Our dogs today have the same genetic material as the wolf; same DNA, same behaviors albeit modified. Over thousands of years humans have altered the dog to their liking. Being that there are so many humans doing the altering we have landed with hundreds of breeds and mixes in our world today. But they all came from the same genetic stuff.
Over all the years of conformation showing, training and photographing dogs I have not met all the breeds but I've sure met alot of them and it is surprising how different they can be; but at the sametime very similar. The most obvious difference is where the humans have intervened, exterior image and general interactions with humans themselves. When I meet new breeds I am full of questions; I am usually dealing with longtime breeders so they have the clear and concise answers I am looking for.
Aside from the visual differences there are the differences in submission to humans, being how easily they follow direction and their drive. Many of the small companion type breeds have had their drive reduced to nearly none. Watching dogs interact with birds and small rodents; it is clear to see the behavior selection process in breeding. Many breeds have been selectively bred to think on their own; take the Australian Cattledog, they need little or no guidance in their job and thus can be difficult to have follow our rules.
Then there is the submission; I am not talking about turn over, belly up submission, I am referring to taking orders in general. I have been around many dogs who continually growl and baulk at orders given; these dogs seem to be closer to the wolf than the other more pliable breeds. And although they are built from the same genetic material it is in the selection that keeps these strong behaviors intact. These natural behaviors of different breeds are very important; very important to know about when you are choosing certain breeds.
I know myself enough to know that I do not want a continual dominance challenge for the life of my dog. I like drive but do not want to deal with trying to curb it around every corner. Over thousands of years we have been modifying and tweeking dogs to our liking. Some breeds have kept their "wild" side, some show none of where they once came. This is where the terms "soft" and "hard" dog comes from. And they vary from mush; everything in between and all the way up to titanium.
There is as much difference between humans; when the perfect match gets together it is a wonderful thing. But far too often the wrong dog ends up with the wrong human through no fault of the dog. Knowing yourself is as important and knowing the dog to find a good match.