Category Archives: dog breeds

If a pit bull could talk

Pit bull poster

DoggyMom.com and Canine Catering do not support breed specific legislation in any form!

The facts about pit bulls

The facts about pit bullsSource:  National Geographic

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Wordless Wednesday, part 23

German Shepherd in Snow

Your dog may have a permanent headache

Through selective breeding, toy breeds including the Griffon Bruxellois, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas and their crosses may have to live with a permanent headache and other maladies.

A Griffon Bruxellois Photo by © Vincent / Fotolia

A Griffon Bruxellois
Photo by © Vincent / Fotolia

Research published in the journal PloS One by researchers at the University of Surrey has identified the specific effect Chiari malformation has on the shape of a dog’s skull and brain.

Researchers took brain, skull and vertebrae measurements of 155 Griffon Bruxellois and compared dogs affected by the condition, with normal Griffons. They discovered that Griffons with the disease had taller foreheads and that it had also caused the shape of the brain to change, with severely affected animals having their cerebellum pushed underneath the main part of the brain.

The taller forehead makes some toy breeds look like a doll, making them more attractive to people looking to purchase a dog.

Although it can be asymptomatic, in many dogs Chiari malformation can cause headaches, problems with walking or even paralysis.

Lead author, Dr Clare Rusbridge says: “Chiari malformation can be described as trying to fit a big foot into a small shoe. It can be very painful, causing headaches and pressure on the brain and can result in fluid filled cavities in the spinal cord. Our latest discoveries will be significant in driving this research forward and hopefully allow us to identify which genes may be associated with the condition. Our next steps will be to apply our technique to other breeds with Chiari malformation and investigate more sophisticated ways of screening, so that risk of disease can be detected more easily, at an earlier age and with a single MRI scan.”

The research team wants to work with responsible breeders to use scanning technology so they can remove the condition from the breeding population.

Source:  AlphaGalileo press release

No correlation between breed and aggression

Researchers from the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences have investigated the occurrence of dog aggression towards people with a survey of UK dog owners.

The 4,000 responses revealed:

  • aggression towards unfamiliar people was reported more commonly by owners than aggression to family members
  • 7 per cent of owners responded that their dog barked, lunged, growled or actually bit when people came to the house
  • 5 per cent of owners said that these things happened when out on walks
  • 3 per cent of owners reported aggression towards family members

Dog bearing teeth

The study highlighted that the majority of dogs showing aggression do so in just one type of situation. This indicates that the tendency to categorise dogs as either generally ‘safe’ or ‘vicious’ is a misconception, and that most dogs show aggression as a learnt response to particular situations.  (A lot of trainers working in animal shelters probably already knew this.)

The research also highlighted that although general characteristics, such as breed type, are significant risk factors across large populations they explain only a small amount of the overall difference between aggressive and non-aggressive dogs.   Therefore, it is not appropriate to evaluate the risk of aggressive behaviour in an individual dog using characteristics such as breed type.

That’s another black mark for supporters of breed specific legislation!

The results of this research have been published in the journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Source:  University of Bristol media release

Gotta Golden in the Lower 48?

golden-retrievers-fighting-cancer The Morris Animal Foundation is recruiting dogs for its Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.  3,000 Goldens will be followed for life to gather insights that could help prevent and treat cancer in Goldens and all other dog breeds.  In the USA, the Foundation estimates that more than 60 percent of Golden Retrievers die from cancer.

Participants will receive periodic questionnaires about their dog to complete and also be reimbursed $75 towards annual exam costs (owners must agree to bear the remaining costs of participation).  Dogs must be purebreds, with verifiable three-generation pedigree.  Any Golden under the age of two is eligible.

More information can be found in this brochure.

If your Golden resides in the lower 48 states, this may be his/her chance to contribute to the science behind canine health and longevity.

Short dog syndrome

You’ve probably heard about Short Man Syndrome.  (In fact, many of us (including me) have experienced it firsthand!)

Did you know that there is growing evidence of Short Dog Syndrome?

Researchers at the University of Sydney have published their research into this topic in the online journal PLoS One.  Professor Paul McGreevy is the lead author of the study and says, “the shorter the dogs the less controllable their behaviour is for their owners.”

Dachshunds and other short breed dogs may be more difficult to train and control

Dachshunds and other short breed dogs may be more difficult to control

The study used owners’ reports on the behaviour of over 8,000 dogs from across 80 breeds and related them to the shape of 960 dogs of those breeds, revealing strong relationships between height, bodyweight, skull proportions (relative width and length) and behaviour.

33 out of 36 undesirable behaviours were associated with height, bodyweight and skull shape

As a breed’s average height decreased, the likelihood of behaviors such as mounting humans or objects (humping), owner-directed aggression, begging for food and attention-seeking increased.

“The only behavioral trait associated with increasing height was ‘trainability’. When average bodyweight decreased, excitability and hyperactivity increased,” said Professor McGreevy.

The researchers admit that there is an aspect here of nature vs nurture.  If aggressive and ‘bad’ behaviours were present in larger dogs, the results could be more dangerous.  Poor behaviour in small dogs is likely to be tolerated more.  Over time, breeding has resulted in the patterns observed by the research team.

Source:  University of Sydney media release

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

rin tin tin book cover

I have just finished reading Rin Tin Tin:  The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean.  Having previously blogged about the Dogs on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I was intrigued when this book made the New York Times bestseller list.

If you like biography, you will like this book.  It has been expertly researched by Orlean who spent weeks reviewing the archived personal files of Lee Duncan, the owner and trainer of the original Rin Tin Tin.  Duncan fought in France during WWI and found the young ‘Rinty’ in an abandoned kennels.  He was able to secret Rin Tin Tin away on a ship returning servicemen to the United States along with his sister, who unfortunately died shortly after arriving in the USA.

Duncan bonded with the dog like no other individual (human or otherwise) in his life and found the dog exceptionally bright (although cranky with other humans).  In the 1920s, he was certain that Rinty was movie material.  Orlean does a superb job describing old Hollywood – before sound was even introduced to films and Duncan’s efforts to make his dog a film star.

Rin Tin Tin’s popularity is the main reason why German Shepherd dogs became a popular breed in the United States.

During this period in American history, dog training was not even recognised as a discipline.  In large part thanks to Rin Tin Tin’s popularity, the benefits of dog training were introduced to the American public.  Orlean again does a superb job in explaining how trained dogs were exhibited to Americans as entertainment, eventually spawning an entire industry.

It is very entertaining to read about Rin Tin Tin’s early success and the challenges posed by the introduction of sound to the movies.  Duncan, perhaps in denial, didn’t make provisions for a successor to Rin Tin Tin and – as was inevitable – the original Rinty died.  Rinty’s son was not up to scratch for acting duties and there was a time before a suitable successor was trained.

From there, the story becomes one of how Rin Tin Tin became a legend and an industry.   Other dogs, including subsequent descendents, take on the role of Rin Tin Tin and he is even transformed to a television star in the Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.  At this point, there are spin-off benefits of merchandising.

So many people invested emotional energy (as well as lots of money) in keeping Rin Tin Tin in front of the American public, well into the 1970s.  By the 1980s, however, American tastes had changed.

This book is well written and with a good pace throughout.  I recommend it  particularly if you have a German Shepherd in your life, or someone who is a German Shepherd fan, this book would make an excellent Christmas gift.

Doggy quote of the month for November

“I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.”

- Rita Rudner, comedian

Groomed poodle

fluffy black poodle

pink poodletricolourpoodlesFor the record…I like Poodles.  In fact, I like all dogs.

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Wordless Wednesday, part 7

dogue de bordeaux photo