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BY NASTASSIA PUTZ, PUBLISHER

Let’s Back Track
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are true Renaissance hounds. They are good at a variety of things and have an exciting history. Dutch colonists in southern Africa used the native hunting dogs of tribes and combined them with the more popular European breeds: Greyhounds and Terriers. Thus creating an athletic, regal-looking dog that could hunt in packs and track down lions. They were able to successfully find and confront these predators and keep them trapped by howling at them or baying from a safe distance. Imagine a pack of dogs surrounding the king of beasts like the hyenas did in Disney’s “The Lion King.” Ridgebacks were effective companions for South African-born Cornelius van Rooyen—big game hunter and dog breeder—in the late 19th century. Never killing the lions, the Ridgebacks would howl (bay) at them so the hunter had adequate time to pull out and dispatch his rifle. Ridgies are the national dog of South Africa.

Fun Fact: In the 1930s, movie star Errol Flynn (“The Adventures of Robin Hood”) was the first breeder in the United States. He bred them on his Hollywood ranch, however the bloodline is now extinct.

It’s All in the ‘Tude
Most importantly, today they are devoted family dogs that are good with children—two-legged children of the human variety, that is. Ridgebacks have an extremely strong prey drive stemming from their days of trotting alongside hunters on horses and chasing down prides. Cover dog owner Dan Broege says his dog Reggie may have high energy, but he is still his couch potato at heart. “Reggie is super friendly, loves people and other dogs, but is very protective of the house.” Reggie will guard the house all day yet sleeps under the covers in the bed at night. Ridgebacks are typically very strong-willed dogs that are independent, loyal and domineering.

Keeping One
Because they are the stereotypical strong-willed four-legged children, Ridgies need a firm trainer from youth on. The ideal candidate is someone who can positively steer them in the right direction, keeping them on a tight leash but with lots of exercise. They need training classes and early socialization in order to become well-mannered and well-adjusted companions, according to the American Kennel Club. Though this dog is extremely loyal to his or her family, this is a dog that lives indoors and needs to be fenced-in when outside and off leash due to a heavy prey drive. Broege says his Ridgeback is a freak of an athlete yet possesses some unique quirks. Reggie is a whiner and a kisser but only kisses strangers! Weird. Not the typical behavior for a Ridgie. Usually, Rhodesians are quite affectionate with their owners and more reserved with strangers. Broege also mentions that Reggie loves to watch TV and will only chew on bones that Broege holds for him. Talk about your atypical royal Ridgie.

As for appearance, this beautiful breed should look muscular, symmetrical and balanced in outline, according to the AKC. They have a signature ridge of hair down their back and range in size. Their grooming needs are small as they only require the basics: nail trimming, brushing and bathing as upkeep.

Caring For One
Having a canine companion and truly caring for one, based on a dog’s breed and individuality, are two separate things. Ridgebacks are strong, athletic dogs and need moderate amounts of daily exercise. They make great tracking and agility partners for the canine sports enthusiast. They are also highly intelligent and require mental stimulation alongside their physical needs.

Question: It takes brains and brawn to track down a lion…right?

As far as training goes, force-free dog trainer Holly Lewis of Cold Nose Canine says all breeds learn the same. She trains dogs using food, touch, toys, praise and life rewards. Lewis may not need to adjust her methods for breed; she, however, does make accommodations based on the needs, motivations and instincts of each individual dog.

“So we focus on the good the dogs are doing,” says Lewis. “We also focus on setting up the environment for the greatest success.” Lewis is currently training two Ridgies and notes they are a strong, active and durable breed that she finds to be somewhat mischievous yet very loving.

“Rhodesians are bred to hunt lions, so hunting instincts are deep,” Lewis confirms. “So caution should be taken around rabbits and other small animals.”

Note: For anyone looking to care for this breed, she says be sure to have adequate space and time. “Any breed, especially larger dogs, will need to be well-trained to represent the breed well.”

