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Archive for December, 2006

Great Dane

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Great DaneThe origin of the Great Dane, like that of many other varieties of dogs, is so obscure that all researches have only resulted in speculative theories, but the undoubted antiquity of this dog is proved by the fact that representatives of a breed sufficiently similar to be considered his ancestors are found on some of the oldest Egyptian monuments.

A few years ago a controversy arose on the breed’s proper designation, when the Germans claimed for it the title “Deutsche Dogge.” Germany had several varieties of big dogs, such as the Hatzrude, Saufanger, Ulmer Dogge, and Rottweiler Metzgerhund; but contemporaneously with these there existed, as in other countries in Europe, another very big breed, but much nobler and more thoroughbred, known as the Great Dane. When after the war of 1870 national feeling was pulsating very strongly in the veins of reunited Germany, the German cynologists were on the lookout for a national dog, and for that purpose the Great Dane was re-christened “Deutsche Dogge,” and elected as the champion of German Dogdom. For a long time all these breeds had, no doubt, been indiscriminately crossed.

The Great Dane was introduced into this country spasmodically some thirty-five years ago, when he was commonly referred to as the Boarhound, or the German Mastiff, and for a time the breed had to undergo a probationary period in the “Foreign Class” at dog shows, but it soon gained in public favour, and in the early ‘eighties a Great Dane Club was formed, and the breed has since become one of the most popular of the larger dogs.

The Kennel Club has classed the Great Dane amongst the Non-Sporting dogs, probably because with us he cannot find a quarry worthy of his mettle; but, for all that, he has the instincts and qualifications of a sporting dog, and he has proved himself particularly valuable for hunting big game in hot climates, which he stands very well.

Respecting the temperament of the Great Dane and his suitability as a companion writers have gone to extremes in praise and condemnation.  In his favour it must be said that in natural intelligence he is surpassed by very few other dogs. He has a most imposing figure, and does not, like some other big breeds, slobber from his mouth, which is a particularly unpleasant peculiarity when a dog is kept in the house. On the other hand, it must be admitted that with almost the strength of a tiger he combines the excitability of a terrier, and no doubt a badly trained Great Dane is a very dangerous animal. It is not sufficient to teach him in the haphazard way which might be successful in getting a small dog under control, but even as a companion he ought to be trained systematically, and, considering his marked intelligence, this is not difficult of accomplishment.

The Great Dane attains his full development in about a year and a half to two years, and, considering that puppies have to build up in that time a very big skeleton and straight limbs, special attention must be given to the rearing of them. The dam whelps frequently eight puppies, and sometimes even a few more. Mr. Larke’s Princess Thor had a litter of seventeen, but even eight is too great a number for a bitch to suckle in a breed where great size is a desideratum. Not more than four, or at the outside five, should be left with the bitch; the others should be put to a foster mother, or if they are weaklings or foul-marked, it is best to destroy them. After the puppies are weaned, their food should be of bone-making quality, and they require ample space for exercise and play. Nothing is worse than to take the youngsters for forced marches before their bones have become firm.

Before giving the description and standard which have been adopted by the Great Dane Clubs, a few remarks on some of the leading points will be useful. The general characteristic of the Great Dane is a combination of grace and power, and therefore the lightness of the Greyhound, as well as the heaviness of the Mastiff, must be avoided.

The head should be powerful, but at the same time show quality by its nice modelling.

The eyes should be intelligent and vivacious, but not have the hard expression of the terrier. The distance between the eyes is of great importance; if too wide apart they give the dog a stupid appearance, and if too close he has a treacherous look.

Another very important point is the graceful carriage of the tail.  When it is curled over the back it makes an otherwise handsome dog look mean, and a tail that curls at the end like a corkscrew is also very ugly. In former times “faking” was not infrequently resorted to to correct a faulty tail carriage, but it is easily detected. Great Danes sometimes injure the end of the tail by hitting it against a hard substance, and those with a good carriage of tail are most liable to this because in excitement they slash it about, whereas the faulty position of the tail, curled over the back, insures immunity from harm.

Until recently British Great Dane breeders and exhibitors have paid very little attention to colour, on the principle that, like a good horse, a good Great Dane cannot be a bad colour. The English clubs, however, have now in this particular also adopted the German standard.  The orthodox colours are brindle, fawn, blue, black, and harlequin.  In the brindle dogs the ground colour should be any shade from light yellow to dark red-yellow on which the brindle appears in darker stripes. The harlequins have on a pure white ground fairly large black patches, which must be of irregular shape, broken up as if they had been torn, and not have rounded outlines. When brindle Great Danes are continuously bred together, it has been found that they get darker, and that the peculiar “striping” disappears, and in that case the introduction of a good fawn into the strain is advisable. The constant mating of harlequins has the tendency to make the black patches disappear, and the union with a good black Great Dane will prevent the loss of colour.

The following is the official description issued by the Great Dane Club:–
    
GENERAL APPEARANCE—The Great Dane is not so heavy or massive as the Mastiff, nor should he too nearly approach the Greyhound type. Remarkable in size and very muscular, strongly though elegantly built; the head and neck should be carried high, and the tail in line with the back, or slightly upwards, but not curled over the hind-quarters. Elegance of outline and grace of form are most essential to a Dane; size is absolutely necessary; but there must be that alertness of expression and briskness of movement without which the Dane character is lost. He should have a look of dash and daring, of being ready to go anywhere and do anything.

TEMPERAMENT—The Great Dane is good-tempered, affectionate, and faithful to his master, not demonstrative with strangers; intelligent, courageous, and always alert. His value as a guard is unrivalled. He is easily controlled when well trained, but he may grow savage if confined too much, kept on chain, or ill treated.

HEIGHT—The minimum height of an adult dog should be 30 ins.; that of a bitch, 28 ins. WEIGHT—The minimum weight of an adult dog should be 120 lbs.; that of a bitch, 100 lbs. The greater height and weight to be preferred, provided that quality and proportion are also combined.

HEAD—Taken altogether, the head should give the idea of great length and strength of jaw. The muzzle, or foreface, is broad, and the skull proportionately narrow, so that the whole head, when viewed from above and in front, has the appearance of equal breadth throughout. LENGTH OF HEAD—The entire length of head varies with the height of the dog, 13 ins. from the tip of the nose to the back of the occiput is a good measurement for a dog of 32 ins. at the shoulder. The length from the end of the nose to the point between the eyes should be about equal, or preferably of greater length than from this point to the back of the occiput. 

SKULL—The skull should be flat rather than domed, and have a slight indentation running up the centre, the occipital peak not prominent.  There should be a decided rise or brow over the eyes, but no abrupt stop between them.

FACE—The face should be chiselled well and foreface long, of equal depth throughout, and well filled in below the eyes with no appearance of being pinched.

MUSCLES OF THE CHEEK—The muscles of the cheeks should be quite flat, with no lumpiness or cheek bumps, the angle of the jaw-bone well defined.

LIPS—The lips should hang quite square in front, forming a right angle with the upper line of foreface.

UNDERLINE—The underline of the head, viewed in profile, runs almost in a straight line from the corner of the lip to the corner of the jawbone, allowing for the fold of the lip, but with no loose skin to hang down.

JAW—The lower jaw should be about level, or at any rate not project more than the sixteenth of an inch.

NOSE AND NOSTRILS—The bridge of the nose should be very wide, with a slight ridge where the cartilage joins the bone.  (This is quite a characteristic of the breed.) The nostrils should be large, wide, and open, giving a blunt look to the nose. A butterfly or flesh-coloured nose is not objected to in harlequins.

EARS—The ears should be small, set high on the skull, and carried slightly erect, with the tips falling forward.

NECK—Next to the head, the neck is one of the chief characteristics. It should be long, well arched, and quite clean and free from loose skin, held well up, snakelike in carriage, well set in the shoulders, and the junction of head and neck well defined.

SHOULDERS—The shoulders should be muscular but not loaded, and well sloped back, with the elbows well under the body, so that, when viewed in front, the dog does not stand too wide.

FORE-LEGS AND FEET—The fore-legs should be perfectly straight, with big flat bone. The feet large and round, the toes well arched and close, the nails strong and curved. BODY—The body is very deep, with ribs well sprung and belly well drawn up.

BACK AND LOINS—The back and loins are strong, the latter slightly arched, as in the Greyhound. HIND-QUARTERS—The hind-quarters and thighs are extremely muscular, giving the idea of great strength and galloping power. The second thigh is long and well developed as in a Greyhound, and the hocks set low, turning neither out nor in.

TAIL—The tail is strong at the root and ends in a fine point, reaching to or just below the hocks. It should be carried, when the dog is in action, in a straight line level with the back, slightly curved towards the end, but should not curl over the back.

COAT—The hair is short and dense, and sleek-looking, and in no case should it incline to coarseness.

GAIT OR ACTION—The gait should be lithe, springy, and free, the action high. The hocks should move very freely, and the head should be held well up. COLOUR—The colours are brindle, fawn, blue, black, and harlequin. The harlequin should have jet black patches and spots on a pure white ground; grey patches are admissible but not desired; but fawn or brindle shades are objectionable.

Newfoundland

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

NewfoundlandThe dogs which take their name from the island of Newfoundland appeal to all lovers of animals, romance, and beauty. A Newfoundland formed the subject of perhaps the most popular picture painted by Sir Edwin Landseer; a monument was erected by Byron over the grave of his Newfoundland in proximity to the place where the poet himself hoped to be buried, at Newstead Abbey, and the inscription on his monument contains the lines so frequently quoted: “But the poor dog in life the firmest friend, The first to welcome, foremost to defend, Whose honest heart is still his master’s own, Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone. To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise: I never knew but one, and here he lies.”

Robert Burns, also, in his poem, “The Twa Dogs,” written in 1786, refers to a Newfoundland as being an aristocrat among dogs. Doubtless, other breeds of dogs have been the subjects of popular pictures and have had their praises sung by poets, but the Newfoundlands have yet a further honour, unique amongst dogs, in being the subject for a postage stamp of their native land. All these distinctions and honours have not been conferred without reason for no breed of dogs has greater claim to the title of friend of man, and it has become famous for its known readiness and ability to save persons in danger, especially from drowning. It is strong and courageous in the water, and on land a properly trained Newfoundland is an ideal companion and guard. Innumerable are the accounts of Newfoundlands having proved their devotion to their owners, and of the many lives saved by them in river and sea; and when Sir Edwin Landseer selected one of the breed as the subject of his picture entitled, “A Distinguished Member of the

Humane Society,” he was justified not only by the sentiment attaching to this remarkable race of dogs, but also by the deeds by which Newfoundlands have made good their claim to such great distinction, and the popular recognition of this, no doubt, in some degree added to the great esteem in which this painting has always been held.

The picture was painted in 1838, and, as almost everyone knows, represents a white and black Newfoundland. The dog portrayed was typical of the breed, and after a lapse of over seventy years, the painting has now the added value of enabling us to make a comparison with specimens of the breed as it exists to-day. Such a comparison will show that among the best dogs now living are some which might have been the model for this picture. It is true that in the interval the white and black Newfoundlands have been coarser, heavier, higher on the legs, with an expression denoting excitability quite foreign to the true breed, but these departures from Newfoundland character are passing away—it is to be hoped for good. The breed is rapidly returning to the type which Landseer’s picture represents—a dog of great beauty, dignity, and benevolence of character, showing in its eyes an almost human pathos.

Some twenty-five to thirty years ago there was considerable discussion among owners of Newfoundlands in this country as to the proper colour of the true breed, and there were many persons who claimed, as some still claim, that the black variety is the only true variety, and that the white and black colouring indicates a cross-breed. Again Landseer’s picture is of value, because, in the first place, we may be almost certain that he would have selected for such a picture a typical dog of the breed, and, secondly, because the picture shows, nearly half a century prior to the discussion, a white and black dog, typical in nearly every respect, except colour, of the black Newfoundland. There is no appearance of cross-breeding in Landseer’s dog; on the contrary, he reveals all the characteristics of a thoroughbred. Seventy years ago, therefore, the white and black variety may be fairly considered to have been established, and it is worthy of mention here that “Idstone” quoted an article written in 1819 stating that back in the eighteenth century Newfoundlands were large, rough-coated, liver and white dogs. It is clear, also, that in 1832 Newfoundlands in British North America were of various colours. Additional evidence, too, is provided, in the fact that when selecting the type of head for their postage stamp the Government of Newfoundland chose the Landseer dog. Therefore, there are very strong arguments against the claim that the true variety is essentially black.

However that may be, there are now two established varieties, the black and the white and black. There are also bronze-coloured dogs, but they are rare and are not favoured. It is stated, however, that puppies of that colour are generally the most promising in all other respects.

The black variety of the Newfoundland is essentially black in colour; but this does not mean that there may be no other colour, for most black Newfoundlands have some white marks, and these are not considered objectionable, so long as they are limited to white hairs on the chest, toes, or the tip of the tail. In fact, a white marking on the chest is said to be typical of the true breed. Any white on the head or body would place the dog in the other than black variety.  The black colour should preferably be of a dull jet appearance which approximates to brown. In the other than black class, there may be black and tan, bronze, and white and black. The latter predominates, and in this colour, beauty of marking is very important. The head should be black with a white muzzle and blaze, and the body and legs should be white with large patches of black on the saddle and quarters, with possibly other small black spots on the body and legs.

Apart from colour, the varieties should conform to the same standard.  The head should be broad and massive, but in no sense heavy in appearance. The muzzle should be short, square, and clean cut, eyes rather wide apart, deep set, dark and small, not showing any haw; ears small, with close side carriage, covered with fine short hair (there should be no fringe to the ears), expression full of intelligence, dignity, and kindness.

The body should be long, square, and massive, loins strong and well filled; chest deep and broad; legs quite straight, somewhat short in proportion to the length of the body, and powerful, with round bone well covered with muscle; feet large, round, and close. The tail should be only long enough to reach just below the hocks, free from kink, and never curled over the back. The quality of the coat is very important; the coat should be very dense, with plenty of undercoat; the outer coat somewhat harsh and quite straight. A curly coat is very objectionable. A dog with a good coat may be in the water for a considerable time without getting wet on the skin.

The appearance generally should indicate a dog of great strength, and very active for his build and size, moving freely with the body swung loosely between the legs, which gives a slight roll in gait.  This has been compared to a sailor’s roll, and is typical of the breed.

As regards size, the Newfoundland Club standard gives 140 lbs. to 120 lbs. weight for a dog, and 110 lbs. to 120 lbs. for a bitch, with an average height at the shoulder of 27 inches and 25 inches respectively; but it is doubtful whether dogs in proper condition do conform to both requirements. At any rate, the writer is unable to trace any prominent Newfoundlands which do, and it would be safe to assume that for dogs of the weights specified, the height should be quite 29 inches for dogs, and 27 inches for bitches. A dog weighing 150 lbs. and measuring 29 inches in height at the shoulder would necessarily be long in body to be in proportion, and would probably much nearer approach the ideal form of a Newfoundland than a taller dog.

In that respect Newfoundlands have very much improved during the past quarter of a century. Twenty-five years ago, the most noted dogs were stated as a rule to be well over 30 inches in height, but their weight for height would indicate legginess, which is an abomination in a Newfoundland. A 29-inch Newfoundland is quite tall enough, and even that height should not be gained at the expense of type and symmetry.

The white and black variety are, as a rule, slightly taller, smaller in loin and longer in head, but these differences in the two varieties are being rapidly removed, and at no distant date the white and black variety will probably be as correct in type and symmetry as the black variety now is.

For very many years the black variety has been the better in type; and in breeding, if blacks are desired, it will be safer as a general rule to insist upon the absence of white and black blood in any of the immediate ancestors of the sire and dam. But if, on the contrary, white and black dogs are required, the proper course is to make judicious crosses between the black and white, and black varieties, and destroy any black puppies, unless they are required for further crosses with white and black blood. In any case the first cross is likely to produce both black and mis-marked white and black puppies; but the latter, if bred back to the white and black blood, would generally produce well-marked white and black Newfoundlands.

In mating, never be guided solely by the good points of the dog and bitch. It is very desirable that they should both have good points, the more good ones the better, but it is more important to ensure that they are dissimilar in their defects, and, if possible, that in neither case is there a very objectionable defect, especially if such defect was also apparent in the animal’s sire or dam.

It is, therefore, important to study what were the good, and still more so the bad, points in the parents and grandparents. If you do not know these, other Newfoundland breeders will willingly give information, and any trouble involved in tracing the knowledge required will be amply repaid in the results, and probably save great disappointment.

When rearing puppies give them soft food, such as well-boiled rice and milk, as soon as they will lap, and, shortly afterwards, scraped lean meat. Newfoundland puppies require plenty of meat to induce proper growth. The puppies should increase in weight at the rate of 3 lbs. a week, and this necessitates plenty of flesh, bone and muscle-forming food, plenty of meat, both raw and cooked. Milk is also good, but it requires to be strengthened with Plasmon, or casein.  The secret of growing full-sized dogs with plenty of bone and substance is to get a good start from birth, good feeding, warm, dry quarters, and freedom for the puppies to move about and exercise themselves as they wish. Forced exercise may make them go wrong on their legs. Medicine should not be required except for worms, and the puppies should be physicked for these soon after they are weaned, and again when three or four months old, or before that if they are not thriving. If free from worms, Newfoundland puppies will be found quite hardy, and, under proper conditions of food and quarters, they are easy to rear.

Train your dog to drop when you raise your hand

Monday, December 18th, 2006

If the dog doesn’t obey the FIRST command or signal, bump her nose with the palm of your hand, or stamp on the leash forcefully. At the same time, say “DOWN!” and after the dog is down, pat her!

When you take the leash off, increase the distance you stand from the dog—but not if you have to tell her twice before she obeys.

When the command or signal is ignored at a distance, call out demandingly, “DOWN!” then run forward and make the necessary correction.

While the dog is learning, give praise WITH every command and WITH every signal.

After your dog knows the DROP ON RECALL, alternate with the straight RECALL, and with the DROP IN THE DISTANCE.