The discussion on the German Shepherd breed on my column of May 7, 2023 created quite a reaction, mostly in support of my contention that this breed is quite intelligent. However, breeders and dog lovers must be (and are usually) quite cognizant of the fact that biology, in which the study of genetics finds itself, is not an exact science, say like mathematics. Some siblings are left-handed while others are right-handed. A woman can have a gestation (length of pregnancy) of 8 ½ months, 9 months, and 9 ½ months – irrespective of race, geography, and even her age and number of pregnancies. The point I am making is that while one breed is known for its intelligence, so too are other breeds. I make an extra effort to belabour that point because the readers of this column will constantly notice that words like loyalty, human friendly, good-with-children, energetic, strong, hardy, trustworthy, territorial, easily trainable, are characteristics used to describe various breeds, and are in fact shared by many quite different breeds.
During my training stint with dogs being selected for work in the army and other security services, Rottweilers, though burly and protective, were never seriously considered for duty because of their perceived inability to jump over walls in pursuit of “criminals”. Some Rotts would prefer to go through and around obstacles, rather than go over a wall in chase. Actually, the evaluators of the exercise felt that they were not very clever, and definitely not good at solving problems. Rottweilers use their bulk and strength to remove barriers.
Should a decision on its intellectual aptitude be made using only a few standard parameters? In fact, the shallowness of that particular evaluation at that time (when statistical methodologies were not as accurate as they are today) resulted in a decline in the usage of Rottweilers during the 19th century, causing the breed to dwindle almost to the point of extinction.
By the early 20th century, however, the Rottweiler made a dramatic comeback, not lastly because of its guarding and fighting instincts. They are currently employed by both the police and the military; perhaps not so much in Guyana, but definitely in other parts of the world, particularly as guard dogs and in search-and-rescue work.
Allow me to quickly add that, in spite of its size and sturdy build, the Rott is quite agile.
The Rottweiler at present enjoys a more positive image as a guard dog and an intimidating status symbol. My own experience working with Rotts and as a veterinary caregiver can attest to the fact that, despite the breed’s great strength and easily aroused protective responses, Rotts are not naturally ill-tempered. With thoughtful, professional, experienced and firm training protocols, the Rottweiler will exhibit to any handler, veterinarians included, enough messages that it is prepared to be aggressive. Once one knows what to look for, the Rottweiler will be a calm (confident) and obedient companion, loving bouts of exercise with its owner/caregiver.
In Guyana, and I imagine in many other countries, the word “Poodle’ is used very loosely. The Standard Poodle, on which many of the current variations of the breed are based, would be the one which we usually see competing in Dog Shows. They are just plain and simple cute.
The Poodle is claimed by France (ergo, the French Poodle), but because of the portrait by German artists, paintings of noblemen and kings with their Poodles, it is not illogical to believe that this breed had German origins.
Over the centuries, the larger Poodle (Standard) has been deliberately downsized. Consequently, we now have the Miniature Poodles (Medium-sized Poodles) and the Toy Poodles – each with its fancy poodle clips.
Weight and Size Variations in Poodles (REF:3 Ways to Identify a Poodle – wikiHow)
Whichever variation, Poodles are energetic and very intelligent. That’s why so many circus dogs you see jumping through hoops and performing difficult acts are Poodles. They are easy to train.
The Poodle is affectionate and easy to please. It is sensitive, and tends to bond closely, especially with one person. A big plus for this breed is that its coat does not shed hair easily. Of course, the coat needs to be brushed and clipped regularly. This last comment demands that I advise caregivers to describe to the groomer the exact “cut” (fashion, grooming style) they desire. All quarrels/ misunderstandings can be circumvented after the clip by dissatisfied owners.