Sunday, January 10, 2010

7 groups

OK, I know this is a little late, but I wanted to play the game too!! After seeing this post on several of our favorite blogs, I decided to give it a go to. But before I post my "final line up" let me just warn you...I AM A DOG SNOB!!!

There are just some things that, I dunno, are a turn-off for me when it comes to dogs. Just like when we first start to date, there are some things that we are immediately attracted to or turned off by. For me, I love fluffy dogs. I am actually allergic to short, tight coats (think Boxers, Am. Staffs, etc) and don't really care for curly coats that need to be clipped like Poodles, Wheatens or Portuguese Waterdogs (when they're not clean, they can have a waxy, dirty texture). I also can't have my dogs drooly or with beards. All that slobbery wetness is just nasty; not to mention food usually gets trapped in there too. I like dogs with tails, dogs with long noses and dogs with legs. And I am definitely more of a small dog person rather than a large dog one. A lot of the reasons for this are practical-I need dogs that I myself am able to lift and/or carry in an emergency. But really, I just like the small size to cuddle and travel with!

And of course beyond just appealing looks, they have to have a great temperament. I (as I expect most people who have training as a passion) hate rude, obnoxious dogs. Of course, any breed left untrained and to their own devices can be rude and obnoxious. But some breeds are just more prone to being so. I hate to pick on them, but Boxers tend to be some of the rudest dogs out there. They just run on up to you and jump all over you and your dog. Bleeeech....I like my dogs well mannered and polite enough to look to me to ask whether or not it is OK to "say hello". I want my dogs to be needy enough to snuggle with me on couch or in bed, and who want to be with me more than any where else; but not to the point where they can't be alone. They need to travel well and not bay or bark when left alone. I also like dogs who were bred to do "a masters bidding"; I don't mean that with any dominance connotations. I mean that most dogs were bred to do a job, but some were bred for more independent work. Like hounds were bred to hunt in a pack away from the huntsman, but retrievers and setters were meant to work directly with the hunter. Terriers were bred to kill any and all vermin on the farm; herding dogs were bred to be in the pasture with the shepherd to direct the flock according to their direction. People may confuse this with intelligence; it is not that one breed is smart and one is dumb. You have to look at HOW the dog thinks, and WHAT is the motivation for him/her to do so.

I know, I know. Some of this stuff is ridiculous (like the tail, nose and legs). But again, everyone has their own likes and dislikes, which is why we end up with the breeds we do. But with all that being said, here are some other breeds (according to group) that I could not only see myself living with (some, only if forced) but some breeds that I could definitely see myself owning:

