You see a lot of Border Collies and Australian Shepherds on the agility course, so people sometimes mistakenly think that agility is only suitable for certain breeds. This could not be further from the truth.
We had a chat with Hungarian OneMind Dogs Coach Anna Eifert, who competes with her Bull Terrier Dú. Anna is the only person in Hungary to have an individual Agility World Championship medal (she placed 2nd place in category large in Basel, 2006). Anna has a lot to say about why agility is great for many different types of dogs.
What kind of qualities does a dog need to have to do agility?
“The dog needs to be healthy and have a healthy body structure. That’s all. You can do agility with every dog, but you might need to teach them differently. ”
Why do dogs enjoy agility?
“Agility is all about playing with your dog; of course they enjoy it! We always reward the dogs by giving them their favorite toys or treats. It makes your relationship with your dog so much stronger. Agility is beneficial psychically and mentally for both of you. It just makes your everyday life better!”
I have a German Shepherd/Corgi/Poodle, can we still do agility?
“Yes! Competitions and results are not relevant. If you can get 100% out of your own dog, you are a winner in my eyes. And if you compete, you compete with yourself. But you don’t need to compete at all to have fun with your dog - it’s perfectly all right to just train.”
I have a mixed breed dog, can we still do agility?
“Yes! The FCI Agility World Championships is the only event you can’t enter with your mixed breed dog, because FCI is a breeding organization. But you can, for example, enter the FCI Agility European Open, which has more teams than the AWC and is open for everyone.“
Would agility be good for a rescue dog?
“Yes! I have many friends with rescue dogs doing agility very well. In my opinion, these dogs won the lottery - they get to have such a beautiful and fun life with their new owner. Agility challenges them and helps them to adjust to normal life.”
My dog has short legs, can we still do agility?
“Yes, if you let your short-legged dog jump a very low height. In fact you can always choose the best jump height for your dog. Nobody will force your dog to jump 40 or 60 cm, if she does not have the legs for it. In the US, there are a lot more jump heights (from 8 to 24 inches), so you can easily compete with a Corgi. In most European countries, we only have three jump heights, which in my opinion is not fair. Finland will have five jump heights starting next year.“
What kind of dogs can you NOT do agility with?
“I think the only breeds that are not ideal for agility are very heavy dogs, like Mastiff type dogs. But it also depends on how you train. I have seen a Mastino Napoletano in France running agility. In France there are four classes and the D class is for special breeds like Mastiffs and Rottweilers. They only jump 40 cm.“
Why are so many agility dogs Border Collies - is this the best breed for agility?
“When you compete at a high level, you need a good “vehicle”. If you want to win a Formula 1 race, you need a Formula 1 car. You can’t win with a Jeep or Trabant. In category large, Border Collies are the F1 cars. Their body structure, speed and the history of the breed make them perfect for agility. In medium and small, you have more choices: Shelties, Poodles, Parson Russell Terriers, Pyrenean Shepherds and Spitzs can all be very competitive. “
What's YOUR favorite dog breed to do agility with?
“If your relationship is good enough and you love your dog, it doesn’t matter! I’ve run mixed breeds, Belgian Shepherds, Schipperke, American Staffordshire Terriers, Border Collies and Bull Terriers, and I love them all! I’m a much better trainer now that I run my Bull Terrier. If I didn’t know the OneMind Dogs Connect Commit Cue method, I would not be able to run agility with her. This experience allows me to help people with special breeds to have fun with agility!“