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By Dan Beard

How to Choose a Dog

"Blood will tell," whether it flows in the veins of a horse, man, or dog.  The reader can readily understand that it would be not only absurd but absolutely cruel to keep a Newfoundland, deer-hound, water-spaniel, pointer, setter, or any other similar breed of dog confined within the narrow limits of that small bit of ground attached to the city house and dignified by the name of a yard.

It would be equally as absurd and almost as cruel for a farmer boy to try and keep one of those expensive, diminutive, delicate, nervous, city dogs known under the general title of a "toy dog" or "fancy breed."  The agile, bright-eyed "black-and-tan," and the delicate and graceful Italian greyhound, are full of fun, but as unreliable as beautiful.

Thoughtless, rollicking, exquisites!  Such dogs are scarcely the kind either city or country boy would choose for playmates or companions.  What most boys want is a dog that combines the qualities of a boon companion and a good watch dog.  By the latter is meant a dog whose intelligence is sufficient for it to discriminate between friend and foe, and whose courage will prompt it to attack the latter without hesitancy.  It must also be a dog that may be taught to "fetch" and carry, to hunt for rat, squirrel, or rabbit, as well as to obey and trust in its master.  It should be so cleanly in his habits as to be unobjectionable indoors, and should posses judgment enough to know when its company is not agreeable, and at such times keep out of the way.

The poodle is perhaps the best trick dog, but is disliked by many on account of its thick woolly coat being so difficult to keep clean.  The wiry-haired Scotch terrier is a comical, intelligent animal, and a first-rate comrade for a boy.  The Newfoundland is faithful, companionable, and powerful enough to protect children, to whom, if there be any around the house, it will become very much attached and a self-constituted guardian. The spaniel is pretty, affectionate, and docile.

Almost all the sporting, dogs make first-class watch-dogs, but are restless and troublesome if confined, and, as a rule, they are too large for the house.  The shepherd is remarkably intelligent, and, when well trained, makes a trusty dog for general purposes.

The bull, although not necessarily as fierce and vicious as one would suppose from its looks and reputation, still is hardly the dog for a pet or companion, being of a dull and heavy nature, and not lively to suit the taste of a boy.  A little of the bull mixed in the blood of another more lively breed makes a good dog, of which a thoroughbred bull terrier is an example.  The Rev. J. G. Wood, in speaking of the latter, says :

"The skilful dog-fancier contrives a judicious mixture of the two breeds, and engrafts the tenacity endurance, and dauntless courage of the bull-dog upon the more agile and frivolous terrier.  Thus he obtains a dog that can do almost anything, and though, perhaps, it may not surpass, it certainly rivals almost every other variety of dog in its accomplishments.  In the capacity for learning tricks it scarcely yields, if it does yield at all, to the poodle.  It can retrieve as well as the dog which is especially bred for that purpose.  It can hunt the fox with the regular hounds, it can swim and dive as well as the Newfoundland dog.  In the house it is one of the wariest and most intelligent of dogs, permitting no unaccustomed footstep to enter the domains without giving warning."

Although some may think the Rev. J. G. Wood to be a little too enthusiastic in his description of the bull-terrier's good qualities, still if they have ever owned a properly trained animal of this breed, they will undoubtedly agree with the great naturalist a far as to acknowledge this particular dog to be about the best for a boy's dog.  With an ardor not excelled by his young master the bull-terrier will chase any sort of game, and will attack and fight any foe at its master's bidding.  Indeed the great fault of this kind of dog is that it is inclined to be too quarrelsome among other dogs, and careful attention should be paid to correcting this fault, which may be entirely eradicated by kind and firm treatment; but should any canine bully attack your pet, woe be unto him, for, unless he comes from good fighting stock, he will rue the day he ever picked that quarrel.








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Last modified: October 15, 2016.