Some commentors on an earlier Open Thread were discussing Vox‘s latest clickbait about the “(somewhat)definitive ranking” of the “most overrated and underrated” dog breeds:
This chart, from David McCandless‘ fascinating new book Knowledge is Beautiful, ranks 87 dog breeds and compares those rankings to the actual popularity of the breeds in the US.
The ranking is based on a number of factors: trainability, life expectancy, lifetime cost (including the price of food and grooming), and suitability for children, among others.
The result: Border Collies, according to McCandless, are the finest dog breed in existence. Labs, Beagles, and Golden Retrievers, while not at the very top, are other popular dogs (at the top right of the chart) that he rates highly…
I’m not gonna post the chart here, because fair use, but it’s a specimen example of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). Apart from some obvious clangers — that’s a Cardigan corgi icon at the center top, not a Pembroke, which is like confusing a Rottweiler with a Doberman — there’s a lot of shaky assumptions and conflations even to my informed-amateur eyes.
First big mistake, IMO, is that there’s vastly different size pools to draw upon. There probably aren’t as many Welsh Springer Spaniels registered in a year as there are Labs in a good week, and I suspect every Pharaoh Hound owner in America is no more than two degrees separated from every other PH owner. That’s going to skew the statistics for factors like ‘costs’ and ‘aliments’, because people who breed and buy rare(r) breeds will, as a group, pay more for those rare puppies and spend more to keep their expensive acquisitions in the best of health.
Secondly, both ‘longevity’ and ‘appetite’ metrics are inherently skewed against the larger breeds. Individual exceptions abound, but as a rule of thumb, the bigger the dog, the shorter the lifespan. No responsible dog buyer expects a Great Dane or a Newfoundland to live as long as a Beagle or a Miniature Schnauzer; the people who choose to live with big dogs are aware that they’re trading ‘purchase cost per day’ for factors that are, to them, more important. And, yeah, big dogs cost more to feed than little dogs, but that particular expense should be waaaay down the decision curve when it comes to picking the “best” dog breed for a particular situation.
Most seriously, the chart is seriously wrong about its definitions of “dumb” and “clever” (and I say that as someone whose chosen breed, Papillons, are scored clever). Notice that Australian Shepherds, Dachshunds, and most of the sighthound breeds (including Great Danes) are labelled “dumb”, while Labs and Cocker Spaniels are labelled “clever”. Not to hurt anyone’s feelings — I’m sure your Lab or Cocker is well above average! — but when it comes to which breed is quickest to learn new behaviors or solve novel problems, Labs and Cockers would score firmly in the mid-ranges. Labs and Cockers are smart enough dogs, in general; they may not be laboratory super-geniuses like Border Collies, but they’re compliant. Cooperative. As the sales literature says, “eager to please”. Dachshunds, Basenjis, even Aussies… not so compliant; the term “willful” or “self-directed” is used more often when describing them. The graph confuses problem-solving intelligence with temperamental compliance. Which is like ranking food based on cost-per-kcal and appearance; they’re both factors in food preferences, but if you overweight them against metrics like palatability or local custom, you’ll end up giving the top score to granualized Soylenttm run through a 3D printer and nobody will come to your dinner parties.
No matter how elaborate the spreadsheet, there is no one “best” dog breed because there is no single “dog purpose”. People love dogs, and own dogs, for a whole host of purposes — companionship being the most important for the average American. Dogs have adapted, brilliantly, to meet our utilitarian, emotional, and aesthetic needs, which vary not just from person to person but from year to year. Someone living in an apartment will be happiest with a small dog, or at least a low-key couch potato dog; someone who loves to exercise will be happier with a high-energy dog; people living with children have different requirements than those of who don’t, and parents of toddlers different needs than parents of teenagers.
What you, Novice Dog Buyer, want is a dog that will pick up and respect basic rules: “don’t pee in the house, chew the furniture, challenge the household humans for dominance, molest the other pets in the household; always be happy to share a cuddle or go for a walk”. What you don’t want is a dog that is smart enough to get bored when it’s left alone for fourteen hours a day, or one that needs more exercise than you can reliably provide. Border collies fall into both these categories — to be healthy, to stay sane, they need regular mental and physical stimulation. They may be “the best” but they are not beginners’ dogs, any more than a Maserati or a NASCAR racer is a commuter’s car. Unless you have a flock to herd, or you work from home and can commit to at least an hour of outdoor exercise every day for the next ten years, getting a Border Collie is setting yourself up to break a good dog and your own heart.
With very slight changes, this chart would also serve as a guide for contemporary American males to picking a girlfriend.
@mclaren: If you’ve been reading the MRA websites, no wonder you’re so cranky.
You people wouldn’t be fat or riding scooters around Walmart if you had a sheltie.
First sheltie I borrowed had never seen a frisbee. He caught it the first time. He was quite annoyed with my throwing until he figured out it was supposed to land near the girl sunning in the park.
