Back, by popular demand, is the Dog Breed Profile. This time around, we thought we’d hit the big three. That is, the breeds AKC declares most popular every year circa 2011 (Shhh, we like to pretend Goldens don’t exist sometimes. Then we go to obedience trials and cry a little bit). This is, of course, according to their registration and has very little to do with what dogs are actually sitting (More like humping) at the popular table, but we’ll ignore that.
We’ve been harsh on labs in the past, we can admit that. We may have called them dumb, over friendly, oafish. There is no denying it though, America loves them. They’ve been the number one breed in America for… a long long time. We don’t do actual research for these blogs so we don’t know how long. It’s been a while, just stick with us.
1. Labs are genuinely nice dogs. The vast majority of the time, they’re pleasant to be around. They’re that iconic bro dog, sort of easy going but ready to go when you are. They make great exercise partners, love to play fetch and they can be great family dogs. They’re pretty much the dog everyone thinks about when you hear “I want a puppy” from the mouths of children. For an active family or individual there is a labrador for all seasons from the heftier plough horse Labradors to the sleek seal-like field-breds.
2. If you want a general bird retrieving buddy, there’s no reason to look any farther than a good lab. Even the worst bred among them still has that instinct, even if he’s destroying what passes for his hips doing it. We’re kidding. Labs actually have better hips than a lot of breeds, but given the sheer number of them out there… Good luck telling that to your vet. There’s a reason the go to dog for most hunters is a Lab. They do the job, they do it well and they do it with a good attitude.
1. Popularity comes with a price. See above mentioned lousy excuse for hips. Also, do us a favor. Open a new tab. Go to your local shelters page. Now look at the breeds. How many of those are lab mixes? Hell, how many of those are purebred labs? The shelter is overrun with black labs and mixes. Indiscriminate breeding has been hell on the breed. If you just want a companion, please do not pay $300 via Paypal for a ‘purebread silver lAbrader’.
2. We did call them dumb, yes. Really though… it’s more… oafish. Herding dog people may find this particular quality more obnoxious than others. Labs assume everyone is their best friend and it can get them in trouble most notably with other dogs but also with cows, vehicles, electric fences and car interiors.
1. This is the part where we talk about breed splits again. Labs are the original split breed. You have your blubbery show line labs that can sort of waddle around the ring, you have you crazy high as a kite field line labs that are like living with a border collie with an oral fixation, and then you have something in between that is mostly produced by BYBs and that’s the lab that lives in most of America’s living room.
2. There’s a solid chance your lab will eat your house in the first two years of his life. Seriously, they are notoriously naughty puppies who must taste everything… and we mean everything. .
Beagles are one of the most recognizable breeds out there, and it’s been our experience that people either love them…or hate them. Beagles tend to be amiable little fellows with a lot of character and it certainly can’t be said that they are boring. This breed is known for its irresistible floppy ears, expressive eyes and merry, happy-go- lucky character that transmits happiness and joy. Plus…Snoopy. Everyone loves Snoopy.
1. They love their people. Beagles tend to be people-oriented and can make great family pets.
2. They’re a small dog that isn’t fragile. Beagles are kind of like crossover SUVs. Slightly lower to the ground, sturdy, and good for many purposes.
3. Beagles are awfully cute. Their big brown eyes are incredibly soulful and expressive and seemingly get them out of a lot of trouble. Beagle owners will tell you that they are hard to stay mad at.
1. As a general rule (and yes, we know there are exceptions) Beagles are not great off-leash dogs. They are scent-hounds after all. When a Beagle catches a scent, their nose will hit the ground and they will go after with the intensity of a fat kid trying to find a cupcake.
2. To a Beagle, your home is nothing more than a giant buffet. Don’t be surprised if you find your Beagle “shopping” in your home to find their next snack. Trash, food, that old sock..nothing is sacred to a Beagle. And that pizza you left on the counter while you answered the phone? Forget about it. Just be glad if the plate wasn’t consumed too.
3. Beagles are very intelligent dogs, but they’re not necessarily eager to please, which makes them more of a training challenge. In fact, Beagles can be downright ornery if his priorities conflict with yours.
1. Arooooooooooo. While many owners of Beagles find their distinctive voice charming, rest assured that most of your neighbors will not. Especially at 6 am when they spot a squirrel in the backyard or just want to let you know how happy they are that it’s breakfast time.
2. Beagle Stank. To be fair it’s more of a collective hound-breed stank. It’s a real thing. Beagles, despite having short fur, are known for being both high-shedding and rather odorous. It’s a stank that just don’t come out.
3. Their “The world is my oyster… Let’s eat it” attitude makes them more than a little prone to obesity. They have the ‘Fat and happy’ mindset down to a science and keeping them thin is a science unto itself.
America’s favorite since Strongheart (Pre-Rin Tin Tin. Look it up.) graced the silent movie screen, German Shepherds are still the perennial “Protective Dog” for the masses. Theoretically every German Shepherd should be brave, protective, active family companions with the brains and the power to do just about any task set forth. In practice… well… let’s just get to the list.
