When you go to choose a dog, or when you observe the behavior of dogs around you, dog breeds matter. They give you clues as to the personality and behavior of the dog. Just clues, because in any group–dogs, people, or whatever–there is usually more variability within the population than the stereotypes would have you think. And of course some of the stereotypes are just plain wrong.
With the large number of dogs in shelters yearning for a home, I’m likely to start any search for a future dog in shelters or at the site that lists shelter and rescue dogs, Petfinder.com, rather than specifically by breed. But chances are I will do some homework on any breeds that I am interested in, even knowing that shelter staff can only guess at the dog breed makeup of many of the puppies and adult dogs they have. Purebred or mixed, blue blood or mutt?
Well, it turns out that through the miracles of modern DNA testing, you can find out quite a bit. The Wisdom Panel Mixed Breed DNA Test Kit can give you some ideas of ancestry. That link is to Amazon, where you can read the manufacturer’s description of the product and hundreds of customer reviews. People found it entertaining and educational. It isn’t fast enough for a dog to wait in a shelter for you to do it, I’d say, but once you get your friend home, it would be fun if you had the spare cash.
I’m going to be doing a series on different dog breeds, with a focus on the characteristics of the particular breed with regard to training and what they are like to live with. I began last week with the Basenji, hardly a popular dog, but one we have had. We’ve also had a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a Komondor, an Australian Shepherd, and a Rottweiler. In mixed breeds, we have had a German Shepherd Malamute cross, and our LarryDog was Blue Heeler and Chow. I may do these breeds first, but I am just as likely to do the most popular breeds according to the AKC: Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Beagles, Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers, Bulldogs, Boxers, Poodles, Dachsunds, and Rottweilers. Here’s a link to the AKC page that lists dog breed popularity.
In thinking about dog breeds, you get into the whole fascinating history of how people have bred the incredibly versatile dog into so many types, with so many different functions emphasized.