>Dog breed(s) of the week

>Don’t worry, I’m not starting a new feature of this blog. Rather, my post title refers self-deprecatingly to the fact that I keep getting obsessed with yet another dog breed or two every week. Bullock and I are thinking of getting our own dog when I get back from England, so I’ve been researching different breeds, trying to find the one that’s right for us.

As many of you may know, I was previously obsessed with the Portuguese Water Dog. But I’ve learned that they’re a pretty high maintenance breed (“willful” is a commonly used word — along with more positive terms) and some informational sites even warn that they’re not really good for first time owners. Plus they’re not that common, so the chances of finding a rescued young adult one nearby are slim, and if I’m going to get a specific breed, I’d rather adopt one without a home rather than get a newly bred puppy. Puppies are hard work and I’m not sure either Bullock and I are up for it. Plus, PWD puppies are expensive! Good god, they’re expensive! I don’t really want a luxury dog. I’m interested in specific breeds because you have a better chance of knowing what you’re in for, but I don’t necessarily want to support the demand for designer puppies, if that makes sense. (I’m trying hard here not to insult either those who have pure bred dogs with papers, or those who’ve adopted mixed breeds from shelters. I get it. Seriously, I do. It’s all about what works for you.)

Anyway, I want an active dog who might be willing and able to go for runs with me. S/he doesn’t have to be able to do the really long distance ones with me, but a dog who can be trained to run 3 miles at an easy pace would be nice. And I’m totally willing to get a dog that needs a good daily workout as long as it generally has an eager to please personality. Bullock would like a dog that’s not willful and demanding, or that needs to be trained and worked constantly to know who’s boss. (So no Border Collies — sorry Tommy! — or any kind of terrier, for example.) And after the ear infection/vertigo incident with Wiley, I decided I wanted a dog small enough that I could lift him/her on my own. But Bullock wants a dog that still seems “doggy.” Too small and it’s not “doggy” enough for him. Oh, and a low maintenance coat would be nice. (That’s the other thing with PWDs — they need to be trimmed all the time because they have hair that grows like ours. It’s super soft and virtually non-shedding, but I barely have enough time to get my own hair cut!) And we’d both like an affectionate, friendly dog who gets along with people and other animals of all kinds.

So it seems, from what I’ve found browsing around web sites and talking to other dog owners, that a lot of the gun dog breeds, especially pointers and “versatile” gun dogs, satisfy all these requirements. In particular, I’m looking at Brittany Spaniels and Pointers. They both need a lot of exercise, but I think between my running, our backyard, and the park around the corner with plenty of safe, encloed space for throwing a ball or a frisbee, we can give a dog that. (Btw, I walk or run by that park all the time and *no one* is ever in it with dogs. Why not??) Plus, Bullock and I are often home. In fact, we usually have alternating schedules that makes one of us home every other day for at least half the day. And since there are lots of hunters around Rust Belt, there are also a lot of recue organizations for these breeds, full of perfectly nice dogs who simply didn’t show adequate skills or interest in hunting.

So, that’s where I am now. If you know any Brittanies or Pointers and want to either encourage or discourage my latest obsession, let me know! And hey, feel free to suggest other breeds and get me obsessively reading about them!


14 thoughts on “>Dog breed(s) of the week

  1. >I was given an adult lab a while back, and fell in love with the breed. They tend to be happy dogs, with good overall health, friendly attitude, love to run and romp (especially if it involves swimming), reasonable size (I could lift mine when necessary), trainable and not really into being dominant over people.I’ve been told that going with dogs bred for family/hunting (as opposed to show) helps with health and temperment stuff.Any field sort of dog should be able to run 3+ miles with you; my friend runs with a Springer; another has German Short Hairs.There are, alas, tons of rescue lab and lab mixes around. That might mean you can find just the right one for you!

  2. >Hmm… I’ve met a couple Pointers in various dog parks and they’ve had nice personalities but a *lot* of energy. Like, Jack Russell energy levels. Of course, it could have been because they were in the dog park surrounded by lots of butts to sniff. Wiley’s best friend in Milwaukee was a Brittany Spaniel named Murphy. They would cry for each other as soon as one spotted the other on walkies. Awww…Check with area rescue leagues. A lot of them allow you to “test drive” or be a temporary foster family for a dog. It would be a way to get a no-strings-attached idea of what you’re in for.And of course, good luck!!! I think you will be awesome doggie parents.

  3. >Have you considered rescuing a greyhound? Often racing greyhounds are abandoned after their successful track days are over, though they still wouldn’t be very old. So you’d get a purebred, very affectionate and smart, that loves to run. They’re biggish but not too heavy to lift, especially since they’re so fine-boned.

