Slate actually wrote this headline: “Bulldogs Are Inexplicably Overrated. Why Not Adopt a Welsh Springer Spaniel?”
This chart from David McCandless compares a dog breed’s popularity to its “utility” based on intelligence, longevity, ailments typical for the breed, costs, grooming difficulty and how much it eats.
As for the headline: We can certainly attest to the quality of the Welshie. We had two, Puzzle and Nick, both raised by Mrs. Presteblog’s sister. Puzzle was a character beginning with her diagnosis of hip dysplasia, which ended her dog show/breeding days. She had spindly little back legs but an oversized chest. Due to her back legs, she couldn’t jump up, but she could jump out, and she had great ability to hit a part of her male owner that her male owner didn’t want her to hit. She wouldn’t bite, but she would ram you with her open mouth, usually drawing blood on the bridge of my nose.
Nick too was a character. He was a show dog, but ended up one point shy of champion status due to an unfortunate attempt to eat something frozen that he shouldn’t have attempted to eat. (You don’t want to know.) We’d take them on walks, and Nick, probably due to his show experience, would walk straight, while Puzzle would tack left and right like an America’s Cup yacht looking for wind. Nick also would fetch, while Puzzle lost interest about three-fourths of the way back.
Welshies are water dogs. Nick loved to swim. Puzzle did not, probably because of her back legs. Welshies also are hunting dogs. Or so we thought, until a parade where the local American Legion post fired their guns and the two of them became cowering fur-covered lumps of Jell-O. That’s also what Puzzle did during thunderstorms, to the extent of getting on our bed, which she wasn’t supposed to be able to do.
As for the other dogs on the chart … the West Highland White Terrier was my parents’ last dog. Small, but fierce, particularly when you got between her and her food. Dolly was preceded by Curly the English Springer, a dog that is, according to this chart, more popular but less utilitarian. There was a Newfoundland in the neighborhood; huge, but docile, though his drool threatened to drown Leo the Fat Chihuahua.
My aunt and uncle owned several hunting dogs — a golden retriever, an Irish setter and an English setter. Brandy was the golden; she might be the sweetest dog I have ever known, and a dog that loved to hunt though in her later years she needed painkiller shots to hunt. The setters once stayed the weekend with us. Having three girl dogs around pleased Nick. Having another dog not named Nick around made Puzzle really jealous. (Somewhere there is a photo of the four of them arrayed around me waiting for treats.)
Our current church has a chow — very s-l-o-w yet affectionate — and a part-German shepherd that makes toddlers look lackadaisical. Our previous church had Norman the yellow lab, who would dive for rocks at the bottom of Green Lake. Really.
The chart at the beginning is for purebred dogs. There are definitely reasons to adopt mixed-breed dogs too. The potential problem is that you don’t know what you’re going to get as far as dog behavior; you might get the best aspects of the breeds, and you might get the worst.