Like me, you will no doubt have seen countless polls on social media of the Top 5 dog breeds for this and that or such-and-such. While this information can be useful when talking about physical traits of some dogs – ie, why Great Danes don’t figure too highly in the “fitting into a handbag” stakes – when the information concerns behaviour or temperament they are barking up the wrong tree, so to speak.
Let me give you an example; I have a younger sister who had exactly the same kind of upbringing as I did with the same parents. How is it possible then for us to be so totally different? The answer is of course personality. This has far more influence on behaviour than breed ever can. Ask any dog owner who has had more than one of the same breed in their lifetime and all will tell you that they were completely different in personality. They are far from clones.
Humans have created the myriad of dog breeds over the centuries for function and latterly for fashion. The oodles of oodles we have now are recent examples of this phenomenon. However, this does not mean that all dogs of a certain breed will necessarily be willing or able to perform the tasks for which they may have been created. Not all kelpies like to herd; not all Labradors are good guide dogs; not all German Shepherds make it in the police.
Also, where do “multi-pedigree” dogs fit into this? I once met someone who told me that they had German Shepherds for over 20 years, and the latest GSD cross Border Collie was a handful. “It’s the Collie bit that’s giving me problems”.
Breed stereotypes are about as relevant as saying that all French people wear berets, all Englishmen are football hooligans or all Australians know how to play cricket (sorry – I couldn’t resist). What dogs do all share is a common language that they all understand and use to try to communicate with us too to find out who does what in the team. Give them an easy job and they can relax; inadvertently burden them with too much responsibility and it can lead to problems.
Remember this – as far as they are concerned, a dog is a dog is a dog.
If you would like to find out the best way to a calm and relaxed walk with your dog (or anyone else’s), I will be running a Dog Walking Masterclass in association with BorrowMyPooch on Saturday 24 October at Centennial Park, Sydney. For more details contact me at [email protected] or on 0410 191 631.« Back to blog