Last week in our training class we were given ‘homework’, but really it was excellent advice for anyone searching for a dog before they bring one home. We were told to research what our dogs were bred for. Now I know that in my last post I said that it hadn’t mattered to me what breed Luna was, which was entirely true – but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into.
Too many people choose a breed because they think it is cute or beautiful, never thinking about the responsibility that comes with that cuteness. Jack Russell Terriers are a perfect example. You know those commercials where the little white dog with a brown patched face jumps up and down and up and down – over and over? That really is a Jack Russell, high energy, nearly unstoppable and yes, very jumpy. There are countless herding breeds that are given no outlet for their working drive that begin to tear their owners home apart due to shear boredom. Basenji's attract owners due to their unique appearance and cat like cleanliness, but most don’t realize they are prone to separation anxiety. Sometimes people do research temperament and activity level only to fail to understand just how much a Mastiff can eat – or how often a Siberian Husky must be brushed.
As for me choosing Luna (half herder and hunter)? Dog history is a passion of mine (as evident on my website Worldly Dogs) so knowing her instincts were a given the day I saw her picture online. After bringing her home the running joke at our house has become which breed she is at any given moment – Australian Cattle Dog or Pointer?
Australian Cattle Dogs are a melting pot of old collies, Dingos and any other dogs Europeans could throw in the breeding mix to come up with a dog that could handle the Australian climate. They are rough drovers, nipping and biting at the heels of their charges to keep them in line. Their work earned them the common nickname most know them by – Heelers (either Blue or Red depending on coat).
Pointers on the other hand are hunters (primarily of birds), bred to “point” when prey is located by freezing and pointing their muzzle in the direction of the animal. While pointing is their main function they are also often taught to retrieve.
If I had to pick one as the dominate in Luna it would probably be the Cattle Dog, get her too riled up and the first thing she does is get mouthy. She doesn’t bite or nip, but she will come at you mouth wide open. She prefers to be the dominate one, yet never asserts herself over Miley. Every toy in the house is hers and will instantly lose interest in the one she has if Boots is playing with something else. Cattle Dogs are also silent workers and it is rare for Luna to bark unless someone is at the door – she does make an excellent watchdog.
Interestingly, despite her traits it is the Border Collie that does the herding at our house. Every game of fetch turns into Luna getting the ball and Boots herding her back towards whoever threw it. Having never spent time around a Pointer I can only guess that’s where she got her love for the ball. She has a drive to go after birds but has no idea how she feels about livestock other than they are big.
Often I can see one breed or the other in her actions. When she trots she looks like a Pointer in the field, full run is entirely Cattle Dog. In class she’s all herder, but when she finds something interesting outside (or even when first introduced to the cats), she points. This combination of qualities has made her the perfect pet for us and although I am not a fan of ‘designer dogs’ I do ponder, should we jokingly refer to her a Catnter Dog or a Poittle?
Lisa (and Luna)