The Non-Expert


Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we cover the many different kinds of canine companions you could choose to collar as “your best friend.” Except for schnauzers.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: My boyfriend and I just moved from downtown Seattle to outside Phoenix, Ariz., and bought our first home. It even came with a small backyard and we figure, we can **finally** get a dog. (Yea!) But here’s the rub. He wants a Labrador, and I want a beagle. Help!—Anna E.

Answer: Before you let a dog drive a wedge between you and your boyfriend—though it will eventually, we guarantee—you should first consider your options. After all, though we may all agree your boyfriend is a dog at heart, a real canine companion will never leave your side. But before we really start taking sides, let’s try to compromise on your choice of pooch. Here, then, is the woof and bark on some popular degrees of pedigrees.


No dog’s more fastidious and vain than a poodle. Just look at it, reclining in its $4,000 bed, ivory curlers in its hair, reading Le Monde. And look at its owner, doing the very same thing. Many prospective dog owners are attracted to poodles for their regal, supposed Gallic attitude, and because they don’t shed. If only they knew the poodle was already in the market for an owner with more stable follicles, a working knowledge of French, and the good sense to stop urinating in its favorite drinking fountain.

It will never love you.

Suggested Name: “Beau” or “Fifi”


Yip! Oh, beagles sure do like to bark a lot—Yip! Yip! The beagle is a cute, bouncy bundle of joy. That is, until it starts to bark, incessantly, earning you a stack of nasty notes from your neighbors and a landlord that’s only counting the days until your lease expires. Yip! Yip! Yip! Arrgh… Why do beagles bark so much? What are they trying to say?

—More food!

—Time for a walk!

—You and I, owner, will soon be evicted. And then we shall thrive together in the wild, as dog and human were meant to, together. Hold my paw.

Suggested Name: “Rascal”

German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls

A class of dogs that with a bad rap as little more than digestion engines for frail, human flesh. These are the canines that once inspired fear in child-filled neighborhoods, but who were accepted eventually as just friendly dogs with a nasty reputation. Maybe some were trained to be vicious, but that was really just a misunderstanding. They like to spend time around junkyards, or cock-fighting arenas—who doesn’t?

The jury is still out, however, on the pit bull, which has a gland in its face that can sense fear. Shame, that.

Suggested Name: “Mandy”

Bulldogs, Dachsunds, Shar-Peis

It takes a lot of work to evolve from a wolf to a dog with a face that drags on the ground and legs the size of salt shakers. But because there was no evolutionary need for such a dog, it fell to the scientific community to eke out a solution.

Employing a highly specialized form of breeding, called “inbreeding,” early canine owners were able to create a dog with a single leg protruding from its belly, another with four prehensile tails, and one that could actually move objects with its mind. All experiments ended when the subject dog mauled the scientists after it got a good look at itself. Thus, the only experimental dogs left were those with either too much flesh in their faces to get a good bite, or those too short to do any real damage.

Note: If you are one of those people who think dogs look like their owners, and you want one of these dogs, we are very, very sorry.

Suggested Name: “Exhibit A”

Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas

The only thing better than a dog that can speak English is one with a SAG card. So choose the pooch that will make your friends exclaim, “It’s Lassie!” or, “Isn’t that the dog from Frasier!” Or maybe they’ll think about ordering a Mexi-Melt.

Even if your pet isn’t the well-known one from television, you can stand proud in front of your friends, pretending to yourself and your pet that, yeah, this is a famous dog. And, yeah, that makes you famous too…

Suggested Name: “Lassie” or “Eddie” or “Taco” (Seriously, it’s OK; whenever anybody stops Kelsey Grammar on the street they still yell out, “Frasier!”)

Sheepdogs, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards

Class: Dogs bred to do jobs that were eventually made redundant. Still, they still find a place in our hearts and our homes—as lay-abouts. They’re still chomping at the bit, though, to get back into some steady employment, so there’s no reason you can’t put them back to work.

You may not have a flock that needs attending, but maybe a sheepdog can get your kids to eat breakfast before the bus arrives. You don’t need a downed rabbit brought back to your hutch, but someone who could fetch your lover’s underwear at a snap might come in handy every once in a while. And, of course, you can fill that tiny barrel around your Saint Bernard’s neck with anything you please. We’re talking smuggling, here, people.

Suggested Name: “Scout”


So loved for their black-and-white coats, Dalmatians can often be seen padding around firehouses, or at least they can be in the surreal world of Norman Rockwell, who was known to sniff deep of his watercolors on occasion.

Not only are Dalmatians loved for their unique coloring, but also for their potent and noxious urine, which turns them from a child’s birthday present into a dog that finds a home at the local firehouse pretty quick.

Suggested Name: “Spot,” of course


Huskies are beautiful animals with thick, lustrous coats of fur that, come summer, make them want to gore themselves. One look in their crystal-clear blue eyes and you’ll see it. The thoughtful husky owner shaves his dog’s coat whenever temperatures climb above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The not-so-thoughtful ones better know how to plea-bargain—huskies have been known to survive on squirrel alone, without need of human-supplied kibble.

Suggested Name: “Sir” or “Ma’am”


Aye! The lovable Scottie dog! Is it Scottish? We don’t know! But it must be! After all, they’re all named “Lass,” “Whiskey,” “Aberdeen,” or “MacDog.” And their Scottish heritage is only reinforced by the tiny tartan bandana about their necks. Then, of course, it’s because they look Scottish. But wait, it’s a dog.

Though that beard does look an awful lot like one Mr. Connery’s sported on film, doesn’t it?

Suggested Name: Sean


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack