History tells us that, in the beginning, the human dog relationship was a work ing one. Dogs became more specialized with regards to the tasks they carried out. Some types showed potential for pulling sleds and carts, while others worked beautifully alongside hunters, retrieving fowl. Some types offered great assistance working with livestock and others seemed designed for tracking a scent. As society evolved, so did the tasks the different dog breeds undertook.
In the 1800s, a fundamental shift took place in the relationship between these two species. Dogs became recognized as different breeds and classed in types, and the foundation of kennel clubs in Europe and North America took place. The development of these groups started a new age of dog and these animals were no longer kept for working purposes alone. A sudden interest in developing specific breed lines caused a heightened interest in keeping dogs for exhibition purposes. The objective became developing dog breeds as closely to the standards set out for each breed as possible.
Over time, the definition of different breeds created allowable standards for shapes, sizes and purposes. Different lines were recognized for different traits and abilities. The growing interest in dog showing meant that m any dog breeds became recognized around the world. This movement saw the first drop in breeding for specific working traits, and a greater focus on appearance, ASSOCIATED PRESS shape and size. Despite the fact that only one group was actually bred for com panion purposes, the growing populanty o f the wide array o f dog breeds popularized this animal as a household pet.
More recently, another shift in the human dog relationship has taken place, and the third age of dog has begun. With different breeds popularized around the world, dogs have become a much sought after companion animal. The canine of today has taken a primary role as a family pet, and more than half of North American households include these animal als as a part of the family. The new aim of dog breeding has been focused around the creation of suitable pets.
As the species has developed into pri marily a companion animal, the development of dog breed combinations that will make suitable family pets has become the newest craze. This movement has sparked the development of new “ designer” dog breeds. These mixed breed dogs are being developed in an attempt to create ideal companion dogs with the greatest emphasis on creating good natured household animals.
The poodle has been at the center of this movement, and was originally targeted because of their low dander coat. While the “doodle” (poodle mix) breeds do not necessarily result in non shed ding dogs (as the genetic trait has only a 50 percent chance of being passed on to offspring), some argue that the selection of the poodle is also popular in mixed breeds because of their intelligence and trainability.
As this new age moves us away from pure dog breeds, the traits that follow different dogs are less predictable. It is difficult to then anticipate the characteristics and qualities that will follow, and which part of the mix they will come from. While some mixes produce wonderful combinations, others are questionable. Arguably, mixed breed dogs carry a larger gene pool and are less prone to health and temperament problems that follow selective breeds.
Rightfully or wrongfully, it appears the third age of the dog has arrived, and the focus on the canine as companion animal is the newest fad.
by Dana Groove Pets Best Friend – She is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.