Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dog Breeds

This week, I wanted to provide a little input on your own dog, and what is going on in her head. I know, that sounds a little creepy- I probably don't know you or your dog, so how could I possibly assume to know anything about your precious pooch? 
I know a bit about dog breeds. I'm not claiming to be an expert on any one breed, I'm not a breeder or veterinarian as we all know; but I've worked with a LOT of dogs of different breeds over the years. And read lots of books. And I know a lot of veterinarians and breeders. 
What does that matter? It means that I know that the following information is generally true. 
While many of these characteristics are true for most individual dogs, there are always exceptions. In my opinion, that's part of what makes life fun! 

So, I hope this provides some good reading and insight...maybe even a few laughs if you have a Border Collie who loves sleeping all day instead of running and herding (have you checked her pulse?!)

Straight from my Problem Solving Booklet, something provided to all clients:

It is often very helpful to know what breed(s) your dog is to gain a better understanding of their behavior. Most dogs have been bred for hundreds to thousands of years to have certain characteristics. Knowing what your dogs ancestors have been bred to do will help you and your trainer to know what to expect and how best to design a training plan. Why does your terrier dig every time he is out in the yard? Why does your beagle have to smell everything on the ground on every walk? These are characteristics that were bred for- terriers were originally bred to hunt vermin and beagles have been used for years for hunting and tracking. A student once asked what was wrong with her German Shorthair Pointer- she assumed she just had a canine version of ADHD. I thought about it and told her, “because she was bred that way- she is a pointer, she was bred to look for anything moving in her environment and point it out for a hunter to see. To us, who are not hunting for game, it seems like she is constantly thinking 'something shiny! Ooh! Something moved! Ooh! Something shiny! Oh! I smell something!..' She was essentially bred to have what seems like ADHD!”. The owner, who was on the verge of quitting group classes and considering re-homing has since completed advanced obedience and multiple agility classes with her loving, loyal dog who was just doing what was natural to her. Please, read on and do not stop here! Read all you can about your dog's breed(s), the more you know the better off you both will be.
There are seven breed groups as established by the AKC:
  1. Sporting
  2. Working
  3. Herding
  4. Terrier
  5. Non-Sporting
  6. Hound
  7. Toy

Sporting Group
Example breeds in this group: (this is not a full list, but should give you a good idea of who's who)
-American Water Spaniel -Chesapeake Bay Retriever -Pointer -Clumber Spaniel -Flat-Coated Retriever -Weimeraner -Brittany Spaniel -Golden Retriever -Vizla -English Spaniel -Irish Water Spaniel -Gordon Setter -Cocker Spaniel -German Shorthair Pointer -Irish Setter -Field Spaniel -English Cocker Spaniel -Spinone Italiano -English Setter -German Wirehaired Pointer -Sussex Spaniel -Welsh Springer Spaniel -Wirehaired Pointing Griffon -Labrador Retriever -Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever -Curly Coated Retriever
Common Characteristics:
  • High Distract-ability- Helps these dogs to notice birds and other game when hunting, but may make group classes difficult as gaining and keeping attention requires constant work.
  • Sensitive to Corrections (Spaniels and Setters)- Can make training easy, as they will remember any corrections, but if not properly socialized with people and children can be uneasy in families. If corrected using punishment methods, can react by shutting down or with fear-based aggression. 
  • Insensitive to Corrections (Retrievers): Can make training a bit more challenging, as they can easily ignore corrections; they may also react by shutting down or sometimes with aggression to some punishment techniques. On the other hand these dogs are typically more tolerant of children, new people and other dogs.
  • High need for Daily Exercise: These dogs have been bred to be outside assisting a hunter and as a result have plenty of energy to run off. They have been bred to notice everything and react instantly. A walk around the block will likely not be enough for these dogs as adults, a long walk or two or running daily is necessary to prevent problem behaviors such as digging, chewing or barking.
Working Group:
Example breeds in this group: (this is not a full list, but should give you a good idea of who's who)
-Akita -Bernese Mountain Dog -Bullmastiff -Black Russian Terrier -Anatolian Shepard -Boxer
-Doberman Pinscher -German Pinscher -Great Dane -Giant Schnauzer -Great Pyrenees -Komondor- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog -Kuvasz -Mastiff -Neapolitan Mastiff -Portuguese Water Dog -Newfoundland -Rottweiler -Saint Bernard -Samoyed -Siberian Husky -Standard Schnauzer -Tibetan Mastiff
Common Characteristics:
  • Overbearing/protective: Many of these breeds have been bred as protective of home and family and to work independently. If not properly managed with positive reinforcement and a fair, consistent leader, these dogs may try to take a leadership role.
  • Territorial/Possessive: Since these dogs were bred to protect their families and homes, they may develop issues with possession of objects, food or people. Proper socialization with new people and dogs as well as development of proper manners is important to prevent or manage this problem.
  • Independence/Stubborn: The independence that has allowed this breed to be good protectors of a home can manifest as stubbornness in training. To ensure success, owners of these breeds should focus on positive reinforcement and give rewards for obedience at every opportunity.
  • Insensitive to Corrections: Can make training a bit more challenging, as they can easily ignore corrections; they may also react with aggression or by shutting down to some punishment techniques.