AKC Stat Box
Temperament: Affectionate, dignified, even-tempered.
Appearance: Muscular, symmetrical & balanced in outline.
Height: 25-27 inches (male), 24-26 inches (female).
Weight: 85 pounds (male), 70 pounds (female).
Breed Quirk: Ridge of hair on the back.
Coat: Short, dense, sleek and glossy.
Color: Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes.
Life Expectancy: ~10 years.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Pepper was black, short and chunky. The one-year-old Shar-Pei looked like a baby hippo. She had mange and infected ears. Chained outside in the heat, she stunk badly. Her owners wanted to euthanize her. But there was something special about her. Kathy Baily, the president of Shar-Pei Savers in Genoa, Ohio, adopted Pepper and trained her to be a therapy dog. (Next year, she’ll be 12 years old.) Independent, regal, alert and dignified: Is this wrinkly wonder right for you?

History

The Shar-Pei most likely originated in the small fishing village of Tai Li in southeastern China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). While Marco Polo’s journal, published in 1271, only mentions Pugs and Chow Chows, a translation of a 13th-century Chinese manuscript refers to a dog with a “sandpaper-like coat” and a blue-black tongue.

Chinese farmers used Shar-Peis for hunting, herding and guarding their livestock. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China as a communist nation, Shar-Peis were declared upper-class luxuries and were virtually wiped out. During this period, a handful was smuggled into Hong Kong and Taiwan.They were crossbred with Tibetan Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Great Pyrenees, Bulldogs and Boxers.

In April 1973, Matgo Law, owner of Down-Homes Kennel in Hong Kong, begged U.S. dog fanciers to “save the Shar-Pei.” Then the “Guinness Book of World Records” proclaimed the Chinese Fighting Dog the rarest dog breed on Earth. Commercially-minded breeders pumped out litters as quickly as impulsive buyers could pull out their credit cards. By the mid-’80s, the Shar-Pei craze died down.

Clowning Around

On April 1, 2018, Jineen McLemore-Torres adopted Jameson from Shar-Pei Savers. At three months old, he hadn’t opened his eyes. “He had a visible cherry eye, and we believe the breeder who surrendered him was unable to sell him,” she says.

“Jameson was initially a medical foster, but my female Shar Pei Jade and I both fell in love with him,” Jineen says. When he’s not lounging on his favorite bed or digging in the mud, he’s running full speed into the couch, without even trying to jump up on it. “When I was playing with him last…he threw himself on the ground, making a loud thump, rolled on to his back, legs in the air and expected a belly rub while nibbling on my hands.”

His stubbornness always rears its ugly head whenever he’s at the store or an event. If he doesn’t want to leave, he plops down on his side or back and refuses to move. “Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, but it doesn’t feel funny when it’s happening to me,” she admits.

Whenever you try to teach a Shar-Pei a new trick without his favorite treats (ahem…antlers), he’ll throw shade at you. While Jameson is a bit lazy, he earned his AKC Star Puppy certification when he was under a year old. Jineen recently began teaching him to shake hands and give high five. “I thought it’d be at least a week of short sessions,” she says, “but at the end of a 10-minute session, he was throwing his paw up.”

Health

“The joke in the Shar-Pei world is, if you’re not willing to spend thousands on your dog for healthcare, don’t get a Shar-Pei,” Kathy says. Shar-Peis are prone to familial Shar-Pei fever (FSF), which causes fever, temporary joint pain and swelling. It can lead to polyarthritis, liver failure and kidney failure.

“There’s no cure for FSF; only supportive care,” says Dr. Erin Wilson from Spring Harbor Animal Hospital in Madison, Wis. “Owners should talk to their family vet about keeping pain medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories on hand for painful flare-ups. They should also learn how to take their Shar-Peis’ temperatures, as prolonged elevated body temperature may require hospitalization and IV fluids.”

Shar-Peis are also susceptible to skin infections, eye problems (like retinal dysplasia or glaucoma) and bloat, which is a potentially fatal twisting of the stomach that requires immediate surgical treatment. “We’ve also found that dogs with a horse coat will tend to get kind of a smell to them,” Baily says. “They sleep in a ball, so their bellies tend to get stinky.” Use a baby wipe or gentle shampoo.

While Shar-Peis don’t require a lot of exercise, a sweater or jacket may be needed during the worst of the winter months. “During summertime, walking should be limited to early mornings or evenings when the weather is cooler,” Dr. Wilson says.

Should You Adopt a Shar-Pei?

Shar-Peis don’t show well in shelter settings. When people walk by their cages, they either shrink back or start to bark. “People see that side of them and think, ‘I don’t want a dog like that,’” Kathy says. But Shar-Peis are extremely intelligent and devoted to their families. They slowly warm up to strangers but generally are great once you get to know them. “They are very clean dogs and housetrain very young…and they give the best hippo kisses.”

BY PAMELA STACE

Many years ago, I fell in love with Italian Greyhounds when I saw them competing at a Racine Kennel Club dog show. I even picked out a name if I would ever be lucky enough to have one: Paolo. I was attracted to their elegant good looks, the fact that they were often depicted in Renaissance paintings (I was an Art History major) and that you could pick them up and hold them like cats.

Years later, after settling on the Afghan Hound as my breed, I learned that Italian Greyhounds (or IGs) are indeed cuddly but also every bit the athletic hunters that their other Sighthound cousins are.

History
As is the case for many of our dog breeds, the origins of the Italian Greyhound are sketchy, but we do know that they were not developed in Italy. It is widely believed that the breed came out of Turkey and Greece about 2000 years ago, where images of small Greyhound-like dogs have been found on ancient artifacts. From there, the Italian Greyhound spread throughout the Mediterranean and by the Middle Ages could be found throughout Southern Europe.

Bred for companionship and as a hunter of small game, the little dogs quickly became the darlings of the aristocracy. Royal owners included Charles I, Catherine the Great and later, Queen Victoria during whose reign the popularity of IGs peaked in England. Frederick II of Prussia especially liked the breed and owned more than 50 of the little dogs! IGs can be seen being held by their highborn owners in Renaissance art and portraits. They were especially beloved by wealthy Italians and soon became known as Italian Greyhounds. In the United States, the Italian Greyhound was recognized by the AKC in 1886 and this year was ranked 73rd out of 193 in popularity.

The Smallest Sighthound
IGs were bred down from the Greyhound and as such have all of the larger dogs hunting and speed capabilities. They are energetic and playful runners and jumpers, but because of their strong prey drive, cannot be relied upon to stay in place off-leash. They are sometimes referred to as Velcro dogs because they like to stick close to their humans and will follow them everywhere, even under bedcovers. IGs are affectionate and don’t like to be left alone for too long. They love attention, although they are not fond of roughhouse play. They are good with children who can respectfully and carefully interact with them.

IGs can be barkers, and for being small dogs, they make good watchdogs. Like cats, IGS love warmth and heights. They enjoy sunshine through a window and sitting on windowsills and chair backs. Because they are not always careful when running and jumping, IGs can injure themselves when they are in high gear.

It is advisable to keep them crated when unsupervised, especially when they are under a year old because their bones aren’t fully developed. They have been known to break them! IGs respond to positive, motivational training. They need it to be fun and seem as if it was all their idea! An Italian Greyhound is a wash-and-wear dog. They have short glossy coats that are easy to keep clean, although they are medium shedders. Because of their need for warmth, a nice warm winter coat is a must here in Wisconsin. As is the case with other small breeds, IGs are sometimes slow to become house trained but will eventually get it in response to gentle positive reinforcement training.

Activities
Because IGs are intelligent and athletic, they are perfect for many organized dog activities. They excel at obedience, rally, agility and lure coursing.Their distinctive high-stepping gait is impressive in the show ring.

Home Life
Because they are generally adaptable to any environment that contains the humans they love, Italian Greyhounds can live almost anywhere. They make excellent apartment dogs but do need regular exercise. They love to run and can go as fast as 25mph! Again, they will take off if they spy something interesting to chase, so they can never be off-leash or outside a secure, fenced-in area. Like all of their Sighthound cousins, they are born thieves! And of course, they love being held!
Health Issues
Italian Greyhounds are generally healthy but can be prone to some health issues. These include epilepsy, thyroid problems, cataracts, periodontal disease and hip dysplasia. They are also sensitive to pesticides.

The Best of Both Worlds
The Italian Greyhound is a Sighthound/Toy combination. An IG combines the qualities of a cuddly, loving lap dog with the impressive speed and prey drive of a Sighthound. I’d say this is the best of two worlds found together in one beautiful, portable package!

Links

Italian Greyhound Club of
America italiangreyhound.org
Italian Greyhound Club of
America Rescue www.igrescue.com

Stats

Homeland: Turkey and Greece, later Europe.

Original Job: Hunter of small game and companion dog.

