There’s a reason that certain breeds have stereotypes attached to them. It’s because, to some degree, they are true. Many Yorkies are born to bark while Labs are often friendly with kids. German Shepherds are sometimes too smart for their own good and Pit Bulls have a penchant for aggressive behavior. Certainly most people would agree with many of these stereotypes inherent to particular breeds, and yet, like people, each dog has its own personality that has nothing to do with the hallmarks of the breed. So here are a few good reasons to disregard the hoopla and judge each dog on an individual basis rather than by rumor.
If you dismiss a particular dog out of hand based solely on its breed when you go to adopt, you could just be missing out on the dog that’s best for you. Suppose you’re looking for a dog that will fit in well with a family and you go straight for a yellow Lab. Chances are good that the dog will be kid-friendly, but you really should get to know it a bit first. Some dogs at shelters have been abused and may have a real problem with kids yanking their ears and tails and running around screaming like little banshees. Or they might have food issues that cause them to bite. This type of animal is no good for a family with children, even if the breed is right.
Furthermore, you need to consider the environment you’re bringing the dog into. Labs like to be around people and they are big dogs, so they need some space to run around. If your family is gone a lot of the time and you have to leave the dog cooped up in your apartment because you don’t have a house with a yard, you can expect some serious behavioral problems to develop (barking, chewing, using the house as a toilet, etc.). This is not the fault of the dog, but can rather be attributed to your bad planning and reliance on stereotype when choosing a pet. You might be better off with a small dog that has a gentle disposition; despite the stereotype the breed barks or nips.
Or suppose you want a dog for protection as well as companionship. Just because German Shepherds are used by canine units (they do tend to learn quickly and follow directions well) doesn’t mean they will make good attack dogs. Most dogs that are trained for protection are selected for their particular personality and their reaction to certain stimuli. If your dog doesn’t have it in him to be trained for attack, then the breed is a moot point.
In short, you cannot base your expectations of a dog on the breed alone. You will simply have to spend a little time with different breeds (keeping an open mind) until you find the animal that harbors the attributes you desire in a pet. This will ensure that you wind up with a furry companion that you can live with (and that can live with you) instead of one that gets sent back to the shelter.
Sarah Danielson writes for Home Equity which aims to inform individuals about different loan options and what each option entails.