For nearly 15,000 years, the dog has stood beside man and woven extremely strong ties with him. Whether a utility dog or a companion dog, he is ever closer to man. Along the centuries, man has largely contributed to making dog types evolve by selecting them according to their abilities or their dispositions. With over 400 breeds, the canine race offers a great diversity in sizes, coats, figures and dispositions.
Purchasing a breed dog means wanting to make sure that, once the puppy has become an adult, he’ll show the physical and behavioral features to be expected as a result of the selection conducted by his breeder as a breed professional. For many amateurs, the physical appearance of a breed is often what triggers their "love at first sight," his cute face, his figure, his coat, his size. However, beyond the physical aspect, every breed has behavioral features which should be known before making your choice. Consequently, it is important to gather information and make enquiries with breed clubs and breeders you may encounter in the numerous dog shows.
A dog’s behavior is shaped before, during and after his birth. "Before" means his genetic pool. "During" means the key period extending from birth until the day when the puppy leaves the breeding kennels for his new family. "After" means the new environment that the puppy is going to get familiar with. In other words, most of the dog’s behavior is settled within the first six months preceding his arrival. The interactions between the gene pool, the environment and specific experiences such as the arrival into the new home and the first outings, make up an indissociable set. Nevertheless, without adequate training showing the dog who the master is, i.e. in concrete terms who the leader of the pack is, since for the dog a human family is a pack, any dog will become dominant and impose his law, whatever his size, whatever his breed. Attending a dog training club is an excellent way of getting familiar with canine behavior, a dog’s requirements and the way you should interact with him to cohabit in harmony.
Whether they are hunting dogs, guard dogs or companion dogs, breed dogs have historical origins which play a role in their abilities and their dispositions. Most of these breeds are today able to live in the urban space, provided that provision is made for daily outings lasting a minimum of 30 minutes several times a day and that the attention given is not limited to preparing the dog’s daily food intake.
However, certain breeds are not suited to city life and run the risk of suffering more than others from a lack of physical exertion. Such is the case, for instance, of the Border Collie, born to drive herds, or the Siberian Husky, intended to live in a pack and draw carriages in cold climates.
And yet, who would have said that the Yorkshire Terrier that was used to hunt rats in the Yorkshire mines in England would become within a century the world’s most popular breed of miniature dogs? Nevertheless, he remains a "terrier" at heart, endowed with a sturdy temperament. Whether he lives in the city or the country, a shepherd dog will keep, i.e. will be watchful, an Irish Setter will be capable of dashing off on a motorway rest area next to a wood and point, his nose in the wind, and a Retriever will insist on retrieving to his city owner... his shoe.
As early as Roman antiquity, dogs were classified according to their abilities. A distinction was made between "shepherd dogs," "hunting dogs" and "house dogs." In the eighteenth century, Buffon attempted to classify dogs according to the shape of their ears: he differentiated them into thirty breeds with pricked ears, floppy ears or half-floppy ears, while Cuvier suggested dividing up the canine species into "guard dogs," "mastiffs" or "spaniels," according to the individuals’ skull shape.
Since the fifties, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) has based itself on a classification of the different breeds into 10 groups. A group is defined as "a set of breeds having in common a certain number of transmissible distinctive features." Thus, for instance, individuals belonging to the first group (Shepherd dogs), despite their morphological differences, all show the original instinct of a herd keeper.
Group 1: Shepherd dogs and herding dogs (Swiss Bouvier excepted).
Group 2: Pinscher- and Schnauzer-type dogs. Mountain dogs and Swiss Bouviers.
Group 3: Terriers
Group 4: Dachshunds
Group 5: Spitz-type and primitive dogs
Group 6: Hounds, bloodhounds and related dogs
Group 7: Pointing dogs
Group 8: Game flushing and retrieving dogs, water dogs
Group 9: Pleasure and companion dogs
Group 10: Racing hounds