We had Golden Retrievers because we had small children, and they were great. A toddler could put her arm in the dog’s mouth and the dog would just gag and look confused. The Golden mix lived to be 14, but the purebred died suddenly at age 8. We later heard from a dog-trainer that she’d never heard of a purebred Golden making it to 10 – they often die of cancer. We were heartbroken, and my husband started going to the shelter within the week looking for another dog. We decided another golden wasn’t the thing for a couple in their 60’s – Bosley was over 100 pounds, and we thought something smaller would be more suitable. We should have been thinking that we had a grandchild on the way and a gentle Golden would still be a good idea from that point of view. Instead, my husband chose what the shelter thought was a Lab/Border Collie mix. He’s a sweet dog, and smart as a whip. I’ve never had a dog pick up training so quickly. But he’s also a lot of dog for an older couple. He’s fine in the summer if we can sit outside for hours while he chases rabbits, and he loves going to the dog park and running flat out, but it’s harder in the winter. He’s very much a people dog, and doesn’t really like going outside by himself, and he follows us around the house. He’s got the Border Collie stare: sometimes you want to say “stop looking at me!”. We got him a rug when we were training him to go to his “place”, and he’d methodically tear it up into little tiny pieces. New rug, same thing. He loves people a little too much, and my daughter won’t bring her baby over here – we have to visit over there, because she doesn’t trust him not to jump on the kid. Our training skills haven’t gone that far yet. A Golden would have been a better choice for the grandbaby. As I say, Seamus is a great dog, and we love him dearly and find him endlessly entertaining, but he’s definitely not a beginner’s dog.
The retired racing grayhounds my friends had were lazy dogs. Now that they were RETIRED all they wanted to do was sleep. Although one day when we took two of them to a Saluki running meet, Sardi did get into the race. (The race sponsors allowed her to run but not did not count her as eligible for a prize/ranking.) For a big dog they can do well in an apartment because they often do not want to be active. As long as you don’t over feed them and make them gain weight they do fine.
@srv: Shelties do very well on the smart-vs-compliant scale; almost as driven to learn as border collies, but a lot more focused on pleasing people. Only problem is, they can be very barky (those who love them say it’s because they were very valuable farming aids & too small to fight off a human dognapper, so they were bred to be standoffish & noisy with strangers). And they take more grooming than a golden retriever, so people who are bothered by dog hair need to schedule regular professional care into the budget. But before we discovered papillons, I was seriously looking into getting a sheltie as my first dog…
That’s interesting about the reason shelties are standoffish with strangers and noisy. I have a friend with 2 shelties and that describes them exactly.
One thing about grayhounds and weight: because of the way they’ve been bred for speed and lightness, their bones are on the thin side, not very dense or heavy. They can’t gain a lot of weight because their bones can’t support it. You have to keep them from eating too much. That’s why they can do well in an apartment.
They will crate up rather willingly because they are used to being crated when off the track. If you put in a pillow or two or some blankets, that to them is paradise. On the track they are kept on newspaper, so anything soft is appreciated by them.
Yeah, I know that look! I think our problem rescue Papillon-mix Gloria is part Border Collie because she’s got The Stare, too. She looks like a half-sized BC, but it’s the “eye” and the way she approaches a new puzzle — wolf-creeping, head stretched out, tail held low — that really makes me suspect her ancestry. She’s entirely too much dog for a couple of aging couch potatoes, but since the alternative to staying with us was euthanasia (she bites), I mark it up to karma paying me back for all the times I sneered at newbies who took on dogs that were too much for them!
If I wanted a dog, I’d ask all the animal behaviourists I’m working with. But my key, most critical element is-massive floof. Like, I should be able to confuse it with a furry sofa. And it should adore me. Bonus points if it can fly and I call it Falcor.
The local committee thanks you for this and your further observations above. You couldn’t pay me share space with a BC. Too intense. That’s a stress inducing dog.
Lately, Cisco the basenji has taken to doing a somersault in the middle of the floor when he feels he is not being sufficiently celebrated.
Excellent points, AL. My sister & BIL got a sheltie for their first dog many years ago because she remembered our aunt’s sheltie Lady (we lived with her for 3 years after our mother died). She forgot that our aunt & uncle lived on a farm & Lady kept busy all day long.
Their sheltie was more problematical, since she was home alone while they both worked. She did herd their 2 kids for them, though :)
And I agree about the “cleverness” ratings on that scale. As the owner of a Pomeranian, they’re ranked kind of high, IMO. I mean, I love him a lot, but . . . he’s lucky he’s cute.
Ain’t got no idea what “breed” my dog is. Markings of a German Shepherd, curled tail and spotted tongue like Chow(??), long front claws like a digging beast, and ballpark 45-50 lbs.
She’s my dog. Full stop. And I’d best not be caught getting too friendly with other dogs, or there will be trouble. (Not a joke).
But she’s my dog.
@PurpleGirl: One of the dogs who convinced me I wanted to get my first dog was a retired field (coursing) Afghan Hound owned by a dear friend. Her other dogs, I could take or leave, but Shadow was just… special; smart and gorgeous and willful as a cat. Tina wanted to train her in basic AKC obedience (*not* a natural fit); but the first time Shadow attended a match, her ears perked up when the crowd applauded the first dog finishing its round in the ring. So we were careful after that to have her claque at the front whenever she came up — it really improved her performance!
We have had dachshunds since 96. Went to animal control and got the first one, Sparky. He was my husband’s dog from the moment they laid eyes on each other. We acquired Max a couple of months later. Jake joined the pack in March 97. Dixie joined us in 99 and Missy was in 02. Having 5 dachshunds and traveling a lot got us a lot of stares and many roadside friends. All of the original pack are gone. We now have one older girl (about 5 years old that came from Miami/Dade Animal Control) and 3 pups that are 9 months old. “Willful” “self-directed” doesn’t exactly describe dachshunds. It’s there but they are also the “god of frolic” and ready for the next adventure. And just about anything is an adventure. Dachshies are also natural clowns and have a sense of humor. I’d rather watch our pack of dogs play for an hour than any tv show.
Oh, good god. Imagine the worst person alive USA Today could give an editorial on feminazis vs comets.
No, worse than that. Glenn Harlan Reynolds.
An ex described the issue with home alone Border Collies as “Bored Puppy Syndrome”…
The list also speaks well of Australian Cattle Dogs. That’s another dog not for beginners. Ours earned her name “Bedlam” in under 24 hours as an 8 week old puppy. She was indeed smart, but considered commands to be requests, and not orders, firmly convinced that she had veto power.
Also the herding instinct is still very strong in the breed. Things aren’t supposed to move at speeds above a walk, and if they are, they clearly have to be turned. Borders work with sheep, where a good stare will turn a flock. ACD’s are for working open ranged near wild cattle, they use teeth, nipping at Achilles tendons. Not a problem with a ton of critter that hasn’t seen a human in over a year, and is about to become hamburger, but when its the neighbors 4 year old, its an issue.
That chart has all sorts of problems; for a start they didn’t even consider how each breed tastes.
@srv: Oh, Jesus. Now we’re getting transhumansplained.
Kid is off to state marching band championship next week, finishing first in the semis. They’ve not lost a competition for at least 5 years. Let’s hope that streak doesn’t break now.
Oooh yeah. Apart from the “high degree of self-regard” issue, and the nipping, they can be a little iffy about sharing… “does not do well in a pack of dogs”, Wikipedia says. But the few I’ve met all had a great sense of humor!
Karen in GA
I thought Iggy was a poodle-bichon-terrierish sort of mix when I first saw him at the rescue. Then the rescue got him vaccinated and neutered, and had him groomed — and it was only when I picked him up to bring him home that I found out he was a Mini Schnauzer, the one breed I hadn’t researched when we decided to get a dog.
What? Every Schnauzer I’d ever seen looked so, well, humorless. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that I had the option of not grooming a Schnauzer that way.
Turns out Iggy’s the greatest dog in the universe, so it worked out well.
ETA: Looked to see where Iggy is on the chart, and yes, in fact, he is all that, thankyouverymuch.
Karen in GA
By the way, anyone else notice the cat on that chart? Highly regarded, evidently.
@Anne Laurie: I have been thinking of getting a dog for ages (never had one). The lady that lives behind me, a good friend, has an Australian type herding/cattle dog. I love the darn thing. Large, active. Just what I want.
I am not a dog owner nor an expert. Feel free to correct me (like I need to say that). Clearly different breeds of dogs have different traits. In my experience it isn’t the dog that is “dumb” it is the owner that doesn’t spend the time and love with the dog. I hate to call my brother out but he and his wife have a Labradoodle. The thing is a total terror. I almost dislike going to see him because I don’t want the dog almost mauling me. I don’t think this is the dog, I think it is the owners.
@Tommy: I have a friend who has a Goldendoodle. She’s a no-nonsense type who’s never had a dog she couldn’t train until this one. He spends all our visits in the bathroom because he’s just too crazy around people. In this case it’s the dog.
@Tommy: are you a runner? That would be a good match. I have one. Friend who was a marathon runner who had a springer spaniel, which requires a lot of exercise. That was a good match. Another, sedentary friend had one, and it didn’t go as well.
@Tommy: Most people do not like dogs that will climb on them at meeting the person. When you have a large dog like a Doberman pinscher, that becomes a problem. My friend had trained Hugo not to climb or jump onto people. Indeed when I visited them and Hugo realized it was me, he’d run rings around me but he never jumped up to greet me or anyone. It helped a great deal when I met him for the first time. This is a dog that in time I was able to give him medicine pills by putting them down his throat — yes, putting my hand halfway down his throat.
@Gretchen: Clearly I am talking about one dog. One breed. They have a large fenced in yard. So they don’t walk him. Just let him out. When I am over I walk him. Or take him out back and play with him. His personality seems to change after I do this. I got pics of me where this 75+ pound dog thinks he is a small lap dog. He isn’t bouncing off the walls.
@Gretchen: Not a runner, but a walker. I do many miles a day. The top requirement if I get a dog is she/he can live with my cat. The second is they will want to walk with me.
Seems like Anonymous has developed a serious hard-on for the Klan over their attempt to use the Ferguson tragedy as an excuse for murder:
Acquaintance whom I really, really did not like left her Golden Lab in my care when she went on vacation for a couple of weeks.
Friendly dog, but thick as a brick. Stupid as the day is long.
Don’t remember at all what its original name was, but retrained the thing to answer only to”Veggie.” Owner was seriously displeased, which signaled mission accomplished on my end.
@Morzer: Living in the area I can say there are places not that far from Ferguson that are pretty tough. Wear a “white hood” in the area and see what happens. I am not remotely promoting violence of any kind. Just saying they might be barking up the wrong tree here.
When I was in Scotland, went with some friends to visit relatives of theirs at their farm way, way, way out in the county.
Sitting in the cold, drafty parlor of the farmhouse, downing whisky after whisky liberally poured by the patriarch and in trotted the little farm mutt, which immediately leaped up onto my lap.
Dog had apparently spent the last month rolling in every type of manure the farm’s animals could produce. Repeatedly.
@Tommy: That sounds like most dogs would be a good fit for you. I hope you go for it. I have a hard time being without a dog. That explains why we lasted all of a week after our dog died before we got another dog. That wasn’t a dis on the dog who died – on the contrary. I can still cry at the thought of him. But we just missed him too much to live in the empty house. The house was just to quiet and lonely.
@Gretchen: Oh I get it. The only reason I have not gotten a dog is my cat. I am far less worried about the dog dealing with my cat then my cat dealing with a dog. My cat can do as she likes. Heck the reason I am up now is she woke me up my pawing my face (no claws) because she wanted some tuna. My cat runs the house. I just live in it.
Well, yeah, part of having a well-behaved dog is spending enough time with the poor thing that it learns how to communicate with people, and gets an idea of what humans generally want from dogs. I decided I wanted to get my first dog, when I was almost thirty, because my dearest friends were doing AKC obedience work with their dogs, and it was fascinating for this science-fiction fan to see that this “dog training” was actually “learning to communicate with a non-human species”, just like I’d always dreamed about. Even if observation also established that a lot of that non-human conversation was gonna be stuff like “Huh?” and “Nope, not gonna do that” and “Nag, nag, nag — why do we never talk about *my* needs?!?”
But some dogs definitely have higher IQs than others, and some dogs are more interested in communicating with us not-dogs. There’s a continuum — stupid dogs who really want to please people, and stupid dogs who don’t care whether their people are happy or not; smart dogs who will do anything including stupid stuff to make their people happy, and smart dogs who give no quarter. I’ve been out of the loop for some years now, but I spent almost twenty years attending & assisting with obedience classes, mostly at the absolute-beginners, household-manners classes. So I’ve met many many specimens of the most popular breeds, and at least a few members of quite rare breeds (Ibizan hounds, petite basset griffon vendeens, silken windhounds, Nova Scotian duck tolling retrievers, at least one acknowledged wolf cross.) It’s prejudiced me, to a degree — I don’t like Siberian huskies, even though they’re smart, because my first dog & I spent several years training every week in a group with a mean, sneaky Siberian whose owner kept making excuses for her picking on other dogs. I have no respect for the intelligence of Labs, because so many of the Labs I’ve met were inda-kay umb-day, though universally loving & affectionate.
“Designer dogs” — like Labradoodles and Goldendoodles — are a crapshoot. The ideal is to get a dog with the best of both breeds, and none of the problems with either. But you’ve probably heard the old joke about the beautiful actress (Ellen Terry) who proposed to George Bernard Shaw — “Imagine a child with your brains and my body!” To which Shaw replied “Imagine a child with your brains and my body!” (Which wasn’t really fair to Terry, because she wasn’t exactly stupid.) Because of the luck of the genetic draw, some Labradoodles are going to be as high-strung (highly reactive, the behaviorists say) as a poodle and as resistant-to-suggestion as a lab (like football linebackers, they don’t know their own strength, and sometimes they act before they think). So you get a dog who panics easily, and who is strong enough and insensitive enough to charge through a screen or a glass door to get away from whatever it’s scared of.
Since you don’t seem to have any strong feelings about what kind of dog you’d like, and you already have a cat, my suggestion would be that you ask your friends who have well-trained dogs which are the best shelters or rescues in your area. Not the ones that just want to move dogs out, keep churning those cages, but the kind of place where they want to be sure you and the dog will both be better off. Make some friends there, and tell them what you’re looking for — a dog who will be happy walking miles with you, but not so needy you’re afraid to leave it alone for an hour, or so possessive that you’re worried about it “protecting” you from the cat or your little niece.
No such breed. Yellow lab — or, if you mean the long-haired soft-eyed guys like Dug in the UP movie, Golden Retriever. But I’m guessing yellow lab, cuz “very friendly, but thick as a brick” is kinda the breed standard. :)
Border collie owner for eleven years now since she was a puppy; what a breed! My favourite dog ever.
