Dogs are one of the most varied and successful species on earth. There are 200 dog breeds recognized by the AKC with an estimate of up to 500 individual breeds found worldwide. That is a lot of variety. However, when it comes to behavior and personality, a study has suggested that there is more variety within a breed than among the different breeds (Morrill, et. al., 2022). What that means is that you have a greater chance of two dogs being similar in temperament from different breeds than you have within any specific breed. In fact, we have worked with many sibling dogs who could not be more different and they came from the same mother at the same time.
We often say we are not breedist, preferring to look at the dog in front of us as an individual rather than a representation of its breed. We often see people comparing their new dog to a previous one. Then they get stuck trying to figure out how to make the “now” dog the same as the “prior” dog. “But my old Golden Retriever would sit-stay so nicely and this Golden can’t even keep his butt still for a second.” “My old West Highlands Terrier was the best cuddler, but this one just wants to play.” Just as there is so much variation among breeds, we need to allow for more differences in the breeds we choose to live with us. There is no quintessential behavioral trait that is found in all dogs of any breed. They are all individuals, just like you and me. My previous dog was amazing, and I will always love him, but the dog I have now is just as amazing and just as loved. He is just different. He is himself.