Archive for November, 2009
Monday, November 30th, 2009
The pancreas is a small organ with a dual purpose. It releases digestive enzymes to aid with digestion, but is also responsible for the production of several important hormones, such as insulin, that help control glucose in the bloodstream. All vertebrate animals, from birds, to canines, to humans, have some form of pancreatic tissue aiding with digestion. Problems concerning the pancreas may not always be serious, but have the potential to be deadly.
In canines, inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, is a common problem. It is often difficult to pin-point the original cause of pancreatitis as it can be brought on by physical trauma to the abdomen, bacterial and viral infection, or even by the ingestion of excess fatty foods. Inflammation occurs when a problem in the pancreas causes the digestive enzymes to activate while still inside the organ, which results in the slow digestion of pancreatic tissue. Pancreatitis can be diagnosed as either acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a sudden occurrence and should not return once treated. Chronic pancreatitis is diagnosed when the problem persists or returns frequently, and could signal a more serious metabolic problem.
Symptoms of pancreatitis are often noticeable. They include, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration and tenderness or pain in the abdomen. However, all of these symptoms may be caused by other diseases. If you suspect that your dog may be ill, it is imperative that you bring them to the veterinarian immediately. Once your canine has been diagnosed, treatment is usually simple. In order to allow the pancreas to heal and resume normal functioning, you must refrain from feeding your dog. Any amount of food, water, or even medicine entering the mouth will cause digestive enzymes to be released, and should be avoided during treatment. In order to avoid dehydration, fluids may be given intravenously. Solid food should then be reintroduced gradually, and should consist of food that is easily digestible with low fat content.
Obesity and high fat content in the blood are common causes of pancreatitis. Ensure that your dog is receiving a good diet. Table-scraps may be delicious, but human food can often be extremely high in fat. Never give your dog left-over bacon. The sudden spike of fat content in the blood could be enough to cause acute pancreatitis. Cat food is also very high in fat content, so if you own a cat, make sure your dog is eating out of the right bowl. German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are energetic dogs and love exercise. Setting aside time to give your protection dog the exercise it requires will not only keep your dog happy, but will also keep it healthy and fit so that it can continue to protect you and your family with peak efficiency. Pancreatitis may also be caused by infection. Often, the infection comes from other dogs, but bacteria in spoiled meat may also cause problems in the pancreas.
Keeping your protection dog, guard dog or security dog healthy is not difficult. Good exercise and good diet are important to the health of any mammal. However, some infections may simple be unavoidable. Knowing what symptoms to look for and how to respond is key to keeping your dog in good health.
Friday, November 27th, 2009
Over the past weeks, we have been looking at the differences in the many coat colourings seen in German Shepherds and the problems that arise when German Shepherd breeders focus on colour and appearance rather than working ability. We have also talked a lot about the difference between recessive and dominant genes. Every dog has two sets of genes, and in a dog with two different gene variations telling it to have two different coats, the dominant gene will override the recessive gene. Uncommon colourings such as solid black, or solid white are recessive to the common black and tan saddle-back coat. However, while saddle-back coats are perhaps the most common and the most well-recognized, the saddle-back gene is recessive to one coat type: sable.
Sable German Shepherds are by no means uncommon, but they are less recognized by the general public than the classic saddle-black coats for which the breed is well known. This may simply be due to the aesthetic preference, as sable coats are perhaps the least visually pleasing of all coat colourings. The term “sable” refers to the colour banding of individual hairs in the coat. The hairs in a sable coat are often tan with black tips, but they can vary greatly from dog to dog. In fact, it is common for a sable German Shepherd’s coat to change greatly as the dog ages from puppy to adult.
As a working dog, the sable colouring is well suited to hunting or guarding live-stock, where camouflage could aid in the dog’s role. As a guard dog, security dog, or personal protection dog, the colour of a dog’s coat offers no real benefit, but a well trained, well-bred sable German Shepherd will be every bit as intelligent, strong and loyal as its saddle-back counterpart. As we’ve said before, the colour of your dog’s coat is not important in true protection work. What is important is that the dog has the nerves and genetics of a true working line German Shepherd.
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
The training with our client and his Czech line sable German Shepherd are doing better than expected. This weekend we did advanced tactical K9 work. I had him deploy his dog 150 yards, and jump up onto the roof of one of our pick-up trucks to take a bite. After successfully doing it on the first try, I had him deploy his dog up a ten-barrel A-frame to take a bite. The third exercise was to walk on a 20 foot long, four inch wide elevated plank and take a bite at the end. The last exercise was to swim across the pond, take a bite, and swim back to the handler.
To the average person this may all sound like extreme work, but a good personal protection dog has to be well rounded and prepared for the worst. There are very few people that do this type of work. The work that we do at CCK9 is very special. We at CCK9 have a saying; prepare to win, by preparing not to lose.
Monday, November 23rd, 2009
As outlined in previous posts, genetics plays an important role in the working ability of a dog. Whether or not a dog will make an effective personal protection dog depends largely on its genes and its bloodline. The way in which the colour of a dog’s coat is related to working ability can be complicated. The easy answer is that there is simply no correlation between the colour of the coat, and the working ability of the dog. The genes that control coat colour are in no way connected to the genes that are important to the nerves and temperament of the dog. For example, if a German Shepherd puppy with a black coat is born from a litter sired by an experienced import working line German Shepherd, you cannot look at the colour of the coat and assume that the puppy is worthless. Having black German Shepherd puppies in a litter is an increasingly rare occurrence, but it is still very possible. In fact, the breeder in such a situation might consider themselves lucky to have a working line puppy with the added bonus of a rare and beautiful black coat.
The gene for black coats in German Shepherds is what is known as a recessive gene. When a puppy is born, its DNA carries two sets of every gene; one from each parent. Of course, even though every puppy has two genes that control coat colour, it can only have one type of coat. To illustrate this fact, and how it ties into coat colour, we will give an example of a sire who has one gene that says “black and tan coat”, and another that says “solid black coat”. The dam will have the same: one gene for black and tan, and the other for solid black. When their litter is born, one puppy receives the sire’s gene for black and tan, but receives the mother’s gene for solid black. Because the solid black gene is a recessive gene, that puppy’s coat will never be black, despite carrying the genes for both types of coats. If another puppy receives the gene for solid black from both parents, its coat will be black. The only way a dog’s coat can be solid black is if it receives that gene from both parents. If you crunch the numbers, there is only a 25% chance that a puppy from that litter will have a black coat, but there is a 50% chance that you will have a black and tan puppy that still carries one solid black gene. The gene for black coats can remain dormant through generations of black and tan German Shepherds.
Where this becomes a problem, is when breeders start breeding selectively for black coats for their beauty and aesthetic value. In order to ensure that every puppy will have the desired coat colour, they will only breed two black German Shepherds together. Due to the rarity of black German Shepherds, this means that they are breeding from a very limited gene-pool, and the quality of the dogs will suffer.
The bottom line is: if one is looking to purchase a top quality canine protection for their home and their family, they should not be concerned with the colour of a dog’s coat. The most important thing when considering a purchase is to ensure that the dog is bred for working ability, from only the best and brightest working line dogs.
Friday, November 20th, 2009
To the average person, the difference between a German Shepherd bred in America versus one bred in Germany may not be readily apparent, but the differences are numerous in both physical appearance as well as temperament and working ability. If one were to visually compare the German lines with American lines, the most immediately noticeable difference would be in the angulation of the back and hind-quarters. American German Shepherds are typically bred to emphasize a long body with strong angulation in the back and hindquarters. Their build is often leaner with longer muzzles and a thinner head. On the other hand, German bloodlines often have a heavier build. Their heads are more square, and their backs are slightly sloped without excess angulation. Concerning temperament, the most important difference is in nerves. American bloodlines have a reputation for producing milder dogs with weaker nerves. German bloodlines, especially West German working lines and East German DDR working lines, are bred specifically to have strong nerves and a strong desire to work.
The key thing to consider is that American bloodlines are bred as show line dogs for aesthetic qualities over working ability. While long bodies and angulation may look nice, American show line dogs lack the balance, speed and agility required of protection dogs and guard dogs. This does not mean that working line dogs cannot be bred in America, but any capable working dog bred in America will be bred from import German working line dogs. German bloodlines have been bred exclusively for utility and working ability since the original development of the German Shepherd in the late 1800s. The Schutzhund trials were originally put in place to maintain to working ability of the German Shepherd breed. German working dogs who do not posses the required strength, agility and nerves simply aren’t permitted to breed. This ensures that only the best and brightest working line dogs are produced in Germany. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for breeding standards in America.
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
This is a million dollar question that I get asked almost very day. Genetics is everything when it comes to real protection dogs. It takes a very special dog to do real protection work. Most German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherds that are being trained and sold as protection dogs are working in pray, which is NOT real protection.
It takes three things to make a good protection dog: first and foremost is genetics, second is environment, and third is training; in that order. You can be the best trainer in the world and put in the time, but if the genetics are not there you will not succeed in developing a good protection dog.
We at Command Control K9 have a policy that we will not breed any dog unless it has proven itself, and has completed at least our Elite Family Guard Dog program. To give you an example of what genetics is, this weekend I had a couple that came down to my kennel to do bite work with a female Belgian Malinois puppy that they had purchased from us, out of Cindy and Ducko’s litter, who was born March 20, 2009. Now knowing this pup, and knowing where she is in her training — she had not even taken a bite before, never mind seeing a French Ring bite suit — not only did she take a bite the first time, but she let go and transferred to the other leg when I thread her with it. Now this is Genetics.
Monday, November 16th, 2009
The White German Shepherd, sometimes referred to as just White Shepherd, is a white-coated colour variation of the German Shepherd breed. The white colour variation has been present in the breed since it’s original development in the late 1800′s by Max Von Stephanitz. Their white coats are mistakenly interpreted as a sign of albinism, but genetic analysis has proven this to be false. The white coat is in fact valid colour variation ’caused by a recessive gene. During the 1930′s, the Nazi party took control of breeding standards and practises in Germany. Under new control, white coats became grounds for disqualification and White German Shepherds were not permitted to breed. Following the Second World War, dedicated breeders sought to repopulate and rebuild the German Shepherd breed, but the existing breed standards were kept in place, and white coat variations continued to be seen as a fault.
Today, many kennel clubs around the world continue to regard the White Shepherd as a variation of the German Shepherd breed, and most do not permit White Shepherds to participate in conformation dog shows. However, the United Kennel Club in the United States has declared the White Shepherd to be a separate breed. While the recessive white coat gene is very rare, it is believed by some that the gene pool is significant enough to warrant the development and identification of White Shepherds as a separate breed. The UKC conformation standard states that a White Shepherd should be pure white in colour, although off-white, cream and light tan coloured coats can be accepted. The dog’s nose and paw-pads must remain black.
Aside from the obvious difference in colour, White Shepherds are physically identical to the German Shepherd. White Shepherds can be superb workers and make excellent shepherd dogs and guide dogs. Unfortunately, as the white coat is a recessive gene, the gene pool from which White Shepherds can be bred is limited. As with any breed that is developed for aesthetic preference over working ability, the limited gene pool can have a negative effect on the overall performance of the dog. It is because of this that a White Shepherd may not have the nerves required for work as a guard dog, or a true protection dog.
Thursday, November 12th, 2009
The Dutch Shepherd, also known as the Hollandse Herdershond, is a medium-sized shepherd dog valued for its intelligence, loyalty and quick reflexes. Having been bred for their working ability, their build and mental capacity remain fairly consistent, but the length and colour of their coats can vary greatly from dog to dog. The Dutch Shepherd’s coat comes in three varieties: short, long and wire. The short and long coat varieties each have a very straight, coat that should lay close to the body, with the long variety being obviously longer. The wire coat variety has a thick, rough, medium-length coat. Unlike the German Shepherd, who’s long-coated varieties lack an undercoat, all Dutch Shepherds have a thick undercoat, regardless of their coat’s length.
Grooming a long coat Dutch Shepherd is typically no more trouble than grooming a short coat. Both require about the same amount of regular brushing to remove loose hairs. Without regular grooming, a longer coat may become matted more easily, but both varieties should be groomed regularly regardless of this fact. Grooming the wire coat variety can be more involving, as brushing can ruin the undercoat. Wire coat dogs often require professional grooming.
Outside of The Netherlands, the Dutch Shepherd has yet to reach the level of popularity enjoyed by other working breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. However, the Dutch Shepherd is a strong, versatile breed. They are excellent guard dogs and protection dogs. Aside from the excess grooming required of the wire coat variety, the length of coat should make no difference to their working ability. Each variety has a thick, weather-proof undercoat that makes them suited for work in a variety of conditions.
Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
The King German Shepherd, also known simply as King Shepherd, is an exceptionally large breed of dog with a thick double coat, a long, muscular build, and colourings similar to that of the German Shepherd. The breed was developed only about 20 years ago in the United States by Shelley Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer. They were bred for both size and working ability by cross-breeding the German Shepherd with Alaskan Malamutes and larger Great Pyrenees dogs. While a German Shepherd might typically weigh between 70 and 90 lbs, the King Shepherd can weigh anywhere from 90 to 150 lbs.
Having been developed from some of the hardest working breeds, the King Shepherd is highly energetic, and predisposed to life as a working dog. However, while one may hope that the combination of breeds would result in the best qualities of each, this cannot be assumed. The breed, while based heavily off of the German Shepherd, is unique in its temperament and working ability. Having only been developed in the past 20 years, the breed is still young and still changing. It may be some time yet before its abilities as a working dog can be solidly determined. That said, the breed has so far shown great promise as a shepherd dog, and its intimidating size make it an excellent candidate for work as a guard dog. However, work as a protection dog requires solid nerves and a great deal of agility. Considering the size of King Shepherds, they may not be as agile as their German Shepherd counterparts. Whether or not the breed has retained the nerves and temperament required of true protection work has yet to be determined.
Friday, November 6th, 2009
Most German Shepherds have a double coat, meaning that they have an outer coat layered with a thicker undercoat. The length of this coat is most commonly medium, but a long coated variety exists. However, the long coated variety only has a single outer coat, and lacks the thicker undercoat. The long coat gene is recessive, meaning that it must be passed on from both parents in order for a long coat to occur. This makes long coated German Shepherds considerably more rare than those with medium length coats.
Von Stephanitz, the German Shepherd breeder who developed and standardized the breed in the 1800s, discouraged against the long-coated variety. The lack of undercoat makes the dogs less resistant to weather, and also makes the coat lack the waterproofing that an undercoat provides. Long coat German Shepherds should still be able to perform as a protection dog or a guard dog, but only if they are in a suitable climate and will not be expected to swim through icy water or be kept outdoors in frigid winter conditions. Unfortunately, the recessive quality of the long coat gene means that many long coated German Shepherds are bred from a limited gene pool in order to maintain this trait. Their limited gene pool, as well as the fact that they are being bred for the appearance of their coat over working ability, means that many long coated German Shepherds may not have the appropriate temperament required for true protection work. However, this is not true of all long coat German Shepherds. Dogs should be judged on their working ability on an individual basis, and you cannot assume that a long coat will always represent an inferior dog.
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