So, you watched Westminster and now you are overwhelmed with how cute some of the dogs are. I’m there with you, really. However, just because they win their group or even overall doesn’t mean that these dogs make sense for you, an everyday pet owner. So, without further ado, here are the winners of each group, my take on that breed, and some alternatives.
The Sporting Group
Winner: Irish Water Spaniel
Irish whatsawho? Yes, the Irish Water Spaniel is not a well-known breed, although it might see an uptick thanks to the breed’s prominence. You won’t find any Irish Water Spaniels on Petfinder, so your only route for getting these dogs is via breeder at upwards of $500 a puppy. However, in addition to the ethical reasons for not wanting to buy a dog from a breeder, there are a lot of practical reasons you shouldn’t want to do it. First of all, there aren’t a lot of Irish Water Spaniel breeders out there. The reputable ones aren’t going to produce enough dogs quickly enough to keep up with increased demands. That means that a lot of the slack is going to be taken up by unethical ones or backyard breeders.
The Working Group
Winner: Portuguese Water Dog
You’d certainly be in good company as a Portuguese Water Dog owner — the Obamas have two of them. But the PWD is a working dog, and that means this dog needs to be kept active or it will become destructive or neurotic. Do you really want a dog perpetually pestering you for some sort of assignment? Trust me when I say, you don’t.
So, instead of an Irish Water Spaniel or Portuguese Water Dog, why don’t you consider another working dog that loves water, the Flat Coated Retriever? They are lower-energy than the IWS, with a friendly personality, and they are great family dogs.
The Toy Group
The winner in this group was the Miniature Pinscher, also known as the MinPin. MinPins are ridiculously cute dogs, which of course is part of the reason why they won their group. However, there is nothing toy-like about this breed. MinPins are demanding, despotic, occasionally neurotic, and extremely difficult to train. They can be extremely cantankerous, too. In short, MinPins are tough, tough dogs that require responsible, calm owners.
The good news? If you still want a MinPin, there are a LOT of them available via Petfinder or breed rescue. Just do your research first.
The Hound Group
God help me, it kills me to say this, but the Bloodhound is NOT a companion animal. It’s a working dog. Bloodhounds are HUGE, freakishly strong, extremely destructive, world class diggers, and ear-shatteringly loud. They are also highly energetic. They don’t belong in homes. I know they are insanely cute, but you must be strong.
If you must go for a hound, and we understand, you must, you must — you are better off with a Black and Tan or a Redbone, both of whom score lower on the houndliness scale and who are better suited to be companion animals.
Surprise, surprise, the Standard Poodle won this group, AGAIN. There’s no way around it: they are a super-popular breed, and for good reason. They are amazing dogs. However, let’s recap why they might not be the dog for you. They are energetic and need exercise — they are not hothouse flowers, they are athletes. They are expensive if you choose to buy from a breeder. They have a LOT of expensive health problems right now because of their popularity. Do some research, especially on Addison’s Disease. If you must get a Standard Poodle, we suggest going through a rescue, since they typically have some awareness of the dog’s health problems, or look for a mix on Petfinder to take advantage of “hybrid vigor” (oversimplified, it’s the fact that mutts tend to be healthier than purebred dogs). Keep in mind you’ll be put on a wait list, though. We’d suggest waiting for a decade and then getting a Poodle. In the interim, figure out honestly what exactly appealed to you about the Poodle and go to some adoption shows at your local pet store to see if you can find a dog with those traits. Sorry we don’t have a straight recommendation for you here, but people want poodles for so many different reasons that we can’t just say that one breed will give you what you want.
This is one of those times where I feel like I’ll lose my credibility if I’m not honest. The winner of this group, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, is so stupendously adorable and lovable that I’m surprised there aren’t more of them out there. The only reason I can think of is that they are expensive as puppies. They have some health problems, most notably with their backs (like all long-backed breeds), and they love to herd, which can often be accomplished by nipping, but those are the only drawbacks.
If you think you can resist the lure of the purebred Corgi, I strongly recommend going to Petfinder and looking for a Corgi mix. The force is strong in Corgis, and even a drop or two of Corgi blood will show in a dog’s appearance and personality. In addition, you’ll have the joy of owning a dog that looks like no other. Corgi + any breed = uniquely, preposterously cute. Give it a whirl — you’ll see.
And finally, we come to the winner, from the Terrier Group, the Wire Fox Terrier. Again, to maintain my credibility, I have to say I’ve only had a little experience with Fox Terriers. They were lively, smart, playful, somewhat peppery dogs. They had strong personalities, but their humans seemed to like them that way. I simply don’t know enough about the breed to provide you with a recommendation here, except to point out the obvious: if I haven’t got a lot of information about this dog, you’ll need to do a lot of research. Talk to owners, talk to rescue (there are a few small FT rescues out there), read everything you can. Who knows? They might be a good dog for you. However, they will be a good dog that you have to BUY, because they aren’t going to be available in any sort of volume via breed rescue or Petfinder. That’s a lot of groundwork for a dog you don’t know much about except that it’s cute.
Now that you have the lowdown on these breeds, I’m hoping you have ruled out many of them entirely, or that if you do want them still, that you are going to go through rescue. Remember that, in addition to acknowledging to the the laws of supply and demand, you need to remember the the ultimate law of rescue economics, which is that if you have a dog created for you, then that means another dog that already exists does not get a home.