Purebred puppy daydreams

Disclaimer: We have NO plans to get another dog any time soon. And if we did get another dog, we’d opt for a mixed breed from a shelter.

But sometimes I daydream about purebred puppies anyway. It’s only natural, right? If we were going to get a purebred puppy from a conscientious breeder, these are the breeds I’d be interested in:

Australian shepherd with a tail

Australian shepherd with a tail. Creative Commons license.

If I ever got an Aussie, the “with a tail” part would be important to me. I don’t know how people find Aussies with tails, since the AKC breed standard is for the dogs to be tailless, but I know that tailed Aussies exists. There’s no point for most Aussies to be tailless, since the majority of show/companion dogs are not going to be trampled by a cow in their lifetimes. And I believe that tails are an important part of canine communication. I grew up with an Aussie, and I have a deep-seated fondness for the breed.

Belgian shepherds (groendael or tervuren)

belgian1

terv

The malinois variety is definitely too much for me, but I hear tell that the groenendael (all-black) and tervuren (“charcoaled” tan) are the more laid-back varieties of the Belgian shepherd. They’re like slightly more unusual-looking and better bred German shepherds. My dad also grew up with a groenendael father/daughter pair named Satan and Satin. Yep. Interestingly enough, Satin was the foul-tempered one.

Berger picard

berger

Ever since I saw a Picardy shepherd in real life, I’ve been intrigued by them. I really don’t know anything much about their temperaments, but I love their scruffy, earnest look. They also look like this mysterious mixed-breed, but they are actually one of the oldest French herding breeds. The breed was almost wiped out in WWII, apparently, and they are still very rare, even in France.

English shepherd

english

I have a friend in town who has an English shepherd, and the breed really appeals to me. They are not recognized by the AKC, which is how they have been able to survive in such a healthy and working breeding pool. English shepherds have been described to me as a more low-key Aussie, and they all come with tails! You can see that the breeds look very similar, though, especially if you can find a tailed Aussie.

Kooikerhondje

kooiker

I am a quarter Dutch, and so I love that the kooikerhondje has been used since the 17th century in the Netherlands as a duck hunting companion. Kooikers are also a very rare breed in the United States, and there are only a handful of breeders. They are also not recognized by the AKC, so they have that in their favor. I think they are just too cute, and I love those wispy little earlocks that all of them have. Pronunciation guide: COY-ker-HOND-ja.

Silken windhound

silken

A silken windhound is essentially a miniature borzoi. The breed was invented by an American woman who disliked what was happening to purebred borzoi and decided to make her own breed. (It also probably goes without saying that they are not recognized by the AKC, but they were recently recognized by the UKC.) Silken windhounds have been praised by canine geneticists for their health and extraordinary longevity; some silkens have been reported to live to 17 or 18 years. I also have a weakness for sighthounds. If we did go the sighthound route, though, we’d most likely adopt a retired racing greyhound.

Clearly, I have a thing for herding dogs and unusual breeds. Which is kind of funny, seeing as I have one of the most common breeds in the United States (GSDs are no. 3 in AKC registrations, I think). And I guess they’re in the herding group, although it is rare to find a herding German shepherd (unless you have a pup from Blackthorn!).

What about you? Do you ever daydream about purebred puppies, those expensive, magical little beings? What breeds would you go for, if not your current breed?

All photos sourced from photopin.com and used under the Creative Commons license.

Loving a dog with eminent simplicity

tailsandpaws:    Australian Shepherd

“I once heard a woman who had lost her dog say that she felt as though a color were suddenly missing from her world: the dog had introduced to her field of vision some previously unavailable hue and without a dog, that color was gone. That seemed to capture the experience of loving a dog with eminent simplicity. I’d amend it only slightly and say that if we are open to what they have to give, dogs can introduce us to several colors with names like wildness, nurturance, trust and joy.”

— Caroline Knapp

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(I love this quote. And the late Caroline Knapp. She was such an honest and charming writer.) Happy weekend, everyone! I am hoping to get some nice, brisk winter walks in with Pyrrha this weekend. She is long overdue for a decent walk. Hope you are all well and looking forward to the holiday season.

Pup links!

At the end of the fence. By Flickr user meeganz.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

The Search-and-Rescue Dogs of 9/11. As we remember the tragedy of 11 September 2001 today, I was very moved to reflect on these series of beautiful portraits of rescue dogs from Ground Zero, shot by photographer Charlotte Dumas. (The Hydrant)

DIY Physical Exam: An “Owner’s Manual” for Your Dog. Have any of you been following The Bark’s DIY physical exam guides? I’ve found them to be extremely helpful and informative. I confess that I really should know more about how my dog’s body actually works and how to read concerning signs. This is part two of a four-part series. (The Bark blog)

Scent Games: Educating Your Dog’s Nose. Lots of interesting links featured on The Hydrant, apparently! I loved this article by John Rice and Suzanne Clothier about games to play with your dog that utilize her nose. Pyrrha is extremely nose-oriented and I’m looking forward to playing some of these scent games with her. (The Hydrant)

Do You Just Love Dogs? Or Do You Respect Them? This post by Pamela really caught my attention. I know a lot of people who profess to just LOVE dogs, and I don’t doubt that they do, but they don’t seem to have any grasp on reading dog body language, or recognizing when a dog is too tired, too scared, too what-have-you to engage. Props for this post. Her question is a good one, too: How do we encourage more dog lovers to actually respect dogs, too? (Something Wagging This Way Comes)

7 Years After Katrina, New Orleans Is Overrun by Wild Dogs. It is easy to forget cities struck by natural disasters, particularly once the disaster has faded into distant memory. The devastating consequences of Hurricane Katrina on literally thousands and thousands of domestic animals was apparent from the outset, but seven years later, stray dogs are continuing to multiply and spread across the city. An eye-opening account of the difficult situation of abandoned dogs in New Orleans. (The Atlantic Monthly)

Ian Healy: Dog Portraits. This is the style of a dog portrait I can really get behind: Modern and fun, but accurate and talented. Now I’m kind of wanting one of Pyrrha for our sea-foam green walls… Have you had a work of art commissioned of your dog? Would you? (The Hydrant)

The Reverse Romney. As many of you in the United States, I am sure, I am getting sick to death of hearing about the November election. I’m ready for it to be over! But this did make me chuckle. (Maddie the Coonhound)

Also, just for kicks: Pyrrha was featured on F-Yeah German Shepherds. ♥

Pup links!

German shepherd in flight. Photo by Flickr user LauraXJayne.

Dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Bonding with Dogs–or Not. Trainer Nicole Wilde reflects on that emotional challenge of not “bonding” with a dog instantaneously. This was encouraging to read. For the first few weeks we had Pyrrha, I didn’t feel really bonded to her–and I felt really guilty about that. My deep and sincere attachment to her has, of course, grown over time, but it’s nice to hear someone admit that it’s not always immediate. (Wilde About Dogs)

State of Pet Health Report 2012. Well, this is really dismal. Banfield’s annual assessment of pet health has recently come out and the results are rather disappointing. For instance, obesity among household cats has risen by 90% since last year. Gross and sad. There are also some interesting trends here: Pets are fattest in Minnesota, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. What’s curious is that these states have low obesity rates for humans (Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the country). So, what’s happening here? I don’t know, but it is a sad state of affairs for American pets. (Victoria Stilwell)

What Shape Is Your Dog’s Ear? I had no idea there were so many different names and variations of canine ear shapes! This is a helpful pictorial glossary for those who, like me, are curious. (Psychology Today)

Urban off-leash Shibas (and others). M.C. has collected some great photos and thoughts about how city dogs live elsewhere, like in Taiwan. Very interesting! (The House of Two Bows)

Furminate Me. This post has pretty much convinced me to shell out the cash for a Furminator. I now know all too well that German shepherds take shedding VERY seriously… (Tales and Tails)

Rumble: 8 Weeks! Oh, I am just… consumed with ENVY. Is this not the sweetest Aussie pup you have ever seen?? And he has a tail! Could look at photos of him all day long. (Elite Forces of Fuzzy Destruction)

Dog a Day. Here’s another great dog-a-day project! Illustrator Bethany Ng is drawing every dog in the AKC in her signature, modern style. She just posted the German shepherd dog. Love it! Has she drawn your favorite breed yet? You can also buy her prints here. (Dog a Day)

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. This boy and his dog seemed to have worked out quite a nice symbiotic relationship. (Three Dogs Night)

Next dog daydreaming…

Beautiful Australian shepherd with a tail. Click for source.

Do you ever daydream about your “next dog”? I admit that I do, every now and then… Disclaimer: Pyrrha is perfect for us right now. I can’t imagine a better dog for us. Seriously. We will not get another dog for a long time, but I’m obsessed, so of course I think about the next canine addition to the pack from time to time.

Here’s my shortlist of dogs I’d consider bringing home, in the distant future:

  • A happy GSD male from Southeast German Shepherd Rescue who was good with small children. (This is probably our most likely second addition, only because I still follow SGSR’s rescue page with avid interest and want every third dog they post…)
  • Any ol’ rescue puppy! Preferably with a shepherd or collie heritage.
  • An English shepherd. I met a photographer here in town who has one and he’s crazy about her; got his puppy from a breeder in North Carolina. They appeal to me because of the way they are bred, their comparative rarity (leading to better health lines), their energy level being a notch down from an Aussie, and the fact that they have tails.
  • An Australian shepherd with a tail. As mentioned above, I’ve come to the conclusion that tails are really important and that it’s unfair to rob a dog of a tail purely for looks, particularly since our future Aussie would not be working cattle. Where do people find Aussies with tails, though??
  • A Large Munsterlander. My husband fell in love with one of these when he was farming in Europe and has been hankering after one ever since. They are rather hard to come by in the U.S., however.
  • An English setter. I’ve always liked the look of English setters, for whatever reason. They’re also apparently becoming rather rare as well. We have friends here who have a very sweet Llewellin setter whom I’m also quite fond of (you could mistake him for an English setter, were it not for his smaller size).
  • A Belgian sheepdog or Belgian tervuren. Are they a little more low-key than the malinois? I don’t actually know. I do know that I could never handle a malinois, but I love the look of these Belgians particularly.

I’ve already decided that I want to rescue some greyhounds when we’re older, too, maybe once our future and non-existent children are out of the house. (In my wildest daydreams, I also have a borzoi, but I don’t think I’d ever actually get one…)

An English shepherd. Click for source.

I am so ridiculous. Does anyone else have a similar “next dog” shortlist?

Pup links!

Red Aussie puppy. Click for source.

Great dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Dogs in the Workplace. Happy Bring Your Dog to Work day! While my office would frown on dogs in our space, I think Pyrrha would actually do pretty well here, particularly since I have a very quiet department. Did you bring your dog to work? Would you, if your office allowed it? (Pawsh magazine)

Travel 101: Prepping Your Pooch. I found this list of travel preparations from Vanessa–who recently made a cross-country move with her family and dog, Rufus–very helpful. I’m taking a 5-hour trip with Pyrrha in July to visit my parents and many of these tips were really helpful and insightful. Also: Doesn’t Rufus’ travel hammock look so cozy? Now that’s how I want to travel on my next road trip! (The Rufus Way)

No Party Zone. Do you avoid having house guests because of your reactive dog? Kristine shares some thoughts and a recent near-encounter with their future landlord. (Rescued Insanity)

Couldn’t Have Been a Lab; They Don’t Bite. Katie reflects on the dangerous precedent we set by breed stereotyping. Just because a dog is a lab doesn’t mean that it’s incapable of biting or showing aggression toward people. (Save the Pit Bull, Save the World)

Bye-bye, Cesar Millan. Animal rights advocate and professor Marc Bekoff celebrates the news that Cesar Millan’s TV show “The Dog Whisperer” is being cancelled. I for one am glad to hear it. What do you think about it? (The Hydrant)

Stay Away from “Stay” with Fearful Dogs. This is an interesting perspective from a dog trainer who believes that teaching a shy dog to “stay” could actually ratchet up their anxiety levels. Makes sense to me. I’ve been trying to teach it to Pyrrha, and it does actually make her way more nervous than other commands. Maybe we’ll get there eventually. (My Smart Puppy)

Ebon’s Training History. A sweet post charting the evolution of training for a dog over the course of his life. It’s interesting to think about how our dogs change with us as we grow up. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)

Lessons Learned from Dogs: Morgan and Kuster. Tales and Tails is doing a really sweet series on what she’s learned from her four dogs. Here are the stories from the two more difficult dogs of her pack, the German shepherds. Very heartwarming and well written. (Tales and Tails)

Innovative Ideas: Helping the Homeless and Shelter Dogs. Discussion of a program in San Francisco that would pair homeless youth with shelter dogs. Sounds like a really great idea; looking forward to hearing more about it. (The Bark blog)

Animal Love. Just some pretty, dreamy photos of animals collected by one of my favorite lifestyle/design bloggers. (Miss Moss)

Superdog Lova. Great, playful photographs of this high-energy spaniel. Very sweet. (Ulicam)

Pup links!

A woman feeds a circle of harlequin Great Danes. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

The Lifetime Costs of Pets. Here’s a sobering infographic about how much, on average, your pet will cost you over the course of its life. Dogs? Get ready to shell out an estimated $25,620! This is a great thing to show people, perhaps, who underestimate the financial commitment of bringing a dog home. Is it too scary, though? What do you think? (Mint Life Blog)

Enrichment. Simple, powerful ways to enrich your dog’s daily life. Great, practical tips! (Raising K9)

Do You Have a “Heart” Breed of Dog? Even though we’re gunning for a German shepherd, I think my “heart” breed of dog will always be the Australian shepherd. How about you? (That Mutt)

Dog Haul. Vanessa shares some great, mini-reviews on some recent products she found and loves for Rufus. (The Rufus Way)

Canine Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Diet. A very thorough article about canine diabetes. Good to be in the know about this disease. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Know Your Bo. We’re so used to seeing “Bo” in the headlines and thinking about the Obama’s Portuguese water dog that it’s been jarring, perhaps, to see his name in the headlines as a disgraced Chinese official. Just a funny little news bit. (Daily Intel, NY Mag)

Compare thee to a dog

The intense gaze of an Australian shepherd. Source: Flickr user sarzc.

Thou sayest thou art as weary as a dog,
As angry, sick, and hungry as a dog,
As dull and melancholy as a dog,
As lazy, sleepy, idle as a dog.
But why dost thou compare thee to a dog?
In that for which all men despise a dog,
I will compare thee better to a dog.
Thou art as fair and comely as a dog,
Thou art as true and honest as a dog,
Thou art as kind and liberal as a dog,
Thou art as wise and valiant as a dog.

— Sir John Davies, epigram to In Cineam (1594)

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Way to tell ’em, Sir John Davies; time we started showing dogs some respect with our aphorisms.

Because my “DOGS” board on Pinterest was getting almost out of hand, I decided to create a corollary for it: “Woman’s Best Friend,” a collection of photographs and artwork featuring women and their dogs. If you are also a crazy dog lady, I think it will make you smile.

Happy Easter and Passover, or, just happy weekend if you observe neither!

Pup links!

A lady and her English cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE magazine archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web:

If the Characters in Downton Abbey Were Portrayed by Canine Actors… A friend shared this on my Facebook wall, and I just had to share it here, too. If you watch the period soap opera Downton Abbey, you will appreciate these comparisons. I think they’re pretty spot-on. Matthew is totally a golden retriever and Mary makes a lot of sense as a poodle. And, poor Edith! The Bedlington terrier! (Dogster)

How to Properly Care for Your Dog’s Teeth. Canine dental hygiene is usually pretty terrible, and, from my experience, it’s an easy thing to forget to take care of–and not exactly fun when you do. This is a thorough article, however, that reminds us all of why it’s very important to care for our dog’s pearly whites. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Investigating Halitosis. Related to doggy dental care, here’s a veterinarian’s list of possible causes of your dog’s terrible breath. (The Bark blog)

Where’s the Beef? Subtitle: “Why your dog should never eat another Milk Bone or Beggin Strip, and you should avoid the Slim Jims.” You won’t ever want to buy those products again after you read this article by Amy Renz. (Goodness Gracious Treats)

Identifying Merle. I grew up with a beautiful tricolor merle Australian shepherd and I’ve always had a fondness for merle coats, especially when they come from conscientious breeders. But I learned a ton from this post and learned that I’ve been incorrectly identifying some dogs as “merle” that really aren’t. Fascinating stuff. (Musings of a Biologist and a Dog Lover)

House Rules and Time-Outs. Aleksandra shares her wisdom about how they use “time-outs” to teach their newly adopted pitt, The Dude, some house manners. Great, gentle, and effective advice. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

Binq Design. If I was in the market for a tiny dog, and had a lot of cash to spare, I think I’d definitely consider these functional and attractive side tables + dog beds. They look like they’d be a nice place for a toy breed to hide out during family commotion. (Dog Milk)

Bambino vs. Fido: On Loving Dogs Less. Shauna, a pregnant blogger, reflects on how her relationship with her dogs will change–and stay the same–when she welcomes her baby into the world. I found this post very reassuring. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet but plans to one day, I confess I’m frankly terrified of the idea of emotionally displacing my future dogs. But, as she points out in this post, you don’t displace your dogs in your heart; you just make room. (Fido & Wino)

BFFs. Greyhounds snuggling on the couch. So cute. (Hiking Hounds)

Religious Dog Bumper Stickers. OK, pretend bumper stickers, but these still made me giggle. My favorite: “I’m Catholic but my corgi is affiliated with the Church of England.” (Dogs of the Interwebs)

Dog Refuses to Go Into Pool to Get Tennis Ball He Desperately Needs. In need of a laugh on this fine Tuesday? Look no further than this very, very determined golden retriever and his quest for one slightly out-of-reach tennis ball. (Best Week Ever)

On the intelligence of dogs

The smartest of them all? Click for source.

Many people like to cite Stanley Coren’s now notorious list of “the most intelligent dog breeds.” People who have breeds in the top 10 like to remind other people of such and tease those who have dogs who fall anywhere below Coren’s top 10.

Stanley Coren’s Top 10 Most Obedient Breeds

  1. Border collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German shepherd
  4. Golden retriever
  5. Doberman pinscher
  6. Shetland sheepdog
  7. Labrador retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian cattle dog

*Cited in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Links are to my “Breed Love” posts.

I think the problem with this list is the title. As many before me have pointed out, and as Coren’s own study acknowledges in the fine print, this oft-cited list measures canine intelligence by how quickly or effectively dogs obey humans. His study is a nice measure of obedience, but that’s primarily what it is. A more accurate title might have been “the most obedient dog breeds.”

Hounds rank very low according to this list, but that’s because Coren’s study cannot measure the independent-thinking and creativity that is employed by most hounds, especially scent hounds.

I’ve noticed this with hounds, even in my short tenure as a volunteer at the SPCA. Our SPCA has a ton of scent hounds, because we live in a part of the countryside that is popular with hunters who employ large packs of hounds and then don’t keep track of them if one goes missing. That said, I spend a lot of time at the SPCA walking hounds. These hounds are notably unresponsive to humans. They often seem to look right past you at something else (or, more accurately, at some other, more interesting smell). But this doesn’t mean they’re unintelligent; it just means they’re harder to train. These hounds are rather adept problem solvers. They figure out what they want then they plot how to get it, with or without any human aid.

Sight hounds, in my limited experience, are also very intelligent but prefer to follow their own direction. (The Afghan hound is famously ranked last on Coren’s list, in terms of what he calls intelligence.) When you ask a sight hound to do something, I imagine their internal response to be something like Bartleby the Scrivener: “I would prefer not to.” They are independent and self-directed and seem to weigh the pros and cons of following your commands.

Selfishly, I’ve always really loved dogs from the herding group, because these are some of the most human-responsive dogs of all (many in the herding group are in Coren’s top 30 “most intelligent” breeds). My favorite breeds–Australian shepherds, German shepherds, and border collies, to name a few–are incredibly attuned to their people. These high-energy dogs were made to watch human faces, study human body language, and follow human directives in their line of intense work. I’ll probably always prefer these dogs, mainly because they are so easy to train, but I think this just means that I’m lazy/afraid of how frustrated I’d get with a less responsive dog.

But at the end of the day, this list doesn’t matter. Because we know the truth: We all have the smartest dog in the whole world.