Screening Potential Puppy Homes: No Breed Is Right for Everyone

There really is no breed that is right for everyone. Certainly there are some breeds that are suitable for a wide variety of homes, and others which have a more narrow range of suitability, but no breed can be perfect for every person and situation.

One of the challenges faced by fanciers of any breed is that sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news and help people see that yours really isn’t the breed for them. Certainly some people have done their homework and know what they like about the breed, and come to us to learn what they might not like, and educating people about your breed’s less-charming aspects is a responsibility we share. (As I have heard someone in another breed say, “They only shed twice a year: January to June, and July to December”—which is of course an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth for some breeds!)

One of the first questions I ask a person when they contact me about my breed is “Have you managed to meet any Swedish Vallhunds in person yet?” With less-common breeds, it is pretty rare for people to have just run into one on the street. More often someone watched a televised dog show and found the breed appealing. Or they met a highly trained dog at an agility or herding trial and might not understand that these dogs don’t arrive at their door so well-behaved (and well-exercised!), that it takes dedication and effort to produce such a dog.

We are very lucky in this breed to have a network of people, many of whom are the invaluable “just” pet owners, who are willing to have their dogs act as breed ambassadors and allow people who might be interested in the breed to meet their dogs. This is a very endearing breed (I am obviously biased!), but it is also a working farm dog, and we need to be realistic about what sorts of homes are suited to our dogs. It is a delicate balancing act between welcoming and encouraging new breed fanciers and doing your best to ensure people make educated and responsible decisions about whether or not your breed as a whole is a good fit.

This is not about exclusivity; it is about protecting individual dogs from ending up in the wrong home, which in turn can help protect the breed from acquiring a bad reputation (something too many other breeds have suffered from). It is also about helping to prevent people from ending up with the wrong dog, and all the attendant heartache and headache that entails.

You often get a range of temperaments and energy levels in a litter, and making good decisions about placements can go a long way toward long-term happiness for puppies, owners, and breeders. Explaining to an eagerly waiting family that the puppy they first fell in love with just isn’t turning out to be the best puppy for them is a difficult task, but in the long run, it is a task well worth undertaking. And occasionally you have to explain to someone that in your opinion, your breed as a whole just isn’t a good fit for them. Sometimes talking someone out of your breed is the best service you can provide, both to that person and your breed.

Amanda Lowery, Swedish Vallhund Club of America; June 2015 AKC Gazette