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What Makes a Good Dog?

Updated on February 4, 2016
RachelWesley profile image

Rachel Wesley is an American author and online freelance writer. She writes for several online businesses and has published two books.

What Does Breed Have To Do With It?

Is it the breed that makes a good dog? Or is it something more? For centuries people have been breeding, buying, exchanging and, through trial and error, creating new dog breeds,but to what point exactly?

Most of the time it was to have a breed genetically built and designed for specific purposes. It might surprise people to know that those adorable English Bulldogs that are fantastic family pets, were actually bred to fight for sport. Sound familiar?

How many times have you heard someone say that you should get this or that type of dog, or that you should avoid this one and that one? Too many times to count for me, likely for anyone that has ever expressed wanting a dog.

The truth is though, not all dogs are the same, even within their own creed! Of course there are specific traits to certain breeds, but that doesn't define every single dog in that breed.

Pit Bull Terriers have a notorious reputation for being mean, vicious, and aggressive dogs, but what isn't mentioned is that they are also generally only that way toward other dogs, and if they've been taught to fight and be aggressive toward other dogs, not humans! In the dog fighting world they have a motto of if their fighting dogs attack humans, they kill them. Fight or die, bite and die. It's a sad cycle that just keeps going.

My Pibbles

A Closer Look

Pit bulls are generally trying to please their masters, so they do as they are told. Brought home and loved, they can be some of the most spoiled and hilarious pet you've ever had. They were also bred to be:

  • Strong - Pit Bulls are very muscular dogs
  • Agile,- Along with strength, they can use those muscles to run and fight at quick rates.
  • Companions - They were not originally considered a bad dog, and even once was the face of America!

Much like the Bulldog itself, the Pit Bull was bred to bullbait, which is the "art" of tying a bull to a stake and then having dogs go and attack and fight it. Disgusting, right? Yeah. The British Government thought so too, so it was outlawed, instead of quitting and going and getting a real job to make money, they decided that they had to take their big, muscular, agile dogs and do something with them.

Unfortunately, where the Bulldog ended up snoring on couches, the Pit Bull was taken and used to create the "sport" of dog fighting, because, hey, they aren't attacking nearly defenseless bulls anymore right? We just make them mean and aggressive toward other dogs and throw them into "pits" to fight each other! Brilliant right? We're saved! Oh joy...

Basically, the fighting dogs get absolutely no choice in the way they live. They either fight and win, or they are slaughtered. They are abused, neglected and forced to fight. It's really tragic because, given the opportunity, they make excellent house dogs. They are the biggest babies. They always want to snuggle, cuddle, lick you half to death, and follow you around; you know, just to be sure you're okay.

Labradors, on the other hand, are considered to be great hunting and fetching dogs. Mine, likes to fetch a stick, but doesn't want to bring it back. Instead she wants you to chase her down and play tug-of-war with it. :) She also hates water, even though they are supposed to be avid swimmers. Mine runs into coffee tables because she thinks she small.

These are just two breeds of course, but it gives off a basic point, I believe. Just because a breed is "supposed" to do something, doesn't mean that every single one will.

What is Your All Time Favorite Dog?

Thinking Back, What Has Been The Best Dog You Have Ever Had?

See results

Mixed Mutt; Part Lab, Part Chow Chow; All Gorgeous!

Do Some Research and Don't Rule Anything Out

So, how do you choose a good dog?

The truth behind that may not lie in the breed at all. Perhaps the first best thing to do is decide on a good size for your family and your household; and don't forget your budget! Remember, the bigger the dog, the more it will eat. Then go and do a lot of research on dogs that size.

Once you have a few breeds in mind, do some more specific research, and learn about some of those special traits that are considered to be inherited. Not every dog is alike, but if you know someone who has had experience with a particular breed that you might be interested in, ask them about them and what seems to be true and what is simply not. You can't predict 100% what any dog is going to be like, but it is always advised that you do talk to someone with some real knowledge and understanding about particular breeds.

Overall though, don't judge too harshly without doing the research. Go to your local shelter and spend some time with a few different dogs, get a feel for attitudes, and temperaments. This is really the best way to make an informed decision on what a good dog is, and what is good for you.You can either call a local shelter, just go and talk to them during work hours, or communicate through email. They may also let you come and volunteer, which is also a great way to help your community and get to know the dogs.

Most shelters will gladly allow you to take a few dogs out and spend some time with them. They already know that it is the best method for you to test, study ,and get a good feel for the animal you're looking for. If you don't have a breed in mind, go to the shelter anyway and tell them what you're looking for, or what you're thinking. They can help you find the one that is the best fit for your home. Remember that they work with animals for a living, so don't rule asking them out. Plus, they are happy to get to see all the animals being adopted, they have to sit and watch them waiting for a forever home, every single day.

A good dog, like pretty much everything else, is in the eye of the beholder! Oh, and never count out a good ole mutt! Most people will tell you that they've had a mutt, sometimes they don't even know what type of parents it had. The one thing that nearly all people say about their "mutts" is that they didn't know what they were, but they were a good dog; and that is what really matters.

Please, Don't Over Look the Beautiful Blacks Dogs During Your Search

A Heartbreaking Revelation

While working with our local shelter trying to find a good dog for our home, my husband and I were informed that the dog we were looking at, a beautiful black lab mix puppy that was so happy to be out of her kennel that she couldn't stop licking us, likely would never be adopted.

I remember looking at the woman, while being licked ferociously by the puppy, and asking her why, then she informed us that it was because our puppy was black. I was shocked, and still didn't really understand. She went on to inform me and my family that most black dogs never leave the shelters. She said that it was a horrible aspect, but that it happened all the time.

My husband and I shared a confused look between us. Both of us hoping that maybe she was just saying that to get us to take the black puppy, but upon minimal research, however, I found that it was, indeed and sadly, true. Statistically, black animals do not get adopted as well as their more colorful counterparts. Apparently, everyone wants a dog with interesting colors, and black is boring. Luckily, myself, my husband, and our children don't fit into that sad statistic; we actually preferred that she was black. Her shiny black and fuzz, coat was the first thing we noticed and loved about her. In fact, before she told us about the color adoption stat, we were a little afraid that someone would adopt our puppy before we got the chance.

Sure enough though, she continued to be over-looked. Luckily, we were able to adopt her a week or so later, and we still have her to this day. A couple of years later, we went back to that exact same shelter and fell in love with another black dog. There was a new director there that also told us the same thing, that he was so glad we were taking the dog we were, because she would never be adopted otherwise. He also said it was because she was black and she was a Pit Bull. Two strikes against her, no-one wanted that kind of dog. She was the sweetest and friendliest dog we had ever encountered, and we knew we wanted her right away. We still have her too.

Throw Me A Bone... Or A Line

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