Discover Dogs

Last weekend we went to Excel House to see the best exhibition there could be: Discover Dogs. Essentially it was a large place to meet almost every breed of dog and a perfect place to ask breeders questions, stroke and cuddle dogs, and just be around fur balls. There were also merchandise, dog related items, and dog food you can purchase too. And of course a cuddle corner with the dogs and a few rings, like a mini Crufts, to see some show dogs in action.

There were so many dog breeds that I had never seen or heard of before, strategically positioned in alphabetical order. The space for Discover Dogs was huge, but I felt little space was given to the dog stands compared to the sales and merchandise stalls. A few adorable dogs were lying in the middle of the walkway wanting humans to stroke them, which naturally caused some bottlenecks, but they were so fluffy you can’t be mad at them. There were also a few food stalls dotted around but you can leave this exhibition hall and get more substantial food in the main part of Excel House.

I couldn’t really see much of the mini Crufts shows, there were no screens to see any of it, so you have to get there early for a seat to see anything and then stay there. The cuddle corner, as expected, had a long queue and it was much larger than I expected it to be.

Some breeders at the dog stands were very informative and answered all your questions, which was very helpful. Many were very happy for you to have a stroke or cuddle with their dogs or for them to have their pictures taken. Quite a few stands also had leaflets and general information or breeder information for you, which was again very useful. Most breeders are aware that you are there researching and trying to find the dog breed you would like and are happy to answer any questions.

Other breeders, on the other hand, were a little judgemental if you don’t work from home. Some breeders didn’t seem so keen or interested to talk to you about their dogs, which I found a little odd, and in fact a little rude to be honest. Ironically this happened at a stand with one of the vulnerable breeds of dogs, so you would expect a little more enthusiasm on their part to keep the breed alive.

In retrospect I should have asked about the breeds’ energy levels instead of active levels to gauge how much time the breeds require walking. One breeder worded it perfectly: with dogs you need space and time. Space regarding your property size and time as to whether you have any to walk or train the dog. I suppose for us we were trying to find a dog breed that was like our previous dog, Merlin, who was a cross terrier breed that was so chill and docile and happy to go on an hour long walk or just to cuddle up with you on the sofa.

Here are a few breeds that caught our interest:

Glen of Imaal Terrier

We had never heard of this Irish breed before, but they were adorable, and deceptively heavy considering the small size. Males can get as heavy as 20kgs, for a small little terrier! This little one had your standard puppy dog eyes, and we were informed that cataracts is a recessive gene that is being breeded out. More information on the breed can be found here: https://www.goita.co.uk/

Cairn terrier

This was a cute little breed, small enough to fit around our small property. An intelligent and independent breed from the Scottish Highlands and Islands, these dogs thrive on attention and training. Good with children and apparently good at begging for treats. Not too many health issues, but cataracts seems to be common in terriers in general. More information on the breed can be found here: http://www.thecairnterrierclub.co.uk/

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Australian terrier

This adorable terrier was really interested in playing with its little rope toy. They like to keep busy and are good with children and driving out snakes, which was one of the things they were originally bred to do in Australia. This breed is a good walking companion or sofa snuggler on a rainy day. More information on the breed can be found here: http://www.australianterriers.co.uk/

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Affenpinscher

Meaning Monkey Dog, this breed was awarded Personality of the Year 2019. We had heard of this breed before and found online that this breed suits our lifestyle: essentially the breed can walk as far as their humans but are also happy to be carried. In person they are smaller than I thought, being a toy breed which I was unaware of, but still adorable. The ears can be pointed or dropped, and the ones we saw all had dropped ears, though a bit difficult to see under all that fur. They were more than happy to be stroked and cuddled and I remember the fur being soft, which suited me fine.

I was informed that the squished nasal passage is very much like pugs but there are no breed issues with breathing or snoring like pugs have. I also found out that there may be issues with the kneecaps and that dogs should be tested prior to breeding a litter and that responsible breeders would provide copies of relevant certificates of these kneecap tests (technical term, clearly). More information on the breed can be found here: https://affenpinscherclub.co.uk/

Miniature schnauzer

Again, we had heard of this breed before coming to Discover Dogs, but were slightly apprehensive because we had learned of health issues common in the breed such as having a shorter urinary tract meaning that an operation is most likely needed at least once in the dog’s life. The breeders we spoke with didn’t mention anything about this though. Online research shows potential eye issues (cataracts) and for dogs to be tested prior to breeding a litter, as well as renal dysplasia (improper development of the kidneys). In one corner there were three stands: standard, giant, and miniature schnauzers. The mini breed suits our small property more and is more similar in size to our previous dog.

The schnauzer fur is wirey as opposed to soft, as the breed was bred to catch rats and it was inconvenient for the fur to get trapped in things. The wirey fur means that grooming would be a regular occurrence, which is not an issue for us, and no moulting which is ideal for those with allergies. Companion dogs, apparently making ideal family pets, we were told schnauzers are more likely to approach humans than other dogs in the park. Known to be very vocal but can be trained not to be at an early age. Apparently you need to train these intelligent dogs and be consistent too, as the breed can be known to rule their owners if the owners do not handle the dogs firmly. I suppose the hard work will pay off as these dogs can live up to 15 years. More information on the breed can be found here: http://www.theminiatureschnauzerclub.co.uk/

Sealyham terrier

Now this was a breed we hadn’t heard of before Discover Dogs. A vulnerable breed originally from Wales, Sealyham terriers were bred to catch badgers, and look like a jacked up westies with dropped ears. The dogs are flexible regarding energy levels: happy for to go on a 20 minute walk or four hour long walk, but not suitable for hiking. The Sealyham terrier is also good to sit with you on the sofa.

The breeders were lovely and very informative, which makes sense as they are trying to bring more awareness to this diminishing breed. One breeder informed us that the breed is generally quite healthy as they are not overbred like other breeds. On research a couple of disorders common in this breed are lens dislocation and degenerative myelopathy (non-painful progressive hind limb paralysis in older dogs). More information about the breed can be found here: https://www.midlandsealyhamterrierclub.co.uk/

All in all, it was a great afternoon spent learning and researching about potential dog breeds. Still inconclusive about what breed of dog we want, it’s hard to think on a clean slate when I think we already had the perfect dog for us. It’s a shame we never really knew for sure what breed Merlin was. But we enjoyed ourselves and I’m sure the dogs did too with all the strokes and belly rubs they got!

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