Not-Hawk, other Chesapeake
One of the dog-blogs I follow is found at http://browndogcbr.blogspot.com/
featuring a lovely Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Hawk.
Not long ago Hawk commented that his breed is known for being a tad stubborn. As Hawk pointed out, this is more a matter of thoughtful and independent thinking As someone who lives with an independent minded dog or two myself – one of whom I sometimes think has equal amounts of bone as brain in her head – it got me to thinking: if one were to make a scale from “Least Stubborn Dog—–Medium Stubborn—–Most Stubborn” where would a) my dogs be, b) what breed would end up at the ‘most stubborn’ end. Perhaps a better way to put it might be:
Biddable —————————— Moderately Stubborn ———————– Very Stubborn
In our family that would work out to something like:
? —————————-Jenny ——–Lil ———————————————- ++ Gracie
Individual dogs can be stubborn – like the Bassett Hound who would lay down and be dragged rather than go for a walk – but Gracie is fairly typical of her breed. English Bull Terriers are probably the most stubborn breed I can think of at the moment.
Please let me clarify. I know Gracie knows the basics like ‘sit’ and ‘come’ because on occasion (particularly if she thinks food might be involved) she can carry these acts out in response to the verbal command faster than I can finish saying the word. When she’s feeling particularly clever she will do a fast chain of pretty much every behavior she knows how to do – sit, down, roll over, twirl in a circle, pirouette, and fall backwards – rather than doing the one thing I ask her to do, just to show she has an idea that we’re working on obedience type stuff. (Note: I only ‘trained’ for “sit” and “down” – the rest are her own inventions that she likes to pull out on an almost daily basis.)
Gracie using her cousin as seat warmer
Gracie does have a sense of humor. She knows how to make me laugh…and I confess, one of the things that makes a person suitable to living with an EBT is that you sometimes laugh when the dog in your life goofs-off; if goofing-off as a response angers you, don’t even consider allowing an EBT into your life. They’ll give you a stroke.
It isn’t just the picking and choosing when to listen to commands that make EBT qualify as stubborn. At that point, forgive me Hawk, but at that point they kind of tie for stubborn on my scale with the Chesapeake. What makes the EBT more stubborn is the every day persistences. Like leaning against me when I’m trying to use my laptop while sitting on the couch; being pushed away, and leaning back into me. This can take 12 – 15 pushes and I typically loose this game, as unfortunately, I have an even shorter attention span than a terrier and I can’t bring myself to focus on anything, including pushing a pushy dog away that many times. I usually am too busy trying to write and the next thing I know, after a dozen or more pushes and knocks off the couch, I realize Gracie is none the less sprawled out on my lap, or leaning snoring against the computer anyway. That’s stubborn. Or if one prefers, very persistent in pursing an individual agenda. EBT specialize in pursing an internal, individual agenda.
Collie looking guilty for bad acts of unashamed Lab
I also realize I live with a breed of dog that many people consider to be very biddable – the Labrador Retriever. I’ve known a lot Labs, lived with many, have family members with them…while occasional individuals are very willing to listen, overall this is a breed that is a bit more stubborn than people who don’t live with them might realize. As a breed, they are typically moderately stubborn; apologies, Hawk, but again, less so than a Chesapeake but more so than a Collie.
One of the ideal balances of independent thinking – and thus some stubbornness – along with being biddable and doing what was needed when it was needed where the old fashioned Chinese Shar Pei that were originally imported from Hong Kong. North American breeding has tended to put less emphasis on intelligence and more on confirmation, even so, this remains an independent but people oriented dog – slightly above moderately stubborn.
Scottish Terriers – probably at least 3/4 of the way towards very stubborn and in the same neighborhood as the Chesapeake in my opinion… now though, I’d like to hear from others. Where would you rank the individual dogs you do or have lived with? I should add the caveat, which is perhaps obvious by now, that I value a stubborn/independent dog’s personality. I in fact seek them out and arguably, help create them – I don’t ‘punish’ a dog for being independent, I just try and round the corners off any behavior that I find questionable, and make clear what I find unacceptable.
Jade, another biddable family Lab
At the same time, I have also appreciated knowing some very biddable, eager to please dogs. In fact, for many years our family lived with a Chocolate Labrador who was always eager to please everyone – Pooky was a sweetie and a unique individual in her own right. Not particularly typical of her breed in some ways, but with the loving personality that is common in a good Lab. My point – I don’t judge stubborn or not as inherently good/bad – just observations about a breed that assist people in realizing what makes the breed and the person a better or worse match. If one doesn’t like a certain characteristic, one should be aware of that characteristic’s presence in a breed. If you don’t like a dog that can be stubborn, stay away from terriers.
Also, realizing what for you as a person qualifies as stubborn and how much stubborn you can live with is useful information to give a breed rescue when considering adopting a dog. Wanting a dog that tends to listen quickly and without question will tend to lead you towards the less-stubborn end of the dog personality scale.