Dogs/Selecting breeds for needs

There is a breed of dog for almost all situations. The main things to consider is the space available at home (balcony/garden/farm etc), the time the owner has to spend with the animal for play, training grooming and affection at different times of the working or school day, the amount of activity that the animal needs and the ability and willingness of the owners to provide appropriate daily care and regular veterinary attention,

Working dogs edit

Dogs were domesticated because they were useful - which is to say intelligent enough to be trained (or maybe the dogs trained us humans - who knows?) and used for raising the alarm when strangers approached or when storms or earthquakes were imminent. They might be used to frighten or even attack strangers, to find things such as delicious truffles or simply be a companion in lonely situations.

Farm dogs edit

Probably the earliest use for dogs was by shepherds - they tend to have to spend lots of time simply watching their flock, and reputedly invented lots of fun things like sling-shots and musical instruments to pass the time. Generally floppy eared dogs like English Shepherds tend to be quite puppy-like and are good for raising the alarm. Dogs with erect ears tend to be hunters and breeds like collies and German shepherds are good a herding animals.

Farm dogs include some unusual skills such as the truffle-hunters mentioned above, they can control vermin - especially rats and powerful breeds can even pull carts. Retrievers are trained to find and retrieve animals killed by hunters in forests, so maybe they count as farm animals too?

Detection, rescue and Assistance Dogs edit

Dogs are not just good at smelling - they are lightweight and agile in difficult situations such as fallen buildings or overturned trucks. They look for people, spilled chemicals such as fuel and most recently contraband goods including drugs.

Dogs can be trained to lead blind people and help people with physical difficulties to get dressed, answer the telephone and a host of other things such as raising the alert for people who are deaf and may be unable to hear the door-bell or an approaching vehicle.

  Generally, assistance dogs wear a distinctive marker, and it is most helpful - if you see such a dog - to simply get out of the way - please do not try to touch it unless the user actually asks you to!

Police and War Dogs edit

Sadly, from time to time, people attack or harm other people. For individuals, we need police to intervene rapidly, and a dog can penetrate a crowd very easily. Obeying its handler's commands, dogs can be trained to identify hostile behavior and intervene, but it is selected to be both persistent and assertive, biting just hard enough to hold the suspect until police officers can make an arrest.

War dogs have similar training, but additionally, groups of people tend to have a distinctive range of smells from the foods and toiletries they usually use. A dog can be trained to avoid friendly troops but to cause panic among enemy formations. In modern armies it is a myth that they are explicitly trained to kill, but they are trained to be aggressive, and people may be seriously injured, especially if there is violence and bloodshed.

Small sized dogs edit

Sometimes called 'lap dogs' they are still animals, not toys and so really need the same sort of training and attention as any other pet or working dog. 'Dog psychiatrists' specialize in remedying poor upbringing and are much more expensive than 'dog school'!

  • Pekinese, were famous for being the pets of the Chinese Imperial court. They are affectionate, and playful but need training to be calm or they are apt to bark for constant attention.
  • Pug, has a small tail. This was also bred in China as a pet, it can be assertive, but is usually good with children.
  • Jack Russell Terrier was used by the British for fox-hunting, and to catch rats in Cadiz sherry cellars (which is why, in Spain it is known as a bodeguero andaluz)! This is a breed that is playful and needs lots of love and exercise
  • Scottie, properly Scottish Terrier or Aberdeen Terrier has been the favorite of many celebrities including Queen Victoria and two American Presidents. Its woolly black coat contrasts with the similar sized Westie or West Highland White Terrier
  • Corgi, a favorite of the Queen of England Elizabeth II is properly a a small type of herding dog that originated in Wales
  • Bichon is companionable and was the favorite pet in many medieval European royal courts. The word is from old French and means small long-haired dog. it is similar to the poodle and barbet (water dog).
  • Beagle is similar to a foxhound - the adult is is quite a puppy-like and an excellent tracking dog often used for rescuing people from dangerous situations.
  • Collie - more a general type of small sheepdog (middle size dog) rather than any specific breed - they tend to be highly intelligent and good at competitions such as sheep-dog trialling and canine agility. The name 'border collie' inplies the Anglo-Scottish and Anglo-Welsh border as well as the mostly black with white marking that characterizes coal mined near the edge of coalfields! Females are ideal for children since they are easily trained and need lots of exercise.
  • Yorkshire Terrier is the smallest breed of dog.

Medium sized dogs edit

Big sized dogs edit

Curiously, some big dogs actually need less exercise than smaller breeds. Remember that (for any dog) to assume makes an ass out of you and me

  • Newfoundland have a woolly coat that can be black, brown, gray, or black and white (known as Landseer, after the painter). They were working dogs of fishermen, they are docile and very strong swimmers that are used by life-boat and air-sea rescue teams
  • Great Dane or German Mastiff were originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar. They may have many coat colors and are known as gentle giants
  • Great Pyrenees were developed by Basque shepherds to guard and manage their flocks. In nature they are are similar to collies
  • Burnese Mountain Dog or Berner Sennenhundis another mountain herding dog whose name comes from the German words "Senne" (alpine pasture) and "hund" (dog) since they accompanied the alpine herders and dairymen (called Senn) They too are similar to collies

Breeds that need special attention edit

Some dogs are deliberately bred for aggression and so do not make good house-pets. Some dogs were bred for violent sports such as dog-fighting, bull-baiting and ratting. Although such activities are now rare, the nature of the animal means that appropriate training is vital to channel the animal's aggressive instincts into safe activities-

Retired working animals such as police dogs and some war-dogs that are well trained are sometimes offered for re-homing after some years of active service. Such agencies often encourages their former handler to form a relationship with the new owner. That help can provide a good introduction to professional dog-handling, especially for people without much experience of dog ownership who may be attracted by 'dangerous dog breeds'

  • Doberman Pinscher was bred for police and guard duties
  • Rottweiller was to bred to herd livestock and pull carts laden with butchered meat and other heavy products to market
  • Pit bull is actually several different breeds of fighting dog –
    • American Pit Bull Terrier,
    • Staffordshire Terrier,
    • American Staffordshire Terrier
    • Any mixture (cross bred) of the above three
    • American Bulldog although genetically different, is sometimes legally considered as a 'Pit Bull'
  • Chow Chow or Songshi Quan which means "puffy-lion dog" can be fiercely protective of their owners and property..
  • German Shepherd - bred in Germany to herd sheep is also known as Deutscher Schaeferhund or Alsatian. It is often used as a working farm animal, and notably is often used as police or war dog. It really needs to be properly trained and lovingly cared-for and given lots of interesting, outdoor physical activity. Some are susceptible to canine hip dysplasia which can eventually make the back legs useless, and the combination of pain and the instinct for activity can cause problems. However, there are reliable early detection tests, effective treatment regimes and even wheeled hip-support trolleys that are often effective remedies for this chronic condition.