The Maltese: The Roman Ladies’ Dog

The maltese is a small breed dog that falls into the toy group and has roots in the Central Mediterranean Area from the island of Malta. This dog is a compact breed that usually weighs between 4 to 7 lbs and is a cuddly companion to anyone who owns one.

History

The breed has been an aristocrat dog for centuries and originated from Malta. Originally called “Canis Melitaeus” in Latin, it’s been known as the Ancient dog of Malta, and the Roman Ladies’ Dog, as well as the Maltese Lion Dog. In the 19th century, the breed became known as the Maltese by the AKC.

It is thought the Maltese is descended from a spitz type of dog but there is also some traces of the Tibetan terrier. In other words, the exact origin of the breed as we know it is unknown. However, the breed has been known as a royalty dog and also has a mouser. Today, the dog is primarily a companion dog and falls under the category of hypoallergenic dogs breeds due to their low dander and fur.

Appearance

The Maltese have small bodies, round little heads, and a small black nose, although some have pink noses too. They are equally as long as they are tall and have ears that drop down and have these round little eyes that give them some of the most expressive looks of any dog. In other words, they are adorable.

The coat is soft and when it’s long you can see the silky sheen but many people keep their maltese dogs with a “puppy” cut where it’s kept short to avoid tangles and knots. They do not have an undercoat and only weigh about 7lbs.

Personality

The Maltese thrive on love and attention. They are lively, playful, and have lots of energy but they are also cuddly. They love to hang out with their human companions and may even prefer people over other dogs. The Maltese is a gentle mannered dog overall and can be a great family pet.

Because of their size, they do well in apartments and smaller homes. They do need exercise and play time so a small yard or trip to the dog park for a few games of fetch will keep them happy and in shape. In bad weather, they will gladly play games with you in the house and because they are small, you won’t have to worry that they will shake the lamp off the table with their bounding and running.

Health

The Maltese should be brushed regularly to prevent knots, matting, and loose fur from building up. They also may require regular facial care to prevent tear stains on their face. Some may have watery eyes which results in stains that are red to brown under the eyes and along the nose. A fine tooth comb, some warm water, and gentle wiping can remove the stains.

The Maltese may live well into their teen years if well cared for. Some may develop deafness as they enter their golden years and others may develop skin and fur issues such as dryness or a thinning coat.

Beauceron: The French Sheepdog

The Beauceron is a guard dog and herding dog with its origins in France. It’s also known as Berger de Beauce or Bas Rouge. This breed is not very well known outside of Northern France, and many of us, if we saw this dog, might think it was a mix between a shepherd and doberman due to its coloring and body due to its black and tan coloring and guard hairs with softer undercoat.

History

The Beauceron is the largest of all the French sheepdogs and has been around for hundreds of years. There is documentation dating back to 1587 that mentions the Beauceron. This dog is a working dog and would drive sheep and cattle around the farm, guard the house, and defend its family. The French army also recruited the Beauceron because of their intelligence and ability to pick up trails, detect mines, and defend their army troop. Today, the dog is still used in law enforcement, search and rescue, handicap service dogs, and does well in agility competitions, and of course, makes a great family pet.

Appearance

The Beauceron resembles the Belgian Malinois in appearance but is slightly larger, about the same size as a Doberman. They have muscular bodies and are heavy but move lightly with grace. They are strong dogs with chests that are slightly wide and a neck that is muscular and long. They look as if they are holding their heads high when standing.

The muzzles are long and a little wide and their eyes are deep and expressive. The ears sit high on the head and they have thick “J” shaped tails. Many Beaucerons are about 26 inches high and their weight tends to range from 65 to 100 lbs. Their coats are short and are double coats with the outer fur being rough with guard hairs and the under coat being softer, finer, and downy. The colors of the Beaucerons vary from black and tan to harlequin.

Because of their double coat, they need to be brushed regularly and will blow coat during the warmer months. Beaucerons shed lightly year round and will need to have their loose, dead fur removed with a weekly brushing and the occasional bath.

