Saturday, 16 May 2015

Battle of the breeds! Which is the best dog?

Being the Perfect Pet Sitter, providing a premium pet minding service for dogs in their own homes, plus with practical experience of many different breeds, people have asked me what I think is the best dog.  But the question is not what’s the best dog, but which breed of dog will work best with you, your family and lifestyle.

Most people tend to start with a preference for size and the look of a dog such as the following.  

I was walking Border Collies Jake & Benny when a man jogging past  stopped to talk. He said he’d owned a Border Collie in the past, and his family were now considering either a Border, or a possibly a Pointer (but he’d had no experience of Gun Dogs).  By default he was choosing between two of the main 7 dog Groups Gun Dog Group  vrs Pastoral Group 

In the UK I owned a pair of GSPs (Gun dog Group) and between my pet sitting bookings in Sydney I live with Border Collies Jake & Benny (Pastoral dog Group). With first hand experience of both breeds I’ve noticed both GSPs and Borders have traits in common. Example, unlike similar sized breeds such as Labradors or Golden Retrievers, they’re one person/family dogs, and rarely interested in people outside their immediate circle. A plus or minus? Depends on what you’re looking for.

Both breeds share have a strong need for exercise – at the very least an hour daily. In which case a home where someone jogs or runs is perfect -  the right kind of exercise and great company for the runner,  so a win win.

Let Battle Commence!

Gun Dog Group

I found my German Shorthaired Pointers to be superb family dogs - wonderfully athletic, heaps of fun, and very good with children. However, knowing my own (and other) GSPs, they do vary in intelligence. 

Our first rescue GSP was Flash age 2. He was a lovely dog, but to be frank, he was not terribly bright – and he arrived obsessed with tennis balls (balls are like drugs to Pointers). Our second GSP rescue, Harry, joined us some years later. Harry was another story completely, exceptionally smart - and became my dog of a lifetime. 

Intelligence aside, exercise means the world to GSPs. But crucially after a good run back home Pointers settle down and sleep – a big plus.

Pastoral dog Group
My experience with Border Collies Jake & Benny (and others we’ve provided with 24/7 care) has impressed me. They are super smart and loyal dogs and don’t stray.  When you’re out no need to keep calling them, they’re always watching  and keeping track of where you are. 

There are, however, practical issues with Border Collies.  Australian summers and the heat makes life tough in those thick coats (and ticks hard to find).  Regular brushing is vital to avoid matting. Clipping through summer and professional grooming all year round is also highly recommended. 

Coat differences aside, the biggest thing about Border Collies is that they were bred as working dogs. Their stamina is legendary and they could easily run 25-35 Ks a day when herding sheep or cattle. 

Both breeds are highly active and not necessarily well suited to life in the  suburbs. But of the two, Borders have an insatiable appetite for exercise. Not only that, they are so smart means they need to be challenged. If you are even considering a Border Collie, here are 3 questions to ask: 
Would you be prepared to stimulate your Border by Agility, Fly ball or Obedience training? 
Are you truly prepared to be a devote at least one hour ideally two – each day for their exercise sessions? 
Do you have acres of land where  a Border could roam? 

So - who wins the battle of these breeds – Border or Pointer? 

If you can honestly answer ‘Yes’ to at least one of the above then a Border can be a great pet. Otherwise (and particularly if you have young children) I’d strongly recommend a Pointer of some kind – GSP, Wire Haired, English Pointer. 

My next blog will expand on how to find the best breed match for you, your family and lifestyle in more depth. We’ll look at how to make an objective assessment  by using Perfect Pet Sitter’s 3 step check and investigate the 7 major Dog Groups. 

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