What Was My Breed Bred For?

Ever wonder why your Golden Retriever keeps stealing socks? Your Aussie won’t stop chasing your kids around like Sheep? Or your German Shepherd Dog always barks at new people at the front door? Believe it or not, these breeds were originally bred to do more than just cuddle up on the couch with you all day.


Dogs were originally bred for a specific job (Sometimes multiple jobs), or reasons. Each breed attains their own set of unique characteristics, even typical play styles. Figuring out what your breed was bred for may not solve all your dog's behavioral issues, but it can certainly help in the way you care, play with and manage your dog. Today, there are 200 recognised breeds thru The American Kennel Club.


Let's first take a look at where dogs originated from. Although some scientist believe humans started domestication dogs as early as 40,000 years ago, National Geographics says, "Sometime between 10,000 and 32,000 years ago, humans began domesticating wolves, possibly somewhere in Southeast Asia, according to research on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to offspring."



Below are 7 Main Categories of Different Jobs/Purposes why some breeds were bred, their characteristics, a few toy recommendations and any cautions about those breed types. Never leave your dog unattended with a flirt pole, ropes or any other toys that your dog can easily destroy and potentially swallow. Soft Bones, Bully Sticks, Yak Chews and other chewable items must be given only when monitored. Never give your dog a ball they can easily compress like a tennis ball. For more questions on toys, please read my other blog “What Toy Is Best For My Dog?” (Coming Soon)



Guard Dogs

It is believed, people first started domesticating dogs to alert and protect settlements or camps. In exchange people would toss their scraps and bones to the dogs.

Today, Guard Dogs such as Great White Pyrenees are still bred to independently protect and defend their family, land, or livestock. Back in the day in Northern France, these dogs were also used to pull carts to transport milk.


Typical Characteristics? Independent, Loyal, Territorial, Averse to Strangers. These breeds thrive on consistency and structure. Traditionally can be harder to build engagement with, therefore can be harder to train.


Best Toys? Rope Toys, Soft Bones/ Chewing Toys


Likes Water? Typically, if they’ve had positive experiences


Best Outlet: Obedience Training, Hikes, Weight Pulling


Typical Play Style With Other Dogs? Chasing, Body Slamming

Watch for over arousal, rough play and resource guarding around other dogs.


Caution:

It’s extremely crucial to properly socialize these dogs at a young age. Lack of structure, socialization and a combination of boredom will lead to reactivity, possessiveness, excessive barking, destructive behaviors and even aggression.



Gun Dogs

Also known as bird dogs, First developed to work closely with hunters to track, flush, and /or retrieve game. The most common Hunting Dogs you'll still see today are Gun Dogs or Scent Hounds. If bored, your dog will find other outlets for this drive such as stealing items from your laundry basket, and chewing your furniture.


Retrievers - Retrieve Fallen Game


Pointers - Locate Game (Love to stare at birds)


Setters - Locate Game


Spaniels - Locate and Flush Game


Water Dogs, Poodles - Retrieve Game


Typical Characteristics? Eager to please, energetic, lovable

These breeds thrive on consistency and structure.


Likes Water? Typically Loves Water! And Doesn’t mind getting muddy


Best Outlet? Obedience Training, Dock Diving / Retrieval Games, Scent-Work Games, Hide and Seek Games, Hikes


Best Toys? Flirt pole, Rope toys, Water retrieval toys; West Paw, ChuckIt Amphibious Bumper Floating Toy. (Never leave your dog unattended with these toys)

Do not let these breeds jump or twist excessively high, especially before your dog’s growth plates fully develop. (Typically 18 months) It can lead to major hip and joint issues as they get older.


Typical Play Style With Other Dogs? Body slamming, neck biting, chasing

Watch for overarousal, monitor to ensure balanced play.


Caution: Breeds like Weimaraners, and Setters who have a deep chest, are more prone to developing Bloat. Which can be life threatening.

A Combination of boredom, and lack of structure can lead to reactivity, possessiveness, separation anxiety, excessive barking, destructive behaviors and even aggression.



Herding Dogs

Bred to help ranchers protect and move their livestock such as sheep, goats, and cattle. If bored, your dog will find other outlets for this drive such as chasing and herding other animals and even young children. Their intelligence and ability to think for themselves means they can be quick to train, but also quick to learn bad habits if you are not consistent with them.


Cattle Dogs

Collies

Sheepdogs

Shepherds


Typical Characteristics? Strong Willed, Hardy, Energetic, Loyal

These breeds thrive on consistency and structure.


Sizes: Due to their diversity, herding breeds come in many sizes, and coat types. From the small heelers (who moved livestock by nipping at their heels) to the giant breeds who were used for herders and guarding.


