Archive for the ‘Dog Breeds’ Category

Pit Bull Terriers   Leave a comment

As a reader of Friends of the Dogs ( I enjoy their informative articles and profiles. The original article that FOTD used can be found via the link at the bottom of the page.  This Pit Bull profile offers a balanced reflection instead of a rose tinted one as most breed profiles are.  I’d like to emphasize that this breed needs an active strong owner with time for exercise and training, plus time for other activities like agility to burn off energy and keep that active brain occupied.  Not recommended for the faint at heart, but the Pit Bull puppies I’ve had in Rose’s Puppy School have been a lot of fun and generally well able to enjoy the company of other puppies.


It is a well known fact that the Pit Bull breed was bred for blood sports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and dog fighting.  What is not generally known is that in the days of organized dog fighting, the dog handlers were in the pit with their dogs while they fought. Pit Bull 3They had to pick up and separate the dogs while in full fight. Before a fight, the handlers had to wash each other’s dogs. After the fight, the badly injured dogs were often treated at ringside by strangers. Any dog that attacked or bit a handler (even if it was the other dog’s handler) or anyone else at any time was culled, often on the spot, and would never have been bred.[1] This little bit of history perhaps explains why the Pit Bull makes a loyal, affectionate family pet but can in certain instances display aggression toward other dogs or animals. . Pit Bull Terrier, during the lifetime of the breed, has been used not only for fights with animals, but also for protection, hunting and as a shepherd. A pit bull is therefore a versatile dog. So is this controversial breed the right dog for you?

1.       Personality

This is a breed that loves people, and has a reputation for being wonderful with children, tolerating their rough play. They are affectionate, loving companions that love to participate in activities with their families, be it a car ride or a walk in the park. Pit Bulls are often described as clowns and have a knack of making you laugh. The Pit Bull is not a guard dog for property as they need to be with their humans but should the need ever arise they will not think twice about sacrificing their life to save yours. An environment filled with love and attention is what makes a Pit Bull thrive.

Pit Bulls can be dog aggressive which is no surprise given their history and this trait often emerges near sexual maturity. A dog that seemed fine with other dogs suddenly becomes reactive toward other dogs of the same sex, housemates or any other dog for that matter.

Adult Pit Bulls should never be left unsupervised with other dogs. Pit Bulls may exhibit “prey drive”, leading them to “stalk” smaller animals such as cats, rats, chickens, livestock, or other pets.They are excellent escape artists and it is imperative that the owner be aware of this and take necessary precautions to prevent escape. These dogs are intelligent and enjoy training which makes them good candidates for activities such as agility, obedience and Frisbee.

2.  Is this the correct pup for you, which is the best home and why?
As an owner of the Pit Bull you will need to have strong leadership skills, be able to read your dog’s body language to help you recognize signs of tension between housemates. You have to be prepared to separate dogs if tension develops. You need to know what “pushes” your dog’s buttons and you need to have control of your dog under any circumstances. Does this sound daunting? The truth is that these skills are needed for most dog breeds but because of their unfortunate reputation you as a Pit Bull owner owe it to your dog to be the best ambassadors for the breed that you can be!

Like most puppies Pit Bulls love to chew and some enjoy digging. If they are bored, they will find a way to entertain themselves. A bored dog is a destructive dog so make sure that you have time to exercise your Pit Bull’s body and to stimulate his mind. Pit Bull 2

Early socialization and training–and lots of it–are non negotiable and should be ongoing throughout your Pit Bull’s life . Pit Bulls are very powerful, active animals who must be taught how to act around both people and other animals. Apartment living is not well suited to this breed as they will often personify the proverbial “bull in a chinashop.”

3.  Where do I get my pup from?
It is important to find a dedicated and ethical breeder who will only produce the most sound, stable puppies.
Avoid the well-intentioned, but uneducated  “backyard breeder” and pet shops. . You WON’T find ethical breeders in want-ads, or “Pit Bull Puppies For Sale” over the Internet sites .
Breed magazines, dog publications and national breed clubs are good resources to find a good breeder.

4.    Which other breeds are most compatible with the Pit Bull?
Although the Pit Bull is not generally recommended as a companion to other dogs, they can get along well with other animals with proper management and supervision

5.    Is it wise to have two or more of the same breed?
Same-sex aggression may present with two bitches and even between two males.
in general same-sex households are not a good idea and nor is getting two or more dogs from the same litter.

6.    Do they get on well with other animals?
As mentioned previously the Pit Bull may show dog-directed aggression, but sensitivity to other dogs will depend on each individual. A well socialized and trained Pit Bull should never initiate conflict but if they are challenged do not expect them to shy away. Pit Bulls can and do interact peacefully with other dogs and animals. Individual dog temperament, early training, socialisation and good management skills  play an important role in determining  whether or not a Pit Bull is capable of getting along with other animals. Many people successfully keep multiple Pit Bulls and other dogs in the same household.

Occasionally Pit Bull Terriers have difficulty distinguishing small pets from chew-toys. They are a very playful and energetic breed and love to chase, chew, and toss. If they are not taught that small animals such as chickens and rabbits are pets to be respected, they may kill them accidentally.

7.   Training requirements and grooming.
Grooming for the Pit Bull is relatively easy and fuss free.. They have a short, smooth coat and you will need to brush your dog about once a week to prevent excess shedding. You will also need to clean your dog’s ears regularly and trim his nails. In this regard they are very low maintenance dogs!

A recurring theme in this article is that of socialization. Ensure that you enrol your puppy in a reputable puppy socialisation class as soon as possible. Progress to domestic obedience and if you are adventurous enrol for a dog sport such as agility. Your dog will love you for it!

8.   Health concerns.
Pit Bull Terriers are generally quite a healthy breed.

Health concerns that have been recorded include hip dysplasia , patella (knee) problems, thyroid dysfunction and congenital heart defects. Pit Bull Terriers with lighter coat colours may have a higher occurrence of skin allergies. Good breeders are continually striving to eliminate these health issues.

9.       Life expectancy.
The average life expectancy of  Pit Bull Terrier is twelve to fourteen years.

In Closing I would like to share the results of a study conducted in America.

“According to rigorous testing by The National Canine Temperament Testing Association, the golden retriever, poodle, border collie, English setter, German pointer and numerous other breeds are considered more likely to become aggressive than Pit Bulls. The average score of the 122 breeds tested was a mere 77 percent, but Pit Bulls scored a 95.2 percent on these tests. (The best score possible was 100)

Not only have Pit Bulls scored extremely well on temperament tests, but they have been serving key roles in search and rescue efforts, excel in agility training and work nationwide as therapy and service dogs.  Being intelligent, athletic dogs, Pit Bulls excel in many dog sports, including dog agility, fly ball, lure coursing, and advanced obedience competition. Out of the 25 dogs who have earned UKC (United Kennel Club) “superdog” status (by gaining championship titles in conformation, obedience, agility, and weight pull), fourteen have been American Pit Bull Terriers.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a working dog, and is suitable for a wide range of working disciplines due to their intelligence, high energy, and endurance. In the United States they have been used as search and rescue dogs that save lives, police dogs performing narcotics and explosives detection, Border Patrol dogs, hearing dogs to provide services to the deaf, as well as general service dogs.[1]
Source : y [2]

If you want a dog who…

  • Is medium to large, muscular and powerful
  • Looks imposing but is usually non-aggressive with people
  • Has a sleek, easy-groom coat that comes in many colours

A Pit Bull Terrier may be the breed for you!

If you are not keen on…

  • dealing with public perception,
  • An extremely careful search to be sure you’re acquiring a stable-tempered dog
  • investing time on extra socialization and training to make sure your dog turns out well
  • Possible Aggression toward other animalsPit Bull
  • Exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when bored

…then a Pit Bull Terrier may not be for you.


Breed Focus: Maltese   Leave a comment

By Nicola van Ass – taken from ThinkingPets newsletter (see Websites I Recommend)
The Maltese Poodle is a small breed of dog that generally weighs between 1.8Kg and 5Kg. Their origin is largely unknown although they have been around as a breed since Aristotle mentioned them in 370BC. They are generally pure white, but some have either cream or a pale ivory colouring. Originally thought to have been bred for catching rats, they have become sought after companions for the new dog owner, experienced dog owner as well as elderly dog owners.

The Maltese is known for its love of company and affection. They do not have very high pain thresholds, so getting their ears pulled by children may make them reactive towards children in future. It is very important to socialize them to all ages of people from day one so that your Maltese puppy can grow up into a well-adjusted adult. When children are playing with them, it’s important to make sure the children are supervised at all times and taught a gentle way to handle dogs in general.

They have a lot of energy and even when they start to age they still tend to be curious and excited about most things. They enjoy playing with people and will keep you entertained constantly.

They have soft fur that, if left to grow, can have a similar look to that of a Yorkshire Terrier. However, most people tend to clip the breed into either a summer cut (in the warmer months) or the Teddy Bear cut throughout the year. They are known as a hypoallergenic breed, which means that if someone is allergic to dogs in general they tend not to be allergic to the Maltese or they will have a minimal allergic reaction. They do not have an undercoat, which means less shedding and because their fur is soft and silky it is perfect for those who do not want dog fur on their furniture and around their homes. Keep in mind though that they do need regular grooming to prevent matting of the fur and they also require a lot of care to their eyes as they tend to get tear stains under their eyes. This is caused by the eye watering and the liquid sits on the fur under the eyes. If left and not cleaned, this can cause a staining of the white fur and can also become infected, causing pain and discomfort for our furry friends. Wiping under the eyes every day or two with damp cotton wool can lessen the staining and possibility of infection.

