- Photography by Mr Benjamin Alexander Huseby
- Styling by Mr Dan May, Style Director, MR PORTER
- Words by Mr Oddur Thorisson
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 friends. In fact, perhaps they're our only real mates, with studies showing that they understand human communication better than any other animal does. As an ardent student of humanity, a dog knows more about us than we know ourselves. Even when we feel no one else understands, a dog always does - or at least appears to.
Our dogs have stuck by us through bad fashion moments and even worse personal times, and they continue to fill our hearts with joy on good days and comfort our troubled souls on bad ones. 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. They are our avatars, free of restrictions and inhibitions and unabashed in their powerful appetites. A dog can be many things, but he will always be himself.
Of course, some breeds are more masculine than others, and 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. He should make his owner look good. Read on to find out about 10 dogs whose looks and character speak volumes.
Mr Thorisson is a photographer and dog breeder based in Médoc, northwest of Bordeaux in France. oddurthorisson.com
Perhaps the most elegant of all smaller dogs, these 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 sufficiently exercised. The breed standard tells us they should "always be on the tiptoe of expectation" and indeed they are; "Bring it on, I'm ready" should be their slogan. Mostly white with beautiful tan or black markings, they look their best next to a handsome man in a tuxedo.
No other dog looks so right next to a man with a tweed jacket and a glass of whiskey. Full of character from a young age, even the puppies look as if they've got some tales to tell, and their wiry coats and muscular builds make them look as impressively robust as they are friendly. As such, it's the ultimate dog to take down the pub, if you can control it while you sip your Guinness. The man who can master an Irish terrier tells the world he can handle any task and that he has good taste.
The only dogs that "yodel" instead of barking, basenji have an intense dislike for water, are mostly odourless and hardly shed, making them ideal for the house-proud man in search of a handsome dog with the ability to hunt. They would suit a man with a highly developed sense of aesthetics, and who perhaps lives in a minimalist flat and owns lots of modern art. Be prepared to give it plenty of exercise, and understand that basenji tend to be very focused on their owners and mistrusting of others.
Formerly the breed favoured by Scottish aristocrats, deerhounds are keen hunters but kind in spirit. It 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, and they remain well-suited to men who live in large country houses. They also love companionship (keeping a pair is ideal) and require a lot of space in which to exercise. Nothing says "I've arrived" like entering a room flanked by a Scottish deerhound on either side. Especially if you're wearing a kilt.
The name alone is a good enough reason to get one. Just imagine being able to say, "My dog is a spinone Italiano." 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. Just imagine sitting in an armchair with one at your brogue-clad feet as you enjoy a bottle of Barolo.
The dog that has it all: looks, brains and a great personality. This is a dog to look up to and admire. Arguably the smartest of dogs, with a work ethic that's second to none, a collie is always running and always looking for a problem to solve. Constantly in search of a challenge, it needs a master to match - this breed of dog is not for couch potatoes.
A Japanese national treasure, akitas are derived from the bear-hunting dogs of ancient Japan and have associations with the samurai. It's practically impossible to find a tougher, braver or better-looking dog, but they come with baggage. Fiercely loyal, one-man dogs, they are largely uninterested in other people but alarmingly interested in dominating other dogs. This is not a breed for someone new to the canine world, but for the right person they are very special, loving dogs.
Whippets may be skinny and a bit weird-looking, yet they are also elegant and majestic - the anti-Doberman. They can outrun most other breeds yet are calm house dogs and like nothing better than to lounge on a sofa. They come in beautiful colours and will embellish any apartment - just think of Mr Lucian Freud's portraits of whippets. Like the greyhound, they look stylish in coats and always have the best leather collars. A whippet is perfect for a brooding, turtleneck-wearing poet, writer or antiques dealer.
Nothing advertises your political correctness quite like choosing a mongrel - usually the "breed" most in need of a home. While they also 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. On the upside, they are generally among the healthiest and most intelligent of dogs, and 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, which go well with a Harris Tweed jacket. A dachshund will get a lot of "Oh, so cute!" remarks from strangers, but will simply look them in the eye and say, "You can call me General".
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