Tag Archives: English Pointer

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 1

I promised a series on dog aging and care to explain that Izzy’s care started long before we introduced her pram (stroller).   Welcome to Part 1

For this series, I’ll be drawing on my experience as a dog parent with an aging dog as well as my 10+ years of professional experience in canine massage and rehabilitation.

Whenever I am asked about how I chose my profession, I explain that I had a muse.  Her name was Daisy.  An English Pointer who was neglected by her first family, Daisy entered my life at the age of 4 and left it at the age of 14 years and 3 weeks.

Daisy the English Pointer

Daisy, a sweet-natured and intelligent English Pointer, had many health problems over the course of her life. But we managed to get her to the age of 14+ which for a large-breed dog is a good life.


Izzy the greyhound

Izzy is my current canine companion. As I write this column in January 2020, she will be turning 11 in a few weeks. As an ex-racing greyhound, you can expect that Izzy’s body has seen some wear and tear and I will cover that in future posts.

For this introduction, let’s talk about time and age.  My mother, who passed away last year, used to say that, “no one I know is getting any  younger.”  The same is true of our dogs.  Aging is a fact of life.  It’s not a disease, it’s a life condition.

Most dog parents understand that their dogs don’t live as long as we do.  And you’ve probably seen charts like these before – but let’s review how a dog ages.  Smaller dogs tend to live longer, giant breed dogs have the shortest life expectancy.

I’ve included two charts because some of my readers go by weight in pounds, and others like my local clientele in New Zealand use kilograms.  Both charts have been derived by the work of Dr. Fred L. Metzger of Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, PA.

How old is your dog in poundsHow old is your dog in kgsSo I expect most of you have gone to find your dog’s human age on the chart.  That’s good; it’s how I start a conversation with one of my clients about their dog’s life status.

A more powerful use of these charts, however, is to consider time.  Because we age in our time, we tend to lose track of time in terms of our dog’s health.

Let’s say that we have a large breed dog who is 11 years old and he’s recently been to the vet for medication for the first time and the family has asked me to work with him because he’s reluctant to walk and doesn’t want to get into the car.

When we chat, the family tells me he has  probably been slowing down for ‘about a year.’  Today he is the equivalent of a 72 year-old man.  But his symptoms started when he was 10 and the human age of approximately 66.  So his family, although they clearly love him, waited 6 years to get professional help.

If your child was limping, would you wait 6 years to take them to the doctor? (I hope most of you say no.)

What I’d like each of you to do now is record your dog’s birthday and human year equivalent on your phone, wall calendar or diary – whatever you use.  If your dog was adopted and you don’t know their exact birth date, you can use their Gotcha Day instead.  Now, check out the chart and see how many human years will go by before their next birthday.

In the example above, it’s 6 years.

12 months/6  = 2 months

So if you were my client, I may ask you to enter a reminder message every two months in your diary and I’d give you a simple checklist of questions to review.  Just one tool that I use with some clients to help them understand their dog’s aging process and need to remain vigilant for signs of change.

Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


Limber tail – it’s more common than previously thought

Limber tail photo

Limber tail is a condition that affects mostly large working dog breeds.  It’s a distressing condition that causes the tail to become limp and painful and it’s official name is acute caudal myopathy.

A research team at the University of Edinburgh compared 38 cases of limber tail that were identified from owners’ reports about their dogs’ health with 86 dogs that had no tail symptoms.

Their goal was to gain insight into habits and lifestyle factors that might explain why some dogs are affected and not others.

The majority of dogs in the study were pets but those affected by limber tail were more likely to be working dogs, they found.

Swimming has previously been thought to be a risk factor for limber tail, which is sometimes known as ‘swimmers’ tail’. Some but not all of the affected dogs had been swimming prior to the onset of symptoms, the study found.

Dogs with the condition were more likely to live in northern areas, lending support to anecdotal reports that limber tail is associated with exposure to the cold.

Labradors that had suffered limber tail were more likely to be related to each other than unaffected dogs, which may indicate an underlying genetic risk.

Experts hope that further studies will identify genes associated with the condition, which could one day help breeders to identify animals that are likely to be affected. Over time, this could help to reduce the prevalence of the disease.

The symptoms usually resolve within a few days or weeks so many cases are not reported to vets. This may be why it has been so underestimated in the past. However, owners report that it can be very painful and distressing for the animals.

The study is the first large-scale investigation of limber tail and was conducted as part of the Dogslife project, which follows the health and wellbeing of more than 6000 Labradors from across the UK.  (Note:  the disorder also commonly affects English Pointers, English Setters, Foxhounds and Beagles.)

