Do you have a ‘heart breed’ of dog?

“I think once you find your heart breed, you rarely stray from it.”

That’s what a friend said on That Mutt’s Facebook wall last week.

I’ve been thinking about that, and I think she’s right.

I’m excited to get a second dog this fall, and I’m looking forward to the process of finding that dog.

I’m trying to be open to all possibilities, a wide variety of dogs and the different ways to obtain a dog. Friends have already expressed their disapproval in the possibility of me even considering a breeder. That is going to have to be their problem, not mine.

When I come across purebred dogs I admire, I make a point to ask the owners where they got their dogs. In the next few months, I hope to contact some of these breeders and meet some of their dogs and puppies.

I’m usually interested in sporting breeds such as black labs and pointers. Josh is interested in Rottweilers and shepherds, breeds that excel at shutzhund and protection training. We’ve both always loved German shepherds, but do we have the energy for one? I’m not so sure we do. I’m not so sure I can handle a pointer, either.

When I really think about the characteristics in dogs that are most important to me, I realize I am describing the “black lab mix” at my feet.

What I want most in a dog is a dog I can take anywhere. A dog I can trust around children. A dog I could take into nursing homes and hospitals. A dog that will tolerate rude behavior from other dogs such as head-on greetings.

I want a dog that loves the water, a dog that will retrieve, a dog I can trust off leash. A dog that will go for an 8-mile run or nap for 8 hours while I write at my desk.

I’m not exactly describing a shepherd or a pointer.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a Lab person. Black Labs are just so … ordinary. Yet when I look for a dog on rescue sites Labs are the types of dogs that get me to pause.

And as much as I would love to obtain a puppy from a breeder of working Labradors, what I really want is another companion. And there are just so many black-lab types available in rescues that could be just that – a good pet and a good friend.

And so, while I want to be open to the possibility of different breeds and obtaining a dog from a breeder, I always find myself considering black-lab type rescue dogs most of all.

If I have a “heart breed” I guess it’s the “big, black lab mix.”

I can’t wait to see who we find.

Do you have a “heart breed”?

Ace the cute black lab mix

24 thoughts on “Do you have a ‘heart breed’ of dog?”

  1. The decision of where to find your next pet/family member is totally yours and your family’s decision only. There are reasons to go with a breeder and reasons to go with a pound. Some people get all high and mighty on each side, and I don’t see the point in that.

    Our dog came from the horrible backyard breeder. Done again, I’m not sure I would have done that … however, it worked out great and he’s a healthy fantastic pet and I know that she was as responsible as she knew how to be with the pups.

    My parents do schutzhund training and love it. They have three high pedigree dogs (not sure the right lingo here, but their “stock” was high level canines and very amazing animals). Not any ol’ dog will do. With what they are doing, they HAVE to know the personality they are dealing with and if theirs is a time-bomb waiting to happen. Naturally a German shepherd from the local kennel would be a disaster.

    Definitely have to think about the energy level though! HA! A dog like that would be totally opposite of Ace.

    I look forward to watching this journey unfold.

    I’m not sure what my heart breed is thus far. I do have a soft spot for schnauzers.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I believe I am capable of training/exercising/controlling a more active breed. Yet, I haven’t decided if I want that challenge or not. By active I mean physical and mental energy.

  2. Well, my heart dog was Smokey- a pit/lab mix. That’s probably my heart breed, too. C’s heart breed is always going to be a border collie or aussie type dog. We currently have a beagle and a terrier mix. The honest truth is, we aren’t the best owners for one of C’s heart breeds. We just aren’t active enough for a bc or aussie. Smokey was perfect because he could be as active or inactive as we wanted to be. But looking for another Smokey after loosing him? That wouldn’t have been fair to the new dog. However, I expect that the next time we’re looking for a dog (as a 3rd dog, or in 10+ years, hopefully) I’ll be looking at pit/lab mixes again.

    1. I’ve fostered several black lab/pit mixes, and they have been among my favorite fosters. I don’t really even care for labs, but something about that mix… They are beautiful and sweet and playful. I can totally relate. I do hope you eventually adopt another, they will not be Smokey, but you will fall in love again and there won’t be anything unfair happening there 🙂 Unfortunately, there always seem to be plenty of that mix needing a home.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        I love black lab/pit mixes too, or at least dogs that look like lab/pit mixes. You never really know what they are! They just might be my favorites. I love how they look and I love their generally happy-go-lucky personalities. I think they are so cute.

        1. Smokey was the perfect combination of the best traits of both breeds: sweet, loving, gentle, patient, tolerant, a total lap dog who only wanted to be where you were (especially if you had some food in your hand). He was fiercely loyal, and I would tell people he wouldn’t hurt a soul, but that was a lie, because he would have killed or been killed before he let anyone hurt me.

  3. We have two German Shepherd Dogs, and love them to bits. Never would have considered getting one, but when we were ready for a dog, a new acquintance (now a good friend) happened to be a GSD breeder (our pup’s dad was last year’s Canadian champion) and trainer of personal protection dogs. We fell in love with our girl and from there with the breed. We now have two GSDs.

    We do not train for Schutzhund because of time contraints, but would love to if our circumstances allowed. Our girls love their play times (they get three to four 10-20 minutes of fetch every day, each goes to a doggie daycare 1x week, and walks to the park in the mornings). Yeah, I have a heart-breed 🙂

  4. The English mastiff is my heart dog. I grew up with a boxer and a great Dane. I loved them both very much. When researching breeds for my first dog, I considered those but needed a lower energy calm down that is good with people/kids, but could protect if necessary. I love my sweet Bella and would get another in a second. I never want another breed.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Awww. How sweet. I love English mastiffs too. I don’t think they are the dog for me because of their size, but they are such nice dogs.