Temperament

Beaucerons are confident dogs that always look like they are thinking and studying their environment. They have a gaze that gives them an air of intelligence and deep thought. They are excellent watchdogs and great for families because they are loyal. They are also problem solvers so a bored Beauceron may figure out how to open the cabinet and steal treats or open the front door and take themselves for a walk! This breed requires exercise, play time, and toys that are brain teasers. If you are an outdoorsy type of person, the Beauceron could be a great hiking companion or jogging partner.

They are easy to train but can be stubborn and may try to train you! It’s important to establish that you are their owner and leader with positive reinforcement, routines, and commands. Once the roles are established, this dog can excel at learning and be a top contender in agility courses, tracking, and doing tricks on command.

Beaucerons need a lot of socialization as puppies because they have a tendency to bond only with their family and will be wary of strangers. This breed sometimes suffers from separation anxiety due to their history of always being next to or working with their owners. These dogs need a lot of activities to stave off boredom, anxiety, and destructive tendencies. They aren’t often aggressive but may nip at the heels of children during play and herd them. They may also chase small animals but if raised with other animals in the house, can live harmoniously.

Health

The average lifespan of the Beauceron is 10 to 12 years and have relatively few health problems but because they are a larger breed dog, they could have hip dysplasia or bloat. Some dogs may suffer from heart disease. Regular vet checks can help detect and intervene any health problems.

Overall, the Beauceron is an active dog that requires a lot of time, exercise, and would do great with a family that understands the need for mental and physical stimulation that this breed needs. If you can find a “job” for your dog such as carrying something in a doggie backpack or put this dog to work on your farm, you’ll have a happy friend.

Are you unsure if you’ve ever seen a Beauceron? The dog name Bosco in the movie “Marmaduke” was a Beauceron!

Photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club

Belgian Tervuren: The Belgium Policedog

The Belgian Tervuren reminds me of werewolves. They have long muzzles, fur that highlights their striking physical features and often have dark muzzles and very serious looking eyes. These dogs are herding dogs, with roots in Belgium, and its name is derived from the village Tervuren. They are not as popular as other shepherd breeds and were recognized by the AKC in the early 1960s, they used to known as Belgian Sheepdog.

They were used to herd livestock and have a knack for agility courses and protection work such as being a police dog or doing search and rescue work. They are not common in the U.S. and may look like a long haired german shepherd to many people.

The Turvuren is a loyal, intelligent, and highly active dog that needs lots of exercise, challenges, and training. If they aren’t trained well and become bored, your home may be turned upside down and you may find the insides of your couch on the floor.

This breed naturally has a playful and alert temperament to their family and a protective and reserved personality towards strangers. Some may even seem possessive of their family. Socializing this breed is top priority but they are great with their families and good with children and may try to herd them by nipping at their ankles.

Many people who own Tervurens stress how this breed is not for a first time dog owner and requires time, patience, and a commitment to train and reinforce training. They also talk about how charming and smart the breed is and how they even seem to have a sense of humor and may try to do things such as herd the kids into the middle of a yard. Tervurens love to do activities with their owners such as flyball, agility training, jogging, and fetch. They love to be taught new tricks and their herding instinct is still very strongly intact.

Heath wise the Tervuren can live to be about 12 to 14 years old, and may be susceptible to hip problems and eye problems as they age. Their fur is a double coat and requires regular grooming and brushing to prevent matted fur. Their fur is usually a mahogany color with some black tones and shades throughout and a black mask on the face. These dogs have a very striking appearance and have excellent posture.

If you would like to know more about the breed, you can visit the American Belgian Tervuren Club.

Rhodesian Ridgeback: The African Lion Hound

Lately I’ve seen a few Rhodesian Ridgebacks walking around town and wondered what they are like and their history. They are easily recognized by the line of fur that runs the other way on their back, or the “ridge.” They are also often tall, thin, and reddish in color and tend to have a very deep chest and strong muscular legs.

