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[at-l] RE: dogs (seriously )

In looking for a long-distance hiking dog, consider the breed's purpose.
My experience has been that dogs that are bred to "go all day" do very
well, while dogs bred to work in short stints don't - kinda obvious when
you think about it.  So, cattle dogs and most herding dogs do well.
Some hunting dogs such a brittanies are also excellent.  I would expect
that a fox hound or harrier would also be good.  In general, labs and
other swimming dogs don't do so good.  Yes, they are hunting dogs, but
they're retrievers, not pointers or flushing dogs (ie dogs that go out
and find game are better than those that just bring it back).  The
swimming dog thing is because of their foot structure - their paws are
wide and designed to spread for swimming, which is not good for walking
forever with a pack.  A smaller, tighter foot is better.  Also, cross
breeds tend to do better than pure breeds (my own observation).

Don't forget a breed's purpose while actually walking on the trail.  A
dog such as a brittany is bred, among other things, to scour the
countryside to flush game, so they are very hard to keep with you on the
trail and don't like it when they are.  You have to be a determined
trainer to make them behave responsibly.  Herding dogs are more intent
on obeying your instructions, and can be easier to keep with you.
Lab-types usually are quite content to plod along behind you.  Of
course, with any dog, critters dashing across the trail can cause all
hell to break loose.

I'm generalizing, to be sure, but I've only seen a few exceptions.

Ke Kaahawe

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