Breed selection: One size doesn't fit all

So many choices . . . but which one's best for me?


Babe the pig wanted to be a Border Collie, and the popularity of Border Collies soared.

The evil Cruella deVille kidnapped bright-eyed Dalmatians for nefarious purposes, and Dalmatians made it into the top 10 breeds registered by the American Kennel Club. Lady and the Tramp made Cocker Spaniels more sought after than ever.

The top 10 breeds in AKC registrations in 1995 were Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Pomeranian, and Yorkshire Terrier. The Dalmatian has fallen to 11th, but the soon-to-be released live version of 101 Dalmatians should bring numbers up.

More than 130,000 Labs were registered with AKC in 1995, up from almost 106,000 in 1991.

The Labrador Retriever gained its reputation as an all-around family companion, great with children, friendly to people and other dogs, an easy-keeper for an active family. But a Labrador Retriever in a family that is not prepared for a large, boisterous, energetic dog that retrieves everything that's not nailed down and can clear a coffee table with a swing of the tail is a dog that quickly becomes a liability. Labs with no manners end up in animal shelters and in rescue, their owners disillusioned with the breed.

Many dogs, purebred and mixed, meet the same fate, a fate that can be avoided by careful selection of a breed, a source, and a dog that matches the family's needs and personal preferences.

Obviously, dogs come in many shapes, sizes, coat types, and temperaments. If a family truly wants a canine companion, there will be several that will fit the bill. Those who cannot or do not want to cope with the Labrador's bulk, destructive tail, and bustling, cheery demeanor can likely find a variety of smaller, less active dogs to meet their needs.

What's your lifestyle?

Sarah Jones jogs every morning before work and plays softball on the company team each summer. She leads a wash-and-wear, comfortable life, preferring to pour her energy into outside physical activities rather than home decor and housework. When looking for a dog, Jones narrowed her choices to Dalmatians and Weimaraners, both large, high energy breeds well-suited for an athletic owner, breeds that need little grooming and are always ready to go.

She found a Dalmatian puppy, bought a crate, enrolled in a training class, and began taking Dash to the softball games where he sat in his crate and watched her play.

Paul Adams works 10-hour days and loves to relax when he returns to his apartment each evening. His weekends are spent puttering with his computer and dinner with friends. The idea of a dog appeals to him, but he doesn't want to housetrain a puppy and the landlord only allows dogs under 30 pounds. Then Adams heard about a Miniature Schnauzer rescue organization, and he added a young male Schnauzer to his life.

He taught Max to beg for treats, play dead, fetch, and he began taking walks each morning to exercise the dog.

Lisa Smith has three children, all under seven years of age. The six-year-old twin girls are relatively sedate youngsters, but their three-year-old sister is a ball of fire, prone to screaming and running. The Smiths want a dog for the family, not too big a dog, of course, and one that doesn't shed too much. They checked on Brittanys, Beagles, standard Dachshunds, Petit Bassets, and Border Terriers, and settled on the Border for its hardiness, small size, and adaptability.

Nigel learned quickly to sit, lie down, and walk on a leash. He withstood the antics of the youngest child with steady character and greeted the older girls every day after school.

The Brookharts bought an Afghan Hound puppy to decorate their condominium. Sandstorm was elegant enough; she was also a constant runaway - the Thomases paid several citations and bailed Stormy out of the animal shelter four times in less than a year.

Tammy Johnson bought a Chow Chow puppy on her way home from work. For several days, she had driven by the sign tacked to a utility pole: Chow puppies, $100. She'd always toyed with the idea of having a purebred dog and these little teddy bears were so adorable. So Bandit came to live with Tammy, and, in less than a year, had his mistress terrified. He growled when she touched his food dish, when she told him to get off the bed, when she snapped a leash on his collar.

The Richardsons bought a Labrador Retriever puppy that was supposed to lie by the fire on winter evenings and play with the kids during the day. But Max had other ideas: He knocked the kids down in his exuberance, ran off down the street to play ball with the Martin children, and brushed everything off the coffee table when he wagged his tail.

Steve and Mary Roberts took the children to see Disney's 101 Dalmatians and a few weeks later stopped at the pet store and bought the kids their very own Pongo puppy.

The Roberts family was completely unprepared for the high-pressure personality of their puppy; Pongo ruined the carpet, chewed the cabinets, nibbled human body parts, urinated on Cynthia's bed, chased the cat, and ran out the door whenever it opened a crack. In short order, parents and kids hated the little beast, who was getting bigger and more unruly by the day.

When Sandstorm was two, she was turned over to Afghan Rescue.

The Richardsons built a dog run where Max spent most of his days watching the kids play and his evenings listening to the family's laughter and the drone of the television through the closed windows of the house.

At six months old, Pongo went to the animal shelter to find a new home.

At 15 months, Bandit was put down at the animal shelter for biting his mistress.

Not as easy as it looks

The choice of a breed is not always as easy at it seems when a family decides to get a dog. Sarah Jones, Paul Adams, and the Smith family have an excellent chance of building a compatible relationship with the dogs they have chosen to share their lives. They made thoughtful choices of a pet to fit their personalities and their circumstances. If the Brookharts had realized that an Afghan needs room to run, they might have chosen another breed. If Edwards knew that Chows are dominant dogs completely unlike their teddy-bear appearance, she probably would have done likewise. And if the Richardsons had known that Labs are boisterous, active dogs that retain puppy characteristics for two years or more, they would also have chosen more wisely.

Dog breeds are not interchangeable. For centuries, man has bred dogs to do particular jobs. Today, few dogs do those jobs, but they still harbor the skills and adaptations that made them successful in their original careers. Breeds require different types and amounts of care, training, food, and exercise. They have different "personalities" and drives. Some are laid back and gentle, some are dominant; some are noisy; some dig holes, climb fences, and escape through doorways to satisfy their need to run. Others are always busy and can be destructive if not given enough to do. And still others are bright, but more or less difficult to train. Some are good watchdogs and others are over-friendly.

A puppy budget

To increase chances of a successful match, potential puppy buyers should first establish a budget of time, money, and convenience and then research the breeds that are most likely to fit their personal situation.

Consider what type of dog you want and what you expect the dog to contribute to your life. Activity level, trainability, and grooming needs should be part of the equation. If you hike or jog and would like a companion, look at medium or large breeds that can accompany you. If you hate the thought of dog-hair tumbleweeds skittering across the floor, consider a short-coated breed. If you have children and cannot spend a lot of time training or exercising a dog, look at the quieter breeds that are easy to train.

Once you have decided on a general type, you can narrow it down by considering cost, suitability for the household, and time involved in training and grooming.

Purebred dogs generally cost more than mixed breeds, and they are more predictable as to size, coat type, and temperament. Purebred puppies are more expensive than adult dogs available from rescues or shelters.

Whatever the original cost of the animal, money spent on maintenance depends on size, coat type, and training needs. Big dogs generally cost more to feed, medicate, and spay or neuter, and . their toys, bowls, collars, and leashes are more expensive. Groomers and boarding kennels charge usually charge more for their services because large dogs take more time and space than small dogs.

Dogs with dominant personalities generally need more training sessions than mild-mannered dogs, and heavy-coated dogs, Poodles, hard-coated terriers, and some others may need professional grooming to keep their coats in good shape.

Even if dogs don't need professional grooming, they need home grooming, which requires buying specific types of combs and brushes and can take considerable time if the dog has a long coat, a double coat, or a soft coat that tangles easily.

Those who dismiss a dog out of hand as shedding too much, needing too much exercise, barking too much, or as too destructive might be pleasantly surprised to find a number of breeds that are quiet and relatively non-shedding and that they can train a dog to be quiet and to not chew the furniture. Apartment dwellers who think small dogs are wimps may be surprised at the number of small-dogs-with-big-dog-auras.

Narrowing the choice

First, potential puppy buyers should determine whether small, medium, large, or giant breeds fit their living space and financial budget and whether an active or laid back dog fits their lifestyle. Then all members of the family should read as much as possible about breeds that fit the bill. (See reading list for books that assist in breed selection.)

Then find a local breeder. Kennel clubs, veterinarians, boarding kennels, groomers, and pet supply stores will often refer buyers to responsible local breeders. Or contact AKC, 51 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010 for a list of breed clubs; then contact individual clubs for a list of breeders in your state or region.

Before making a final decision on a breed, visit a couple of breeders and, if possible, a dog show to see puppies and adults of the breeds you are considering and talk to several breeders (long before or a bit after they go into the ring) about the advantages and disadvantages of the breed. Behavior of dogs at a show is not necessarily a good clue to the temperament of the breed, for show dogs are usually the best a breeder has to offer and have been conditioned to behave in crowds. It is, however, better than not seeing the dogs close up and personal at all.

Be sure to visit obedience rings as well as conformation rings; if there are no representatives of your chosen breed in the ring, it may be a clue that the breed is difficult to train.

Budget money for puppy purchase, feed, veterinary attention, and training. If the breed has a long or difficult coat, add the cost of professional grooming.

Purebred puppies cost anywhere from $100 for a pet of a small breed to $2000 or more for a show dog of a rare breed or a pup from exceptional bloodlines. Most purebred puppies cost $200-$600 for pets.

Food costs increase with the size of the dog. Price several premium feeds - generic or house brand foods are the equivalent of junk food and can cause health problems related to poor nutrition. Veterinary services often cost more for large dogs than small dogs.

A large crate is more expensive than a small one, and boarding and grooming services are often based on the size of the dog.

The buyer's health and physical condition is important as well. Someone with arthritis, chronic back problems, allergies, asthma, or other limiting ailments would be wise to choose a small-to-medium-sized dog needing moderate exercise to avoid the physical stress involved in maneuvering large canine bodies or providing sufficient activity for the pet.

Easy care, wash and wear dogs take less time than long-coated or double-coated breeds. Breeds that need lots of exercise take more time than couch potatoes.

Selecting the right breed takes time and effort. After all, a puppy becomes a dog that will be part of the family for a dozen years or more. A puppy should never be purchased on a whim, because it looks lonely in the pet store, or because the retailer will take plastic money.

Animal shelters are full of puppies that became dogs that didn't fit their family lifestyle or were too hard to train or too expensive to keep. It's so much easier to do the homework necessary to find a compatible breed before the purchase than to subject family and dog to the heartaches that result from incompatibility.

Sporting Group

The AKC divides dogs into seven groups: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. The non-sporting group includes several breeds that could easily fit elsewhere; the Dalmatian and Standard Poodle have sporting dog personalities and energy level; the Chow, Finnish Spitz, and Shiba were originally hunting dogs; and the Boston Terrier is by rights a terrier.

Dogs in the sporting group include the setters, pointers, spaniels, retrievers, and a handful of others, all bred to hunt game birds. Some work in water, others on land, and still others in both. Their personalities range from mild to hard-headed to tough, but all are suitable family dogs for an active household of patient owners. However, if you don't want to train your sporting breed, forget about the Weimaraner or Chesapeake Bay Retriever, for these breeds can be domineering if not taught to toe the line. If you have boisterous or overzealous children, cross the Cocker Spaniel off the list, for Cockers will not abide rough handling or teasing. If you cannot keep your dog confined in a securely fenced yard when he's not under direct supervision, choose a breed that is more willing to be a homebody; the sporting dogs were bred to hunt, and most will take advantage of every opportunity to follow their noses up hill and down dale.

The stars of the sporting group are the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. They enjoy the attention of well-behaved children and will usually put up with some bratty behavior. They are relatively easy to train, easy to care for, and often seem to be perpetually young. The Brittany and the English Springer Spaniel are smaller and far less popular but have the same great personality traits and sparkling manner. The setters are very high energy dogs that are fine for active families, and the pointers are working dogs that tolerate children but are not particularly easy to train as house pets.


The hounds come in many sizes and in two basic types -- scent hounds, who follow their noses anywhere, and sighthounds, whose gaze lingers on the horizon in the search for game. Some of the scent hounds are lethargic, others are almost frenzied to get about the business of following a trail. Most are difficult to obedience train because their noses are always responding to the pungent world of odors far beyond the ken of humans.

The scent hounds are friendly critters accustomed to working with their handlers in the field. Sighthounds, bred to work independently of the hunter, tend to be aloof and rather tough to obedience train.

The scent hounds are Basset; Beagle (in two sizes, up-to-13 inches, and 13-15 inches); Black and Tan Coonhound; Bloodhound; Dachsunds (three coats types -- wire, smooth, and long --- and two sizes -- standard and miniature); American and English Foxhounds; Harrier; Norwegian Elkhound; Otterhound; and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. The Elkhound looks more like a sled dog than a hound; it was bred to hunt moose in snow-covered mountains and has the typical northern dog thick undercoat that sheds profusely.

The sighthounds are pictures of grace and elegance with their long legs, slender bodies, and long noses. They are Afghan Hound; Basenji; Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound); Greyhound; Ibizan Hound; Irish Wolfhound; Pharaoh Hound; Rhodesian Ridgeback; Saluki; Scottish Deerhound; and Whippet. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also used as guard dogs, and Greyhounds still race at tracks in several states.

Many sighthound owners participate in lure coursing, a chasing sport that mimics the hunts for which their dogs were originally bred. In lure coursing, the dogs chase a plastic bag pulled along a wire on a marked course.

Working breeds

The working dogs are medium-to-giant size and are often independent and difficult to manage.. Some were developed to guard palaces, homes, and livestock, occupations that require true grit. Others were draft animals, hauling carts of fish or cheese or carrying the worldly goods of nomadic tribes. Several of these breeds are jacks of many trades; the Sammy was born as a bed-warmer, sledge-hauler, and reindeer herder; the Newf as a sea-going rescue dog as well as a cart-pulling draft dog; the Rottweiler as a cattle drover and farmer's protector; and Akitas as palace guards and big game hunters. Many of these breeds are aloof and independent with strangers. Working dogs should be accustomed to children at an early age, for a child's staring, quick and unpredictable movements, and high-pitched voice can trigger prey drive in unsocialized or poorly socialized adults of these breeds.

Of the working breeds, the Samoyed, Saint Bernard, Portuguese Water Dog, Newfoundland, and Siberian Husky have the mildest temperaments, and the Akita, Rottweiler, Boxer, Komondor, and Doberman can be the most domineering. The remaining working breeds are Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bullmastiff; Giant Schnauzer; Great Dane; Great Pyrenees; Kuvasz; Mastiff; and Standard Schnauzer.

A working breed that is not socialized as a puppy and young adult can easily become a domineering pet prone to jumping on people and furniture, growling at children and unconfident adults, and refusing to come when called or lie down on command. With few exceptions, working breeds are not suitable for first time dog owners without a commitment to formal obedience training and a willingness to establish and maintain control from the moment the puppy walks in the door.

Many of the working breeds have thick, downy undercoats and moderately long topcoats that shed once or twice each year. The undercoats are fine and drift everywhere; the topcoats are somewhat coarse and can pierce human skin. During shedding, these dogs should be combed daily. Owners need a laissez-faire attitude about neatness as the hair gets into every nook and cranny and on every piece of clothing in the house.semi-annually. Those who are unprepared for the volume of hair involved will wonder just how all that fuzz fit on one dog, so be sure you don't mind ubiquitous hair if you consider one of these breeds.

The immensely popular Rottweiler, a breed that is at once maligned and praised for it's ability as a family guardian, suffers from supply-and-demand run amuck too many ignorant breeders are producing too many poor-quality puppies that are being purchased by too many ignorant buyers. A guard dog is more than teeth and toughness; a good guard dog has a stable personality and a sense of judgment to combine with his loyalty and territorial imperative. If you decide on a Rottie, be sure to buy from a reputable breeder.

Other working breeds that need a firm hand are Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Boxer, Great Pyrenees, Kuvasz, Bullmastiff, Mastiff, Giant Schnauzer, Doberman, Komondor, Siberian Husky, and Standard Schnauzer. Akitas, Malamutes, Boxers, Komondor, and the Schnauzers can be dog aggressive, and Akitas and Mals will hunt small game and cats.

Working dogs that are easier to handle are Newfoundland, Portuguese Water Dog, Samoyed, Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Great Dane, and Saint Bernard. Actually, folks who like the look of the Rottweiler but do not want the responsibility of owning a guardian breed should consider the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. It is similar to the Rottie in looks (big, muscular, and black and tan, but with white on the chest, neck, face, and feet) but was developed as a draft dog, not a protector, and has a milder attitude.

Many working dogs are susceptible to degenerative joint disease, particularly hip dysplasia, and should only be purchased from breeders who clear their breeding stock of this genetic abnormality.


The terriers are also hunting dogs, but their game is generally vermin, not birds and animals for the dinner table. With few exceptions, terriers developed in the British Isles to control rats, mice, foxes, and other predatory animals that raided farmer's grains and chickens, shopkeepers storage bins, and housewives' kitchen larders. The terriers come in wire, smooth, and soft coats and in short- and long-legged body types.

Terrier temperament is fiery. The smallest terriers are scrappy, ready to take on even giant sized adversaries. This attitude stood them well in vermin-hunting and gives them an earnest and often boisterous attitude towards life as a pet. On the down side, some terriers are yappy and can be nippy with overactive children. They can also be quite independent and difficult to train for the weak-of-will.

The wire-haired terriers have special grooming needs. Dead hairs must be pulled out of their coats to maintain good coat color and texture. The hard-coated terriers are Airedale, Australian, Border, Cairn, Irish, Lakeland, Miniature Schnauzer, Norfolk, Norwich, Scottish, Sealyham, Skye, Welsh, West Highland White, and Wirehaired Fox.

The soft-coated terriers are the Soft-coated Wheaten and Kerry Blue. Terriers with both soft and hard hairs are the Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont. Smooth-coated terriers are the American Staffordshire, Bull, Standard Manchester, Smooth Fox, and Staffordshire Bull.

Terriers are not generally good for rowdy children, for they will give back as good (or better) than is dished out. Three terriers, the Border, Irish, and the Soft-coated Wheaten, are considered to be generally good with children. The others are recommended only for families with older, well-behaved youngsters.

Hard-coated terriers are often preferred by families with allergies because they do not drop their dead hairs throughout the house. Instead, the dead hairs must be pulled out in order to keep the skin healthy and maintain the coats' rich colors and bright whites. Many terrier owners prefer to have a groomer do the job.

Most terriers are tough to train, for they have their own idea of how the world works and that idea frequently differs from the owners'. Few will back down from a confrontation with another dog.

Toy breeds

Toy dogs, often smaller versions of other breeds, were developed as companions to the ladies and gentlemen of the courts in various nations. In the Orient, they rode inside the great sleeves of noblemen's robes; in Europe, they rode in baskets carried by noblewomen; everywhere, they sat on laps and warmed beds in cold castles and palaces.

Diminutive size does not mean a mildness of temperament; many little dogs are as tough as their larger cousins. As a rule (Pug excepted), they do not like small children, and their movements can be too quick for elderly family members.

Many breeders of toy dogs keep their puppies until they are 10-12 weeks old instead of selling them at the more-typical eight weeks. And many will not sell to a family with young children or very active children.

Toy dogs are generally easy care pets. Some (Shih-Tzu, Pomeranian, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, and Pekingese) require heavy grooming; some (Japanese Chin, Toy Poodle, and English Toy Spaniel) require moderate grooming; and other require little or no grooming. The important thing is to keep the long, fine hairs free of tangles and mats to avoid pain and skin problems for the dog and a big grooming or vet bill for you.

Some need relatively more exercise than larger breeds and are frantic apartment dwellers. Most are less than 12 inches tall and weigh less than 12 pounds.

Many toy breeds are mass-produced for pet stores. Several Chihuahuas or Italian Greyhounds can be kept in a chicken cage or shopping cart, so even though their litters tend to be small, they are far easier to house than Akitas or German Shepherds. Toy breeds purchased in pet stores are often hard to housetrain.

The toy breeds are Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Chihuahua (long-haired and smooth-coated), English Toy Spaniel, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Maltese, Toy Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Pug, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier.

Several of the toy breeds are often crossbred to produce -poo dogs. These are not purebred dogs and should never be purchased as such. Many -poo dogs are fine pets, but some are yappy, hyper, or ill-tempered.

Non-sporting dogs

This is a diverse group of dogs ranging in size from the small Bichon Frise to the 60-pound Dalmatian and including the northern-type Keeshonden and Finnish Spitz and two of the three Poodle varieties. There's no unifying theme here; in fact, several of these breeds could easily fit another group.

These dogs have come to be known as companions even though they started out with a variety of jobs in their native lands. The so-ugly-it's-adorable English Bulldog was designed to grab a bull by the snout and hang on for dear life until the animal could be killed. The Dalmatian was a Gypsy camp dog in Europe and then a coach dog in England. The Standard Poodle was a German hunting dog, the Tibetan Terrier alerted the monastery to the approach of strangers, the Shiba hunted small game in Japan, the Keeshond oversaw the start of a new political party, and the Finnish Spitz hunted large game birds.

Of the non-sporting dogs, the Dalmatian and Chow Chow are probably the most misunderstood. The Dal is an active, independent, athletic dog that needs a firm hand; the Chow's adult attitude is not as soft and fuzzy as an adorable Chow puppy would lead one to believe. Unfortunately, these two breeds suffer from their popularity when people purchase them without appreciating their personalities and needs.

The personalities of these dogs range from the calm of the Bulldog to the high energy of the Dalmatian and cover about everything in between. The Dalmatian has been overbred to satisfy the market created by the movies and by the popularity of black-and-white fashion design. Families looking for a Dalmatian should choose their source very carefully to avoid getting a hyperactive, fearful, aggressive, or deaf puppy.

The remaining non-sporting breeds are Boston Terrier, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Schipperke, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier.

Herding dogs

About a dozen years ago, the AKC separated herding dogs from the working group. These are the dogs who began their careers as livestock herders in the British Isles, on the European Continent, and in the US, the indispensable farmers' dogs that could work dawn-to-dusk to bring the sheep to the barn or to market. Several of these breeds have gone on to excel in police work, search and rescue, tracking, service to handicapped owners, and as sentries and couriers during wartime.

Most herding dogs are active, intelligent, courageous, and determined. Many are favorites for obedience competition for their strong working bond with their owners. They are mostly medium-to-large in size, but include the smaller Shetland Sheepdog and the two Corgis.The German Shepherd, a versatile working dog, is part of this group, as is the Border Collie, the new darling of the Babe set.

The Border Collie is not a breed for everyone. It is very smart and must be kept very busy. Unless you can spend lots of time playing Frisbee or fetch, find someone with agility equipment you can use, or teach the dog to herd sheep or ducks, forget the Border Collie. This dog doesn't just need exercise, he needs meaningful exercise. A walk won't do unless he gets to fetch something, herd something, or climb over, under, around, and through something.

Border Collie rescue always has several dogs whose owners did not realize these things before they bought the dog.

The other herding breeds are calmer. The German Shepherd is prone to temperament problems because of overbreeding, so it is imperative to seek out a responsible breeder who deals only in dogs of good temperament. The German Shepherds from European working lines tend to have higher drives than the US dogs; these dogs also must have work to do or they can become destructive.

The Australian Cattle Dog, the Briard, and the Australian Shepherd can be hard-headed. The puli is a happy ball of fire. The rough-coated Collie is a true family companion. If grooming is not in your repertoire, try smooth-coated version of the breed. The Old English Sheepdog must be groomed often to prevent mats and is somewhat hard-headed. The three Belgian breeds are relatively easy to train; the Malinois requires little grooming, but the Tervuren and Shepherd must be brushed a couple of times a week.

Herding dogs are subject to hip dysplasia and should be purchased only from breeders who x-ray their stock. Some herding breeds suffer from overpopularity and have flighty or fearful temperaments.

The herding breeds are Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, Collie, German Shepherd Dog, Old English Sheepdog, Puli, Shetland Sheepdog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.


When a particular dog earns headlines or has a movie or television role, sales on the breed often surge. 101 Dalmatians brought an increase in the spotted dogs, and poor breeding practices produced some overactive Dals with quirky temperaments. Turner and Hooch featured a Dogue de Bordeaux, a large, drooly mastiff, and everybody wanted one of these huge, slobbery dogs. Beethoven popularized St. Bermards, and the television comedy Fraser shows off the delightful character of a little Jack Russell Terrier known as Eddie. And then there's the Border Collie family in the aluminum foil commercial, the Golden Retriever in the Oreo ad, and the Siberian Huskys that eat whatever dog food.

Take your time and find a breed that's right for you

Take your time and examine the incredible variety of canines large and small, short-haired, long-haired , and wire-haired; active and sedate; loving and aloof; strong, loyal, and independent or soft, cuddly, and intuitive; sloppy and prissy; dignified and silly. There's a breed for everyone -- all that remains is to examine your own wants and needs and match them with the breed that captures your mind's eye and your heart.

Simple, eh?

Books can help

The books listed here are but a few of the many that provide information about breeds of dogs. A dog show book stall is the best place to find dozens of titles, including general-information breed selection books and breed-specific volumes. Most breeds are profiled in two or three separate volumes that range in cost from $7-$9 up to $40. Some breed profile books can be found in public libraries, book stores, or pet supply stores.

The Right Dog for You
by Daniel F. Tortora, PhD;
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster Building,
Rockefeller Center,
1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020.
Written in 1980, includes charts and other helpful information about the AKC-registered breeds as of the publication date. It was written prior to the separation of herding dogs from the working group and does not include breeds recognized by the AKC since 1980. Tortora's book broke ground on this issue, but it is a bit out of date on the breed profiles.

Man's Best Friend; The National Geographic Book of Dogs
first published in 1958 by The National Geographic Society and updated several times.
Includes information about each group of dogs and profiles of AKC-registered breeds as of 1974.

Your Purebred Puppy: A Buyer's Guide
by Michele Lowell,
Henry Holt & Co,
115 W 18th St,
New York, NY 10011 Published in 1990. Includes information on how to select the appropriate breed for your family, find a good breeder, and choose the puppy that fits your circumstances and profiles about 160 breeds. Lowell's book is more recent; it lacks the depth of Tortora's work in categorizing dogs by temperament, exercise, and other characteristics, but it includes many more breeds. Both books are available in area bookstores and libraries. Cost $22.50. This book is available in Many public libraries.

A Celebration of Rare Breeds
Cathy J. Flamholtz,
OTR Publications,
PO Box 1243,
Ft. Payne, AL 35967. Substantial profiles of more than four dozen rare breeds.

The AKC Complete Dog Book
published by Howell Book House,
230 Park Ave, New York, NY 10169.
Includes breed histories and standards of all breeds registered by AKC. Cost, about $18.
This book is available at many libraries.

Most prospective owners of purebred dogs look to AKC as the country's most prominent registry, even though the United Kennel Club has existed almost as long and registers more breeds, than those recognized by AKC. But UKC's strength lies in working events for sporting breeds and hounds and in obedience trials, not in the high profile conformation shows sanctioned by AKC.

Still, the AKC division of dog breeds into groups is helpful in making some general observations about breeds.

[Next:Help in buying a dog]

Norma Bennett Woolf

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