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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Chihuahua

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Description:  Chihuahuas are very small dogs, and are the smallest breed recognized by some kennel clubs.[9] There are two main varieties recognized by kennel clubs, the short-haired and the long-haired.[9] There is a second varietal split as well, having to do with the shape and size of the dog’s head. These two descriptive classifications are “apple head” and “deer head”, but only the apple head is conformationally correct. The body is longer than it is tall. The head is well-rounded, apple in shape and the muzzle is short and pointed with a well-defined stop. Puppies have a soft spot on the top of the skull called a “molera,” which usually closes by adulthood. The large, round eyes are set well apart and are dark, ruby, and may be lighter in white dogs. The erect ears are large. Dewclaws may be removed. The tail is long, sickle-shaped and either curled over the back or to the side. The coat can be short, long and wavy or flat. All colors, both solid, marked or splashed are accepted. Colors include, but are not limited to, black, white, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black & tan and parti-color.

Temperament:  Chihuahua’s enjoy affection. Brave, cheerful and agile, Chihuahuas can be strong-willed without proper human leadership. They are loyal and become attached to their owners. Some like to lick their owner’s faces. Tempered Chihuahuas can be easily provoked to attack, and are therefore generally unsuitable for homes with small children. The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular guardian and in some cases may become over protective of the person, especially around other people or animals. They do not always get along with other breeds.

Health: This breed requires expert veterinary attention in areas such as birthing and dental care. Chihuahuas are also prone to some genetic anomalies, often neurological ones, such as epilepsy and seizure disorders. Many Chihuahuas have molleras, or a soft spot in their skulls, and they are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. This is not a defect; it is a normal adaptation facilitating the passage through the birth canal and growth and development of the domed type of forehead. The molera is predominant in the rounder heads often and is present in nearly all Chihuahua puppies. The molera fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Some moleras do not close completely and if particularly large will require extra care to prevent injury. Many veterinarians are not familiar with Chihuahuas as a breed and mistakenly confuse a molera with hydrocephalus. 

Chihuahuas can also be at risk for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which is especially dangerous for puppies. Left unattended, hypoglycemia can lead to coma and death but can be avoided with frequent feedings, especially for chihuahuas who are younger, smaller or leaner. Chihuahua guardians should have a simple sugar supplement on hand to use in emergencies, such as Nutri-Cal, Karo syrup and honey. These supplements can be rubbed on the gums and roof of the mouth to rapidly raise the blood sugar level. Signs of hypoglycemia include lethargy, sleepiness, low energy, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes and spasms of the neck muscles or head pulling back or to the side, fainting and seizures. Chihuahuas have a tendency to tremble or shiver when stressed, excited or cold. Chihuahuas, especially the short-coat variety, are less tolerant of cold than larger breeds, and may require a sweater or boots in cold weather. They will seek warmth in sunshine, under blankets, or on furniture, human laps or the back of a larger dog. Chihuahuas have a notorious problem with dental issues. Dental care is a must for these little creatures. Over-feeding and insufficient exercise can result in an overweight Chihuahua. Overweight Chihuahuas are susceptible to increased rates of joint injuries, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis, and shortened life span. 

Size: Weights ranges 2-6 pounds for both Male and females

Height ranges from 6-10 inches tall for both male and females

Grooming: The smooth, shorthaired coat should be gently brushed occasionally or simply wiped over with a damp cloth. The long coat should be brushed daily with a soft bristle brush. Bathe both types about once per month, taking care not to get water in the ears. Check the ears regularly and keep the nails trimmed. This breed is an average shedder.

Lifespan: Chihuahua usually live to be about 15-20 years old

Exercise: Although it is tempting to carry these dainty creatures about, these are active little dogs that need a daily walk. Play can take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display a wide array of behavior problems, as well as neurotic issues. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.

Weimaraner

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 History:  They originated in Germany around the late 1800’s.  This breed was developed for the Grand Duke, Karl August of Wiemar. These dogs were taught to hunt very large game such as boars, bears, and deer.  Both Germany and The Duke were very possessive of the new breed they had created.  It was said that the first Weimaraners to enter the United States were sterile that way no one could breed these dogs.  Unfortunately, The Dukes plan didn’t work out so well. A man from Rhode Island went to Germany and returned to the US with 3 dogs.  He bread the dogs and shared them with people across the US.

Description:  The Weimaraner is a medium sized dog.  Generally the owners will have the tails docked, but this has been banned in some countries.  Their coats are grayish-silver and can be long or short-haired.  Their eyes start out blue when they are pups, but then change to an amber or light gray color.  These dogs also have webbed toes, which helps them get around better in the water.

Size: For being a large dog, the Weimaraner doesn’t weigh that much. Females are 23-25 inches tall, weighing in around 55-70lbs.  Males are 25-27 inches tall, weighing 70-80lbs.

Temperament:  These guys have been called the dogs with a human brain.  Weimaraner’s are easy to train, but it’s best to start early when they are young.  This breed is very social and loves to be around their owners and other dog friends.  They are very active and athletic dogs.  If they don’t get enough exercise and attention, they can get into some mischief while their owners are away.  Weimaraner’s can live anywhere, but if you choose to get one & you don’t have a yard, make sure you take time to walk them and make daily visits to the dog park so they can exercise and put good use to all of that stored up energy.

Grooming:  Weimaraner’s have a short, flat coat, that sheds yearly.  It is recommended that you groom them in 4-8 week intervals. They need to have their ears cleaned and nails clipped. Weekly brushing is recommended also. Bathing can be done yearly and is only necessary when they are dirty.

Health:  While researching, I have found that Weimaraner’s have a few health issues.  Some may experience entropion, which is where their eyelids are inverted or folded inward.  This means the eyelashes scratch the eyeball and irritate it.  If this is not taken care of, the eye can have permanent damage.

A serious aliment among Weimaraner’s is tricuspid dysplasia.  This happens as the fetus is developing.  The right ventricle doesn’t form properly, causing the valve to not work as efficiently.  As a owner, you may not recognize the signs and symptoms.  Some dogs experience un-explained weight gain, their legs & tail feel cool to the touch, and some have a loss of energy.  Due to the lack of noticeable symptoms, the tricuspid dysplasia goes unnoticed until the dog experiences congestive heart failure. 

Exercise:  These dogs need more exercise than most breeds.  Some owners have reported that a two mile jog around the neighborhood might not be enough.  If you are considering this dog for a future pet, you may want to take some things into consideration.  As an owner, you need to make time to play and interact with your Weimaraner daily, and maybe ever more that twice a day.  Like a morning walk before you leave for work, and then another walk or jog when you return home in the evening.  If this isn’t enough exercise for them, an extra game of fetch might be needed.  These dogs require a lot of space to move around and stay mentally and physically engaged.  If not, they become bored and destructive.

Lifespan: 10-13 years

Trivia:  Due to the sleek silver and gray coat, the Weimaraner has been given the knick name “Gray Ghost”.

Sources:

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/dogs-101/videos/weimaraner/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimaraner

https://www.espree.com/breedProfiler.asp?g=4&b=66

http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/weimaraner#grooming

http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/your-dogs-health/disease-information/tricuspid-valve-dysplasia.html

http://www.iowaweimrescue.org/weimaraner-characteristics/

http://www.animalplanet.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds/sporting/weimaraner.html

http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/weimaranerphotos4.htm (picture credit)

Breed of the Month: Vizsla

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History:  It has been said that the Vizsla originated in Austria and Hungary, dating back to the 14th century.  The ancestors were said to be hunters, part retriever and part pointer.  Back then, only noble or wealthy individuals owned these dogs.  This is how the blood line was preserved so well. Later on the Vizsla was mixed with a Weimaraner and a German Short-Haired Pointer.

Description:  The Vizsla is a medium size dog.  Their muscular bodies are built for activity and lots of running.  They are cinnamon in color throughout their entire body. Their coats are short, smooth, and dense.  An interesting fact about Vizslas, is that the iris of their eye is all brown.  You cannot see any white when looking in their eyes.

Size: The average male is 22-25 inches weighing up to 45-66 pounds.  The female is 21-24 inches and weighs about 40-55 pounds.

Temperament:  These dogs are very loyal and affectionate.  Vizslas form a strong bond with their owner and family.  The Vizsla has been given the nickname “velcro-dog”.  This because if they aren’t outdoors playing, they are by your side or sitting on your lap.  Yes, Vizslas make a good family dog, but you need to be careful when they are around young children.  This is due to their high level of energy and wanting to play a lot.  Vizslas were born with a natural instinct to hunt, but like most hunting dogs, they require training.  It is recommended to train them slowly, because they can become overwhelmed very easily.

Grooming:  The Vizsla is a very low- maintenance dog.  They are good at self-cleaning, and don’t have the ‘dog odor’ that some people tend to smell.  Some owners recommended wiping them down with a dry rag twice a week.  That way they stay clean and you should only bathe them 3-5 times a year.

Health: Vizsla’s are known to have a few common health issues.  The Vizsla Club of America participates in a canine health database.  Before a Vizsla can be registered for a number, they need to be tested for certain ailments, and the owner must provide all test results.  Most breeders are careful and monitor the bloodlines when considering a mate for their dog.  They can use the health database Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) to gather information concerning a Vizslas health history.

Common health issues include:

  • hip dysplasia
  • Von  Willebrand’s disease
  • cancer
  • hypothyroidism
  • eye disorders

Exercise:  This dog requires about 30-60 minutes of  exercise daily.  And when I say exercise, I don’t mean just a walk around the block.  The Vizslas love to run and play.  If you live in town or in an apartment, you might want to reconsider getting a Vizsla.  They enjoy going hunting, running around outdoors, agility courses, and playing fetch.

Lifespan:  The Vizsla tends to live 10-14 years.

Keep in Mind:   Even though you have provided your Vizsla with lots of attention and exercise, they can still become bored.  Especially when they are home alone.  These dogs are known for chewing, so make sure they have toys  of their own to keep them busy and play with.

Sources:

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/dogs-101/videos/vizsla.htm

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/dogs-101/videos/vizsla.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vizsla

http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/vizsla

http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/vizsla