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Tag: purebred

Short snouts and long flights don’t mix

Short-snouted dogs appear to run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, according to federal government statistics released last week.

Bulldogs, pugs, and other short-of-snout breeds accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data shows.

Overall, 122 dog deaths — 108 of them purebreds — were reported between May 2005, when U.S. airlines were required to start disclosing them, and May 2010, the Transportation Department says.

All the dogs died while being shipped as cargo, as opposed to flying in the cabin.

English bulldogs accounted for the highest number, with 25 deaths. Second highest were pugs, 11 of which died. Seven golden retrievers, six French bulldogs and four American Staffordshire terriers died while flying as cargo in that period. And boxers, cockapoos, Pekingese and Pomeranians accounted for two deaths each.

You can see the full list here.

The Department of Transportation says dog owners should consult with veterinarians before putting their dogs on planes. It believes that the deaths represent a tiny percentage of the pets shipped on airlines.

Short-nose breeds — known as “brachycephalic” — in addition to being less tolerant of heat, have a skull formation that affects their airways, Dan Bandy, chairman of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee, told the Associated Press.

“The way all dogs cool themselves is basically through respiration, either just panting or the action of breathing in or out, is a method of heat exchange for them,” Bandy said. “A dog that has a long snout or a long muzzle has more surface area within its nasal cavity for that heat exchange to take place. So breeds like labradors or collies or those types of dogs with the long muzzles have a more efficient cooling system.”

Bandy said that in addition to trying to cool themselves, dogs may also pant excessively in the cargo hold because of stress or excitement. But he believes dogs shouldn’t be given tranquilizers before flying because that makes them less able to manage their own cooling process. In addition, airlines generally do not want pets tranquilized, he added.

In all, 144 pet deaths were reported by airlines over the past five years, along with 55 injuries and 33 lost pets.

The scoop on Sadie

sadie_WestminsterHere’s the lowdown on America’s new top dog, courtesy of the American Kennel Club.

Breed: Scottish Terrier

AKC Name: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. (Sadie’s father and his littermates were all named for cars.)

Age: 4 years

Residence: Rialto, California

Biggest Wins: “National Champion” at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship; Best in Show at both the 2009 Montgomery County Kennel Club and Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Shows; won the Terrier Group at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Seventy-nine Best in Show wins in 2009.

Favorite Pastime: When she’s not at home playing in the backyard or snuggling on the couch with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, Sadie loves being at dog shows. She loves the attention, the roar of the crowd and the treats she gets in the ring, the AKC says. When judges look at her, she looks back and makes it clear that she expects to be admired.

Favorite Treat: Sadie loves hot dogs made from organic chicken.

Exercise regimen: A long walk in deep grass in the morning and afternoon workouts on her treadmill

Beauty Regimen: Daily brushing, with a hair trim early in the week; on the morning of a show, she is bathed and blown dry.

Pedigree: Sadie is descended from the 1967 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Ch. Bardene Bingo. Bingo’s handler, Bob Bartos admires Sadie so much that he lets Sadie use Bingo’s show lead.

Fetishes: Sadie has a penchant for footwear. If a closet door is left open, Sadie helps herself to the lining of Rangel’s shoes.

Best friend: A Chihuahua named Tad.

Sleeping habits: In bed with her human family.

Scenes from Westminster

The primp is on.

The 134th Westminster Dog Show got underway yesterday at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Here’s some video of dogs getting prepped for the big show. For a nice series of behind the scenes photos, check out the Los Angeles Times “Unleashed” blog.

Tonight, the show will be televised from 8 to 11 p.m. on the USA Network.

Spotting trends in the AKC’s breed count

lg_havanese10In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.

The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.

According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.

The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.

The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.

And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.

In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)

To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.

There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.

Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).

Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.

The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the  Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.

Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.

(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)

Bluetick, Redbone gain AKC recognition

lg_bluetick6The bluetick and redbone coonhounds — along with the Boykin spaniel — have been officially recognized as breeds by the American Kennel Club.

The acceptance of the three new breeds brings to 164 the number of breeds fully recognized as such by the AKC.

The Boykin spaniel will join the sporting group while both the bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound will join the hound group.

The new breeds will be eligible for full AKC registration and competition in their respective groups at conformation shows held on and after December 30, 2009.

