Category Archives: Dog Breeds

Full descriptions of dog breeds, their characteristics, health and what kind of pet they make.

The Dog

I have written about many different dog breeds and the characteristics of that individual breed.  W1192936_f260hat I want to do know, is make sure everyone knows that dogs are “dogs” first and THEN they are their breed and THEN their individual identity ie/”Fluffy”, “Fido” etc.

I admit that when I was younger and even sometimes more recently, I have been “doggist”.  I have had a tendency to dislike certain dog breeds due to their tendency towards aggression, dominance and/or “stupidity”.  I will go farther and admit that I have had a chip on my shoulder against Akitas, Chows, Chihuahua’s and German Shepherds, to name a few.

What I always understood is that the “breed” problems in most dog breeds are the fault of the humans who bred them.   What I now understand more fully is that actually, some dog breeds have remained rather “pure” and true to the breed’s origin–which in a lot of cases was for use in hunting dangerous game or as protection and guardians.  Therefore, we cannot expect a dog whose direct ancestors for thousands of years were guardians, to not ACT like guardians.  Of course, in our modern society, this manifest itself as aggression, dominance or other bad behavior.

article-2179887-143E5F17000005DC-525_634x529 thumbWhat I now know, is that while there is breed tendency, such as the “powerful” breeds like Rottweilers, pit bulls, Akitas, ANY dog can be made safe and friendly.  On the other hand, ANY dog can also be turned into an unbalanced, unsafe nightmare.  So Labs, Goldens and Schnauzers under the right (or wrong) circumstances, can become monsters.

It is VITAL that people choose appropriate dogs for their energy level, lifestyle and dog training ability.  If you are a very demure, quiet, sweet person–don’t get a Rottweiler unless you know you have the inner “power” to take the lead and provide the dog with good leadership and training.   On the other hand, if you are, for instance, a very dominant personality and you tend to be loud and gruff, don’t get a timid dog–of any breed.  Timid dogs need leadership, but gently and quietly.

So, not ALL Rottweilers for instance, will be dominant, aggressive and strong minded.  But if you want one that isn’t, you may have to keep looking for awhile.

Realize that all dogs, regardless of breed, need proper leadership.  This is not a “breed” issue, but a dog issue.  The type of leadership can differ by breed and then by individual.   All dogs need exercise, the type, length and intensity will differ by breed and then by individual.   Understand dogs, understand your breed, and then understand your individual.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Thcavalierkingcharlesspanielsf5is adorable spaniel breed has true blue royal blood going back to the 1600′s.  They are descended from the spaniels King Charles II kept.  Not to be confused with King Charles Spaniels–also called English Toy Spaniels.  That breed involved taking the original King’s spaniels and crossing them with Pugs, a couple of hundred years ago, to create a separate breed.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a direct descendent of the original spaniels and the “Cavalier” prefix was added in the 1920′s when American breeders began developing the dog as an AKC breed.

All that said, these are delightful little dogs.  Bred for centuries to be royal lap dogs, they have stayed true to their heritage.  This dog will lounge about on cushions all day and then settle into your lap at night.  These spaniels have low-medium energy so a great amount of exercise is not necessary to keep them happy.   But they are a “big enough” little dog to enjoy long walks and lotsof play if you want to offer it.

As with any dog, they can be naughty but most of this can be brought under control with some simple obedience and training.  Because the Cavalier is such a loyal and willing companion, they take to training very easily and happily and require only gentle corrections and discipline.

Some people say the Cavalier is a naturally well-behaved dog and to some extent I think that is true.   However,  being “well-behaved” has a lot to do with lower energy than some more boisterous breeds and less of a prey drive or desire to roam.   Due to their lovable, laid back nature Cavaliers are an excellent choice for first time dog owners or owners who don’t have a lot of time to invest to train and exercise and just want an “easy” dog.

Cavaliers in general have no temperament issues, and are good with people, children and other pets.  Unfortunately, like with a lot of purebred dogs–especially smaller ones, the Cavalier has a host of medical issues it is predisposed to. Among these are eye and heart problems so it’s a good idea to do annual checkups with your vet to catch anything early.

If you have a family, or live alone and want a loyal companion and you want a laid back, easy going dog, then the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel could be for you.

Hazel awake

Australian Shepherd

Aussie Red MerleAt first glance, or meeting, the Australian Shepherd might look like a dog for everyone and anyone.  They are enthusiastic, friendly and uber- intelligent.  But with that intelligence comes a strong will, high energy and a dog who becomes bored easily.

An Australian Shepherd really wants to work, and to be with their humans.  These highly domestic, loyal companions NEED training and preferably a job, like search and rescue or service dog work, but also obedience competitions, agility competitions or herding work.  If you want–or have–an Australian Shepherd and you don’t have a job for it, you will need to find other distractions for your pet, such as frequent hiking, long walks in the city, obedience classes or other classes like dog freestyle (dog dancing) or anything else that will keep your Aussie engaged and content.  A bored Australian Shepherd will destroy your house and possibly do harm to itself.  They will chew everything in sight–even as adults and they will have trouble sitting still.Aussie blue merle 2

Aussies are often confused with Border Collies, but they are two very distinct breeds.  Aussies typically are born without tails (although not always) and they are significantly larger than a Border Collie and come in many different colors, like Blue Merle, Red and White, Tri-Color and variations on those color schemes.  Both are super intelligent, but I believe the Aussie has a more willful mind of it’s own) nature that requires a stronger human handler than a Border Collie would.

Now that I’ve given the Aussie cautionary tales, I can say that I truly love this breed. They make fantastic pets for the right owners and you will fall so deeply in love with your Aussie you will not be able to imagine life without them.  This is a breed that becomes a part of your soul.  If given all the proper elements of exercise, training and mental stimulation, and of course LOVE, an Aussie makes a fantastically loyal and fun pet.   They learn tricks in a snap–sometimes after only one training session!  It’s like they can read your mind.

Because of how strongly an Aussie can bond to its owner, I would only recommend this breed to someone who would definitely never re-home or surrender their pet.  Affable Aussies will do well on kennel stays or with pet sitters when need be–but they always prefer to be with their human partners and they actually make great traveling companions if you are able to bring them along.

If you have the right personality, understanding and knowledge to handle one, an Aussie may be the dog for you!Aussie Tri


The Dachshund

Ah, the brave little dachshund.   This miniature member of the hound group comes in two sizes, three coat types and a rainbow of colors!  There is a Standard Dachshund and a Miniature Dachshund and various other “designer” sizes that are cropping up in the breeding world.   Both size groups each have three coat types: smooth coat, long-haired, wire-haired.  For the most part, all the different varieties of dachshunds have similar temperaments.

dachshund types

From left: Wire-haired, smooth coat, long-haired

The dachshund is a busy little dog.  These tiny hunting dogs compete with cats as mice hunters in the house.  The dachshund has an alert mind, always watching and listening for anything that might move–inside the house or outside.  And they like to tell people about it–loudly and often! As with other hound breeds, this dog barks–a lot.   Although, my mantra is “all dogs are individuals”, so some people may be lucky enough to have a quiet dachshund–I’m sure it must exist somewhere!  Anyone who wants to adopt a dachshund though, needs to be ready to accept a certain level of barking. Training will minimize it, but not stop it.

I don’t find dachshunds to be particularly good with young children.  These dogs tend to be full of themselves and quite opinionated (think of them as primadonnas) and this can come across as “grumpiness” with little children.  Most dachshunds will not tolerate being poked and prodded or roughly petted by children.  This is not to say they don’t make good pets.  Dachshunds are extremely loyal to their owners and can be very sweet and loving.  They do require training though.  These strong-willed little critters love to rule the roost and be in charge and they will take control if you let them.

Dachshunds have notoriously bad teeth, fast growing, long toenails and obesity problems.  One of the most important things you can do with a new dachshund puppy is play with its feet and practice toenail trimming regularly.  If you don’t, the regular toenail trimmings they require will either become nightmare sessions where your pretty little pet turns into a snarling beast, or you’ll have to pay to have the vet or groomer do it several times per year.  If the toenails don’t get cut,  the curly nails of the dachshund can grow long and curl around to grow back into the foot!  This is painful and requires surgery to correct.

Dachshunds also have their own ideas about potty training–a nice warm floor always seem preferable to the outdoors! Be firm and consistent with potty training from the very beginning.  They are also very clean little dogs so crate training usually works very well for them.

The good news is, they are easy to exercise, don’t need a yard and they cost little to feed.

So, if you have a home free of small children, a desire for a loyal, lap dog who is bold as brass, and have the time and patience to devote, a dachshund could be for you!