I’m a dog-lover through and through. When we were small, my brother and I learned the names, breeds and characters traits of all the dogs in the neighbourhood, a tradition I’ve carried on to this day. Like any enthusiast, I’ve picked up all kinds of trivia about different breeds and I can tell you what I love about each one. Pick a favourite, though? Impossible.
Over the last few weeks I’ve channeled my love into paintings of some gorgeous (and ugly-cute) breeds. Read on for illustrations, stories, and prints of these lovable doggos.
This was my dog growing up. A blue merle Aussie named Toby (original, I know) with the self-assigned job of herding the neighbourhood kids and dogs back to their parent or owners. He was the perfect Australian Shepherd: sturdy, smart, not especially social but fiercely loyal. Loud and bossy, yet gentle enough for year-old babies to climb all over him.
A friend of mine calls this “the most loved breed”, and he’s not wrong. Although bred to collect dead ducks for hunters, Retrievers these days are best know for their relaxed good nature, puppyish demeanour and insatiable appetite for cuddles.
Something was bugging me while I painted this one: is it a German Shepherd, or an Alsatian? What’s the difference? Are they different? And where do King Shepherds fit into all this, anyway? Here’s what I found out.
A German shepherd is the same as an Alsatian, although there’s a LOT of debate around the internet on this point. In the mid-1970s, German Shepherds were crossed with Alaskan malamutes by Tina Barber to create the Shiloh shepherd, a larger and gentler breed.
Then, in 1990, breeders Shelley Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer started experimenting with different crosses, pairing the German shepherd with Great Pyrenees, Alaskan Malamute, and sometimes Akita dogs. The result: a large, gentle hybrid working dog known as a King Shepherd. Neither Shiloh Shepherds nor King Shepherds are recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the both have breed standards and clubs.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Technically a herding breed, Corgis were developed to herd sheep, cattle, and horses. This boggles my mind. These bread loaf dogs with their adorable stumpy legs, running around after horses?
When I sat down to paint this series, I knew I wanted to start with Dalmatians. What other breed could make such dramatic impact as these black-and-white spotted coach dogs? I get why Cruella de Ville yearned for a Dalmatian coat of her own . . . but really, the dogs wear it better.
I love this breed because they’re so ugly (yes, I said it) that they come out the other side into “cute” territory. How does that even work?
I once had a boss who would bring his bulldog Roxy to work, and that b*tch strutted around like she owned the place. Wheezy, cranky, rather stinky, she managed to pull the whole mess together and con us into giving her treats. That’s the power of ugly/cute.
Okay, I confess, it took me a minute to warm up to this breed at first. What can I say? I have a bias toward big dogs. But then I met this 10-week-old Frenchy named Bill and he was the cutest little potato I’ve ever seen. I mean, his owner could hold him in one hand while he wiggled ecstatically, and who could resist that? You win, little Bill.
Thanks for reading!