Tag Archives: dog breeds

Toy Group adds breed – there’s a new toy dog in town

We were excited to read this week that the Russian Toy is the latest toy dog breed recognized by the American Kennel Club and added to the Toy Group for conformation shows. 

Russian Toy dogs practicing some tricks

We’ve done a little research and while these little dogs may resemble Chihuahuas to a degree, they are distinctly different, lighter and taller, and originating half-way around the globe! The Russian Toy was developed in Russia, possibly as far back as the 1700s. And we never heard of them until now! This photo of the adorable Russian Toy dogs here belongs to the national club, the Russian Toy Club of America, and we thank them for the introduction to their beloved breed!

Purebred exists for a reason

We know that not everyone is as fascinated by dog breeds as we are, but we’ve loved dog shows since we were little girls and we understand there is value in breeding dogs to a standard for type – which includes looks as well as personality.

Now, with the addition of the Russian Toy, there are 23 breeds in the AKC Toy Group. They range from the sturdy Pug to the elegant Italian Greyhound. From the long, flowing coat of the Yorkshire Terrier to the bare skin of the Chinese Crested.

There is a toy dog breed for everyone – taking into account your personal taste, lifestyle, exercise level, grooming ability, etc. Whatever your particular, unique circumstances are, there’s a dog breed that would fit in perfectly and enhance your life. And we firmly believe that everyone’s life is improved when they experience the unconditional love of a dog.

All dogs’ lives are valued

We’re not saying that purebred dogs are “better” than other dogs. We do know, however, that they’re more predictable. All Poodles will have similar fur and similar grooming needs, from the largest Standard Poodle to the tiniest toy Poodle. Poodle owners know what they’re getting. 

Poodle-crosses, or doodles? It depends on the cross, and the unique genetic set that particular dog gets. If it’s a “Labradoodle” it may have Lab fur, Poodle fur, or a mixture of the two. (Did you get only the “good” genes from your parents? We didn’t, either.) Groomers tend to charge more for “doodles” because they’re more work than other dogs. 

Looks are certainly part of the package – personality is, too. A Brussels Griffon’s personality is much different from a Pug’s. One Griff and Pug breeder we know always said she added Pugs to her life because she wanted to be smarter than some of the dogs in her house. Having never had a Pug, we’ll have to take her word for it. We know they’re adorable, but we can’t vouch for their intelligence. 

Shop or adopt

As long as people get dogs from responsible sources, be it breeder, shelter, or rescue, it’s a good thing. And all of those responsible sources will be able to speak to the health and soundness of every dog under their care. Both physical and mental stability are important. 

Getting a toy dog is a huge step for anyone. It changes life forever and is an enormous disruption. That’s why doing your research and finding exactly the right dog for you is so important. If it’s true that “you only live once,” you deserve to have the perfect companion for you.

Pick one word for your dog

If you could use only one word for your dog, what would it be?

Just for a fun exercise, think about your dog. If you have more than one, like we do, just focus on one at a time. Is there a single word or short phrase that would distinguish that dog’s personality so everyone who knows him or her would recognize who you were talking about? 

It wouldn’t be a complete description, but just the outstanding feature that allows that dog to stand out.

Puppy personalities

It’s a given – dog people understand that all dogs, even siblings, have distinct personalities, just like people. We don’t know too many non-dog people, but we get the impression they don’t understand that “this dog” is different from “that dog.” As if there were a great mass of dog, and any chunk of the dog mass is indistinguishable from any other chunk.

Dog personalities are somewhat defined by breed. Breeds were developed to bring out not only certain physical traits, but psychological ones as well. Anyone who’s ever owned a terrier knows that independence is part of the package. Just as intensity comes with Border Collies, and willingness is right there with Golden Retrievers.

Box of chocolates

People are drawn to particular breeds because of both looks and personalities. We’ve always been partial to flat-faced dogs. Part of that is because our first dog was a Boston Terrier. Now our preference, and our household, includes Bostons, French Bulldogs, and Brussels Griffons. In all honesty, if space, time, and finances allowed, we’d probably wind up with a dozen or more. Of each.

Even within a breed, each dog is distinct. Now we have two Bostons in the house at the same time – a first for us. And our one-word descriptions indicate the differences in their personalities. Simon is persistent. Booker is a flibertigibbet.

It was also true when there were two Griffs. Tango, who’s still with us, is silly. Roc was sober. And Golly, who was the inspiration for our business, was one hundred percent diva.

The Frenchies couldn’t be more different, either. Torque is sweet. Teddy was irresistible, but selfish. If there was one dog who invariably got what he wanted, it was Ted.

What’s your dog’s one word?

When you have your one word for your dog, what do you do with it?

For us, with the joy we get from building our bond and their brains with training games, it colors the way we play with them. 

Even if we’re playing the same game, like “put your toys away,” the way we interact with each dog changes. 

Simon learns quickly and focuses intensely. Booker has to be kept “on task.” Tango has days where he’s all about the game – other days he just doesn’t want to play. Torque loves playing any game. He’s the epitome of loving what he does, so he never “works” a day in his life.

One word for you, too

Now that you’ve considered your dog – how about you? What’s a word that your best friend would use to describe you? And how does that mesh with your dog’s word? 

Figuring out those definitions is a puzzle that’s a bit intriguing to think about, and may help your family work even better. 