  5. Schnauzers. They’re my breed.

    Obviously I advocate for adoption, and since labs and lab mixes (puppies, even) are a dime a dozen in rescues & shelters, why would you go to a breeder? No Judgement – just curious. I feel like I’m missing something.

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would go to a breeder so I would know exactly how that pup has been raised from the very beginning. I would want to meet the parents and hopefully grandparents. I would want to see that the parents have good temperaments and good health. I would see that the pups have been raised in a nurturing environment from the start and are well on their way to being well-socialized dogs.

    Still, I would have a hard time going to a breeder for a Lab. There are just so many wonderful Labs and Lab mixes in the rescue groups and shelters and pounds.

  7. My black lab is almost exactly how you’ve described your “anywhere” dog too. I didn’t think of labs as a heart breed until I experienced my absolutely charming-yet-not-quite-so-labby lab mix. Now, I guess they are.

    While there are other dogs who can match that anywhere definition, it’s much *easier* and statistically more likely to get a lab or lab mix who will fit the description than any other breed, whether you get your dog from a breeder, rescue or shelter.

    Your anywhere description is also, interestingly, almost the same criteria used for service dogs. There is a reason services dogs are predominantly retrievers and poodles, with some German shepherds thrown in for good measure. Yes, there are other service dogs. And, yes, you can get another kind of anywhere dog. They are just more rare.

    There are only a handful of reasons I could see *not* getting a retriever in the future:
    – if I wanted a working dog for another purpose (e.g., collie on a farm)
    – if I was a full-time dog trainer and wanted a non-retriever Demo dog (and I think it’s important that trainers live with – at least for a short interval or foster – breeds other than the most biddable ones)
    – if I was older and/or physically injured and no longer capable of caring for a larger dog

    Otherwise, I guess I’ll take my “boring black lab” and we’ll be able to go anywhere…

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Great observations. That gives me something to think about. For me, I’m hesitant to get another black lab or black lab mix because I don’t want to have too high of expectations for that dog. I will want it to be just like Ace, and of course it won’t be and that’s not fair to the dog, myself or Ace.

      1. Very true about expectations. Though that’s something to deal with for any “not first” dog you get, as you’ve mentioned. Plus, not all black labs or lab mixes even look alike. I would think the risk of unfairly high expectations is greater with a look-alike dog.

        I saw a black lab who could be Scout’s doppleganger – same coloring and same build that is less common for a black lab – and who was needing a foster home. Even his description sounded just like her at the same age. While I “stalked” the dog on petfinder (dogs really need facebook status updates -haha), I knew that I would have impossible expectations on *this* black lab, as opposed to others.

  8. My favorite breed is the American Eskimo. My Apollo is basically my shadow, he follows me everywhere and is so incredibly affectionate. He also has this constant smile that never fails to cheer me up or put me in a good mood. He is my sunshine! He is the second Eskie I have had and they really are great dogs. Both had some minor skin allergies though, so I’ve fed them both Natural Balance L.I.D. sweet potato & chicken and that seems to keep them from the paw licking, scratching, etc. This breed is so smart, too! He recognizes so many words, I have to spell half of what I say!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Ever since I fostered an American Eskimo, the breed has really grown on me. I didn’t care for them before. Now, whenever I see one I stop and smile. They are unique dogs. They seem to be full of personality.

  9. My <3 breed is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, I saw one as a kid and now 20 years later still love them! They know they come from royalty, are such loyal companions and in my eyes are the perfect dog! I have never had a "pet" dog I grew up with hounds we used for hunting. We have a puggle Macii and she is a handful. I knew with hounds they get a smell and off they go!! We read and were prepared that may happen with her and my oh my she loves to sniff and really loves going to my parents farm which a whole state away! She has rabbits, chickens, cats(which to say she never saw a cat in her life until thanksgiving and just wanted to snuggle them and luckily they her!), and horses to smell and chase!! I wouldn't trade her for the world but my next dog will be a Cavy hopefully a pretty Blenheim with the little spot on top of his head that is to be said from the queen pressing when worried king charles was gone 🙂

  10. That is interesting and probably true for a lot of people…but not for me.

    I have a beagle named Sam who I love with all my heart and I get excited when I see another beagle, but I know that when Sam moves on, I will not get another beagle for one simple reason that will probably seem silly, but it’s really how I feel. I will not get another beagle because Sam is so special to me that I cannot possibly think of getting the same breed because it would seem too much like replacing him. I know that when he moves on, my hunt to find another friend will begin like it did with Sam: at the pound, searching for that special dog who captures my heart.

  11. 10 years ago I adopted a yellow lab/pitbull mix, Buddy at the shelter. I had stated on many occasions that he was a once in a lifetime type of dog. A couple of years back I wanted to add a second dog to the mix trying will all my heart not to expect him to be like my Buddy because after all to me Buddy was the perfect dog. I also thought that if we got a second dog now it wouldn’t be to replace Buddy. We ended up rescuing a black lab/aussie mix puppy and named him Henry. He has become an equal canine love of my life. They both will be as active or calm as I want them to be. Both are sweet and loving yet they have very different personalities. Buddy a more reserved gentelman and Henry the life of the party. My husband and I have visions of Henry showing up at daycare his 1 day per week, early in the morning with a hey everyone, I’m here, time to play. The fear of unrealistic expectations for Henry has passed because he has lived up to all of them and more. My <3 dog is certainly the lab mix.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *