As more and more people are keeping dogs as pets, less and less people understand the type of dogs they are getting. The common desire to get a certain breed as a pet now relies more than ever, on the look of the dog. The size, the colors, the look, how the ears are, how round the eyes are, how fluffy the butts are. The dog ownership community has evolved through into the infamous quote of “judging the book by its cover”. Only a handful of owners, future owners now know what they are getting themselves into by purchasing a certain breed as we now seek only the look and all want the ‘safe’ dog. One that is highly sociable, extremely friendly with dogs and humans, one that will not bark too much, one that will not bite and one that is gentle.
Moving towards this phase of dog ownership, we indirectly encourage breeders to breed out of the breed’s characteristics. While breeders who value the breed characteristics couldn’t care less about mass breeding and ignorant people who want to purchase their puppies just for the looks, many backyard breeders, pet shop owners will turn this into a money making business.
The possible benefit of breeding and purchasing based on just the looks of the dogs and toning down all existing characters and drives would be that the world of dogs become one that is overly and extremely friendly. Dogs constantly wagging tails at everyone and all dog and no necessary need for trainings or rehabilitation. One can arguably say that this is an ideal world for dog ownerships. True in some ways, there will be no aggressive dogs, no dead preys, no dog bites, no need for dog trainers. But what are we trading these for? A world where breeds are no longer a need. Dog breeds are created, carefully designed and bred in a way that works best for the dog and the human that needs it. By breeding just based on the desired look and with little to no concern about the characters, drive and standards, we are directly and indirectly breeding a Belgian Malinois to be one that can sleep quietly all day and all night, a future protection dog and police dog with no desire and ability to protect, search and attack. A Border Collie that is cute and fluffy but is unable to herd, no desire to be active and have no desire to work with humans.
Without a doubt everyone has a slight difference in their preference and traits that they like for each breed. While preference and desires can vary, straying too far from the breed standards and workability is most definitely going to turn the world into one without dog breeds, just dogs with different looks. The world of German Shepherd and Pugs are few of the best examples. German Shepherds have been so poorly bred just for the benefit of conformation shows, many now possess zero ability to work, protect and search, they also come with a large list of hips, elbows and joint issues. Pugs are bred further and further away from how a dog should look like to the point that many pugs are now unable to breath properly and dangerous respiratory problems. In our humble opinion, dogs should be bred not just based on how they look but every little aspect should be taken into account. A dog must first and foremost be very healthy to be bred, this will some how guarantee that the offsprings have a higher chance of being healthy. Then, the temperament, characteristics, anatomies should come into place one by one to ensure that the breeds stay true, stay healthy and stay strong.
It is extremely important to recognise that all dogs are different and all breeds are different. Regardless of how to train them, how much you work with them, may they be the most well socialised and well trained dogs, certain breeds are going to act a certain way. Not only the fact that many new owners purchase dogs base on just how they look, they want their dogs to behave a certain way and be ‘friendly’ to everyone and all dogs without realising who their dog is and what their dogs need. Corgis for instance, are herding dogs, a well bred corgi is going to possess a little, some or a lot of herding genes. They are heelers and will nip on livestocks to make them move, this is something that is in-built and this is an instinct. Wanting a corgi that does not possess this ability or trying to train your corgi out of it’s instinct, is not realistic. Honouring the instinct and redirecting that ability to an alternative outlet will keep your dog happy and healthy.
Although we have seen and come into contact with a large handful of different breeds, we wouldn’t say that we understand all the breeds. We have owned mainly Terriers and more specifically West Highlands, it is heart wrenching when we see owners who have just gotten new puppies that not only look, but behave no where like a terrier should. We have also seen owners who have no idea what they have gotten themselves into by purchasing that White-Dog-On-Cesar-Canned-Food, then have the dog create havoc at home because they have no idea what a terrier can do. The same goes for other breeds. Understand the breed, honour the instinct is the way to a healthy, happy dog and human relationship.
The ‘safe’ breed is a desire and wanting it, is not realistic.