Top 10 List of Woof
Dogs! They are great companions and most people love them, unless they have been bitten by one, or they don’t have a soul. One day, browsing a lonely corner of YouTube I ended up watching dog videos. I soon moved on to he pinnacle of quality content, Top 10 dog videos, more specifically “Top 10 dog breeds recommended for first time owners”. Now, the first one of these I watched because why not, and the rest I watched because I found it hilarious. Imagine if someone who clearly never had a dog before decided to make a guide about dog breeds, and this is basically what we have here. These videos are the embodiment of true tragedy. On one hand, they are funny because they are so wrong and shallow, on the other hand they are really sad because we are talking about living, breathing creatures, and I can only hope that no one actually decides to get a puppy based on these videos.
I’m only going to look at a few breeds because they repeat a lot and the whole idea of “purebred” dogs is elitist nonsense anyway, but here we go! (In order to get full enjoyment out of this, I recommend that you watch this video for reference.)
Poor, inbred bastards
1. Shih Tzu
I would never recommend a dog for a first time owner that requires extensive grooming. I’m sure you have seen the typical Shih Tzu, pictured with the fur tied in a bow on its head, but you have probably not seen one that was badly taken care off. The fur gets tangled and hangs in locks, etc. Depending on the length of the coat the dog will need combing every day to every 3 days, and need a bath once a month.
Again, can you afford to take the dog for professional grooming every 4 weeks? Can you learn to do it yourself? Is this something that you can commit to? Do you actually want to do this? Also, if you hear anyone say that “Poodles are one of the easiest breeds to train.”, it means one thing, and one thing only: they saw Kingsman. More on this later, just pin it for now.
3. Golden Retriever
Beautiful dogs, but 60% of them die of cancer. They tend to live about 10 years regardless, but it is something to consider.1 Also, they shed all year around.
4. Cane Corso
Excerpt from video: “They make excellent, gentle, loving family companions… extremely docile.”
Some article I found: “The Cane Corso is not an appropriate choice for an inexperienced dog owner. First-time dog owners and people who have had only “soft” breeds such as retrievers, spaniels, or toy breeds need not apply. This dog is large, powerful, intelligent, active, and headstrong.2
Most of the things that I found as reference regarding this breed are very opinionated and difficult for me to verify. Saying things like “[..] no amount of socialization will make him friendly toward people other than his family.”, is very dramatic, but I’m not sure I can subscribe to it. It sounds like a training issue to me. Just because the dog is serious about guarding a family doesn’t mean it should perceive other people as potential threat. On that note, I’m a 100% sure that this dog will own you if you don’t know what you are doing. This is true to all other dogs. If you can’t establish yourself as a leader, you are going to have problems… except those dogs are not 90% muscle and look like a tank.
If you squeeze them too hard their eyes will pop out.3 No joke. The condition is called ocular proptosis and it’s common among breeds with short snouts and bulging eyes. So, even though you often hear how pugs are great family dogs and they are great with children, I have to disagree. I wouldn’t want a dog that has to be treated like a delicate china cup around children. Imagine if the child hugs the dog too hard, and the eyes pop out… Both will be scarred for life. Pugs have a number of other health issues, one of the more significant ones is that their flat faces make breathing a challenge.
“[Pugs] have a tendency to develop such severe breathing difficulties that they may need surgery to live a somewhat normal life — or even just to live at all.” 4
6. King Charles Spaniel
“It was found, in a recent study, that 70% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels showed syringomyelia by six years of age – the presence of fluid-filled cavities in the spinal cord of the neck.” 5
Basically, as a result of their malformed skull these dogs experience severe neck and head pain. This condition is difficult to treat and most likely results in lifelong pain and disability, sometimes paralysis.
Now, I’m emotionally attached to these dogs*, because my grandfather used to breed them, but I’m sure it’s obvious what is wrong here. As a result of their elongated spine they are prone to spine injury. This can be due to an accident, old age or in most cases a genetic disease called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). The damaged (abnormal) discs put pressure on the spinal cord, which result in severe pain and in worst cases paralysis and death.6 Dachshunds should avoid jumping, climbing stairs etc, to reduce the stress on their spine, so if you expect the dog to climb a lot of stairs, it is not the breed for you.
Notes on Training
There is a common misconception that certain breeds are easier to train than others. I used to believe this too, but not anymore, mostly thanks to Peter Caine, dog trainer, comedian, Sasquatch enthusiast. He also has a raven, which I find amusing.
“It’s ridiculous. About every two weeks I’m asked ‘What is the easiest breed of dog to train?’ and my answer is always the same. ‘There is no easy dog to train! Are you out of your mind?’ It’s not easy to train any dog!”
The abridged version is that the ease of training depends on the individual dog’s characteristics, such as dominance, excitability and playfulness. Even a generally less dominant dog can one day decide to be stubborn. Age can also be a factor, for example an adolescent dog —much like a teenager— is more likely to test your competence as a leader, however at the end of the day all dogs can be trained. It’s a very informative video and I definitely recommend watching it if you have the time.
So, whenever you hear “this breed is a breeze to train!”, be skeptical and keep in mind that most people wouldn’t be able to train a pet rock 😛
Consider getting a mutt! The dog that you pick up from a shelter might be healthier than the purebred sold by some esteemed breeder. Dogs have been our brave and loyal companions for thousands of years and all they ask in return is the occasional belly rub. Instead, we reward their loyalty by giving them cancer and lifelong disability.
When getting a dog, the color of the coat shouldn’t be a deciding factor. It’s a nice option to have, but it’s superficial. Consider where the dog is going to live. Do you have enough room? Are you allergic? Are you willing to clean up after the dog? Are you willing to train it? Can you afford to take it to the vet? Getting a dog is a serious commitment and one that should start with proper research.
Anyway, dogs are the best
Until next time,
Previous: Thoughts on Walking the Bones – A Randall Silvis Mystery
1 Association of cancer-related mortality, age and gonadectomy in golden retriever dogs at a veterinary academic center (1989-2016)/ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
2 The Cane Corso/ www.vetstreet.com
3 Ocular Proptosis: Why is My Dog’s Eye Bulging!/ www.pethealthnetwork.com
4 How to Protect The Eyes of Pekingese, Pugs, Bulldogs And Other Short-Nosed Breeds/ www.vetstreet.com
5 Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals/www.ufaw.org.uk
6 Dachshund – Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)/ www.ufaw.org.uk
*They were not on any lists, but I’m familiar with the breed and they are mostly here for personal reasons.