As a professional dog trainer, who deals with behavioural issues with dogs, and sports dogs, there are two factors which can make or break the life a dog has, and those within that dogs life.
These two non negotiable attributes are good health and good temperament.
It may seem obvious to many of you reading this, but it seems both of these are more and more over looked in favour of other ‘desirable’ traits.
As a breeder, I invest thousands on health tests, and DNA analysis….I spend months, years, looking at pedigrees of dogs, and researching them as much as a possible can, to try and avoid any major health issues. Every breeder should do as much research as possible. And I am absolutely sure, most do. I can use examples across the globe who commit to every test they can possibly conduct, and take every precaution possible. And even with the best research and homework, you can still get unlucky. Thats life. But due diligence to testing, checking and researching is a must.
Genetics does require a certain degree of luck too. A curve ball or just simple bad luck, can play a hand in your dogs life. I’ve been there! I know that one all too well. It sucks. Having a dog with an ongoing health issue or physical inability is a weary weight to bare. For the dog and the family. Living your life on egg shells, is a horrible emotional place to be.
The other factor is temperament.
Good temperament is a game changer!
And I’m going to be controversial here, but a vast majority of issues and traits shouldn’t even be a factor people should have to deal with.
These are normally traits that are in the extreme.
Extreme Noise phobia, extreme fear, extreme apprehension towards people, extreme environmental sensitivity and extreme arousal.
I have owned breeds of dogs that would definitely be considered high drive, and they can come with traits that could be problematic if not channelled, managed or appropriate training is undertaken. That’s to be expected. And certainly not a ‘fault’. These are attributes! In fact, if those needs are met, they are the most amazing dogs.
But a common misconception is to breed to the ‘extremes’, in pursuit of sports related goals. This is often dogs that are easily frustrated and are easily aroused. Whilst this may initially appear as an asset, when this ‘extreme’ reaction spills over into day to day life, these assets become all consuming.
Now, because we’re being ‘real’. It could be the dog isn’t suitable for the environment or situation. Or the current skill set or knowledge of the owner. Or the dog is just misunderstood, and a few simple quirks are par the course when owning a certain breed or type of dog. Thats all possible.
However, ‘bad’ temperament is the dog that is so apprehensive it can’t function in day to day life, or the dog that is so unstable, it can’t function without stringent management or medication. Or the dog that is so phobic it lives in a constant state of hyper vigilance. Or so fearful it can’t function in a standard environment, or so aggressive, it’s a threat to anything and anyone it meets.
These traits are difficult and often ‘impossible’ to overcome completely. They take a lifetime of commitment from the owner/care giver and can be over whelming.
They will take a lifetime commitment to that dogs needs. And before my words are misinterpreted, there are millions of amazing owners in situations just like this, however breeding dogs with this potential is a different ball game.
In short…We should be aiming to create dogs that are both physically and mentally capable of living a ‘normal’ life. That isn’t a lot to ask is it?
Sound body and sound mind should be the standard by which dogs are measured and created. It should be the minimum requirements before any of the ‘bells and whistles’ of sports.