Likes Water? Typically, if they’ve had positive experiences


Best Outlet: Agility and Obedience Training, Great at Trick Training


Best Toys: Flirt Poles and Jolly Balls, Food Puzzle Toys, Kongs, West Paw

Do not let these breeds jump or twist excessively high, especially before your dog’s growth plates fully develop. (Typically 18 months) It can lead to major hip and joint issues as they get older.


Typical Play Style with Other Dogs? Stalking, Neck Biting, Chasing

Watch for Stalking, over arousal and excessive barking. Intense staring can scare other dogs.


Caution: Breeds like German Shepherds are more prone to developing Bloat.

Boredom, and a lack of consistency, can lead to reactivity, possessiveness, excessive barking,separation anxiety, destructive behaviors and even aggression. Because these dogs were also used for guarding, it’s important to properly socialize these dogs at a young age.



Scent Hounds

Bred for helping hunters track by using their nose. Breeds such as Beagles, Coonhounds and Bloodhounds are intense trackers. These breeds excel at search and rescue.


Typical Characteristics? Independent, Active For A Long Period Of Time, Gentle


Typical Play Style? Chasing, Neck Biting, May Prefer Playing Alone

Avoid Playing with small fluffy dogs you don’t know due to predatory response


Likes Water? Bloodhounds enjoy their water and like to have a good long drink after exercise.


Best Outlet? Obedience, Scent Detection Games, Running Games,


Best Toys? Rope Toys, Chewing Toys, Food Puzzle Toys


Caution: If your dog finds a scent he likes, be prepared to be ignored. Without A proper recall (Or any solid training) your dog will be long gone.


Sight Hounds

Bred for helping hunters track game by sight, these breeds like the Irish Wolfhound and Greyhound are intensely visual and extremely fast. Their eyes are spaced wide apart, which allow the sighthound to have a great peripheral vision that's up to a 270-degree range, which is much greater than what we humans have.


Typical Characteristics? Fast, Energetic, Intesley Visual

Can be reserved around strangers


Typical Play Style With Other Dogs? Cat-Like/ Pouncing, May Prefer Playing Alone

Very thin skin, Don’t like playing with body slammers.


Likes Water? Generally No. Some breeds like Greyhounds may love the water, but they are very sensitive to temperature


Best Outlet? Obedience Training, Running Games, Fetch, Agility


Best Toys?


Caution: A Combination of boredom, and lack of structure can lead to reactivity, separation anxiety, possessiveness, excessive barking, destructive behaviors and even aggression.




Terrier Breeds:

Today, Terrier Breeds come in all sizes and coat styles, from the infamous Jack Russel to the Controversial Staffordshire Terriers. Smaller Terriers were bred to hunt, and kill vermin such as rats, foxes, badgers, weasels. Larger Terriers were used for guarding, fighting, and even a source of entertainment to bait and bite bulls, bears and other large animals.


Typical Characteristics? Feisty, Fun and Energetic, Stubborn


Likes Water? Most Enjoy Water

Small and/or Hairless Terriers typically do not


Best Outlet? Obedience Training, Scent Detection Games


Best Toys? Ropes, Flirt Poles, Chewing Toys


Typical Play Style With Other Dogs? Chasing, Neck Biting, Wrestling

Can have little respect for others, can be a challenge to manage off leash play if no prior commands, monitor closely to ensure balanced play.


Caution: Due to their strong willed temperaments these breeds thrive on consistency and structure. Lack of structure, socialization and a combination of boredom will lead to reactivity, possessiveness, excessive barking, destructive behaviors and even aggression.



Companion and Toy Breeds:


Unlike other groups of dogs, toy breeds were generally not bred to work, but rather for companionship. Breeds like Papillons were bred to be companions for noblewomen, even serving as lap and foot warmers. If they were bred to work, they were mainly used for hunting and catching small vermin.

These dogs tend to have a bad reputation due to lack of structure and training.


Typical Characteristics? Affectionate and Tactile, More social with people than dogs,


Typical Play Style? Cat Like, Chasing, Neck Biting


Likes Water? Typically not


Best Outlet? Obedience Training, Agility


Best Toys? Flirt Poles, Hide a Squirrel Plush Toy, Skinny Peltz (Roadkill toys) West Paw Hurley


Caution: Because of their small bladders, smaller dogs require more time and consistency with potty training.

A Combination of boredom, and lack of structure can lead to reactivity, separation anxiety, possessiveness, excessive barking, destructive behaviors and even aggression.





Regardless of what breed you have (and love) if you understand your dog's drives, you can help your dog by training him to use that drive for more acceptable behaviors.




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