Dog breeds and how we’ve changed them in the last century

Before and after 100 years of selective breeding

Before and after 100 years of selective breeding

I spent quite a bit of time on the phone the last few weeks being interviewed about different dog breeds and what the dog breeding trends are that I see in my day-to-day practice. There’s a lengthy article in the Associated Press, one in the London Times, and a few other places that I’ve been quoted in lately. I find this area of different dog breeds utterly fascinating.

Anytime the subject of dog breeds comes up it elicits great energies from all sectors. After the recent couple of articles I got an enormous amount of hate mail from people around the world comparing me to Dr. Mengle . All of this for just discussing a new hybrid of dog pet is coming on the market. I don’t advocate getting a dog from a breeder versus rescuing a dog at all. All I want for my clients is that they get the best dog for their lifestyle and one that is stable and adds to their life rather than creating enormous amounts of work for them.

With all that being said, my wife pointed out an interesting article she ran across this week. It takes a look at historic pictures of different dog breeds over a century and highlights the changes to those breeds that we have created. If you look at the article the two most striking ones are the German Shepherd in the St. Bernard. Those dogs were both much rangier with far less pronounced angularity than the current breeds. This is just an extreme example of what we’ve done with two different breeds in the last hundred years.

The problems I run into in a day-to-day work as a dog trainer, is that breeders are generally focusing only on the physical appearance of the dog rather than breeding for behavior and personality. This is certainly not the case in every instance, but I see a lot and it worries me. It’s one of the reasons that I spend significant amount of time with my clients helping them pick a reliable breeder with puppies that have stable personalities, and also work with rescue organizations to find dogs with stable personalities.

In any case, take a look at the article I think most of you will find it quite interesting. And it’s great fodder for thought in how we engineer our dogs to look the way that we think they should.


Steve Haynes

Austin dog trainer

Fidelio Dog Works