Archive for December, 2014

Getting A Dog From A Breeder

If you are thinking of getting a dog from a breeder you will find that it is quite different from adopting a dog in most ways. Purebred dogs are intentionally bred for specific reasons. Each breed originally had a purpose, even if the dogs are no longer used for that purpose today. Breeders and breed clubs keep extensive information about their dogs, the history of the breed, and their health. If you are planning to get a purebred dog you should ask the right questions about the puppy or dog you’re considering, especially about the dog’s health. The knowledge available can help you choose a dog who has a better chance of living a long and healthy life.

Before you get a purebred dog
Before you get a purebred dog – or any dog – you should ask yourself some basic questions:

• Do you have time for a dog right now?
Dogs require lots of time and patience. They need love and attention, as well as training. You also have to make time to feed and groom them. Everyone’s excited about a dog in the beginning but you may have a dog for many years and you have to go on caring for them.

• Is it a good time to get a dog from a financial viewpoint?
Dog food and vet care get more expensive each year. In addition to vaccinations, your dog will also need flea and tick preventive as well as heartworm preventive on a regular basis. Dogs also need toys, chews, grooming supplies, beds, collars and leashes – the list goes on! Some breeds need to be professionally groomed every few weeks. Dogs also need training such as a class you take with your dog or an investment in books or CDs so you can train your dog yourself. All of these things add up in terms of dollars each year.

• What about your family?
If you have a spouse or family, are they on board with you getting a dog? No matter how much you love and want a dog, if your spouse or family are opposed to the idea, it can cause a lot of tension in the home. Maybe you have kids who swear they will take care of the dog. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Are you prepared to take care of the dog if your kids slack off?

These are some of the things you need to consider before getting any dog. There are other things, depending on the size and kind of dog you are interested in. For example, if you live in an apartment, consider carefully before getting a very large dog. Some large dogs, such as Greyhounds, can be very laid back and adapt to living in an apartment or small house, but they do require regular runs and exercise. But other large dogs do better with a yard of their own. Other dogs, even small dogs, do not do well in an apartment because they are active and they bark, such as Beagles. Make sure you know the pros and cons of any breed you are considering so you will know if it suits your situation.

Advantages of getting a purebred dog
There are some definite advantages to getting a purebred dog. Many things about a breed can be predicted with some assurance such as their usual temperament, how large they will become, what kind of coat they will have, their activity level, their instincts and what kind of things they will enjoy doing, and some things about their health. If you work with a good breeder you should also have an expert in the breed to help you throughout your dog’s life. This means that if you have any problems with your dog, you should be able to contact the breeder for advice. This can be very helpful with training, health issues, and other matters. Some breeders are even willing to board one of their dogs for you when you go on vacation if you keep in touch with them. Many people find that they develop good friendships with their dog’s breeder and return to the breeder years later when they are looking for another dog.

How to find a good breeder
The easiest way to find a good dog breeder is by contacting the breed club for the kind of dog you are interested in. You can visit the breeder referral search page on the American Kennel Club web site: http://www.akc.org/breederinfo/breeder_search.cfm This page lists all of the AKC breed parent clubs with links to their web sites. Visit the parent club for the breed you are interested in. The appropriate contact person can put you in touch with breeders who are expecting a litter.

You can also visit a local dog show when there is one in your area. Watch the show to find breeds you like. If you already know which breeds you like, watch them show and pick out which dogs you like. You can find the owners after they have finished in the ring. The owners and their dogs will be back in the grooming area after they have finished showing and you can speak to them then. (It’s best to wait until after people have shown when they are more relaxed.) Some of the people showing dogs are professional handlers but they can still provide you with information. Or find some of the owner-handlers to speak to. Ask them your questions about the breed. Most people are happy to be helpful.

Questions for breeders
Once you have found some breeders with puppies or dogs you like, you can contact them directly. Many breeders have web sites about their dogs so you can check them out online. This will probably give you some of the information you want. Questions that you should ask include:

• How long have you been breeding?

• How many dogs do you have?

• Tell me about your dogs. (Most breeders are happy to tell you LOTS about their dogs.)

• What kind of health tests have your dogs had? (You should already know which tests are common for the breed. Different breeds use different tests.)

• What were the results?

• What kind of contract and guarantee do your puppies have?

If you are interested in a puppy, you should say so. If you want a pet, you should say so. Do not tell a breeder that you want a top quality show prospect puppy when you don’t intend to show the dog. It’s not fair to anyone to lie about your intentions. A top quality show puppy needs to be shown so allow the breeder to place the puppy in the correct home. What’s the difference between a pet and a show puppy? It’s often something you would never notice. It could be something like a patch or the color of the markings. It doesn’t make the puppy inferior in anyway. It would just make the puppy less desirable as a show dog so the breeder wants to place the dog in a pet home.

Breeders also have adult dogs looking for homes sometimes so if you are interested in an adult dog, you should mention this fact. A breeder might have a retired male champion, for example, or they have decided they have too many dogs and they need to place one so they can keep a puppy. Breeders love their dogs and they will only place one of these dogs in a very good home, but if you are interested in an adult, go ahead and mention it.

As you can guess, people who call up and start off by demanding to know how much a puppy costs don’t usually get very far with a good breeder. You can expect a breeder to ask you a lot of questions about yourself and your home, too. They want to make sure they are placing their puppy or dog in the very best home possible. Some breeders will has to do a home visit first.

If you like a particular breed and you like knowing as much as possible about a puppy or dog before you get him, then getting a purebred dog is often a good choice. It also helps to work with a good breeder who is able to stand by the dog and answer your questions. No dogs are perfect, of course, but a purebred dog can make a great pet.

Popular Dog Breeds: Shih Tzus

The Shih Tzu originated in China where it was cherished by members of the royal family for over 1000 years. Always a house pet and companion, these compact dogs have a beautiful flowing double coat. They are one of the most popular breeds of dog in the United States today.

History
The Shih Tzu is an old breed, developed in China more than 1000 years ago. It seems likely that they were originally a cross between the Lhasa Apso (or the Tibetan mountain dog) and the Pekingese, two very ancient breeds. Information and images of Shih Tzu date from documents, paintings, and objects of art all the way back to 624 AD. The dogs have been associated with the Chinese court and royals for hundreds of years. They are the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs. They were housepets during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 A.D.). In the 19th century the Dowager Empress kept an important kennel that included Shih Tzu but following her death in 1908 the dogs were dispersed and breeding mostly stopped. All Shih Tzu today can be traced back to 14 dogs, some of which were brought to England. In England the dogs were first mistaken for Lhasa Apsos but they were soon sorted out and serious breeding began in 1930. The Shih Tzu Kennel Club of England was formed in 1935. They were admitted to the AKC in 1969.

Temperament
Shih Tzus are outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly, and trusting toward everyone. Although they look arrogant and proud with their long coat and their head held high, they are very sweet, loving dogs. They have always been kept as companions and house pets and that is still their function today. Although they don’t require a lot of exercise, they are lively, alert dogs and they are quite playful. The breed is very loyal and they love to be with their owners. They usually get along well with children and other pets. Although they are a small dog, they can stand up for themselves.

Appearance
The Shih Tzu is recognizable by its beautiful long, flowing double coat. The dogs usually have a topknot on their head to secure their hair out of their eyes – either a bow or a barrette. The dogs have a distinctive, arrogant carriage with their heads held high and their tails curved over their backs. Their coat can be any color. The luxurious coat does require daily brushing unless you choose to keep it cut short. They are sturdy, lively, alert dogs with a proud bearing.

In terms of height, the Shih Tzu is usually 9 to 10 ½ inches tall at the withers. They should not be less than 8 inches tall nor more than 11 inches tall. Mature dogs usually weigh between 9 and 16 pounds.

The dogs also have large, dark eyes and a short muzzle. Shih Tzus have an underbite.

Shih Tzus are often called “chrysanthemum-faced” dogs because of the way the hair grows around their faces.

Although Shih Tzus do not shed as much as some breeds, they are not considered to be a “hypoallergenic” breed.

Health
Shih Tzu tend to be a long-lived breed. Many dogs live between 10 and 20 years. A health survey for the breed in the UK puts the average lifespan at 13 years and 7 months.

As with other breeds, there are some health issues found in the breed. Some of these issues include: hypothyroidism, intervertebral disc disease, portosystemic liver shunt, hip dysplasia, and, occasionally, epilepsy.

The Shih Tzu is a brachycephalic breed (short-hosed) so they do not do well in hot weather. Do not leave your Shih Tzi outside when the weather is hot and do not force the dog to take part in strenuous exercise. Shih Tzu may also have problems breathing at high altitudes or in airplanes. They do best in cooler climates or in air conditioning.

Training
Because of their small size Shih Tzu are not usually trained for dog sports but they should learn some basic obedience and good manners. It’s a good idea to start training your dog as a puppy. Like many small dogs, a Shih Tzu can become quite bossy and badly-behaved in the home if you do not provide some training. Good socialization is important for a Shih Tzu, so be sure to take him places and let him meet other people and dogs when he is young.

Popular Dog Breeds: Boston Terriers

The dapper Boston Terrier is one of the few breeds that was entirely developed in the United States. He is a true All-American. Gentle, lively, and highly intelligent, the Boston Terrier makes a wonderful companion. He is particularly well-suited to apartment life and being a house pet.

