If I had a rand for every time an owner said to me, “I’ve had Rottweilers, Dobermanns or (insert the breed here) my whole life and I’ve never had one like this!”, I would be rich. The same goes for owners who tell me, “This is my third Maltese, GSD or (insert the breed here) and I’ve never had one as impossible as this!”
So why do we trainers get to hear this lament so often?
Firstly dogs change. Breeds change over the years as a result of a number of factors. Breeding for confirmation alone can result in many behavioural changes. The Dobermanns I remember as a child are worlds away from the high drive working dogs we see today more suited to Schutzhund trails then warming your feet. Popularity of a breed can also have a detrimental effect on a breed. Dogs in the movies are the worst culprit. The demand these movies create encourage back yard breeders to breed for profit above all else. To make breeding financially viable they are forced to cut corners with food, socialising etc. Some of the breeds we have seen in recent years affected by this phenomenon have been Dalmations, Staffies and Huskies.
Secondly, we change. As we age our lifestyle changes. Previous dogs may have been raised in a house with lots of activity and kids. As a result they may have been getting loads of stimulation and exercise while you might be retired now and live a quiet life. Our needs change which effect what we want from our dog. Previous dogs might have been part of the furniture and your current one might be a companion to you. Dogs are affected by many environmental influences including the amount of exercise they receive, where they sleep, how much attention they get and how many privileges they receive.
The most important factor though is neither of the above but the bit that we tend to forget. Like us, every dog is an individual. Each dog has his own genetic make up and personality and this will influence who your dog is. As breeds change and we change expect every dog who shares your life to be one of a kind.
Viva la difference!