Yes, we live in the country. Yes the dog has run at least a kilometre every day; somehow she got in into her head that running along ahead of our pickup truck on our long driveway was ‘herding.’ She barks when the vehicle reverses. for example as it is going the ‘wrong way.’ This serves as a reverse warning klaxon when parking.
Now that she is older she has settled down a lot and is our devoted pet and the heart-throb of a number of ex-girlfriends who don’t even pretend they are stopping by to see me.
@Anne Laurie: I have a high school friend that runs an animal shelter by me. Not talked to him in decades, but pretty sure he would recall my name if I called. Will ask him for a shepherd mix dog. Much of what you said, and thanks for the detailed reply, I have done. What I want is a puppy. Not because they are cute, but I think a smaller dog before it got much larger would be easier for my cat to deal with. I’d like the two to be “friends.” That might sound strange to a non-pet lover, but I bet people here get my meaning.
I used to read the blog Dooce. A woman blogging in Utah. She had a collie that was a terror. Then she took it to a class, and I guess there are actual classes, where the dog could herd sheep. She picked it up in minutes. Looked like a champ. Came home a different dog.
She said it found the dog purpose. That the dog needed purpose. Why I say in almost every comment about looking for my first dog I want it to desire to walk with me. I want my dog to drop their leash in my lap and look at me, “yeah let’s go walk.”
Sounds like you’ve got a good plan. Keep this in mind, though: A puppy is a baby, and babies aren’t always good about “boundaries”. Just like a human baby will grab your glasses, stick a finger in your ear, bite your hand, a puppy may get too physical with your cat without meaning any harm. Plenty of older dogs know that cats are not for molesting, especially if you tell them to leave the cat alone. Just make sure your friend knows you need a cat-friendly dog… and make sure your cat has an “escape route” available. (We have baby gates set up, that our little dogs can’t jump but the cats can. One of the cats still mostly hangs around on the first floor with the dogs, but the other one tends to stay upstairs unless he gets particularly bored.)
Tommy: or you could get a smaller dog who’s not a puppy, perhaps even an older dog. They tend to be calmer and your cat might appreciate that.
All the discussion of breed characteristics cracks me up, because we’ve never not had a dog with an impenetrable knot of mixed-up DNA. We can identify that our current dog is primarily hound, for example, so god knows we brought this on ourselves (just kidding; she’s a sweetheart and the crazy is watered down by all the other stuff), but beyond that, the stew ingredients are largely a mystery.
OT, why do I have to go online to buy a surge protector with more than a three-foot cord? I mean, I don’t mind doing that, but you’d think the big hardware stores would have them on site.
@Anne Laurie: Point taken. But honestly I am more worried about the puppy than my cat. She is about as laid back as you can get, but another cat in the neighborhood will come by the back porch and the realization of the reaction worries me. Evil intent on my cats part.
@Tommy: Working dogs love work. It gives them dignity; noble creatures.
From personal experience, that chart has Cairn Terriers and Australian Shepherds reversed. My Cairns were both dumber than a box of rocks, had short attention spans, and were as willful as the day is long. My Australian Shepherds, on the other hand, are as intelligent as any Border Collie I’ve ever met, and just as fiendishly clever when they’re bored. Aussies are smart enough to train to do agility trials; Cairns….not so much.
My grandmother had a Corgi. Corky wanted to herd and nobody would accommodate her so when I visited I let her herd me all around the house. She’d be SO pleased with herself, it made my day.
Bullshit on the Labs are dumb stuff. I’ve had two, our departed yellow Lab, Henry, and now Koda, a chocolate. Both super smart. Our dear departed Otis, a golden, was a stereotypical golden. Not very smart, but gentle, sweet and loving. I’m interested to see how my sister’s new puppy turns out. It’s a breed I’ve never heard of and is apparently quite rare, Norwegian bohund. Adorable and full of energy but she’s only 14 weeks, so the energy level may change with age. Apparently, they are related to Spitzes, which was the breed of her previous dog, Cookie.
Best dog I ever had was a Norwegian Elkhound that adopted us (actually, it was our three year old foster son she adopted) at the Wisconsin resort my ex-wife’s family takes over for a week every summer. She came out of the woods one day and immediately appointed herself our boy’s protector–accompanied him everywhere he went, waited outside whatever cabin he was visiting till he emerged, and slept under our front porch every night. We kept in touch with the resort after returning to Illinois and they were unable to find an owner so she ended up in a local shelter. After jumping through a few hoops to arrange an out-of-state adoption we were able to bring her home. She was about eight years old when we got her and was only with us a few more years. Don’t know if she was typical of the breed, but we’ve been without a dog since she died and I often think of looking for another to adopt.
Mutts rock. That is all.
Designer mutts like labradoodles not so much, and anyone who pays hundreds for a designer mutt is crazy.
