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Does your dog like to ‘horse’ around?

Many people in our area own and ride horses. Horse people want dogs around for different reasons: companionship, protection and sporting competition are just a few that come to mind.

Because there are so many different reasons you might want a dog while horsing around, it is hard to generalize what breed or what dog characteristics are the right match for horse owners.

Still the American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a few suggestions for equine-compatible dog breeds.

1. Labrador retriever, the AKC’s number one breed for the past 20 years.

2. Dogs that were originally bred to work with horses, such as the American Fox Hound and English Fox Hound.

3. Small hunting dogs, such as the Beagle.

4. Schipperke, popular in the 1970s among the hunter and jumper crowds.

5. Herding dogs: Border Collie, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Cardigan Corgi.

6. German Shepherds, which are intelligent, easily trained and loyal.

7. Terriers: Parson Russell Terrier (known as the Jack Russell), Norwich Terrier, Cairn Terrier (Like Toto from the Wizard of Oz) and Fox Terrier.

Some times the breed of a dog is less important than the dog’s individual characteristics.

A few desirable traits would include: Size, small dogs tend to make better buddies with horses. Their size would be less threatening than a larger dog.

You definitely want a dog that is naturally active. Also, consider grooming. You want a dog that doesn’t have a lot of long, flowing hair, unless a lot of brushing is your thing.

Some dogs have higher prey instincts than others. A lower prey drive is better for dogs that will be around horses.

Hunting and herding dogs like the Labrador Retriever, Border Collie, German Shepherd and Australian Shepherd are example of breeds with high prey drive, but these breeds are really common “horse” dogs, which just goes to show you that even dogs with high prey drive can be managed and his attention redirected.

Dogs love to be part of things and love to have jobs.

Whether you like “horsing around” or are a couch potato, picking a dog with characteristics that compliment your lifestyle is important for you and keeping Fido happy.

Remember every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.


Tony and Kate Barker are certified pet groomers who own and operate The BARKer Shop in Ironton. For questions, call 740-534-0088.