Bernese Mountain Dog

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History:  

The breed was used as an all purpose farm dog for guarding property and to drive dairy cattle long distances from the farm to the alpine pastures. The type was originally called the Dürrbächler, for a small town (Dürrbach) where the large dogs were especially frequent. In the early 1900s, fanciers exhibited the few examples of the large dogs at Shows in Berne, and in 1907 a few breeders from the Burgdorf region founded the first breed Club, the Schweizerische Dürrbach-Klub, and wrote the first Standard which defined the dogs as a separate breed. By 1910, there were already 107 registered members of the breed. There is a photo of a working Bernese Mountain Dog, dated 1905 at the Fumee Fall rest area in Quinnesec, MI.

In the US, the Bernese Mountain Dog is growing in popularity, ranking in 32nd place by the American Kennel Club in 2013.

Color, Coat, and Grooming:

The Berner coat is gorgeous: a thick double coat with a longer outer coat and a wooly undercoat. Characteristically tricolored, the majority of the Berner’s body is covered with jet-black hair with rich rust and bright white. There’s usually a white marking on his chest that looks like an inverted cross, a white blaze between the eyes, and white on the tip of his tail.

The Berner is a shedder. He sheds moderately all year and heavily in the spring and fall. Brushing several times a week helps reduce the amount of hair around the house and keeps the coat clean and tangle-free. Bathing, every three months or so, will maintain his neat appearance.

Brushing teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Trim there nail about once a month if they don’t wear them down naturally. If you hear them clicking on the floor they are to long.

Height and Weight

Height at the withers is 25–27.5 in for males, while it is 23–26 in for females. Weight is 80–120 lb for males, while it is 75–100 lb for females.

Temperament:

The breed standard for the Bernese mountain dog states that dogs should not be “aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy”, but rather should be “good-natured”, “self-assured”, “placid towards strangers”, and “docile”. The temperament of individual dogs may vary, and not all examples of the breed have been bred carefully to follow the standard. All large breed dogs should be well socialized when they are puppies, and given regular training and activities throughout their lives.

Bernese are outdoor dogs at heart, though well-behaved in the house; they need activity and exercise, but do not have a great deal of endurance. They can move with amazing bursts of speed for their size when motivated. If they are sound (no problems with their hips, elbows, or other joints), they enjoy hiking and generally stick close to their people. Not being given the adequate amount of exercise may lead to barking and harassing in the Bernese.

Bernese mountain dogs are a breed that generally does well with children, as they are very affectionate. They are patient dogs that take well to children climbing over them. Though they have great energy, a Bernese will also be happy with a calm evening.

Health Problems:

Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs in general, but Bernese Mountain Dogs have a much higher rate of fatal cancer than other breeds; in both U.S./Canada and UK surveys, nearly half of Bernese Mountain Dogs die of cancer, compared to about 27% of all dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs are killed by a multitude of different types of cancer, including Malignant histiocytosis, mast cell tumer, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma. A four-year-old Bernese with lymphoma named Dylan was one of the first dogs to receive chemotherapy at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and it was successful.

Bernese Mountain Dogs also have an unusually high mortality due to musculoskeletal causes. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate ligament rupture were reported as the cause of death in 6% of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the UK study; for comparison, mortality due to musculoskeletal ailments was reported to be less than 2% for pure-bred dogs in general.

Several inherited medical problems that a Bernese Mountain Dog may face are malignant histiocytosis, hypomyelinogenesis, progressive retinal atrophy, and possibly cataraacts and hypoadrenocorticism. The breed is also prone to histiocytic sarcoma, a cancer of the muscle tissue that is very aggressive, and hereditary eye diseases are common among larger dogs.

Lifespan:

Compared to breeds of similar size as well as purebred dogs in general, the Bernese is one of the short-lived dog breeds. The average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog is approximately 7 to 8 years. 

Exercise:

Berners are not suited to apartment or condo life. A home with a large, securely fenced yard is the best choice. Because the Berner is a working dog, he has plenty of energy. In addition to yard play, he needs a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day; three times that amount keeps this sturdy dog in top condition.

With his thick, handsome coat, the Berner is a natural fit for cold climates. He loves to play in the snow. Conversely, with his black coat and large size, he’s prone to heat stroke. Don’t allow him to exercise strenuously when it’s extremely hot; limit exercise to early mornings or evenings, when it’s cooler. Keep him cool during the heat of the day, either inside with fans or air-conditioning or outside in the shade.

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Pug

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History:  The early history of the Pug is not attested to in detail, it is accepted that modern Pugs are descended from dogs imported to Europe from China in the 16th century. Some historians believe they are related to the Tibetan Mastiff. They were prized by the Emperors of China and lived in luxurious accommodations, sometimes even being guarded by soldiers.

In the latter 1500s and early 1600s, China began trading with European countries. Reportedly, the first Pugs brought to Europe came with the Dutch traders, who named the breed Mopshond, a name still used today.

Pugs quickly became favorites of royal households throughout Europe, and even played a role in the history of many of these families. In Holland, the Pug became the official dog of the House of Orange after a Pug reportedly saved the life of William, Prince of Orange, by giving him a warning that the Spaniards were approaching in 1572. When William of Orange (later called William III) went to England in 1688 with his wife, Mary II, to take the throne from James II, they brought their Pugs with them.

Size: Pugs weigh between 14 and 18 pounds (male and female). Generally, they are 10 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder.

Description:

While the Pugs that are depicted in eighteenth century prints tend to be long and lean,[2] modern breed preferences are for a square cobby body, a compact form, a deep chest, and well-developed muscle.[4] Their smooth and glossy coats can be fawn, apricot fawn, silver fawn or black.[4] [5] The markings are clearly defined and there is a trace of a black line extending from the occiput to the tail.[4] The tail normally curls tightly over the hip.[2]

Pugs have two distinct shapes for their ears, “rose” and “button”. “Rose” ears are smaller than the standard style of “button” ears, and are folded with the front edge against the side of the head. Breeding preference goes to “button” style ears.[6]

Pugs’ legs are very strong, straight, of moderate length, and are set well under. Their shoulders are moderately laid back. Their ankles are strong, their feet are small, their toes are well split-up, and their nails are black. The lower teeth normally protrude further than their upper, resulting in an under-bite.

Personality: Don’t expect a Pug to hunt, guard or retrieve. Pugs were bred to be companions, and that’s exactly what they do best. The Pug craves affection — and your lap — and is very unhappy if his devotion isn’t reciprocated. He tends to be a sedentary dog, content to sit in your lap as you read a book or watch a movie. 

Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, andsocialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner.

Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

Like every dog, the Pug needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Pug puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

Temperament: The breed is often described as multum in parvo, or “much in little”, alluding to the Pug’s remarkable personality, despite its small size. Pugs are strong willed but rarely aggressive, and are suitable for families with children. The majority of the breed is very fond of children and sturdy enough to properly play with them. Depending on their owner’s mood, they can be quiet and docile but also vivacious and teasing. Pugs tend to have a lazy nature and spend a lot of time napping. They are often called “shadows” because they follow their owners around and like to stay close to the action.

Health: Since Pugs lack longer snouts and prominent skeletal brow ridges, they are susceptible to eye injuries such as proptosis, scratched corneas, and painful entropion. They also have compact breathing passageways, leaving many prone to breathing difficulties or unable to efficiently regulate their temperature through evaporation from the tongue by panting. A Pug’s normal body temperature is between 101 °F (38 °C) and 102 °F (39 °C). If this temperature rises to 105 °F (41 °C), oxygen demand is greatly increased and immediate cooling is required. If body temperature reaches 108 °F (42 °C), organ failure can occur. Their breathing problems can be worsened by the stresses of travelling in air cargo, which may involve high temperatures. Following the deaths of Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds, several airlines either banned their transport in cargo or enacted seasonal restrictions.

Pugs can suffer from necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), also known as Pug dog encephalitis (PDE), an inflammation of the brain andmeninges.[36] NME also occurs in other small dogs, such as the Yorkshire TerrierMaltese, and Chihuahua.[36] There is no known cure for NME, which is believed to be an inherited disease.[37] Dogs usually die or have to be put to sleep within a few months of onset, which, in those susceptible to this condition, is typically between six months and seven years of age.[38]

This breed, along with other brachycephalic dogs (e.g., boxersbulldogs), are also prone to hemivertebrae. The curled tail of a British bulldog is an example of a hemivertebrae, but when it occurs not in the coccygeal vertebrae but in other areas of the spine, it can cause paralysis. The condition occurs when two parts of a spinal vertebra do not fuse properly while a young Pug is still growing, resulting in an irregularly shaped spinal cavity which can put pressure on the spinal cord.

