I’ve long been an admirer of purebred dogs. I’m a history buff and in every breed I see history and a story. I take their DNA seriously and attempt to do my very best to meet their needs. I was recently asked what my favorite breeds are so here you go. These are my top 5 favorite breeds in no particular order. I am in no way recommending these breeds to anyone and at least two of them I only recommend to professionals or cowboys. These are the breeds that suit my lifestyle, personality and knowledge of them as a dog trainer. They can all be difficult in their own right but I know the greatness that lies within their genetics. Ask me on another day, another week or another year and my answers might vary to some degree because I appreciate all breeds. Without any further adieu, here they are.
- American Cocker Spaniel
Let’s just get the bad out of the way. They pee their pants. The grooming maintenance is the definition of high maintenance and they want to eat everything. Everything. But still, I love them forever and always. A. Their size. Perfect amount of dog to snuggle with and still room for someone else on the sofa. They’ll keep you warm from hip to knee. B. Their attitude. They are called the Merry Cocker for a reason. When they’re up and running they’re vibrating, encouraging you to show them the same energy. They leap and bound about in such a way that it makes you admire their enthusiasm. C. Their versatility. They can be beautiful and demure but also run and hunt with the best of them. They can excel in a variety of sports. Just pick one. They’ll play along. If you’re thinking about getting a Cocker you’ll need a savings account for their grooming and potential health issues. I’ve been the luckiest girl in the world to have healthy Cockers.
- Belgian Malinois
The Mal used to be at the bottom of my list until I met and fell in love with one. Compact, genius-level intelligence, and obedient. If you want a live-in personal trainer, this is it. There isn’t any physical task a Belgian Malinois cannot accomplish. They can jump, they can tunnel, they can leap and balance. You can’t simply be a weekend warrior with these dogs. You have to go hard for them every. Single. Day. You also cannot slack on socialization. From day one you have to get them out there if you want them to be a pet that fits in to the social world. Finally, you CANNOT forego obedience training. Ever. You have to love it. You have to want it. You must do their base training from the time you take possession until they are at least one year of age and then you have to keep it up and keep advancing it until their last day on earth. They will tolerate nothing less. This is a demanding breed that won’t let you take a day off. Generally good health and easily maintained coat.
- Australian Cattle Dog
Anything said about the Malinois could be said about the Australian Cattle Dog, commonly known as a heeler but in a smaller, cuter package. Born to work all day, you better have a plan. And being heelers they can be little ankle biters. Preventative measures and a good sense of humor will do you well to stay happy with a cattle dog. They need lots of proper socialization from the get-go because they can easily turn inward causing them to take out pent up frustrations on any strange creature in their line of sight. When you’re in a group they’ll need everyone to stay together which is cute but can also be annoying. On-going obedience training can’t be taken lightly. Lots of high energy activities will keep these little monsters under control. Healthy breed with low maintenance coat although they will get dirty. Regular brushing and bathing will keep their fur in good condition.
What is cuter than a Beagle? If you’re of a certain age you remember Snoopy, America’s Beagle. Grooming doesn’t get much easier than this. Once again, another dog that needs a committed trainer. They can be snappy, naughty and mischievous. Nose to the ground and off they go but at home they are fun and loving pets. Like the Cocker, a great size for sharing the sofa and long ears to stroke. This is the guy you want if you like long, brisk walks in the woods. Train them off leash so you’ll both be happy. Fits in any vehicle and won’t need a large crate for containment. A squirrel chase in the park can be your activity every weekend before brunch. They will bay up the trees so make sure your neighbors won’t mind.
The chihuahua suits my need to put clothes on a dog. I think they are the cutest of all the tiny dogs with a pathetic puss that seems to take life so seriously. You have to take their training seriously in their formative months or you will have a terrorist on your hands adding to the stereotype of an already tarnished reputation. With training and socialization during their youth you can have a delightful friend that travels easily for many, many years into the future. So easy to manage their coat as you can wash them in the sink. Pricked ears help maintain healthy ear canals. Don’t let them get fat or it can exacerbate joint problems. They don’t cost much to feed so that’s a plus. They are notoriously incessant barkers hence another reason for early training and lots of socialization. If you’re kind of lazy this can be a good dog for you as they are very content to lounge around but make no mistake they are still a dog that needs at least one daily walk but the good news is it doesn’t have to be a long walk. At least 20 minutes will do them good.
Dogs are like pizza to me. All pizza is good but I have some preferences. There are a couple of breeds on my list that I’m getting too old to be able to manage and I will just have to keep admiring them from afar but given the right circumstances and environment I could be talked into obtaining them. I’ve only owned one out of five of these breeds but have had the great pleasure of working with all of them. In the end all breeds have similar needs by nature of being canine. It’s been a long held belief of mine that EVERY dog needs training, regardless of their breed’s original purpose, to be able to live in the world and lifestyle we demand of them. So as you’re choosing a breed of dog I beg you to be realistic and not become hung up on trends or appearances alone. Get a dog for the life you have, not only today, but five, ten or even fifteen years from now. Devote yourself to them because you are all they have in this world and you won’t be disappointed in the results.