Did you know that the American Kennel Club currently recognizes 193 different dog breeds, but there are over 400 different breeds that are recognized all over the world in different clubs? With so many different breeds, temperaments, and activity levels, how do you find a dog that fits best with your family?
Remember that we bred these different dogs to work for us. Hounds are typically independent and some can be very vocal because we chose to breed dogs to hunt game for us. Cattle dogs and shepherding types were bred to herd other animals and may try to do what their instincts tell them by nipping and bumping children, other dogs, cars, or you. Think about these things before you decide what type of dog to bring into your home.
Now, what about mixed breeds? Many times, it can be hard to tell what your dog may be based solely off of looks. Some rescues try to pinpoint what a dog is by scoring a dog on different points of the body that appear to be certain breeds. However, there are several different kinds of dog DNA tests now available that will help you determine what your dog is.
When I adopted a mixed breed dog from my aunt, no one had any idea what he was. Angus was dumped off on my aunt and uncle’s farm and the veterinarian’s best guess was lab mix. When I adopted him, I started seeing other behaviors in his day-to-day life. When playing with other dogs, he would “creep” like a border collie, and he started herding my Great Danes when we were going in or out of the house. I decided to do a DNA test through Embark, and I found out that Angus was majority black lab and beagle, but also had border collie, Australian cattle dog (blue heeler), miniature pinscher, shar-pei, golden retriever, and a small percentage of “super mutt” that may have been chow chow or collie. Knowing Angus’s breeds helped me to better understand his behaviors and how best to train him. These breeds are also very intelligent, high energy, high stamina dogs that need physical and mental stimulation all the time.
Currently, AKC.org has a “dog breed selector” that will help you find a breed that best fits your activity level and family. While pretty basic, they also offer more in-depth breed information, such as the dog’s physical needs, how well they typically get along with children or other dogs, shedding level and grooming requirements, and mental stimulation needs, among others. How cool is that?
This is an especially great tool to use if thinking about adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. The shelter will give you an idea of what the dog may be, and you can research the breeds to see if the dog’s activity level and mental stimulation needs match yours. Of course, you’ll want to go meet the dog, but some dogs will be more stressed out in that environment and may not show their true personality until they’re in a space where they can bloom.
Another great resource for learning about dog breeds is Dogumentary on YouTube. They discuss different breed types, what it’s like to live with that breed, and provide great information.
Remember, the animals we bring into our lives didn’t ask to be here; we chose to breed them and include them in our family. Do your due diligence and research, and if you need help, please feel free to reach out!
AKC dog breed selector:
Example of the breed traits. This is for a Labrador retriever: