Posts Tagged ‘Breeds’

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (Sporting Group)

Gemma | April 9th, 2012
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The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a member of the sporting group. This dog makes an excellent pointer, a versatile gun dog, and a solid all-around hunting companion. When on the job, these dogs have a deliberate point and retrieve style as they stick closely with the hunter’s gun.

Equally enjoyed by families all over the country, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon makes a loving house pet and gets along moderately with strangers and other animals. They are a devoted breed, always willing to please, and even displays a somewhat comical personality when having fun in the house or romping around the yard with the family.

A Brief History Of The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

France is the area of origin for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. And unlike most breeds that came to development over time, the creation of the Griffon was carefully deliberate. Every step along the way is well documented.

The breed started during the middle of the 1800s when the Cherville Griffon was created and later crossed with the pointer and the setter. Further development and refining of the breed is credited to a man named Edward Korthals, from Holland. In fact, the dog is still called by the name Korthals Griffon in many parts of the world.

Mr. Korthals began his work of refining the breed in 1874. It is said the he crossed twenty other dogs from the following breeds: spaniels, setters, water spaniels, griffons, French pointers and German pointers. As he traveled throughout France Edward helped build up the breed’s popularity all over the country.

By the year 1887 the first breed standard was published for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. In 1888, England offered the first show classes for the breed (although at that time the dog was referred to as a Russian Setter).

The popularity of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon continued to skyrocket until World War II. After the war it’s reputation for being an excellent hunting companion brought the breed back to new life, but the numbers never quite reached the same peak as before the war.

Upkeep Requirements For The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Owning a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon means having plenty of open space outside and an active lifestyle. Like all members of the sporting group, this breed needs daily stimulation from a romp in the open wilderness, jogging, or fun games with the family. They especially like swimming.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon dogs are able to live outdoors so long as the temperature does not reach overly hot or excessively cold levels. It’s best to allow the dog to remain outside in an open yard during the daytime hours, but to sleep indoors with the family at night. Due to its harsh coat, grooming requirements for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon calls for heavy brushing twice per week.

Health Concerns

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon dogs can have a long life span of up to fourteen years, with twelve to thirteen being the average. A healthy breed, these dogs have no major health concerns to worry about. Minor health issues include otitis externa, CHD, ectropion, and entropion. Veterinarians suggest that Wirehaired Pointing Griffon dogs get tested for potential hip and eye problems.

West Highland White Terrier History: Born From Injustice

Gemma | June 29th, 2008
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Over the years, the West Highland White Terrier has won almost every honor that can be conveyed from the show scene. These honors came despite the fact that most breeders ended the lives of these little white creatures at the bottom of a water bucket at birth. The only crime the Westie committed in those early days of his origin, was having been born with a white coat.

The West Highland White Terrier and the Cairn Terrier are really brothers under the skin. Cairn Terrier breeders considered the whites as skeletons in the closet and pretended that they didn’t exist. Whenever a white pup showed up in a litter, it caused the breeder embarrassment; professional breeders therefore tried to obliterate all traces of the scrappy little terrier with the white coat.

Once in a while, though, a white puppy from a litter of Cairns managed to survive man’s injustice and breeder fad, and together with a white puppy from another source, the strain of whites was preserved. In fairness, it should be pointed out that those who did save the whites from being destroyed were equally guilty of destroying any puppy born with a coat other than white.

Advocates of whites and advocates of colored continued their practice of breeding for distinct color, and in time, each side had developed a distinct variety of terrier. Though they did not originate the breed, one family in Poltalloch, Scotland, is credited with keeping the white breed pure for many generations. They were the Malcolm family.

To the Malcolm family and those who lived nearby the white terriers became known as the Poltalloch Terrior. While Cairn Terrier breeders were busy eliminating the occasional white puppy from their litters, the Malcolm family was busy deliberately working the other way; that is, eliminating all other colors except for white.

By the turn of the century, the West Highland White Terrier had lived with the name Poltalloch Terrior, Roseneath Terrer, White Scottish Terrier, White Cairn Terrier, and finally, the West Highland White Terrier.

The West Highland White Terrier became more popular with the general public than did the Cairn, and therefore was introduced into England before his colored brother. By the time Cairn Terriers gained the necessary popularity to be introduced to English dog shows, they found their white upstart little brothers already firmly established on the show circuit.

The Westie gained official recognition from the Kennel Club of England in 1907 followed shortly thereafter by the Cairn. The breed held its own in popularity for 10 years before the Cairn finally gained ground and became more popular with dog fanciers.

