The lovable Irish terrier “Rex” from the recently released movie “Firehouse Dog” has sparked an interest in the breed.
But while breed enthusiasts are grateful for the attention, they stress the importance of knowing that there’s a big difference between what you see on film, and the four-legged friend living in your home. “People who see the film may think about owning an Irish terrier,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokesperson. “Irish Terriers have a hearty spirit and need plenty of exercise—they probably wouldn’t be a good match for people who have a more sedate lifestyle.
Research the breed
One of the advantages to owning a purebred dog is that you can learn the attributes and drawbacks, the life expectancy, and even potential health problems within the breed. But, with 155 AKC recognized breeds from which to choose, it’s important to do some research and select a dog that will fit your family and lifestyle.
Purebreds are classified into seven groups which define the breed’s purpose. Working dogs were bred to perform specific tasks, such as guarding, pulling or rescuing, while herding dogs were bred to help shepherds and ranchers herd their livestock. Many toy breeds were designed for companionship, hounds and sporting breeds are used to track game, and terriers were bred to rid property of vermin such as rats. Finally, the non-sporting group varies in size and function, but many are considered companion dogs
Although many of the specific tasks dogs were bred for are not necessary for the average pet owner (few of us need a herding dog to drive our livestock or a sporting dog to hunt bears), the purebred’s attributes can be a “blue print” for your pet’s behavior.
Look at the “downside” too
Conformation to the breed norm depends on the dog’s history and living conditions, but research can tell you generally what to expect in temperament, grooming requirements and exercise needs. For example:
The lovable “Lassie” may have repeatedly saved her boy Timmy from a load of trouble, but collies can be very aloof with strangers and require a lot of grooming (Of course, Lassie had the advantage of having his own full-time groomer on the set).
The Neapolitan Mastiff “Fang” from the Harry Potter movies is docile and friendly, but breeders warn that the Mastiff’s massive bodies could unintentionally harm small children. It’s also important to know that they are called the “kings of drool”.
Border collies, like those in the movie “Babe”, are certainly as perceptive and intelligent in reality as they are on film. However, borders require hours of daily exercise and possess a powerful herding instinct which may be a problem for some families.
Again, research your breed – and don’t believe everything you see on film. For more information, visit www.akc.org.