1. They are hard working. No one can say your GSD is really a dummy. While they may not be the smartest brains of the class when only compared to Border Collies and Poodles, they’re certainly willing to put in the effort and the hard work to get that ‘A’. What they don’t have in raw brain power, they make up for in worth ethic. Even then, the brain power can be pretty impressive….
2. Well-bred, well-socialized shepherds with training are wonderful active companions and all the better with a job. They crave work and a purpose. It’s always a little surprising German Shepherds aren’t more popular in the obedience ring. Unsurprising is that they have their own sport (IPO) that showcases the qualities of a good German Shepherd.
3. Eager to please doesn’t even begin to cover it. Not only has the good GSD read the rulebook, they keep a copy handy in case you need to change some rules and they can be prepared for other rule changes in the future.
4. They do make for an imposing picture. Not that we recommend walking through a meth-lab with them and expecting no harm to come to you, but the fact remains that many people will cross the road to avoid “Police Dogs”
1. Health issues abound in the popular breeds. From allergies to dysplasias, DM to chronic ear infections, German Shepherds do not have the best track record in terms of overall health. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it’s not awesome either. Thankfully a lot of it can be avoided through careful breeding and research.
2. German Shepherds are going to make you prove it. “What is this ‘it’” you ask. ‘It’ is everything. if you lack consistency or the ability to lay down rules with fairness and authority this is not a dog for you. Adolescence with a German Shepherd is hell. German Shepherd puppies can be incredibly trying to raise. Aside from the “fear periods” (Which seem absurdly out of proportion to other breeds) at a certain point the “I don’t want to you can’t make me AAHAHHHHHHHHH! *bite* *snap* *hiss*” of sexual maturity begins, and everything you did as a puppy is seemingly forgotten as some hell-monster comes to live where your reasonably okay GSD puppy once resided. If you aren’t prepared to handle that with dignity, calmness and tequila, this will not be the breed for you. Also, be totally prepared for strangers to think you’ve been beaten by your spouse…Bruises, scrapes, black-eyes (No we’re not kidding). If Malinois are Maligators, than GSDs are the Landsharks.
3. Oh my Sweet baby Jesus the shedding. German Shedders is a not-funny or remotely amusing “joke” that merely describes the sheer horror of 70lbs of undercoat all coming out all the time.
4. Every asshole has had one. “It was 300lbs, vicious but rescued a kitten from a tree.” These people are incredibly annoying.
5. If you have anything but a Black and Tan with the saddle marking, be prepared to be asked about your ‘Coydog’/’Wolf/Husky/Mutt at regular intervals. Your “No, he’s a German Shepherd” will be met with weird looks, snorts of derision and even people calling you a moron not-so-under their breath. If you don’t love the irony, stick to a different breed.
6. Much like labs, these dogs should have a working temperament which is not conducive to spending all day, every day in a crate. They are physical dogs who can have the youthful ‘Bull in a China Shop’ mentality. These are not appropriate dogs for your 90 year old Nana.
7. Do you like having insurance? Well your premium probably just went up. GSDs are frequently included in BSL which can make owning one a headache.
1) Want to get yelled at in multiple languages from ten different directions by strangers on the internet? Start talking about German Shepherds. German Shepherds are at the heart of every dog debate that exists ever. Structure? Bloodlines? Work Ethic? German? Dutch? Czech? Showlines? We won’t go into details, just wander onto a dog forum and you’ll see pages from both sides. It is equal parts understandable and ridiculous.
2) You know how we called Labs the ‘original breed split’? Well, we lied. This is the big one folks and it’s a doozy. In layman’s’ terms, there are functionally three factions, four if you count useless BYB type. The first faction is the American Show Lines. The second are the High Lines, so think German show dogs. The third are the working line dogs. Each of these have further subdivisions and so on and so forth until each side only support one dog at one kennel ever, but you get the gist. Each side criticizes the other for temperament, health, angulation, “true working ability” etc and if you are unfamiliar with pedigrees or general faction alliances you can get yourself tangled up in an argument you didn’t even know you started. We have no vested interest in who you pick or why, but do yourself a favor and really really do your research. You can be burned badly if you don;t.
3) Finding a breeder who is A) Quality and B) Will give you a nice pup is a huge undertaking. See Ugly Section 2 for details.
4) Lastly, and most glaring is the total lack of consistency in the breed as a whole. We can not conclusively say that the average German Shepherd you run across won’t be a bundle of nerves, insecurities and teeth willing to bite the hand that passes by, nor can we guarantee they won’t be so bold and social their interest in other people borders on labrador-like.. The best you can really hope for is finding a type that appeals to you and researching the snot out of it. Mentors in this breed are worth their weight in gold, but make sure to keep an open mind to what characteristics you want, not just what someone tells you to want.
As always we highly recommend looking into performance oriented clubs and sports to help guide you to someone who may have the dog for you. If they have to see you every day, it’s not likely they’ll give you a crappy one. As always, you’re welcome.