Dogs and the cottage go hand in hand. Any dog can be a great cottage dog, it just depends on your personal interests and preferences. Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle can be the difference between enjoyable visits and frustration. If cottaging plays a big part in your life—and we know it does!—consider the following five factors when picking your canine cottage companion.
Is your cottage right on the water? Do you spend most of your time swimming or boating? Then a water-loving dog might be the perfect choice. Researching a breed’s traditional purpose will give you a clue about their comfort in water. For example, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers were developed to lure and retrieve water birds for hunters leading to an innate love of the water.
Also, it’s a myth that all dogs can instinctively swim. Bulldogs, for one, are not natural swimmers. For safety, they usually need swim training and a personal flotation device. If boating and swimming with your dog are important considerations, ask potential breeders about their breed’s natural tendencies and abilities.
Dogs get wet, sandy, and dirty at the cottage. How much do you want that to impact your stay? Shorter-coated dogs like Labrador retrievers will dry faster and require less brushing than long-coated breeds like English springer spaniels. Also, some breeds, like poodles, tend to need regular trims. You can cut short your cottage time for a trip to a professional groomer or haul your grooming gear to the cottage for a do-it-yourself salon session. Or you can choose a breed, like the boxer, that needs little more than a weekly brushing.
Is your cottage open to the neighbours, waterfront, or road? If so, whether your dog will wander off is an important consideration. First, it’s unsafe. Second, your dog can become a nuisance to your neighbours. Happily, not all dogs share the same wanderlust. Some breeds are content to stay close to home. For example, golden retrievers and chihuahuas typically want to be within their owner’s sight. On the other hand, the sight hounds—greyhounds—and the scent hounds—beagles—are more prone to wandering away after the glimpse of a squirrel or the scent of a chipmunk.
The smallest breeds, like the Yorkshire terrier, are (for obvious reasons) easier to transport in the car and easier to fit in a boat, canoe, or kayak. But they might not be the best companions for intense activities like all-day hikes. On the other hand, larger breeds, like the mastiff, can take up half the cottage. (Got a one-room cabin?) But they can make great bike-ride buddies and carry their own backpack on a hike. Think about the size of your car and cottage as well as the activities you want to do with your dog. Then see what breed will fit best.
Certain dogs are more vocal than others. Some, like Bernese mountain dogs, tend to only bark when there’s a good reason. Others, like the Parson Russell terrier or terriers in general, seem to enjoy the sound of their own voices. If your neighbours live close by, a barking dog can become a point of contention. Not to mention, the constant noise can be frustrating for you as well. Although you can teach any dog a cue to be silent, if you want peace and quiet at the cottage, consider choosing a less vocal breed. It might mean a more pleasant visit for everyone, dog included.