Size: 13-15 inches, 7-14 lbs.

Coat Colors: Solid black, blue sable, red sable, fawn and cream, sometimes with varying amounts of white coloring. Never brindle or classic black and tan pattern.

Grooming: Regular bathing, nail trimming and teeth brushing.

Exercise: Moderate exercise with regular good romps.

Lifespan: 12-15 years.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic cherish the conveniently sized and agile Brittany as an all-purpose hunting partner and a dog sport teammate. The only thing that makes a Brittany happier than the smelly, great, smelly, wonderful, smelly, outdoors (Did we say smelly?) is staying velcroed to their owners.

History
Brittany is the westernmost region of France, surrounded by the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. It was here, possibly as early as 150 A.D., that peasants and poachers developed what’s today considered one of the world’s most versatile bird dogs that are capable of hunting duck, woodcock, pheasant and partridge.

While few breeding records have been kept, l’épagneul Breton, or Brittany Spaniel, is thought to be a cross between an orange-and-white English Setter, a Welsh Springer Spaniel and a Spanish Pointer. The breed was recognized in 1907 when an orange-and-white male named Boy was registered as the first Brittany Spaniel in France.

When Brittanys were brought to North America by Juan Pugibet in 1928, American hunters didn’t like them because of their short tails. “Although the Brittany doesn’t have the physique of a German shorthaired pointer or the beauty of a setter, it has enough heart to outhunt any other [gun] dog,” says David Schlake, an upland hunter from Austin, Texas. “If all the pointing breeds made up a team, the Brittany spaniel would be football player Rudy Ruettiger, who recorded an unlikely sack in the waning seconds of the 1975 Notre Dame-Georgia Tech football game.”

Louis A. Thebaud imported these “small players with big enough hearts” into the U.S. in 1931. Three years later, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club. But in 1982, their name was shortened to Brittany because their hunting styles resembled setters more than spaniels.

Never a Dull Moment
On May 12, 2018, Josh Graber and Heather Reichert bought their Brittany named Napa from Gilmore Brittanys in Boscobel, Wisconsin. “We had the option between two female dogs. We picked the one that we thought was going to be calmest,” Graber says. “Actually, she ended up being as energetic as ever.”

Napa successfully hunted pheasant at seven months. “If you don’t hunt them [or exercise them for at least an hour per day], they’ll find something to do, and that usually isn’t good,” says Susan Spaid, the President of the National Brittany Rescue and Adoption Network. “Brittanys do really well with invisible fences. While people do successfully keep them in apartments, they’re usually the kind of people that run five miles per day and take their dogs with them.”

Napa isn’t hardheaded, but self-confidence just kind of oozes out of her. “She lets people know what she wants and isn’t afraid to show it,” Graber says. “She particularly likes dogs that are bigger than her, and [she] can’t get enough of people. Anybody who comes in she tries to get them to do a belly rub.” If she didn’t have that adorable pink nose, she’d be [a] brown-noser for sure. All it takes is a passing look of disapproval from her owners to snap her out of mischief.

The Brittany is a little bit of a shedder but not a very heavy shedder. “I get my dogs’ coats cut pretty close during the summertime,” Spaid says. “But some people shave them.” Napa gets her teeth brushed every day. “I’m a dentist, so that’s something that we focus on. She loves the peanut butter and pork toothpaste,” Graber says, “She gets a bath once per week and her nails cut because they grow pretty fast.”

Health Issues
“The breed is the correct size to live a long life,” says Jesse Sondel, owner of the Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. “Most live 10 to 12 years, with one in five dogs dying of old age at 15 to 17 years.” While they’re fairly healthy, they’ve been known to suffer from hip dysplasia, a sometimes-crippling malformation of the hip joint that can require expensive surgical repair.

Other conditions that can affect the breed are epilepsy and retinal atrophy—which is an untreatable eye disease that causes blindness. Some Brittanys also are born with cleft palates or have hypothyroidism, a common hormonal disease that causes their metabolisms to be as slow as molasses in January. “All breeders should do OFA [Orthopedic Foundation for Animals] hip, elbow and thyroid testing prior to breeding,” Sondel says.