History

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is from South Africa and has been dated as far as the 16 century. The dog was originally a domesticated hunting dog that would guard people and farms from lions, snakes, and other predators.

They were bred for bravery, strength, and needed a short coat to withstand the elements and to repel ticks. They also have toes that are tightly pushed together to avoid getting thorns in their paws and injury as they walked over rough terrain.

In the early 20th century, the breed was introduced to the U.S. and the AKC recognized it in 1955 as a member of the hound group.

Appearance

The distinguishing feature is the ridge of fur along the back that runs in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat. It has a fan-like area formed by two whorls of hair called crowns and starts at the shoulders down the hips. It seems this was a genetic trait from one of the dog bloodlines that created the ridgeback that we know today.

Males and females are similar in height, build, and color. They are usually about 25 inches tall at the shoulders, weigh between 70 to 90 lbs., and have a wheaten to red wheaten coat. The fur is short, sleek, and dense and some will have white highlights on the feet and chest or dark points like on the muzzle.

As muscular as they are, Rhodesians have a walk that is light and take long strides. They are athletic dogs and need exercise on a regular basis.

Personality

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are reserved towards strangers but loyal towards their family. They may ignore someone they don’t know and simply walk away. Ridgebacks are strong-willed. This means they may not make the best dog to own if you’ve never owned a dog before. They require a lot of positive reinforcement, socialization, and boundaries.

They can be mischievous and goofy at times and are intelligent so they will know what they can and can’t get away with. Their loyalty to their family often makes them good guard dogs without any training. With consistent training, reward-based training, and regular exercise you can have a great dog who is loving, loyal, and beautiful.
If you own a Ridgeback or are interested in them you can visit the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club’s website for more information.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Low Rider

Corgis are very recognizable dogs. They are low to the ground, stocky, and have thick legs and long backs. But did you know there are two distinct types of corgis?

The cardigan welsh corgi and the pembroke welsh corgi have some physical differences and are named for the areas they originated from in Wales. They are both herding dogs and were used to guard children. Both breeds are loving, loyal, and even-tempered. They possess traits that make them great family pets.

Personality and History:

The pembroke corgi is believed to have been introduced to Wales by Flemish weavers back around 1100 and began appearing in show rings in the mid 1920s. Pembroke corgis are low to the ground, have a skull that is wife and flat between the ears, and has a jaw that meets in a scissor bite. Ever been nipped by a pembroke corgi? It stings!

They have slightly rounded edges on their ears and feet that are oval shaped. Pembrokes have a double coat so they wouldn’t be ideal for someone who is allergic to dogs, but for the corgi their double coat protects them from cold weather, mild rain, and wind. Their outer coat is coarse and the undercoat is softer, short, and thick. Pembrokes can come in a variety of colors such as red, fawn, black and tan, and sable. Often times, they have white markings on their legs, chest, neck, and part of their muzzle.

Their legs are straighter than cardigan corgis and their head is a bit more wedge-shaped. Pembroke corgis also have no tail or a tightly curled tail. The tail is the easiest way to tell the difference between the cardigan and pembroke.

Pembroke corgis are active little guys and should be exercised, have plenty of socialization, and go out for walks on a daily basis. They may be short but they are full of energy and comical. They are active and intelligent and cal learn commands and tricks quickly. The breed is good for those who aren’t very dog experienced since they are easy to train compared to some other breeds like the shiba inu.

This breed is alert and will bark to let you know if something is happening. They can make great watchdogs but some of them may bark excessively to make sure you KNOW something is going on.

When the pembroke plays you may find them nipping at your heels or at other dogs’ legs; this is because they are herding dogs. It is one trait you may want to address if you decide to own a corgi. They thrive in families and are affectionate and often get along with children and other pets in the home. Corgis need quality time or they can become bored and may end up showing their boredom by destroying items in the home or chewing on things like the legs of a table or couch.

