Griffey is a Labrador Retriever, Border Collie, and Australian Shepherd mix from South Lebanon and a graduate of the Homestead Dogs 2-Week Overnight Basic Dog Obedience Training Camp. Go Griffey!
The planet’s favorite dog, the Labrador Retriever.
Not only are they tops in the United States, they’re the favorite breed of Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. Labrador Retriever’s are also prized as guide dogs, search and rescue, assisted living, therapy dogs and contraband detection.
Of course, the most popular gets the best press. Labrador Retrievers were the first dog to appear on the cover of Life Magazine and a United States Postal Service stamp.
But the Labrador Retriever isn’t just a pretty face. Labs were originally bred to be aquatic duck retrievers and ship mates for sailors on the cold, icy island of Newfoundland (technically, I think, the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador).
Their coat was ideally refined to restrict ice formation. Their iconic tail actually serves as a sturdy rudder for improved agility in the water.
Yet, one of their other top-5 favorite traits is the Lab’s unrivaled temperament. The fun-loving, easy-going, highly intelligent Retrievers just want to be everybody’s friend, man or beast. But despite this outward appearance, the Lab is a bundle of energy on the inside.
This sturdy breed was bred to be a worker in a rough land and they need an energy release and be included in family activities. Without enough exercise, a Lab can display undesirable and destructive behavior.
Labrador Retrievers have nearly an unmatched desire to please and become a fun-loving member of the family…uh, pack.
Australian Shepherds are tireless, high-energy dogs and are one of the world’s best herding breeds. They are highly intelligent and very responsive to training.
Like French Fries, you might expect the Australian Shepherd to reign from Australia. But, like French Fries, they’re not. The progenitor of the Aussie is the Pyrenean Shepherd. The Pyrenean Shepherd hails from the Pyrenees Mountain region between France and Spain, home to the indigenous Basque people. Escaping centuries of regional conflicts, some Basque found their way to Australia where they crossed their Pyrenean Shepherds with a variety of imported British breeds to enhance their herding capabilities.
On the move again, some Basque found their way to the United States west coast later in the 19th century. California ranchers instantly fell in love with this new breeds’ amazing herding traits and high intelligence…and an assumption they were from Australia. A better name for this breed might have been, the American Shepherd.
Trainability Grade: B
Early socialization and obedience training are tremendously beneficial for the Australian Shepherd. Aussies frequently end up in rescue situations when the dog can’t constructively channel it’s boundless energy. Aussies develop a strong bond to their families and can be territorial and overprotective of their owners and property. They can become destructive if left without companionship for long periods of time. Fortunately, that loyalty combined with keen intelligence makes them very easy to train.
After the Romans conquered the British Isles in the first century, they brought their heavy-boned herding canines to manage their herds. Just as Roman influence in the region began to wane, Viking incursions began to spike. The Viking herder-of-choice was a smaller, quicker, spitz-style dog. Soon after, the mix of these two breeds created the highly-intelligent and relentless Border Collie.
Similar to the Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collies come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors and are highly respected for their work ethics and skills. Handlers can rely on their Border Collies to resolve stray cattle on their own even when far from the herd. Not only are they premier herders, they are equally skilled at search-and-rescue, therapy, military, and hunting environments. Likewise, they also have a number of groups working to maintain these amazing working skills.
As with other working dogs, Border Collies have an amazing amount of endurance and energy, which can be challenging in a home environment. They need lots of exercise or a job to do. Lacking that, they may devise a job on their own, and, as you can imagine, any job requiring teeth and claws is typically not good news for the average homeowner.
This may be more of a grade about environment than the Border Collie’s ability to learn. They can be loving, loyal pets and are highly intelligent with the added ability to reason on their own. Adapting to a reserved, suburban life, however, might be too much to overcome, particularly if left alone for long stretches during the day.
And even with regular, rigorous exercise, Border Collies love to herd and will try to do so with family members. They aren’t beneath nipping stray (what they consider) cattle in the hindquarters to move them back to the herd. So when grandma starts caning down the hallway by herself…
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