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A Dog's True Purpose: How Much Do You Know About What Your Dog Was Bred to Do?

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

It's a main stay of the rescue world. "I got this puppy, have never owned the breed before, and it got too big or energetic or it herds the kids" Of course you can't 100% know what breeds a rescue dog may have in them, even if they look a certain way. In my perfect world someone would come across a dog they have never owned and they would pause, do some research, try and meet that type of dog as an adult; doing their homework! Unfortunately as humans we fall in love fast and want what we want. Its my hope that with this blog post I can give you a basic idea of what each breed group was for and what you might be up against bringing them into your home.

Starting with my personal favorite, the sporting group! These dogs were bred to be active! I ran a pointing breed rescue in the mid-west and so many people would meet my pointers and be surprised at the sheer energy they have. They are for sure NOT for everyone! Think of it from a hunters perspective; they put a ton of time and blood, sweat, and tears into their dogs. Think they want to do that every year or two? Heck no! My German Shorthair is almost 10, and she can still go all day! They are loyal and funny and wicked smart, but if you want a dog that can just walk 20 minutes a couple times a week this group may not be for you. Retrievers and labs were bred to swim and get the birds for the hunters, so keeping them out of water can be tough! Pointing breeds (setters, pointers, spaniels) will hear any bird anywhere near you no matter how much you want them to just ignore things. Do not make the mistake of thinking that an older sporting breed dog equals a slow sporting dog; this is very rarely the case!

The hounds. Oh those hounds. These characters are ridiculously cute and beloved by many. These dogs were also bred to hunt, and hunt FAST. Their vision is impeccable, and they will spot things you never would have known were there. And their nose? Next level! They have a strong prey drive and take a lot of work around cats or other small animals. The hounds vary in size and personality based on what they were bred to hunt. Get to know if the dog you have or want is a sight or scent hound, this will help you understand them a lot. They can be independent and stubborn. Know what baying is?? Google it before considering a hound! Even if you think you can put up with it, consider your neighbors.

The working group. Every dog in this group was bred to assist humans in some way. Pulling sleds/carts, guarding livestock/homes, tracking; many different jobs. Knowing which job your dog was bred for is very important. These dogs are strong and smart and most are quite a big size. These dogs are alert all the time, even when asleep. They are ALWAYS learning, even if you don't want them to learn something. It is my opinion working breed owners should invest in training with their dogs as soon as they bring one home. I am also of the opinion working breed dogs are not generally for new owners.

Another favorite of mine, the terrors! Oops, I mean terriers. These feisty, silly, spunky dogs can really be a handful. Even the smaller dogs of this group. These dogs were bred to go underground and hunt rodents and vermin. This can lead to major digging! Many bully terriers were bred to hunt bigger game like boars and for bull baiting. Their name comes from the Latin 'terra' which means 'earth'. They come in all shapes and sizes. They come in many coat types and lengths. These dogs can be barkers, so make sure you consider that. They can become territorial if not given boundaries early on. Since they were bred to hunt small game they take extra work to be good with cats, small children, and other small animals. They bore easily and even the small terriers need a good deal of mental and physical exercise.

Bring on the toys! These are our little pocket companions. Small but mighty is many of the dogs in this group. Some of these dogs are bred down from larger hunting/working dogs, some were simply lap warmer companions. This group varies in size, color, coat type, and temperament. Small does not mean they do not need exercise or rules. Many owners let their small dogs get away with murder simply because they are small and it's "cute". Please don't fall into this trap! Giving these dogs structure and rules will make them quirky, fun companions that everyone loves!

Non-sporting, the catch all group. This group is for all the dogs who don't truly fit into other groups. If you find yourself interested in a breed in this group, you are better served to research that breed than the group itself.

Last but not least, the herding group. These dogs NEED to work. That does not mean on a farm, but they need SOME type of job to be happy in life. They can get very nippy and aggressive if they become bored. They may herd children or other animals. These dogs are tuned into you, as they were bred to work in harmony with their shepherd. They are wicked smart and fast, mentally and physically. They are another group I would not recommend for first time owners, they need rules and boundaries and a confident handler. They are head strong and can be controlling as is their nature in controlling the animals they herd. They are loving and loyal.

If you are choosing a new dog, even from a rescue, if you are looking at a dog you have not owned before please consult a local trainer. Myself and many others offer "Dog Matching" services where we get to know your life and then help you choose a dog that will fit that. Do your homework and your life will be much happier!

For the Dogs,

Christina, DTFC

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