They don’t shed too much but do require grooming on a regular basis. Simply brushing them weekly should do the trick. When the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, they may need to be brushed a few times a week to cut down on the tufts of fur you may find around the house.

Heath-wise, because they have long spines they can be subjected to arthritis and spinal issues, especially if they are overweight. Their lifespan ranges from 12 to 16 years and can be in great health if they are kept at an ideal weight and exercised regularly with a good diet. They can be prone to hip dysplasia and some eye issues but a good breeder works to reduce the occurrence of these issues.

Corgis are funny dogs with quirks that are unique to each dog. Some play with water and will dig in their water bowl, others may like to wrap themselves up in a blanket as if they are in a burrito and then peek out with a big smile. They are great dogs and can bring hours of fun and love to a house. If you are interested in owning a Pembroke Corgi, check out the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America. They have great information about finding a breeder and rescue sites.

Shiba Inu: The Little Brushwood Dog

By now many of us have watched or read about the shiba inu web cam on ustream.com where you can watch a litter of puppies grow up before they are adopted out. You have probably also seen a shiba inu in your neighborhood and have wondered what kind of disposition they have and if they are “easy” dogs. Well, shibas are not for everyone and have some very distinct personality traits that make them unique and sometimes tough.

History

Shiba inus are a Japanese breed and inu means “dog” and shiba means “brushwood.” Shibas were hunting dogs and often are red or rust in color, similar to the shrub and tree that turns red in the fall. It is also believed that shiba may translate to mean “small.” This is why shiba inu is often translated as “little brushwood dog.”

Shiba inus are an old breed, dating back to 3 B.C. and nearly faced extinction during World War II due to distemper and numerous bombing raids. There were three bloodlines that survived and combined to create the shiba, as we know it today. In 1992 the AKC recognized the breed and in 1993 they were added to the non-sporting group.

What are they like?

Shibas are not your typical dog. They won’t often run up to a stranger and lick their face, jump up, or even be excited to meet someone new. They are bold, independent, and strong-willed or stubborn, and reserved. They are extremely loyal to their owner and affectionate to those who “earn” their respect. Because of these traits, the shiba is often referred to as a “cat in dog’s clothing.”

They’re not for the first time dog owner. These cute fox-like fur balls can be a handful. They can be demanding, possessive, and if given chance, they will “train” you to cater to them. They also usually have high prey drives and will chase squirrels, birds, and cats. Shibas usually cannot be trusted off-leash outside because they may see something and need to chase it.
Shiba Inu puppy

Shibas can be vocal and make a range of noises that aren’t always barks or howls, more like yodels often called the “shiba scream.” It’s something between a blood curdling scream and a dog howl and immediately gets your attention.

It’s recommended that anyone who owns a shiba should socialize them, work with them to reinforce positive behaviors, and create boundaries and limitations so the dog doesn’t take over. A potential owner needs to be prepared and committed to the challenges and trials that a shiba may put them through.

You’re probably thinking: “If the dog is that tough, why would anyone want one?”

The answer is simple: They are loyal, loving, intelligent, and playful. They can be trained to know a number of commands and are often very bonded and in tune with their owners. Shibas are comical and can be really entertaining when they play and run around. They are also affectionate with those they trust and consider to be “their pack members.” Granted you can find another breed or several breeds that are also loyal, intelligent, and playful, the shiba inu is different. They must “accept” you and “check you out” before they make friends. This can take a few minutes to several visits and often involves the shiba watching you, studying you, and judging you. It can be a humbling experience. If you’re lucky and “pass” then you’re golden and you are a friend for life.

There is something special about this breed in how they process the world around them and to be able to be part of that and watch them learn, explore, and study things is truly amazing. If you’re interested in learning more about the breed and its characteristics The National Shiba Club of America has great information about the breed, how to find a breeder, and links to several other organizations dedicated to the breed.