It is not unusual for me to hear, “I’m a (fill in the blank with random breed) person.” Many times owners have chosen a breed that is a good fit. However, I also do see owners who choose a breed that they have fallen in love with that in reality does not actually fit their lifestyle. They may have grown up with that particular breed, or they love the way the dog looks, or simply out of habit they keep getting the same breed over and over.
I used to say to people “I’m a husky person” because I loved – and still do love – the way Siberian huskies look. I had two huskies, one a purebred and the other a mix and loved them both. However, the truth is, that is not a good fit for me. Siberian huskies, like most nordic breeds are very independent. I love dogs that can perform well in activities like rally and obedience. While certainly huskies can be trained, they tend to be easily distracted and it can be difficult to obtain reliable performance. A husky is a great breed for someone who appreciates their independent spirit, it is not as great a breed choice for a control freak like myself. It took me a couple of huskies and a lot of time to step out of my Nordic breed box and collies have been a perfect fit for me.
I sometimes see people who are stuck in their breed box and the results are frustrating for both the dog and the owner. The hard reality is that some breeds are just flat out not good matches for seniors or people with health problems. Active, energetic, powerful dogs require athletic, active owners. I have not met a pet owner who changed their lifestyle and started jogging daily just because they got an active dog – but I have met pet owners who spent a lot of money in dog daycare and dog walkers in an attempt to meet their active dog’s needs. Similarly, if it is important to you to have a dog that can peacefully go to the dog park on a regular basis, a terrier or a guard breed is probably not a good bet (though yes there are exceptions – but again the key word being exceptions). More often than not, the breed someone has in their 20′s and loved, is not the right fit for the same person in their 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.
This goes for mixed breed dog owners as well. Because temperament and behavior are strongly influenced by genetics, it is hard to predict how a mixed bred puppy will mature. Some owners don’t mind because they do not have specific goals for their future dog, however, if an owner really wants to stack the odds in their favor of ending up with say, a therapy dog candidate for example, then a purebred dog from a breeder with a long history of breeding successful therapy dogs is a safer bet.
If you are in the process of thinking about your next dog and you have always had a particular breed or mix, take an objective step back and look at your choices. Was your choice the best fit or do you need to look outside your box?