He's awesome with dogs around his size and even a little bigger. And he's selectively good with some big dogs - he seems to like sheep dogs, most collies, and for the most part he's pretty good with shepherds.
However, he's really defensive with most larger dogs. Whenever a dog around 60+ pounds just comes up to sniff him he'll get really tense, give him a side-eyed look for about four seconds and then snap at the bigger dog. He doesn't go after it as if he's trying to be aggressive towards it, but I've also never seen him run away from a dog. It almost seems like he's trying to assert that he won't back off, almost like he's trying to just make sure none of the big dogs screw with him. He never growls or shows teeth, he keeps his mouth totally shut and will just kinda bite at the air and let out a heavy bark (most of you I'm sure have corgis who seem to have two barks - one of which sounds like a full size German shepherd, which is what he uses here).
He was always pretty good as a puppy/young adult, my friend had a visla around the same age and they would play together all the time when they were 8 months-1 year. He'd chase her around and play really well, no barking, growling, teeth, etc.
I'm wondering if this is kinda normal behavior for corgis... He hasn't had any experiences recently which would've caused this behavior as far as I know. When he was about 5 months I was walking him and an old, off-leash golden retriever with a bad attitude came at us pinned him down and was growling at him but I pulled it off quickly and like I mentioned he still had a fine attitude with larger dogs after that.
Anything I can do? Anything I SHOULD do? I don't know if this may be something normal due to their herding instinct making them controlling over larger animals or something. usually he has this problem with fellow males but there are also some females he's done this with.
He is in-tact. He's got very good history and receives constant praises on his build and outside of this (which began about 5-6 months ago) he's got perfect breed temperament, so I've been definitely considering breeding. But this worries me a little.
Well, it's certainly not uncommon for a smaller-sized dog to be intimidated by a dog that is much larger. I certainly know I've read quite a few instances of this issue among corgis on this site.
Even if it's a harmless behavior now, I, myself, would definitely work at correcting it before it gets out of hand. It's the type of behavior that could, under the right circumstances, lead to a fight. You'll want to start out with controlled meetings with dogs that you know will not react to him aggressively and work your way up to the more chaotic dog park greetings. There are lots of posts on here about how to work on fearful/aggressive behavior, so I recommend doing a search (or even a general internet search) on techniques for distracting him and correcting his behavior.
*Edit* - I just had to add, I think it's really cute how he likes the other herding breeds. :) Birds of a feather, I guess!
I call this behavior "snarking". The air-snap is a common warning. Some dogs add the bark, some don't. I have one who's snarky and one who is not.
Many dogs don't like on-leash greetings and it's my own feeling that all dogs have a right to protect their personal space. Is he more relaxed off-leash? If so, avoid on-leash meetings and let him interact with other dogs when he has more space to feel comfortable.
Actually for the most part he really only interacts with dogs off-leash, while we're at the dog park. It's a large park and has a side reserved for small and/or gentle dogs which I keep him on.
I do notice that he virtually always snaps while he's on a leash (and a bit more aggressive sounding), whereas he's probably 50/50 inside the park.
Just be careful and protect him from situations that make him uncomfortable. He is not behaving badly, he is giving appropriate doggie "please keep out of my face" signals. My girl will happily snark to protect her personal space while running and playing in a group of other dogs, and the other dogs are generally not bothered by it (and unfortunately don't always respect her back-off signals, which makes her signal more). However, on rare occasion, another dog (always a female) will start to argue back. If the other dog is much bigger Maddie just backs off. If the other dog is around her size, it might result in a loud argument. This has happened maybe 2 or 3 times in the 2+ years we have had her, so I always watch her around new dogs to see how it goes and find she requires a more calm, controlled intro.
Jack does this rarely and only when another dog is very rude. Funny thing is, when Jack does it EVERYONE listens to him and I've never seen another dog not back off. So there is a lot more to the signaling than what meets our human eyes.
I agree with this completely Beth. Our dogs air snaps (one of which is a VERY dramatic action, I call it OVER dramatic) results in very little acknowlegdement from other dogs. One of ours actually does this and then tends to follow that dog and continue to do it. One reason we hate dog parks is we have not quite figured out this behaviour. My real concern is that these air snaps and whining about personal space will escalate into a fight - although in thee years the dogs have never done this to a dog who has even paid attention to this behaviour. They seem to know which dogs will react and which won't.
We fostered a senior corgi who walked into the dog park and a path cleared for her. Every single dog respected her. I have never seen anything quite like it. The hyperactive, jumpy dogs bowed down to her. If one (very very rare) did approach she gave one under her breath growl and you better believe they left right away. My dogs certainly do not have what she has. She now lives with a large doberman and a husky. We went to visit and not much has changed. The large dogs are scared to go out the door or inside in front of her. She is the Queen of her own little world! I wish my guys were capable of having such authority :)
My cardigan sometimes acts the same way with large dogs but I wouldn't call it "normal" behavior. I consider it reactive behavior. He's uncomfortable with the other dog being close so he makes a big loud showy spectacle of himself in order to try and get the thing that's worrying him to move away. For me the best thing I've done is to work on desensitizing and counter-conditioning him to the things that he's make him anxious. It's not an overnight fix but I have seen serious improvement. These are just a few quick links but there is plenty of info out there: http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/14/Desensitization-and-Counte... http://reactivechampion.blogspot.com/search/label/counter%20conditi...
