Category Archives: Breed Index

Labrador: Interview with an owner

Labrador – the perfect dog for beginners?

From an unusual breed, the Spanish Water Dog, to the most popular of all!  The Kennel Club describes the breed as follows: the Labrador is the most popular of all pedigree breeds and his popularity comes from his versatility as family companion, service dog, guide dog as well as a working gundog.

LabradorThe Labrador (Lab) comes in three main types – golden, black and chocolate, although there is now an increase in the ‘fox red’ Labrador.  In fact they are classified as being one of six breeds of Retriever, which also includes:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Curly Coated Retriever
  • Flat coated Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

These breeds have similar characteristics and make fantastic family pets, although Golder Retrievers and Labradors are the two breeds that have been extremely popular for centuries.

LabradorLabrador characteristics

Mel tells us that Labradors are great companions.  They love to snuggle on the sofa and want to be where you are. They love to be physically active, but also can sleep for hours at your feet.  She says:

“My Labradors love to swim, in rivers, in streams, in the sea, and they are very strong swimmers. They are enthusiastic about everything. They are medium to large sized, well muscled and very strong.”

Mel says that she chose her first dog, Bryn (aged 8) as she knew the breeder and her bitch had a wonderful temperament.  Flint is a rescue dog that she had from 10 months old (now aged 2) as a companion dog to train up to take over from Bryn when he is ready to retire as a Pets As Therapy dog.   They are both described as ‘working Labs’ rather than being from show lines.

LabradorInterestingly, Mel feels that her two are both more lively than she had expected, having previously owned Golden Retrievers.  She says she found they were much more exuberant and not so laid back as the Goldies.

An active lifestyle is essential

If you want to consider owning a Labrador, you will need a lifestyle that is quite active so it suits your dog.  Mel says she loves to be outdoors gardening or walking.  She also tries to keep her dogs’ minds active by giving them a job to do.

The best home would have access to open spaces for free running, water for swimming nearby and plenty of attention and company from the owners.  Mel says:

“I live in the country so we enjoy long walks and they accompany me wherever I go as much as possible. We enjoy going on holiday together to the seaside and they have accompanied me to several restaurants. Mine travel well.”

They are great companions for children, but need introducing responsibly, due to their exuberance, although Mel says she has found them to be very gentle around children. They need training and stimulation to get the best out of them.  Definitely not the dog for a flat!

Jobs to do

Bryn is a Pets as Therapy dog and goes into a local primary school to listen to the children read.  He was also in a Flyball team competing in Open competitions winning many rosettes.  Flint is currently taking part in the KC Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme. Both Mel’s dogs are Pet Blood Bank donors.

“I walk my dogs daily for an hours free off lead run over the fields and a half hour walk/training on lead later in the day. They receive an hours formal training weekly.”

LabradorHair, hair, everywhere!

One of the downsides of Labradors is that, even though they are not a long haired breed, they shed hair constantly – lots of it! That is why we have had the introduction of crossbreeds, to try and reduce this issue.  Labradors have been crossed with Poodles to create the Labradoodle.

As they are a strong dog, obedience training is very important. They require some stimulation to prevent them becoming bored, which may cause them to be destructive. They need company as they are very social dogs and don’t like to be left for too long on their own, but they can be left for several hours occasionally without any problem.

Health issues

The main issue for a Labrador is hips. Please ensure you check the breeder has had the dog and bitch hip and eye scored before you purchase.  Mel says the scores from Bryn were very good but with the rescue dog she had no information.  This means there may be a risk of hip dysplasia in future, which is painful and life limiting.  The only problem Mel has encountered has been with them catching or ripping their dew claws due to them being so active. Labradors are also prone to fatty lumps.

Final adviceLabrador

“My advice would be if you put in the work it will be worth it and you will have a wonderful faithful companion. Buying a puppy is just the start of the journey.

“What I love about their characters is that they are still puppies at heart and are full of joy at life.  They are very loving and affectionate and want to please.  They are such faithful pals to me and each other.  I can’t imagine being without them.”

Thank you so much Mel, for your lovely information about this No 1 breed!

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Spanish Water Dog: Interview with an owner

Spanish Water Dog – A hypoallergenic delight!

Have you ever seen a Spanish Water Dog?  Well if you have, you probably (rudely) just thought it was a cockerpoo! They are part of the Gundog group of dog breeds, like Spaniels, so do have some similarities with those breeds.  Sarah says:

“We had never heard of this breed until my daughter included it on a presentation of the breeds she thought we could consider, as my husband was very allergic to dogs. As a result we went to visit breeders and spent time with the dogs, both to test my husband’s allergy and to see if this was going to be a breed we could live with.

Spanish Water Dog“Our criteria was for a family pet, an active dog and one that didn’t need a lot of time both in terms of exercising and maintenance. We liked the relatively compact size and the fact they are very intelligent and easily trainable.”

Grooming requirements

The Spanish Water Dog has an unusual coat, which would have kept him warm in Winter and cool in summer when he was herding sheep on the Spanish mountains.  The coat doesn’t moult at all, but needs to be clipped regularly.  Murray also doesn’t need grooming – in fact you are not allowed to brush his fur.  As a result, Sarah says he does need regular bathing, especially if he is swimming often.

The Kennel Club description of the Spanish Water Dog says:

“Although the Spanish Water Dog was primarily a retriever of wildfowl, he has also traditionally been used as a herder of sheep. His thick coat, a feature of the breed, requires clipping once or twice each year.”

A perfect pet

Sarah says that Murray has fitted into the family extremely well.  He is more of a lap dog than they expected, as he is quite small for the breed (like his father).   He has been easy to train and care for.  Sarah feels that he prefers people to other dogs, possibly because he is not often with other dogs.  In my view, some ‘only dogs’ are desperate for the company and interaction of other dogs, to the point of being a real pain about rushing up to other dogs when out.  Full credit to Sarah if Murray is not like that!

Spanish Water DogSarah says,

“I think his sociability, his calmness and his love of people and especially children are his best characteristics. He isn’t a jumpy, lively dog, not even as a puppy, much more calm and gentle. He is a perfect family pet.”

Spanish Water Dogs are intelligent enough to be trained as gundogs or to herd and they are able to learn activities such as agility.  Sarah has taught Murray a string of tricks he loves to do.

Hairy ears

The Spanish Water Dog, as with many other breeds, can be prone to hip issues, so breeding should be managed to minimise this.  The only other health issue they have is that their hair can grow and block their ears.  Sarah says she was encouraged to pull out the hair, but Murray really doesn’t like that and she found that grass seeds find their way into his ears without that hair to provide a barrier.  They have had experience of grass seeds, but of course this is not peculiar to Spanish Water Dogs.

Spanish Water DogWater for the Spanish Water Dog!

The clue is in the name! Sarah takes Murray for two walks a day, one longer walk  for 45-60 minutes and one shorter walk 15-30 mins. In total he has about 60-90 minutes a day. Murray also loves swimming and she says they try to let him have a swim every week, except for in the middle of winter. They don’t have a particular training regime any more, but Sarah says they do give him the opportunity to do his tricks on a regular basis.

Spanish Water DogPerfect for..

Sarah’s Spanish Water Dog loves people and children, so she feels they can live anywhere where they aren’t going to be spending too much time on their own and has people to love and fuss him.  Murray is very fussy and loves nothing more than a cuddle, which not every dog does like.

Thanks Sarah, for introducing us to this unusual, but delightful breed.

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Dalmatian – Interview with an owner

Dalmatian – it’s spotty dog!

The Dalmatian is from the utility group of dog breeds; this group is for dogs that do not easily fit into one of the other groups!  The Kennel Club describes the breed as follows:

“In the Regency period 1795-1837 the Dalmatian breed became a status symbol, trotting alongside the horse-drawn carriages and those with decorative spotting were highly prized. For this reason he earned the epithet ‘the Spotted Coach Dog’. The dogs would also guard the stables at night. The breed was also used to run ahead of horse-drawn fire engines clearing the route for the vehicles.”

dalmatianOf course most of us know them from the famous Dodie Smith book ‘101 Dalmatians’ and the films based on the book.  Certainly they are a very distinctive breed, but what are they like to own?  Sarah tells us how she came to own her first one:

“We wanted a medium-sized dog, that was active, fun-loving, family orientated, but also could be independent of us. Our first  shortlist of possible dogs did not include the Dalmatian.  Then I saw one walking through our village and thought it a handsome dog.  We repeated our research and added the Dalmatian to the list.  The next weekend there were Dalmatian puppies advertised in the local paper and we found a wonderful dog.”

Active, loyal and affectionate

Sarah says that their Dalmatians have exceeded their expectations. They were a little concerned about the breed’s reputation for being a bit mad and uncontrollable, but quickly found that with adequate exercise, the Dalmatian is a relatively calm dog, who is fun-loving and loves to play.

dalmatianSarah’s dogs, Dice and Lola are very affectionate and happy to see her, greeting her with that Dalmatian smile!  They are more than happy to be an oversized lap dog and love human contact,  sitting touching her legs and feet.

Great stamina

Dalmatian dogs love to walk and are great if you want to keep up an active lifestyle. Sarah found with an hour plus walk in the morning, a half hour walk with a dog walker at lunch time and a hour plus walk in the evening, together with a bit of play time, Dice and Lola have been independent enough to be left during the day.

The Dalmatian loves active holidays, long walks in the country, paddling in the sea and exploring the beach.  Sarah often takes them out on car journeys as they love being with her.  They also loved doing dog agility and dog training.

dalmatianThey are very strong dogs and have the stamina to walk for miles, but will still play in the evenings.  Despite being well-built dogs, their appearance is elegant.  Sarah has noticed that Lola has a stronger tendency to guard than Dice.  She can be over-protective of them, which can be tricky if nervous people are visiting.

Easy care dogs

The Dalmatian is not a fussy eater and as they are smooth coated, they are easily cared for on a day-to-day basis.  However, although they have a smooth, short coat, they do shed hair continuously.  The fur is about the size of an eyebrow hair which Sarah says sticks to everything!  Dalmatians will also eat anything, so you do have to be careful about unattended food.

“The Dalmatian dog is also moderately difficult to train, having an independent streak to their characters.  A sufficient supply of treats can overcome this.”

Deafness is common in the Dalmatian

Although they are generally robust physically, Dalmatians are notoriously prone to deafness and breeders should have their hearing checked.  The deafness is caused by a link to the white ear gene.  (Incidentally, Border Collies can also suffer deafness as a breed, so all my puppies to date have been BAER tested.)  For more information, go to the Animal Health Trust’s pages, including Deafness in Dalmatians.

dalmatianLola is deaf in one ear, but this has never made any difference to her, so Sarah feels it does not matter much.  It is quite common to have a deaf dog, as many dogs lose their hearing in old age.  Dogs and owners usually manage perfectly well.  However, like everything else to do with owning a dog, it does take awareness and effort to ensure you have a healthy, happy animal.

Active families required

Sarah feels that a Dalmatian would fit well with people and families who have a commitment to the dog and its exercise requirements.  A Dalmatian would probably not be suitable for a family with very young children, as they can be boisterous and time-consuming in their exercise requirements (they are not small, delicate dogs!)  They would be suitable for a family that has older children or teenagers.

dalmatianSarah’s advice before buying one:

“Research the breed on the internet, read books and information from the Kennel Club.  Talk to owners of the breed and the breeders.”

Thank you Sarah for this fascinating insight into this adorable breed!

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Border Collie: Interview with an owner

Border Collie – what are they like to own?

Today I am interviewing myself.  I was in an agility class on Saturday morning with five other people and Busy was the only Border Collie in the class.  This is fairly unusual, although increasingly agility is being done by all sorts of people and dogs, as people realise just how much fun it can be!

Border CollieI said to Busy “now behave, you are representing Border Collies here!”  I was struck by just how much she is typical of her breed, and how different that looks compared with the Cocker Spaniels, Labrador, German Shepherd and Terrier that were in the class with us.  So what exactly does make this breed different?  And why would you choose it, or NOT choose it?  I have had a page on Border Collie Breed Information which talks about what makes them so special since I first started this website, but I thought I would try and offer a more direct comparison with other breeds.

Intelligence – the No 1 trait

Everyone knows that Border Collies are intelligent.  According to the Stanley Coren Intelligence of Dogs list they are the most intelligent breed.  But what does that mean?  Everyone believes that being really intelligent means:

“Border Collies are easy to train”

To some extent that is true.  They have a fantastic desire to work and to please.   That means they will try really hard to figure out what you want and will then do it for you.  However, it also means they can easily outsmart you!  If you don’t believe me, try visiting my house.  If you go outside with my dogs, you will discover after about 30 seconds that you are throwing a ball!  No matter who you are or what you think you wanted to do, you will be THROWING A BALL!  Sunny will train you to do this instantly.  This is what happens:

  • Sunny finds a ball
  • Sunny brings it to you
  • She looks at you with pleading eyes, quite obviously saying “throw the ball”
  • If you fail to pay attention to this instruction, she will pick the ball up and throw it at you, then do a bit of ‘woo wooing’ to get your attention
  • You throw the ball
  • You are hers!  THROW THE BALL!  THROW THE BALL!  THROW THE BALL!

Seriously, she is relentless.  I have seen her do this with toddlers who can barely walk, never mind throw a ball.  She will insist that everyone, of any age, throws the ball.

Border Collies train you.  They are so smart, they figure out how to get you to do what they want.  Then they never let up.

Border CollieFitting into family life

I have had seven Border Collies and I personally have never owned another breed.  So you could say my experience is limited, but I certainly do know about this breed.  I have written about my life in dogs up until the point of getting Sunny, who is definitely my dog of a lifetime.  Re-reading these posts, it seems clear to me that I never chose to have Border Collies, they were chosen for me.  I never considered how well they fitted into my lifestyle, or whether there were other alternatives.  This is the breed for me and no dog I have ever met has made me think differently.

Over the past 12 years, since owning Sunny, my experiences of Border Collies have changed my views of the breed and their suitability for family life.  I think they are great in a family, provided they have been well bred, well raised and are well managed!  Which is a challenge in itself, isn’t it?

I think if you take on this breed on purpose, after full consideration, you might just be able to cope.  They are potentially fun to have, as you can certainly train them to do a myriad of different tricks, sports and activities.  But that is the key – you must do something.

Difficult characteristics

A Border Collie who is left to its own devices can be:

  • neurotic
  • snappy
  • reactive to children, other dogs, cats, cars, etc
  • obsessive
  • manic
  • demanding

I am so used to the tendency towards these characteristics that I don’t always recognise these things in my own dogs.  Generally, I believe my dogs to be calm, well trained, well behaved and super friendly.  However, they are definitely demanding and their behaviour can be ‘full on’ if I do not pay attention.

Border CollieOunce demands that I play with her at various intervals throughout the day and gets really cross and shouty if I don’t do as she wants.  Aura gets really worked up over kitchen noises and when people arrive.  Busy struggles to control her excitement and then cannot listen to instructions.  Sunny is as I have already explained ;-).  (Luna is lovely.)

I often tell people that Border Collies are the most commonly re-homed breed.  I think this is not entirely true, but very often they are just too much for people.

How much exercise?

I have talked about how much exercise  dogs should have in general.  A Border Collie will basically have as much as you want to give it.  My 79 year-old mum potters along the shoreline with hers, (Luna’s sister) and that’s fine.  Mine have an hour off lead, plus training and play.  Most people do way more than that.  It doesn’t really matter.  What is really important is that they have a routine and a consistent amount of exercise so that they are not over-exerted suddenly.  Of course if they are fit, they will easily cope with the odd mountain walk on holiday.

Unlike some breeds, Border Collies are designed to go all day, every day.

A word of caution here; do not let your dog tell you how much exercise they want and DO NOT THINK YOU CAN TIRE IT OUT!  That would be a big mistake.  Border Collies do not tire.  Sunny did the Three Peaks with my sons a few years ago.  She would walk up and down a mountain for 6 or 7 hours, sit in the pub for a bit and then play frisbee with the kids in the campsites.  NB: You MUST let your dog rest properly, so that they learn to be calm.  If you let it, your Border Collie will just keep going.  The Duracell Bunny has nothing on a Border Collie!

Border CollieHealth issues

Border Collies are really tough, resilient dogs.  They have few health issues, the most notable being epilepsy.  Sadly, there is currently no test for this, so we try to prevent it through careful, responsible breeding.  Other health issues, such as Collie Eye Anomaly and Hip Dysplasia are tested for prior to breeding.

Collies to have a tendency towards sensitivity with their digestion.  They are not a foraging breed, not being particularly food driven, but can have issues with sickness and are inclined to be fussy eaters.

They may also be injured through a tendency to tear around, as well as taking part in more dog sports than most breeds.  They are known for hiding injuries though, as they would rather just keep going.

Best advice?

Get a Border Collie if you like a challenge!  They are not a breed for lazy people.  Not just because they definitely, absolutely, categorically should be exercised, but because they demand stimulation.  This can be play, or training, or tricks, or just cuddles and conversation.  Anything will do, just DO IT! (throw the ball :p)

Border CollieFundraising for Canine Concern

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Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

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Labradoodle – Interview with an owner

Labradoodle – a perfect combination?

I was delighted when Adam Delderfield, from Delders Dogs agreed to be interviewed about his two gorgeous Labradoodle boys, Buddy and Chester.  I started to write this post and then realised I needed to talk about Labradoodles, crossbreeds and designer dog breeds, so I wrote that post first.

LabradoodleAdam says he chose an Australian Labradoodle, but that whatever breed he has, he always looks for dogs that are bred for health and temperament, with plenty of stimulation provided early in life.  He wasn’t sure what to expect;

With a crossbreed the breed standards or stereotypes are vague, so I had no real expectations as to what I was getting. However I did get chance to meet the mother and aunt of the puppies, so had a rough idea of what the temperament was likely to be.”

Wet, muddy dogs!

Adam explains that an Australian Labradoodle is a mix of SIX different breeds:

  • Labrador
  • Poodle
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Curly Coat Retriever
  • Irish Water Spaniel

LabradoodleMost of these dogs have quite high drive and also love water and mud. They may not leave any hair in your house, but they will take TWO DAYS to dry after getting wet!  They are basically Velcro for leaves, sticky balls, grass, mud and anything else they can find.  Most of the breeds are Gundog breeds so an Australian Labradoodle likes to retrieve.  This needs to be managed, or you can find them taking things to their bed they shouldn’t have!

That face

The best thing about having an Australian Labradoodle, (or better still two) is that funny face!

“Nothing beats the joyful look of a doodle in the morning, or after being called a good boy.  Its the floppy ears, tongue out, cheeky look they have.”

LabradoodleAdam says his boys fit his lifestyle perfectly; one is calm and loves to sleep all day, the other has the energy of six dogs!  They are both affectionate and loving.  One is independent and outgoing, while the other is reserved and loyal.

Health records

The Australian Labradoodle has potential issues with hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems and heart conditions.  Neither of Adam’s boys has had any issues, which is not surprising because he has health certificates for their parents and grandparents.

Adam has great advice for a potential dog owner, to help assess the breed and lines for health issues:

“Ask for a list of the breed line and all of their ages.  If all the dogs before your pup got ill at 8 and died at 9, that’s a pretty good marker.  If the breeder doesn’t know this information, that’s even worse. Look for a breed line that is living well into its teenage years because chances are your pup will also live that long. “

How much exercise and training does a Labradoodle need?

Adam says:

“I tend to walk my dogs twice a day as a minimum. Once in the morning and a longer walk in the evening, as that is what fits with my life.  I always try and take the dogs on 1 adventure walk per week.  They go somewhere new or with some new people or dogs, just to keep life exciting.  My dogs tend to be a lot calmer and more settled afterwards.  I really do notice if I don’t take them on a longer adventure walk for a few weeks. “

labradoodleAs for training, although Adam is a dog trainer and is confident that he can teach his dogs anything, he tends to let their personality shine through.  They are pet dogs, not police dogs, so Adam makes sure training is fun for him and for them.  Little and often is the way to go, with any training; 5 minutes a day is perfect.

Are they recommended?

Interestingly, Adam says:

“Although I love my Labradoodles and would never change them, I would also like to try some other breeds out.  I have always loved Staffordshire Bull Terriers and would love to do a breed like that justice.” 

Adam also says that Labradoodles are by no means the easy option in any way.  He says that a good home for these dogs would be someone who likes grooming and definitely someone who wants to find games that will exercise their brain.

Final advice

As far as giving advice to others considering this breed, Adam says:

“Spend as much time with the Breeder as possible, ask them lots of questions and ask to meet all the dogs that would be related to your puppy. Ask them what the average lifespan of the dogs ancestors are, because you want your dog to live for a long time.” 

Thank you Adam, for your invaluable insights into this incredibly popular breed of dog.

LabradoodleAsk for help?

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about owning a Labradoodle?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Staffies – Interview with an owner

Staffies (Staffordshire Bull Terrier): a brilliant family pet

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, more commonly known as Staffies, has been a recognised breed of the UK Kennel Club since the 1930’s but there are references to this breed back to the early 1800’s.

Originally bred as a baiting dog and then on to fighting the Staffie has been a favourite of ours for hundreds of years.  Unfortunately their reputation for this behaviour has never left them. The other uses for Staffies were and still are often overlooked; their high intelligence and passion to please and their loyalty make them great family pets.

StaffiesDan Callaghan, from Barkers Trail Academy gives us some fascinating insights into the joys and challenges of owning Staffies, speaking from his informed experience.

Bold, fearless and affectionate

With any breed there is always a generic temperament, a ‘one size fits all’ sort of description.  A quick google search will tell you things like, bold, confident, fearless and affectionate. For the most part this is absolutely true, but Dan has unfortunately also seen a great deal of scared, frightened and timid Staffies.

This is likely due to poor breeding.  Unfortunately with popularity comes demand and easy money, so there are lots of poorly bred dogs, in Dan’s experience.  Good temperament is bred into dogs and a Responsible Breeder will take care to produce this.

Are they pets or workers?

Dan says:

“Well to put it bluntly, both! The Staffie is well known for being the affectionate cuddle monster, but what people will say is that they have so much energy! This is because the Staffie is actually an incredibly intelligent breed, ranked 34 alongside the field spaniel on the Stanley Coren Intelligence of Dogs list

Sorry Dan, they’re 94th on the version I looked at!  (We can all guess who is number 1 can’t we readers? Lol)

StaffiesDan’s completely correct though – if you want a dog that will cuddle you and give you kisses but will also learn lots of tricks and work for you then the Staffie is a great choice of dog.

Health issues in Staffies

Although they tend to be quite healthy and live long happy lives they do have a few common problems:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin allergies
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer (various)

Are Staffies aggressive?

This is by far the most common problem Dan has to deal with in this breed and also the most common thing people will think of when the word “Staffie” is mentioned. Unfortunately this is a true issue, but does that mean that they are inherently aggressive towards dogs? Absolutely not!  Dan says:

“If you get one from a reputable breeder and you do the correct type of socialisation (see below) then your Staffie will grow up to be a well-adjusted and behaved dog that you can be proud of.

If you buy the dog from Dave in the pub, then you are already fighting an uphill battle via poor genetics (yes genetics DO have an impact on behaviour) and then if you do not worry about the social aspect, then you are likely to have a dog that is anti-social.”

StaffiesSocialising – what does this mean?

One topic that Dan is always asked about is socialisation, “Hi I have a puppy and want to socialise it” is the usual message he receives.

“I detest the so called “puppy parties” where the dogs are taken to a hall and released to play and socialise. Why do I detest them? Well because they encourage unwanted behaviours.”

Dan explains why (these two examples could be describing ANY puppy.  Border collies are usually like puppy 2 by the way.)

Staffie puppy 1 – This puppy is very confident and full of life.  He comes into the room and is excited to see his new friends.  He runs in, jumping around and having a great time.  This puppy can bounce on the others, pin them down, bark, chase and all round have a blast.

What have we allowed the dog to learn here? It’s ok to play rough! SO when they’re a fully grown, muscular and powerful dog, who runs up to another dog and flattens them, what then? Well the other dog may take offence to this and retaliate, which then causes a fight!  Now when a confident Staffie has a fight they walk away actually thinking “that was fun”.   So what do they get good at?  From day one the Staffie should be taught control and correct approach behaviours.

StaffiesStaffie puppy 2 – This puppy is nervous and would rather be left alone, she comes in to the room and is bombarded by dogs. She stands there, tail down wondering what to do and then tries to retreat to her owner.  However she has nowhere to go, the dogs keep coming so she growls.  That didn’t work, she nips, success! We all know where this is going right?  Poor puppy 🙁

Overall

Although Dan has focused on some negative parts of Staffies, this is more about awareness of what can go wrong if you don’t get things right.  The Staffie is one of Dan’s favourite breeds.  Their energy, loyalty, affection and the noises they make, give you a fantastic little dog.

“If you have the chance to own one and do things right I guarantee the Staffie will be the only dog you’ll ever own again.”

Thank you Dan, for a great insight into this fascinating breed!

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about owning a Staffie?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Westie: The West Highland White Terrier – Interview with an owner

Westie – a terrorist with lots of energy!

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie was developed from the Cairn terrier breed and was recognised by the Kennel Club as a distinct breed just over a hundred years ago, in 1907. It is clearly part of the terrier group of breeds.  The name terrier comes from the Latin ‘terra’ meaning earth; these breeds were designed to flush vermin from holes in the ground.

As I have said before when talking about what type of dog you could have, terriers must NOT be confused with toy dog breeds – they are not lap dogs.  Terriers are much more demanding, physically active and not as cuddly.  The Westie is no exception to this rule.  Tiffany sums up the breed well:

“If you are looking for a dog with a soft, docile, obedient nature, do not get a Westie! They are a whirlwind of energy, fun and naughtiness.”

WestieTiffany feels that the best thing about a Westie is  his personality.  Her dog, Dougie, very much knows his own mind.  She says that when he’s got something to say, he can be vocal! If he doesn’t want to do something, he won’t do it!  But every night when they get home, he greets them so enthusiastically. Dougie is so loving and Tiffany’s little shadow at home.  She couldn’t imagine not having him.

Westie wiles

Being a terrier, he is what might be called a bit of a ‘terrorist’.  Tiffany says:

“Dougie definitely has ‘little dog syndrome’ and thinks he’s as big as a boxer. There is no predictability in which breeds he will be aggressive towards and which he will just completely ignore; sometimes that can be difficult.”

Dougie attended puppy training slightly late, around his first birthday.  Tiffany found him to be a keen learner who would do anything for a treat!  However, he is not as obedience as other breeds and outside he is easily distracted.  She feels that Dougie has absolutely no road sense and could never be off lead anywhere other than away from all traffic.

WestieYappy barking

Many small dog breeds have a tendency to be yappy.  Terriers have plenty of energy and enthusiasm, which means that they can bark all day long!  It is common for dogs like this to jump onto windowsills and bark at anything they can see outside.

Tiffany says that when younger he would bark all day.  They started to leave the TV on in the kitchen to create some background noise.  She drew the blinds and patio curtains too.  Tiffany also hired a dog walker.  She and her fiancé are at work full time, so they needed to ensure that he was given a good walk in the middle of the day.

Plenty of exercise

The Kennel Club guidelines for the Westie suggest they need up to one hour of exercise per day, but of course it depends on whether this is on or off lead, in parks or on pavements, along the same route every day or different places.  Dougie is give three walks per day, with short walks morning and evening and an hour with the dog walker.  At the weekends he is regularly taken on 3-5 miles walks.

Dogs like this are usually able to go for longish walks, but as with any breed, they need routine more than anything.  Just like us, it is hard to go from a small amount of exercise to a long hike. Please take this into account when planning how much exercise to give your dog?

Tiffany feels that a garden is essential (as it is for any dog, in my opinion).  Her Westie does like to chew fingers and jump up for a fuss.  She doesn’t feel that he would tolerate being pulled around like a Labrador might.  Dougie adores stuffed toys, but tears them to bits in minutes, rather than playing with them!

WestieHealth issues

Despite being an older breed and a tough little terrier, Westies do have some health issues.  Tiffany explains:

“The Westie is prone to skin and digestion issues and mine has both.  In the summer when the weather gets warmer, he will start to itch and scratch. He is given an anti-histamine to keep the itching under control. They do suffer with allergies.

“My Westie also has an incredibly sensitive tummy. If he eats something that doesn’t agree with him, it can upset his whole digestive system, leading to an inflamed bowel. He goes off his food and then ends up with lots of acid in his tummy, which he will then sick up. This also requires medication.”

A final health issue relates to anal glands.  These can become inflamed and even burst, which is messy and painful for the dog.  Dougie has twice needed to be sedated and a had the area shaved and cleaned.  As a result of this, he is given a grain-free diet.  His glands are also checked and emptied regularly at the groomers.  (This is rarely a problem suffered by Border Collies!)

Hair and grooming

The Westie has a typical terrier coat.  It is not particularly long and they do not shed or moult a great deal, although they are not listed as a breed of dogs that don’t shed.  However, they do require grooming and are usually taken to a groomers to have their coat ‘stripped’, to reduce the bedraggled look that terriers are prone to having, as well as keeping them cool in summer.

Always worth it?

Tiffany says that she hadn’t appreciated how much of her time and life revolves around her dog; it’s no different to having a child!  She says:

“I certainly didn’t think I would love a dog, quite like I do. He is my baby and I would do anything for him. But they are without doubt a huge bind and we do rely on family and friends to help to look after him, whenever we have to work late or go away somewhere we cannot take him.”

WestieTiffany says that Dougie is full of life and always raring to go out, so most of their holidays are geared around walking holidays.  Having a dog has made her go outdoors considerably more than she did before.

The personality of a Westie outweighs their sensitivities.  They are always smiling and happy dogs.  Dougie is small enough to take in the car and on holiday.  He is so loving; Tiffany wouldn’t know what to do if he wasn’t par of the family.  She recommends going to training as soon as possible and for a good while.

Thank you Tiffany, for a great insight into this cheeky little breed!

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning a Westie?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Whippets – Interview with an Owner

Whippets – a Champion Pet!

This week’s breed, the Whippet, has the distinction of having won this year’s Best in Show at Crufts Dog Show.  Like the Greyhounds, Whippets are part of the Hound Group of breeds.  The breed is over 400 years old and has retained its popularity, although with the current fashion for crossbreeds it is perhaps seen less often.  This is a shame, because Whippets make great family pets, as the breed description indicates.  Let’s hear what Tracey has to say about her breed..

whippetsTracey says that she wanted a breed that was active and healthy, as well as being able to cope with being left for a few hours at a time.  She has owned five Whippets in total and says;

“Each one of our Whippets has had a very distinct personality, but all have shared similar breed characteristics.”

Kind, gentle dogs

Tracey says that Whippets are kind and gentle dogs, who love to snuggle up against you, despite not being lap dogs.  Watching them run at full speed is perhaps one of the most amazing sights to see.  Whippets are intensely loyal; they are intelligent, sensitive, comical and incredibly loving.  Tracey says that although they are not the easiest dogs to train, a good level can be achieved with positive, reward-based training.

whippetsIf you love to take long walks, then chances are a Whippet will fit your lifestyle perfectly.  Tracey says

“We enjoy attending companion and fun dog shows on most weekends during the summer months.  This provides us with the perfect opportunity to socialise with our friends and their dogs.”

All her dogs travel well in the car and have accompanied Tracey on her holidays.  They are happy to be left at home for short periods of time and can be real couch potatoes.  If you happen to be short of time, a quick off-lead blast around a field is more than adequate for Whippets.

Stubbornness again!

Whippets can be hard work as puppies – just like any other breed!  Tracey points out that they do not respond to harsh training methods (I should hope not!) as they are a very sensitive breed.  They can be stubborn (that word again :)) when it comes to training, as they often have their own agenda.  Tracey says that a good solid recall is a must for this breed as they can cover a lot of ground quite quickly.  Whippets are described as high maintenance until around two years of age.

“Our Whippets have all been (and still are) incredibly greedy and are highly skilled at counter surfing.”

Heart disease sufferers

Whippets do seem to be high on the list for suffering from mitral valve disease. Tracey’s 11 year-old Whippet has had a heart murmur for a number of years due to mitral valve disease.  She takes daily medication for this, but is currently symptom free.  Whippets also appear to be prone to a number of different autoimmune diseases and some ocular conditions, with cataracts and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) being two of the most common. It is recommended that any Whippet owner brushes their whippet’s teeth as they are quite prone to dental disease. Other than that, due to their fine skin Whippets can be prone to skin injuries.

whippetsFitting in easily

Whippets can fit into most homes as they are so versatile.  Younger Whippets would definitely benefit from living in an active household, with people who are committed to spending time with them. Tracey says,

“We live in a town with few open green spaces where they can run freely and safely but we do have a small number of enclosed private fields that can be hired.”

Her Whippets are currently walked for anywhere between 2 and 3 hours a day (the older whippet less so, but does still go out on a walk most days). They do little mini training sessions daily. One of Tracey’s current whippets also does short trick training sessions 2-3 times a week.

WhippetsFinal advice

“You only get out what you out in! Spend the time and effort on your dog as a puppy and you will reap the benefits. Research your breeder carefully!”

Thank you to Tracey for her input and the beautiful photos!

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Whippets?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Miniature Dachshund – interview with an owner

Miniature Dachshund: a pocket full of fun!

Today we are hearing from Nina, who is telling us all about Fudge.  The Dachshund is another dog in the Hound Group, but one in a different league altogether from the Greyhound!  Originating in Germany where he is known as the Teckel (badger dog) the Dachshund is still used for both tracking wounded game such as deer and for going to ground after badger or rabbits.  In the UK there are two sizes, with miniatures preferably weighing under 5 kilograms.

There are three coat types in each variety: the Smooth haired, the Long haired and the Wirehaired and the six varieties all share the same breed standard, divided by size and coat.

dachshund“I always knew I wanted a Miniature Dachshund from when I was very young. I just thought they were adorable and so I had my heart set on getting one.”

Stubbornness again!

Nina says they bought Fudge from a family who were unable to cope with him and who advised that he was not getting along with their female Dachshund at the time. [Note from a breeder: please return your puppy to the breeder if this happens?  Good breeders will ALWAYS take their pups back] Fudge was 4 months old when Nina got him.

Nina had researched Dachshunds heavily before deciding to get one.  All the information suggested that they are a very stubborn breed who are difficult to train! 

“Whilst his stubbornness does show through on occasion, he has been an absolute dream to train and is an incredibly fast learner! This does mean though that he is also very quick to pick up bad behaviour, so you need to be vigilant and consistent with any form of training.  This is tough and frustrating when you know he knows how to action the command, but he simply chooses not to!”

Nina says she has also had to train her partner, as he has not owned a dog previously.  He has had to be taught to remain consistent with his commands to Fudge!  Nina feels that Fudge learns more quickly than any of her family’s other dogs.

dachshundSeparation anxiety

When he first arrived, Fudge did exhibit some of the typical separation anxiety issues that had been talked about with his breed.  As Nina and her partner both work full time, this was hard to deal with at first.  Nina works close to home, so she went home at lunchtimes to feed him and keep him company.

“With some training, an Adaptil plugin, and some soothing “doggy sleep music” we managed over a matter of weeks to reassure him that we would be coming home and there was no need to bark and howl at the top of his voice whenever we left the room! This also worked well for bedtimes when Fudge was left downstairs to sleep. Since this, he now goes to bed on command without any fuss and doesn’t whine when we leave the house.”

Cuddle Monster

Fudge enjoys showing off and was a clear front runner in his puppy training class. He seemed to know instinctively what to do; where other dogs were still learning after 7 weeks Fudge had mastered it after a couple of examples in class.

A Miniature Dachshund is very lovable and loves to be around people.  Fudge gets on well with babies, toddlers and other animals and so is very friendly and not shy at all.dachshund

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is true what they say about them having a big personality for a little dog.”

Unfortunately, Miniature Dachshunds are described as ‘Velcro dogs’ because they want to be around you ALL THE TIME.  This was true of Fudge initially as he was reluctant to use the garden for toileting unless Nina or her partner were out there with him!  With some tough training on his separation anxiety (including tough love when he was howling the place down at night), he quickly out-grew this phase.  However, it is very important not to pander to them when they do this as they are so quick to learn!

Because they crave attention, the Miniature Dachshund is hard to stop from doing something, because any action you take provides attention.  The best tactic is to ignore the undesirable behaviour and distract them away with something else.

Back problems

Breed health issues with the Miniature Dachshund can include eyesight (PRA- Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and also problems with their backs, due to their shape and size.

The back problem is IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) which may result in future surgery. Because of the shape of the dog, it is best not to let them jump on and off of furniture and up and down stairs.  Nina says this is easier said than done!  She monitors Fudge’s weight closely, since this can put excess strain on their spines.  Delaying neutering can also help to reduce the likelihood of them suffering IVDD in future.

“Fudge has had a bit of dry flaky skin. We were recommended to use Yumega Oil, which is added to his breakfast.  After a matter of days, this has made him flake free.”

dachshundLittle legs, but plenty of exercise

At the moment Fudge doesn’t walk far as he is still young.  An adult Miniature Dachshund should have around 45-60 minutes of exercise a day (a mix of on lead and free running).  I regularly see one up in the woods and it can clearly cover the distance.  Nina says that Fudge prefers fields to built-up areas.

Nina has found that he needs regular, short training sessions to keep reminding him what he has learnt.

Cheeky habits

As the Miniature Dachshund was bred to hunt badgers, they can dig the garden, so watch out!  They can also slip under a hedge; be aware of this!

Nina says that Fudge does have something of a ‘doggy’ smell, so she has a daily spritz spray to keep his skin moisturised and to keep him smelling fresh.  He doesn’t like being groomed, but doesn’t need much as he has a short, sleek coat.

Overall, Nina highly recommends her breed.  She says he has converted even the least likely dog lovers in the family and beyond.  They suit just about any home due to their size and friendliness.   Thank you Nina for such a great insight xx

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning a Miniature Dachshund?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?

Springer Spaniels – Interview with an owner

Springer Spaniels – they’re bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun!

This week’s breed is the English Springer Spaniel (Springer). They are from the Gundog group of breeds, which means they are scent driven, being bred to flush out prey and return it to their owner.  I asked Kate to talk to me about them, because she has had three; two from puppies and one as a rescue.

Springer spanielsKate says she originally chose a Springer, as many people do when looking for a first dog, because she knew someone who had one!

“I was essentially looking for a dog that I could walk with, that would get me out and about and be a companion when I was working from home.  My shortlist included labs (too big especially if I wanted more than one), retrievers (same reason), Yorkies, Westies (both too small) and cocker spaniel (it was close!).”

Springer by name, Springer by nature

When talking about Springers, the word ‘bonkers’ seems to come up quite a bit.  Full of energy (crazy energetic), but after a good walk are happy to chill out.  Great temperaments and good with children of all ages… and mad as a box of frogs.

Springer spaniels
I think it’s over there mum

“Springers are active, outdoor dogs, with lovely friendly natures.  They are loving, loyal, gentle, people pleasers.”

Kate says she was once told it was ‘impossible to train a Springer to walk to heel’, but she does not believe this.  They are pretty trainable as they are quite bright and very food orientated, although walking to heel does not come naturally to them.  They do tend to ‘go off’ on a walk, as there is always another interesting smell to chase down, just over there.

Regular exercise required

Just like all active breeds, Springer Spaniels benefit from regular exercise.  Kate walks twice a day for 45 minutes, whatever the weather.  Springers tend to run everywhere, but never in a straight line!  They can be just as focused on a ball as a collie, but Kate has never found that to be the case with hers.

As well as regular walks, off lead, where they are able to use their noses, Springers need play.  Kate does this from time to time at home.  This means she doesn’t spend hours and hours glued to a computer and can get on with work when she needs to.  While working she has an accompaniment of gentle snoring!

Despite walking and training, Kate daily has to cope with ‘zoomies’ – loopy time when the excitement takes over and they run around like a lunatic!

Demanding and muddy

Spaniels can by hyper and intense, so if you can’t exercise them this probably isn’t the dog for you.  They are field dogs and explorers that love water (and mud even more).

I spend quite a bit of time pulling sticky weed and seeds out of them during the summer and washing mud off all year round.  Even in summer it can seem strange to come home with a clean dry dog!

Springer spanielsKate says she has never found an ‘indestructible’ dog toy and is on a constant mission to find a chew that lasts for more than a minute.  Although she has not experienced it, Kate has been told that socks, slippers, shoes, underwear, skirting board and carpets are all fair game.

Selective hearing, especially when out on a walk, is a definite trait. They moult, so watch out for dog hair – oh and don’t forget the added dust.

Robust health is typical

Springer Spaniels are another old breed, like Greyhounds, so health issues are rare.  During the summer, ears and toes need to be checked daily for seeds – it’s expensive if they get embedded and infected.

Best home for a Springer?

You need to have the time and lifestyle to provide the exercise they need.  Kate says

“I’ve done basic training with all my dogs – with an emphasis on recall and distance work because they are rarely by my side.  If I’m honest this has been more of a challenge with my rescue than with the puppies but essential to ensure their safety.”

Springer spanielsYou know you have a Springer when…

  • “You have to spend 15 minutes brushing the sticky balls out”
  •  ”Your home is happy, but muddy”
  •  “You’re sitting watching the telly and suddenly a ‘flash’ zooms in and out of the room over all the sofas and out again.  All suddenly ending in cuddles”
  •  “You never eat alone”
  •  “You can’t go on a dry, mud free walk as they find mud in the desert!”
  •  “You can’t find one of your shoes”
  •  “The shoe you can’t find is in the dog’s bed”
  •  “The house looks like a baby’s playpen”
  • “You go one a walk and nobody comments on how ‘beautiful or cute’ he is, because he’s covered in mud and won’t stand still”
  •  “When you see someone with a dry dog and think that it’s odd”
  •  “You wake up in the morning with a tennis ball in your face”
  •  “When you’re out on a walk and they don’t walk in a straight line”
  •  “When you can’t say the word car [or walk or food] without it resulting in zoomies”
  •  “You have a constant show”
  •  “There’s a racetrack round the edge of the lawn”
  •  “You can’t open a food source without one appearing as if by magic”

In the end though, owning a Springer means

“You actually found out what loyalty, friendship and soulmate really means”

Springer spanielsThank you to Kate for the information and the beautiful pictures.  If you want a real treat, please go to Kate’s website for plenty more gorgeous photos?

Ask for help?

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into owning Springer Spaniels?  Please comment and share your views and experiences?  What breed would you like to know about?  Or do you have a breed of dog and would like to share your views on living with your dog?  Please CONTACT ME to let me know?

You are very welcome to CONTACT ME to ask for my advice?  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

Remember..

Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.

NB: If you read my posts in an email, you may be missing out on the lovely pictures!  Please click through to my website to see the post in all its glory?