I’m on Facebook and (since they are a favorite breed) I belong to several German Shepherd communities. One or two of the groups are always posting questions from members. I’ve noticed several commonalities: 1) MANY questions are about young dogs; 2) MANY questions are about behaviors or caring for the breed.
As I’ve watched over the past few weeks, it would seem to me that very few people have a clue about what they’ve brought home. I’ll bet some people know about the gas mileage on their car than they do about what behaviors they might expect from a given breed.
As a dog obedience trainer, my phone never rings with someone calling me to tell me their dog is well-behaved, etc. My phone rings when dog behavior gets bad enough, that pain level high enough that people finally realize they need help with their dog’s behavior. Sometimes it’s funny…
“I have a Terrier that likes to dig….”
“My Border Collie chases the kids in the yard and tries to keep them in a group…”
“When my Beagle starts sniffing, he won’t listen…”
and so on.
You have a Terrier that digs? A Collie that herds? A Beagle that locks out while scenting? I think some people would be shocked that their Retriever likes to fetch. So, first an apology for the sarcasm in this post, but please, please, please, take some…
Time for research…
If you are on Facebook, or other forum/social media site, join some general dog communities, but especially, join communities that about the breed(s) you are considering. Yes, every dog will have an individual personality; my current German Shepherd (GSD), Axle will chase a stick as long as your arm holds out. The one before (Lexi) couldn’t be bothered. But, overall, you’ll learn a lot about certain health challenges of certain breeds, how they need to be cared for, how you need to groom the dog, and if their are benefits to a give breed (low/no shedding; low maintenance; Hypo-allergenic/etc).
You may also learn that having a Golden or a Weimaraner are not good apartment dogs, or why if you live in the country, leaving a Lhasa Apso outside may give some hawk digestive ideas that wouldn’t be an issue with a Newfoundland or Burmese Mountain Dog.
When you realize your busy schedule is going to be interrupted by a dog that WANTS to work and be exercised every day (My GSD harasses me at my computer around 9am every morning until we go play fetch for even just 15 minutes. He HAS to burn off that energy, trust me!!) and you live in a 1BR apartment in mid-town Manhattan, you may want to reconsider your choices.
Why are they surprised?
“Oh, I’ve just ALWAYS wanted a _____(fill in blank)_____” Great, but now 6 months later you realize that, yes Virginia, your English Bulldog DOES have more energy than the local power grid and you are considering the dog pound.
Do a basic internet search on the breed. Look up Dogs 101 to see if they did a feature on the breed you have interest in. That show is a wonderful resource. Ask someone that owns that breed. Do you know a local veterinarian? Ask your friends for a referral. Call the vet and ask. You may not be able to talk to the vet, but the staff works with various breeds all the time and may help guide you. Look for local clubs/groups that support that breed and ask LOTs of questions! Pet stores have dedicated books and magazines about breeds too. Amazon may help there too.
There really should be few surprises when you bring a dog home. However, so far, this has been mostly about “pure breeds”. In past posts you’ll see I’ve said that when you adopt from a pound or rescue it can take weeks to know the true personality of your pooch. When I rescued Axle in Oct of 2012, I really feel it took me 6 weeks or more to help get him to my “normal”… that is, not dealing with remnants of being a stray or the pound experience.
Add in the variables of a mixed-breed and you do have more challenges. Best to you and your efforts to save lives by adopting!