According to author Liam Ryan, the dog you own speaks volumes about who you are. In his new book, aptly named “What Your Dog Says About You”, he puts some of the most popular breeds under the microscope to see what their owners are really like. So if you’re toting a French bulldog or being driven around by a Golden Retriever, here’s what you’re saying.
Any dog you can imagine wearing a top hat and getting away with it is always going to be popular. So it’s no surprise that these squat little chums are now cooler than an iceberg in Ray Bans. So too are the majority of their owners.
Brought into the world in the 1800s when someone had the dog rom-com idea of crossing an English bulldog with a common French ratter, they soon became the go-to pooch for fashionable artists. Little has changed. These waddlers are now one of the most popular breeds on the planet – rocketing to number four on the US charts, thanks largely to their hipster cred. If you own this breed you are so up with the zeitgeist, you’re holding the dog version in your hands.
Not hard to see why. They are pretty adorable. And as if you don’t want to get a French Bulldog-sized sidecar to attach to your fixie. But you’ve got to be a tolerant soul if you own one of these compact li’l buddies – particularly of breathing difficulties and snoring. My god, these little dudes are noisy. If you want something quieter than a sleeping Frenchy at the foot of your bed, just fire up a cement mixer and fill it with snooker balls.
Gold in colour and gold medals for temperament! This upbeat breed seems to have been engineered in a lab to be the perfect addition to a family. Owners of these dogs like a good smile and are content in the knowledge that they’re guaranteed picture-perfect family portraits worthy of the opening credits of an 80s sitcom. Yes, these dogs are as easy to please as they are playful, which has made them among the most popular breeds in the UK, USA and Australia. They are also popular assistance dogs. Damned over achievers.
Bred in Scotland in the mid-1800s as gun dogs to fetch slaughtered animals from both land and ponds – they were just happy to be involved, really! – today they are still super keen to, well, retrieve things. With their mouth. So its masters need to have developed some degree of patience during the early years of ownership as they got used to having all their worldly possessions passed through the maw of a housemate with the dopey expression of one just struck on the head with a roofing tile.
Bottom line, owners of these dogs need to be happy-go-lucky because being sad next to a Golden Retriever looks absolutely ridiculous.
Purebreds are often engineered through arranged ‘marriages’ where offspring are drawn from genetic pools so small they made the royal family’s stock look like the Pacific Ocean. But mixed breed dogs (as distinct from mutts) represent breeding more the way nature intended it: not between cousins. Often prompted by attempts to get a ‘designer dog’ by mixing certain breeds’ desirable traits: a Great Dane’s size and a Dachshund’s legs? Sure, why not? Bull Terrier face and Chihuahua size? Cool! Pomeranian fluff and a Poodle’s fluff? So. Much. Fluff. Sometimes, though, the blending is the result of less-than-robust fencing when nature – ahem – runs its course!
Typified by their portmanteau names (Labrador + Poodle = Labradoodle), mixed-breed dogs will often avoid many of the health problems that some purebreds endure as a result of their incestuous origins. However, over-enthusiastic blending to get a certain look can cause its fair share of problems too.
Mixed breed owners are the type of people who know what they like and don’t mind hunting around to get it. What you want’s not available? No drama, you’ll make your own. You also like rolling the dice because with some mixed breeds it’s anybody’s guess what the cocktail will produce. And, unlike a beverage, it may take more than a little umbrella to make it palatable.
When it comes to teeny tiny legs, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. And ever since Paris Holton stuffed one of these elves into her handbag, Chihuahua’s have been hotter than the Mexican climate their ancestors called home. Small enough to be housed in a Taco shell, their predecessors became an important part of Toltec and Aztec cultures. The tiny companions were sometimes given the dud task of being cremated with their deceased owners to provide protection from evil spirits in the afterlife. I don’t want to judge, but it’s safe to say that is you’re packing a Chihuahua for protection, you haven’t thought through your defensive strategy. Nunchucks, sure, but 3 pounds of jittery dog is not going to cut it. But hey, something’s gotta burn, right?
Chihuahua is Spanish for ‘I swear I left that thing around here somewhere’ and owners of this breed love a good game of hide and seek. You’re highly evolved when it comes to search and rescue operations, having to investigate hourly the whereabouts of something that is sized appropriately for living in a terrarium but has to fight it out in the real world. Owning one of these also says you’re an attentive and careful soul. Allowing yourself one second of inattention would be to squash your mouse-sized chum. You’re both protector and destroyer. This is what it is to be a god.
Extract from “What Your Dog Says About You” by Liam Ryan. Published by Smith Street Books, RRP $ 24.99. Out Now.