Tuesday, 3 January 2012

(Some) Dogs gotta work

We had come to the conclusion that, perhaps we weren’t experienced enough dog owners to take on a rescue dog, and that a puppy would be better for us. In hindsight if we had stuck at it, I know we would eventually been matched with a perfect dog for us. But I wasn’t patient and rushed out to start choosing a puppy.

There are lots of good places to find out about choosing a puppy, including:

Unfortunately, I thought I had read and understood what I needed to look out for when I was choosing a puppy. But I really hadn’t.

One area I knew nothing about was the difference between working dogs and show dogs.
Both of my dogs are from working lines. I hadn’t even realised that there was any difference between working dogs and show dogs. Although I wouldn’t change my guys for the world;  I really wish I had understood before I got a puppy the difference between working lines and show lines.

Some breeds such as Labradors and spaniels come from working lines. For example Labradors may have parents, grandparents and great grandparents who worked as gun dogs.  These dogs have been specifically bred for their temperament and their ability to work calmly in the field.

I think that my working dogs behave differently as well.  Both of my dogs are from gun dog stock, and they want to work.   Cocker spaniel owners often comment that working Cocker Spaniels are very different from show Cocker Spaniels and are much more driven.  So if you wanted to take up agility for example, a working spaniel may be a better choice.

Working dogs can often look slightly different. Dexter as a working cocker spaniel, looks very different to a show cocker spaniel.  He has long legs, shorter ears, and a short coat, apart from on his legs, which have very long fur. When I take him to shows, folk often don’t, believe he is actually a cocker spaniel, because people are more familiar with the look of show cockers.

If you want to show your dog, you will need to check if you are buying a show or a working puppy. I am only just starting to learn about working dogs myself.  Some places I have found helpful are,
The Kennel Club and events such as Discover Dogs and websites and forums dedicated to individual breeds.

Nothing beats, talking first hand to dog owners. I would recommend going along to your local dog training club, and watching some classes. See if you are interested in the different activities, so you can choose a breed best suited to the things you would like to do.  Another good place to visit is companion and fun dog shows, where many people are only too happy to stop and chat about their dog. A list of dog shows can be found on Dog Friendly Britain.

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