Archive for the ‘Dog Breeds’ Category
Friday, February 26th, 2010
The Labrador Retriever is a loyal, intelligent breed with a reputation for bravery and initiative. Whether they are putting their friendly and social nature to work as therapy dogs, using their intelligence to help the visually impaired navigate busy streets as a guide dog or putting their nose to work for the police as a cadaver dog, the Labrador can be found helping people all over the world. Arguably one of the bravest and most noble jobs this breed has been known to perform is the work of a search and rescue dog.
The work of a search and rescue dog, also known as a disaster dog, is a long, exhausting and often very dangerous process. It requires intense concentration and a keen sense of smell. Earthquakes, avalanches, land-slides, terrorist attacks and any other number of disasters can leave people trapped and injured. It is the search and rescue dog’s responsibility to navigate the dangers of a disaster site, locate survivors, and aid disaster-relief workers in bringing people to safety. Thick smoke, dust, burning debris, broken glass and ruptured gas lines make the work of a disaster dog extremely dangerous. These dogs put themselves in incredible danger in order to save the lives of others.
The calm and gentle nature of the Labrador Retriever makes it especially well suited to this kind of work. As a retriever, they naturally enjoy holding objects in their mouths. It is said that a Labrador can hold an egg in its mouth without breaking it. While a soft and tender bite may make the Labrador unsuitable for work as a police protection dog, it is ideal for helping pull a person to safety from an icy river as a search and rescue dog. Alongside the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are breeds that also make excellent search and rescue dogs. Large-scale rescue efforts often include a mix of these breeds. However, as a cultural icon, the Labrador Retriever remains a symbol of humanitarian effort on behalf of all canines.
Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
The Beauceron, less commonly referred to as the Berger de Beauce, is a centuries-old breed that originated in Northern France. While the name might imply that the breed is specifically from the Beauce region, its origins are actually spread across several regions in the North of France. The breed was originally developed for use as a shepherd dog, and to guard livestock. Since then, the breed has gained a reputation in France for it’s abilities as a guard dog and its service in both World Wars.
Physically, the Beauceron is a large, muscular dog. The coat is short, course and most commonly Black and Tan. Several color variations also exist, but they are not included in the breed standard. Unlike many other breeds which may or may not have a dewclaw, the Beauceron is known for having a double dewclaw on each rear leg. Similar in appearance to many of the Pinscher breeds, the Beauceron is one of the breeds from which the Doberman Pinscher was developed.
The history of the Beauceron and its natural guard instincts make the breed a suitable candidate for use as a guard dog. However, the mental development of the Beauceron is slower than in other common working dog breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. As a result, care must be taken to avoid rushing into vigorous training exercises before the dog is ready.
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
The bloodhound is a classic working dog with a long history. As with many hounds, it is speculated that the bloodhound was developed by the Belgian and french people, centuries ago. The bloodhound is mentioned in writings dating back as early as the 14th century, where they were bred for the purpose of hunting deer and wild boar. The bloodhound’s long history of use as a hunting dog have given the breed a reputation for remarkable tracking skills. It is a misconception that bloodhounds were frequently used in packs. In fact, most bloodhounds track solo in order to minimize noise and to avoid startling their game.
As hunting changed over the years, so did the role of the bloodhound as a working dog. Local police forces began to take note of the breed’s incredible ability to track human beings by scent. Before the abolishment of slavery, bloodhounds were imported to the United States and used to track runaway slaves. Since then, they have found more noble work with police forces who have used them to track criminals and locate missing persons.
Today, bloodhounds are a popular cultural icon and often seen on film or on TV. However, the actual use of bloodhounds by the police has diminished. The gentle nature of the bloodhound combined with difficulties in training and obedience have caused the police to take on more protection-oriented breeds such as the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd. However, bloodhounds are still sometimes used in tracking situations where there is little to no risk of danger to the police officer and the dog.
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.
Monday, October 19th, 2009
The Boxer is a molosser-type dog of medium size with a square, muscular build. The head is widely recognizable by the broad skull and square muzzle. The jaws are powerful, with a protruding lower jaw which forms a slight underbite. The coat is short and smooth and is most often fawn or brindle with black around the face and muzzle. White markings on the chest and paws are also common. About a quarter of all boxers are born with excessive white markings, some of which cover nearly their entire body. However, while white boxers are as physically and mentally capable as their fawn and brindle counterparts, white is not an accepted variation of the breed, and they are not permitted to participate in conformation dog shows. Traditionally, all boxers had their ears cropped and their tails docked. Since then, such procedures have been banned in many countries. Several breeders in Britain have developed a variety of naturally short-tailed boxers in response to this ban.
The Boxer breed was developed in Germany during the late 1800s and is a direct descendant of the now extinct Bullenbeisser. The Bullenbeisser had traditionally been prized by hunters for its powerful jaws and bite. They would pursue large prey such as deer and wild boar and hold the prey until the hunter arrived. However, hunters began to favor smaller, faster dogs and the Bullenbeisser was often cross-bred with imported British Bulldogs. This excessive cross-breeding led to the extinction of the Bullenbeisser breed, but also led to the development of the Boxer. The Boxer was popular in Germany as a working dog, and was used by German military as a messenger and guard dog during the First World War. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that the Boxer gained international popularity.
The alert nature and strong jaws of the Boxer is well suited to work as a guard dog. The breed is also intelligent and is sometimes used as a service dog for the disabled, or taken on as part of a k9 police unit. However, the breed is most commonly used today as a family pet and companion. It has largely been replaced in working roles by other breeds seen as more capable of the job, such as the Labrador for work as a service dog, or the German Shepherd for work as a police protection dog.
Friday, October 9th, 2009
The Belgian Groenendael is one of four Belgian sheepdog breeds, the other three being the Laekenois, the Tervuren and the Malinois. All four are physically very similar, with their coat being the only major difference. The majority of countries around the world still classify them as varieties of the some breed. However, the United States has recognized them as different breeds for the past 50 years. The Groenendael is an athletic, muscular, medium-sized dog. Its coat is medium-long, with a thick undercoat, and is almost always solid black, although small patches of white are sometimes found on the chest. Bred as a working sheepdog, the breed is often highly intelligent and energetic. Mostly, health concerns are rare, although overfeeding and lack of proper excercise can lead to laziness and obesity.
The Groenendael was developed in Groenendael, Belgium, by a breeder named Nicholas Rose. Their natural intelligence and protective nature lead to their use as guard dogs, and alongside the Belgian Malinois, they became one of the first breeds to be used by the Belgian police. They also make excellent sporting dogs and often perform well at Schutzhund and K.N.P.V. excercises. However, despite their capabilities, the Groenendael is commonly kept today as a pet and companion, while the Belgian Malinois and Laekenois are used more often as security dogs and protection dogs.
Monday, October 5th, 2009
The Airedale Terrier is one of the largest terrier type breeds, and the largest among those originating in Britain. However, Airedales bred for dog shows are often much smaller. The Airedale has a medium-length double-layered coat with a soft undercoat underneath a coarse, wiry topcoat. The coat is most often black around the back and sides of the dog, with tan around the head, legs and tail. The tail is sometimes docked shortly after birth, although this practise has been made illegal in Britain.
The Airedale Terrier was originally bred in the late 1800′s, and is most likely a cross between smaller Terrier breeds and a larger hunting dog known as the Otterhound. Like the Otterhound before it, the Airedale became popular among hunters. However, unlike Terriers before them who were often accompanied by a pack of Bloodhounds, and expected to enter the dens and burrows of prey after the Bloodhounds had sniffed them out, Airedales became more of a jack-of-all trades breed capable of both sniffing out and taking down larger animals. As well as being efficient hunting dogs, the size and temperament of the breed suited it well to work as a guard dog on British farms. During the the First World War, Airedales were used to deliver messages during battle. Later, they were also given the task of finding and retrieving wounded soldiers from the front lines. After seeing the impressive work of Belgian Malinois police protection dogs in Belgium, Airedales were also adopted into British police forces. However, they were later replaced by the German Shepherd as the most common breed used for police work. During the 1930s, American breeders in Ohio developed what is known as the Oorang strain of Airedale Terrier. Bred to be larger and sturdier than previous Airedales, an attempt was made to market the Oorang as “the greatest utility dog in the history of the world.” The kennel closed and breeding of Oorangs ended in 1970 upon the death of its creator, Walter Lingo. However, some kennels still claim to produce original Oorang Airedale Terriers today.
Today, the Airedale Terrier is still an impressive breed. However, they have mostly been replaced by other breeds for work as security dogs or police dogs, and their role as a hunting breed is now largely obsolete.
Friday, September 25th, 2009
The German Pinscher is a lean, muscular dog of medium size. It has a short coat that is most commonly black with tan markings, although red, blue and fawn varieties exist. The breed is thought to be a descendant of early European herding and guard dogs, and shares a common lineage with other Pinscher types breeds such as the Doberman. Also, common to Pinscher breeds, is the practise of cropping the dog’s ears and docking its tail. The resulting pointed ears and stubby tail are supposed to improve the dog’s localized hearing, and prevent the tail from interfering with the dog’s work. However, the discomfort caused by such procedures has caused these practises to be banned in some countries. Dogs with cropped ears or a docked tail are also sometimes barred from participating in dog shows.
Traditionally, the breed’s primary working role was to hunt rats and vermin on German farms. Some German Pinschers are still kept as ratters today, but most are simply house pets. Owners keeping them as house pets should keep in mind that they retain the instinct to hunt vermin, and will attempt to do so if left off-lead. German Pinschers are also very watchful and somewhat territorial. They often make good watch dogs. However, their temperament and size prevent them from becoming effective protection dogs or security dogs.
The German Pinscher was a rare breed outside of Europe. Following the Second World War, the breed nearly vanished as many German dogs succumbed to famine in the years following the war. In the 1950s, Werner Jung, the supervisor of the Pinscher and Schnauzer Club in Germany, revived the breed from its few remaining survivors. Unfortunately, due to the limited gene pool from which the breed was revived, many German Pinschers suffer from a variety of hereditary diseases such as cataracts, hip and elbow displaysia, and cardiac disease. Today, the breed is uncommon in North America, but is slowly gaining in popularity. Many German Pinschers are now bred in Australia, and exported to kennels around the world.
Monday, September 14th, 2009
After herding, the guard dog is perhaps one of the oldest canine professions. Traditionally, guard dogs were bred to watch over livestock, and chase down predators in the area. These dogs had to be fast, intelligent and strong. Molosser and Mastiff type breeds are broad terms which refer to large dogs bred by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Celts for the purposes of guarding territory and livestock. Many of today’s most effective guard dogs share a common ancestry in the Molosser and Mastiff, and retain their strong build, intelligence, and territorial instincts. It is important to consider that while many smaller dogs have strong territorial characteristics, they often make better watch dogs than guard dogs in that they might bark, but lack the strength and skill to effectively stop an intruder. A true guard dog can be trained to know when and how to attack and disarm an opponent.
The ways in which dog breeds find their way into guarding roles is perhaps as varied as the breeds themselves. Some ancient breeds, such as the Rottweiler, were originally bred for herding, but adapted into guarding roles through the need to protect livestock. Others, such as the Tibetan Mastiff, were bred and trained to guard sacred religious locations for as long as history has recorded them. More modern breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, have been bred exclusively as guard dogs in the past century. Amazingly, other modern breeds who were bred as herding dogs, such as the German Shepherd, have adapted into a wide variety of other roles, including that of a guard dog, in only a few decades. Other breeds commonly used as guard dogs today include the Belgian Malinois, the American Bulldog, the Pit Bull Terrier, and the Bullmastiff.
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
The Rottweil Metzgerhund (butcher’s dog of Rottweil), known commonly today as the Rottweiler, is a stout, sturdy dog, bred for its exceptional strength. It has a short, black coat with patches of tan around the muzzle and paws. The Rottweiler has a long history as a working dog, and it’s name reflects this. The breed is descended from the working dogs of the ancient roman empire who herded cattle and pulled carts filled with meat and produce along common trade routes. One such route led to the town of Rottweil in South-Western Germany. The breed worked to both drive and protect cattle in the Rottweil area for centuries until the establishment of the industrial age and the rise of locomotives rendered them obsolete for this purpose. However, the strength and versatility of the Rottweiler made it ideal for other jobs and were one of the few herding breeds, alongside the German Shepherd, who found work with police forces and as guard dogs.
The Rottweiler has the unfortunate reputation of being a vicious breed. The stout, muscular appearance of the dog is probably a factor in their negative portrayal by the media, but studies have also ranked Rottweilers as being second most likely to be named in fatal attacks against humans, just short of the Pitbull. However, as with all dogs, acts of aggression towards humans are often the fault of the owner, and the breed’s appearance may play a part in attracting less responsible owners who might prefer a vicious or frightening pet. A well trained Rottweiler with a responsible owner should be loyal, obedient and alert.
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