Northern Breeds


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This is a book for lovers of Northern breeds to drool over, lots of attractive pin-ups of wonderful dogs at rest and working. Margaret Bonham gives a useful overview of the characteristics of this category, then describes individual breeds, gives advice on choosing a pup, bringing the dog home, training, feeding, health and sports. The chapter on training is especially good. The information on sports is very useful for owners of huskies and other breeds designed to pull sleds, and there is also help with teaching dogs backpacking.

A key problem with this book is the wide variety of dogs which have been included in the category of ‘Northern breeds’. Some Northern breeds, such as Keeshonden, Samoyeds and Finnish Lapphunds, are more easily trained than others, such as huskies and Alaskan malamutes, which have a tendency to take off and stop when they get to the next county. Another key issue is whether or not a dog will fit into the owner’s existing pack. Some breeds are better suited to multi-dog households than others. Huskies and Samoyeds, for example, have been designed to work in a group. Keeshonden tend to be easy-going with other dogs. Chows and Akitas, however, which are included in this book, can be both a challenge to train and intolerant of other dogs. Dogs from some Northern breeds, such as Keeshonden and Samoyeds, also tend to be better suited to people with children, than are individuals from some other breeds, such as Chows and Akitas. These differences need to be stressed a little more, so that would-be owners can take informed decisions. The sections dealing with general characteristics of Northern breeds also seem to be geared far more to huskies and malamutes than to other breeds.

This book is not, then, an encyclopaedic guide to choosing a Northern breed dog, but it is a delightful ‘drool book’ for people who love these breeds.