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Tag: mixed breeds

New York’s state dog could be the mutt

Two New York state legislators plan to introduce a bill today to name an official state dog — and they’re suggesting it be the mutt.

Assemblyman Micah Kellner, an Upper East Side Democrat, and State Senator Joseph E. Robach, a Rochester Republican, are proposing the legislation.

If passed, New York would join about a dozen states that have named state dogs, including the Chesapeake Bay retriever in Maryland, the Great Dane in Pennsylvania, the and the Boston terrier in … take a wild guess.

(If you think you know your state dogs, take this quiz — or, if you’re a cheater, go straight to the answers.)

No state has chosen the mixed breed — that most prolific of all dogs — to represent its state.

In New York, a spokesman for Kellner said the assemblyman would choose a rescue dog — as in rescued from a shelter — to symbolize the need for people to adopt pets from animal shelters and animal protection groups. Kellner has no dogs of his own, but he has provided foster care for several.

“He’s a huge advocate for animals in need,” the spokesman told the New York Times.

Also appearing at the announcement of the proposed bill will be Kim Wolf’s dog, Sarge Wolf-Stringer, a Philadelphia dog who was rescued in 2009 from an abusive owner by the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and who now works with the elderly and hospital patients as a certified therapy dog.

(Photo: A Baltimore mutt named Martini)

One-eyed dog charms crowd at Crufts

A purebred flat-coated retriever won best in show, but it was a one-eyed mutt named Dudley, and his dazzling performance in an agility contest, that won over the crowd at Crufts — the pretentious, I mean presitigious, UK dog show that concluded this past weekend.

Dudley, a six-year-old Lhasa apso-pug mix who lost his eye as a pup, and later was given up by his owners,  won an official Crufts rosette for his performance in the agility ring, beating out other rescued dogs in the competition, according to the Southern Daily Echo.

While we’ve been known to poke fun at purebred dog shows, it’s good to see them — on both sides of the pond — opening things up to mixed breeds, like Dudley. And, if  the crowd reaction to him is any sign, it’s something they should do a lot more of.

“He was definitely the crowd’s favorite and got a huge cheer as he ran round,” Dudley’s owner, Lara Alford, from Southampton, said. “Over the last few days he has had so many admirers – he’s probably been one of the most photographed dogs at Crufts this year.”

Dudley had his right eye removed as a puppy because of an infection. At 14 months, his owners surrendered him at an animal adoption shelter.

Alford, shortly after adopting him, noticed his speed and maneuverability and began training him in agility. As they run the courses, she always stays on his left side, so he can see her.

At Crufts, the training paid off.  “It was one of the fastest rounds Dudley’s ever done,” she said.

More than 21,000 dogs vied for honors at Crufts, which opened Thursday. In the best-in-show competition, Jet, a flat-coated retriever, beat out a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, a German shepherd, a boxer, a wire fox terrier, a standard poodle and a bichon frise.

Labradoodle inventor regrets what he started

The man who came up with the Labradoodle — and, in the process, fueled the “designer dog” trend — now says he regrets what he started.

Wally Conran, 81, first bred a Labrador retriever with a poodle while he was manager of the puppy program at the Royal Institute of the Blind — in an attempt to provide a non-allergenic guide dog to a blind man in Hawaii.

The puppies were supposed to have the best traits of both dogs: the affable, controllable nature of the Labrador, and the curly, non-shedding coat of the poodle.

“But now when people ask me, ‘Did you breed the first one’, I have to say, ‘Yes, I did, but it’s not something I’m proud of’,'” Conran told The Australian. “”I wish I could turn the clock back.”

The Labradoodle is considered by many to be the the first of the so-called “designer dogs” — hybrids that fetch purebred prices and, in some cases, outsell pedigreed dogs (most of whom at one time were mutts or hybrids as well).

Some pet shops report designer dogs like Labradoodles, spoodles, schnoodles, cavoodles, moodles, groodles and roodles are being pumped out at high volume across the nation to meet demand.

“I’m not at all proud of my involvement in it,”  Conran said. “But the genie’s out of the bottle, and you can’t put it back.”

His dismay isn’t shared by breeders of the curly-haired cross-breeds, who say Conran came up with a winner — a family-oriented, non-shedding dog of  happy temperament.

The Labradoodle, like most so-called purebred breeds, may someday be officially recognized as such by kennel clubs. The Australian Labradoodle Association hopes the dog will be deemed a breed by the Australian National Kennel Council, though it notes the process could take as long as 20 years.

Does Denver know a pit bull when it sees one?

pitornotThe city of Denver’s faulty logic just got proven even faultier.

As if  the city’s ban on pit bulls, which has led to hundreds of dogs being put to death, weren’t ill-advised enough, there’s this: Apparently even experts can’t correctly identify a pit bull visually.

Denver Post columnist Bill Johnson took part in experiment this week , along with about two dozen animal-shelter directors, volunteers, dog trainers and others. They viewed 20 dogs on videotape and were asked to identify each one — whether it was purebred or mixed and, if the latter, what it was a mixture of.

Johnson got the breed correct one time, and the professionals didn’t fare much better.

The breed identification study was administered by Victoria L. Voith, a professor of animal behavior in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University in Pomona in California.

Shelter workers, she explained, are generally 75 percent wrong when they guess the breed of a dog — and most do just guess. The only sure-fire way of knowing, she said, is DNA testing, which most shelters don’t use.

“Visual identification simply is not in high agreement with DNA analysis,” Voith said. “Dogs in Denver may be dying needlessly,” she said.

Does what’s in the mix really matter?

Now that I know Ace is a “Rokita” mix (50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, 25 percent anybody’s guess), what can I do with the information?

And what of Elliot? Does knowing his somewhat fuzzier lineage — 25 percent golden retriever, 25 percent boxer, and 50 percent unknown — provide any information that might be helpful to him and his owners?

The experts at Mars Veterinary, makers of the Wisdom Panel MX mixed breed analysis, say yes — that knowing what’s in your mutt can help you better understand his or her behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems.

With Ace, they say, I should be aware of the potential for hip and elbow dysplasia, as both of the known breeds in him are prone to that. I should keep him on the lean side (something I’ve been unable to do with myself), and consider supplementing his diet with glucosamine, for optimal joint health. Also, since Rottweilers and Akitas are both prone to cataracts and other eye problems, I should keep an eye on his eyes.

With Elliot, hip dysplasia is also a concern, as, later in life, is cancer, which has a high incidence in boxers and golden retrievers. Elliot, based on the breeds found in him, could also be predisposed to skin issues, allergies and hypothyroidism.

Depressing as it all sounds – I, for one, would rather not know what afflictions lay ahead for me – I’ll admit that the information is somewhat useful.

Read more »

Mutts’ breeds to be revealed this week

Ace

Elliot

 

My dog is not the dog I thought he was.

Some of you may remember that, a year and a half ago, I had the DNA of my shelter dog Ace tested as part of a series I did about trying to determine his heritage.

Rottweiler and Chow were the breeds that showed up, as we reported in the seven-part series for the Baltimore Sun, “Hey, Mister, What Kind of Dog is That?”

We used the Canine Heritage breed test, which had just come out on the market and whose makers said they could, with a fair degree of accuracy, pinpoint which — of the 38 breeds that they were able to test for then — were in your dog.

About a month ago, given the rapid pace of technological improvement in doggie DNA testing — they can now identify up to 150 breeds — we decided to test Ace again, this time with the Wisdom Panel MX, from Mars Veterinary.

The results are in, and they’re different, and — even though I no longer work at the Baltimore Sun – a correction is in order. And, we think, a party.

Seeing as I have lost my identity (after 30-some years, I can no longer call myself a newspaper reporter) and seeing as Ace, has lost his (being no longer a Rottweiler-Chow), and seeing as Elliot (the dog on the right) has never known his, we’re proud to announce the “ohmidog! Identity Crisis and Breed Reveal Party,” to take place this Wednesday night at the Idle Hour Tavern at 201 E. Fort Avenue.

If you’re reading this, you’re invited. Come as you are. (We ain’t exactly purebreds and this ain’t exactly Westminster.) To the contrary, it’s a celebration of mutthood.

Read more »

Heads and tails: You can build your own mutt

If you need something to keep the kids busy on Christmas Eve, or perhaps even simple-minded grown-ups like myself, here’s a website that can provide, if not hours of entertainment, at least enough time to run out for some last minute gifts, or egg nog.

