Arlo the pro pillow sitterI’m sure many of you know the original breeding purpose of your beloved pooch. I know my pug was bred to sit on the pillows and laps of Chinese sovereigns, and his personality makes that clear!  Any time there is a pillow, he finds his way right on top.  I also know a pug’s job was to alert the guard dogs if anything was heard.  And Arlo does this like the best of them.  Anytime, and I mean anytime he hears a noise, he alerts the entire house, as well as probably the neighbors. What about your dogs, do their original purposes factor into their personalities?

Below is a list of the top 10 breeds in the US (in 2012) and what there were originally bred to do.  If I missed your breed, because there are SO many, please add it to the comments!  I’d love to see what your furry best friend was originally designed to do.

  1. Labrador Retriever – originally bred for water retrieving. One notable characteristic of the breed is their webbed paws, useful for the breed’s original purpose of retrieving fishing nets. Devoted, obedient and amiable, the Lab is good with children, other dogs and other pets. It will be a calm house dog, playful yard dog and intense field dog, all on the same day.
  2. German Shepherd – originally bred for sheep herding, guarding, and as a police dog.  Because of its strength, intelligence and abilities in obedience training it is often employed in police and military roles around the world. German Shepherds currently account for 4.6% of all dogs registered with the American Kennel Club.
  3. Beagle – originally bred for trailing hares, rabbits, and other small game. They have a great sense of smell and tracking instinct that sees them employed as detection dogs for prohibited agricultural imports and foodstuffs in quarantine around the world.  Snoopy is the most famous beagle in the world!
  4. Golden Retriever – originally bred as gundogs to retrieve shot waterfowl such as ducks and upland game birds during hunting and shooting parties.  Because of their loyal and gentle temperament, Golden Retrievers are also popular family pets.  Golden Retrievers possess friendly, eager-to-please demeanors, and are the fourth most popular family dog breed (by registration) in the United States, the fifth most popular in Australia, and the eighth most popular in the United Kingdom.
  5. Yorkshire terrier – originally bred to catch rats in clothing mills. A popular companion dog, the Yorkshire Terrier has also been part of the development of other breeds, such as the Australian Silky Terrier. Yorkshire Terriers tend to bark a lot. This makes them excellent watch dogs because they will sound the alarm when anyone gets near.
  6. Bulldog (also called English bulldog) – originally bred for bullbaiting. Bulldogs are one of the few breeds whose tail is naturally short and either straight or screwed and thus is not cut or docked as with some other breeds.
  7. Boxer – originally bred for bullbaiting, guardianship.  The name “Boxer” is supposedly derived from the breed’s tendency to play by standing on its hind legs and “boxing” with its front paws.
  8. Poodles (includes all sizes) – originally bred as a type of water dog, the poodle is skillful in many dog sports, including agility, obedience, tracking, and even herding.  Their coats are moisture-resistant, which helps their swimming. All of the poodle’s ancestors were acknowledged to be good swimmers, although one member of the family, the truffle dog (which may have been of Toy or Miniature size), it is said, never went near the water.
  9. Dachshund – originally bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. According to the AKC, the dachshund continues to remain one of the top 10 dog breeds in the United States. The longhaired variety may be quieter and less terrier-like; the wires may be more outgoing. Some miniatures are more prone to be timid. [1 – animal planet list of dog breed features]
  10. Rottweiler (a newcomer to the list) – originally bred to herd livestock and pull carts laden with butchered meat and other products to market. Some records indicate that earlier Rottweilers may have also been used for hunting, although the modern Rottweiler has a relatively low hunting instinct.