A friend from high school days decided to get a Border Collie. She had a very busy life and had very little time for the dog, which spent most of the day locked in a small crate. It was torture going to her house and seeing that poor miserable dog in its crate just dying to go out for a run. I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped hanging out with her. She noticed the absence after a while and asked what had happened. So I told her and that was the last time I ever spoke with her. She could not believe I would give up our friendship over a dog. To be honest, I care more about animals than most of the worthless humans who walk this earth.
Iowa Old Lady
@satby: Every dog we’ve ever had was a mutt. Wonderful dogs all.
Thanks for calling bullshit on that chart, which is not only a fine example of GIGO but also evidence of how effectively “infographics” function as porcine cosmetics.
As dog owners don’t need to be told, there’s also considerable variation in intelligence and personality within the same breed. Dogs are individuals.
I have a rescue mix. He sort of looks like he has some pointer in him. He’s my fifth dog and was the easiest to house train. Either I got better at training, or he’s a smarter dog than the others. Oddly, this is the first dog I have owned where I do not have a yard. I do live across the street from a park that is full of bunnies and squirrels for him to chase though.
Earlier this year, we posed for an upcoming coffee table book on the healing power of dogs. It is being funded by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation and will feature HIV+ dog owners and their dogs. All the money raised will go to AIDS awareness for High School students.
My picture is awesome!
You know what is BS: the meximum sentence this jackalope can receive if convicted of involuntary manslaughter is 21 months in prison.
If one is not going to put the time into making a dog obedient or trained, don’t get one that demands a lot of attention. A mid-to-largeish mix of easy-going traits (I’d say “retriever mix” but there are many others) will be one that best serves if it’s the first time around for the owner.
I offer this as second-hand information. Know ones limitations: I was raised with dogs and am now a cat person, so I’m not expecting a command-following pet when I get home at the end of the day.
@Tommy: Yeah, I had an Australian Shepherd that did precisely that – get the leash and bring it to me (less “drop in my lap”, more “drag on the ground”, but same thing.) We had concrete floors, so the sound of leash being dragged meant it was time for a walk.
That one passed about 10 years ago, and the current monster doesn’t do it – but after 5 minutes on the greenbelt I can drop the leash and she’ll stay right next to me (let her carry the damned leash).
A Border Collie is good if you need someone to play Scrabble with. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827921.900-border-collie-takes-record-for-biggest-vocabulary.html
There is no collie on the chart. We had a collie. Super easy to train, super gentle; social with dogs, babies, cats, super low key, but the barking was a drag. Once she started she kept going. In the spring her undercoat would fall out all at once which was a mess, too. I still find an occasional bit of fluff. Now we have standard poodles. They aren’t so good with cats and non-poodles (they also like boxers and pit bulls), but they are easy to train and no fur in the house that isn’t still attached to the dog. I used to have German shorthairs, but the husband doesn’t tolerate the energy level and prefers furry dogs. The secret with a GSP is to get them from rescue well after puppyhood. They are, unhappily, very, very good problem solvers. There are many available in rescue. Smart is not always a positive characteristic in a dog.
Well, yesterday I got a new puppy. It’s NOT a Border Collie.
Meet Willie, the latest addition to the family!
@Southern Beale: Awwww!
the thought bubble over Riley’s head: WTF? SRSLY?!!
He’s a bit of a handful today but sweeeeeeet. Had to put him in his crate so I could focus on something else for 5 minutes. LOL.
My family got a female beagle in ~1955 from a pet store. She was the best family pet ever–kind, gently and mellow. After she went to her reward, we got a male beagle in 1967. We got him from breeder and came with papers and everything. He was a pretty good dog, but the most unmellow dog ever. He never learned to walk along on a leash, always pulling your arm off. Beagles have come back into fashion and I see them getting walked in the park and most of them are the unmellow, leash-pulling kind. Does anybody know if our first beagle was an anomaly or did the breed change dramatically in just a few years?
Seems like all the more popular breeds have suffered from the proliferation of puppy mills and people figuring they’ll make a few bucks by breeding their household pets. “Papers” don’t mean a whole lot anymore–they just prove your dog is not a “mutt”, and as mentioned in previous comments, mutts often make the best pets.
When I was a kid, a neighbor had an Irish Setter that would roam the neighborhood. It was a beautiful, sweet dog. Loved to run, of course. We had something like a Peekapoo that my dad found on the side of the road on the way home. She jumped in the car when he opened the door, and that was that. She was a great dog for the 10 years or so she was with us. Very smart and good natured.
As a kid, J had a mischievous Corgi mix (who would hide food in the couch) and later a Sheltie when she was in HS. The Corgi was left with neighbors and refused to eat when they went on a long vacation – she didn’t last too long after they returned. :-( Missy, the Sheltie, ended up having a long life.
