The Working Dog Breed At Home
How often does your dog do something interesting or breed specific? Perhaps you recognize a lot of his behaviour as leftover breed instinct and maybe you even encourage it, it’s good for dogs to use their instincts after all.
The traits behind the behaviour of our dogs are quite strong and often unavoidable. They are also at times great fun and can be utilised in many ways.
The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador for instance is often used to sniff out drugs, explosives and even bodies based on many years of selective breeding to make him good with his nose.
The Labrador is a soft mouthed working gundog often still used in the field today. If not soft mouthed he would spoil the pheasants that he fetches, for those that want to eat them. In the home setting this breed of dog is often seen carrying things around in a similar behaviour to that of the working gundog. The pet Labrador will even swim onto a river or lake in order to retrieve a perfectly healthy duck, given the chance.
The dog is not averse to presenting toys, shoes and other household items as the retrieving gundog has been encouraged and engineered to do. Another breed trait which shows is the Labrador who is keen to take his owners sleeve or even hand, softly into his mouth, when excited, on greeting.
The Springer and Working Cocker Spaniel were bred for a slightly different field role. As dogs that flushed rather than retrieved the pheasant and other bird from his ‘ground cover’ home they have developed a circular, quick motion of movement which takes them into bushes and undergrowth to cover a larger area at great speed.
The spaniel of these types are still genetically close to the dogs bred for the original role though some may have a diluted instinct most in a pet home will still run in the innate circular and busy motion and the breed can easily develop wildlife chase behaviour in a pet home.
Even the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is prone to chasing birds and often his pursuit is based upon nothing but diluted spaniel instinct from many generations ago but somewhere within this dog his genes are shouting “chase”.
Terriers have a certain way, don’t they? People tend to love or hate them based upon how they have experienced the group. What is obvious in terriers is that they once needed to be bold, tenacious and completely loyal because they were pushed into some pretty dangerous situations by their owners. On many country estates they still are.
The traits they needed to survive have joined them in the life of domestic dogs. Their loyalty is pure whilst their boldness unquestionable, plus of course their bark is ready at any point.
If you are wondering about the behaviour of your dog, or even considering a new puppy take a good look at the history of your breed of choice. It’s nice having a dog that behaves well but even nicer having a dog that you can interpret perfectly, because you know exactly how his breed traits and behaviour combine.
A great starting point for information on breeds is the Kennel Clubs Breed Information Centre.