History

Although they may not look like it today, the Boston Terrier was originally developed to be a fighting dog. Bostons were originally bred in the stables of Boston, Massachusetts after the Civil War. Almost all modern day Boston Terriers trace their lineage back to an imported dog known as “Hooper’s Judge” who was sold to a man from Boston in 1870. The breed was the result of a cross between an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. They took the name of Boston Terrier in 1891. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1893. Much of the progress in developing the Boston Terrier came in the 20th century and the breed became well-loved as a smaller companion dog instead of a fighting dog.

Temperament

In temperament Boston Terriers are very gentle and they love to be with their owners. They are lively in the home and they typically get along with other dogs and pets. They get along well with children. They are friendly dogs so don’t expect them to act as guards or watchdogs. They don’t usually bark very much which makes them a good choice for people who live in apartments. They are somewhat cat-like in their habits and actions. They are very clean and like to stay that way. They can be stubborn at times but they usually like to please their owners. Boston Terriers are known for having naturally good manners and they are considered to be easy to train. Bostons only need a moderate amount of exercise and grooming is minimal.

Appearance

Boston Terriers come in three sizes: Under 15 pounds; 15 pounds and under 20 pounds; 20 pounds and not to exceed 25 pounds. The appearance is the same for all sizes. They are short-headed and have a compact body. They have erect ears, short tails and a short muzzle that is usually free of wrinkles.

The coat is short, smooth, bright and fine in texture. Colors include brindle, seal, or black with white markings. Bostons typically give a clean-cut, striking appearance and are easily recognizable.

Health

There are a number of health issues that can affect Boston Terriers. Eye problems such as glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and cataracts can be common in the breed. Mitral valve disease, heart murmurs, epilepsy, and allergic dermatitis can also occur. You can find out more about genetic health issues in Boston Terriers here: http://www.bostonterrierclubofamerica.org/boston-terrier-health/Boston-Terrier-Health-Links.htm

Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a shortened muzzle like some other breeds. This means that they may not be able to tolerate heat or humidity very well. You should not leave a Boston Terrier outside in the heat or allow them to over-exert themselves, especially in warm weather. Bostons may also need special care if they need anesthesia.

Boston Terriers have an average lifespan of 12-13 years but many of them live even longer.

Training

Boston Terriers are considered to be very intelligent dogs and are usually easy to train. Owners say that they can be stubborn at times but they usually have a strong desire to please. While Bostons are not usually the most athletic dogs, you can train them to learn anything you would like to teach them. They are friendly dogs and they will enjoy going out with you, taking classes, and participating in dog events for dogs their size.

Popular Dog Breeds: Australian Shepherds

Despite their name, the Australian Shepherd probably originated in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France and then they were brought to Australia – and then to America – by Basque Shepherds in the 1800s. The breed is known for being intelligent and versatile as well as very energetic.

 

History

The Australian Shepherd is something of a world traveler. Despite their name, the breed as its known today was developed in the United States, though it originated in Europe. There are a number of herding breeds in the Pyrenees region of Spain and France and these dogs probably contributed to the early gene pool. Dogs were brought along to Australia with Basque immigrants in the 19th century. Later, these Basque shepherds immigrated to the United States and brought their dogs with them. The name “Australian Shepherd” stuck, although the breed had a number of other names through the years such as Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd. Because of their herding ability and versatility, the breed proved to be an asset on farms and ranches, especially in the western U.S. They became especially popular after World War II when Western riding became popular through rodeos, movies, and TV shows. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1991. The kennel club in Australia does not recognize the breed as a native breed.

 

Today the Aussie is still used by ranchers for herding livestock and working as an all-purpose farm and ranch dog.

 

Temperament

Australian Shepherds are described as animated, adaptable and agile and they live to have a job to do. They love to work which, in their case, means herding. These dogs needs lots of activity and they generally need a purpose in order to feel happy. They are very intelligent, versatile dogs but they are usually not happy if they are left home alone all day with nothing to do. They have strong herding and guarding instincts and they need a job. They also require vigorous daily exercise. Simply taking an Aussie for a walk a few times a day will not be sufficient.

 

Australian Shepherds love to be with their families but they can be reserved with strangers as you would expect with a dog who is able to guard the farm. Some dogs “smile” by showing their teeth. They are very loving, loyal dogs to their owners. They tend to form very close, intense bonds with one or two people. Aussies are usually playful at home. Since they are very intelligent dogs, they learn quickly and they are usually easy to train. However, if they are left alone or not trained, they can become destructive and get into trouble. This is also true if they don’t get enough exercise. They love to learn tricks and perform. They usually get along well with other dogs and other pets and they are good with children, although they may try to herd other pets and kids.