Should You Adopt a Brittany?
Athletic, bright and family-oriented, Brittanys are amazing dogs, but they’re not for everyone. “If a robber entered your house, a Brittany would hold the flashlight for him. They’re just not good watchdogs,” Spaid says. Some Brittanys, especially adolescents, also might suddenly urinate when they get over-excited or feel intimidated.

Whether their owners are taking a Saturday snooze or trekking to the mailbox in their slippers, the Brittany just wants to be near them. But make no mistake; this is not a couch-potato puppy. Brittanys need daily, heart-thumping exercise—whether hunting, doing canine sports or human-centered activities like playing fetch with the kids—to keep their high spirits from bounding off.

By PAMELA STACE

Katerina, or Kate, our cover dog, shares her name with Shakespeare’s famous heroine Katerina from “The Taming of the Shrew.” It seems that both Kates share a number of qualities including stubbornness, intelligence, independence, loyalty and devotion.

Like Shakespeare’s Kate, Lakelands, “Lakies” or “Laplanders” do what they want to do and can be quite bold! The cover dog’s owner Nora Clark says that her girl is friendly and well-behaved but likes things her way! The “Little Tank,” as Nora calls her, loves to be out in the snow but refuses to wear a coat. She loves to play, but can get a bit rough.

History has It

The Lakeland terrier originated in Cumberland, England’s Lake District, sometime in the 19th Century. This makes it one of the oldest of the terrier breeds. As sturdy little dogs with a dense, wiry double coat, they were originally bred to work independently from humans, hunting vermin over rocky terrain. Farmers also used Lakies together with hounds to keep foxes away from their sheep during lambing season. These dogs were bred to be tough, athletic and ready to take on anything big or small that got in their way. Coming from lake country, they adore water. The Lakeland is related to the now-extinct Old English black and tan terrier, the Bedlington terrier, the Dandie Dinmont terrier and the border collie. The Lakeland terrier was recognized by the AKC in 1934 and in 2018 was ranked 138 among registered breeds.

Life at Home

Lakies can do well anywhere, but they do best with a thoughtful and understanding owner. Highly energetic, sneaky and with a mind that never stops, they not only enjoy having a daily job to do, but MUST have one. Because they are very headstrong, Lakies need early socialization and training in order to effectively channel their natural eagerness, curiosity and intelligence. They are perfectly capable of finding their own fun around the house and can get into trouble there. So it is best for their owners to find ways to keep them busy! They love people and make especially great lap dogs! Lakies can take a long time to housetrain, but with patience and persistence they will get there! They may be overly protective of their humans or aggressive around other dogs. They are very intuitive and can really tune into the health issues and moods of their owners. Lakies are good watchdogs, but it is important that they be discouraged from being too barky. They are considered non-shedding, and they are a good choice for people who are allergic to dogs. Cover dog Kate lives with cats, but Nora warned that she would not recommend this breed for those who own kittens or rodents. They do well with children who can respect their personal space.

Keeping Things Active

The Lakeland terrier loves learning, but because they are fiercely independent, they can be a challenge to train for obedience. Lakies do very well, however, in agility, conformation, tracking, rally, and especially earthdog trials, where small dogs such as terriers show off their hunting talents within constructed underground tunnels. They love navigating these courses that are similar to the narrow rocky caves of their homeland. They are becoming increasingly popular as therapy dogs.

Health of Their Own

Lakelands are generally very healthy but can suffer from genetic eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and lens luxation. They may also experience a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand’s disease.

Sense of Humor Required

Lakeland terriers are impish, happy, confident and comical. Their clownish antics will make you smile and sometimes make you laugh out loud! They love being the center of attention and are more than happy to assume the role of the star when you are out walking! So owners, be prepared to let your Lakie strut their stuff.

Links: The United States Lakeland Terrier Club is the AKC parent club that supports the preservation and enhancement of the breed, as well as supervising rescue and adoption activities and encouraging sportsmanlike behavior at performance competitions. www.usltc.org

Stats: Homeland: Northern England Lake District. Original Job: Being a farm dog—hunting vermin and repelling foxes. Size: 13.5–14.5 inches, 17 lbs. Coat Colors: Colors include blue, black, liver, and red. If saddle marked, the saddle may be blue, black or liver. Grooming: Regular brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing. For showing, meticulous hand stripping is required. Non-show dogs may be hand stripped, clipped, or allowed to have longer, shaggier coats. Exercise: Daily exercise needed. Lifespan: 12-15 years.

