Ten Of The World’s Most Masculine Dogs
Mr Gregory Peck at home in 1949. Photograph by Mr Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos
Want a new best friend? Take your pick of these canine companions, from a smooth fox terrier to a stylish mongrel.
Ever since the day the first wolf decided he was fed up with having to chase and catch his dinner, and instead joined the chaps who were sitting by the fire, dogs have been our best mates. Even when we feel no one else understands, a dog always does – or at least appears to. It’s no wonder people invest so much in their choice of dog, because a man’s dog says a lot about him. Our dogs reflect the men we want to be; they have the strength, speed, courage, determination and kindness to which we aspire. A dog can be many things, but he will always be himself.
I believe a man should have a “real dog”. That means a dog who knows how to do things – an employable dog, one that may not need to work, but can if asked. He should be reasonably obedient, proud, fit and full of life. Read on to find out about 10 dogs whose looks and character speak volumes.
Anyone who’s enjoyed watching a smooth fox terrier running across a field will never look at another dog the same way. The dogs were very highly regarded in the early 1900s, but are now fairly rare. Perhaps the most elegant of all smaller dogs, they have highly charged, intense personalities and are endlessly courageous and fun. A well-trained smooth is an ideal travel partner, compact and easy to take places, calm and relaxed indoors if sufficently exercised.
Stubborn, stylish and full of character from a young age, their wiry coats and muscular builds make these dogs look robust and friendly. As such, an Irish terrier is the ultimate dog to take down the pub, if you can control it – they can be dominant with other males and need a master to show them a steady hand. The man who can master an Irish terrier sends a clear signal to the world: he can handle any task and has good taste.
For the man who likes a certain feline quality in his dog, this eccentric African breed could be a good choice. The only dogs that “yodel” instead of barking, basenji have an intense dislike for water, are mostly odourless and hardly shed, which makes them ideal for the house-proud man. They also tend to be very focused on their owners and mistrusting of others. Do be prepared to give a besenji plenty of excercise, though – this is a hunting dog, after all – or it may redecorate the place in your absence.
Formerly the breed favoured by Scottish aristocrats, deerhounds are keen hunters but kind in spirit; though big and powerful, they’re not aggressive. This is a dog fit for a king – at one time no man in the UK beneath the rank of earl was allowed to own one. They love companionship (keeping a pair is ideal) and require a lot of space in which to excercise.
The name alone is a good enough reason to get one. If dogs can be said to possess sprezzatura, then this breed has it. Spinone Italianos are a bit hairy, rugged without being macho, and correspondingly sound and generous. Unexpectedly elegant in the field, a spinone Italiano is good at his job, but still easygoing and not prone to making a fuss.
With good looks, brains and a great personality, this is a dog to admire. Arguably the smartest of dogs, with a work ethic that’s second to none, a collie is always running and looking for a challenge or a problem to solve. As such, it needs a master to match – this dog is not for couch potatoes.
A Japanese national treasure, akitas are derived from the bear-hunting dogs of ancient Japan and have long been associated with the samurai. It’s practically impossible to find a tougher, braver or better-looking dog, but they come with baggage, as good things often do. Fiercely loyal, they are largely uninterested in other people but alarmingly interested in dominating other dogs, especially those of the same gender. This is not a dog for someone new to the canine world, and the decision to get one should not be taken lightly.
Whippets may be skinny and a bit weird-looking, but they are also somehow rather majestic. This racehorse of a dog can outrun most other breeds, though tend to be calm house dogs. They come in beautiful shades and will embellish any apartment – if you remain unconvinced, just think of Mr Lucian Freud’s countless portraits of the breed. Like their larger cousin, the greyhound, they tend to look rather stylish in coats, and they always have the best leather collars.
Surely the kindest choice a man can make, they are usually the “breed” most in need of a home. While they represent the biggest risk, because you don’t know quite what you’re getting, the element of surprise is part of their appeal. Getting a mongrel is a bit like going on a blind date, albeit one that involves committing to a 15-year relationship before you’ve had time to get to know the other person. On the upside, mongrels are generally among the healthiest of dogs and as intelligent as any other. And, if you’re lucky, you may find yourself a real looker.
Terribly cute, and sometimes terribly stubborn, dachshunds are real characters with a strong prey drive and a terrific facility for work; they love nothing better than to follow a rabbit down its hole. Their size also makes them great travelling companions. Mr Pablo Picasso had a silky smooth one but I like the rugged, wiry-haired ones.