Phuket Pets: Heed the breed

PHUKET: With centuries of domestication safely behind us, it seems that more and more households now have at least one dog.

But many of the problems owners end up having stem from choosing the wrong breed. Most of the time the choice is made because “The puppy looked cute” or because of “Daddy, daddy I want that one…”

Either way, if you want a happy household, breed characteristics and traits are hugely important to understand, especially for those of us with mixed breed dogs!

Sporting Dogs
This group generally includes retrievers, spaniels and pointers among others – naturally alert and very active with great instincts in water or in the woods. These dogs were bred for hunting and other field activities and generally have energy to burn.

A sporting dog, needs to have regular, invigorating exercise which tests them mentally as well as physically.

Working Dogs
Dogs from this group were bred to perform a range of jobs from guarding, to pulling sleds, to rescuing people (and boats). Their contribution to mankind over the years has been nothing short of amazing.

Breeds such as Newfoundlands, Huskies, Great Danes and Rottweilers are working dogs – quick to learn and highly intelligent, capable animals which make great companions.

However, with their considerable size and strength, they can be unsuitable house pets unless trained.

Herding Dogs
These dogs share the fabulous ability to control the movement of other animals. A remarkable example is the low-set Corgi, perhaps one foot tall at the shoulders, that can drive a herd of cows many times its size to pasture by leaping and nipping at their heels.

The vast majority of Herding dogs, as household pets, actually never cross paths with your average sheep, but nevertheless, pure instinct prompts many of these dogs to gently herd their owners, especially the children of the family. In general, these intelligent dogs such as Border Collies or German Shepherds, make excellent companions and respond beautifully to training exercises.

Hound Dogs
Most hounds share the common ancestral trait of being used for hunting. Some use their acute sense of scent to follow a trail whilst others demonstrate a phenomenal gift of stamina as they relentlessly run down quarry. Most are visually stimulated and, as anyone who has ever owned a Beagle or a Greyhound will know, once they see a rabbit or a squirrel, they’re off!

The Hound Dogs Group encompasses quite a diverse lot. There are Pharaoh Hounds, Norwegian Elkhounds, Afghans and Beagles, among others. Some hounds share the distinct ability to produce a unique sound known as baying. You’d best sample this sound before you decide to get a hound of your own to be sure it’s your cup of tea.

Toy Dogs
Love them or loathe them, Toy Dogs are here to stay. The diminutive size and winsome
expressions of Toy dogs illustrate the main function of this group: to embody sheer delight.

Don’t let their tiny stature fool you though, as many Toys are tough as nails. Remember the mantra “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog…”

If you’ve been on the receiving end of a highly strung out Chihuahua before, you’ll know what I mean. Toy dogs will always be popular with city dwellers and people without much living space as they make ideal apartment dogs and terrific lap warmers on cold nights.

One of the more common behavioral problems seen with these light blighters is an “inability to walk” brought about because their owners carry them absolutely everywhere!

People are often put off Toy Dogs seeing them as “yappy little scrappers” – but this is down to a lack of training and of understanding the needs of the dog. All dogs, Toy or otherwise, can be suitable and loving house pets if properly trained.

Non-Sporting Dogs
This is quite a diverse group with a range of different personalities and appearances. Everything from the Chow Chow, to the Dalmatian, French Bull Dog and Schipperke.

Lots of variation in coats, colors and size. Now whilst you don’t often stumble across a Tibetan Spaniel down at the beach, Lhasa Apsos are far more common.

As the column title suggests, a dog is always more than just a dog. Think carefully about breed characteristics and needs before choosing a dog – even a street dog – as you may find that your lifestyle is widely different to that of your new pet.

Remember, we humans are meant to be the smart ones, so let’s not let the dogs suffer
because we make the errors of judgement…

For more information contact the Thailand Canine Academy. Telephone: 089-588-4050 or email

— The Dog Whisperer

Thai Life
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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