Why Dog Breed Matters

Johanna has cared for a variety of breeds—from Dachshunds to German Shepherds. She is an advocate for animals and their welfare.

Does Breed Matter?

As the argument for/against pit bulls continues, the question remains: Should we have special laws against some breeds thereby discriminating one dog from another? I want to offer my few cents as a genuine dog-lover and life-long owner of different breeds.

My Opinion

I have discovered that the breed really does matter and that a dog is not just a dog—it's not that simple. It makes a difference which breed of dog you get regardless of how you take care of it or even train it. Of course, most dogs will become hostile if abused, but I am not talking about that. Rather, I'm talking about breed traits. There are certain innate traits to each breed.

What I Learned From Observing Different Traits in My Dogs

I have a purebred German Shepherd currently (my first), and I had no idea that the herding instinct was so ingrained in my dog's personality. She is constantly keeping an eye on everybody at home and prefers for people to be in the same room. Even with friends visiting, she hates it if some of them are outside and she is inside, and vice versa. Basically, all the sheep must be together, otherwise, her instinct of rounding them up kicks in, which causes some anxiety for her. I think herding and protecting go hand in hand.

My German Shepherd's Instincts

The only time the herding instinct in my German Shepherd became annoying was when I went swimming. I learned that I needed to keep her on leash, otherwise, she would come after me at a fierce swimming speed, huffing and puffing, and once she reached me, she was not nice. She would scratch and even bite in an effort to get me back to shore. I guess she felt unable to sufficiently protect me in water. Even when I was out of the water just sitting on the beach, she would circle around and keep a close eye on me.

My Dachshunds' Instincts

On the other hand, while growing up, our Dachshunds would take off at any chance they got. We had four of them over the years and they would disappear for hours and roam around and look for things to hunt like foxes. They somehow managed to find fox holes in the woods and yap their heads off until we came running.

One time, part of an ear on one of my dogs was badly torn by a fox. Those little dogs could put up a fight. Another time, one of them bit a young fawn's leg in half. The poor deer's screams echoed through the woods, leaving us in shock and disbelief that our sweet dogs could do such harm.

Breeds Are Bred for Different Tasks

Why did my Dachshunds need to go and hunt stuff? Why not stay put like my German Shepherd? I believe certain traits were bred into various dog breeds. For generations, dogs were used to help their owners with farm animals and to protect property. Hunting was also a useful trait as was retrieving. (Have you ever met a retriever that would endlessly keep catching the ball? My shepherd would grow bored after some time.) According to the AKC, there are 35 breeds of hound dogs and 25 different herding breeds.

What About Pit Bull Breeds?

So where does this leave us with pit bulls? There are many types of dogs that are referred to as pit bulls according to Wikipedia: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and also any mixes of these breeds. Some say the American Pit Bull Terrier is the same as the American Staffordshire Terrier, and others say just as soundly that they are entirely different breeds.

These bull and terrier breeds were used for bull- and bear-bating in the early 1800s. When those sports became illegal in 1835, dogfighting sprung up in its place in Europe, Russia, and here in the United States. That is when some of these dogs were selectively bred for their fighting prowess. But paradoxically, the American Pit Bull Terrier is well-respected for its intelligence and is noted as a good family dog and for being great with children. This can be confusing.

Pit Bulls Can Be Sweet but May Also Exhibit Negative Breed Traits

I think dogs described as pit bulls, especially the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, could either be the sweetest dogs or fall victim to their dogfighting past. I am not an expert by any means, but I have seen my dogs' inherent traits surface on their own, so the same is probably the case with other breeds.

Since pit bull breeds have historically demonstrated a genetic predisposition for aggressive tendencies and fighting, don't we owe it to these dogs to take precautions by neutering and perhaps enforcing special laws to ensure the safety of people around us as well as other animals? I think so, since these inherent traits can creep up in the animals at any time. Due to their size and sheer strength, these breeds can be especially dangerous and even lethal. In some countries, pit bull breeds are banned entirely.

Why People Should Research Their Breed of Interest

Learning about a breed's history and its specific traits is needed before choosing a dog to own. The Dachshunds I had as a kid should never have been able to roam free in any forest. I wish we had known that then and spared a fawn's life and the lives of many other creatures that may have fallen prey to our dogs over the years.

I think anyone who wants to own a pit bull breed should do some research on their own accord. This also really goes for all dog breeds, as safety should be a priority for all owners. This is not only with the safety of the dog's family members and other household pets in mind, but the general public and other animals in the community as well.


  • Pit Bull: Wikipedia
  • New Study Identifies Most Damaging Dog Bites by Breed
    Nearly five million people in the US are bitten by dogs each year. The most common victims are children, most of whom are bitten by family pets. But which breed bites the most? That’s hard to say, because according to a new study, “unknown” tops the
  • 2018 U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities: Dog Bite Statistics
    2018 U.S. dog bite fatality statistical data collected and recorded by DogsBite.org. Source citations for each fatality victim are located in Fatality Citations.

© 2014 Johanna Sandev

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 29, 2019:

You've raised some interesting points in this article. I've only got to know one pit bull personally and have discovered that she's a lovely dog. I suspect that many factors combine to make a good dog, including general breed features, features emphasized by a particular breeder, and the training of a dog. As you say, people should do a lot of research with respect to a breed that interests them.