Herding Group
Example breeds in this group: (this is not a full list, but should give you a good idea of who's who)
-Australian Cattle Dog -Australian Shepard -Bearded Collie -Belgain Malinois -Belgian Sheepdog -Border Collie -Belgian Tevuren -Bouvier des Flanders -Briard -Canaan Dog -Cordigan Welsh Corgi -Collie -German Shepard Dog -Old English Sheepdog -Shetland Sheepdog -Pembroke Welsh Corgi -Polish Lowland Sheepdog -Swedish Vallhund
Common Characteristics:
  • High Prey/Chase Drive: These breeds have been bred to find and go after quick movement, such as a runaway sheep or a prey animal stalking the herd. Unless properly desensitized, these breeds can become overly stimulated by the activities of small children, bicycles or skates.
  • Herding Behavior: Similarly, when these breeds see a quick moving object they have the strong instinct to chase and/or nip it. When these dogs live in a house with children, the children can become the flock that the dog needs to keep in check. Proper socialization and desensitization at an early age can help deter this.
  • High need for Mental Activity: These dogs were bred to move a herd or flock of animals. They had to move them long distances or into specific areas. As a result they are excellent problem solvers and need mental stimulation on a daily basis or they will find problems to solve themselves (like how to get into that trash can or to the other side of the fence).
  • High need for Daily Exercise: Again, these dogs were bred to move an entire herd or flock of cattle or sheep, as a result they have energy to burn. These dogs need vigorous exercise daily, at least two long walks or a run as an adult. If not properly exercised, these dogs can develop undesirable habits such as tail-chasing, pacing, digging and aggression.
  • Easily Trained: Since these breeds were meant to work closely with humans, they tend to work well and learn quickly in classes.
  • Overly Attached: Again, because of their history of working closely with humans, along with a high pack drive and desire to please, these dogs can be prone to developing separation anxiety. Dogs of this groups should be taught to accept time away from owner from a young age; crate training is highly recommended.

Terrier Group:
Example breeds in this group: (this is not a full list, but should give you a good idea of who's who)
-Airedale Terrier -American Staffordshire Terrier -Cairn Terrier -Australian Terrier -Bedlington Terrier -Border Terrier -Dandie Dinmont Terrier -Glen of Imaal Terrier -Bull Terrier -Kerry Blue Terrier -Lakeland Terrier -Irish Terrier -Standard Manchester Terrier -Miniature Bull Terrier -Norfolk Terrier -Miniature Schnauzer -Norwich Terrier -Scottish Terrier -Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier -Sealyham Terrier -Skye Terrier -Smooth Fox Terrier -Staffordshire Bull Terrier -Welsh Terrier -West Highland White Terrier -Wire Fox Terrier
Common Characteristics:

