Dog agility is a zealous sport in which the training and handling of dogs is put to the test.
Racing against the clock, participants instruct their canines to perform challenging exercises, with the goal of being the fastest on the course. Among the strenuous feats are pole weaving, tunnel running and hurdle jumping. Agility competitions are fast becoming a popular spectator event.
Which Dogs, in General, Excel at Agility?
If your dog comes from a working breed and has a medium build, his odds of winning are better than those of other dogs.
While certain breeds may seem more naturally suited to the sport, more than 150 breeds have shown their sometimes surprising ability to perform well. (Also, mixed breeds are accepted by all agility clubs, except for the AKC.)
In general, dogs that are physically active, full of energy and have a desire to please seem to be among the most successful dogs in agility competitions. Another good candidate: that head-strong pup that seems to get into trouble every time your back is turned, or that gets bored easily.
Which Breeds Aren’t So Successful?
Great Danes and mastiffs, to name two, tend to be energy-less at agility training. Boxers and Bulldogs may not do so well in activities that require lots of heavy breathing, while the short-legged Dachshunds may have difficulty with the jumping exercises.
Other factors in determining a dog’s potential for agility competitions include age and temperament. Usually, puppies younger than 9 months and dogs 8 years old and up are not allowed to compete.
As for shy dogs, although they may never overcome their fearfulness enough to succeed in the competitions, they can still benefit from taking part in them. It will help boost their self-confidence while letting them have fun.
Top 10 Dog Agility Breeds
Here’s my personal ranking of the top 10 dog agility breeds:
- Border collie
- Jack Russell terrier
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Kelpie
- Standard poodle
- Shetland sheepdog
- Pembroke Welsh corgi
- Rat terrier
- German Shepherd
You’ll repeatedly see those breeds at the top of competition leaderboards.
Check out this video:
Is Your Pup the Next Star?
Most dogs need six to nine months of daily, hard-core training before they are ready for the challenge. Your pet should be able to obey basic commands (sit, heel, stay, down) before you even think about agility training. Once your pet has those commands down at home, he should be ready to begin prepping for the real deal.
So if your dog moves fast, jumps gracefully, obeys commands and is the star of the neighborhood, consider agility training for him. Who knows? He may be a winner — not only in your eyes but in the world of competitive sports.