I’m not a small dog person in general (I generally prefer the medium to large-sized dogs), but back in my pet sitting days there were two sibling dog boarding clients I absolutely adored – Noah and Sophie.
Noah and Sophie were both Cavachons (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon mixes), and just about the most adorable dogs you could imagine. As a breed, they were wonderful little dogs: sweet, well-behaved, easy to train, and terrific cuddlers.
Unfortunately, being a designer dog combo, this breed is likely to be found in great numbers in puppy mills and pet stores. As a result, I have been reluctant to even mention the mix-breed in passing for fear I would be encouraging someone to buy one from a pet store or from a puppy mill breeder.
Fortunately, there are now some reputable breeders popping up and specializing in this mix and as a result, I feel I can openly share how much I love this little breed combination. I am sure not every Cavachon will be as wonderful as Noah and Sophie, but working with the right breeder will increase the likelihood.
This week’s video features the most adorable Cavachon, Boba Fett. I cannot guaranteed the owners of the sweet little dog in this video bought her from a reputable breeder, but I am going to hope that is the case. Either way, he is too cute to not share with you today. I guarantee your heart will be a puddle on the floor before this video is done. 🙂
Happy Friday everyone!
Spend any time at all at a dog park or dog-centric event and you will find yourself starting to form opinions about dogs (and their owners). How a dog behaves may be a reflection of the owner, but often we assume a dog’s behavior is based on their breed.
For example, we might say the following:
- Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs and love kids.
- Golden Retrievers are friendly with everyone.
- Terriers like to dig.
- Hunting dogs, like German Shorthair Pointers and Vizslas, love to go hunting.
But, are these assumptions correct?
Science Friday, often heard on National Public Friday (NPR), explored this very topic this past February. Animal behaviorist James Serpell, was their guest. He discussed our common assumptions on dog breeds and how much of our dog’s behavior is dependent on us, their owners.
He also discussed C-BARQ, a Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, designed to provide dog owners and professionals with standardized evaluations of canine temperament and behavior.
Take a listen. I think you will learn that breed is only part of the equation.
You can listen to the podcast here:
That is the question I posted on my Facebook page last night. I asked the question after seeing a posting for a missing dog that listed the breed of dog as Teddy Bear. Ummmm… What?
Two thoughts immediately ran through my mind when I read that posting:
- What the heck is a Teddy Bear?
- Who the heck is going to know what a Teddy Bear is so they know what to look for?
I can reassure you that the dog has since been found (thank goodness), but it led me to ask the question of my friends “What kind of breed is a Teddy Bear dog?”
Here are some of the answers I received:
- A pom mix?
- Never heard of it.
- Shichon or cross between a shih tzu and bichon.
- Also called a Zuchon.
- Bichon and Pom and Shitzu (I think).
- It can be any mix usually toy anything that will sell.
I Googled it and came up with this:
Teddy bears are “designer dogs,” hybrids of two or more breeds. Most commonly, their parents are Shih Tzus and bichon frises or bichon-poodle mixes, although breeders continue to experiment with adding other dogs, such as schnauzers, to the gene pool. Because of their small size and sweet nature, teddy bears can be perfect pets whether you live in an apartment or a large house.
Apparently, according to this page, they are also great therapy dogs, perfect for people with allergies (yeah, right), and smart and easy to train.
The most likely reality is they are also mutts (yes mutts) with a cute name and numerous health issues that cost thousands of dollars and were raised by puppy millers looking for another quick buck. I can’t wait for the new waves of puppy mill breeding dogs soon to be headed to your local shelter (after a raid of a breeding facility).
To steal a phrase from a friend (Thanks Marie!): “Good Grief. People will do anything to say they have a “rare or special” dog breed won’t they?”
Yes. And, people will pay anything for a dog with a cute name.
That is the question I asked myself as I read some recent data on dogs and canine cancer. The data was posted on The Institute of Canine Biology but came from a scientific veterinary review article by Jane Dobson titled “Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs”.
The data was both interesting and sad. In breeds where the prevalence of cancer is high, the attributing factor is most likely genetics. Certain breeds of dogs are just genetically pre-disposed to get cancer more than others. Whether this is due to closed breed registries I cannot say (I’m just not knowledgable enough about dog breeding to know) but it certainly does give one pause to wonder.
As I looked at the list of dogs, I automatically found myself scrolling down the list to see where Shetland Sheepdogs and Labrador Retrievers fell. Labs were higher on the list (31%) than Shelties (22%), but certainly not as high as the irish Water Spaniel (55.8%) or the Flat-coated Retriever (50.3%).
I found myself whispering a silent “Thank God” and then wondering to myself whether a higher-risk for cancer would change how I felt about a certain breed. If Shetland Sheepdogs were higher on the list would I feel differently about getting a Sheltie again? Would the data influence my decision to stay away from certain breeds? To be honest, I don’t think so, but then again, I am not the owner of a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Vizsla or a Rottweiler or one of the other breeds topping the list. Maybe I would feel differently if my favorite breed was one of these dogs. I just don’t know.
How about you? Would you choose another breed of dog if you knew cancer was more of a possibility?
Last year, I shared a summary of Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 report on the state of pet health in America. The report was full of interesting information on the common ailments and diseases they see in the cats and dogs who visit their hospitals. It also called out a disturbing trend being seen in both types of pets – an increase in pet obesity.
In their 2013 State of Pet Health Report, Banfield shares even more interesting information on the average lifespan of pets and some frequently occurring themes (also seen in the 2012 report). This year’s report provides pet owners and veterinarians with even greater insight into the health of all our pets and where we should be focusing our attention.
Here is a summary of some of the more interesting findings:
- Toy or smaller breed dogs live 41% longer than large breed dogs.
- Large breeds reach their senior years (6 years of age) much earlier than small or toy breeds (10 years of age).
- The average life span for cats is 12.1 years while for dogs it varied depending on size (small/toy breeds-11.3 years, medium breeds-10.8 years and large breeds-11.1 years).
- Interesting enough, Montana and Colorado had the longest average life spans for both cats and dogs.
- Spayed and neutered cats lived longer than unspayed and unneutered cats by 39% and 62% respectively, while unspayed dogs and unneutered dogs did so by 23% and 18%.
- Two of the five states with the shortest lifespans (Mississippi and Louisiana) have the highest number of unspayed and unneutered dogs.
- By far, the most common diagnoses seen in cats and dogs (for young adults to geriatric) was dental tartar and obesity. 37% of dogs and 90% of cats were overweight or obese and 91% of dogs over the age of three had dental disease.
- Heartworm infection is one of the top three diagnoses for pets living in southern states, whereas Lyme disease was more prevalent in the northeast.
- In Minnesota, the top five diagnoses were listed as: dental tartar, overweight, Stage 1 periodontal disease, ear infections and gingivitis.
Curious about your own state’s statistics? Or, looking to compare your state with another state? Banfield has created an interactive map to help you find out more information.
Recently, I came across a news piece debunking common animal myths. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about most animal myths (I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to animals), but it turns out I had more to learn.
For instance, did you know that touching a baby bird does not mean the mother won’t take it back? Or that porcupines don’t shoot their quills at a predator? You can read more about these common myths at Animal Facts & Myths Debunked By Wildlife Experts.
Reading some of the myths we have about wild animals made me wonder what kinds of dog myths I may have fallen for that turned out not to be true. So, off I went a-Googling to see what I could find. It turns out there are quite a lot of dog myths out there. Who knew? (Just kidding. Given how many myths there are in the dog training world, I had to figure there were a lot more myths about dogs.)
Here are some of the more interesting ones I found:
Dogs are sick when their noses are warm – It turns out this is a myth (one I actually believed). “The temperature of a dogs nose does not indicate health or illness or if they have a fever. The only accurate method to access a dog’s temperature is to take it with a thermometer. Normal dog temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F.”
Dogs like to be petted on their heads – Past experience has taught me that this is definitely a myth. While some dogs may not mind it, most dogs DO NOT like to be pet on the head. In fact, a hand coming at them over their head can be quite an intimidating thing to a dog and can be seen as a threat.
Happy dogs wag their tails – Another one that so many people think is true. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy. “A wagging tail can mean agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his all rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, twitches or wagging while held over the back may be associated with aggression.”