Does dog size matter? Big vs. little dogs

Does the size of the dog matter? Are little dogs smaller in anything but size?

There are all kinds of sayings about dogs. The one we hear all the time is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog!”

Which is nonsense, of course. Except that it does point out that it’s attitude that matters more than actual size.

We love little dogs!

Many times when people come into the shop they say “We have big dogs, can we come in?”

And our absolutely truthful answer is: “We love all dogs – you and your dog are welcome here!” And the next comment, inevitably, is why little dogs?

Simply put – it’s harder to find “stuff” for small dogs, so, as small dog people, we created the shop we needed.

Put in perspective: there’s not a lot of size difference between a harness for a 60 lb. dog and a 70 lb. dog. There’s a huge size difference between a harness for a 5 lb. dog and a 15 lb. dog. The 15 lb. dog is three times the size of the five pounder!

Talking dog breed sizes

This week Hope was interviewed for a story about “small dog breeds for big dog people.” We suppose that when people are looking to downsize, they may want to shrink their dogs, too!

But as we told the reporter, different dog breeds were developed to do different “jobs” – and most of those jobs aren’t interchangeable.

Born this way

mastiff looking at camera

Most bigger dog breeds have the jobs of protecting, herding, sporting, or hunting. All of those jobs are done alongside people, with dog and human acting as a team. The sport of dog obedience, to this day, follows some of the traditions of long ago. Dogs “heel” on the left so that their humans’ right hand was free for fighting, or shooting, or using whatever tool the job required.

Different jobs, different looks

Smaller dog breeds do different jobs – the ones they were bred to do. Pest control is a specialty of most little dog breeds. For example, the adorable and elegant-looking Yorkshire Terrier is a determined little ratter whose original job was to keep the fabric mills of Yorkshire free of pests.

Bred for the job

Fox terrier head shot, 3/4 view looking to left

The other main “job” of little dogs is companionship. In today’s world, dogs of all sizes fill this role. Although it’s always a good idea to keep in mind the dog’s original function. A Border Collie isn’t well-suited to life in a city apartment where the owner works all day. Just as a Pug may not be the best companion for a marathon runner who wants an exercise buddy.

Dog shows explained – Conformation and Obedience

We have a nice collection of ribbons from dog shows. Not a huge collection Not even as big as we’d like, but we have them. Really, really expensive little strips of different colors of silk. 

We like green ones best, but the other colors are nice, too. Green ribbons mean the dog qualified (did really, really good.) Other colors signify placements, usually first through fourth.

dog show ribbons

Ribbons our dogs have earned at recent dog shows. Green is “qualifying” – other colors signify placements.

Ribbons are what you get at dog shows when you get what you want, while experience is what you get when you don’t! 

There are all kinds of dog shows and it’s confusing if you’re not familiar with dog sports. It’s particularly confusing because there are different organizations that put on shows. Because we’re American Kennel Club supporters, we’re just going to talk about AKC shows.

Conformation dog shows

First of all, the granddaddy of all is the “conformation” dog show. This is the beauty pageant of the dog world. Only purebred dogs are allowed, and each breed is judged separately. The judge compares each dog in the breed to a “standard” set by that breed’s “parent club.” Each one of the 150+ breeds recognized by the AKC has a “parent club” which represents that breed in the United States. Therefore, it’s the people who love the breed who determine the standard for their own breed. The dog most closely resembling that standard is the winner. That dog and the best dog of the opposite sex of the winner each earn “points.” Dogs need 15 point to earn a breed championship.

After each breed judging, the winners of each breed go into “Group” judging. Which breeds are in each group was determined by the original function of each breed. There are currently seven AKC groups:

  • Hound Group.
  • Terrier Group.
  • Working Group.
  • Herding Group.
  • Sporting Group.
  • Non-Sporting Group.
  • Toy Group.

In a conformation show, the winners of the seven groups finally go on to compete for Best In Show. The dogs really don’t compete against each other because they’re judged, at every level of the competition, against the breed standard. Therefore, the dog critiqued against a vision of the perfect example of the breed – that that perhaps exists only in the judge’s mind. The person showing the dog isn’t supposed to figure into the judging, although experienced “handlers” know how to show off the dogs to their best advantage. There’s lots more that goes into showing a dog in conformation (grooming, proper handling, ring readiness, etc.) but this is the basic outline.

Obedience dog shows

The next oldest type of dog show is the Obedience Trial. We’re passionate about obedience. Some people think watching obedience is as exciting as watching grass grow. Or paint dry. For us, it’s fun. At the Novice level of Obedience competition, the dog and person (handler) team are competing for the Companion Dog (CD) title. There are set exercises the dog/handler team must complete to “qualify” in the trial and earn a green ribbon! Three qualifying scores (170 or up to 200) earns the title. The exercises for the Novice competition include:

  • Heel on Leash
  • Figure 8
  • Heel Free (no leash)
  • Recall (Come when called)
  • Long Sit
  • Long Down

Obedience Trials look chaotic because so much is going on at once. Most Obedience Trials (shows) have several different “rings” going at the same time. A different judge presides in each ring. And each ring has a different level of competition going. After Novice, the dog competes in Open (CDX title), then Utility (UD). After that, dog/handler teams may compete for the UDX (Utility Dog Excellent), and the ultimate accolade – OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion).

Next time we’ll talk about Rally and Agility.