The bluetick coonhound gets its name from its coat pattern, which is dark blue in color and covered in a ticking or mottled pattern. The bluetick is noted for its skill in trailing and treeing raccoons and other small animals. The breed has origins in the English coonhound. In 1945, bluetick breeders broke away to form their own slower-working dog that could pick up older scent trails.

RedboneThe redbone coonhound is noted for its speed and agility and its ability to hunt and swim over a variety of terrain. The redbone dates back to red foxhounds brought to the U.S. by Scottish immigrants in the late 1700s and red foxhounds imported from Ireland before the Civil War.

Boykin_Simmons3The Boykin Spaniel, in addition to being the official state dog of South Carolina, is a medium-sized hunting dog with a cheerful, energetic personality. The breed was developed in South Carolina in the early 1900s by L. Whitaker Boykin, originally to hunt wild turkeys.

The road to full AKC recognition requires non-recognized breeds to first gain acceptance into the AKC Foundation Stock Service. After a breed has been in FSS the recognition process begins with a written request to compete in the miscellaneous class from the National Breed Club.  While there is no established timetable for adding new breeds, dogs typically compete in the miscellaneous class for one to three years.  More information on the process can be found at the AKC’s website.

The next breeds in line for full recognition by AKC are the Icelandic Sheepdog, Cane Corso and Leonberger.

(Photos courtesy of American Kennel Club: Bluetick/by Diane Lewis ©AKC; Boykin Spaniel/by Bill Simmons; Redbone/by Christine Smith)

Author feels bamboozled by Obama

Among those who are less than pleased with the Obama family’s decision against getting a rescue dog is Jana Kohl, whose book promoting adoption of animals featured a photo of Obama with her dog, a puppy mill refugee named Baby.

The author of “A Rare Breed of Love,” Kohl rescued Baby four years ago. Baby not only had her vocal chords removed with scissors but lost a leg due to the years of abuse at the hands of a breeder.

Not long after that, she decided to write a book calling attention to puppy mills. The book recounts Baby’s story and features photos of the dog with celebrities, including Paul Harvey, Steven Tyler, Bill Maher, Jim Cramer, and several politicians.

One of those politicians that agreed to meet with her was then-Senator Obama. Touched by Baby’s story, he then agreed to a photoshoot and, according to a press release promoting her book, pledged to Kohl that when he brought a dog home for his family, it would be a rescue dog – not one from a breeder.

This weekend’s announcement that the president opted to accept a puppy as a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy (via a breeder) and not to go to a shelter or rescue center has left Kohl upset, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

“I feel like he’s made a mockery out of the book and the things I wrote about him,” Kohl told the Monitor’s “Vote Blog.”

“I read what I said about him and it makes me cringe.”

Kohl said that his decision is more distressing because of the possible domino effect it could have — fueling the puppy mill industry.

“To add insult to injury, during these tough economic times it is incredibly insensitive and elitist of them to do this, ” she said. “People are tearfully turning in their pets to shelters because they can’t afford them anymore. We see it on news all the time.”

(Photo from “A Rare Breed of Love.”)

Docking, cropping and other acts of barbarism

According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standards, a Doberman pinscher should have a docked tail and “cropped and erect” ears — an appearance (above right) of “alertness,” albeit one achieved through surgery, rubber bands, tape and splints.

The altered appearance of the Doberman is one we’ve seen so often that we’ve come to accept it as normal, even though an unalderated Doberman (above left) has floppy ears and a whip-like tail.

Why do we do it — not just to the Doberman, but about 50 other breeds that are still commonly docked and cropped?

Mainly because of the aforementioned standards, based on traditions — barbaric, silly traditions, but traditions all the same.

Docking Dobermans goes all the way back to the man who created them, Louis Dobermann, who mixed a handful of breeds in hopes of coming up with a medium-sized guard dog. Being guards, they needed to look alert. Hence, the tail docking and ear cropping.

With breed standards under fire — primarily those that have led to inbreeding and genetic health defects among some breeds — the practice of docking tails and cropping ears should be re-examined, too 

The American Veterinary Medical Association, which had long recommended against docking and cropping for cosmetic purposes, came down harder on the practice in a new policy adopted last year, calling for them both to removed from breed standards.

