Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are Dalmatians Laid Back?

This question certainly caught me by surprise last night as it's one thing I have NEVER been asked about Dals.  Max and I had just started off on our walk when we stopped to chat with a couple of neighbors down the block.  With Max practically vibrating in place in anticipation of his much-needed walk, the question struck me as funny, and I responded that although it varied a lot from dog to dog, Dals were generally lively and enthusiastic rather than laid back.  In retrospect, my neighbor probably thought it was more diplomatic to ask if they were laid back, rather than to ask if the breed was hyper like most people do.
I've had quite a few laid back Dalmatians over the years, including sweet old Watson who has always been very calm and mild mannered.  His niece Josie is also a very calm dog - except when her friend Sue comes to take her for a walk.  My Rob would have been considered laid back, and he produced a lot of puppies that were also very calm and easy going.  Dogs that made very easy-to-raise companions, and a personality type that is exceptionally nice for companion dogs.
Argus on the other hand has always been lively and enthusiastic.  He's been an excellent house dog, great in the car, perfect in motel rooms on dog show weekends, friendly with people, perfect with all other dogs, and is totally non-destructive, but he IS much livelier than Watson and Rob were.  He's very easily stimulated by the activities around him, which made him a good show dog, and a lot of fun.  Most of my dogs have tended to be more this way, and have been endlessly entertaining, but sometimes challenging.  Watson has always been just a bit "boring", but oh so easy to manage.
Max and Fern are both enthusiastic, high energy dogs.  They've always been that way. Max is an Argus son, Fern an Argus granddaughter.  Fern is very intense and determined, and very reactive to the things around her.  She was more work to raise and train, but turned out to be a very good companion, a good show dog, and an excellent house pet.  Max is just HAPPY, like Argus is happy.  Very enthusiastic like Fern, easily stimulated, but a bit softer and not quite so determined as either Argus or Fern.  I also raised Max with the realization that I'd be in my 70s when he was still in the prime of life, and I needed more control!   He's turning out exactly as I had hoped, and although he is still a work in progress, my efforts have paid off.  I'll continue to work with him, teach him tricks and obedience, take him swimming and for long walks, and see that he gets plenty of attention and exercise.  The investment in time is well worth it.
Several of the people on my puppy list have expressed an interest in having an easy going puppy from Fern's litter.  My educated guess is that most of Fern's pups will not be easy going.  She herself is not, and she was bred to a Coral grandson Duncan, who is a lively and enthusiastic dog himself, as were his parents.  Grandma Coral was extremely sweet tempered but incredibly happy, with a non-stop tail and a huge grin for everyone.
If Holly is bred to Ellsworth this winter, I may get some laid back puppies.  Holly is only moderate in activity level and Ellsworth is very mild-mannered.  BUT, so much of what a dog turns out to be depends on how he is raised.  Although a puppy's basic temperament is what he is born with, training can modify a lot of behaviors.  Raising a puppy correctly is a lot of work and a big responsibility, but a wonderful investment.  It takes a lot of time, patience, and a sense of humor, but the results are so worth it.  Some dogs require very little training to be good companions, while others require a great deal more.  It's always wise to assume your new pup will be the latter!

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