Deciding on a breed

I have to admit, I have a thing for rare breed dogs.  I think there is just something amazing about their look and uniqueness that I love.  At the 2012 UKC Premier that is held every year in Kalamazoo there was no shortage of rare breed dogs.  I almost ended up with a rare herding breed from France called a Berger Picard.  I think they are the most adorable dogs ever!  However, after meeting the breed at the UKC show I realized that this wasn’t a breed I could bring into my busy home with small children.  Someday I really want one but now is not the time.

Berger Picard

Berger Picard. Taken at the 2012 UKC Premier Dog Show in Kalamazoo, MI

After seeing the Pondegos, I wanted one of those.  I sent my husband a text and told him it was going to be our next breed.  I watched as they showed and snapped pic after pic after pic and sent to my husband.  I was sold!  After researching the breed and talking with breeders I came quickly to the realization that this also wasn’t a breed for me.  Pondegos are considered a “primitive hunting” dog.  They are used in Mexico on hunts and despite being a “domesticated” dog are still quite “wild” for a domesticated dog.  They require someone who knows dogs and you truly have to be pack alpha with them.  Again, not a great breed for a family with young children.

Pondengo

Pondengo Grande. Taken at UKC 2012 Premier Dog Show in Kalamazoo, MI.

There are plenty of dogs that look “cute” or like a dog you’d want to own, but you need to be extremely careful about what the breed is actually like.  What were they bred for?  What is their general temperament?  Will they fit your lifestyle?  Are there any special needs you should be aware of? 

As with any dog, not just a rare breed, make sure you do your homework make sure you talk to multiple breeders.  I cannot emphasis this enough.  Do not talk to just one breeder.  Many tend to be partial to their breed.  The more responsible ones will be extremely straight forward with you and tell you the good and the bad traits of the breed.  And do not let a breeder ever tell you that their particular breed doesn’t have a bad trait.  If a breeder says that to you, run, don’t walk from that breeder.

Case in point.  We have a Golden Retriever.  Now, I love the breed (which goes against my whole rare breed thing I have going) and I think they are fantastic dogs, especially for families.  My youngest daughter Braewyn will crawl all over him, she can sit on him, pull his fur and pretty much use him as a jungle gym if she wanted.  He’s a mellow, perfect dog for my family and kids.  However, Golden Retrievers are a needy breed.  They want to be touched.  They want to be in your face.  They need you to pat attention to them.  They are high energy and need a yard to run and plenty of exercise.  They are smart!  Oh, and let’s not forget the hair.  Dog hair everywhere.  If you get a Golden, don’t ever expect to eat something that hasn’t been seasoned in their hair.  They really are a great breed, but they aren’t perfect and they aren’t for everyone.

Now, back to my rare breed love.  I realized that when falling in love with a dog based on their looks and written description, you really need to dig so much deeper into the breed.  The Berger Picard for example is (to me anyways) an awesome looking dog.  They are absolutely adorable.  However, when I met one for the first time it could care less about me.  He didn’t want me to pet him and actively ignored me.  Huh…I thought that maybe it was just that one dog.  I then met about 6 of them, all hanging out together.  There was even puppies!  Surely puppies will want love and attention.  Nope.  Ignored.  Someone’s dog even growled at me as I approached her after permission to do so.  When I started talking to Berger owners they all absolutely loved their dogs.  As I talked with them though they all gave hints to what they were really like.  They were protective.  They were aloof.  They were single owner dogs.  Not something I wanted in a family dog. 

I got lucky.  I was smart enough to research the breed.  I still want a Berger Picard someday.  Now is just not the time.

So remember to do your research and not just Internet research or one phone call to a breeder.  Deciding on a breed needs to be an informed choice.

Now, I know many of you might be saying, “Don’t buy from a breeder.  Breeders are bad.  Rescue.”  And while I agree, we have many many dogs that need a home I also don’t feel that a rescue dog is the right choice for everyone, nor do I feel that purebreed dogs should get the constant negative wrap they do.  But that, dear readers is for another time…

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4 Comments

Filed under Breeders, General

4 responses to “Deciding on a breed

  1. Wendy Mydlo

    I think that after having several silkenwindhounds they are great dogs for familys. I know you have to watch young children not to pull on legs and to be gentel. But they can still be great family dogs.You can do so much with them. If you don’t want to show them there are silkens out there doing flyball, agility, rally o and obedience. Most of them love racing and lure coursing. They even have some great therepy dogs.

    • Mom, you prove my point. Silkens are great dogs for certain people. However, they aren’t for everyone. They are aloof. They tend to be shy. They have the potential to be great obedience and agility dogs but you need to be an experience trainer so that you can read the dog and compensate for their faults. I wouldn’t recommend them as a first dog or a dog that is easily trained. They also tend to be ‘velcro’ dogs that stick with one person (and you *know* this is true as you have to hide when someone else has Dion in the show ring). On the other hand, they have sweet personalities, are great dogs for someone who wants a running companion, they are not hyper at all and therefore make good couch potato house dogs when in and are fun to lure course.

      They have good and bad traits just like any dog. If someone were to talk to *only* you they would think Silkens were the absolute best dog on the planet (and to a Silken owner they are) but they really aren’t a breed for everyone. As breeders, it’s our responsability to be open and honest and take a hard look at our breeds and who they would make great companions for. We want to make sure that they get into their forever homes the first time (otherwise it defeats the purchase of a ‘forever home’) and we can only do this by honestly evaulating our breed. I’m not saying this to bash Silkens… every dog has their good and bad traits. We need to be honest about that balance!

  2. Amy McSwain

    Great article!!! Now if only there was a test you had to take before purchasing a dog to prove people did their research there wouldn’t be so many rescue dogs. Thank you as always for sharing your knowledge 🙂

    • Thanks Amy. I agree completely. We need to educate potential dog owners or evern owners considering a particular breed. I’ll be posting my thoughts soon on rescue vs purebreeds and weigh in on the ever important debate.

      And thanks for reading! I’m glad to know I’m not talking to the ever vast internet space.

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