The Quest For Dog: Learning From Experience

In the second article of Amanda Schlee’s quest for the perfect dog, she takes a look back at a breed she has already owned growing up – but is it still a fit for life now?

Being greeted by a dog always makes me smile; I just love the wagging tail and the unbridled affection. No matter what, dogs are always happy to see you and even after a long day at work, this happiness is infectious. To me dogs are mood changers, instantly my day gets so much better when I’m around one. This is one of the many reasons I look forward to owning a dog of my own in the future. Until then, I’ll just have to rely on seeing my family and friend’s canine companions, which is actually the main topic of this article. When trying to select a breed for your own family, start by really looking at the breeds you’re already familiar with through your own experiences.

I think the most important thing to consider when choosing a dog breed is your energy level and interests. Are you an active person who enjoys runs, hikes and a general outdoorsy lifestyle? Or do you tend to live more of the indoorsy, curled up on the couch kind of lifestyle? I would say I’m somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, minus the few months when it’s unbearably hot in the summer and frigidly cold in the winter (I can always be found on the couch during these months). More or less, I enjoy being outside and being active, but I also love my couch and lazy weekends that includes a few comfortable afternoon naps here and there.

For me, a good canine companion would be one that I can take on long walks and short jogs but can also be calm and mellow inside the house at the end of the day. Therefore, I’m thinking a breed classified as either a working or sporting dog.

For those of you who don’t know, there are seven different American Kennel Club dog breed classifications:  Sporting dogs, Hound dogs, Working dogs, Herding dogs, Non-sporting dogs, Toys and Terriers.  Breeds from each classification have general traits and were bred for certain purposes. It’s easy to learn which classification a breed is from, and you will probably always have favorite breeds from one or two classifications.

So there are 100+ dog breeds to research, where do you begin? Best place to start is with breeds you know.

I mentioned in my first article that I had a beagle named Roxy growing up, she was such a great dog and I loved her endlessly. So when I started thinking about breed choices for my husband and I, a beagle was the first breed I considered.

Beagles are from the Hound group; they’re great family dogs, gentle with children, and loyal to their owners. I think beagles are very cute; I love their tri-colour markings and short fur. Size wise, they’re smaller than what my husband and I generally like, but it’s not a deal breaker. It’s the fact that they’re part of the hound group that doesn’t quite work for me; they’re hunting dogs that depend on their sense of smell to follow a scent and hunt their prey.

Thinking back to Roxy, walking her was a little stressful; as soon as she smelled something that piqued her interest she was off chasing it and dragging me with her. Roxy was a dog training school graduate, but no matter how much we tried to get her to “heal” properly on a leash, it all went out the window when she caught wind of a scent. It’s the nature of the breed, and it’s their hunting skills that some people love about them.

However, I do want to point out Roxy only acted like a beagle when she was being walked. Beagles are known to love the field and spend all day outdoors, not my Roxy, she really loved her spot on the couch; to her the great outdoors was really just for being walked or “using the washroom” so to speak. Actually, another hound trait Roxy didn’t have was the barking or howling. In fact the whole first year we had her we were convinced she didn’t know how to bark because she just never did; it was a characteristic of hers we all welcomed.

All that aside, even though Roxy holds a special place in my heart and always will, I’ve ruled beagles out as a dog choice for my husband and I. I spent my childhood being pulled around by a dog when she caught wind of a scent, I know I’d be able to find  another great companion in a beagle, but I’m not so convinced I’d find one I can enjoy leisurely strolls with when I’m having one of my less outdoorsy days.

A beagle is not for my husband and I, or maybe my husband and I are not for a beagle. That’s one breed on our “nah” list, and many more breeds still to go. Happy searching!


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