The first dog we adopted together was something like a GSD/border collie mix. We got her when she was about 7 months old. Incredibly smart, but for several months destroyed her beds and chewed on the kitchen cabinets while we were away at work. She knew the names of all her toys – “Go get your elephant! Go get your hippopotamus!” :-) She was quite submissive when we got her, and would often pee if a stranger wanted to pet her – we figured she had been abused as a pup. :-( She was a great dog, loved visiting the oldsters, loved riding in the car, but didn’t get along too well with other dogs (not actively hostile, just didn’t want to be bothered by them) and adored us. No health problems – she had “great hips” according to the vet. She only lived to be around 10 – she developed hemangiosarcoma – which seems to be a common cancer.
We got Sophie a few months later. We adopted her at a NoVA shelter – she was found as a stray in WV. She’s another mutt, but with seemingly nothing dominant. Curious, we had a DNA test done and it came back with traces of: GSD, Dachshund, Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, German Shorthaired Pointer, Irish Water Spaniel. She loves chasing squirrels, loves little kids, will point when she sees something, loves paddling around in the Potomac River, and is very smart in a “I know what I want, don’t bother me” kinda way. You can see the gears working in her head, but not all the time. She responds best to a treat when trying to get her to do something, but would weigh 200 pounds if we used them all the time…. When we first got her, she would hide biscuits in the plants, presumably for when she was hungry later. She acts like she’s supremely confident and can get along with other dogs just fine, but part of the time she seems to feel the need to be dominant (tries to put her head on their shoulder, etc.) and lots of other dogs don’t like that at all. And she’s got some “enemies” in the neighborhood – on named “Odin”. ;-) She is very attached to us, but is not extremely demonstrative (she’ll stare out the window for hours waiting for us to come home, and dance around when we get back for a few minutes, then go off and take a nap.) When we first got her she seemed to be part kangaroo – she would run and jump and cover about 10 feet in a bound. Amazing. :-) She’s about 8 now and has slowed down a little. She’s got weak hips and some arthritis, but still runs around after the squirrels. And she has had problems with infected cysts for as long as we’ve had her – she’s a very lumpy girl. But she loves life and brings great joy to ours.
I think the chart is a bit of trollery. Especially with the cat. ;-)
Mutts are the best. Each one is unique, and there are so many of them out there looking for homes that I cringe a bit when I see another pure breed puppy walking around the neighborhood. :-(
Samoyed. Fabulously floofy. No doggy smell unless they roll in something. Sweet and loving personality. Funny. Smart.
I grew up with a male beagle/dalmation mix. He had the size and shape of a beagle, but was all white with two black spots on the right side of his hip. He was very affectionate with us, but a complete cement head. Not so much stupid as tunnel vision focused to the point of stupidity. He could only handle one concept at a time, and that one thing would be the end-all be-all of his existence until exhaustion or mission accomplished. He could dig the same hole all afternoon somehow firmly convinced there was something there to find.
Unfortunately he would often elect to focus on less approved of goals like escape – he could smell a bitch in heat anywhere in the county, or trying to become the alpha dog of the neighborhood – he was always picking fights with the other dogs, and never dogs he actually had a chance of beating.
@bemused: Shared a house with three roommates and a Samoyed many years ago. House Rule #1 was “Don’t leave shoes/boots out where Toby can get at them or THEY WILL BE CHEWED.”
EToby was the Samoyed. Humans had other issues.
My Truth Hurts
Border Collies, like a lot of breeds, require specific training and care. If one does not research before jumping into caring for specific breeds with specific needs one is in for much heartache. Border Collies are herd dogs, they need exercise and activities or they get bored and start destroying and licking and digging and chewing. They are for adults with OCD. Not the causal caretaker.
My Truth Hurts
Sometimes people want dogs that are low maintainance and don’t need a lot of attention or work. What those people actually want are cats. I wish more of them would figure it out first.
@My Truth Hurts: Totally agree. We’ve only had a cat for the last few years, but now that our lifestyle is a bit more “settled” it may be time for a dog again. I also believe that some people want a pet they can dominate and control which obviously rules out cats.
ok, I rarely push anything but my own crap on here, but if you are seriously wanting a dog or getting a new dog and you want to train them to be awesome, get Perfect Puppy in 7 Days (both the book and the lecture dvd). Content in there is good for puppies and for adults. How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves is also great for getting into the nuts and bolts of training your dog, because you have to work on your bad habits first. All the dogs, including Lucy, the subject of Perfect Puppy, are just so well behaved, it’s odd to see poorly behaved dogs when I’m out and about. And, it helps them be good with cats too.
Belgian sheepdogs are definitely under-rated, the chart gets that much right. Very smart, loyal, protective and brave when threats arise, sweet tempered among their owners, gentle with children. But they need a lot of activity because they’re sheepdogs.
Corey X It
Ever since I realized Hollywood passed Lassie off as a female for decades I knew our liberal power centers were falsely pushing the gay, feminist, and pet ownership agenda.
I fully expect to learn, upon his death, that June Lockhart was really some guy named Jim. Box turtle matrimony cannot be far away.
I guess I’m not Novice Dog Buyer, because my favorites, Catahoulas, are exactly what Novice Dog Buyer doesn’t want! I do love them, though.
