Friday, February 6, 2009

3 Good Things (herding group edition)

From the AKC

The Herding Group, created in 1983, is the newest AKC classification; its members were formerly members of the Working Group. All breeds share the fabulous ability to control the movement of other animals. A remarkable example is the low-set Corgi, perhaps one foot tall at the shoulders, that can drive a herd of cows many times its size to pasture by leaping and nipping at their heels. The vast majority of Herding dogs, as household pets, never cross paths with a farm animal. Nevertheless, pure instinct prompts many of these dogs to gently herd their owners, especially the children of the family. In general, these intelligent dogs make excellent companions and respond beautifully to training exercises.

1. Canaan Dog

The Canaan Dog is a herding and flock guardian dog native to the Middle East. He is aloof with strangers, inquisitive, loyal and loving with his family. His medium-size, square body is without extremes, showing a clear, sharp outline. The Canaan Dog moves with athletic agility and grace in a quick, brisk, ground-covering trot.
What I found most interesting about these dogs after spotting them a few years back, was its history. Despite being around relatively unchanged for nearly 4000 years, the Canaan Dog only recently joined the AKC and began competing in 1997. Here is an interesting article in the AKC's Gazette about the Canaan Dog.


2. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The occupation which made the Corgi worth his weight in gold to those Welsh hillmen came at a much later period, but still hundreds of years ago. This was when the Crown owned practically all land, and the tenant farmers, or crofters, were permitted to fence off only a few acres surrounding their dooryards. The rest was open country, known as common land, on which the crofter was permitted to graze his cattle, one of the chief sources of his meager income. It can be imagined that there was great competition among the crofters to secure as much as possible of this pasture land for their own uses, and the task would have been difficult had it not been for the Corgi. The little dog which had been with this Celtic people so long, and which had come to be of almost human intelligence, was trained to perform a service the opposite of that done by the herding dog. Instead of herding the cattle, the Corgi would nip at their heels and drive them as far afield as desired.

This breed has grown on me. At first I thought they looked like stunted German Shepherds, but they’ve got a specialty all their own. They’re nippers. You think they’re going to herd up all this children, but they just chase them about and nip at their heels. Fun to have around, especially in groups.


3. Australian Cattle Dog

As the name implies the dog's prime function, and one in which he has no peer, is the control and movement of cattle in both wide open and confined areas. Always alert, extremely intelligent, watchful, courageous and trustworthy, with an implicit devotion to duty making it an ideal dog.

I first saw this dog in the movie Babe (apparently it is from whence many good things come). I thought it was so fast and agile moving those sheep – very impressive (even though it played a very bad dog). I also think their blue coats are beautiful.


Honorable Mentions: Border Collie (yup, Babe again), the German Shepherd (I don’t care how popular it is – it’s something to behold), and finally the Belgian Tervuren who is one of the three largely unsung Belgian Shepherds.

Next up: Release the hounds!

Why Dog Week?

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