Thursday, June 27, 2013

Doggone Those Breed Lists!

As you may or may not know - I manage a dog daycare. That's right - my degree in journalism has been so useful here. However, my heart is soaring.

You can imagine how many canine magazines, blogs, webzines, etc., that I read for pleasure and to keep up with the latest in the dog world. Some of what I come across is amusing, some helpful, some amazingly intriguing, and some frustratingly inaccurate.

There is one topic that comes up over and over, year after year; and - unfortunately - I'm sure some put a lot of stock into whichever version they read.

Top 20 Breeds for Families, or 10 Best Breeds of 2012, or how about What Are The Best Breeds For New Dog Owners? You get the idea. Some cite who their "experts" are on these topics, some do not. When they do, it is most often vets they have derived this information from; and why not? Who else would know more about different breeds of dogs than veterinarians?

But let's think about this for a minute. Of course vets know much more than the rest of us about dogs. Well, dogs' health, that is. But when it comes to behavior, even most vets should be able to acknowledge that they see individual dogs - even if they do see every single breed - alone. One on one. In an exam room. They do not see the dogs interact with other dogs, or their reactions to other people (other than the vet techs and their own parents). There is an entire side of dogs that many vets are not privy to. I LOVE my vet, but even she admits this.

When I read some of these "best breed for ..." lists, I almost always end up with my jaw gaping in disbelief at what some list as "great dog for families" or "good breeds for first-time dog owners" as well as their reasoning behind these declarations.

So I have an idea. How about for some of these lists and discussions on breeds where behavior is concerned, they gather their information from people who actually spend their time with 20-30 (or more!) different breeds on a daily basis - experiencing them interacting with each other, reacting to strangers, etc.

Talking to those who see many breeds of dogs interacting under many different circumstances, I assure you, would make a very different list of Good Dog Breeds for Families, or Easily Trainable Breeds. Certain underlying traits for particular breeds or breed mixes make themselves known pretty quickly in the daycare environment; and I can only assume that they do in other group dog environments as well.

These lists are fun to read, and should only be a small consideration when making an important decision like adding a pet to your family. But a little more real-world information would go a long way in making sure the right pets are matched with the right people - and that fewer dogs end up being given up or euthanized simply because the owners' expectations were not met.

And with that, I have big group of dogs to go manage!

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