'When you point out something to a dog, he looks at your finger.' - J Bryan, III
Dogs are like children, small and hairy. And just like children they're loud, adorable/ugly and they're everywhere.
You cannot swing a cat on this planet without hitting a dog: loping Red Setters in Dublin, stretchy sausage dogs in Hamburg, cheeky Chihuahuas in Oaxaca – here's a frisky list to help you bone up on which dog comes from where:
- Scottish Terriers come from Scotland. Go figure. They like to dig, have tiny legs and look a little like very old, (very tiny) bearded men. Also known as Scotties.
- German Shepherds come from Germany. Wolfish, solid, popular with police and military. Not the dog you want to meet while breaking into a warehouse. See Rin Tin Tin.
- American Water Spaniels come from – yes you guessed it America. A gundog used for flushing out feather or fur, the Water Spaniel is a curly haired friendly animal with enormous floppy ears that keep it snug in the snow.
- Great Dane. Nope. Wrong. They're from Germany. Fearless hunters. Said to have a lovely loping stride. Harlequin is one of its official colours. Oh and big to very big.
- Pug. The dog with probably the best name of all comes from China. One of the oldest breeds, it looks like a survivor – squat, muscled, wrinkled – a little shop-worn. Said to have carried messages smuggled from an imprisoned Josephine to hubby Napoleon.
- St Bernard. Switzerland. Rotund, furry snow dog, found mainly in children's books. Not sure if they carry booze in tiny barrels around their necks so much anymore?
- Samoyed. Fluffy Russian dog tending white or cream in colour. Sheds hair twice a year. Known as the smiling dog. Sledding dog. Barks plenty. Very huggable.
- Argentine Dogo from … ok you guessed it already. Large, muscular dog bred for big game hunting (think boars and cougars). Short haired. Often hard of hearing.
- Australian cattle dog. From Australia. Known also as a Red or Blue Heeler. Brindled coat, tough, working dog with course, oily coat. Dingo bloodlines. See Mad Max's dog.
- Rhodesian Ridgeback. An athletic, alliterative type from South Africa. Protective, loyal, not so good with kids. Likes the occasional full-body shampoo with a strong bristled brush.
- Border Collie. Hitch-hiking in Ireland in the pouring rain, I squeezed into a tiny blue car with a bearded man and his soaking wet Border Collie. Each time I turned to answer a question the dog licked my face. He was a very earnest licker. Border Collies come from Northumberland though.
Research suggests that an improper proportion of hounds come from Germany (Boxers, Dachshunds, Dobermen, Schnausers to name a few) and very few from Wales (the Welsh Corgi must feel quite lonely).
Where does your dog come from? Feel free to add to the list or suggest improvements below.