Making up new dog breeds

Have you ever heard of a “Mini Golden?” We met two this week at the doggy day care our obedience club rents Tuesday evenings for training. Never heard of a “Mini Golden?” Good, because there’s no such thing. “Greeders” are making up new dog breeds now.

We know it started a long time ago. When we were little girls, “Cock-a-Poos” were a thing. They’re not around much anymore. Good thing, because they tended to inherit all the worst genetics of both breeds; eye issues from Cocker Spaniels, epilepsy from Poodles

Call it like it is

Later, the “doodles” came along. Doodles were originally produced by an Australian dog breeder who was asked for a “hypo-allergenic” guide dog for a blind child, or so the story goes. You can look it up yourself – he now regrets it mightily.

And it’s taken off, big time, from there. Talking to the staff at the doggy day care, more than half of their client dogs are part Poodle, mixed with any other breed you can imagine. And, of course, all of them are called something cute, because “mixed breed,” “All-American dog,” and “mutt” aren’t good for marketing.

Marketing new dog breeds

We are firm believers that every single dog deserves a good home, family, love, and the best of care. We are offended that people whose only interest is making money are producing mixed-breed dogs, marketing them brilliantly, and duping the public.

The “Mini Goldens” we met are a prime example. They were taken in by a rescue that one of the day-care staffers volunteers with. This rescue has welcomed 500 of the 1600 dogs that were taken from a puppy mill in Ohio that got shut down. 

Six Golden Retrievers and a Scottie to illustrate new dog breeds
We recognize Golden Retrievers when we see them! This photo was taken one training night in Advanced Class. Six Goldens and a Scottie.

The puppies we met, four months old, are cute. Of course they are. All four month old puppies are cute. To someone who doesn’t know Golden Retrievers, they might look one. There are lots of actual, well-bred Goldens in our club. These puppies have curly hair, pointy muzzles, and long, skinny legs. 

Call it what it is

Their foster dad kept calling them “Mini Goldens.” We did our best to convince him that even using that phrase lends legitimacy to the greeder who produced them.

There’s a reason for dog breeds. Every American Kennel Club breed has a “Parent Club.” And those clubs not only decide what a “good” example of their breed looks like, they also work to research, cure, or eliminate health issues in their breed. All recommend health testing before breeding. The tests vary depending on the issues that are known in the breed. 

Some clubs are better at it than others. Some even have awards for healthy dogs living long lives with equally healthy progeny.

Don’t encourage them

If you don’t care about your dog’s pedigree, or showing your dog, or any of the trappings of purebred dogdom, that’s absolutely fine. But you do want a healthy dog who’s sound physically and mentally. 

Few, if any, doodle breeders do any health testing on their dogs, either before or after breeding. Their objective is to make money, as much as possible, with the least effort and expense. 

In this day and age, it’s easy to find information on anything. Before handing over your hard-earned money for any dog, do a little research. If it’s a doodle, don’t fall for the alpha-numeric word salad they spout. A seventh generation mutt is still a mutt. An adorable mutt that may win your heart and be the perfect pet. But you shouldn’t pay purebred, pedigree prices for one. 

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Is Your Dog A Smart Dog?

Do you have a smart dog? We feel your pain!

There are lots of ways to measure intelligence in dogs. There’s really no dog I.Q. test, so dogs are judged by other parameters. How quickly do they learn new tricks? Do they have a large vocabulary? How well do they obey? Are they able to solve problems?

That last one is probably where most small dog breeds excel. Most are derived from Terriers in their background. And all Terrier-type dogs were bred to work independently, ridding their community of various types of vermin.

Conventional wisdom

People generally think that Border Collies are the most intelligent breed of dog. We have a friend who’s owned Border Collies, Brussels Griffons, and now has a Russell Terrier. She’s an amazing obedience competitor, with the highest-achieving Brussels Griffon ever, and multiple Obedience championships with her Border Collies.

Picture of a black Brussels Griffon Dog named Roc who was a very smart dog.

The Border Collies came after the Griffs. We think she got the Border Collies so she wouldn’t have to work as hard to achieve the Obedience accolades. It’s not that Griffs can’t do obedience. They can. But their overwhelming motivation for doing it is because you want it. Griffs stick to their people’s side, known as “Velcro dogs.” Once upon a time, Hope went to a tracking workshop with Roc, her Brussels Griffon. He was fine at the sniffing part, finding the “hide.” Awful at “going out” ahead of Hope to follow the track. He barely needed a four-foot leash, let alone the 15-footer that was part of the workshop.

Border Collies, on the other hand, work with people. They don’t have to be near the person at all. They do what they’re told. And they like it. Over and over and over. If Border Collies could talk, they’d repeatedly ask: What can I do for you now? How about now? Now?

Different questions

After our friend had her Russell Terrier for a while, we asked about the differences in training between her Border Collies and the Russell Terrier. (She’s given up trying to do Obedience with her Griffs.) Both breeds are active, intelligent dogs. And she’s discovered that her Terrier is just as bright, quick, and eager to learn as any dog. She also found a fundamental difference. 

Her answer? The Border Collies do what they’re told, when they’re told to do it. The Terrier asks “Why should I?” And that’s it, in a nutshell. It’s not that the Russell Terrier is less intelligent than the Border Collie. It’s that most Terrier-type dogs need a reason to do what we want. Once you’ve found your dog’s motivation, they’re capable of doing anything.

Challenges of smart dogs

Having a smart dog can be exhausting. They always explore, notice changes in their environment, and ask “Why?” It’s also a lot of fun, once you convince them that there’s nothing interesting under the rug, the garbage doesn’t need to be investigated, and the hole in the lawn doesn’t need to be bigger. 

If you have a smart dog, keeping that little body out of big trouble can be a chore. They’re creative problem-solvers and probably need closer supervision than other dogs. It’s one of the reasons we love training our dogs every day. Just a few minutes of concentrated, fun training games will require a nap after. And they’re so darn cute when they’re sleeping!

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Dog Emergency – when to panic, when to relax

The first time we saw bloody footprints wherever Golly walked, we panicked. Clearly we had a dog emergency on our hands. It was before seven in the morning, so we raced to the emergency vet. A huge vet bill later, she was returned to us sporting a bandage with a little pink gauze heart. She’d torn a nail. She was fine.

The next time we saw bloody footprints from Golly, we washed her foot, slapped a bandage on, and waited for our regular vet’s office to open. Experience is a great teacher and we’d learned our lesson. Especially since Golly was impatient for her breakfast and unfazed by her new broken nail.

Use your common sense

Owning a dog is a lot like being the parent of a perpetual toddler. With your first, you worry all the time. Not only about what happens, but whether you’re getting it right. By the time your second, third, etc. come along, you’re an old hand and learn to relax more.

Common sense is the best reaction in most dog emergency situations. The first time your dog starts “reverse sneezing” and is gasping for air, your first instinct might be to race for help. The common sense resolution is to get your dog to open his/her mouth and breathe that way. Just blocking the dog’s nostrils usually gets them to open their mouth. A few deep breaths later, they’re back to normal, like nothing happened. Reverse sneezing is one of those “looks worse than it is” issues.

If your dog is bleeding from a cut or scrape, clean it and take a look. If the injury is one you wouldn’t see a doctor for, chances are your dog doesn’t need to, either. Treat it just like you would if it was yours. Same thing with stomach upsets. If it’s a one-time incident and your dog is acting normally, do the same kind of thing you’d do for yourself.

Keep a dog emergency kit 

That being said, you can’t use all the same first aid products on dogs that you do for yourself. Latex bandages just won’t work on fur. Get a storage bin and collect the first aid items you may need for dog emergency incidents. The best-equipped dog first aid kits would have:

  • Gloves 
  • Antiseptic Wipes
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (for either cleaning wounds or getting the dog to vomit)
  • Antibiotic spray or ointment
  • Burn Gel with Lidocaine
  • Eye Wash
  • Sterile Gauze Pads
  • Self-Adhering Bandage Wrap
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Instant Cold Pack
  • Towel
  • Oral Syringe
  • Digital Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Flashlight
  • Muzzle
  • Canine 1st Aid Manual
Picture of a fawn French Bulldog with a bandaged foot to illustrate dog emergency

Before you use any product on your dog, make sure it’s safe for canines. On the advice of our veterinarian, we also keep Benadryl in our kit. Ever since our Boston Terrier Daemon decided eating a bee every spring was his job. The first time, we ran to the vet. After that? Gave him a Benadryl and kept an eye on him to make sure the swelling subsided.

It’s also a good idea to find a class or seminar about dog First Aid. Humane societies sometimes have them, or some dog clubs. In the picture, Teddy wasn’t thrilled about Hope practicing her bandaging technique at our dog training club’s seminar on dog First Aid.

Sometimes panic is right

There are times when a trip to emergency is called for. If you’re not sure what’s wrong, your dog is obviously in pain, having a seizure, has pale gums, unconscious, unable to walk, etc., get help immediately. It’s better to make an unnecessary trip than to risk your dog’s health. 

Like the time when we came home from work and Daemon shrieked in pain when we touched him. Off to the emergency vet, in the dark, in a blizzard. It turned out he had gas. He was fine. But in all honesty, if any of our dogs screamed in pain at a touch – we’d still run to the vet with a dog emergency.  

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What happens to your dogs if you die?

This week saw the end of the second Elizabethan age. It was another day that we were all witnesses to history. In addition to all the news reporting about the passing of an era, within hours were posts about the Queen’s dogs and their future. Everybody seemed to be asking “What happens to the dogs?” It’s a good question. What happens to your dogs if you die?

We realize that our news feeds are all heavily skewed to dog-related subjects. And we’re truly not concerned about the four dogs Queen Elizabeth leaves behind. She certainly had the resources to provide for their futures.

But what about your dogs? What happens to your dogs if you die? Have you made plans for them?

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen lots of posts looking to rehome dogs whose owners died. Their families either didn’t want, or couldn’t take, the dogs. Sadly, there are few options available for adult dogs. 

Estate planning for dogs

Picture of a Pug dog looking around the back of a chair to illustrate what happens to the dogs if you die

One of the best-attended seminars our dog obedience club hosted was on the topic of estate planning for dogs. Everyone wants to make sure that their pets will be taken care of. The legal status of pets depends on which state you live in. However, most states regard dogs as property, with few or no actual rights or legal protections.

According to our understanding, that’s actually a good thing in some ways. It means that you are the final arbiter of all things relating to your dog. You get to decide everything relating to his/her welfare. It also means that, if you’re not around any more, whoever is in charge of your estate can dispose of your property at their discretion. Unless you make specific provisions otherwise.

Dogs can’t inherit

Because of their status as property, according to the attorney, you can’t actually leave anything to your dog. Dogs can’t own anything. All their gear belongs to you. You can, however, designate someone as their caretaker and leave that person funds earmarked for the dogs’ needs. 

How that’s constructed will depend on your location and the laws that pertain where you are. It’s a good idea to contact an attorney where you are who specializes in estate planning, and knows about the particulars regarding pets.  

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