How did you choose your dog?
You may not consider yourself fashionable but many owners have chosen their dog based on looks or popularity.
A study in the US has recently examined fashion versus function in dog breed popularity by:
- taking data from US Kennel Club from between 1926 and 2005
- examining data from C-BARQ behavioural questionnaires
- veterinary hospital records on longevity
- published data on inherited disorders
Some interesting results were found, including…
- The top 10 most popular breeds and their behaviour issues…
- The popularity of dog breeds shows “apparently whimsical fluctuations”, representing fashions of the times. For instance Irish setters climbed from about 2,500 in 1961 to over 60,000 in 1974, only to drop to about 3,000 by 1986. (Anyone own an Irish Setter or an Afghan in the 70s?!)
- People were not choosing their dogs based on behavioural issues. The most popular breeds did not necessarily have fewer behaviour problems.
- While we might expect people to choose dogs that were easy to live with, this did not seem to be the case. Easily trainable dogs were not the most popular, nor were dogs that were likely to suffer from behavioural issues such as separation anxiety, dog fears or aggression towards owners.
- People were not choosing dogs based on health as dogs with inherited disorders were actually more popular than those without.
- People may be choosing their pets based on fashion. This may be selecting dogs that are most popular of particular breeds that are associated with prestigious individuals (Paris Hilton & Chihuahuas!) or with those of similar ages as ourselves. Interesting!
So, are Australians any different?
Since no study has been conducted on Australian data, we can only guess. There is little to suggest that we are any different.
When Dalmatians were popular after the movie 101 Dalmatians, Dalmatian breeders here in Australia did not breed to match the demand. The integrity (health and behavioural temperament) of the breed should, therefore, remain excellent. We cannot say this of all other breeds, We know there are still puppy farmers breeding purely for looks and demand and not necessarily for temperament.
I think that when we take on a puppy, we don’t imagine the types of behaviour or even health issues that we may encounter. We, perhaps naively, believe that this will not happen to us. Perhaps our friends with similar dogs do not disclose all their issues.
How did you choose your dog? Did you copy your friends? Did you choose a fashionable breed?
For those of us who may like to educate ourselves prior to acquiring a pet, here are some resources that may help in this decision…
Choosing a dog Dr Jo’s website
Choosing the right dog for you Purina Australia
Inherited disorders in dogs University of Sydney LIDA
Pet shops and puppy farms Dr Jo’s blog
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