Years ago, when we were a dog sledding kennel and breeding Siberian Huskies, my main interest was, and still is training obedience. Now it turns out that Siberians are not the first choice when it comes to obedience, being very independent minded; and that brings me to the subject of this post; does breeding for specific traits really work?
Siberians needed absolutely no training when it came to pulling a sled, or anything else, but in competition obedience they make you work for every point. My girl Maddie absolutely refused to do the retrieve exercise and was not really keen on the scent articles either. Unfortunately pulling things was not a requirement for the obedience ring.
Years later we left the sledding world behind and I got my first Flat Coated Retriever, and holy cow he just did the retrieve exercise right out of the box. You throw something he brought it back.
Then you have your herding breeds. I’ve seen young children traumatized by the family Border Collie trying to keep them grouped together. A friend in the sledding world had Malamutes, but was of the opinion that any dog could do any job and took one of her dogs to a herding demonstration where the contestants were to do some work with a flock of ducks. After the demise of several members of the flock, she was asked to leave.
These traits have been inbred into working breeds for many generations. If you are interested in pure bred dogs you really need to do your research to see what the breed was bred to do and not just pick by appearance. For instance: the Doberman Pinscher were originally bred as guard dogs, German Shepherds as herding dogs, Terrier breeds were bred to “go to ground” after burrowing rodents, not good if your into gardening. The Bulldog was bred for the now rightfully banned and grotesque sport of bull baiting where the winner of the match was the dog that survived and was able to bring down a bull, and of course those Northern breeds were meant for pulling, which brings us back to Maddie.
It took me two years but eventually she got her CDX title and was the second highest scoring Siberian in the country, so it can be done, but it sure is easier with a Retriever.