Bichon Frise

This cheerful and companionable powder puff hails from the Mediterranean area; bichons traveled widely as companions for sailors, minstrels, and circus groups. Beginning in the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, they found favor with one royal European family after another, from Spain to Italy to France (King Henry III of France reputedly carried his bichon in a basket hanging from his neck). Bichons are the star performers of the dog world. Consummate entertainers, they love attention and can play and clown around for hours. The well-socialized bichon is friendly, resilient, and quick to learn. This, combined with a sturdy build, makes him an equally great buddy whether traveling or lounging at home. Despite his classification as a nonsporting dog, the bichon is a terrific little athlete that, with training, can excel at agility, K9 Nose Work, and Rally obedience. To give a Bichon Frise a home, search online for

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The Afghan Hound

This sleek, silk-coated aristocrat of the canine world was originally bred for life in rough mountainous terrain, but now spends more time at the doggie equivalent of the runway: the dog show. Afghans, like other supermodels, require a great deal of grooming and maintenance. A sighthound bred to catch deer, gazelles, and leopards, the Afghan boasts a top speed of 40 miles an hour and a 270-degree field of vision. The stunning exterior and strong personality of Afghans have inspired writers and artists all through history, not least Picasso, who depicted his beloved Afghan Kabul in both paintings and sculpture. Appropriately, the human companion of Prissy the Afghan in Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians is an artist. Who better to appreciate a dog as graceful as a ballet of swans? To re-home an Afghan, search online for a rescue group near you.

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The Cairn Terrier

This confident, active, tenacious little ragamuffin is the smallest of the Scottish terriers, and was originally bred for hunting rodents and small game like otters, foxes, and badgers. A Cairn’s paws are made to dig—literally. The front paws are bigger and flatter than the hind paws, making it easier for the dog to get into “cairns,” the rock dens where his quarry lived. Cairns also sport a weather-resistant outer coat, highly expressive ears, and enough personality to steal any picture. Case in point: the unforgettable Toto in The Wizard of Oz was a Cairn (“he” was a she called Terry). Quick to learn and always up for a game, Cairns are happiest when they get plenty of exercise and stimulation. Despite their modest size, they are terrific little athletes that, with patient training, can excel at agility, tracking trials, K9 Nose Work, and Rally obedience. To give a Cairn Terrier

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Dogs In The Spotlight: The Vizsla

 This Hungarian hunter can be found in smooth or wire-haired varieties. Standout characteristics     are grace, intelligence, friendliness, exercise addiction, a penchant for chewing things, and a strong dislike of alone time. The well-socialized Vizsla takes worship of his human family to a new level, something that has earned the breed the nickname “the Velcro dog.” Famous for the hunting skills he was originally bred for, the Vizsla embodies versatility. Rally, agility, flyball, obedience, tracking, and search & rescue, this dog can do it all and is at his happiest after a strenuous workout. Vizlas live by the dictum “run, don’t walk” so the breed is not for everyone. But if you’re an avid hiker or dog sport fan and have time to devote to training and companionship, the Vizsla is a stellar choice. And so pretty, too. To give a Vizsla a forever home, search online for the

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The English Cocker Spaniel

This dapper little gun dog was originally bred for flushing and retrieving small game. Don’t be fooled by her melting spaniel eyes and soft, feathery coat: the Cocker is an all-terrain dog and can be a handful to live with. Exuberant, strong-willed, and energetic, she needs lots of exercise and careful training. Cockers love having a job—something scent-related, preferably, otherwise anything demanding will do: agility, obedience, flyball, canine disc, etc. The well-socialized Cocker is affectionate and wants to be part of all family activities. Beware the noise, though, she’s quick to alert to doorbells. (A Cocker Spaniel holds the world record for the most persistent barking: 907 times in ten minutes.) With her soulful expression, the Cocker is popular in arts and entertainment too, most famously in Disney’s enduring 1955 animated classic, Lady and the Tramp.   To give an English Cocker Spaniel a home, search online for nearby rescues.

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Dog In The Spotlight

Great Dane Like Danish pastry, the Great Dane is not from Denmark at all. The breed originated in Germany, but has roots in ancient cultures like China and Egypt. Great Danes are often called the Apollos of the dog world because of their regal appearance, but fanciers will tell you “the world’s biggest lapdogs” don’t stand on ceremony. Great Danes are legendary leaners who enjoy nothing more than to rest their impressive bulk against the legs of their favorite people. Playful and trainable, Great Danes are popular family dogs, but their strength—and guard instincts— shouldn’t be underestimated. While not the fastest ballretrievers, Great Danes still need plenty of exercise. They thrive on the stimulation of fun dog sports like agility, tracking, weight pull, and musical free style. Easygoing Great Danes often make wonderful therapy dogs, too. To give a Great Dane a home, search online for your local rescue organization.

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