Good reasons for certain characteristics of purebred dogs

Originally, the shapes of dogs followed their functions.

Some dogs performed better at certain functions than others. A dog’s performance at one function was often better than another because he or she had physical or personality traits that offered excellence in that particular function. Dogs with greyhound shapes were faster; dogs with better scent were better hunters; dogs that were more territorial were better watch dogs.

We have found that mixed breed dogs just don’t have the type of temperament needed to be guide dogs.

Based on these observations, dog breeders began to strive to breed dogs of a consistent physical type and temperament. When an individual breed of dog has developed consistent standards of physical traits, it has also developed consistent standards of temperamental traits.

While there are outliers around the edges of any breed, chihuahuas can generally be relied upon to look and act like chihuahuas; burrows can be relied on to look and act like burrows; and Labrador retrievers can be relied on to look and act like Labrador retrievers.

Martha Irvine / Associated press A golden retriever can be an ideal guide dog.

It is on this consistency of type – behavior and temperament – that breeders of working dogs rely. A consistent type is important. Terriers cannot hunt ducks, and Chihuahuas cannot be guide dogs for the blind. They don’t have the physical or temperamental traits to do this.

In the breeding and training of dogs at Guide Dogs for the Blind, we rely a lot on consistency of breeds that we use to do our job. We have found that Labradors and Golden Retrievers have the physical and temperamental traits that make ideal guide dogs. We, and more importantly, our blind and visually impaired customers depend on this consistency.

Welcoming homeless dogs or saving dogs in shelters is noble and dignified. Shelter and rescue dogs make wonderful pets. Unfortunately, our organization’s attempts to use shelter dogs as guide dogs have not worked. Even with a lot of observation and evaluation, the dogs we received from shelters did not provide us with the reliability we need in a guide dog.

For this reason, we breed and train Labradors and Golden Retrievers, breeds that we believe best meet the needs of our customers. We rigorously test the health and temperament of all our dogs. We keep data records on all the dogs we breed. We neuter or neuter any dogs that fail as guide dogs and place them in other careers such as medical alert dogs for diabetics, therapeutic work, hearing dogs, companions for tethered children and loved and loving pets.

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Jeanetta J. Stewart

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