By PAMELA STACE

They look like miniature Collies, but the Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie is a completely separate breed developed to herd sheep, poultry and ponies in the rugged terrain of the Shetland Islands between Scotland and Norway. Like Shetland Ponies and Shetland Sheep, these dogs were bred to be compact so that they would eat less and therefore be easier for farmers to keep in a location where food was not always in abundant supply.

History

The origins of the Shetland Sheepdog are somewhat unclear, but it is believed that the foundation of the breed was a Northern Spitz-type herding dog brought from Scandinavia as early as the 10th century. It is thought that these dogs were subsequently crossed with Pomeranians, King Charles Spaniels and other indigenous dogs of the islands. Later, rough-coated Collies were added to the mix for the sake of breed uniformity. Shelties were also known as Liliputian Collies, Toonie (farm) Dogs and Fairy Dogs. In the 19th century, Shetland Islanders began selling Sheltie puppies to tourists, and Shelties became known to the rest of Great Britain. Recognized by the AKC in 1911, almost all Shelties in the U.S. today are descended from dogs brought here between World War I and World War II. In the 1970s, the Sheltie became enormously popular and has remained that way. In 2017, the Shetland Sheepdog ranked 24 out of 194 AKC breeds.

What Makes a Sheltie a Sheltie

The Sheltie is a smart, agile and sturdy dog with a pointy, expressive, fox-like face. They have a harsh and straight outer coat that repels dirt and water, and a dense undercoat which makes them well-suited for life in a harsh climate. Like all herding dogs, a Sheltie wants a job to do. They are eager to please and like to be busy, or they may become depressed. They are vocal and energetic and are sometimes prone to excessive barking, but they respond well to gentle, consistent training. Shelties are sensitive and affectionate and tune themselves into the family dynamic. They want to be with their humans and are often protective of them. They are good watchdogs. Debra Krajec, the owner of three Shelties, told me how 15-month-old Toby often barks and reacts to strangers as if to protect her on their walks. And Marlene Sadrow Carew, the owner of our cover dog, 5-year-old Merlot, mentioned how Merlot will bark to keep her son’s cat away from the dinner table.

A Multi-Talented Little Dog

Shelties enjoy many dog sports and other canine activities. They excel at agility, rally, lure coursing, conformation, herding trials, and especially obedience. They learn tricks easily. Their intelligence and sensitivity also makes them perfect therapy and service dogs. Merlot is extremely popular as a therapy dog in Florida, where she is in high demand at hospitals, assisted living centers and hospices. This past fall, Marlene and Merlot received a request to visit Panama City after Hurricane Michael’s devastating destruction. Marlene wheeled Merlot in a stroller, where she could easily be seen and interact with the survivors there.

Health Issues

Shelties are generally very healthy, but rarely, some health issues may occur. These include thyroid, liver, and kidney trouble, Collie eye anomaly, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy.

Home Environment

Shelties are highly adaptable and can thrive in either a rural or urban setting. Being with the people they love is what is most important to them! They are good with kids and other pets, although sometimes this becomes problematic when they can’t stop herding them!

A Mutual Devotion

Maybe because Shelties are so loyal sweet and playful, Sheltie owners are just as devoted to their dogs as their dogs are to them! Marlene takes Merlot, her “little princess,” with her wherever she goes. “She’s my therapy, and I’m her therapy,” she says.

Right from the start, Debra knew that this was her breed. “When I see Shelties, I just melt,” she says.

Links

The Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue was established in 1995. It is an all-volunteer group that exists to educate the public about the breed, and find homes for Shelties in need. www.wisheltierescue.com

The American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) is the AKC parent club for Shelties. americanshetlandsheepdogassociation.org

Stats

Homeland: Shetland Islands between Norway & Scotland.

Original Job: Being a farm dog & herding sheep, poultry & ponies.

Size: 13-16 inches, 15-25 lbs.

Coat Colors: Sable, black & blue merle with varying amounts of white or tan coloring.

Grooming: Regular brushing, nail trimming, & teeth brushing. Occasional bathing. Heavy seasonal shedding of the undercoat.

Exercise: Moderate exercise with an occasional good romp.

Lifespan: 12-13 years.

