Games of fetch with the family pet are always a great way to bond, have fun and burn off some energy. For many of us, this is even more fun when a Frisbee is involved, especially if we can get our dog to catch it in mid-air. Many of us see ourselves like Bart Simpson with his two differently-able dogs. We have hopes of a dog like Laddie, expertly catching the Frisbee and throwing it back, but sometimes the reality is more like Santa’s Little Helper, with the dog just dumbly sitting there as it hits them in the face. Clearly, some breeds are better suited to this sport than others, so what are the best Frisbee dogs and can any family pooch learn? Let’s look at the 5 best breeds and take a closer look at why they are so well suited to the game. After reading this article don’t forget to read our article on training your dog to catch a frisbee!
5 of the best breeds of Frisbee dog.
1) Border Collie
It will come as little surprise to see this breed first on the list. The Border Collie Frisbee dog is perhaps the one best suited to the sport because of its genetics, build and desire to please. They are one of the smartest, most loyal dogs around and will play the game for hours on end.
Here is a good book if your thinking of training or buying a border collie:
2) Golden Retriever.
The Golden Retriever makes this list for similar reason to the Border Collie. They may have different roots and energy levels, but the desire to play and please an owner is strong. There is also the fact that this is one of the sweetest, most popular family pets around, so many will be trained with a Frisbee.
Here is a good resource for Golden Retrievers:
3) Labrador Retriever
Some Lab owners may question this as they don’t see their pet as a smart, athletic dog. Often this is down to misconceptions by the owner and the dog’s home life, rather than their genetics. When trained well and kept trim, these dogs can play Frisbee pretty well for hours on end. They also happen to love the game a lot.
Here are some good resources for Labrador Retrievers:
4) Australian Shepherd Dog
Much like the Border Collie, and many other lean shepherd dogs for that matter, the Australian Shepherd dog has proven itself as a keen, smart breed. It works well with its master out on the field and in competitions, while also being a loving family pet.
Here are some good resources about Australian Shepherds:
5) Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois may seem like a bit of a wildcard inclusion here because it is not a common breed. However, this smaller, agile cousin of German Shepherd dogs ticks all the right boxes when it come to finding the right breed for Frisbee. All of the factors below relate to this handsome working dog. If you still doubt that a Malinois has the skills, check out this video of Power the Belgian Malinois in action.
Here are some good resources about Belgian Malinois:
So what is it about these five breeds that make them the best Frisbee dogs?
One thing that you will notice about these breeds is that they share some clear similarities in their genetics. They may look like very different dogs on the surface, with years of breeding creating some very distinctive family pets. However, they all come from working stock, and this presents itself in a number of ways.
On one side we have the herding shepherd dogs. Yes, the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd Dog and Belgian Malinois all come from different places. However, they are all variants on working breeds that are out to please their master and keep track of stray animals. It is not just a fun game to catch up to a Frisbee and bring it back to their master. There is also a sense of duty and instinctive nature to bring it under control. This is why these three breeds such keen Frisbee dogs.
There is something similar going on with the instincts of the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Here the clue is once again within the name. These gun dogs are retrieving dogs bred to seek out fallen prey and bring it to their master. These animals live to please and are two of the breeds that love games of fetch the most. The act of catching a Frisbee and returning it isn’t much different to that of a ball or hidden object if their reward is the same.
Does this mean that all working dogs make great Frisbee dogs?
While the best Frisbee dogs around tend to be those that have that instinct to fetch, retrieve and appease a master, not all working dogs are built to catch a Frisbee. There are two other elements that these dogs tend to have in common, and why you are a less likely to see Dachshund or Mastiff catching one compared to a Border Collie. The first is athleticism. The skill of being a Frisbee dog comes in the ability to time the chase and catch the Frisbee in mid-air, rather than simply picking it up when it drops to the floor. The best Frisbee dog breeds have the energy, flexibility and jumping ability to get this just right. This is no surprise to those with lean collies and shepherd dogs that take part in fly ball and other games. Also, it explains why some overly-pampered Labradors can’t perform as well as their fitter cousins.
The other element here is intelligence. It is often the smarter dogs that prove themselves to be among the top Frisbee dog breeds, hence the common use of Border Collie Frisbee dogs. They need to have the sharp mind and reflexes to judge the flight of the Frisbee and know how to catch it. Slower dogs may jump and miss-time it. Dumb dogs may just watch it fly past their heads or worse, just like Santa’s Little Helper.
Can any breed learn to be a Frisbee dog?
If you have a keen canine best friend that isn’t one of these top Frisbee dog breeds, but you want to try and teach them, don’t give up hope. As long as they have the brains to learn, the physicality to jump and catch, and the desire to please you, they could succeed. Take the time to train them and reward them for their efforts. If they have the art of fetching down to a fine art, game of Frisbee could be the next logical step. Also, if you have one of these five breeds but aren’t playing Frisbee with them, what are you waiting for?
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references: https://www.dogshealthblog.com/best-frisbee-dogs/, https://www.dogshealthblog.com/best-frisbee-dogs/, https://www.reference.com/pets-animals/dog-breeds-frisbee-catching-2707f3dac1c03e69#.