There is also a lot more to breeding than just having a dog with a good temperament (and if he's reactive to some dogs that's not what I would call a perfect temperament, personally). Do you know his strengths and weaknesses structurally in order to match him with a complementary bitch? Has he been health tested for his hips, CERF, DM, etc? These are all things you would need to know and do if you want to be a responsible breeder. Otherwise I would have him neutered.
I definitely intend to have everything checked professionally if I decide I'm comfortable breeding him but as far as everything I can check/observe myself he's great. He's got very good hips.
I'm considering leaving him in tact regardless of breeding... I really love his feisty personality from a pet-owner perspective, it makes him a blast to live with. Maybe that's a bit selfish, though. Is it that bad of an idea to leave him in-tact to maintain his personality if I decide not to breed him? Or at least for that matter how big of a change would be expected having him neutered at this age?
The tests I mentioned are not something you can check yourself, and normally would not be apparent in a young healthy dog. That's why it's so important that they are done before breeding. There's no way you can definitively say his hips are good unless you have had them certified with the OFA, or at the very least x-rayed with a professional's opinion. Even a dog with no apparent health issues can fail a hip x-ray.
Neutering him will not change his personality. He may become a little less intense, but that certainly wouldn't be a bad thing if he is reactive around other dogs. There is little risk health wise keeping him intact, but definitely a lot more responsibility.
I find the behavior you describe not only appropriate, even laudable. For whatever reasons (maybe it has to do ith the golden) he does not feel safe when a much larger dog approaches him and, instead of being aggressive, he is simply giving a warning to keep the other dog from thinking he is an easy target. He is not looking for trouble, he is trying to avoid it, which is particularly commendable in an intact male. I have heard of many dogs attacked at dog parks over the years and do not find his behavior at all unreasonable. The problem is that another dog may mis-interpret his signals and you could end up with a fight, or you may actually come across a big dog with attitude that could make your dog's fear come true. If he were my dog, I would heed to his comfort level and not force him to deal with this kind of situation.
As for breeding, although I find nothing wrong with his temperament, I'm with Jane in all else she writes about. IMO anyone who wants to be a breeder (and just one litter makes you a breeder) needs to do all the checking that is recommended for their breed by the respective breed club and make sure that who your dog is bred to has done the same, in addition to having good temperament and general soundness. Also there is responsibility to see that the offspring go to good permanent homes, and can be kept as long as needed to find suitable homes, regardless if you own the female or the male. There are too many homeless dogs to make more dogs just because it seems appealing. There is definitely a place for responsible breeding and you can choose to go that route, but it does require some thought and committment. Neutering your dog, if you choose to do that, will not change his personality.
I'm not saying that a dog shouldn't be able to give warning signs and tell off other dogs, certainly not. In Luke's case his reaction is sometimes really over the top compared to a relatively mild trigger/stimulus, which seemed to be what the OP was describing with his own dog. That to me I consider to be some level of reactivity and something that could be worked on and improved. Luke only seems to draw even MORE unwanted attention to himself when he gets worked up, and helping him to learn to be more relaxed in these types of situations is definitely something I feel is important.
My pem can be snarky too, but I would not consider him reactive by any means because when he does snark it is totally appropriate for the situation.
Yes! When Sidney turned about three, he started snarking at bigger dogs (over about 50 pounds I guess). He's fine nose-to-nose, but as soon as the dog sniffs his back end, he reacts to it. In his case, I KNOW his hips hurt him. He was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at age 3, had surgery (a year ago) and will have lifelong arthritis. The snarking started when he was recovering from surgery. He plays really well with dogs his size or smaller, so I keep him in the "small dog" side of the dog park.
When we encounter another leashed dog on a walk and it seems they want to approach each other, I speak reassuringly to Sidney. If they greet and Sid doesn't snark, I give him lots of praise. If he does snark, I can just pull him away and give him his space.
If we are walking and someone is walking their dog off-leash (grrr!), I won't let Sid get close to them. I'll go into side street or driveway and ask the owner to not let their dog near us. If Sid should snark and the other dog reacts and a fight starts, there would be no control over the unleashed dog. He was taken down and pinned on his back by a boxer that came running out of her garage as we walked by, and that was terrifying for both of us!
I think Sid is truly nervous of a large dog near his hips, and it does seem he's setting his boundaries. I am grateful for this post and for the responses; it's reassuring that Sid is not being mean or "bad".