Breed of the Week: English Toy Spaniel

english toy spaniel

Meet our cute and affectionate featured breed of the week, the English Toy Spaniel. This breed loves spending time playing and cuddling with their owner and rarely leave their side. They can be surprisingly reserved with strangers as they are very picky about who they give their affection to. One of the typically quieter toy breeds, the English Toy Spaniel can be a great addition to almost any family and living space.

 

For a breed that’s been around for so many years, it’s amazing how well-documented their history is. During the 16th century, ‘exotic’ type lapdogs were all the rage. During this time, the English Toy Spaniel was developed with it’s immediate ancestors being the Pekingese and Japanese Chin. Many artists during the 16th century loved painting the English Toy Spaniel with their very easy-going personality, they aren’t your typically high-energy small dog and generally prefer to just lounge around most of the day (making it much easier to paint!). This breed goes by many other unofficial names such as Toy Spaniel, King Charles Spaniel (different from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and ‘Charlies’ (after King Charles I and II who both favoured this breed).

 

‘Charlies’ are not high-energy dogs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t speedy! Although they prefer to lounge around, they absolutely love to chase things that move fast. If a butterfly happens to catch your Toy Spaniel’s attention, they’re off on the hunt in a second! They can get along well other pets and young kids as long as they’ve been introduced early and well-socialized. English Toy Spaniels can be goofballs and have tons of affection to give, but they are very picky who deserves their affection. You will find this breed likes to pick favourites amongst the people he meets and only those people will see the Toy Spaniels more outgoing side.

 

English Toy Spaniels are great dogs for first time owners. They are fairly easy to train (albeit a little stubborn at times) and will really work hard to please the people they are bonded to. They don’t require much exercise, but are also more than willing to go on a hike with you! Anything you are planning for the day, the Toy Spaniel wants to come with you! They do well in almost any living situation, they are small enough for apartment living and are very adaptable dogs. They only thing they don’t adapt well to is being left home alone all day as they crave attention from their favoured human companion.

 

This breed needs a lot of maintenance to keep looking their best. With their short muzzles, their faces are perfect places to gather up dirt and debris, so it will need to be wiped daily and after romping around in the garden! They need to be brushed about twice a week to prevent matting in their hair. They should go to the groomer for hair trimming once every 2-3 months. Especially in colder weather, when the hair on their feet and legs gets too long, water will freeze on that fur and can contribute to frostbite. In hot weather, the same area of fur can develop tangles covered in mud and dirt and be very uncomfortable and cause skin irritation if the hair is not kept trimmed.

 

‘Charlies’ can be a perfect companion dog for a first time owner, especially for people living on their own as English Toy Spaniels like to pick one person to give all their love to. With their easy-going and gentle nature, they are great company to bring to pet-friendly offices. They rarely bark and prefer and slower, quieter lifestyle. If you’re looking for an adaptable and loving small dog, consider the distinguished and sweet natured English Toy Spaniel!

Preventing Joint Problems In Dogs

senior dog with ball

If you’ve ever owned a large breed dog, you’re probably familiar with how common it is for large dogs to develop joint problems. Many of us don’t realize when our dog has joint problems until it has progressed to the point of them needing medication. So we’ve put together some helpful tips to preventing joint problems so that hopefully your dog won’t have trouble getting around when he gets older!

 

 

Ensure Minor Injuries Get Proper Rest

If puppies have a big fall, tumble down some stairs, etc., they need the proper time to fully heal. Ideally the fall should try to be avoided completely, but puppies will be puppies! After the injury, make sure to limit your pup’s activity until the injury is fully healed. For minor injuries that don’t require a vet visit, you can still call your vet and describe the situation so he can give you a general time to keep the pup on a lower activity level. Injuries that don’t get proper time to heal will often leave the joints weakened and can mean joint issues later on in life for your pooch.

 

Keep Your Dog Active!

Dogs that are carrying extra weight are putting more pressure on their joints when they walk around. This speeds up the deterioration of joint cartilage which can’t be reversed. Keeping your dog slim by giving him regular walks, not too many treats and a wholesome diet will help keep him moving around easily and not put additional pressure on his joints.

 

Early Detection

One of the best ways to ensure that your dog is comfortable moving around and not in any pain is to know the warning signs of early arthritis and sore/weak joints. Taking notice of things like, stiffness when standing up if lying down for a while, limping when walking or after a certain amount of walking, whining or whimpering when doing certain movements. These could all possibly be signs of early joint deterioration. If you start to notice any of these signs, be sure to speak with your vet on how to make your dog more comfortable and if he/she recommends any dietary supplements to help reduce inflammation in the joints.

 

Although arthritis and other joint problems cannot be reversed, and can be hard to avoid, they can definitely be slowed down. With help from you and looking out for any warning signs of joint pain, your dog can live a long happy life!

Breed of the Week: Otterhound

otterhound

The big, friendly Otterhound is our featured breed this week! This large and very hairy dog loves to spend every minute of the day outdoors getting dirty and rolling in the mud. He’s a rugged and rambunctious dog that loves to play!

 

The Otterhound originated in England in the 1300’s. The breed was created to hunt otters (to stop the otters from taking all of the fish). A specialized breed was needed to hunt the otters as the dog needed good scent-tracking abilities, able to fight the otter (weighing upwards of 20lbs), and able to withstand the freezing waters that the otters were in. With the Otterhound being a very old breed, there is a lot of debate over their early history, particularly with the size and look of the original Otterhound. Some experts believe the Otterhound was simply a term used to describe any fierce scent-tracking dog able to hunt otters. Others believe the Otterhound was originally a terrier type breed rather than hound. Today, the Otterhound is considered a ‘Vulnerable Native Breed’ by the AKC (American Kennel Club). There are approximately 600 Otterhounds remaining in the world!

 

This breed was built to be outdoors! They do best in homes with lots of space to run around, making them great farm dogs! This friendly breed gets along great with other dogs, but is better with big dogs as the Otterhound may be inclined to chase small pooches due to their high prey drive. Otterhounds generally are born with a very easy-going and sweet personality, which is good as this breed is notoriously stubborn and often slow to train. They get along best with owners who have the mindset of ‘Dogs will be dogs!’. As long as this dog gets lots and lots of exercise, they rarely have anxiety or major behavioural issues. But one quirk this breed often has (especially if bored or lots of pent up energy) is baying. They have that distinctive hound ‘bay’ instead of a bark, and man are they ever loud!

 

Do you love brushing and bathing dogs in your free time? If you do, the Otterhound is perfect for you! This large dog has a lot of hair and needs frequent hair trimming, brushing and bathing. The Otterhound’s goal every day is to get as dirty as possible, so you will definitely need to be prepared for daily upkeep of their coat.

 

The Otterhound is suitable for very active and outdoorsy families or individuals. They are not recommended for homes with small children as young Otterhounds can be quite rambunctious and knock kids over. They need a very patient and consistent owner who is willing to take the time to train them and give them enough mental and physical stimulation (they were bred to be high-energy working dogs). This dog is definitely not suitable for small apartments or living in a busy city. They thrive on the outdoors and being too cramped will give you an unhappy Otterhound! If you’ve got lots of space, patience, and don’t mind a bit of a dirty house, the Otterhound could be your loving and playful companion!

Breed of the Week: Berger Picard

berger picard

This week we are featuring a French dog breed, the Berger Picard. You may recognise this dog from the novel-based 2005 movie ‘Because of Winn Dixie’. While many people think the star of the movie was a mixed breed, it was in fact the lovable Berger Picard!

 

The Berger Picard is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds belonging to the sheepdog group. The Picard breed was developed in 9th century France. They were bred for herding livestock and many in France are still used even today as herding dogs. Many Picard enthusiasts debate over the Berger Picards relation to other breeds. Some say they are closely linked to the Briard, while other say they the Belgian Shepherd. The breed almost became extinct during World War I and again during World War II. Although breeders fought very hard to keep this wonderful breed going, it is still considered to be a very rare dog breed today.

 

This wonderful dog breed got the starring role in ‘Because of Winn Dixie’ because of its scruffy mutt-like appearance. As with many movies that have animal actors, the director needed several dogs to perform so that when one dog needs a break they can bring in another doggy actor to take over. So to stay true to the novel of having a mutt-looking dog, but also keep consistency amongst the several doggy actors, the director decided to go with the Berger Picard breed.

