7 of the Best Dog Breeds for Living in the Country

1 BULL TERRIER

A cross between the Old English Terrier and the Bulldog (because of its combats with bulls), the Bull Terrier’s color variety was produced by again crossing it with brindle Staffordshire. Once known for being a fierce gladiator, it talents now are herding, guarding, watchdog and ratter. Even a more-manageable size Miniature of this breed was developed. In 1885, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club. In 1991, this club also recognized the Miniature.

Measuring 20 to 24 inches in height and 45 to 80 pounds in weight (the Miniatures are 10 to 14 inches and 24 to 33 pounds), the muscular and strong Bull Terrier has a body that is rounded with a strong, short back. The strong and long head looks oval-shaped, and is flat at the top with a slope (with no stop) towards the nose. The shoulders are robust and the neck is muscular. The almond-shaped, small eyes are dark and deep set. The nose is black, and the thin, small ears are close together. The tail, carried horizontally on the short side, is set low. The harsh-to-touch, dense coat is flat and short. The colors can be black-brindle, fawn, tricolor, red, brindle and black (with white markings). Being an average shedder, it sheds twice a year. It should be combed and brushed occasionally. Also, use special rubber gloves to rub down the loose hair.

Loyal, polite, fun-loving, scrappy, courageous, active, obedient, fearless and clownish, the Bull Terrier is found to be very attached to and fond of the owner. With a consistent and firm owner, it is an excellent family pet—it should receive good deal of supervision and companionship for it to fit in well with families that are very active. It is quite active indoor. It should never be left alone for long hours; then the situation becomes very difficult to handle, even for the owner. It needs to be trained in socialization at a very early age. Overall, it is very difficult to train. It is good with both children and adults provided it is given vigorous mental and physical exercise and walks (preferring warm climate, it tends to become quite lazy) on a daily basis. If the owner is meek or submissive, it shows signs of aggressiveness, jealousy, possessiveness, protectiveness and becomes willful. It becomes very destructive if a lot of structure is not provided. If you have non-canine pets and do not want to part with them, it is then recommended not to have this breed as your pet in the home. Give balanced little meals twice or thrice a day. Do not overfeed it as it tends to gain weight very easily.

The life expectancy of the Bull Terrier is about 10 to 12 years. During this time, your pet is prone to deafness, heart defects, skin allergy, flea allergy, dislocation of kneecaps (slipped patella), and kidney failure. It is also known to suffer from zinc deficiency that causes death—it has, in many cases. This breed requires good health care.

2 BULLDOG

A medium sized, heavy, compact and muscular dog with short legs, a pushed-in nose (very distinct) and wrinkled face, the English Bulldog of simply “Bulldog” (looks like a little bull) is called so because (1) of its robust build and (2) it was used to bait bulls. Descending from the ancient Asiatic Mastiff, it originated in the British Isles. That time, this breed would be ferocious, courageous, powerful and aggressive. Over time, though it has mellowed down, it still shows signs of very strong determination. It is the gentlest of dogs but very intimidating in appearance.

With extra skin falling in folds on the forehead and skull, and the cheeks extending to the sides of the eyes, the head and the body of the Bulldog are massive. Pug with a deep and broad stop, the wide muzzle is short. With hanging upper lips, the massive jaws are square and broad. Large nostrils make up the broad black nose. The deep set eyes are dark. The thin and high set (on the head) rose ears are small. The screwed or straight tail is carried low. The smooth, glossy and straight coat is flat and short. It comes in shades of brindle, red or washed-out red, white, fallow, piebald, fawn, white, pale yellow, or a combination of all. Only when necessary, it should be bathed. It is an average shedder. You need to brush and comb the coat with a firm bristle brush. Clean the inside of the wrinkles and wipe the face daily with clean and damp cloth.

Courageous with excellent guiding abilities, the Bull Dog is very persistent and determined. At the same time, it is very dependable, affectionate and gentle, especially with children. With a habit of not giving up easily, it loves human attention and feels very happy about it. An owner, who shows strong leadership and can understand the needs of this breed, can have it as a pet. It is very energetic when young but mellows down with age. Its negative traits are it has a loud snore, and it slobbers and drools. It guards its toys, spots, food and home furniture. If it is allowed to take over (one of the behavioral problems), it becomes very aggressive and dominating. It should follow the humans, and not the other way round. The owner has to keep a strict check on this. It should be taken for daily walks regularly and given mental and physical exercise. It is not a hot weather dog. This needs to be looked into as it gets heatstroke. At the same time, it is very sensitive to cold. Give it small meals (its regular food) twice or thrice a day. Do not allow it to overeat or do not overfeed it. It tends to suffer from flatulence and can put on unnecessary weight. It is a messy eater; so, do not complain.

With a lifespan of about 8 years (sometimes shorter and sometimes longer lifespan), the Bulldog is prone to heatstroke, cherry eye, poor eyesight, breathing problems, flatulence, and mast cell tumors. The owner must look after this breed well.

3 BULLMASTIFF

A cross between Bulldog and Mastiff, the Bullmastiff is a purebred dog that was developed by the gamekeepers in England in the 19th century for guarding their estates—tracking down, tackling and holding the poachers. Though threatening and fierce, the gamekeepers trained it not to bite the intruders but keep hold on them. Aiding in police and military work, it had been prized as watchdog and hunting guard. It is very powerful and massive. At the same time, it is a very quiet dog and hardly barks! Today, it has become a family guardian and companion.

With a height of 25 to 27 inches (females are about an inch shorter) and weight of 110 to 133 pounds (females are about 10 to 13 pounds lesser), the wrinkled skull of the Bullmastiff is broad and large. The deep and broad muzzle is darker. With a flat forehead, it has a moderate stop. The back, straight and level between the withers and the loin, is short. The wide nose has large nostrils and is black. The dark hazel ears are medium sized. The wide and V-shaped ears are set high and carried closer to the cheeks, giving the skull a square appearance. The thick-at-the-root, curved or straight tail tapers reaching the hocks. Because of its heavy weight, its feet need to be checked daily. The nails should also be trimmed. The coat is dense, little rough and short. The usual coat colors are red, fawn, or brindle (with the head bearing black markings). Use firm bristle brush for brushing and combing the coat. It sheds very little hair.

With a good-natured temperament (even-tempered), the Bullmastiff is alert, devoted, affectionate, docile, fearless (on provocation), intelligent, loyal and tolerant of children. If it happens to catch an intruder, it would knock him and hold him down till the owner gives the signal to let go. It requires excellent obedience and socialization training and should be taught to go by certain set rules. It has a habit of pulling on the leash—it must be trained not to do so. It must also be taught to enter and exit the doors after the owner or other family members. It should heel behind or beside the owner and not be the leader. It is somewhat okay with other pets if it has seen them from the puppy stage, or has been more or less brought up with them. Very sensitive about the owner’s voice, it needs to be spoken with assertiveness and not harshly. It should be taken for daily walks (without fail), failing which it would show behavioral problems. It enjoys living with a family where it could feel comfortable. Two to three small meals should be given daily. With a tendency to gain weight easily, it should not be overfeed or given one heavy meal in a day. It would bloat and put on weight very easily.

With a lifespan of up to 10 years (maximum), the Bullmastiff is prone to cancer, mast cell tumors, eyelid problems, lip boils and hip dysplasia.

4 CAIRN TERRIER

One of the oldest of terrier breeds and earliest working dogs of Scotland, the Cairn Terrier had originated in the Scottish Highlands in the 1500s. It was named “cairn” because it would squeeze down into cairns (meaning
rock dens”) and bark at badgers and foxes till the farmer would arrive to kill. In 1909, it was publicly presented; in 1913, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club. But it gained popularity only after the 1930s. Its talents are tracking, hunting, watchdog, competitive obedience, agility, performing tricks and go-to-ground trials. It has fox-like expression and is hardy though little.

With a height of 10 to 13 inches, weight of 14 to 18 pounds (females are lesser), the head of the Cairn Terrier, in proportion to length, is broad. The medium length muzzle with a definite stop is strong. The hazel, deep eyes are wide set, and the nose is black. It has a topknot and shaggy eyebrows. The small and erect ears are covered with short hair and are set wide apart. The tail has short hair also, and is proportionate to the head. It has a weather resistant, natural looking and shaggy double coat—the out coat is harsh and the undercoat is soft. The colors of the coat are brindle, black, shades of gray, sand and red. It is dark in the muzzle, ears and tip of the tail. One cannot say it has a permanent coat color because the color keeps changing many times. One has to take good care of the coat to stop it from becoming matted. It needs to be bathed and the coat brushed (while drying) once a month. The nails need to be clipped and hair around the ears and eyes to be trimmed. It sheds little or no hair.

Loyal, alert, cheerful, curious, animated, friendly, fearless, independent and lovable, the Cairn Terrier loves to play with children. It would listen to that owner who has strong mind and would not let the breed to rule him. Then, it becomes easy-going and calm. It should be disciplined and trained well, without which it barks excessively and becomes quite destructive. It can also be trained in doing tricks. It needs physical and mental exercise daily along with long walks. In safe open area, it can be off lead for it to enjoy romping. Once it is made to believe that it is the leader, it will end up with Small Dog syndrome and behavioral problems like separation anxiety, growling, guarding and snapping.With a tendency to gain weight very easily, it should be fed little meals twice a day. Make sure that it is not fed anything other than its own food. The children also should be made aware of it as they have a habit of feeding whatever they eat.

With a lifespan of about 12 to 15 years, the Cairn Terrier often suffers from obesity and bloat. It also get flea allergies—make sure to take proper care and keep it clean.

5 CANAAN DOG

Originating from Israeli wild dogs in the land of Canaan in the 1930s, the Canaan Dog is still used by the dwellers of the Arabian Desert for herding flocks, and guarding sheep and the camps. The founder of this breed is Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, who had initially trained it for detecting mines in the Middle East forces. The coat colors of the first four Canaans imported by Dr. Menzel to the US in 1965 were white with black patches and masks. Only in 1997, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club. It is a multi-talented breed—tracking, herding, guarding, guiding the blind, war sentry, messenger, mine detecting, and search and rescue.

Measuring 19 to 24 inches in height and 35 to 55 pounds in weight, the medium sized Canaan Dog is proportioned squarely. The wedge-shaped head has a defined but shallow stop. Slightly tapered and longer than the skull, the muzzle can be of the same size as the head. Depending on the color of the coat, the nose and the eye rims are of many liver shades. The slightly slanted eyes are almond-shaped and are of hazel shades. The erect ears are mobile. With well-arched neck, the legs are straight. When it gets excited, it carries the tail over its back; otherwise, the tail is set high. The feet are cat-like with hard pads. It has a double coat—the harsh outer coat, and soft and straight undercoat. The solid colors are liver, white, red, black, brown, and tan with white trim of the tail tip, feet and chest. The colors of the patched pattern are black and white, brown and white, and liver and white, with symmetrical mask of colors matching the patched patterns. It is a seasonal heavy shedder. Hence, take good care. Otherwise, it is a clean breed that needs weekly brushing and combing just once.

Dependable, obedient, agile, gentle, devoted, loyal, active, docile and alert, the Canaan Dog loves the family where it has been brought up. It is exceptionally friendly with the people they come to know. An excellent watchdog, it tends to defend its territory. It is in the habit of barking and would keep on doing so. The owner needs to train it with some specific rules for this breed to follow. If there are other dogs or children in the family, it can be very aggressive towards them because of its very high dominance level. Here again, the owner needs to give it an excellent socialization training from a very early age, and introduce it properly to the children and other dogs. If it senses or gets the feeling that it is above humans, then it has a tendency to growl and bite. It needs a lot of long walks, and physical and mental exercise on a regular basis. Sometimes, along with challenging training sessions, it would be better if the owner involves it in some strenuous game. Food should be given twice or thrice a day in small amounts, and not just one large meal.Also, you should never indulge in overfeeding it.

With a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, the Canaan Dog normally stays healthy.

6 CARDIGAN WELSH CORGI

A descendant of Pomeranian, Schipperkes, Keeshond and the Swedish Vallhund, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, it is said, was brought in 1200 BC by the Celts in Cardiganshire. “Corgi” is a specific breed name in Welsh (Cymreig). It was used as farm guards, cattle drivers and vermin hunters. In 1935, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club.

A low-to-the-ground, long dog, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is 10 to 13 inches in height and 25 to 30 pounds in weight. Compared to the body, the head is in proportion. The flat, broad skull is tapered and rounded. Parallel to the skull is the muzzle with a moderate stop. The deep chest has breastbones that are prominent. The nose is usually black in all colored breed but in merle-colored breed, it can be butterfly. With dark rims, the medium to large eyes are wide set and oval shaped. Again, the color of the eyes depends of the color of its coat—usually they are in shades of brown. The ears are erect with large base and rounded at the tip. The long tail is low set. The very-short legs have turned-out front feet and large round paws. It has a double coat—the outer coat is coarse and long, and the undercoat is weather resistant, thick and short. On the back of the legs, at the ruff and on the underside of the tail, the coat is longer. “Fluffy Corgi” or “long-haired Corgi” is the one born with longer coats. The coat comes in brindle, sable, red, fawn and blue merle colors. It can also be of mixed colors—black and tan (may have white markings) and black and brindle. Parts of the muzzle, chest, neck and legs often have white markings. It sheds twice a year but as such, the coat is easy to groom. Just bathe when necessary and brush and comb often.

Obedient, willing to please (its owner), highly intelligent, obedient, dedicated, reliable, sturdy, protective and loving, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is quite wary with strangers. It is good to children who are considerate and treats it well. Lack of communication on the part of the owner may make it very aggressive and dominant. It may also keep on barking till the owner shows leadership skills. With a habit of nipping at heels to herd people, the owner should look into this and train it accordingly to make it aware of certain specific and set rules. It makes an excellent companion when it is mentally sound and does not feel it is above humans. Daily long walks with both physical and mental exercise are required for this very active breed. The owner must not allow it to lead while walking. It should either heel behind or beside the owner. Feed it with its usual food as little meals twice a day. Do not overfeed it as it has a tendency to put on weight quite easily.

With a life expectancy of about 12 to 15 years, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is prone to back disorders (most due to overweight/obesity), glaucoma, and retina related problems.

7 CAVACHON

The teddy bear-like, small, hybrid Cavachon was first produced in 1996 from a cross between Bichon Frise and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It is an excellent retriever. It loves to chase, play tug of war and adoresthe toys (mostly stuffed animals) given to it to play with!

With a height of 9 to 18 inches and weight of 16 to 25 pounds (females are about 12 to 20 pounds), the Cavachon’s round head is covered with long hair. It gives a friendly and curious expression when the hair sticks up from the forehead. Though it looks delicate and fragile, in fact, it is the opposite—athletic and strong. The round eyes are dark and large. The ears are long and floppy, and frame the face. The moderately deep chest is wide. The legs are strong and sturdy. It carries its tail over its back in a jaunty fashion! While greeting people, the tail is always in constant motion.Its coat is thick, curly and fluffy. The common coat colorsare peach and white.It can be of other colors like tricolor, sable, white, and black and tan. Spotting is very common. Though it sheds very little, regular grooming is a must because of its long and thick hair that gets tangled easily and matted—basically in the leg pits and arms. The hair should be cut at regular intervals to remove the tangles and mats. Always comb the hair before giving a bath and do not hurry while bathing it. Also, trim its toe nails at intervals. It is quite a high maintenance breed that would take a lot of your time in grooming.

Very content, highly intelligent, entertaining, tolerant, accepting, gentle and active, the Cavachon always wants to play and exercise. It is happy both indoor and outdoor. Initially it barks at strangers but once introduced, it becomes friendly. When no one is around, it loves to entertain itself. It does well without an active owner—unlike other breeds. It should be obedience training from an early age. It loves to be in company with adults, children and other dogs.It makes sure that the children play with it! It loves to snuggle beside the owner, and is always in the lookout for a soft lap where it can rest!Wherever one goes, it has to follow even if it is on long walks.It is very particular and serious about its activities—play during play time and rest during rest time. It needs its share of regular exercise and walks. A sporadic and light eater, dog food of good quality, as small meals twice a day, is what it needs. One should not try to overfeed it.

With a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, where the Cavachon’s health is concerned, it suffers from inherited Mitral Valve Disease (leads to heart failure), autoimmune hemolytic anemia, liver shunts (this disease can take its life between 4 to 6 years) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. Before getting a Cavachon pup, you must make sure that its parents do not have genetic health issues.

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