With regards to their health, they are generally a healthy breed. Being a small breed a Maltese can live for up to 18 years! They tend to suffer from eye problems like cataracts as they age and they are known to have a problem called “reverse sneezing”. It sounds like they are wheezing and tends to happen when they are excited or if they have an allergy. It is not life threatening and is usually helped by calming the dog down and getting it to relax.

Because of their white fur, the Maltese needs extra protection against harmful UV rays. Spending long periods in the sun without shade can cause sun burn and skin problems. Always make sure that there is shade available for your dog, no matter the breed, and use pet-friendly sun screen when you are out and about.

A common issue with the breed is that they tend to bark quite a lot. While this is great for alerting people of danger, it can become quite a problem if not sorted out fairly early. Training and behaviourists are generally able to help with this problem.

As with all small breeds, the Maltese may take longer to house train than other puppies. It is extremely important to be consistent when house training your puppy. Do keep in mind that it is unpleasant for dogs that are close to the ground to go outside in cold and wet weather. You can start preparing your puppy for the rainy months by wetting the grass outside once in a while before taking him outside. This helps to familiarize your puppy with the feel of wet grass.

The Maltese is quite an easy dog to train – they are known for their keen intelligence. They enjoy the company of humans and tend to focus on their owner when being spoken to. They are generally happy in socialisation classes and tend to get on well with most new puppies in class. Keep in mind that they start out very small and care needs to be taken when introducing them to large dogs. Also, remember that each dog is an individual, so while they might be easy to train not every dog acts according to the guidelines. A well socialised and trained Maltese will be a wonderful addition to any home. As with all breeds, patience and consistency is required when training as well as at home.


Posted 01/09/2012 by Rose's Puppy School in Dog Breeds

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Breed Focus: Cocker Spaniel   Leave a comment

By Nicola van Ass – from ThinkingPets newsletter – see Websites I Recommend

Cocker Spaniel

There are two types of Cocker Spaniel: The American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. While their origin is unknown, this breed was bred for hunting in the UK and got its name “Cocker” from hunting a bird called the Eurasian Woodcock, and eventually the American Woodcock. Because of their hunting abilities, they are classified in the Gun Dog group. When dealing with Spaniels, it’s important to remember some key facts:

  1. They are very trainable, but when they catch sight of a bird their training normally goes out the window. They go into a “zone” and it’s nearly impossible to get them to focus until the bird has gone away. What works well here is to make sure that your recall is impeccable from an early age and also to have a key word or sound that is used when getting the attention of your Spaniel.
  2. They are quite an energetic breed. Being bred for hunting, they have good stamina and need to be exercised regularly. Walking every day is a must, although long walks are not necessary. Rather, short but frequent walks are great for this breed.
  3. Many Spaniels enjoy water. This can become a problem if they are not groomed regularly. They have a soft fur that grows quite long on the ears and because of this, if the ears get wet, it can cause ear infections very swiftly. This is because there are folds in the ears that sometimes do not allow air to get into the ear and this makes it nice and warm, as well as wet inside the ear. A breeding ground for bacteria. It is important to make sure that you dry them off well after they have been for a swim. Also, because the ears hang down, many people forget to check the ears because they are not immediately visible inside. It really makes a difference when you check their ears every couple of days to make sure there are no problems.

They are not large dogs, with the males growing up to 41cm and weighing up to 16 kg. According to the breed standard, they should be the same height from withers to floor, as their length from withers to root of the tail. Their lifespan is between 9 – 15 years, although some have been known to live for many more years than that!

They do not require heavy grooming, but it is recommended that you brush them every day or two to make sure that their coat doesn’t knot. Pay special attention to their ears, under their arms as well as their feet. These are the places where the fur knots very quickly and can become very painful if not sorted out as soon as possible. The Spaniel’s hair doesn’t grow back with the same silky texture if it has been shaved, although a lot of people shave their Spaniels during summer when they swim all the time.

As said before, this is a very trainable breed, but one needs to remember that patience and consistency are the keys to successful training. Start from as young an age as possible and keep going. There are so many things for your dog to learn that it is very beneficial to train throughout their lives. This is a very lovable breed that enjoys human interaction. They don’t do well outside on their own and need to be part of the family. The Spaniel has been known to snap at children, but remember this is also due to socialisation and experience throughout the dog’s life. Try to keep every experience as positive as possible and make sure that they are positively introduced to as many people and children as possible from a puppy, as well as meeting as many other dogs (or cats) as possible.