  4. >OK, I just looked up the usual weight range for Labs, and unless we get a female on the small end of the range, I wouldn’t be able to pick up a Lab. I am a wuss *and* I have a bad back. But I’ll keep my eyes peeled for small females, epsecially of the “field bred” variety (as the show breeds are the largest).Re: pointers and activity levels — yeah, Bullock’s friend the priest has a Pointer who’s pretty active in an anxious way (though not quite as ‘springy’ as a Jack Russell) — circles and paces a lot — but I chalked that up to his having been abandoned and mistreated. (He has other behavior issues, too.) Maybe it’s the breed, though. I’ll look into it.Re rescue organizations: the thing I like about them is not only the “trial run” aspect (they usually insist you bring them the dog if you can’t keep it for any reason), but also the fact that their own foster keepers usually have a *very* good idea of the dog’s personality and will tell you *all* of its good and bad traits. That goes for any breed rescue group, but there’s a pointer one not far from here with the world’s most detailed web site. Their verbosity makes me look practically laconic!Re: Corgies — unfortunately, too small and too “royal” for Bullock. He wants a dog that the guys at the woodshop wouldn’t laugh at. It’s funny how tied up with masculine identity straight guys’ choices in dog breeds are! And even Bullock, the most enlightened man I know, is no exception. And I’m pretty sure a Corgi couldn’t run with me! But they sure are cute and charming.Re Greyhounds — yeah, I thought about that. But s/he might want to run faster than I can! 🙂 I didn’t realize that they’re affectionate — I’ll have to look into them more. I’m a little worried about their chase instinct, though. There isn’t a fenced dog park in Rust Belt. Actually, there’s *no* dog park in Rust Belt, but there are a couple of small parks near us that no one seems to use much and so an off-leash dog wouldn’t bother anyone. But an off-leash greyhound is a danger to himself if he starts to chase — they’ll just keep running, right into streets and traffic. I hate to think of a dog never being able to be off leash. But I’ll look into it.

  5. >OK – let me put in my 2 cents for the Airedale, the King (or in my case, Princess) of Terriers. I (back when it was we) got an adult female from Airedale Rescue. We got to specify things like ‘o.k. in an apartment’ and ‘doesn’t chew furniture’. They told us about some discipline problem males but we ended up with a very even tempered, sweet 8 y.o. female. She is a great long walk dog (*I* don’t run, but she woulda been happy to trot along). She came from a little old lady who was obvious a great trainer – NEVER climbs on furniture, chews, digs, etc. She’s also a great office dog!Pictures here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/29301497@N00/sets/72157594550864892/

  6. >Awww…Argyle is *adorable*. I had a mutt when I was growing up who was very certainly part Airedale, and she was the sweetest dog ever. So I’m adding Airedales to the list to investigate!

  7. >My only warning about the Brittany Spaniels is to do with the fringe. Some breeders really cultivate it and that’s just worth watching out for if you are in a wet & wintry climate. It can collect a lot of slush (which is the curse of the heavier-coated Spaniels hereabouts).If it’s a normal coated Brittany without a thick fringe on the legs, it’ll do much better.

  8. >Ooooh Beagles beagles beagles! They’re my favorite. Small, lovable, friendly, bred to trail game long distances at a trot (though maybe not at your “run” speed), I can’t see them being too “girly” or “royal,” and, unfortunately, as one of the most popular breeds in the US, there’s lots of rescue groups.The downsides are that they’re not really great at obedience, being all about the nose rather than following their boss, and older ones can get super lazy. And no mice/rabbits/other small chaseable pets in the house with them. If you’re going to be in a cold climate there are also lots of the “working breeds” that might be good.

  9. >Whatever breed you’re leaning towards, I’d encourage you to go to petfinder.com and find an abandoned doggie that happens to be purebred or a mix of what you’re looking for. You’ll fall in love from the descriptions, and you’ll be helping an abandoned little guy instead of padding the pockets of some people who breed dogs and may not treat their dogs well (obviously there are lots of wonderful dog breeders, but unfortunately there are lots of non-wonderful ones).

  10. >Kate,Oh *definitely*. A lot of those dogs on petfinder are advertised by the kinds of breed rescue groups I was talking about in the post, and we’ll either contact one of those groups directly or else use petfinder. One of the reasons why I’m thinking about gun dogs, in fact, is that there are a *lot* of them in rescue homes around these parts.

  11. >How about a Malinois ? Very smart and trainable. A lot of hunting dogs are notoriously dumb as doornails. Beagles for instance. That said, I’ve never met a doornail and wouldn’t know one to see one.

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