K9 Corner, May 2

Published 8:46 am Tuesday, May 2, 2017

By HELEN PALMER

A caller asked if I would describe the personality of a particular breed that he is thinking of buying. The man mentioned that I was one of five different people he had contacted for information.

This is the way to select a breed. First, read all you can find, then call veterinarians because they handle most breeds, owners of one or two animals of the breed, dog judges who specialize in that breed and dog trainers. Do not call breeders at this point because most breeders will tell you how perfect the breed is in their opinion, and how much better their bloodline is to everyone else’s breeding program. Also be careful when evaluating the advice of a dog trainer. The advice should contain both good and bad traits, such as: dogs bred for hunting are inclined to roam if not given enough stimulating exercise.

Any one of the experts that gives only bad traits or who says that the breed should be exterminated should be disqualified. On the other hand, any person that gives only the good traits with no cautions at all should be scrutinized carefully. Does that person own or sell the breed in question? How much contact has the “expert” had with the breed?

  Going to dog shows will help answer some questions. Do not go to a dog show to sit at ringside and watch the animals gait and pose. That is for the experts. Go early to the show and locate the breed in the grooming tents or areas. Often you will find clusters of handlers of the same breed all grooming and caring for their charges.

Watch how the animals act in the crates. Are most of them calm? Are most of them nervous, squirming, barking and panting? Watch how they act on the grooming table. Bear in mind, though, that these dogs are selected for stable personalities and have had intense training before being entered in the show. Usually only the puppies will show excitement.

Watch the handlers walk their dogs to the rings. Do they shield the dog’s head as it approaches other dogs? If so, it might be the personality of an individual animal or something may have upset that dog, such as a male passing a female in season and then confronting another male walking down the aisle.  However, it is something to think about.

Finally watch the animals work in the ring. Be sure to watch the puppy and novice classes because these are inexperienced dogs and will show more personality traits. Again, you have to make allowances for silliness and puppy exuberance.

Selecting a breed for the first time is not something you do on a whim. If you are serious about owning a dog, you must remember that you should be responsible for it for 10 to 15 or more years.

Congratulations to my caller who is taking the time to research his breed selection before getting the dog. If more people would do that the animal shelters would be out of business.