Why A Lab May Not Be The Right Dog For You

Kate | June 26th, 2008
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Labrador Retrievers are extraordinarily people-oriented. This means that they have to be in tune with their owners in order to follow specific instructions. The key to understanding this is to look deeper at what Labs were bred to do, and that is to hunt and retrieve.

Look at it this way, these dogs must be in perfect harmony with their hunter/owner in order to follow specific directions to track and fine birds that have fallen to the ground and out of sight. This need for the dog to have hand-held direction carries over to all aspects of a Labrador’s life, especially at home.

This is great for people who enjoy and need constant canine companionship. However, it is bad for dog owners who have a Labrador Retriever but expect the animal to entertain itself with little interaction from the owner.

There are some hunting dogs that were bred to be independent hunters with little interaction and instruction from humans. Examples of these types of dogs are Terriers and Hounds, which lead the way by use of their senses (by smell and sight) with the human hunter striving to keep up with the dog’s pace.

This is not how the Labrador is built. Labs are designed to retrieve, and in doing so they must have a connected attention link directly to the hunter. If a retriever ignores the hunter’s commands then they may hit the water and swim far past where the bird has fallen, and possibly keep swimming out and away.

Well trained retrievers do not make these types of mistakes because they have the innate ability to attend to and follow detailed directions from the hunter. This skill is absolutely critical to being a trustworthy retriever and is one of the reasons that these dogs make excellent service animals and obedience trainees.

This Is Also The Reason Why Many Labs Do Not Do Well With Some Families

You can probably understand by now just how connected and dependent a Labrador Retriever becomes to its owners. It constantly looks to people for leadership and must have human interaction.

Every dog breed is sociable to some extent, some more than others, but Labs require much more attention than most dogs. They do not cope very well when left alone for long periods of time, whether indoors or outdoors. Many families who are away all day and come home to find out that their Lab has destroyed a side door or window trying to escape does not understand why this is happening.

These people are understandably upset and then punish their Labs. A properly educated Lab owner will not react in this way because they know the truth. And the truth is that what causes a Lab to try to escape like this is simply wanting to search out and find its owners. They consider their pack missing and make an attempt to find them outside.

The biggest lesson to take away from this information, especially if you have not yet decided on what type of dog to own and are considering a Labrador Retriever, is to make sure that you have plenty of time to devote to your Lab, day and night. If not, then consider a more independent dog breed. Otherwise, your lovable Lab may soon become increasingly unhappy and will end up a very destructive house pet, or worse, a runaway.

Why Do Labrador Retrievers Become Destructive?

Kate | June 23rd, 2008
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The difference between a good Labrador Retriever owner and a disastrous one depends on whether or not that person leads an active lifestyle. To put it in simple terms, labs were bred to be extremely active when in the company of hunters, from dawn to dusk. They used to run, swim, and retrieve foul for up to 16 hours each day, or more.

Labs have extremely high energy levels and just because your Labrador Retriever does not go out hunting, it does not mean that this dog is missing its inner expression to release the same amount of energy. This is great news for active people who like to swim, jog, and play fetch games as often as possible.

The term disastrous dog owner would best describe a person who is raising a Lab but absolutely hates going outside and being active. There are many people out there who love nothing more than to sit around the house all day watching television while they expect their Lab dogs to lay quietly alongside their feet with no need at all to run and play.

These types of people tend to complain that their pets are overactive and causing too much trouble around the house. However, the truth is that the dogs are perfectly healthy and literally wired and itching to move around. It is the way they were genetically programmed. It is what they were bred to do. Therefore, the problem lies within the owner, not the Lab.

Think Long & Hard Before Buying A Lab Puppy

Most people who run out and buy a puppy, especially one as active as a Labrador Retriever, have a tendency to overestimate the amount of play-time they can invest in their dog. Eventually, the excitement and joy of playing with a new puppy subsides and when the dog owner gets bored, these little balls of energy are left to entertain themselves.

Adult Labrador dogs need a minimum of one hour each and every day, both in the morning and again at night, to participate in strenuous, interactive physical activities. This does not mean simply letting your dog out in the yard by itself while you cook dinner. This will not suffice as playtime. Labs need a partner to run and fetch with. Left to themselves for physical activity will prove unsuccessful as Labs tend not to exercise by themselves in a constructive manner.

When Labs Become Destructive

You can’t just open up the door and tell your Lab to go play. While some dogs are independent enough to run around outside by themselves, Labrador Retrievers need someone to play with and if you are not around then they may become destructive. Behaviors such as non-stop barking, chewing, and digging up the yard will become commonplace.