The AKC, in response to the AVMA policy change, said that “mislabeling these procedures as ‘cosmetic’ is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs … These breed characteristics are procedures performed to insure the safety of dogs that on a daily basis perform heroic roles with Homeland Security, serve in the U.S. Military and at Police Departments protecting tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation as well as competing in the field.”

That high and mighty stance came close to painting those who might oppose docking and cropping as unpatriotic. I’m pretty sure letting dogs keep their tails is not going to compromise national security, or lead to more crime.

Read more »

Charmin rolls to victory at Crufts

A Sealyham Terrier from Chester County, Pa., was named best in show at Crufts today.

Margery Good, owner of the four-year-old dog, named Charmin, said she was “very excited and very pleased” to have won, according to a BBC report.

Ms. Good added: “He’s such a special dog. He is my best buddy. He proved himself tonight and made every step just right.”

With the awarding of best in show, the four-day event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, tainted by controversy this year, came to a close. The RSPCA and sponsor Pedigree pulled out of partnerships with the dog show, following claims about breeding malpractice in a BBC documentary.

But thousands of spectators attended the four-day event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, About 28,000 dogs were estimated to have attended the show, the third highest figure since the show was founded in 1891.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, broadcast the event live on the internet for the first time, and predicted that visitor numbers would match last year’s record crowd of 160,000.

Crufts was hit by controversy after the BBC screened a documentary last year which exposed serious health issues around breeding practices for some breeds of pedigree dogs.

The BBC suspended its coverage of the show pending further investigations and a key sponsor also pulled out.

Charmin, whose win was just the latest of many, is also featured in the video below, which explains a little more about the breed. Sealyhams are not as popular today as the breed once was. In the first half of the 20th Century, Sealyhams were owned by Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton and Alfred Hitchcock, who used his own Sealyhams in the movies “The Birds” and “Suspicion.”

The Sealyham Terrier was named by its original breeder, Captain Edwardes, after his mansion, Sealyham, near the Sealy river in Pembrokeshire, South Wales

PETA protests equates AKC and KKK

A PETA protest outside the Westminster Kennel Club show — following the same lines as the PETA ad above — drew puzzled gawkers, double takes and complaints as the dog show opened today.

“Welcome AKC Members,” read a banner hanging from the table set up outside Madison Square Garden, with AKC crossed out and KKK written above it. Two PETA protesters were dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, and volunteers handed out brochures that read: “The KKK and the AKC: BFF?”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is protesting the start of the show because it contends the American Kennel Club, through breeding standards that accentuate appearance, is harming the health of purebred dogs.

“Obviously it’s an uncomfortable comparison,” PETA spokesman Michael McGraw said. But the AKC is trying to create a “master race,” he added. “It’s a very apt comparison.”

David Frei, spokesman for Westminster and TV host of coverage on USA Network, said: “I can’t speak for everyone, but the vast majority of the people exhibiting and handling and showing at Westminster are more interested in the health of dogs than anything else. We want to produce the next generation of healthy and happy dogs, not just for the show ring but for the couches at home.”

Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, according to an Associated Press report. The most common reaction was to pull out a cell phone and start snapping photos.

Police monitored the situation from nearby, but — except for one shouting that match broke out during the hour-long protest — the scene was mostly calm, the AP reported.

PETA had sought to end TV coverage of the event, first by asking USA network to cancel the broadcast, then by going to the show’s sponsors and asking them to withdraw.

CNBC looks at business side of Westminster

CNBC takes a look at the most famous dog competition in the world tonight in an hour long special on the business side of Westminster.

The report, “American Originals: Westminster Dog Show” is anchored by Trish Regan and delves into the inner workings of the competition, which opens Monday at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Regan explores the cost of doing business at Westminster, the return on investment, and America’s love affair with dogs that has helped turn the pet industry into one of the largest retail sectors in the country.

Featured in the program are “Uno,” the 2008 “Best in Show” winner (the first beagle ever to secure the honor), and “James,” the prior year’s title-holder, who visit hospitalized children as part of the Westminster Kennel Club’s Angel on a Leash charity. Interviews with experts include Westminster Kennel Club historian William Stifel and dog show judge Don Jones.

It airs on CNBC at 9 p.m. Live opening night coverage of Westminster begins Monday at 8 p.m. on the USA Network before switching to CNBC at 9 p.m.. USA will broadcast the complete closing night competition, starting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.