Building the perfect dog

Source: Erin Vey

A dog who has the “ideal” temperament.

Is there such a thing? I doubt it. Dogs, like people, have distinct personalities and like people, dogs don’t always behave like angels. But I think there is truth in the notion that dogs possess naturally distinct temperaments. I’ve met dogs who, despite their difficult circumstances, were overwhelmingly joyful. I have also met dogs who seem inherently grumpy, the equivalent of a canine Mr. Scrooge. I also know that breed is not destiny or prophecy. Background does not always require the same outcome. Every dog is different.

I know all of this, but lately I’ve been thinking about the qualities that are important to me to have in a future dog. I know this is an unrealistic exercise, but it is helpful for me to think about the things I really want in a dog. I also know that most of the things I list below cannot be controlled or, alternately, can be trained into a dog. This is just my detached-from-reality future dog wish list.

So. If I could build my dream dog, these are the qualities that would be most important to me, ranked in order of most important to least important:

  1. A happy, playful personality.
  2. Patient and kind toward people, children, and other dogs.
  3. Intelligent and highly trainable.
  4. Fundamentally calm (meaning he or she is willing and able to achieve a resting state!).
  5. Not excessively vocal.
  6. Athletic, always up for a romp in the woods.
  7. Longer coat.
  8. Medium to large size (50 to 100 lbs.).
  9. Ideally from the herding group (in the future, though, I want to adopt a greyhound).

The rest, I think, will work itself out. Specifically, I want to avoid dogs that exhibit: Excessive solemness, short tempers toward people and other animals, little to no interest in people, hyperactivity, and shyness. Too much to ask for? Probably. I know my already beloved future dog will have problems. I know this. I’m just dreaming on the sunny side of the clouds today…

What quality or trait do you think is most important in a dog? What kind of temperament does your dog have?

Breed Love: Standard poodle

I will clean your face now
Standard poodles on the beach. Source: Flickr

In my family, poodles got a bad reputation–for no fault of their own. My dad liked to talk trash about poodles, judging them to be frilly, sissy dogs who weren’t “real dogs.” For the most part, I confess that I agreed with him. My primary interaction with poodles were of the toy and miniature varieties, which I found to be yippy, demanding, and a little bit gross. But then I met a few standard poodles and my mind started to change about poodles.

Standard poodles, while preserving that pretty poodle appearance, are accomplished canine athletes, guide dogs, and obedience ring champions. Plus, they’re almost hypoallergenic! What’s not to love?

Mother's Day
Standard poodles in black and white. Source: Flickr, user ddlou

I find myself taken with these attractive and highly recognizable dogs. You have to admit that they’re adorable. And loyal and super-smart and athletic. My lack of exposure to standard poodles keeps them from ranking in my top five breeds, but if an opportunity ever presented itself, I would be more than happy to welcome a standard poodle into my home.

Standard poodle links: