Scary or Cute? How much do appearances and the media influence our thoughts about certain dog breeds?
We work in media producing Films, TV series, YouTube Videos, Blogs, News, Cute Memes and Posts for Social Media. One of the missions with Talent Hounds is to help reduce the number of dogs going into shelters through education and research. We hope to educate and inspire people and dispel myths, not create them (see Rescues Rock).
Bad to The Bone or Misunderstood?
We were inspired to take a long, hard look at the effect of content, including what we produce, support and watch, by an article from our friends at DIRECTTV: Bad to the Bone or Misunderstood? The Truth Behind Common Canine Tropes.
Their premise is “Thanks to the media, we now know that Golden Retrievers are the epitome of loyalty, Pit bulls are the stuff of nightmares and Jack Russell terriers are great for teaching kids how to read.”
Many preconceived notions, particularly regarding dangerous dogs and cute dogs are informed by media. But are the TV stereotypes always accurate?
In scripted projects, videos, and live shows, we often work with exceptionally well-trained dogs and they can make difficult behaviors look easy or play roles. Could this be misleading?
Dangerous Looking Breeds
Have you ever crossed the street to avoid walking on the same side as someone who walking their Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Pit Bull, German Shepherd, Cane Corso, Mastiff or American Bulldog? We sometimes assume these dogs are dangerous or bad because they are big and strong with big teeth. They can look scary and do damage if they do bite.
The media, the movies, and TV shows often portray these dogs as dangerous or vicious, and some may be bred to be guard dogs or even fighters, but are these breeds actually more dangerous than any other or is it the owners?
On the other side of the spectrum, we see Jack Russell Terriers, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Huskies, Pomeranians, Pugs, Collies, Beagles, Terriers, Dachshunds and Chihuahuas portrayed in various TV shows and movies and at events as sweet, adorable, fashionable, cuddly, funny and/or brilliant.
Well, the truth behind some of these breeds in the media might surprise you.
The more we understand about breeds and possible behavioral traits, and the needs and history of dogs, the better we can understand the dogs we choose to bring into our homes.
Make sure you take the time to research and get to know a dog and their breed and needs before you consider adopting.
Unfortunately, our society stereotypes many breeds. As dog owners or future dog owners, it is our job to understand more about our own lifestyles and needs, about breed traits, about how to train dogs to be good citizens and about how to bring out the best in them.
“There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners!”
Let’s look at just a few breeds from our live events and TV series, a few often considered as “scary” and some portrayed in movies or TV as adorable, fun and sweet and see if they are always what they seem? Education and research are the best ways to make sure you and your pet enjoy a happy, healthy, long and mutually loving relationship.
There are Greyhounds who I expected to be super high energy, and huge Great Danes and Leonbergers who are gentle giants and can make amazing pets and even Therapy Dogs. I think we have done a great job showing their talents.
We met celebrities Harrison and Giggy, Lisa Vanderpump’s two poms who appeared on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and at the Vanderpump Pets Booth at the Global Pet Expo. They are so well behaved and look adorable but many hours of love, training, and grooming required I am sure.
Today celebrities like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and even Sylvester Stallone. seem to like to own Pomeranians and Puppy Mills make money breeding them because they look like cute toys.
Boo was a huge Pomeranian Internet sensation. Known for his short haircut he had over 17.5 million Likes on Facebook and four photo books. He has also appeared in several TV commercials. Jiff the Pom is also a huge celebrity and we love the well-trained models for K9 Couture in TO.
Pomeranians can make great companions and show or entertainment dogs. They’re usually alert, outgoing, cheerful, loyal and affectionate with natural skills at agility and tricks. However, the breed may be proud, stubborn, and strong willed and tend to be quite vocal. One must also be careful with this breed’s knees and hips which are prone to injury and they need lots of regular grooming. Proper socialization and lots of positive training are key for making the pom a good pet and they may not be ideal around small children. They should not be treated like a plush by little ones.
Both these breeds were developed as working dogs and are often used for security, military, and service. They are also fantastic in various sports such as Schutzhund/IPO, agility, obedience, dock diving, field and retrieving trials, lure coursing and more.
The Belgian Malinois has been one of the most widely used working dogs for hundreds of years, but became increasingly popular when people heard that Seal Team Six used a Malinois to hunt and capture Osama Bin Laden. We promoted the movie inspired by a true story Hero Dog Movie: MAX – Healing From PTSD, Grief and Loss We also filmed Max the talented Drug Search Dog for Talent Hounds.
He could definitely be scary if you were trying to smuggle.This spotlight is both beneficial and detrimental. In one sense, it shows the true ability of the breed to be an outstanding, loyal and reliable working dog. However, they may not always be the most suitable pet for a family.
Malinois need a strong owner, a lot of training and a lot of patience. They can become bored, frustrated, and prone to obsessive behaviours without something to do. This is a demanding breed who needs ongoing supervision and care to thrive.
The popularity of the German Shepherd has steadily grown. We see them everywhere. Similar to the Belgian Malinois, this breed is best doing what it was bred for, being trained by owners or trainers who understand their needs. Fiercely loyal and great as watchdogs, they also need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. See below how police train their GSD and Malinois.
Made popular in TV series like Rin Tin Tin and The Littlest Hobo, movies such as Reservoir Dogs, I am Legend, The Day the Earth stood still and Valkyrie, animated movies such as and Balto , it is understandable why many people think they’d be the perfect family pet. And they well may be with the right pet parents.
Look at gorgeous Grizzly who was abandoned.
He is a gentle lovely loyal boy, great with kids, sports and tricks, thanks to the hours of love, exercise and care by Taylor and the example of his sister Lottie.
Jack Russell Terriers are a popular, cute, athletic, highly trainable breed and can live up to the ripe old age of 15. You often see them in the media.
We work with Marcy Wright and her 3 Jack Russells Sweetie, Lulu and Shivers on live shows, TV and videos. They are great with kids and smart as can be. However Lulu can be reactive with other dogs.
You’ve seen him in the movie The Mask as Milo, Skip in My Dog Skip, Eddie from Frasier, Uggie from both the Artist and Water for Elephants. Uggie almost won an Oscar for one role. But, what you don’t see on screen is how much time and work should go into this breed.
Uggie was apparently rejected from two different sets of owners before winding up in his forever home, where patience, time and extremely experienced, dedicated training allowed Uggie to shine. Marcy spends many hours keeping her girls active and occupied learning new tricks and socializing. Katrin’s family are dedicated to bringing out the best in her.
What about Border Collies? These dogs were bred to herd farm animals and have excelled in various sports such as fly ball, and agility. Check out our Talent Hounds TV Series, events and sites for stars like Hero the Super Collie, Lottie the Border Collie, Rev the Border Collie or Nana in Backseat Barkers. They are also portrayed in books and film like Babe and Bandit in Little House on the Prairie. Did you know that a Border Collie named Chaser, was reported to have the vocabulary of 1022 words, (last counted in 2010). But as an extremely smart, active, herding breed, Border Collies need a tremendous amount of training, exercise and mental stimulation.
Without enough both physical and mental exercise, these dogs really may not be happy or healthy. Dogs like Nana, Hero and Lottie look easy, talented, loving and well trained because of the hours and hours of work and patience of their talented trainers. They look so soft and gentle, but are not always as affectionate as certain other breeds and may even herd young children.
Australian Shepherds (also known as Aussies) are animated, lively, athletic and highly intelligent herding dogs similar to the Border Collie breed. They thrive with several hours of exercise every day, so pet parents should be prepared to live an active lifestyle with this breed. Australian Shepherds are highly trainable and make superior work dogs suitable for a variety of roles including search and rescue, guide dogs, herding dogs and more.
We have many Aussies who perform with us at shows and have appeared in our doc series since they love to perfrom and can jump extremely high, catch, run extremely fast. Kowboy Fred, pictured above, always thrilled the crowds with his athleticism in our Talent Hounds showcase. His sister Mia is another up and coming disc champ like him. However, Kowboy went through several homes before finding Mike who gave him the attention, training and sports that he needed to thrive.
Huskies are another breed that needs lots of exercise. They may be happiest pulling a sled or working and living in colder climates. They also blow their coats twice a year so need lots of grooming. According to the Blue Cross, the number of huskies and similar breeds abandoned across the UK has increased by 700 per cent over the past seven years all due to the popularity of Wolf-like dogs in various Vampire series, Game of Thrones and the like and it’s probably no different here in Canada or the USA. These dogs are beautiful, their pups adorable and can make wonderful companions, but they need owners who understand the demands of this breed, the time and energy commitment, the grooming and intellectual needs so they can provide a lifetime commitment. They do not usually make ideal apartment dogs and do well with large fenced in yards with high fences and lots of running.
Talent Hounds member Ashley and her beautiful husky Maya have worked with us with at many events. She runs take Maya for one-hour runs each day on top of her daily training. Our blogger pal Jenna, who has three huskies, shares honest insights into the breed and her dog’s daily lives on her blog Owned By A Husky and her Facebook Page Love is being Owned by a Husky. We also love the Five Sibes blog which acts as a K9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign and virtual “dog park,” where Siberian Husky owners can gather to share info, news, reviews, photos, and videos. Another blogger pal Cathy Armato of Dogs Luv Us We Luv Them also has a husky who works as a Therapy Dog. A lot of patience and training was required but now she helps kids read.
Our friend Jessica also shares insights into the demands of the breed on her hugely popular YouTube Channels and blog, Gone To The Snow Dogs.
We also met gorgeous rescue puppy Charlie and Vanessa at The Canadian Pet Expo who shared more info on Siber Rescue. Charlie is such a gorgeous and well-mannered dog you wouldn’t believe someone didn’t want her. Watch our interview and hear his furever story HERE
Who doesn’t love these comical, loyal, loveable, communicative dogs? At Talent Hounds, we obviously do, as Susie adopted her foster Kilo the Pug but she admits, she did not quite know what she was in for. They are one of the least likely breeds to be aggressive but there are exceptions.
We’ve met pugs in Milo and Otis, as Frank in Men in Black, in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and in the animated movies Pocahontas and the Nut Jo. There’s Doug the Pug, Fishstick in Backseat Barkers, Max and Minnie, Igor, Edie and Atom.
The Pug list of characters is endless but did you know that Pugs shed like bandits and are extremely demanding lap dogs when they are not snoring on the couch. They need lots of love, attention, and training. They can be a bit stubborn and hard to house-train and some Pugs do this spinny thing where they race round and round in circles or get the “zoomies” expending energy in bursts.
Due to their squished in adorable faces, they may be prone to breathing, eye, skin and teeth issues which can add up at the veterinarian office. Choosing a pug may be a 15 yr commitment with a great chance that your beloved pet will need medical care, so think before you act.
Just because they’re cute and adorable, which they are, doesn’t mean they are the right breed for you. Ask the Rescues specifically dedicated to this breed like PugALug or Homeward Bound in Ontario.
Then there’s the movie 101 Dalmatians, those cute adorable spotted black and white puppies. When that movie came out there was a surge in the purchase of these cute little pups. But did you know that Dalmatians were apparently bred to run beside and guard carriages. They need an incredible amount of training, exercise and companionship. Without this, these dogs can become bored, hyperactive and develop destructive behaviours. They can be cranky with kids.
They can also display a propensity toward health issues very specific to their breed. They can be born deaf, have allergies and urinary stones.
Trainable, athletic, and affectionate, Chihuahuas can make a wonderful apartment pet. Seen dancing on YouTube and in Legally Blond, Beverley Hills Chihuahua, Oliver and Company (animated), The Ren and Stimpy Show (animated), the Taco Bell campaign, and in the handbag of Paris Hilton, Reese Witherspoon, Hillary Duff and various other celebrities and fashionistas, the Chihuahua has become a very popular “little” toy dog.
Chihuahuas are portable – you can stick them in your bag and dress them up (they get cold easily). However they are a dog first and many people forget this. They need training and socialization. Many people treat their Chihuahua like a stuffed toy or doll, a perfect accessory or as a substitute for a human infant. They carry their Chihuahua everywhere in their arms, don’t teach any commands, laugh at signs of aggression, and make excuses for bad behaviour. They may look cute but they are actually one of the most likely breeds to bite.
It’s no wonder so many Chihuahuas are neurotic or vicious! They’re made that way by their owners. With a lifespan close to 18 years and often terrible housetraining issues, make sure you know what you are getting into. Not that it means for a minute that they can’t make adorable, loyal, fun companions but good behaviour has to be reinforced to get the best out of your pup.
They have also become popular with Puppy Mills and unscrupulous breeders as they are small and easy to breed with high demand. With this popularity, the breed has become a huge health concerns and problems for rescues and shelters.
We love Trish and her dogs Harley and Buster and her many fosters from CCRT if you are considering a Chihuahua.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are both amazingly wonderful family pets and service or therapy dogs. Loyal, smart and loving. They typically have gentle mouths and are unlikely to bite if socialized and trained.
We have met the beautiful labs and goldens through Dog Guides Canada and NSD like Chester and Flicka, and we will probably cast the “good dog” in our Movie “Pippy Love” as a Golden. We also love the Air Bud movies -Did you know that Air Bud (or Buddy) was a stray rescue?
Make no mistake though, Retrievers need lots of exercise and mental stimulation, they shed and they can be unruly if they aren’t properly trained. In the movie Marley and Me, it took 22 well trained yellow labs to become Marley but it could take one bad owner to get a dog with poor manners.
Do Your Research
All dogs, whatever their size, must be taught how to walk on their own four feet, how to do what is expected, and how to get along peacefully with the world. They too need to learn how to be good citizens. There are just so many different breeds out there and they aren’t always portrayed in the right light. If you are looking to adopt a dog, take the time and do your research.
A pet is a life commitment that should bring you joy, love and lots of fun. Talk to breeders, rescues and other owners who can share their experiences with you too. You both deserve a life of companionship and loyalty.
We have included anecdotes and tips from community members about their dogs to help make our BREED LIBRARY more useful and relatable. We also have a fun BREED QUIZ you can try to see what’s your best match.