Lifespan: Pugs can live up to 13 years from birth.

Coat, color, and Grooming: 

Even though the coats are short, Pugs are a double-coated breed. Pugs are typically fawn-colored or black. The fawn color can have different tints, such as apricot or silver, and all Pugs have a short, flat, black muzzle.

The coat is short and smooth, but don’t be deceived. Pugs shed like crazy, especially in summer. The wise Pug owner accepts this, and adjusts her wardrobe accordingly, wearing light-colored clothing that better hides hair.

Following that, regular brushing and bathing helps keep the coat in good condition and shedding to a minimum. A monthly bath is sufficient, though some owners bathe their Pugs more frequently. The Pug’s small size is handy: you can drop him right in the kitchen or utility sink for a bath.

Regular nail trimming is essential, since these housedogs don’t usually wear down their nails outdoors like active breeds do. It’s a good idea to clean the Pug’s ears every few weeks, as well.

What requires special attention is the Pug’s facial wrinkles. These folds are hotbeds for infection if allowed to become damp or dirty. The wrinkles must be dried thoroughly after bathing, and wiped out in-between baths. Some owners simply use a dry cotton ball; others use commercial baby wipes to wipe out the folds.

Additionally, the Pug’s bulging eyes need special attention. Because they protrude, the eyes are vulnerable to injury and irritation from soaps and chemicals.

Like many small breeds, the Pug can be susceptible to gum disease. Regular brushingwith a small, soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste helps prevent this.

Begin accustoming your Pug to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

Dog Longevity

One thing about dogs that fascinates me the most is the differences in lifespans between dog breeds.

At 29 years of age, the Australian Cattle Dog name Bluey is the oldest living dog, passing away in 1939. However, a study regarding longevity in Australian Cattle Dogs showed that most Australian Cattle Dogs live, on average, 13.41 years. Although Australian Cattle Dogs live longer than average, it’s not the longest living breed of dog.

As for the longest living dog breeds, these breeds are amongst the average longest living: Toy Poodle 14.67 years, Miniature Dachshund 14.4 years, Canaan Dog 14.67 years, Swedish Vallhund 14.77, Border Terrier 14 years, and Cairn Terrier 14 years.

The Dogue de Bordeaux, or French Mastiff, has the shortest life span of 5.29 years. Other breeds like the Irish Wolfhound and Bloodhound have an average lifespan of around 7 years.

The British Veterinary Association compiled results of a survey by dog owners who gave information about their deceased dogs, resulting in information from 3,000 dogs.

From the abstract of the article: “The mean age at death (all breeds, all causes) was 11 years one month, but in dogs dying of natural causes it was 12 years eight months. Only 8 per cent of dogs lived beyond 15, and 64 per cent of dogs died of disease or were euthanased as a result of disease. Nearly 16 percent of deaths were attributed to cancer, twice as many as to heart disease.”

If you are interested in more information regarding breeds and their average life spans, you might want to check out Dog Longevity created by Dr. Kelly M. Cassidy. On the site you will find information on life spans of dog breeds, including information from the US, Canada, and the UK. You will probably notice some variance in breed life span between the different countries. I would attribute this to statistical noise and probably not habits of dog owners by nation. None of the differences in life spans between the countries seems to be statistically significant.

I realize there is so much more information that could be covered but, I just wanted to give you all a brief overview of dog breed longevity and some interesting facts. There is just an overwhelming amount of information and a multitude of variables when it comes to the life spans of all the different breeds of dogs. Selective breeding has given us a wide variety of dogs and a wide variety of health concerns for these dogs. Future posts about health issues, selective breeding, designer dogs, diet and other posts will hopefully provide more information about the life spans of our dogs.

Do you have any stories about the life span of your dog or a dog you know? Any anomalies you have witnessed in the age of a dog?