What are dog breeds?

roxan asks: What are the different types of dogs? How do they differ?

Hi roxan –

As different as we all look, believe it or not, all dogs are descended from the same ancestors – wolves!  Yes, from that round Bulldog down the block to the tiny Maltese your friend sticks in her purse, to the gigantic Great Dane you’re scared to stand next to, to the yowling Beagle who wakes you up at sunrise – they’re ALL descendants of wolves.  I know, I know, it’s shocking!

The different types you see are called Breeds.  Breeds aren’t something from nature; they’ve been created by humans over the centuries, trying to perfect certain traits in certain dogs.  So, for example, they bred Terriers for the qualities that would help them hunt vermin, and they bred Retrievers for their friendliness and hunting abilities.

The only way to get a full-blooded member of a breed is if the dog’s parents are both from that breed.  Most dog shows only allow pure-bred dogs, who have certificates proving that they have no other breeds in them.

Now me, I’m not a breed.  I’m what they call a mixed-breed, or mongrel, or mutt.  I’m not even sure what I’m a mix of!  I know I’m part Husky, because I have a number of Husky traits, both in my looks (my tail curls up a little when I walk, and my eyes have some of that gorgeous slant to them!) and in my behavior (I pounce a lot).

Mutts don’t cost as much to buy as purebreds, and they often have fewer health problems (since the in-breeding makes some weaknesses more common as well as strengths.  If that doesn’t make sense to you now, you’ll get it when you take high school Biology!).

If you want to know more about the different breeds of dogs, there are lots of websites about them.

But just between us, I think people who breed dogs are kind of racist!  Nothing against my purebred friends, but, deep down, who cares if a dog is purely one breed or not?  I don’t like one person better than another just because they’re all-British or all-Nigerian!  And Handsome thinks I’m the best thing ever, and that makes me feel pretty great.

So it’s cool to learn about the breeds, and what their different traits are.  But in the end, the best kind of dog is the one you love.  Well-bred or not!



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