By CHERESE COBB

If you’ve ever seen “Turner and Hooch,” you’ve seen a French Mastiff. The breed may look like a menacing mass of wrinkles with monstrous jaws and drooling jowls, but there’s far more to them than meets the eye. In fact, owners describe these dogs as massive sweethearts. That doesn’t mean they’re pushovers, though. Because they’re velcro dogs, they’ll do their best to protect their owners from danger. Even so, the hallmark of this breed is their calm and dependable natures.

History

Nobody knows the exact origin of the French Mastiff, also known as the Dogue de Bordeaux. One theory suggests that it’s a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff, whose origin can be traced back more than 5,000 years, from Tibet to Mesopotamia and then from Ancient Greece to Gaule. Another theory states that the French Mastiff is a direct descendant of Assyrian war dogs who were owned by the King of Babylon. Some scholars say that the breed came from the extinct “Alano Dog”, who was brought to Europe by the Alans, an Oriental tribe.

By the 14th century, the French Mastiff was used to bait bulls and hunt boars, bears, and jaguars. It hauled heavy loads, herded cattle, and pulled soldiers from the battlefield, particularly in Bordeaux and Aquitaine. The French Mastiff also survived two brushes with extinction. Prized by French aristocrats, they enjoyed a pampered lifestyle, but during the French Revolution, when the nobles fell out of favor, they did too. During WWII, the breed was also nearly wiped out by Hitler who was enraged by their loyalty and devotion to their masters.

The Most Lovable Dog Breed

On November 26, 2016, Johnny Holt and his husband adopted their French Mastiff from La Belle Bordeaux in Jacksonville, Florida. “The breeders were actually friends of ours, and Maggie is from their first litter,” Holt says. The couple adored Maggie’s mother and father before they even knew they were going to have puppies. “From about two weeks old, Maggie kept crawling up into my lap every time we went over to their house,” he says. “We actually weren’t planning on getting one because we already have three Bulldogs, but I fell in love with Maggie and had no choice.”

Turning two on September 8, 2018, Maggie is like a 127-pound Yorkie. She’s his most gentle dog and thinks that she’s a lapdog. “The Dogue de Bordeaux’s face frightens people. Its wrinkles are living—that is, when the dog is attentive, there are more wrinkles, and when it’s not attentive, they are fewer and not so deep,” says Raymond Triquet who is considered to be the father and the reviver of the breed. “But its heart is golden and very, very tender. It loves its master, and it loves its mistress more. Many males are in love with their mistresses to the point of repelling her husband.”

While the French Mastiff sheds so much that you might need two Dysons, its goofball antics will keep you entertained. “When I gave her a bath a couple of weeks ago, she decided she was done and jumped out. She was running around the house soaking wet and covered with soap,” Holt laughs. The breed doesn’t always appreciate sharing their homes with other pets (especially other dogs of the opposite sex), so introductions to pets and children should take place while they’re still young and more manageable. “They’re kind of specific to one person,” he says. “She’s definitely my baby. She won’t leave my side.

Health Issues

French Mastiffs are moderately healthy, though they’ve been known to suffer from bloat, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, eye infections and heart murmurs. They’re also prone to skin fold dermatitis. It causes red inflamed skin, crusty sores, hair loss and a bad odor. “A soft, damp cloth or natural baby wipe should do the trick, followed up with a dry towel,” says Karen Shaw Becker, an integrative wellness veterinarian. French Mastiffs have excessively broad heads. They can’t tolerate heat or excessive exercise. “During the summer, Maggie is heavily panting within a minute,” Holt says. “In the winter, she gets excited when it snows, and she stands at the door and cries until we let her out to play. After about fifteen minutes in the yard, she’s completely wiped.”

Should You Adopt a French Mastiff?

Big dogs with even bigger hearts, French Mastiffs are the shortest living dog breed in existence with a life expectancy of five to eight years. What they lack in longevity, however, they make up for it by being extremely loyal, patient and devoted to their families. However, they’re not for everyone. You’ll have to get used to grunting, gas, snoring and slobber. Saliva will end up caked to your cabinets, dried on your ceiling, stuck to your staircase and even flung ten feet up your walls. So, you’ll definitely want to carry a “drool rag” and duck for cover whenever your dog shakes its head.

