Dog agility is a sport that has been around for a long time, allowing dogs to compete and show off their nimble skills while displaying obedience towards their owner or trainer.
There are many classes that can help a dog to learn these skills, and once they have, it can be an extremely rewarding moment to witness your own furry friend taking part in these competitions, showing the world what they are capable of.
Now, if you have clicked on this article, you may be looking at your pet, picturing them running around obstacle courses and following each instruction you give them, no questions asked… or, rather, barked.
But your dog isn’t purebred. Therefore, you are left to wonder: can any dog compete in agility? What are the requirements?
If these thoughts are running through your mind, jumping their own hurdles, then look no further: you’re in the right place, and we are going to help you.
Keep reading to discover whether your own pet can take part in agility, and if so, how they can train to become one of the best!
So, let’s run onto this obstacle course, and jump straight into it.
The Differences Between Pure Breeds And Cross Breeds
Let’s start with the basics.
Purebred dogs are exactly what they say on the tin: they or their previously-born family members have never been crossed with any other breed, being born from a closed gene pool.
These dogs’ ancestry are known, and to a certain extent, their characteristics and mannerisms can generally be predicted, and traced back to their particular breed.
There are currently over 350 known breeds recognized across the world.
Crossbred dogs, sometimes known as mutts or mongrels, were born from a mix of breeds, and are becoming more and more popular in recent years.
The most popular crosses of this generation tend to be mixes of Poodles with other breeds, resulting in the creation of Goldendoodles, Cockerpoodles, and many others.
Your dog may be the result of a first generation (F1) breed: for example, an F1 Goldendoodle would be the offspring of a purebred Golden Labrador and a purebred Poodle.
A second generation (F2) would be the child of Goldendoodles that have been crossbred over time.
An important thing to remember is that while the characteristics of purebred dogs can be predicted before birth, the same cannot be said for cross breeds: their genes can be more difficult to foresee without proper testing due to their existence not, technically, being natural.
However, the result of crossbreeding can often mean increasing genetic variation, and can reduce inbreeding depression.
Purebred dogs are generally more expensive than cross breeds, and this is down to their lineage.
It is easier to research the traits of a purebred due to, as previously mentioned, it being easier to confidently know their future characteristics: this is a little bit more of a gamble when purchasing a cross breed.
The Best Breeds For Agility Training
As we said previously, there are over 350 known breeds across the world, which is a lot.
As most breeds have known characteristics that they tend to display, there are certain breeds that have been known to take to agility training easier than others.
The dog breeds that you will most likely see taking part in agility courses are Border Collies and other types of purebred sheepdogs: these breeds also usually tend to go on and win these competitions.
This is due to them generally being highly intelligent creatures with high levels of energy, and while they can be difficult to train at first due to them being so energetic, they are known to be fast learners, and are often eager to learn new tricks.
Other breeds that have been known to quickly adapt to training for agility courses are Retrievers, Spaniels, and Terriers.
However, no matter what breed your dog is, the most important thing to take into consideration is that they will need to be disciplined from a young age: this is important to consider whether you intend to train them for competitions, or you simply just want them to behave well overall.
It is not as simple as just entering a Border Collie into a competition and expecting them to win purely because of their genetics: they, just like other breeds, will need to go through excessive training for the best end results.
This will take patience for both you and your dog, no matter what breed he or she is, although some breeds will learn faster and easier than others.
How To Train Your Dog
There is no quick or simple answer to this question. No matter what breed your dog is, it will take time and patience to prepare your furry friend for any kind of competition.
Your best bet is to enroll them into a training program, of which there are many to choose from, and there should be several in or surrounding the area that you live in.
You can use the internet or self-help books to guide your along your journey if you wish to save money and train your dog yourself, although this will definitely be more difficult and will take longer if you have no previous experience.
The earliest age that it is recommended to start training your puppy for agility competitions is eight weeks old, starting with tunnel training, and some simple flatwork, which includes simply training your dog to walk at your side and heel when instructed.
By beginning to train your puppy from a young age, they will learn to adapt quicker and will become more successful by the time they reach adulthood, having already learnt the basics.
However, you shouldn’t expect your pet to be able to successfully complete an obstacle course until they are, at least, 12 to 18 months of age. Agility training is hard work, and can be intense for a puppy and their tiny legs!
You will need to wait until they have fully grown until they will be able to complete courses successfully, as they will need the full length of their legs to complete high jumps and to run as fast as they can.
Can Crossbred Dogs Compete In Agility?
So, swiftly returning to the original question, the simple answer is: usually, yes. All breeds, whether they are pure or mixed, can compete in many agility competitions.
It doesn’t matter if your dog is small, large, or anything in between: if properly trained, your dog has a chance of competing in these competitions, and even winning.
In this day and age, a dog does not have to be a purebred to compete in most competitions, meaning that if you have a mutt of your own, they have every right to take part if you would like them to!
Unfortunately, this has only been made the case very recently.
In 2009, the Canine Partners Program was created, and they made it so that cross breeds could be allowed to participate in most AKC events, including agility.
There are still many organizations that do not allow cross breeds to compete, as there are several conditions that a dog must meet in order to take part.
The breeds that have the most difficulty being accepted in these events are wolf hybrids. Also, your dog would need to be spayed or neutered in order to participate in most competitions, and may be turned away if they are not.
There are many things to consider if you wish to enter your pet into one of these competitions, and it is best if you do your own research for whichever individual competition you are interested in.
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