Ah, dogs with a lifelong shoe fetish. Thankfully all of our 5 previous, current 2 Sammies out grew the chewing phase with little lasting favorite chew targets. We do have one that has a thing for cardboard. Even when we bury cereal or non-food boxes deep, deep under the newspapers and papers in recycling basket, she will occasionally sniff and dig them out to eat.
J R in WV
Sounds like in lots of places he would be eligible for lifer status as a repeat offender. Unlike shoplifters who get caught 3 times and sent up, this shining star of stupid sounds like he would deserve it.
We had a cat when we got a Golden Retriever puppy. He’d slap the puppy down with a paw. The puppy got very big very fast, and it was funny to see the cat keep reaching up to slap him down and look confused when he couldn’t reach it any more. The Golden was the only purebred we’ve had, and, yes, reminiscent of Dug in UP. He was also by far the most beautiful, gentle, and dumbest dog we ever had. And skittish: I was walking him once when he decided that a couple of kids standing there minding their own business were too scary to pass, and quickly backed his 115 pounds into me. I fell over him and broke my arm. He was one of the great dogs, though.
Yes. I have had Newfies (rescue Newfies, see http://www.thatnewfoundlandplace.org ) . They are NOT dogs for beginners. They start as the most adorable balls of (usually) black fluff. Within 6 months you have 75+lbs of strong dog with opinions. Dogs that are bred to make decisions about when and how to rescue people in freezing water have minds of their own–training them involves convincing them that doing what you want is in their best interests too. You can train them–a lot, but you have to know how. It’s a good thing they are so incredibly mild-mannered, since a small one clocks in at around 100 lbs adult. When you want to go somewhere and your dog doesn’t? Not like a Beagle that you can pick up…you’ve gotta convince that dog. On the plus side, a more loving, loyal, sensitive, kind natured dog I have never met.
We have an ACD and the exercise requirements were surprising. You say an hour a day of exercise, but that’s not an hour a day strolling around the block; it’s an hour a day of chasing something.
He’s a great dog, but he has to either spend all day at doggy day-care where he’s in the “very active” group along with lab puppies and border collies, and play frisbee with me after work; or go on a 3 mile hike in the morning, frisbee around lunch, chuck-it in the afternoon, and finish off at the park at night.
Otherwise, he runs in circles around the apartment around 11pm and empties the toy box a toy at a time onto me…
And, as mentioned above, they can be mouthy. But you almost certainly will lose weight.
@earl: A friend from work brought her ACD to a yard party once. It was amazing to see it play with its “Hippity Hop” ball that was about 3x its size. It was like a border collie on steroids. :-)
@Karen in GA: My dog Boris is a schnauzer rescue and he’s clever, frisky, stubborn and hilarious. The best!
@satby: Mutts Forever!! I honestly don’t know why people spend so much time and money picking out breeds. I’m a lifelong mutt owner and my sweet mutt of present, Lord Stanley, is the most wonderful dog I’ve ever had.
Let me backtrack a bit…I’m partial to Aussie Shepherds too, and am on my third rescue. But Mutts, Mutts, Mutts!!!
@JenJen: Mutts can moderate the traints that went into them, so they are kind of “idiot proof” that way, but there’s no guarantee. To successfully adopt a mix, people still need to know what breeds -probably- went into them.
Australian Cattle Dog be damned. They’re Blue Heelers. Ward heelers were named after them. They have dingo in their ancestry, which explains some of the smarts.
I had a basset hound, and he wasn’t dumb, exactly, but he was very easily distracted. We went to puppy kindergarten and he was so distracted by all the other dogs that it was as if I didn’t exist. I did teach him a bunch of tricks at home – he was housetrained very easily, and he would sit, come, and lie down, but he was always too excited to stay for more than a couple of seconds, he would come bounding at me every time. They have to be on a leash if they aren’t in a fenced yard because the world is full of smells that cannot be ignored.
Milk Maid in Chief
I have a Border Collie who is amazing and wonderful, who came from a rescue at seven months old not house broken, crate trained, and with a bad case of fear aggression towards older women. It took 24 hours to house train her, so clearly no one had even tried. I figured that because BCs are so trendy right now, we would find a dog in need of a farm job through rescue, and I was right. Our girl is great because she has a job every day so she gets to exercise her body and mind, but I try to talk most people out of getting a BC because unless you can work their mind, for the most part, they are NOT good pets.
Retired greyhounds, as others have said, are awesome pets. They are sprinters, so a good minute of exercise is usually enough for them, though with the low body fat, you have to be more attentive to temperature- jackets in the winter, and not too much high heat exposure in the summer.
@satby: The best dog I ever had was a pound mutt. He was awesome. If I had to have a dog of a recognizable breed I suppose I’d choose a poodle, because they’re terrific, but my #1 choice would be a mutt. Pound mutts FTW!
They way it was explained to me was that there are basically 2 types of dogs. One type thinks for themselves and the other makes the best pets.