The French Mastiff has dual personalities and isn’t to be taken lightly. While it’s a gentle giant with a clownish streak, it’s also a canine of sheer aggression and power if provoked. It needs a firm and experienced handler, or it’ll take over as the pack leader. Considering its size, it’s pretty lazy, so training sessions should be kept short and should be combined with play, exercise and companionship in order to keep its attention and to create bonds of respect and affection. If you adopt a French Mastiff, be prepared to lose your couch, your bed and your heart.

By PAMELA STACE

The “Grey Ghost,” “The Dog with the Human Brain,” and “The Shadow Dog” are words that have been used to describe the strikingly handsome and versatile Weimaraner. Because of their almost super-canine physical and mental abilities such as great intelligence, good eyesight, an excellent sense of smell, and extreme agility, Weimaraners need persistent, early training and a structured lifestyle. They are strong-willed and can be stubborn. Fortunately, they do have a cooperative spirit and can be trained to work together with their owners. They are loving and loyal and will never leave your side—unless of course you send them out on an “assignment.”

History

The Weimaraner was developed in early 19th century Weimar, Germany, by Duke Karl August. As a keen sportsman, the duke wanted to create the perfect hunting dog. Therefore, Bloodhounds were crossed with German and French field dogs, and perhaps Greyhounds and Great Danes. The result was a sturdy, athletic and intelligent dog capable of hunting both game birds, and fur-bearing animals such as foxes and hares.

The AKC recognized the Weimaraner in 1943, and some American GIs brought them back home from Germany after WWII. It was not until the 1950s however that the American Weimaraner population really took off. Both President Dwight Eisenhower and Grace Kelly were enthusiastic Weim owners.

“A Tired Weimaraner is a Happy Weimaraner”

Weimaraners need both physical and mental activity to fulfill them. They are not the best dog for apartment living because they really do need room to move and can, in fact, sprint at 35mph. Weims also need their minds to be focused on non-destructive behaviors. Without these two parameters, they will definitely take things into their own paws, finding their own fun. So leave them unsupervised at your own risk! For reasons of safety in the field, Weimaraners are asked to utilize their intelligence and loyalty by both thinking independently and following our human commands. Again, early training is very important.

Life at Home

Weimaraners are Velcro dogs. Not only must they be near us, they need to be touching us constantly to be truly happy. They are prone to separation anxiety, but that can be managed. Weims are also nosy and don’t want to miss out on anything that is going on around them.

Weimaraners are not unfriendly but can be somewhat aloof with strangers. They bark and are good watchdogs. My friend, former Weimaraner owner Marylou Mader, told me, “These are not aggressive dogs, but when it comes to intruders and protecting their family, a Weimaraner will let them in but will not let them out.”

Because Weimaraners were bred to hunt fur-bearing animals, having them around cats might not be a great idea. Weimaraner and cat interactions must be supervised and managed very carefully. They are good were kids, but where very young children are involved discretion is advised.

Health Issues

Weimaraners are general healthy but do suffer from some health issues. Among them are hip dysplasia, bloat and panosteitis. Because they are predisposed to vaccine reactions, a specific vaccine protocol is necessary, with timing being extremely important.

Weimaraner Activities Today

Today, Weimaraners participate in obedience, agility, field work, conformation, search and rescue, and cuddling.

Is a Weimaraner for You?

If you are looking for a little piece of history (or arguably art history) in a loving, sociable, handsome, and energetic dog, the Weimaraner just might be for you. Although Weims are not for inexperienced dog owners, if you do a little homework, know your challenges and prepare to follow through, a Weimaraner could be your kind of Vselcro!

Weimaraners in Art

Since the early 1970s, artist and photographer William Wegman has been photographing his beloved Weimaraners, sometimes in costume, always intriguingly posed and often appearing to be performing everyday human activities. Other celebrities who have owned and loved Weims include Dick Clark and Robin Gibb.

Homeland: Germany

Original Job: Hunting fur-bearing animals & game birds, Pointing & Retrieving

Size: Males 25-27inches, 70-80 lbs. Females 23-25 inches, 55-77 lbs.

Coat Colors: Light silver grey, tan taupe, dark grey

Eye Colors: Blue, “bird of prey” or “lizard” (beer color)

Grooming: Minimal, but they shed a lot

Exercise: Good runs & long walks

Lifespan: 10-13 years