  • Active and Tenacious: Many of these dogs were bred to hunt vermin and not back down when attacked by them. They can easily respond aggressively to punishment techniques and some corrections. Owners should be sure to positively reward all good behavior and avoid physical corrections.
  • High need for Daily Exercise: As many of dogs were bred to chase down small vermin, they have plenty of energy. They need daily exercise such as a long walk, fetch or a session of tricks and obedience cues to exercise mind and body.
  • Alert and Agile: As many dogs were bred to hunt and kill vermin so they are able to move quite quickly and find their way into small spaces. Owners need to be aware of this and able to keep up with them!
  • Digging and Hunting Instinct: If not properly exercised these dogs will dig and hunt for things on their own. Providing an acceptable outlet for these activities like their own sandbox or doing nosework games and activities can prevent problem behaviors.
  • Potential for Aggression towards other Animals: Since they were bred to hunt and kill vermin, they may not befriend smaller animals. Some terriers have been bred to fight other animals and as a result need to have good, positive socialization with other animals as early as possible. An owner who is aware of this and is able to redirect the dog before trouble arises will have a happy life with their tenacious terrier.
Non-Sporting Group:
Example breeds in this group: (this is not a full list, but should give you a good idea of who's who)
-American Eskimo Dog -Bichon Frise -Boston Terrier-Bulldog -Chinese Shar-Pei -Chow Chow -Dalmatian -Finnish Spitz -French Bulldog -Keeshond -Lhasa Apso -Lowchen -Standard Poodle -Schipperke -Shiba Inu -Tibetan Spaniel -Tibetan Terrier
Common characteristics:
  • Mixed: One important thing to remember about this group is that is is a bit of a mixed bag. There are breeds that have some characteristics of the working group (keeshond, schipperke) while others have characteristics of the sporting group (dalmatian, finnish spitz, poodle). Some breeds within this group have been bred to guard (lhasa apso, chow chow, chinese shar-pei) but others have been bred as companions or literally lap dogs for royalty (bichon frise, tibetan spaniel, boston terrier, french bulldog, tibetan terrier)
  • Difficult to Motivate: Since very few of these dogs were bred for 'hard labor' they can be difficult to motivate in training. This is a great example of how rewarding for performing tricks or cues can be helpful in keeping the dog motivated. On the other hand, since these dogs do not always need exercise (with some exceptions like those similar to working and sporting groups) they can make better family pets. Less of a prey drive can make them easier to handle. Since they were not bred to work, they do not feel that they need to work on a daily basis.
Hound Group:
Example breeds in this group: (this is not a full list, but should give you a good idea of who's who)
-Afghan -American Foxhound -Basenji -Basset Hound -Black and Tan Coonhound -Beagle
-Bloodhound -Borzoi -Dachshund -English Foxhound -Greyhound -Harrier -Ibizan Hound -Irish Wolfhound -Otterhound -Norwegian Elkhound -Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen -Pharaoh Hound -Plott -Rhodesian Ridgeback -Saluki -Whippet
Common Characteristics:
  • Easily Distracted: These dogs have been bred to react to scent and/or movement. As a result they can be easily distracted by anything in their environment. Owner should be prepared to work hard to gain dog's focus. A plus is that being allowed to sniff can be used as a reward for some of these dogs.
  • Independent: Since these dogs have been bred to work with but independently of people, they can have less of a drive to please their owner. Dogs can quickly become bored with repetition, owner should be prepared to keep dog motivated and interested.
Toy Group:
-Affenpinscher -Cavalier King Charles Spaniel -Brussels Griffon -Chinese Crested -English Toy Spniel -Chihuahua -Havanese -italian Greyhound -Japanese Chin -Maltese -Toy Manchester Terrier -Miniature Pinscher -Papillon -Pekingese -Pomeranian -Poodle (toy, miniature) -Pug -Shih Tzu -Silky Terrier -Toy Fox Terrier -Yorkshire Terrier
Common Characteristics:
  • Small Size- Some of these breeds do not seem to know that they are in fact, smaller than other dogs. You will often find these small breeds confronting a much larger dog. Another thing to keep in mind is that because of their small size, these breeds can be easily intimidated by people. Owners and trainers may need to practice some cues or behaviors with the dog on a chair to reduce the dog's fear. Owners may also get tired of bending down to reinforce, so teaching these dogs to catch treats comes in handy!
  • Delicate Physiology- Owners of these breeds need to keep in mind that their dogs are very delicate; they can easily break a leg jumping off a sofa. Owner should keep this in mind with training- it is best to avoid any physical corrections as they can easily cause injury to these small breeds.

Breed information courtesy of Animal Behavior College curriculum, stage 1, pg. 6-14 & American Kennel Club

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