Should your Lab start to demonstrate these types of negative activities, the last thing you want to do is become frustrated and deem your pet aggressive. The truth is that he is just doing what you wanted him to do: entertain himself.

Unless you are there to direct your Lab and be the leader while taking fun trips outside in the form of a hike, a jog, or retrieving games in the water, you must take responsibility for his destructive behavior and know that it is your fault and your responsibility to take charge of your Lab’s physical needs.

Help… My Labrador Retriever Is Eating The Furniture!

Kate | June 19th, 2008
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Many new Lab owners are not familiar with the fact that these puppies have a natural tendency to nip and bite at human hands and arms. In fact, these little guys will put anything in their mouths that can fit. Unfortunately, some dog owners mistake this behavior as pure biting and unfairly scold and punish the animal. You must understand that Labradors are genetically designed to have an oral fixation, specifically for retrieving.

They must be trained with positive reinforcement not to mouth and bite at people’s limbs. A fitting analogy is to look at a Labrador puppy the same as a piranha, but with fur. They run around with their mouths open literally hunting down anything to put in it, something, anything, whatever they can find!

When these puppies get older they have a tendency to start grabbing onto your arms and clothing. Such behavior should be considered inappropriate and completely stopped before it develops into an act of dominance. But as you may have heard before, training a Labrador not to grab onto your arms and clothes with its mouth needs to be carefully instituted. You can never totally stop your Lab from putting things in its mouth but you can certainly teach him to make better choices.

Health Problems Due To Mouthing Stuff

Another fitting analogy to describe the oral fixation of a Labrador Retriever is to consider them like vacuum cleaners. Many times they accidentally suck up and swallow objects which can lead to health problems, especially if they get a hold of products that have poisons in them.

Labradors have been known to swallow toys, balls, rocks, socks, rawhide, bicycle seats, and even knives! Basically anything that can fit in their mouth and down its throat is fair game to the motivated Labrador Retriever. It is good advice to de-fluff your pillows, remove sofa cushions, and discard any loose toys or items around your house that could cause harm if swallowed.

I once came home to find one of my wooden dresser drawers completely removed from the entire unit. The front panel was torn off and I had clothes everywhere. As I was cleaning up the mess I noticed that there was small pieces of wood chips all over the room and the front panel was nowhere to be found. As you can probably guess, my lab chewed up and ate the entire front panel, even the metallic handle was gone! Luckily he did not suffer any internal damages and the handle passed through his system without harm.

The answer to raising a lab while minimizing personal damages to both your home and your dog is to doggie-proof anything and everything you can find. Supervision also plays a huge role in training your dog not to chew up certain items. You must have plenty of time to invest into your Lab which will prove to be time well spent as you watch your dog grow into a well-mannered adult.

Does Your Labrador Retriever Have An Oral Fixation?

Kate | June 14th, 2008
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Labrador Retriever dogs were bred to be excellent hunting dogs with the power, stamina, and motivation to chase down fallen game and swim as far needed to bring back the prey to its hunter.

Even today, these dogs have an innate inner drive to retrieve. With utmost focus and determination, Labs take their retrieving jobs seriously. And even though most of these dogs are house pets today and do not hunt, they are just as driven when chasing a tennis ball or fetching a stick.

Labradors were created and developed to use the power of their jaws just like a strong hand. During practically every waking moment they feel the need to put something in their mouths, and without the presence of a bird or other small animal, they will grab onto anything they can. This is fantastic for people who love playing fetch with their dog but it’s not so good for those dog owners that hate when their pets are constantly putting items in its mouth.

Labs Have An Oral Fixation

Many families run out and buy a puppy without doing an ounce of research as to what type of dog they are getting involved in and how the animal will behave based on its genetic make-up. Labrador Retrievers, for example, literally have an oral fixation due to hundreds of years of breeding specifically for grabbing fallen birds into their mouths when hunting. This behavior most definitely carries over into their daily lives.

An educated Lab owner understands that any object within their dog’s reach is considered fair game and they would never dream of scolding the dog for such behavior (except for biting of course). Bad Lab owners consider this behavior destructive and will scold or even hit the animal in an attempt to get the dog to stop grabbing stuff in its mouth.

Of course there is a fine line between letting your Lab express its inner retrieving needs, and letting the animal absolutely destroy anything in the house it can eat. This is where specific training and obedience lessons come in. These dogs are natural chewers and you must take provisions for their tendency to chew by using a crate and dog proofing your house.

Constant supervision and creating daily playtime sessions with your Lab is a requirement for both you and your dog to be healthy. If you choose not to participate in the proper upbringing and training that a Lab requires, more than likely you are going to be frustrated and unhappy while your dog becomes increasingly bored and destructive.

Connecting Hunting Abilities To A Labrador Retriever’s Behavior

Kate | June 10th, 2008
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Labrador Retrievers are many things to many people. Because of their loving nature and obedient temperament, these dogs have not only made great companions and helpers, but they are most often used as service dogs for the blind and handicapped.

How many dogs are adaptive enough to live with all of those different roles, yet still have the personality to enjoy swimming, hunting, and play fetching games? Labs are truly universal pets which is why they are my favorite dog to own.

What Makes The Lab Tick?

Labrador Retrievers are the product of long generations of breeders who used stringent selection for an animal that is intensely motivated to retrieve and plunge themselves into icy waters, swim against the hardest current, and swim back carrying a heavy waterfowl back to its hunter.

Having such a genetic ability to accomplish this job takes strength, endurance, determination, and the mental toughness to ignore any pain along the way. Sometimes the prey may still be alive and trying to fight its way out of the dog’s mouth.

The Strong-Willed Psyche Of The Labrador Retriever

The pressures of performing their hunting abilities, as described above, not only sharpens and strengthens a Labrador’s physical body, it also shapes the dog’s psyche. Motivation and determination is something that can only cause a dog to be so driven that they can make the fall (find the position) of a fallen bird, search for it regardless of the terrain, retrieve its prey under any circumstances, and then bring it back successfully to the hunter.

You Can Learn From This Hunting Behavior

This determination that Labs have when out in the hunting fields is a great way to understand the its behavior in the home. Some of you may be wondering why it is important to know just how incredible your Labrador retriever can function outside when hunting game, even if you do not take your dog out for such activities. The key is to understand just how fiercely intent a Labrador Retriever’s vision is as a hunter and then use that information to help you train and understand your dog when he becomes stubborn at home.

All too many Labrador owners experience frustration when their dog refuses to obey commands in the home. The reason is because these dogs act in a certain way and respond to certain behaviors that all links back to their hunting genetics.

They may react and make decisions that are only natural and good for their hunting skills, but not good for whatever training purposes you are intending at the moment. For the truly committed Labrador owners, it would behoove of you to learn and study its genetic hunting abilities and better understand this dog’s mental psyche when making decisions. Your training will be an easier and much more pleasant experience.

3 Things You Can Count On When Raising A Labrador Retriever

Kate | June 8th, 2008
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To completely understand the true nature of the Labrador Retriever, dog owners must have a firm grasp on the 3 most important aspects that make up this animal’s temperament and personality.

1. Labs Are Natural Born Hunters: Unlike most other hunting dog breeds, Labs do not just wait for its human hunting companion to command them to retrieve fallen birds. These dogs have to be so attentive that they can mark the fallen foul themselves.

It is believed that Labrador Retrievers are more aware of their surroundings than other hunting dogs because of their heritage. When hunting, Labs await for the right signal from their hunter in order to seek out and find the prey. Similarly, at home, they constantly wait by their owner’s side for the next task or command, regardless of what it is. It could be to walk, eat, anything really. This is what makes Labrador Retriever dogs a bit too needy for some dog owners.

2. Labs Must Have Proper Training: As hunters, Labs must be able to follow specific directions in order to find birds. And even if they do not have a direction to move in, they will keep hunting without giving up. In other words, a good Lab literally takes matters into its own hands to get the job done.

These characteristics are great for people to enjoy having a service dog that can take on its own in certain situations. On the other hand, it’s bad for dog owners who are incapable of providing absolutely no direction whatsoever. This is where most problems lie with new Labrador owners.

Many people see perfectly trained Labs at the park or walking with their owners and think to themselves I want one of those dogs. They are so well trained! Little do they realize that these animals are never born trained. It takes continuous progressive dedication to specific training protocols, all based on a Labrador’s genetic make up. This can prove too much work for some people to handle and end up with nothing but problems and frustration with their dog.

3. Labs Are Like A Box Of Chocolates: The last and most important thing to understand with Labrador Retrievers is that they are individualistic and not every Lab is the same. As Forest Gump says, Labrador dogs are like a box of chocolates, they come in all varieties and you never know just what you will get as they grow up.

