I have spent many years in animal rescue, and one of the things I’ve learned is how completely wrong breed stereotypes can be. These are six breeds that are nothing like you’d think. Before we go any further, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT intended to be an advertisement for purebred dogs. First, many, many dogs in shelters and rescues are purebred, even if they haven’t been identified as such. Second, these breed behaviors are also frequently seen in animals that are predominantly one breed, but not necessarily purebred. Also, not all dogs are going to meet this requirement – everyone knows an exception – so I’m anticipating getting some comments about how this doesn’t apply, and that’s fine. I’d love to hear about your dogs. Now, on to the breeds.
- Standard poodle – Standard poodles have a reputation for being fancy, foofy dogs. Many people associate them with ridiculous grooming and excessive owner affectation. Sometimes they will be portrayed as neurotic or finicky status dogs. The reality, though, is that standard poodles are AWESOME, AWESOME dogs. First of all, they are incredibly athletic, and have a special affinity for the water. In fact, some of the weird grooming conventions that we see today originated because poodles used to be clipped for optimal swimming. A standard poodle is up for hiking, fetching, frisbee and any other sport you want to engage in. In addition to their status as super jocks, standard poodles are really smart and responsive. They are great with kids, and although not guard dogs, are good family watch dogs.
- Cocker spaniels – There are few dogs more aesthetically beautiful than the cocker spaniel. With their long, flowing curls and soulful brown eyes, cocker spaniels were a favorite on television and in movies (remember Lady and the Tramp?) for many years. Unfortunately for us, the cocker spaniel is not a sweet natured little lovebird by nature. They are, in fact, quite curmudgeonly. Cocker spaniels don’t suffer fools gladly, and there is a strong chance they will consider you to be a fool if you upset their human or stop them from doing something they really want to do. If they could talk, they would bark, “You kids get off my lawn!” That’s not to say they don’t love their family – they do. They just aren’t people dogs. To be honest, this crabbiness makes me like cocker spaniels even more because they live life by their own terms. Our neighbor’s adorable little cocker spaniel hates us for no real reason, which tickles me every time I hear her peppery, enraged little bark in the next yard. However, our group has had to rehome several nipping cocker spaniels (something that would make them unadoptable at the local pound), so we tend to consider this breed one for experienced owners who aren’t social butterflies.
- Bloodhounds – Do you love the image of a long-eared hound sleeping on a country porch? Well, purge it from your head because the bloodhound is one of the most active and destructive breeds around during its early years. They are huge, curious, have a fantastic sense of smell and love to run around barking their fool heads off for no perceptible reason (or at least that’s how we humans perceive it). They go into their own little world when they smell something, so you can’t expect obedience from them (those velvety long ears were designed to act as shields to keep them from being distracted by sight and sound when they catch the scent of something). Also, they are diggers. Boy, it sounds like I really don’t like bloodhounds, huh? Well, you’re wrong – I ADORE them. However, they are working dogs (in the true sense, not in the breed category sense) and aren’t well suited to be family pets or companion animals.
- Boxer – If you have never met one, you might thing that boxers looks stern and foreboding, and maybe you think they would be intimidating watchdogs or guard dogs. Well, I suggest you talk to some people who have the good fortune of living with boxers first. The word you’ll hear most often is clown, and then it’s a tossup between loving, affectionate, emotionally sensitive and smart. If you are loved by a boxer, you are a lucky person indeed.
- Greyhound – Boy, you better be pretty athletic to have a greyhound, right? WRONG. Greyhounds need space to exercise in intense bursts for short periods of time, but in reality, a lot of them would (and do) happily spend their days lounging, sleeping and napping (these are all very different things, something you’ll appreciate if you live with a greyhound). They have their special requirements – like clothing in inclement weather – but all in all, it is more important that you provide them with proximity to you and soft beds than with a human running partner.
- Doberman Pinschers – These dogs look like tough guys, and it’s true that their original purpose was as a guard dog. However, there is MUCH more to them. Dobies are smart, loyal and immensely loving. If you train them, exercise them and provide them with calm authority as their human, they are great dogs. Also, they are world-class cuddlers. If you want to know how it feels to be adored unconditionally, a Dobie is your dog. They are frequently referred to as “Velcro dogs” because they stay so close to their humans at all times.
Well, it’s your turn, readers. Do you agree? Share your thoughts if you want.