Besarien from South Florida on April 12, 2015:

I agree that any breed of dog can be a very good dog if well bred, treated properly, and appropriately trained. Improper breeding can cause behavior problems as well as physical ones. It is likely in places where, say, pit bulls are illegal, that the only breeding being done there is substandard- including inbreeding and breeding for violence and aggression to produce fighting dogs.

I have met some lovely pit bulls, including one big soppy boy named "Puddin" who likes to hold my hand and, well, most of my arm too very gently in his mouth to say hello. He is also a complete belly ho.

In England, German shepherds (or Alsatians as they were called there) had a very bad (mean, aggressive, attacking their owners) reputation for a while in the 70's and 80's. Not sure what it is like now.

My favorite breed is the mutt. I have a rescued golden/mutt right now. She is a sweet soul and a very good girl. I think she appreciates us after whatever craziness she went through. Great hub!

Gender isn’t the only thing that matters

Gender is essential when adopting a second dog, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

First of all, it’s essential to consider whether you can handle the responsibility of having two dogs. Two dogs will mean twice the work and double the expenses. You’ll also need to make sure that you have the time to bond with your new dog.

If you have a new baby on the way or are making a significant life change, it may not be a good time to bring another dog into the house.

Also, consider your current dog.

  • Is he trained? Does he already follow commands?
  • Would he even want another dog? Not all dogs are dog-friendly
  • Is he a senior dog or ill? A puppy’s high energy may get on his nerves.

You’ll also want to consider the new dog’s breed and temperament. Shelter dogs sometimes have complicated pasts that may make them unsuitable for living with other dogs. Some breeds also are naturally territorial, which may cause issues between the two dogs.

Also, consider the sizes of the two dogs and their energy levels. If you have a huge dog, adopting a tiny dog may cause problems. Two highly energetic dogs may also be exhausting for you as the owner.

Adopting a second dog isn’t a decision that should be rushed or taken lightly. Take the time to consider your current dog’s personality and gender when choosing a new pack member. A dog of the opposite gender will give you the best chance of success, according to experts.

David Rowe created World Of Puppies to provide information for dog lovers from around the world. He can be reached by email.

Dog DNA Tests: Why Your Mutt’s Makeup Matters

Discovering your mutt’s background is easier and less expensive than you think.

Anyone who has had a mixed breed dog has likely wondered: Just what type of dog do I have?

Now, it may be possible to answer that question. Companies specializing in dog DNA testing are enticing owners who are curious about their mutt’s background. Owners may also decide to test so they can take the information to their veterinarians to discuss potential health issues about their dog’s breeds.

Priced from $60 and up, the tests are available online and at many pet supply retail stores. All of the kits test DNA via a cheek swab sampling, except for the most expensive, Mars Veterinary’s Wisdom Panel Professional, which requires a blood test at a veterinarian’s office (call your local veterinarian for pricing).

Not surprisingly, like most products, not all dog breed DNA tests are created equal. The more breeds in a company’s database, the greater the chance for accuracyin their results, says

Nathan Sutter, PhD, assistant professor of medical genetics at Cornell University. And generally, the more dog breeds the company has in its database, the more expensive the test.

Sutter says such dog DNA tests can typically identify the majority breeds in a canine with great accuracy. “But if a dog is mixed breed and comes from a great many breeds, each with just a small contribution to the total, then the breed test may be unable to identify most or all of the breeds contributing to the dog,” he says. Sutter says that if a dog has a purebred parent or grandparent, the results are highly accurate.

Tips for Changing Your Dog’s Behavior

The most effective way to stop a dog from ever chasing cars is prevention. It’s easiest to identify and change the behavior in puppies before it becomes a habit. However, if your dog is already chasing cars, you can use a few tricks to correct their behavior.

Keep them safe & secure. Fencing in your yard, putting locks on outdoor gates or keeping your dog crated inside are all good options.

Do some training. You can bring your dog to training classes or hire a professional dog trainer. Either way it’s a great way to set the foundation for good behavior in dogs.

Try training tools. Some dog training tools let out a hissing noise and release calming pheromones that help to distract and calm your dog. If you’re considering a training tool, consult your vet or professional dog trainer first.

Incorporate clicker training . Clicker training is a positive reinforcement method of training dogs. Each time a dog does what you want — such as coming to you when you say “come” — you click the clicker device and reward them with a treat. After using the clicker repeatedly, the dog will start associating it with good things like praise and food. This will motivate them to listen when they hear the clicking noise.

Remember that you’re in it together. Both you and your dog are learning to understand each other and sometimes it takes time.


Humans' Lack of Knowledge Leads to Dogs’ Behavioral Problems

Behavior differences between people and dogs significantly contributes to a dog’s behavioral problems.

Most dog owners treat their canine companion as humans. They tend to forget that canines have a completely different thought process. They have feelings or emotions, but they are not capable of responding to human affections.

Most dog owners think that by giving their dogs attention and love, they would make their dogs obedient. At the same time these same owners would overlook the important needs of the dog.

While your canine companion may enjoy being given constant affection, it does not, satisfy their animal nature. This eventually leads to behavioral problems.

Dog owners must understand that they simply just don’t speak the same language as their canine family members.

So, it is necessary to know your dog behaviors. Inconsistent and improper training could only lead to a worst situation.

Watch the video: Understand Your Dog Better: 10 Dog Behaviors Explained

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