 

Appearance

Aussies are medium-sized, solidly-built dogs. Male Australian Shepherds are 20-23 inches tall and females are 18-21 inches tall. Males usually weigh 50-65 pounds and females weigh 30-45 pounds. The breed is somewhat distinctive for the fact that many dogs are born with a naturally bobbed tail. Historically, tails have always been docked in the breed and they still are in the United States. Eyes can be brown, blue, amber or any variation or combination thereof, including flecks and marbling. The coat is of medium texture, straight to wavy, weather resistant and of medium length. Aussies come in a variety of colors: black, blue merle, red merle and red with or without white markings.

 

Health

According to the United States Australian Shepherd Association, the AKC parent club for the breed, the most common health problems found in Aussies are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hereditary eye defects, MDR1 [Multi-drug sensitivity], thyroid disease, cancer, and epilepsy. The club encourages testing for these issues where tests exist. There is ongoing research into many of these issues in the breed. http://australianshepherds.org/health-genetics/usasa-health-genetics-program/

 

There is some discrepancy about how long Aussies live. Some owners report dogs that live 12-15 years on average. Small Internet samples asking about the longevity of the dogs have found lifespans between 11-13 years.

 

One issue that does occur in the breed is the merle allele. Merle is the mingled or patchwork coat pattern. When two merle dogs are bred together the resultant offspring have a 25 percent statistical chance of having two copies of the merle allele. Such puppies are more likely to be deaf or blind. For this reason, many breeders avoid merle to merle breedings.

 

Training

Aussies are considered to be very easy to train. They have natural herding ability so if you’re interested in a herding/working dog, you should find your dog to be easy to train. According to experts, Aussies are a loose to medium-eyed dog in the way they work stock – “eyed” referring to the way they control other animals with their gaze. They do not stare at the animals as intensely as some other dogs.

 

But Australian Shepherds are very versatile and they can learn to do many things. They have been used as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, therapy dogs, narcotics detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs, for example. They also excel at sports such as agility, flyball, and frisbee.

It’s time to deck the halls – and your dog, too! Christmas and the holidays just don’t seem right for many people without adding some festive touches to their pets. Whether it’s a glittering new bow in your dog’s great hair cut, or some cozy pajamas while your dog waits for Santa, most dogs enjoy dressing up for the holidays because it means getting extra attention from their owners.

Subtle touches. If you’re not one to dress up your dog in doggy clothes, you can mark the season by getting your dog a lovely new collar and leash or a harness. Collars, leashes, and harnesses come in many holiday styles such as plaid, black or red velvet, leather, and glittering with rhinestones and other faux gems. Of course, if you enjoy finding outfits for your dog, you can also find collars, leashes, and harnesses to match any outfits you might purchase so your dog will be coordinated.

For longhaired dogs, especially Toy and small breed dogs, you can look for bows, barrettes, and other hair accessories to celebrate the season. You can also find hair accessories to match outfits. Don’t forget to buy the rubber bands you usually need to hold your dog’s hair when using these accessories. A doggy topknot can be very cute with a bright Christmas bow.

Party outfits. Many owners like to dress up Toy breeds and small dogs in party clothes over the holidays. Outfits range from party casual to very elegant ensembles. You can find beautiful clothes in velvet, satin, silk, man-made materials, and gauzes. You can even dress your dog like an angel with wings. You can be as traditional or as creative as you like with your dog’s outfits.

Bedtime. You can also find bedtime clothes for your dog. These outfits are particularly popular during the holidays when owners may be spending time at home with their dogs on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Look for pajamas and nightgowns in fun styles and in traditional looks. You can even find handsome robes for your dog, too!

Miscellaneous. In addition to clothes, you can make your dog more festive for the season with some touches like painting his nails or using nail caps over his nails. Nail caps are plastic temporary nails in various colors that easily fit over your dog’s real nails. Don’t forget that your dog needs some good grooming for the holidays, too! A nice bath and haircut for your dog this time of year is always a good idea, especially if you will be having friends come to your house or taking your dog to visit others.

Whenever choosing clothing and accessories for your dog it’s always a good idea to keep your dog’s personality in mind. Is your dog playful and fun? Is he noble and aristocratic? Is he laid back and cool? There are clothes to fit every dog’s personality. Look for styles that suit your dog’s individual nature.

Toy breeds and small dogs are dressed up more often than larger dogs but most dog clothes come in larger sizes. There’s no reason why you can’t dress up your medium or larger dog. Check the descriptions for the clothes to see if they come in larger sizes. You might be surprised how fun dressing up your dog for the holidays can be! Remember, if dressing your dog up isn’t for you, he’ll always appreciate a beautiful new collar.