Humans have been creating new dog breeds for centuries, selecting for a particular purpose or look. There can be a tremendous difference in how happy you are with a dog depending on its personality, activity level, demands on your attention, health, and other factors — all related to what breed it is… or in the case of a mixed-breed, all the breeds it’s composed of.
Sometimes people will write about a breed as if all the dogs of that breed have certain personality traits. In fact, it’s more that they have tendencies… in a breed known for aggression, there will be shy dogs. In a breed known for being extremely active, there will be full-time couch potatoes.
When you research a dog breed, find out about its typical size, life span, trainability, and activity level, as well as any health conditions the breed has problems with. How much grooming would that dog breed require? What else can you find out about it?
Even though I often get mixed breeds, from a shelter or other rescue situation, I like to know about the breeds my dogs are made up of.
Dog Breeds: Books
There are two kinds of books on dog breeds: the general ones covering a lot of dog breeds, and the breed-specific ones, covering just one.
General Dog Breed Books
The American Kennel Club New Complete Dog Book
This is the definitive reference book on breed standards for the breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. When I was a librarian, we always had copies of this book, and they were frequently checked out.
This book has good, definitive information but it doesn’t give you the pros and cons of dog breeds you might be thinking about. If you are considering a number of breeds and want their breed standards handy, then this would be useful.
Here is another good all-purpose dog breed book:
If you are researching a particular dog breed, you may want to read the breed standard, but it should be available in some of the books about that specific breed or online.
Specific Breed Books
Once you know specific breeds you are interested in, you can easily find books on that breed. Do be aware that TFH and perhaps some other publishing companies publish books on specific breeds that have a lot of general dog information and relatively little about the specific breed. I prefer to stay away from these. Usually you can figure it out from the description of the book.
Dog Breeds: Internet Resources
If you are interested in a specific breed, use Google or Bing and type in the name of the breed. For just about any breed, this will bring up thousands of pages. It’s worth looking through the top 30 or more… you can right-click on a link and open that tab separately, still keeping the list handy. I often have several tabs opening at a time.
Because many dog owners don’t have all that much website-creation experience, many times the most interesting pages on a breed will not be ranked at the top of Google’s list. Once you start looking at some of the pages you have opened, watch for links or webrings which can lead you to still more pages. By the way, I would not buy a dog from the net without seeing it. But you can learn a tremendous amount about a breed in a short time by surfing the net.
So many breeds, so little time! I would have to live to at least 300 to live with one each of all the breeds that interest me. Since that’s not going to happen, I enjoy reading dog breed books and internet web sites, so that I am more informed about the many breeds.
Many of my dogs have been mixed breed, and I find that knowing about the various dog breeds comes in handy when I am trying to understand their behavior. For example, our LarryDog (shown with me in the logo) is part Australian Cattle Dog (also called Blue Heeler),and a conversation with a neighbor who has dogs of that breed made me realize that some of Larry’s quirks are actually characteristic of the breed!