributes which you can categorise within each breed, and you can estimate the energy level of a dog approximately by the breed. But this doesn’t focus on the actual characteristics of how a dog will behave, and this is where many people are caught out.
But that doesn’t mean you have to panic about choosing the ‘wrong’ dog. It’s merely about realising you can’t accurately predict what type of personality your dog will have, and you just need to ‘roll with the punches’ so to speak when you realise that your dog is not like it said in the breed book! As I said at the start, everyone has their own opinion of what a dog from a particular breed will be like, and that is usually due to a personal experience, but just realise that it isn’t actually a fact. I find it hard not to smile when somebody says we got a Yorkshire Terrier because we had one a while ago and we wanted the same again but this one is nothing like our last one!
My suggestion when looking for a dog is first and foremost consider the energy level of that dog – some need more exercise than others. If you can’t exercise them properly you will soon run into issues. Also be very realistic about the size of dog your house and property can easily handle.
Get the inside scoop
There are also a few things you can do to determine the personality before you take a puppy home. Finding a reputable breeder and asking them out about how they have spent their first eight weeks of life will always help (like whether they were dominating their siblings, or chilling out in the background). The other consideration is to look at adopting an older dog who is maybe a year old or above. This way you will have a much better idea of what their personality and temperament is.
Whatever the breed you adopt remember that all dogs are different and that is all the better for us. I think getting a dog is like a box of chocolates, you never really know what you are going to get!
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No matter what your breed is, love your dog!