Monday, 26 January 2015

Barking Blondes: Pooch postcodes

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

IMG 10691 1024x768 Barking Blondes: Pooch postcodes

Are certain breeds of dogs better suited to the city whilst others prefer a rural vista?
We all know choosing the right dog for your lifestyle is a key factor to being a responsible owner. But how many of us also consider the relevance of our geographic environment before choosing our mutt?
A recent study, called Dog Map, undertaken by BBC LONDON, investigated regional trends in dog ownership. By using microchip databases of over five million mutts, post-codes were correlated with different breeds. And the results are fascinating.
The study showed that the top three most popular dogs in Britain were the Labrador in first place, the Jack Russell in second and the Staffie in third position.
The highest population of Labradors are concentrated in rural post-codes like on the Scottish borders or in Cornwall. As a hunting dog Labradors are well suited to country living loving to scent out a pheasant as a gundog. They’re equally happy curled up on a sofa and an iconic family dog.
No surprise that in urban post-codes there’s a bigger population of smaller breeds like the Shi-Tzu, Bichon Frise or the Chihuahua. In fact Liverpool boasted the biggest Shih-Tzu population in the country whereas in London the miniature dachshund proved a top favourite.
For Londoners the most popular pooch by far is the Staffie! Defying the national trend for Labradors being favourite, in London Labradors came in third. The jaunty little Jack Russell held its second place in London.
So here is the conundrum. London favours a breed that is feared and stigmatized by many but also listed by The kennel Club as one of the most family friendly .
We can understand why Staffies make great dogs for urbania. Bull breeds like ours can be very lazy, and happily watch daytime TV on the sofa rather than brave wintry conditions and a walk in the park. Why then is the Staffie still getting such a bad rap?
The Staffie is a terrier at heart, strong-willed, independent and possessing a mind of its own which gives them their appeal. Their vocal range makes it seem like they’re ‘talking’ and very human. With a  wiley intelligence and natural sense of humour, they can out-wit some owners.
They’re naturally great with people and many owners agree they seem to be almost human. Focusing a Staffie’s natural terrier instincts pro-actively then they make brilliant companions.
So for staffie owners all across the country, their popularity in the Metropolis, is something to celebrate.
Here’s hoping the royal family take to them in the way they favour the corgi! Maybe then rescue centres will stop being a dumping ground for this wonderfully, intelligent breed.
Finally next year sees microchipping becoming mandatory. This latest study shows how microchips can be used to monitor trends in dog ownership, and ultimately make dogs owners more accountable. That has to be a good thing.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £

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