Most Labs demonstrate the same interests, hunting, running, retrieving, and swimming, but oftentimes you may get a Labrador puppy that may absolutely hate water. And if you are fortunate enough, your Lab may not have an oral fixation, which causes many of these dogs to eat anything they can get a hold of.

The one thing you can definitely count on is that every Labrador Retriever is special and through proper training, attention, and love, you will have a wonderful dog that will display the utmost in loyalty and affection until its last day on earth with you.

The Labrador Retriever: Much More Than A Family Pet

Kate | June 4th, 2008
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Labrador Retrievers have become one of the most popular breeds used today as both assistance dogs and dog guides for the blind. The skills necessary for these two working jobs are extremely varied and are physically and mentally demanding, nevertheless, the Lab has once again proven that its popularity is based on much more than its good looks!

Dog Guides For The Blind

Nobody will forget the amazing story of the brave and courageous yellow Lab named Roselle, who on the disaster of 9/11, guided her vision-impaired owner, Michael Hingson, down 78 stories in the World Trade Center’s Tower One.

The pair exited from the choking smoke, dust and fumes just moments before the entire building collapsed on that horrible day. Roselle was bred, raised and trained by the Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. As amazing at it sounds, she was just doing her jog that day.

A position originally dominated by German Shepherd Dogs in the early 1900s, dog guides for the blind now include a large percentage of Labrador Retrievers, as well as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Lab-Golden Mixes.

The Lab has risen to popularity in this service mostly because of their highly-qualified work ethic needed for such services: a stable temperament, a willingness to work, a moderate size and weight, and a low-maintenance coat.

Assistance Dogs

The type of work an assistance dog can perform is perhaps only limited by a trainer’s imagination. Labs are trained to assist those with limited mobility by picking up dropped items such as pencils, credit cards and keys.

Some dogs are trained to alert hearing-impaired handlers to a knock at the door, a baby crying, or in the case of a child, the sound of the school bell signaling a class change. Other Labs are trained to help disabled individuals to lean on and hold onto.

Some Labs even alert handlers to oncoming seizures before they happen and provide assistance during a seizure. Labrador Retrievers have been taught to pull wheelchairs, turn lights on and off, and even remove the handler’s socks before he or she goes to bed.

The benefits of an assistance dog can be seen at many levels. One of the greatest benefits is that people with assistance dogs regain a sense of independence, as well as an increase in self-esteem and self-worth because they can rely on the dog to help them, rather than have to rely on other people.

Assistance dogs can also serve as ice breakers. Disabled individuals frequently feel shunned because the general public feels uncomfortable in their presence. The company of an assistance dog, particularly a friendly Lab executing amazing skills for the disabled individual, is often the attraction that can facilitate conversation, social interaction and the formation of friendships.

Is The Labrador Retriever The New Rising Hero? – Part 2

Kate | June 2nd, 2008
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Labrador Retriever dogs are quickly becoming America’s top choice service animals when it comes to detection of bombs, narcotics, currency, and any other item that needs to be tracked.

Not only are these dogs genetically bred to pick up a scent and bring back a specific item from miles away, their work ethic and desire for human companionship completes them as the total package when a true hero is needed to do the job.

Bad House Pets Can Make Great Service Dogs

Another reason that Labrador Retrievers make excellent service dogs is because of their high energy levels and spectacular endurance. These characteristics are what make a reliable working scent dog. Ironically enough, some of the best, all-around, highly trained service dogs were given up from owners because their energy levels were just too much to keep up with.

A perfect example of a real-life situation is a group of Labrador Retrievers which were donated by several families because they were too high strung and acted out in severely destructive ways. When these same dogs were looked at by professional trainers, it was immediately obvious that they would make great working dogs.

And great working dogs they became! Two of them were taken in and trained to work for the DAD program (Dogs Against Drugs) of the Children’s Crisis Prevention Network Inc. in Texas. They now spend their days contributing to society by inspecting for alcohol, drugs, and guns in local schools.

Saving Time & Money

Using Labrador Retrievers as service dogs is also a better investment than using other dogs. This is because most dog breeds will only train and work effectively with one handler. Labs, on the other hand, can work with more than one handler if necessary, and still produce the same results.

Labs are also some of the most approachable of dog breeds. They appear friendly and are generally accepted as nonthreatening to the public. Consider the fact that many bomb threats and other potentially dangerous problems occur in public places such as airports, bus stations, and schools. A service dog must be able to work in and around crowds without alarming anyone. Labrador Retrievers are considered to be public friendly and do not intimidate people like other detection dogs, such as the imposing German Shepherd.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2