There are roughly around 400 dog breeds in the world. We all have our pick, and some breeds are way more popular than others. In South Africa, there are many breeds available and the scarcer, the pricier.
Dog owners have over hundreds of years bred dogs to assist them and make life more convenient. This ultimately means that dogs had to become domesticated to live with their human pack members. Some literature says that the first domesticated wolf was over 15, 000 years ago in the Middle East.
One thing is for sure. Our furry four-pawed friends have come a long way with us and so we have established certain breeds to be better suited to specific environments than others.
For example, you won’t find a dainty Yorkshire Terrier in the army. You may find an Alsatian, Pitbull or even the famous Bulldog, Sergeant Stubby in the Army.
Sergeant Stubby was a Bulldog who was the unofficial mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment and was assigned to the 26th Division in World War I. He served for 18 months and participated in 17 battles on the Western Front for the United States.
Pairing breeds with environments where they can flourish is key to a dog’s overall health and happiness. We look at a few rules to follow when you are choosing a breed, and why you must make sure your breed suits your lifestyle and family.
Setting them Up for Failure
A few case examples. A young couple in a small complex with a small garden decides to get an Alsatian. They are never home; they never take the dog for a walk and who knows where the poor guy sleeps? This is a classic example of setting a breed up for failure.
The dog barks and howls all day, becoming a menace to the neighbours. Not only that, but the poor unsocialised dog has also become aggressive, making him dangerous.
This is an irresponsible owner’s fault.
Second example, a Sighthound rescue group pairs a Whippet (essentially a hunting dog) with a family on a farm with ducks and chickens running around all day. The Whippet was BRED to catch them. Now the family is complaining because the whippet is killing the birds…
These are logical examples to an extent, but there is so much more to take into consideration.
There are many types of dogs, and it is very important to make sure you get the right breed for your lifestyle. Active people should consider active dogs who are known for their endurance. A dog’s temperament, size and maintenance should also be taken into consideration.
Someone looking for a companion who cannot do lots of exercise may consider a small dog who loves to snuggle all day. It is also important not to judge a breed by their bad reputation either. Most dogs with bad reputations were put in situations that possibly made them that way.
The experts from MuttMixx chime in. “It can be helpful to think of your dog’s breed in the same way that you think of your human family. Genetics influences behaviour, but so does the environment. Furthermore, individuals within a breed will each receive slightly different genetic packages, even if certain genetic markers remain constant within that breed”.
Think of it this way: you and your siblings are not carbon copies, and neither are dogs. Your family probably has a few commonalities, but judging your new dog based on your previous dog is every bit as unfair as your kindergarten teacher judging you based on your older brother’s behaviour in her class last year.
We highly recommend watching Animal Planet’s Dog’s 101 to have a full understanding of the breed you may want to get.
A dog also lives a very long life. Make sure you and your family are ready for a life-long commitment. Please also note that ALL dogs need daily exercise – just like you and me! Not exercising your pooch leads to health problems that will break the bank.
Family Favourites who Love Big Gardens
Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Vizla and Irish Setter
Active Dogs for Very Active Families
Border Collie, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Shepherd
Small Toy Dogs Who Love Snuggles
Pomeranian, Pekinese, Bichon Frise, Pug
The Lazy Bunch
Great Dane, Greyhound, Basset Hound, Chow-Chow
Give your dog the life they deserve!