Purebred dogs may land in animal shelters and rescue programs because their owners failed to do their homework, acted on a whim, or irresponsibly misjudged a breed’s temperament, activity level, capabilities, or lifestyle needs. We’ve asked five breeds to tell it straight: Why do they sometimes need to find new families?
1. Great Dane
Developed in Germany to hunt boar and guard estates, we’re famous for our strength and size. In fact, at 120 to 150 pounds, we often weigh the same as our humans! Some families enthralled by our size may underestimate the challenges that come with such sheer mass. As pups we’re smart and capable, but also rambunctious and rowdy. Think gigantic muddy paws, huge poop, and a whopping big quest for fun. And since we mature rather slowly, you’ll enjoy (or bemoan!) our puppy antics for some two years. We’re capable of massive mischief: A small breed pup may destroy your shoe; I can abolish your bed. But here’s the good news: If you commit to early training, we make wonderful adult companions. We have moderate exercise requirements, a deep bark to deter trespassers, and we eat proportionately much less than small breed dogs. And lastly, while my huge size may offer challenges (good luck getting me into a small car!), I’m sure to counterbalance those challenges with boatloads of affection. I give massive hugs!
The French developed me as a multi-purpose working and herding dog. I defended herds and flocks, protected homes, and took care of my family. Militaries employed me as messenger and rescue dogs. Do you get the picture that I’m a breed with a strong work ethic? Well, sometimes families who think they want the outstanding loyalty, faithfulness, and protection we offer then change their minds. For goodness sake! One man had the audacity to complain that I wouldn’t let an outsider in our house when he wasn’t home (I didn’t buy that lame story about the stranger being a repairman!). Some families do appreciate our protective spirit, but miscalculate our determination to find work. I’ll relish employment in competition obedience, hiking, or tracking. Just about any sport will do. If you can’t think of one, I’ve heard digging up in-ground sprinklers is a worthy task!
Developed by the British for herding, I can control sheep with a mere stare. Many say I’m the most intelligent breed on earth. But along with my intellect, I have additional extraordinary traits. Did you happen to see the captivating Border Collie, Trick, at the Westminster Masters Agility show? You may have noticed his exceptional focus (Audience? What audience?) and speed. Trick whipped through those weave poles as though they were mere grass blades in his way. His concentration was intense; his dexterity exceptional. Trick, like any great Border Collie, is a bundle of brainpower and liveliness, wrapped in an incredible ambition to succeed. Sounds great, right? If you have the time to exercise our bodies and stimulate our minds, you’ll find we’re superb companions. If you don’t keep us busy, however, we’ll commence the sport of Driving You Batty. And trust me, we’ll succeed at any sport we pursue!
We’re an energetic, tough, smart, earth-working Terrier developed in England. We’re fast, focused, spirited, and highly trainable. Let me qualify that: I’m trainable when I value your request. If you ask me to hold a boring Sit-Stay for no good reason, I may disagree. If you desire a dynamic breed, I’m your guy. But no fair then calling foul on my lively antics. If you ask for an intelligent breed, don’t be dismayed when we outsmart you. I’m proud to be the complete package of canine delight, but I’ll expect an equally complete commitment from you. In return, I’ll give you allegiance sprinkled with an extra helping of merriment.
We’re an ancient breed developed for hunting and coursing, celebrated for our astonishing sprint. Our activity requirements aren’t as high as you’d guess: We spend a good part of the day curled up with our families for warmth and affection. We’re docile, sweet, and sensitive, both emotionally and physically. Our skin is thin and delicate; our short coat and low body fat don’t offer much insulation from the cold. Most of us in breed rescue come from the racetrack world. We’re typically happy to hang up our racing jackets, even at a relatively young age. With a little patience from our families, we adapt remarkably well to home environments. Most importantly, although we’ll need a daily run, we’re generally easy keepers. We’re not big barkers, diggers, or eaters. We sleep a lot, and we love to share snuggles. Plus you get to brag you have the fastest dog on the planet!
Top photo: Border Collie courtesy Amanda Labadie/Many Muddy Paws