The study has been published in the Veterinary Record.

Source:  University of Edinburgh media release


Wordless Wednesday, part 38

Daisy birthday portraitBlog Hop


Wordless Wednesday, part 9

Daisy_Wordless Wed

Pointer vs Dalmatian

When I am out walking with Daisy, many people stop us to ask, “She’s a Dalmatian crossed with what?”  And I reply politely, “She’s a pure bred English Pointer, actually.  But it is the spots that throw people off.”

With the help of our friend, Olliver (Ollie for short), I am going to explain the differences between a Pointer and a Dalmatian.  

To start off, let’s look at Daisy and Ollie side by side:  they are different!

Maybe a side by side comparison will help:

Both dogs are black & white, but Ollie has only small spots whereas Daisy has large and small ones.  Daisy’s head is almost solid black; Olliver’s head has spots all over!

Perhaps the best way to tell the dogs apart is to read Daisy’s lips.  Our friends call these saggy doggy lips.  Ollie’s lips are clearly not the same!

Both dogs shed on a regular basis and are single-coated.  This means that they feel the cold and so their favourite place in winter is in front of the fire.  They also benefit from wearing a coat on colder days.

 Some basic Dalmatian facts:

The Dalmatian is a non-sporting dog and the breed is recognised by the American Kennel Club and the New Zealand Kennel Club, as well as many other clubs worldwide.   Dalmatians are either bi-coloured or tri-coloured. Bi-coloured dogs are black and white and tri-coloured dogs have brown, liver and black spots.  Puppies are born white and their spots develop over time.

The breed has a long history, with some people suggesting that Dalmatians were featured on the walls of the Egyptian pyramids. Gypsies that travelled Europe used Dalmatians to calm horses and provide companionship to travellers.  The word ‘Dalmatian’ is derived from the area of Croatia that was known as Dalmatia.  Dogs were traded for goods to the British, who were the first to breed the dogs.

During the late 1700s, Dalmatians were known to be riding under the axles or alongside the carriages of their noblemen owners for the sole purpose of being a status symbol.  The dogs could run or trot for over a hundred miles in a single day. In the evening, the dogs were placed alongside the horses in the stables to guard and to calm the horses.

When Dalmatians came to America in 1870, they arrived as the mascot to the fire truck and this association with firehouses continues to this day.

Dalmatians are known for their spots, energy, devotion, protective nature and intelligence.

Some basic Pointer facts:

The English Pointer, also known as the Pointer, is a gun dog that is recognised by major kennel clubs worldwide.  Pointers may be liver and white, black and white, lemon and white or orange and white.  The dogs can be tri-coloured and also come as solids.  (Solids are more rare and are much sought after.)

Like the Dalmatian, the Pointer has a long history.  It was bred to be a gentleman’s hunting dog and so they are known for being gentle and well-mannered once they are trained.  History records Pointers as far back as the 1600s, with Pointers being used to locate hares and greyhounds being used to chase them.  The breed is thought to be a cross of Foxhound, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Newfoundland, and Setter.  Other records say that there was a Spanish Pointer that was bred in 17th and 18th century to form the basis of today’s breed.

Pointers are often shown ‘on point’ when they are standing still and pointing at the location of birds.  Pointers are not naturally known for their retrieving skills but they can be trained to find dead or wounded game.

Pointers are known for their strength, cleverness, dependability, hardworking nature, loyalty and congeniality.

Famous dogs

Sensation was one of the most famous Pointers.  He was imported to the United States in 1876 and is the mascot for the Westminster Kennel Club, appearing on their emblem.

The Pointer ‘on point’ is also the official registered trademark of the Rodd & Gunn clothing company and the image of the Pointer is found on all of their menswear garments. 

Pointer Brand clothing has also been manufactured in the United States since 1913.  The company’s logo features Carolina Bill, the dog of Landon Clayton King who founded the company, L. C. King Manufacturing Company, in Tennessee. 

Sparky® the Fire Dog is one famous Dalmatian.

He is the mascot and logo for the National Fire Protection Association.  Perhaps the best known Dalmatians are Pongo, Perdita, Prince and the puppies made famous by 101 Dalmatians.  The One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a novel published in 1956 by Dodie Smith that was made into animated films by Walt Disney Productions.

I hope that this article gives you some better information about why Pointers are different from Dalmatians.   Despite their differences, the dogs get along just fine!







Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand