Letter Re: Request for Advice on Dog Breeds

Hi, Jim.
I wanted to reply to the thread about Advice on Dog Breeds. Here is my main point:  Dogs are are like guns, in that there is no one true “all purpose” dog breed.
The very qualities that make a dog a good herding dog will make for a poor protection dog.  Sometimes even, the qualities that make for a good watch dog will make for a poor guard dog.  (A watch dog’s purpose is to alert you to a potential intruder.  A guard dog’s purpose is to hold, bite and stop and intruder.)
As the former owner of both South Bay K-9 Academy for seven years, which was the #1 dog training company in Los Angeles, and the current editor of Dogproblems.com, I have a lot of experience in this field and have noted that– even within the professional sector– macho attitude often rules over pragmatic trial by fire.  I can go into more detail on how to select a good dog, depending on the job you’re looking for him to do, but for now let me just point out that the more realistic and specific you can be about the job you seek your dog to do, the better your chances of success in finding a good dog. 
For example, the Belgian Malinois– a subset of the Belgian Shepherd breed– is now widely considered to be the best working police and military dog available, both in America and Europe.  However, these dogs are simply too “high drive” and too “high energy” to be an easy pet for a beginning dog owner.  They usually require several hours a day of strenuous exercise and activity. 
A similar argument can be made for a hunting labrador from good bloodlines.  These are “working” animals and as such do not make good house pets.  Now, there’s always the exception to the rule.  Just like you may be able to occasionally find an Italian handgun that doesn’t jam.  Or a British sports car that runs reliably.  But when adopting a new dog, I like to go with the odds.
Here is a run-down of my most favorite dog breeds, divided by work type for your average (beginner to intermediate) dog owner:
– Large guard dog breed: Rottweiler.  Very easy to teach to bite.  Tends to have a lower energy level compared to other guard dog breeds.  Runner up:  German Shepherd.  Buy from proven, titled working bloodlines only. 
– Small guard dog breed: Australian Cattle Dog.  Tough.  Tenacious.  Can be very intimidating if you’re working with a trained professional.  Downside:  Very high energy.  Can be headstrong.  The very idea of a small guard dog breed is a compromise– much like carrying a .380.  But can be good for apartment living or other scenarios.  Runner up:  American Pit Bull Terrier.  Beware of individuals that are dog aggressive.  (Dog aggression and aggression toward humans are completely different).  .
– Watch dog breed:  The Miniature Pinscher.  Small,  Requires very little food.  Suspicious by nature.
Runner up: The Chihuahua.
– Herding breed: The Border Collie (although this depends on what type of herding you will be using a dog for). 
Runner up:  Australian Shepherd.
– Hunting breed: Labrador Retriever (again, depends on what type of hunting you will be using the dog for).  But from proven bloodlines only.  (You know if the dogs are from proven bloodlines if they have multi-generational competition winners in the pedigree.)  Always verify the nature of the competition, as breeders are like used car salesmen.  Every breeder will tell you that their bloodline has “champions.” 
Runner up: Golden Retriever.  Very easy to train.
– Rodent control: Rat Terrier. 
Runner up: Tie: Jack Russell Terrier and Irish Terrier.
Stay away from the newer exotic breeds.  With the exception of the American Bulldog, none have consistently proven themselves to be performers. Yes, there will always be the exception.  But remember:  Adopting a dog will be an expensive adventure.  Stack the odds in your favor by going with the probability of getting a dog that will fit into your lifestyle.
All the best, – Adam of Dogproblems.com