I decided to write this article from the perspective of a dog trainer and just a general dog lover.
I can remember studying dog breed books as a child and would relish in the challenge to name a “rare” breed or to meet an unusual breed in person for the first time… I’m sure it’s the same for most dog lovers.
The following are 3 dogs that stick out in my mind and I want potential owners of these breeds to make sure that they understand fully what they are signing up for when they welcome one of these guys into their homes.
1. Belgian Malinois
This breed has been getting lots of attention in recent years, mostly due to the breeds super strong reputation as the ideal military and police dogs…. even overtaking the traditional German Shepherd in many areas. Also the releasing of the new Disney movie “MAX” which stars a Belgian Malinois.
As the owner of one of these wonderful dogs I can say with complete honesty that this breed can and does make a very difficult family pet to live with on a day to day basis. They are intelligent, active, agile, relentless and all at extremely high levels…. If you think your collie is smart. it has nothing on a Malinois.
I train dogs for a living, I’m home most of the time, I’m able to bring my dogs to work with me and I struggle with my Malinois. So much so that I purchased a treadmill specifically for her so that I could exercise her when the weather was less than ideal. This breed defines working dog and needs excessive amounts of exercise, training and stimulation or you may be faced with a dog that suffers from severe separation anxiety, destruction, aggression and a professional crate and fence escapist.
2. Tibetan Mastiff
This breed used to be extremely rare and I remember the first time I saw one in person like it was yesterday. Massive dogs with outrageous amounts of hair almost like a lion, very striking and imposing.
This breed has been raising in popularity over the past 10 years, so much so that I get a call or two about once every 6 months from someone looking for help with one of these beauties. These guys look like giant teddy bears but most of them are not. These guys were originally bred to guard flocks in tibet and have been known to take on wolves and leopards. This breed tend to be very territorial and are naturally suspicious, meaning they don’t generally like strangers (dogs or people) and can take a very long time to warm up to someone new (if at all). They are also very independent so they can be difficult to train, these traits combined with the massive size and strength of this breed can make them very difficult to own especially in the city.
The Tibetan Mastiff is currently suffering from the tail end of a huge fad in China with many of them being left homeless now that the fad has run its course.
3. German Shepherd
Wait what! The German Shepherd is always thought of as one of the ideal family dogs and guardians… and they can be! But this increasingly popular and wonderful breed is in trouble. As a professional dog trainer I deal with German Shepherds all the time, honestly they probably make up about ¼ of my client base.
People buy these dogs for their families and think of the German Shepherd we had 20 or 30 years ago…Rin Tin Tin and the Littlest Hobo. Loyal, Loving, Courageous, Brave and would lay their lives on the line for their families…. and some of them still are all of those wonderful things and more! But increasingly many of them are not and there are lots of families struggling with their nervous, anxious, fearful and sometimes aggressive German Shepherds that they bought as their family companion. I’m not sure what is going on with this breed in recent years but I have noticed huge problems. Please make sure if you are looking for one of these wonderful dogs that you go to a reputable breeder or rescue and make sure you do lots of research and talk to lots of owners who have experience (both good and bad) with these potentially awesome guys. The German Shepherd is a breed in trouble and suffering from the aftermath of popularity.
Being popular is not always a good thing, especially when it can turn a living thing into a fad. Its important to remember that adopting or purchasing a puppy should never be an impulse decision especially if it’s it’s based off of ideals that you have seen in the media. That breed that is hip and trendy today will more than likely suffer in the future. Keep in mind that reputable rescues should always be explored as a wonderful option for the perfect family pet, and hey you can always contact an awesome dog trainer like me to help if you need it with the wonderful and ever evolving journey that is the human dog relationship.
Sarah McMurdo is a Dog Trainer located in Ontario Canada and owner of Paws Forward Professional Dog Training. A unique approach to training and living with companion dogs Sarah takes her training methods from her background working with real life working dogs. Sarah has trained and lives with 2 retired personal protection dogs, she has trained dogs in tracking and also worked as a service dog trainer for clients with PTSD and children with autism. Fore contact information please visit www.pawsforwardlondon.com