Dogs eat grass when they are sick – Haven’t you always wondered why your dog eats grass? I know have. I actually believed this one was true. but according to Dr. Debra Primovic, “Dogs descended from wild wolves and foxes that ate all parts of their “kill.” This included the stomach contents of many animals that ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of their normal diet and eating small amounts is normal.”
Dogs destroy furniture and other items in the house because they are angry – This is actually one of my favorite myths. So many people believe that their dog takes out their anger on them when they are gone. How do they know this? Why their dog looks guilty of course! Afraid not. More and more studies are showing that the guilty look your dog gives you is in response to you (your tone of voice, body posture, etc.) NOT because they actually felt guilty for doing something they knew was wrong. You can read more about a study done in 2009 here.
You should never comfort a scared dog – This is one of those old myths I heard growing up as a kid. My dog Indy was fearful of thunderstorms and we were told to ignore the behavior or it would reinforce it. We did. It didn’t. Her fear just got worse with time. Poor Indy. Now I know better and I comfort Daisy when there is a thunderstorm or fireworks are going off in the neighborhood. Why? Because I finally met someone who understands and works with fearful dogs, Debbie Jacobs. According to Debbie, “One of the first things someone working with a fearful dog needs to understand is that it’s ok to comfort a dog that is afraid. It’s ok to give them a piece of cheese or take them away from what is scaring them.” Daisy is the lucky recipient of this wisdom and I am so grateful. So is Daisy.
Dog growling is always a bad thing – I used to believe this one until I got my dog Indy. Have you ever had a dog who was vocal? Well, Indy was and she loved nothing more than to growl when playing tug or wrestling with another dog. As shared by Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward, “Dogs have a very limited vocal range, and like reading body language, making a judgement based on a single indicator like a growl is a bad idea. Growling during play, such as a game of tug, is perfectly fine.”
Using head collars will cause neck/spinal injury – I recently came across this one when someone I know on Facebook admonished a foster mom for using a Gentle Leader on her foster dog. According to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a well-recognized and respected dog-training association, “This is an oft-repeated claim that can be found all over the Internet. In fact there are no documented cases of dogs getting neck and/or spinal injuries from head collars. Proper use of these types of collars should have no ill physical effects on your dog.”
Dogs are descendents of wolves and therefore training should be based on how wolf packs interact with each other – Ah yes. The whole “pack theory” approach to dog training. You can read my friend Pamela’s post Why is the Dominance Theory of Dog Training Still So Darn Popular? but you may also want to read what APDT has to say on this… “Dogs are not wolves and there are many significant differences between dog and wolf behavior such that wolf behavior is completely irrelevant to how we live and interact with our dogs. Moreover, when wolf behavior is mentioned as a model for dog training, the understanding of wolf behavior used is often incorrect and based on studies that have long since been disproven by research scientists who study wolves extensively.”
Pitbulls have jaws that lock, thus making them more dangerous than other dog breeds – False. False. False. I wish I knew where these myths got started. Somewhere I imagine a dog fighter bragging to his dog fighter scumbag buddy that his pitbull has a jaw that locks. Can’t you just see it? According to the Pitbull Rescue Center’s (PBRC) Media Center page “there is NO SUCH THING AS “JAW LOCKING” IN ANY BREED.” And this, from several veterinarians who were consulted on this matter. The whole “pitbulls have a 1600 PSI bite pressure”myth is also false. PBRC shared some very interesting information on animals and bite pressure:
- Humans: 120 pounds of bite pressure
- Domestic dogs: 320 LBS of pressure on avg. A German Shepard, American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) and Rottweiler were tested using a bite sleeve equipped with a specialized computer instrument. The APBT had the least amount of pressure of the 3 dogs tested.
- Wild dogs: 310 lbs
- Lions: 600 lbs
- White sharks: 600 lbs
- Hyenas: 1000 lbs
- Snapping turtles: 1000 lbs
- Crocodiles: 2500 lbs
Pretty interesting isn’t it?
I look back at when I first became a dog owner and shake my head. What I knew then and what I know now are ages and ages apart. How many of these myths did I believe when I was younger? Probably all of them. It’s amazing what you learn as you grow as a person.
So what myths did you have as a kid that you have since learned were untrue? Did any of the myths listed above surprise you? I would love to hear your thoughts.