Editor's Note: This column does not reflect the views of The Michigan Daily and recieved strong objections from multiple editors, who were probably offended on behalf of their dogs.
If there is one thing I stand by in this world, it is this: Not all dogs are cute.
Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. I have a dog and she is absolutely adorable, but that doesn’t mean your dog is cute. Many people may take offense to this take — how could I insult man’s best friend, a creature we hold so dear? But with this opinion I must be unapologetic, because there is a clear hierarchy in the cuteness of dogs, and if you disagree, you are not only wrong also but lying to yourself.
Admittedly, I often lie to people and give out inauthentic “awws” at not-that-cute dogs, partly out of politeness, but mostly to avoid an incredibly awkward argument. I even lie to my friends who are aware of my specific dog opinions. It is easier to tell them their dog is top-tier and gush over photos than it is to consistently offend them.
You may find my dog ranking system to be the worst opinion you have ever heard. You may be personally offended on behalf of your dog, but on some level, you probably know that I am right. I am here to speak the truth in this column.
Regarding the system itself, it is impossible to numerically rank every single dog breed, especially when considering the variety of dogs and mixed-breed dogs. Instead, my system focuses on a three-tier ranking stratified into top-tier, middle-tier and bottom-tier dogs. Some dogs land in between tiers (for example, I often tell my friends that their dogs are upper-middle-tier to make them happy, even if I think their dog is somewhat ugly).
My mental image of the typical bottom-tier dog comes from one specific dog: My grandmother’s. This dog is some sort of ambiguous mix of a Maltese, Bolognese or Bichon, but the overall idea is that it is small, white and ugly. This particular dog is overweight and incredibly lazy. It wobbles around my grandparents' house seeking attention, but I never really want to pet it because its tarnished white fur always looks unkempt and dirty.
This model can be applied more broadly to encapsulate bottom-tier dogs. Small white dogs tend to be at the absolute bottom of the list. They are ugly-looking and often have unfriendly and lazy personalities, which further minimize their cuteness.
From this framework, other bottom-tier dogs can be determined. Size and personality are weighted heavily in this classification. For instance, most terriers, Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are all clear bottom-tier occupants. The individual personality of a dog may improve its standing, but overall these types of dogs don’t have much to work with. Their size makes them more difficult to cuddle and play with. You could never go hiking or on any sort of adventure with this type of dog. And if your dog is inactive, why not just get a cat?
The middle-tier is the largest and least-defined sector of this ranking system. It is easy to throw any dog which you don’t want to directly call ugly but is not quite top-tier material into this middle-tier. Because of this, most mixed-breed dogs fall here (though some may still be bottom or top-tier).
Common middle-tier dogs include beagles, Labradoodles, anything with cocker spaniel influence and most mid-size to large shorthaired dogs. Mid-tier dogs typically tend to be larger, more active and have a wider range of personalities. There is also more hierarchy within the middle-tier itself. For instance, a pug would be at the bottom of the middle-tier, a corgi is the most average dog in existence (Reggie) and a labradoodle would be near the top of the middle-tier.
Whereas many bottom-tier dog owners will admit their dog is not the best, most people with middle-tier dogs will personally believe their dog is among the cutest in the world. These are the people who most need appeasement about the cuteness of their dog, and will constantly show photos to people. Owners of top-tier dogs can simply acknowledge a certain level of cuteness of the middle-tier dog while holding onto the knowledge of the superiority of their own dog.
The highest tier of dogs is an exclusive ring tending towards those breeds with active and smart personalities, larger dogs with longer hair and more pointed faces. Classic top-tier dogs include: golden retrievers, German shepherds, huskies, border collies (and other sheepdogs) and Bernese mountain dogs.
As an owner of a top-tier dog, I can speak from experience. To know if you have a top-tier dog ask yourself this: Do you often see your dog breed featured in movies or commercials? Do people genuinely fawn over your dog pictures, or are they feigning out of politeness? Is your dog genuinely intelligent? (For instance, mine knows a series of complicated tricks and has an understanding of the world and my family life.) Does your dog have a good personality, or is it lazy or rude?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, you still may not have a top-tier dog. The top tier is reserved for truly remarkable dogs, and most people are not good at subjectively assessing their dog’s quality. If you really want to know where your dog falls in the ranking, follow me on Twitter (@lydiamurray97) and send me photos of your dog and I will provide the unfiltered truth.
We have arrived at a culture with groups like Dogspotting, where we are expected to react to every dog like it is a gift to the world. Society expects us to hold all dogs in some high regard without any real critical thinking about the individual quality of each dog. We act as if all dogs are beautiful and perfect when in reality many dogs are fairly average or simply bad. I say we must reject that model and accept the world as it is: Not all dogs are cute.