Group 1: Sporting
The Sporting group is an easy group for me to chose from. Members of this group tend to be fairly similar to the Herding dogs (of whom I am somewhat partial to ;0) Because they were bred to work so closely with humans, their temperaments are more biddable and willing to please than members of some of the other groups. Most have that long coat I love so much, and there are a lot of different sizes to chose from. I do like the American Cocker Spaniel very much, but aren't a big fan of the coat that needs a lot of tending to. Their popularity has lead to a lot of health problems, but that is true for a great many breeds spanning all the groups. So that consideration will be null, as it probably will apply to most of my choices. I really love English Setters too. But with them, its the size that is a bit of a deterrent. So I'd have to say that my choice here would be a Brittany. A nice sized dog with everything that I love; great, friendly temperament-friendly with people, but bonded with their owners, no neuroses. A great, easy to keep coat (easy compared to Shelties and Cockers anyways!) Athletic, smart...this is definitely a dog that I could not only live with but could easily own. They're beautiful and sweet. I haven't met a Brittany I haven't liked. And I think getting into Hunt tests would be a lot of fun! (Hmm...maybe I should see if there are any eligible bachelors who own them???)
Group 2: Hound
Another easy group to chose from. Not only easy because so many breeds are easily eliminated (oh doG, I could not stand baying!!!!!!) but because I have wanted one of these breeds since I was about 12 years old. I do like Afghans, but could never keep up with that coat. (Could you imagine the snow-balls tangled up in that hair during a New England winter?!?!?!) I do like Whippets very much too-very sweet, athletic and easy keepers, but I'm not sure I could handle the short coat. So my choice here is a Saluki-the best of all worlds. Beautifully elegant, sweet tempered and again, a nice size (the females tend to be especially petite). I mean, I love this breed so much I know what color I would get and what her name would be. I don't doubt that someday I will get one of these beauties. I know they're a little more aloof than I am used to, and wouldn't be safe off leash in all the places we go, but I think they are so delightful that a few sacrifices would be worth it!
Group 3: Working
OK, here's where it gets a bit tricky. This is the group I had the hardest time with because I honestly could not see myself owning any of these breeds; if for no other reason than their sheer sizes! I do love the temperaments (although all very different) of Newfies, Berners, Dobies and Rotties but really couldn't ever see myself with any of them. Newfies and Berners are a little slobbery and Dobies and Rotties don't have any coat. So I went with (although I don't know that many) a Samoyed. Their less independent than some of their northern cousins (like Huskies and Malamutes) and a bit smaller than any of the other available breeds in this group. I know they tend to be fairly friendly, albeit a bit stubborn. But I've heard they make great companions and bond well with their people. I think it would be fun to weight pull, and Dog-Scooter too!! Group 4: Terrier
Oh, doG, another toughie. Terriers just aren't my type of personality. Their just too independent; and I don't mean this as Herding or Sporting dogs cant function without their people, but Terriers just don't seem to care that you're even talking to them. They seem to be so busy with their environment and whats going on, you might as well just melt into a big puddle of invisible. Of course, we're picking by groups here, and although I'm somewhat forced to generalize, I know that there are of course, exceptions: to every group and every breed. A friend of mine has the most LOVELY Airedale right now. If they were all like her, everyone would own one! With that said, I think I would go with a Lakeland Terrier. They're not as bouncy or crazy as some of their other Terriers and seems to be fairly athletic looking. Again, I don't think I would ever chose to purchase or live with a terrier, but...there you go.
Group 5: Toy
Oh, another really easy group to chose from! I love so many breeds in this group! I fell in love with the Cavalier the year before they were admitted to the AKC. I actually went to a specialty show held here in Massachusetts years and years ago.(I still have the t-shirt!) It was the QUIETEST dog show I have ever been to! I met a lot of really nice people and great breeders. Although they are not my choice now, they will always have a special place in my heart, because they were so special to me as a girl. So my choice here is a tie. I love both Pomeranians and Papillons...although I think I would chose to own a Papillon. Poms can be a bit tougher to train and can be a bit feistier. Pap's seem to be very similar to Shelties in terms of temperament and habits (lets put it this way, I wouldn't mind a "Yappy Pappy"!) Again, a Pap is definitely a breed I could own one day. They're just fantastic, healthy little dogs that are bright and friendly. They tend to have less of a "arm-pit piranha" reputation than most other toy breeds; maybe because they know they don't have to go around shouting to get respect ;0)
Group 6: Non-Sporting
Hmmm....another toughie. You wouldn't think so because the group is so diverse, but alas. I do really like Dalmatians. I know they aren't the breed for everyone, and just like with so many other breeds you have to be careful with health and temperament, but their short coat rules them out. So although this may be a bit of a shocker, my choice is a Tibetan Terrier. The Tibetans are just fantastic! They look all glamorous like mini-Afghan Hounds, but they are totally clownish. I think they would be a JOY to live with. They come in so many colors, any ones taste could be satisfied, and they don't look weird if you clip them down (like an Afghan would). They're athletic and bright, albeit a little silly to take training so seriously ;0) Once again, I could totally see myself owning one! Group 7: Herding
Ahhhh, the best at last! Not that I'm biased. Now you all know which breed has my heart forever. But there are two other breeds here that I would share my life and love with in a heart-beat. The first is the Border Collie. This is a breed, that if I ever get my courage up, I will own one day. I was bitten by the herding bug, and would love to have a nice Border to be able to play at that with. Again, if you're careful and know what you're looking for and what you're doing, you can bypass the neurotic, crazy, OCD behaviors that can crop up with an ill-bred, ill-used BC. What you will have is a loving, sensitive, friendly best friend that has your heart forever. I see BC's as a slightly more open, less fluffy, slightly larger and a bit more intense version of the Sheltie. This is a dog I will own one day. The other breed I'm enamored with is the Belgian Sheepdog. I love their graceful, striking beauty. Again, not as intense (in terms of working) as BC's, but more aloof with strangers and more bonded to their people than some other herding dogs. These guys are like big, black Shelties in terms of temperament. But just like with Shelties, shyness can be a problem as can fear. Their size is a bit bigger than I would ever go, so I cant say that I would definitely own one, but if someone I lived with happened to own one, well...that would be OK =0)

This was a fun game to play! I've never done it "publicly" before, sharing my answers with others, but I used to to it all the time as a kid. When I would dream big about getting a puppy of said breed and go on to not only win Westminster, but (as I grew up) the Invitational and National as well (in both breed, obedience and agility, of course). I still find myself day dreaming like that every so often. But then I look at my girls: they haven't ever competed in a breed ring; they've never been trained past the Open exercises for Obedience; and they haven't competed in agility in 2 years; and I realize we don't need any of that. Yes, of course it is nice to show all of your hard work in front of your friends and peers at a show. It is nice to pick up a ribbon or place at the end of a long day of competition. And although those are special memories that will be cherished beyond measure when your special friend has crossed over the bridge, those are NOT the moments you will be wishing to have more of when that day comes. You will be thinking about how soft their fur felt; how delicately their eyes fluttered and their nose twitched when they slept; how gentle they were when they nuzzled your arm and licked your face on your saddest day. No, you will not be longing to make more memories of competition. You will be longing to have more moments when you can just sit and be together. We all get the dogs we want: we ask for them, chose them and shape them. What ever breed, from what ever group, we end up with who we are meant to be with. Be thankful.


  1. truer words were ever written!

  2. Hi, I've just caught your post about Heidi. I am so sorry to hear the diagnosis. Good to hear she is recovering and progressing well. Shelties are strong wee dogs. I lost my Sheltie age 6 to cancer of the lymph nodes, you can read her story here:
    There is a list of support groups on there that you might find of some help. You can contact me with any questions you may have! I pray that Heidi continues to go from strength to strength!