 

One benefit to the Picard being a rare breed even today, is that there is less chance for ‘over-breeding’ which can result in many health and temperament issues. So the Berger Picard remains to be a very healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12-15 years and very few major health problems.

 

The Picard is a great family dog, he can get along very well with children and other pets when socialized properly. The Picard is often very standoffish with strangers and needs a heavy focus on how to stay calm and relaxed around new people. Many Picard owners will tell you their dog is the pickiest eater. You will need to take plenty of time finding the right food that is nutritionally balanced that your dog will also enjoy. Picards are notoriously picky-eaters and for this reason are often not motivated by food during training sessions. Lucky for you they are very loyal and absolutely love to make their owners happy, so often times praise is worth more to them than a dog treat.

 

This scruffy dog breed is super low-key when it comes to grooming. They have a double coat with a rough, wiry top coat. The Picard has a naturally lower oil content in their fur, which is what helps to give them that scruffy, tousled appearance. This also helps to make it very rare to get matting in the fur, as well as dirt seems to just rub right off of them, resulting in a less smelly pooch! Their coat sheds twice a year, and they only need to be brushed about once a week.

 

The Berger Picard is a very energetic breed that is up for any type of activity. They are great at going on long hikes, swims, camping, bike rides, you name it! They are generally fairly easy to train in obedience as they just love to keep busy and love being given a task. If you and your family are looking for a sweet-natured dog to go on long hikes or swims with, consider getting the wonderful Berger Picard!

Ways Your Dog Says ‘I Love You’

dog heart

It’s pretty easy to see when humans are showing their love or affection for one another, kissing, hugging, hand-holding, etc. But do you know all the little ways your dog tells you he loves you? You may be surprised to learn some of the almost unnoticeable ways your dog is saying ‘I love you’.

 

Yawning (When You Yawn)

When humans yawn from seeing another human yawn we often think ‘yawns are contagious’; but really, it is a sign of sympathy. When you are more attached to the person who is yawning, you are more likely to also feel the urge to yawn as you are unconsciously showing sympathy for the person. Crazy thing is, dogs do the same thing! Recent studies have shown that the more bonded the dog is to the person who is yawning, the more likely they are to yawning. Of course, we also know that yawning in dogs can also be a sign of anxiety or anticipation, so be sure to analyze the situation if your dog is nervous, excited to go somewhere, or just taking the time to say ‘I love you’!

 

Wiggling Their Eyebrows

 

According to the Behavioural Processes Journal, a Japanese Study revealed that dogs are likely to wiggle or raise their eyebrows when they are reunited with someone they like! In the study, dogs were observed when exposed to various toys, strangers and their owner. The results showed that there was unpredictable movement towards the toys and strangers, but consistently dogs would move their left eyebrow in some way whenever they saw their owner! When studied further and discovered that dogs often have the same reaction to other dogs that they know well, this tells us that dogs moving their left eyebrow definitely has a correlation to the relationship they feel they have with the person or dog.

Wanting to Sleep Near You

Whether sleeping on your bed or in his own dog bed near your bed, dogs want to sleep near someone they feel close to and trust. In dog world, sleep is a very vulnerable state, this is why most wild dogs or wolves will sleep in a pack as there is safety in numbers. But you will rarely find a dog sleeping near someone they don’t trust. In their eyes, the safest place to sleep is with you because you are their protector, and they love you for it! It’s a huge compliment when a dog trusts you enough to sleep close to you and definitely shows their love.

 

These are only some of the ways our furry companions tell us they love us. And every dog is different, so your dog may have even more cute ways that he says he loves you that we haven’t discovered yet!

Breed of the Week: American Foxhound

american foxhound

The American Foxhound is one of the oldest American Dog Breeds. Although not a suitable apartment dog, this breed is a fantastic hunter as well as a gentle and easy-going cuddler!

 

The American Foxhound breed was developed in the late 1700’s, but the ancestor breeds (various other hound-type dogs) were brought over to America in the early 1600’s. The American Foxhound that we recognise today, was bred in Virginia, so it is no wonder that it is the state’s official dog breed! The breed was specifically bred to hunt foxes, often the American grey and red foxes. Today, the breed is still almost always used as a working dog. Either helping on the farm carrying heavy loads for the farmer (as this breed has a lot of strength and stamina), as hunting companions (used for tracking foxes), or competing in scent detection trials. This breed hates to be bored so it is best to only get this dog if you have a routine job for them to do.

 

Being a hound, this breed will definitely alert you with that typically hound ‘baying’ whenever he hears a noise. For this reason (as well as their high energy level), this breed is not a good option for small living spaces. The American Foxhound gets very bonded to their owners and enjoy working side by side with them. This breed is typically standoffish with strangers, and should be socialized early to prevent any fear or aggression towards strangers. They typically get along great with young kids, they can get along with other pets such as cats when heavily socialized to them, but they do have a prey drive so you should always use your best judgment.

 

They can be quite stubborn dogs when it comes to training. You should always stay calm, positive and patient with this breed. These dogs respond well to positive training methods, as well as they appreciate being given a reason to what you’ve asked of them. If you ask an American Foxhound to sit, they will look at you first almost like their asking “but why should I sit???? (usually cookies are a good enough reason!). Just be sure to not use too many training treats as this breed loves their food and can easily become overweight if not managed carefully.

 

Grooming needs for the Foxhound are very low maintenance. Being short-haired, they only require brushing maybe once a week. As they are often outdoors, they may need a few more wipe down than other dogs to keep them from tracking mud in the house!

 

The American Foxhound is a sweet and gentle breed, loyal to their family. They will spend all day outside if they are allowed, and their grooming needs are very low maintenance. Ensure that they don’t pig out on too many cookies and that they are getting enough exercise so that your Foxhound stays happy and healthy!

Dog Safety Tips for Kids

kid walking great dane

Teaching young kids how to act around dogs is very important in today’s dog-filled society. Whether it’s your family pooch or an unfamiliar dog walking down the street, you want to be sure that your child knows how to properly behave around a dog and how to be respectful towards both the canine and the owner. We’ve complied some helpful tips for teaching your kids their doggy manners and staying safe!

 

Always Ask Before Approaching/ Petting a Dog

One of the most important safety tips is to always ask the owner before approaching or trying to pet the dog. Kids will often get so excited to see a new cute dog that they want to run up to it and start petting him! Unfortunately, this can often cause the dog to be surprised/overwhelmed and may react in a negative way such as biting. Try this exercise, take your child to a popular dog walking area, and show your child by example how to ask the owner first before petting and then calmly pet the dog. With enough practise, this will become the child’s natural response when they see a dog in the future. If you want to go a step further, you can teach your kids the colour codes that some dogs will wear to indicate various meanings (ex., red means ‘Caution! Do not touch’, green means ‘I am friendly!’)

 

Too Many Kisses!

Dogs and humans show affection in different ways. This is an important piece of information for kids to understand. At an early age, kids learn to show affection by hugging their friends and family; so it only makes sense that they would want to show the same affection to the new cute dog they just met! Unfortunately, dogs don’t typically show affection by hugs or kisses, and often times when a face or head is very close to their head, the dog becomes uncomfortable and will try to bite. It should be fully explained and emphasized to kids that the dog does not like hugs or kisses, but he really likes being gently pet!

 

Don’t Bother a Busy Dog!

 

Have you ever encountered a dog with a new toy that just wouldn’t let go of it no matter what? No problem for many adults, but that can seem really scary to a young kid, and if the dog really loves what he’s chewing on, he may become aggressive to protect it. For this reason, it is crucial that kids learn to not approach a dog who is eating, drinking or chewing on something. Especially with new dogs, you don’t know if that dog is familiar with kids, or if the dog has any possessive tendencies that could turn aggressive.

 

It is important to always monitor your kids interactions with dogs to ensure they are safe and being respectful to the animal. To ensure your child grows up to be confident and polite around dogs, it’s always a good idea to re-educate yourself by speaking with dog trainers, watching youtube videos of dog behaviour, or even speaking with a knowledgeable dog owner. By becoming more confident around dogs yourself, your kids will follow your lead to have a happy life with canines!

Amazing Things Dogs Can Detect: Part 2

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Dogs can make fantastic pets, but did you know your dog might not just be a cute face, he could also be detecting things you weren’t even aware of! A lot of dogs can detect changes in the earth as well as in the human body, simply with their great sense of smell! You’d be surprised to learn all the things your dog might be detecting without you even realizing it! Continuing from last week’s ‘Amazing Things Dogs Can Detect; Part 1’, here is the rest of our list of fascinating things dogs can detect!

 

Thunderstorms       Most of us are very familiar to being woken up in the middle of the night to our dogs acting anxious, and then an hour later, there’s a thunderstorm! Could there be any correlation? Are our dog’s psychic? Well, no, your dog might not be psychic, but he can definitely smell that thunderstorm or rain on its way! Have you ever stepped outside the day after a storm and thought, ‘wow, it really smells like rain today’? Now think about your dog’s incredible sense of smell, if humans can smell the rain, you better believe our furry friends pick up on that scent way before we do. Typically they start to notice the different smell in the atmosphere 30-60 min before it even starts to pour!

 

Diabetes                   We’ve had service dogs around for years and they have provided their owners with independence and confidence. One of the amazing things service dogs can be trained to detect are changes in blood sugar levels within the human body. This being extremely useful for individuals who are diabetic. When blood sugar levels drop dramatically, our bodies produce chemical changes that dogs can pick up on when they sniff our breath and skin. This can give diabetic individuals peace of mind when they are out and about. Blood sugar levels can drop drastically in the body and sometimes the individual won’t notice until it’s a serious emergency. Trained service dogs help these individuals by alerting them so the owner can have more time to get their insulin. These types of service dogs are best suited to individuals who have unpredictable and dramatic changes in the blood sugar levels.

 

Anxiety         At some point we’ve all heard the old saying ‘dogs can smell fear’. While this is in fact accurate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog will then become aggressive. Most dogs will actually recognise an individual who is fearful of them, and often avoid them. But can dogs really smell fear or are they just looking at our facial cues? The answer is, both! Dogs (especially ones we’ve bonded to) are very good readers of our facial expressions and that definitely plays a part in them recognising our fear/ anxiety. But dogs actually do rely on their noses in this situation too! When we start feeling anxious, our bodies pump blood faster, we release adrenaline, start sweating and releasing pheromones that dogs pick up on.

 

We’ve discussed some amazing things that dogs can detect. Some owners may find their dog can sense even more things than we’ve listed here! It is truly remarkable how our furry friends can sniff out and sense oncoming rain and the earth’s magnetic field. We are lucky to have them in our lives!

 

Breed of the Week: Brussels Griffon

brussels-griffon

Have you ever noticed a furry, pug-looking dog at the dog park? Well you might have just seen our featured breed this week, the Brussels Griffon! Lot’s of personality, and hilarity packed into one little dog. These guys will surely make you laugh on a daily basis.

 

The Brussels Griffon originated in Belgium in the early 1800’s. They were owned by coachmen and used to hunt rodents in the stables were the coachmen kept their horses. They were cross-bred with the pug and a type of Belgian terrier. Later added to the mix was the King Charles Spaniel and the English Toy Spaniel. Once these secondary breeds were added to the making of the Brussels Griffon, it resulted in the many coat variations we see today in the Brussels Griffon.

 

The Brussels Griffon comes in many different colour variations such as beige, black, red and black & tan. They can have a smooth coat or a wire-coat. The smooth coat Brussels generally have shorter hair that is easy to maintain and requires minimal grooming. The wire-coat will need regular trips to the groomer for trimming. The classic Brussels Griffon haircut is a short body and head, with longer hair around their mouth making it look as though they have a beard.

 

This great little dog adapts well to any sort of housing. They do fine in apartments or condominiums, generally only needing one good walk a day along with bathroom breaks. The most important thing to these dogs is to be with their owner at all times. They adore humans, especially the ones they have bonded with and dislike being left alone (sometimes resulting in being destructive). Brussels Griffon owners would do well to not accidentally enforce their anxious tendencies such as a big, exciting reunion when coming home from work. Dog breeds who are more inclined to developing separation anxiety should always be greeted in a calm manner and even ignored until they have settled down. Responding to an anxious dog with excitement when you’ve been separated for a period of time can result in increasing their anxiety in the future.

 

These dogs can get along fantastically with other animals when properly socialized and are generally good with strangers. If you think you’re ready for a loving little bearded dog, consider bringing in the wonderful Brussels Griffon to your home!