It’s the Mutt Maker, from Animal Planet, which allows you to combine attributes of 20 dog breeds — head, body, tail, legs — and fashion your own mutt. It then shows you a cartoon image of it, and gives it a name.

Example: Take the pug head, put it on a Rottweiler body, add poodle legs and a shih-tzu tail, and you’ve got a “Purotttzuoodle.” In a nice touch, every time you put on a new head, you hear the bark of that breed.

After that, you have the options of entering it in “best in show,” getting a “certificate of legacy” for your creation, or adorning it with accessories, including bonnet, cowboy boots, cape, glasses, pipe and more.

It’s not exactly the same as a puppy under the tree, but it’s free, interactive, won’t soil the carpet, and is relatively quiet — and for the child who’s not quite ready for a living, breathing, responsibility-laden puppy of his own, it’s a good way to learn a little more about dogs.

The “What’s in Your Mutt” contest

     If you’ve got a mystery mutt — like this one, named Fergus — here’s your chance to unravel a piece of his or her identity.
     Here’s how it works.
     Send in a photo of your mutt, along with your best guess as to what breeds he or she might be made up of, his or her name, where he or she came from, and why you want to know what he or she is a mix of — all in 100 words or less.
     A winner will be chosen based on the photo, the essay, and the capricious whims of our panel of anonymous, non-purebred judges.
    At that point, we’ll arrange for the test (a $125 value) to be administered by Baltimore veterinarian Johnny Slaughter, who will draw the blood at your home (he’s a mobile veterinarian). That will also be at no charge to the contest winner. The contest is limited to Maryland residents.
     When the results come in from Mars Veterinary, makers of the new Wisdom Panel Mixed Breed Analysis, we’ll report them here.

By sending in a photo of your dog, you are consenting to it, and your comments, possibly appearing on the ohmidog! website.

Send all entries to muttsblog@verizon.net, with the words “mutts contest” in the subject line.

If you win, you — like the owners of Fergus — will finally know what your mutt’s made up of; in Fergus’ case, in case you’re wondering, it’s Great Pyrenees, English Setter, Dalmatian, Doberman and Jack Russell Terrrier.

(This is a re-post of an earlier item … Deadline for entries is Nov. 30)

(Photo: Wisdompanel.com)

Stay tuned, there’s a contest a-comin’

Just a quick advisory, alerting you to stay tuned to ohmidog! for a contest announcement later this week, especially if you’ve always wondered what breeds are in your mutt. (And I don’t mean your president-elect.)

Amid the controversy, some praise for mutts

    Roy Hattersley sang the praises of mutts this week, as controversy continued to simmer over purebred breeding practices and dog shows that put a higher premium on “beauty” and “conformation” than they do on canine health.
    This week saw the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pull out of Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, due to concerns about health problems in pedigree dogs and the role Crufts plays in perpetuating those problems.
    Meanwhile, the Kennel Club filed a complaint against the BBC, calling the documentary that led in part to the RSPCA withdrawal, unfair.
    The multi-part report, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” looked at the health problems experienced by certain breeds as a result of breeders striving to accentuate certain physical traits.

The documentary featured boxers with epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs that were unable to mate and — because of breeders striving for broader heads in the breed — unable to be born without Caesarian section.

A preview of the program can be found here. The entire series can be found on YouTube.

Here’s some of what Hattersley — politician, author, journalist and former member of Parliament — wrote:

“It is barbarous to breed a dog with a brain too big for its skull just to make it look right when it is walked around the competition ring. But the idea of breeding the perfect specimen is wrong in itself. Dogs should be loved as dogs, whatever their shape and size.

“Dogs were made to be friends not exhibits, status symbols or “positional goods” that demonstrate their owner’s aesthetic sensibilities, status, income or fastidious good taste. I am for mongrels because they proclaim the glory of just being dogs – not heads set at the right angles, legs of the proper length or ears suitably pricked. Mongrels are the essence of dog – dog as a virtue in itself … I believe that being a dog is – or ought to be – enough.

Hattersley is the author of many books, including “Buster’s Diaries,” in which his dog Buster defends  killing a goose in one of London’s royal Parks. In 1996 Hattersley was was fined in connection with the goose death.

His full essay can be found in the London Times.