Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Breaking up is hard to do especially if it’s a dog fight. I confess this would scare the heck out of me if any of my dogs got into a fight. Living by myself presents even a bigger dilemma and can be potentially more dangerous. Never mind that something awful can happen to your dogs, but the worse case scenario would be that something awful would happen to you. Living with a number of dogs with different personality traits and some being more dominate than the others, this is something that can happen when you least expect it to.

When dogs fight, they go into a survival mode. So in their minds, they are fighting to survive and some will fight till one is dead. With this frame of mind that they are in, the worse thing you can do is try to come between the two dogs to break them up. In his mind, he is fighting for his life. So you coming between them, you are preventing him from saving himself. Many of the pictures that I saw of dog bites on the internet were not a very pretty sight to look at. It’s painful, and can leave lasting damage and scars.

If two people are home when something like this happens, working quickly together can help put an end to the fight by pulling them apart by grabbing their hind legs. But what if you are like me and “You’re all you’ve got?” You’re home alone. So what do you do? Every article I read about this subject says to remain calm and don’t shout and scream. "Come on now….you’ve got to be kidding me. My dogs are pulling one another's faces and ears apart and I’m to remain cool, calm and collected?” I would probably be hysterical. But I’m reminded that I’ve got a job to do, so it’s time to put aside the theatrics and get down to business.

So OK, after I get over the hysterics, this is what I would need to do to break up these “fighting to survive” canines. This is dangerous business. Common sense will tell you that you can not physically get yourself in the middle of a dog fight, especially when you’re dealing with the size and power of two German Shepherds! Remember that these dogs are in the fight drive and no matter how much he loves you, if you get in the way; you’re going to get bit! Your goal is to break up the fight without getting yourself hurt.

The first thing to do is to go get a leash. Don’t expect that the dogs will stop what they’re doing to follow you. The fight will continue, but you need to go get that leash. Because the dogs are concentrating on one another and probably have their jaws locked on one another, this is the time for you to try and get the leash around the back loin of the dog. Thread the leash through the handle loop. Now back away slowly and pull the dog with you. Your goal is to try to tie him to a fence, kennel or an object. You need to anchor him to something. Then you need to do the same thing to the other dog and drag him into a kennel or the house. Then put the dog that is tied to the fence in his kennel. There now, wasn’t that simple?

Some people use cattle prods to try to break up a fight. Some research into this method believes that this can excite the dog even more and make him even more aggressive towards the other dog. I don’t know how true this is, but when confronted with this terrible situation, we all do what we think we need to do at the time. Many people will spray the dog with a hose. Most of the time this method doesn’t work. Using a fire extinguisher is better. Getting a broom or shovel between them, may give you time to break them up, but don’t count on it. The only way a shovel will work is if you knock them out with it (which I don’t recommend) and that would end up defeating the whole thing of breaking them up in the first place. You might cause just as much damage as if you allow them to continue to fight.

The best line of defense is training, training and more training. Your dogs MUST think of you as the “leader of the pack.” You MUST be the alpha to them. When you see that one of your dogs is the aggressor in the pack, the one who is dominate and likes to bully the rest, this is the dog that you need to get after. Any time that you see him acting “bad” to the other dogs, this is when you need to step in and correct the bad behavior. Instantly get after that dog to remind him that you are the alpha and if he challenges your position that’s when he needs to be reminded where he falls into the pack order. If you are not on top of this dog, this is the one that will give you the headaches and it’s not the type that “Excedrin” is even going to make a dent in. The dog MUST respect you and know that if they cross the line, there will be hell to pay by dealing with you. I own two sisters with one of them being the most dominate dog that I’ve ever owned. In her mind, the rules were made for everyone but her. She’s vocal and answers me back (barking at me) if I correct her. She doesn’t mind me correcting anyone else, but she thinks she’s too special for chastising. I’ve done alpha rolls on her and made her lay still after she protested by kicking her legs every which way she could. She’d finally submit but when I release her, she looks at me as if to say, “Okay, that didn’t hurt” and off she goes on her merry old way. She’s the reason that they’ve made Xanax for people!!! But all kidding aside, this is the type of animal that has to know that you are the boss at all times. Each and every day, she is my challenge!

Important to note about dogs that show aggression or dominance towards other dogs. Don’t wait until the dog reaches the aggressive stage. As soon as he looks at another dog with any bad intentions, that’s when you correct him. Don’t let it escalate to aggressive behavior. He must be made to know that you are very well aware of his body language. This dog is a work in progress, but even more work if he initiates a fight. Better deal with him now than later. Also never think that two dogs that grew up together and always played and loved one another can’t or won’t fight. This is when you could be in for the surprise of your life. No rhyme, no reason, but it can happen! Don’t leave two dogs alone together without supervision. I know what you might be saying…”They’ve always got along so well.” All it takes is one time to change that situation around. Also once two dogs have fought, they will fight again if "the right opportunity" presents itself.

My rating: the importance of training: (4), the importance of remaining calm during a fight (ha, ha): (4), the importance of never getting in the middle of a fight: (

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Walk pass any pet store that sells animals and most of the time, you’ll see that the owner of the store has put the cutest puppies or kittens in the window. It’s good marketing strategy and it works. But what about the rest of us who want to advertise puppies for sale, stud dog services, or dog related items? Where do we go to advertise something? Where is there a market for what we advertise? Competition can be tough especially with today’s economy. People undersell other people just to make the sale. Believe it or not, there are more places to advertise than ever before. You just got to do a little research.

For those who can afford it, advertising is a dream come true for these select few. When money is no object, then selling what you have to offer comes easy. Most people don’t have this option. So let’s say you do have the extra bucks to put out for advertising. Probably your best audience for selling your litters or offering a dog at stud is your breed magazines. The German Shepherd Dog Review is a monthly magazine put out by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. This is a “who’s who” of the German Shepherd community. It is definitely the place to be seen when you are advertising your dogs. Years ago, many people (myself included) would advertise our litters in this magazine by taking out a full page ad. Sometimes if they were older puppies, breeders would put in an ad with the pups pictures as well as their pedigree. I don’t see very many breeders advertising this way anymore. Mostly what I see in this magazine is stud dog ads as well as brags of show and obedience title winners. Ads in this magazine and others like it are very expensive, but no where else will you get the same type of attention to what you are advertising as you will here. This is for the serious student of the breed who is looking to reach like type of people.

Next to the breed magazines, advertising on the internet has become very popular. No where else will you attract as many people as you will here. There are all sorts of dog related websites where you can advertise your puppies and studs usually for a small fee.
Also if you own your own website, you might get people to contact you through this method.

One of the best (in this writer’s opinion) and cheapest ways to advertise your dogs is belonging to dog related e-mail lists. There are a gazillion lists that you can sign up for. Do be aware of the individual list rules as far as advertising is concerned. Some allow it and others do not. So check up on this before you sign up. Obviously those who can accept photographs of your dogs are an added bonus. Some that come to mind are,, and There are many others that will allow this as well. Just ask around and you’ll get some recommendations. The reason that I like these lists for advertising purposes is that you have a ready made audience from the people who belong and read these lists. Plus the best part of all is that it is FREE ADVERTISING! What’s not to like about that?

Other places to advertise on the internet are social gathering places where literally hundreds of thousands of people will be able to see what you have to advertise. Places like “Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter” come to mind. These places are a great way to network what it is you are looking to sell and to get yourself known through other German Shepherd owners and newcomers as well. Once again, this is free advertising.

Obviously we all know that you can advertise in your local newspapers. Sometimes if you live by a big city, it might be wise to utilize that newspaper for your ad as well. I used to live about an hour and a half away from New York City, and occasionally I would advertise in the New York Times which is much more expensive than your local newspaper, but most of the time, it paid off.

Other places and ways to advertise are: your vet’s office (his bulletin board) or just let him and his staff know you have puppies for sale, pet store and grocery store bulletin boards, car bumper stickers (have one made and advertise your kennel), custom make a t-shirt advertising your kennel, wear a hat or cap with your kennel’s logo on it, business cards with you kennel name, advertise in your clubs show catalogs, futurity catalogs and of course the National Specialty show catalogs. Join a dog breed club and talk up your “stuff.” Advertise in their newsletters. Join the parent club and advertise on their website. When you go to a dog show, it’s very smart advertising to make yourself an album with pictures of your dogs or new litter or your stud dog. Make sure you have plenty of pedigrees available. Also tell your dog’s handler that you have a litter or stud that you want him to talk about. If your handler loves your dog, this can be a great way to get the word out. And naturally, the good old fashioned way to advertise is “word of mouth.”

So there you have it. These are just some of the ways you can get out to the public that you have something that they may be interested in buying. Make no mistake about it… matter how much of a well known breeder you may be, advertising is still important. Because there are so many people who are doing the same thing that you are, you must keep your name foremost in people’s minds. Pick up the Review and you will still see these people advertising their dogs. Joan Ford told me one time, that even though most people in the breed knew who she was, she still had to advertise her dogs or they begin to forget about you.

Advertising rates: Zero, zilch, nadda, nothing right on up to thousands of dollars.

My rating: magazines: (4), internet: (3), personal web-sites (3), e-mail lists: (4), newspapers: (4), clubs: (3), catalogs, newsletters (3), all others (3)

Monday, September 28, 2009


Several months ago, a breeder friend of mine said that not all dogs will bite and that you can’t teach them to do so. Hmmmm, I found that statement interesting. Then last week, she made the same statement to me again. She works with a trainer who not only trains the American bred dog, but many German dogs as well. So once again when my curiosity gets challenged, I knew I needed to do some research about this subject.

Owning German Shepherds, we all assume that we have some of the best protection dogs on the earth. How many times have we said that “I just know that Rocky would protect me with his life?” But would he? Just because he’s a German Shepherd and he growls and shows his teeth doesn’t mean he will bite someone. Most dogs will avoid confrontation and go the other way.

Temperament and prey drive have a lot to do with the dogs ability to protect its master. So all of this got me to thinking of my own dogs and some of the dogs that I’ve owned in the past. Most of my show dogs would not have attacked anyone because they were well socialized from an early age and assumed that most people were friendly and not to be avoided. However, I did own a “Hammer” daughter that I KNEW would protect me. She came to my defense a couple of times and was very protected towards me. She wasn’t a noisy dog or made a lot of commotion. She just quietly watched. I had a professional trainer who wanted to buy one of her sons. He asked to see the mother and he came at her with a cape that he wrapped around himself and started towards her waving it and coming at me. She hit the end of that lead and was ready to “rock and roll” with this guy! When he was finished with the threatening behavior, he walked over to us in a calm, non-excitable way and petted her on the head and told me, “Now that’s a great mind.”

So just what type of dog is the type that bites, and is it true that not all dogs can be trained to bite? According to my research, based on the dog’s temperament, there are four types of prey drive. They are: prey drive, defensive drive, fight drive and avoidance. Because some dogs have not inherited the necessary drive, he can not be used for protection work. I found this information interesting. It says that we must understand that prey drive is inherited and has nothing to do with the breed of dog or his training. In other words, just because a dog is a German Shepherd, does not mean he will bite.

Prey drive: The prey drive can be seen in a young puppy as early as 6 weeks of age. What is prey drive? It is the desire to run and chase something that is moving and to grab it and shake it once he gets it. This is the same thing when a dog gets older and he chases a ball or a Frisbee or plays tug of war. The prey drive is a comfortable drive for the dog to be in. He doesn’t feel threatened. The dog is not nervous or stressed. Usually his tail is wagging and he’s happy.

Defensive drive: When one is considering a dog for police work, protection work or Schutzhund work, the dog must have a strong defensive drive. What does the defensive drive mean? This is the drive for the dog to protect itself against a potential threat. This is when the dog feels stressed when he feels that he will be attacked. This too (according to my research) is an inherited factor in the dog’s willingness to protect itself. This too is not something that can be trained into the dog, no matter how much you try. This is not the type of dog that would ever be considered for protection or police work. You can’t make the lab or golden retriever be a biting, protection dog. It’s not in their genes to be so. Although they may bark, they will avoid the confrontation and go the other way. Interestingly enough, even if a dog has inherited the defensive gene, the defensive drive does not appear until puberty. This means that he may be a year old before his defensive drive is developed but not fully until he reaches mentally maturity which can take up to three years of age. When the dog is in defensive drive, his body language is much different than it was in prey drive. His tail is no longer wagging happily, but is lower. His growl and bark is now deeper.

Fight drive: This is the drive of the dog as the interaction of prey and defense where he carries the forwardness of prey with the intensity of defense. This is the type of dog who carries himself with a great deal of self confidence in all environments and circumstances. This is the dog that does not look or act nervous or insecure. Again, according to my research, good genetics and proper training is the only way to bring out the fight drive in the dog. Dogs with good prey drive and a dominate temperament usually develop the best fight drive.

Avoidance: When a situation gets too intense for the dog, he will avoid it and retreat. This is called avoidance. Now some dogs may hesitate in a certain situation. This is fine. He’s checking out the thing that is causing him stress, but is not running away from it. The dog who is an avoidance state of mind, tugs his tail, ears are held back, hair may rise up on its back and he turns and runs. Some dogs may act a little confused, but they’re not afraid. They are not tucking their tails and running.

There are several different personalities that a dog can have: aggressive – extremely dominate and can be provoked into biting. Many of these types of dogs resist human leadership. They need constant training. Confident – he is dominate and self assured and can be provoked to bite. This type of dog fits in best where he respects the owner and he too needs consistent training. Outgoing – he is friendly and sociable and usually adapts to different environments. These dogs make good family pets, and not necessarily good watch dogs. Adaptable – these dogs normally have a more submissive behavior and looks for his owner to be the leader. He’s normally a gentle and loving companion as a pet animal. Insecure – this dog is extremely insecure, shy, submissive and lacking in self confidence. He requires constant companionship and reassurance from his owners. This is not a dog that will protect you, rather a dog who is looking to be protected. Independent – this is a dog that doesn’t really need anyone except to cater to his need for food, water and shelter. He doesn’t bond with anyone and is not an affectionate dog. He has a low need for human companionship.

Some dogs may be biters without any training and without being provoked. The aggressive dog is the dog that will bite anyone. However, this is the type of dog that makes lawyers wealthy and its owners poor. This is the type of dog that can get his owners into serious trouble through lawsuits. This is not a dog with a healthy mind. Then the fear biter is the dog who is going to get you before you get him. This is the dog you don’t want to corner, because he will bite out of fear that you will hurt him. Neither one of these dogs are protecting their owner. One does it because genetically he’s inferior to the healthy calm steady nerves of the genetically sound animal. The other is a genetic mess and a time bomb waiting to explode.

Will all dogs bite? Not according to my research and not according to my friend who spiked my interest in this subject to begin with. So from what I’ve learned not all German Shepherds will protect you. Not all German Shepherds can be trained to bite. Those who can be trained are genetically bred to do so. They are the dogs who have very sound minds with steady, calm nerves. Some dogs just make good pets and family dogs. Some dogs that are born aggressive or fearful really aren’t good for anyone. You don’t need to train these dogs to bite. It’s already in their genetic code. These are not the types of dogs anyone can trust. A good protection dog is one the owner can trust and one that he’s not fearful of himself. Therefore, excellent genetics and excellent training go hand in hand in raising a dog that has a healthy, sound mind and is worthy of being called a German Shepherd.

So if someone broke into your home, would your dog attack the intruder? Would he continue to attack the intruder if the “bad guy” raised his hand to hit him with something and was yelling at him in a loud threatening voice? Would your dog continue to attack or would he back away once he was threatened?

My rating: importance of genetics: (4), importance of training: (4), importance of socialization; (4), importance of a dog that will protect you: (4)

Friday, September 25, 2009


Unfortunately the larger breeds of dogs do not live as long as the little guys do. By the time a German Shepherd reaches the age of 7, he is considered a “young” senior (middle to senior aged). Normally the average life span of a German Shepherd is 9 – 14 years old. This is never a long enough time with our beloved dogs. However some dogs at this age, act and look like they’re three years old. Look at the beautiful Am & Can Select Ch Darby Dan’s Eve ROM who at the “tender young age” of ten just went Canadian Select last week!

Some of the things you might notice when a dog is aging are graying around the face and muzzle, slowing down, arthritis, harder time getting up and down stairs or rising after he’s been lying down, reduced hearing, cloudy or bluish eyes, and muscle atrophy.

Some dogs remain healthy and well throughout their lives. Others may develop health problems as they age. Some of the potential problems some seniors may have are: arthritis pain which should be treated with a medicine that will relieve some of his pain and discomfort. Some supplements have been known to help the senior dog with his aches and pains as well. Consider given him glucosamine/chondroitin for his joints. Vibrant Pets makes a product with these ingredients called Joint and Muscle. Bad breathe and bleeding gums can occur at this age because of built up tartar leading to gum diseases and tooth loss. Kidney disease, oral cancer and infections all can lead to bad breathe as well. Hearing loss, sudden blindness or tilting of the head can be caused by infection or age related cancer. Some dogs may develop cataracts in a matter of days with sudden onset diabetes. Look for change in weight or appetite…losing weight or gaining too much weight. A senior dog should be fed a diet that is age appropriate. Sometimes they may need a prescription diet from your vet. You might see the aged dog change in his water consumption and urine output. Suddenly drinking too much water can mean kidney problems or diabetes. Some dogs may experience cognitive dysfunction like dementia. Coughing and excessive panting may indicate heart disease. Itchy, flaky skin also can be caused by the dog aging.

Special care should be given to make your older dogs life as comfortable and as easy as possible. Always make sure he has a comfortable bed to lie in because of his aching joints. There are actually orthopedic beds for dogs. Provide fresh clean water and an age appropriate diet. You might notice the “oldster” doesn’t want to run and play as much. That’s alright. Just give him some toys to play with so he doesn’t feel too neglected. Provide him with adequate exercise which is appropriate for his capabilities. This is good for his heart. Just don’t overdo it. Also because the older dog may be going through some loss of hearing, he might startle easily and things that never bothered him before may now become something that he’s uncomfortable with. All of a sudden children or loud noises may frighten him. A dog that is suffering from arthritis may be fearful that a child is going to step on him. They can’t get out of the way fast enough. Be aware of this so accidents don’t happen. Separation anxiety is another problem you may see with the older dog. He may bark more, be more destructive or start to eliminate in the house when left alone. He may become confused or disoriented. Thunderstorms may make him tremble. Make sure your senior dog is given as much attention as possible. You may find he wants to be with you even more. He might look for more physical contact and attention as he ages. Reassuring him that he’s still a very important part of your household makes for a very happy senior citizen!

Keep up his grooming routine. This is a good time to check your dog for tumors or other growths and it’s another reason for touching and stroking the dog.

With the senior dog, you may find that you are making a lot more trips to the vet. Any changes that are making the dog uncomfortable should be an indication that it’s time for your dog to see his doctor. He has special needs at this time in his life and they should be attended to to insure his healthy and long life.

There is nothing more precious than the senior dogs face. Looking into his warm brown eyes is like looking right into the soul of this marvelous animal.

Good nutrition, health care, genetics, a clean environment and lots of love and affection can help your dog live a longer life.

My rating: importance of vet care: (4), importance of nutrition (4), importance of love and affection: (4)

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I think one of the things that most pet owners dislike doing is cutting their dog’s toenails. As much as they might dislike it, the dog dislikes it even more! The dog picks up on the owner’s anxiety which in turn escalates his own anxiety and the battle begins. Once a dog’s quick (live tissue that grows inside the toenail) is cut, he never forgets it. It’s very painful and he’s not going to easily cooperate while he’s in pain and bleeding.

Like anything else, it’s always a good idea to get a puppy used to regular grooming so he becomes comfortable with it. We want to make the experience a pleasant one and not one that has him running for the hills when he sees the grooming table set up.

If you own a dog, we all have our stories to tell about grooming their nails. A good friend of mine who might be reading this right now always made me laugh every time that she would tell me about her experience of trying to cut one of her well known Champions toenails. Now we’re talking about a big boy here. Just picture this dog who would rule his kennel with his “macho strutting” back and forth in his kennel. Now picture this same dog who would pull a “sissy fit” every time he saw the nail clippers. My friend would put him in a dog crate and crawl half way in there with him with her butt sticking out the door trying to coax him into giving up one of his paws to her. He’d moan, groan, whine and complain while she’d tried to convince him that she wasn’t going to hurt him. Did it work? Hell, no! So she’d call up his breeder/co-owner and ask her if she could clip his nails. Well I actually seen her do it one time. She had this big boy up on the grooming table. He’d try to get away with the same antics with her, but it didn’t work. I’d hear her telling him to “Cut it out.” Long story short, she always won!

There are a few different instruments that you can use to cut your dog’s toenails. Most people are familiar with the nail clippers. There are the scissor style and guillotine style. What they both basically do is it squeezes down on the nail to clip it. These are both inexpensive and can be bought at most pet stores. There are a few disadvantages to these types of clippers. They can get dull quickly and it becomes harder to cut the nail. Another disadvantage is that they squeeze the nail and quick and this can become uncomfortable for your dog. With dog’s that have a black or dark toenail, it is very difficult to impossible to see the dog’s quick.

Another type of instrument you can use to cut the dog’s toenails is the Peticure. This is a relatively new product on the market but has become extremely popular with the pet public. This device uses a rotating file to shave off the dog’s nail. With this instrument you are better able to see the quick. Some dogs do not like the feel of the rotating file on their nails. This is more expensive than the traditional dog clipper.

One of the most popular tools used by dog show people is the Dremel. This is literally a small drill. In fact some arts and craft people use this drill. The drill has adjustable speeds so you can control the settings. Generally speaking, if you use an instrument like the Multi-pro, it’s not advisable to go above the number 2 setting. The faster the drill spins, the more it generates heat and can become too hot for the dog’s toenails. It comes with grit bands (looks like sand paper) and usually fine to medium is the best for doing the dog’s nails. When doing a puppy, the fine is probably the better choice. Some of these tools come with grinding stones but it has been recommended that you don’t use these as these can become extremely hot. If your dog is sensitive to the noise that these make, you may want to try using the Mini-mite rechargeable Dremel.

It’s always a good idea whenever you trim your dog’s nails to have handle some quick stop styptic powder or corn starch in case you do cut the dog’s quick.

Another type of grooming tool for a dog’s nails is the dog file. This is best used to clean up any jagged or uneven toenail fragments. This is basically used as a finishing tool.

How does one go about getting their dog comfortable with having his nails done? The most important thing to remember is to try to make this a positive experience for the dog. If it isn’t, he will remember it and you will have a hard time each time you want to cut his nails. What I find that works for my dogs is positive rewards. My oldest girl, who was fearful of having her nails done, now just lies down on the floor and lets me cut her nails because she sees the treats that are waiting for her. I trained her early on, by giving her a small reward for each nail that she let me cut. I’d cut one nail, she’d get one treat until both her front and rear toenails were done. She no longer is fearful. She knows that she will be rewarded with treats for letting me do her nails.

Now her two daughters are another case all together. These are my “Wild Childs.” I usually wait until they have rested in their dog crates for a couple of hours. I close the door behind me in the small room where I keep them. Then I let them out one at a time while the other one watches. After they do their normal greeting and wiggling around the room, it’s time to get down to business. I try to get them in a sitting position and from there I wrestle them to the floor. Some kicking and trying to stand up occurs, but I’m a lot heavier then them and they can kick and squirm all they want. They finally succumb to defeat! I just talk reassuring to them and tell them to stay all the while telling them what a good girl they are. They let me do their nails and then they get their treat and out the door they go. Everyone’s happy and my back is breaking, but the nails are done!

The dog that has the lighter colored toenails is easier to work with because you can usually see the quick. I like to cut my dog’s toenails where there is natural light coming in from a window. It makes seeing the quick a little easier.

There are many dog nail grooming drills on the market. Sears carries them as well as many online stores. Oster makes them as well with a large assortment and prices to choose from.

Prices for drills can range from $25 right on up to $150! Dog clippers and scissors can range from $8 to $15. Peticure normally sells for $25 to $50.

My rating: clippers and scissors: (3), Peticure (3), Dremels (drills), (4) Files (2)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Just how far will some people go to have a champion? Are there no limits to what some will do to have a winning dog? Some would think if you want to win so badly, just go out and buy another dog that doesn’t need the expertise of a cosmetic surgeon or a professional hair dyer. But what about those dogs that are so very special in every other way but something is stopping them from winning……too washed out in pigment, only one testicle has descended, only one ear went up, etc. If only he didn’t have this “minor” fault! Well actually, it isn’t so minor after all. It’s what’s preventing the dog from winning on his own merit and it’s what he’s going to produce when he’s bred and it’s what he’s going to perpetuate in his gene’s for generations to come.

Cosmetic surgery for dogs has been going on for years with docking of tails and cropping of ears in some breeds. I wonder that the public would have thought these dogs were beautiful without these changes to their appearance. It’s just something that we have become familiar with.

Rumors have run rampant for years among show dog people as to which dogs have had dye jobs or other cosmetic surgeries. It’s not unheard of to see a dog looking red as the clay in Georgia at one show and then the next time you see him, his red has faded to a pale peachy color. Some very famous dogs have been rumored to have had cosmetic surgery but it makes one wonder how much of the gossip is hearsay and how much is actually true. Competition among show dogs is fierce, especially among owners of stud dogs.

The top cosmetic procedures for dogs are: testicular implants, tail docking, nose job (for dogs of other breeds who have breathing problems, ear straightening, silicone ear implant, face lift (for other breeds who have lots of wrinkles), eye replacement, and braces for teeth.

Some veterinarians have banned tail docking and ear cropping in their practices. The AVMA (American Veterinarian Medical Association) has disapproved of this practice for years. The AKC (American Kennel Club) feels this elective surgery is appropriate for certain dog breeds. It only allows tail docking, ear cropping and dew claw removal. All other procedures done to change the appearance of the dog are not allowed under AKC rules.

There are those who have written to me and asked me, “Well what about products that people use on their dogs at shows to make their coats look more full and lush? Isn’t that changing the dog’s appearance? Yes, I guess you could say that it is. In my opinion, ENHANCING what the dog ALREADY HAS is totally different than CHANGING what the dog DOESN’T HAVE. Making something look better that the dog ALREADY HAS is one thing. ADDING something to the dog that he DOESN’T ALREADY HAVE is unethical in the dog show world. Unethical or not, it is done. It’s the nature of the beast. (No pun intended)!

So what does the breeding public do about these things? It’s been going on for years. Will breeders who stand up to these unethical practices make a difference in the dog show world? Well they certainly can by not breeding to these dogs and passing their genetic faults to the gene pool. Will it change the practice of some of those who think that they are “untouchable” and therefore, will continue to do as they please? Probably not! Getting proof that someone has used cosmetic surgery to change their dogs appearance would prove very difficult unless the dog in question were made to have x-rays. Dye jobs are much easier to prove. This is something that you can see perhaps from one show to the next. There are those who are mad as hell with those who dye their dogs and are standing up and speaking up against this practice.

We all want to own the pretty dog, the one who makes heads turn. There’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying than to hear the thunderous applause from your fellow exhibitors when your dog is out in the ring looking magnificent. But it’s when one wants to win so badly, no matter what and resorts to all sorts of “trickery” to achieve it, that it no longer can be considered a sport.

Cosmetic surgery is very expensive running thousands of dollars for the owner. It also is very risky for the dog that may have complications during surgery or after and sometimes losing his life.

My rating: cosmetic surgery for vanity purposes: (1), dying dogs: (1)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


We have all had or have now what we call our “heart dog.” You know the one that I’m talking about. He’s the one that means the most to you. He’s the one who goes everywhere with you. He sleeps in your bed. He’s the one for some reason that you spoil the most. There’s just something so special about this dog. It’s called chemistry between the owner and the dog. Unfortunately our canine companions don’t live very long and if it’s a German Shepherd that could mean anywhere between 9 – 14 years. To many people, these “heart dogs” are like their children and are a huge part of their family unit. So what happens when this “heart dog” leaves us to go to the rainbow bridge?

We all mourn the loss of our beloved dogs, but when it’s a heart dog; the loss can go deeper and last a very long time. Some people actually grow sick over it. Buying or breeding a replacement for this dog is out of the question because no matter how you try, the new dog will be just that…..a replacement, but will never be the exact dog that you just lost. In order to get a “duplicate” of the heart dog, some people have turned to the idea of cloning their dog. Recently a couple cloned their Golden Labrador and paid a hefty price of $155,000 to do it! They said it was well worth it to be reunited with a clone of their beloved dog. It didn’t hurt that they were very wealthy people and the exuberant price tag didn’t put them in the poor house!

Canines are a very hard species of mammals to clone because of their reproduction cycle that includes difficult to predict ovulation. Previous cloning methods didn’t have as much success rate. Many times the embryos will be implanted into as much as five surrogates. In one case this only produced two puppies from one of the mothers.

Common sense would dictate to us that no matter how much the DNA were the same with your new cloned puppy, his personality will be different from the “heart dog.” I’m afraid when you are dealing with peoples emotions, common sense sometimes will take a back seat. So in reality you will have a dog that may look just like Spike but this is not Spike. What made Spike so different from the rest was his personality. This is what made him shine. It was this dog’s uniqueness that was the essence of this dog’s character. This isn’t something that can be cloned. A dog’s personality is formed by his environment along with his genetics. So we know the cloned dog already will have a certain percentage for a genetic predisposition for Spikes temperament, but what happens to him in his life and in his environment will account for the other percent. Another thing people should consider is that Spike carries all his ancestor’s temperament traits in his DNA. Perhaps, this time his great grandfather’s disposition might come through instead. A risky way to spend your life savings!

Many a pet owner who has a heart dog has already had the dog neutered so breeding him to keep one of his pups is out of the question. They can go back to the breeder, but the exact carbon copy of Spike will not be attainable. Even when a dog is cloned, you might not get the exact copy. Oh he’ll look almost identical, but his pigment shade could be a little off or he might not have the few white strands of hair on his chest that Spike had.

Besides one’s moral beliefs, there are those who also consider the welfare of the lab animals that are used for this experiment. Not much is known about these dogs and the care and treatment that they receive. Many of these procedures are done in Korea. One wonders about the inhumane confinement, invasive artificial insemination techniques, C-sections, birth defects and high mortality rates. Many times the labs use up to 8 dogs for one clone. Four will supply the ova, and four will act as surrogates. For every four embryo transfers that they do, they get a clone.

The future looks bright. In about three years or so, if you can’t afford the now “over the top” price of $155,000 to clone your dog, don’t fret. The price should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000! Not bad. If you wait, you could save yourself over $100,000! Maybe if you’ve waited that long, you would have mourned the loss of Spike and moved on and bought yourself another $800 puppy!

What about you.......if you could afford it, would you clone a much missed and beloved dog? I know a few of my own that I would love to have with me again.

My ratings: my feelings about cloning: (1), success rate: (3), expense: (1), satisfaction for those who have a clone: (4)

Monday, September 21, 2009


When I was growing up one of my favorite television shows was Lassie (the collie dog). Every week it came on and every week, I’d be sitting right in front of the teeny tiny television listening for her familiar bark and that cry that she did that always pulled at my heart strings. And forget about it when Disney would run their “tear inducing” movie Old Yeller”, I didn’t want to go to school for days. I was so depressed. Speaking of heart tugging movies (this one had a German Shepherd in it); I still get a lump in my throat when I think about the Charlton Heston movie, “Call of the wild.” I’m sad for the rest of the day!

The movie industry gave rise to the fame of the German Shepherd dog back as far as the early 1920’s. The most famous, well known German Shepherd “movie stars” was Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart. Some of their movies date all the way back to the early 1920’s. Both Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart are dogs in the Hollywood Hall of Fame. Strongheart was the star of five silent movies from 1921 – 1927. He was a very big boy weighing anywhere from 115 – 125 lbs., but could jump six feet off of the ground. During this time, he became the biggest grossing star in Hollywood. Rin Tin Tin became so famous that he received over 10,000 fan letters a week!

When researching for this article, I was shocked to see all the dog related movies. Many of them, I never heard of. Even more surprising was the number of movies that had a German Shepherd or something similar that looked like him as one of the co-stars of the film. I had planned on listing all of the movies that had German Shepherds in them, but after typing over 35 movies, I stopped to count how many were left. There were over 286 movies that showcased the German Shepherd! Because of space and time, I’m including the link if you want to look up the movies yourself.

Many of these movies were made in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and show the love affair Hollywood had with the German Shepherd dog. Because many of these movies were made during times of war, people were looking for a hero and this breed fit that description very well. Hollywood used these dogs to appeal to the public’s mood at the time. A popularity explosion followed. People would see them in the movies rescuing a wounded soldier or read about them in the paper saving someone from a burning building. Hollywood certainly did its share to promote this devoted heroic dogs attributes.

I think the German Shepherd must have been used in so many movies because of the breeds high intelligence and how easy they are to train. People would go to the movies and see this breed in one movie after another. His popularity was on the rise. In 1920, there were 2, 135 registered German Shepherds in the country. Six years after Rin Tin Tine was introduced to the public, the registration for the breed was 21,596!

Sometimes trainers will get a dog from a shelter or go to a breeder when they are looking for that special puppy for a film. Sometimes they will even buy several puppies from a litter and use him for different scenes in the movie. So you may not be watching the same dog throughout the movie. I guess it’s similar to when they use doubles for people in the movies.

Some famous people who share their lives with a German Shepherd are: Shania Twain whose dog travels with her and has his own doggy door on her tour bus. Chuck Norris owned a white German Shepherd. Roy Rogers owned “Bullet.” Jack Lalanne owned a white Shepherd who he used to bring on his exercise shows back in the 50’s. Franklin D. Roosevelt had a German Shepherd when he moved into the White House. Rudolph Valentino the famous silent film star owned a German Shepherd.

I guess you could say that in some part, we have Hollywood to thank for the German Shepherds popularity after shining a light on this dog’s most wonderful attributes and contributions to the public. But like anything else that rises to fame too quickly, there are those who will rush to get the “popular thing of the moment” because they want a piece of the action. This is where the breed began to see indiscriminate breeding practices by those who were looking to make a quick buck! This gave rise to the “back yard” breeder and those who were looking to get rich quickly and the breed began to suffer with undesirable temperament and health problems. No good can ever come of anything that becomes so popular too quickly. There will always be those who look to make it quicker and cheaper. A quicker and cheaper bred German Shepherd can ruin the gene pool for years to come. The public notices and the reputation and decline of a breed suffer. The breed has always been in the top ten of popularity of all breeds. We can only hope and do our parts as conscientious breeders to produce the type of temperaments and health that this noble breed deserves…….as well as the public deserves!

My rating: Hollywood’s favorable promotion of the breed: (4), public's perception of the breed: (4), backyard breeders: (1)

Friday, September 18, 2009


I remember we had the late great LaMar Kuhns (German Shepherd Dog handler extraordinaire) over for supper at our house one time. He was going to be giving a speech at our club, The GSDC of Greater New Haven. Anyone who knew LaMar could expect anything and everything out of this colorful man’s mouth. He was quick with a comeback and had an answer for everything concerning the breed. He knew what it took to win which was evident in his show record.

So we’re sitting at the dinner table with LaMar and we’re talking about which dogs were winning at the time. All of a sudden, he comes out with “Give me the spook any day, because you know they’re going to be moving around the ring.” Was he promoting the spooky dog? No, but just stating a fact that some dogs can be too sound and find the show ring a boring place to be. Years ago, temperament wasn’t pushed as much as it in the show rings today. It would be harder to get the “spook” past the discerning eye of today's judges. Oh, some of the very well trained ones still get through, but today’s judges are more on the look out for disagreeable temperaments.

I have a friend who owns a champion group winning dog and she and I were talking about this very subject the other day. After a couple of days of showing, her dog becomes bored with it and is not enthusiastic about running around in circles anymore. Her dog has a marvelous temperament, but showing has never been high on his list of fun things to do.

I believe we can train dogs to be show dogs, but I don’t believe we can train all of them to be ‘exciting’ show dogs. There are show dogs and then there are “special” show dogs. What makes them special is their will to win. They have that “look at me, aren’t I special” kind of attitude. They ask for the win, and unless they ask for the win, they won’t be garnering any Select or Best in Show accomplishments. This is what makes them stand out from the rest. The other dog might even be the better dog, but unless he makes the judge take another look, he’ll get run over by the one who is asking for it.

Is this “will to win” type of personality born or made? I believe that they are born. In every litter, there are a few who stand out above all the rest in personality. These are the rascals in the litter. They’re lively and spunky and are usually the ones who are getting into trouble. They’re mischievous and full of life wanting to know about the world around them. They’re inquisitive and usually very smart. They have a will to please their master. Many times they are the alpha of the litter and are jealous and possessive for the owner’s affection. They are the ones that if they could talk would be saying, “Look at me, look at me.” They have that, “Well (ain’t) I somethin’ written all over them!”

Once you know that this is the one, the wise breeder starts teaching the puppy how to “double handle” by playing hide and seek with him. He teaches the puppy to seek him out; to look for him. He rewards him with treats and lots of love and affection and affirmations about how wonderful he is. This is the type of puppy that eats this stuff up. His main purpose in life is to please you.

To be a winner, the dog should be sound in temperament, but also have a lively happy kind of personality. I’ve pulled dogs from continuing their show career because they weren’t fond of the show ring. Two come to my mind. One was a drop dead gorgeous looking dog that would always attract the judges and crowds eye as soon as he stepped into the ring. Jimmy was showing him and told me he’d have no problem finishing him. Only thing is my dog had other ideas. A couple of times around the ring, and then he would no longer put out and instead of pulling out on the lead, decided running next to his handler was all he was going to do. Gorgeous dog…..awful show dog! Then I had a bitch that would rather run up to the judge, tail never stopped wagging as she greeted everyone, but a couple of times around the ring and she too stayed along side the handler rather than pull out in front of her. Both lovely animals but it wasn’t worth the aggravation for me to show them. Both good temperaments, but they would rather be home lying in front of the fireplace.

My rating: the dogs with the attitude: (4), sound dog, but no attitude: (2)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I think like most of you my least favorite thing when taking care of my dogs is the “yucky” chore of cleaning and disinfecting the dog runs. I love it when it’s done and everything is nice and clean once again, but it doesn’t stay that way too long. So what’s some of the best disinfectants on the market for this unavoidable task?

I started out writing this article about some of the best products on the market to use when cleaning and disinfecting your kennels and equipment. I was writing about some of the products that I’ve used and liked. For years I’ve used and still use bleach for disinfecting my dog’s run. It’s cheap and it works. It claims to be 99.9% effective against bacteria. The only thing is it doesn’t leave a nice smell like some of the other products do. Then I went on to say one of my favorite scented disinfectants is Nolvasan S which is a bactericide and virucide. I loved it because it’s highly concentrated so you don’t need to use a lot of it. Plus I loved the smell of it. Like all of my articles, what I don’t already know, the rest I will do research on before reporting about it. So it is with this article as well. Imagine my surprise then to read an article about the dangers of disinfecting the kennels too much. So that is what I am choosing to write about today – the dangers of using these products rather than recommending any of them.

Most of us routinely clean and disinfect our kennels, and dog equipment. It’s what we do if we want a clean environment for our animals. According to this article that I read written by a holistic veterinarian, it is unnecessary and potentially harmful to our dogs. The author is not advocating that we keep the premises dirty, but that we shouldn’t be disinfecting them too much.

He further states that non-porous surfaces cannot be disinfected like for instance, your animals toys. He says that scientific studies prove that cleaning with soap and water will remove 95% of bacteria, viruses and fungi. When adding a disinfectant, it only removes an additional 2 – 3 %. He continues by saying that it is impossible to sterilize your dog’s environment unless you were to clean it several times a day. Second, (and I quote) “the bacteria in your dog’s environment have mostly been seen by your dog already. They came from your dog's feet and mouth, the food he is eating, and from your hands. Your dog is already resistant to infection from these bacteria and viruses. The few new germs that he is exposed to will, in almost all cases, be a healthy stimulant to his immune system, providing immunity for future germs.” (End quote).

If you read the label of a product that is a disinfectant, you will see that it has a precaution on it saying that these products are poisons if taken internally. If you are cleaning the runs, the bowls, his crates, etc. with these products, the dog is walking on the surface with his feet, licking the bowl, and lying in his crate, he is ingesting small amounts of the disinfectant or breathing it all the time. Over time this can lead to serious health risks and diseases. At the same time, it is not good for us to breathe in the toxins or have contact with our skin.

According to this report, recent studies are showing that if we continue to use these disinfectants that we will be creating a “super bacteria” that will be more deadly just like the overuse of antibiotics which has created bacteria that is resistant to all other antibiotics. Disinfectants are known carcinogens and are toxic to various organs in the body.

Again according to this author, the American Medical Association recently came out with a recommendation against the routine use of disinfectant soaps. I know that I’ve read several articles over the last year saying that antibacterial soaps are not as effective as they once thought.

So what is one to do? Is plain old soap and water good enough? Do we introduce more problems when we try to do the right thing by using disinfectants? What do you think is the right thing to do? What are you using to clean your dog’s kennels and equipment?

Disinfectants can run you $5 right up to $125 depending upon the size of the product.

My rating: (before reading this article): bleach & Nolvasan S got a (4). Now I’m not too sure anymore!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


After reading many different e-mails yesterday on some of the German Shepherd lists that I belong to, much of the discussion was about the dreaded killer of some dogs known as bloat (gastric dilation). I sat back and read the letters and input from many different breeders who have been in the breed for a long time. Early on in my association with this breed, one of my beloved dogs was struck down by this “show no mercy” life robber. So I thought I would write something for those who might be reading this blog and who don’t belong to any e-mail lists but love the breed and want to know as much as they can. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. Everything you read here are only my opinions…..what I’ve experienced and what others who told me what they experienced plus some research I’ve done on the subject.

Every breed of dog will have a predisposition for certain health conditions. In the German Shepherd Dog, his gastro intestinal health can become compromised. One would think that the German Shepherd Dog who is bred to be a herding dog, a tracking dog, a therapy dog, a leader of the blind, a war hero, a bomb detecting dog, and a dog who works side by side with the police force must have a strong and healthy body. You would think! Although he is a strong, muscular physical representative of the dog world, he houses a sometimes fragile intestinal tract. So although we do everything to ensure that the dog is healthy….he has a beautiful shiny coat, his weight is proper, his eyes are clear…..yup he’s looking good. But what about what’s going on inside of the dog? Are his insides looking good? In my opinion, one of the most important things that we can do is to take care of his gut. A healthy gut equals a healthy dog.

So just what is a healthy gut? I believe it is one that is fed a healthy diet. Now let me say this right from the start. Dogs that have bloated have done so on commercial dog foods as well as raw diet fed foods. I believe the “environment” of the gut is of the utmost importance when he receives the food of your choice. Once again (my opinion) the dog should be on a supplement or a food that has a significant amount of enzymes and probitiotics. This will help the bad bacteria to be replaced with the good bacteria. I think the build up of bad bacteria in the gut can be a contributing factor in this dreaded disease as well as the horrific toxic gut problem. Now some people might say, “Yeah, my dog was fed these ingredients and he still bloated. I along with some other breeders believe that there are also other contributing factors along with a compromised gut that can spell disaster.

Because no one has come up with a DEFINITE reason why some of our dogs bloat, we are all left to guess. Barbara Williams a long time breeder and researcher in the health and genetics of our dogs have worked feverishly in the study of bloat. Linda Arndt who is a long time breeder of Great Danes has excellent articles about bloat and what she considers may be contributing factors. She too believes in proper nutrition or lack of that might be a contributing factor in bloat. Yet, no one has come up with the WHY or the HOW to prevent it. So we are left to draw our own conclusions and try to do the best that we can.

What are some of the things that a dog who is starting to bloat may experience? The dog may act very agitated, showing high anxiety, pacing back and forth, heavy panting, dry heaves, gagging, whining, restlessness, stomach swelling, and excessive heartbeat. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, quickly responding to them can save your dogs life. Call your vet immediately, and if you have any gas-x in the house, give it to him and get him to the doctors office right away. There are companies that sell bloat kits. Look them up on the internet and invest in one to have in case of this emergency. It could buy you a little time.

There are many theories as to what causes this disease and many who believe it is a combination of factors. I too believe it is a combination of factors that when brought together can spell disaster! Some of those contributing factors MIGHT be, but not proven to be:

Genetics, stress (dog shows, breeding, change of environment, psychological stress), physical structure of the dog, etc. Let’s take a look at some of these a little bit closer. Much discussion surrounds the genetics of the breed. Some think if you look at a dog’s pedigree you might see a predisposition for this disease if the dog has some who have died from bloat in his back ground. The dog that I lost to bloat was sired by a dog that died of bloat. Many of his half siblings also died from bloat. Genetics or the luck of the draw? Stress – dog shows, boarding, psychological stress, etc. I believe (and I don’t care how sound in temperament a dog may be), that being away from his owner at a dog show, or if he’s boarded or the handler takes him home with him, the dog is under stress. Sure he might like the handler, or the people who board or watch him, but they are not his owner. He may even appear calm and relaxed. How about what’s going on inside of him? Do we know that he really is calm and relaxed? It’s a different environment. There’s different dogs he’s surrounded by. He might enjoy and get excited running and playing back and forth in the run. But it’s still not home. I can think of three instances where a dog bloated at a dog show, at a boarding kennel and another when being left for someone else to take care of while the owner went away. We live with a VERY SENSITIVE breed; a breed that needs and wants to be with their owner all the time. As I wrote in an earlier article, I would classify the German Shepherd as a co-dependent dog! Then there’s the physical structure of the dog. It was thought for many years that the deep bodied narrow chest type of dog was the one that we had to be concerned about. Now that theory has changed somewhat as other types of body structures have bloated as well.
This all leads me back to the environment of the gut.

Then there are also some pre-existing health problems a dog may already have. Some of those may be things like SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency). Both of these diseases can cause an excessive amount of gas in the dog. As I’ve reported in another article, I have a bitch that has SIBO and it is a constant concern for me about the welfare and proper care I give to this dog. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to keep this condition under control by the supplement that I feed her twice a day which is enriched with probiotics and enzymes (Vibrant Pets).

Other factors that are not proven but thought to be a contributor to this disease are: excessive water drinking, especially those dogs who gulp their water and therefore get a lot of air in their systems, rapid eating of their food, eating gas producing food, eating one large meal, elevated feeding rather than divided it into two feedings a day, exercising right before or after eating, large dogs, nervous or excitable dogs, etc.

Some breeders have chosen to have their dogs stomach tacked down. However, this hasn’t been proven to help this condition, because there are those dogs that have still bloated after having this expensive surgery done.

If we humans can suffer gastro-intestinal problems from eating gas inducing foods, then so can our dogs. The pharmaceutical companies make millions of dollars off of products made to treat GERD, indigestion and stomach upsets.

The jury is out on what causes this disease and until a verdict is handed down, we are left to try to do everything we can to insure the health of this breeds intestinal tract. I’m sure there are those who can refute some of these theories, who feed the cheapest food, don’t add supplements, keep water available at all times, let the dogs run all they want, etc., etc., etc. Lucky…..or is it just a matter of time? No one can guarantee that if you avoid pedigrees that carry bloat, if you feed foods or add supplements that contain probiotics and enzymes, keep your dog quiet before and after he eats, etc., that he won’t bloat. If the researchers and the medical community don’t have the answers as to the cause and prevention of this disease, then all we as breeders can do is the best we can when taking care of our dogs. What we do know is that bloat is right next to cancer as being one of the biggest reasons ours and other breeds loose their lives. I experienced loosing a much beloved dog to this disease and I never want any other of my dogs to have to suffer like he did.

Expenses associated with a dog bloating: Hundreds of dollars to over a thousand or more if you tack the dog’s stomach and his follow up care.

My rating: stomach tacking: (2) – because of the risks involved with surgery, research devoted to this disease: (3), bloat kits: (3), probiotics and enzyme enhanced food or supplements: (3)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Probably one of the most important relationships when you own a dog is the one you establish with your veterinarian. This is the person who becomes responsible for the health and welfare of your dog. When faced with life or death situations, he is the one you will turn to; sometimes looking for an impossible miracle. Therefore, choosing the right veterinarian is of the utmost importance.

Like doctors, there are good veterinarians and bad ones who you may question how they ever got their license to practice animal medicine. We’ve probably all had both at one time or another. When looking at a veterinarian’s credentials, not only are we concerned where he got his education from but more importantly how much he truly cares and loves what he does. Ideally, we like someone who has a good “bedside” manner when dealing with our animals. After all, our dogs aren’t stupid, they don’t like going to the vet anymore than we like going to the doctor. So having a vet who has a gentle reassuring way with the animal he tends to not only puts our animals at ease, but it makes us feel a little more comfortable as well.

A good veterinarian not only gives our dogs their inoculations and worming medicines, but he also does blood work, x-rays, tests, surgeries, emergencies, etc. He should be available to talk with you about anything that you need advice on whether its medical care questions or the diet and supplements you feed your dog. He’s also there to help ease the pain of having to put your dog to sleep.

Some veterinarians have developed such a good rapport with their clients, that it is not unheard of that they will make the occasional house call. I used to have a vet come to my house to exam my puppies and give them their first shots. Also some veterinarians will come out to a larger kennel to do the same thing and sometimes they will be called upon to put a beloved dog to sleep at the owner’s house. There are some really excellent vets that if you have a medical emergency that they will even give you their home number to call. These are the types of vets who when called in the middle of the night come back and open up the office to see your animal. I had an excellent vet do this for one of my champion bitches who was notorious for having uterine inertia with each and every litter she had. He would come out in the middle of the night and we together would finish the medical care my girl needed. He was a once in a life time vet and I miss him terribly. He’s still practicing and still at the same location, only I don’t live by him anymore. He’s been hard to replace.

Finding a vet that will work with a breeder is another challenge. Some generous and good veterinarians will give a breeder a discount when he takes care of a litter by giving them their shots. Then there are some who will give you a break on expensive medications. Not all of them will do this, however. I know, I asked my vet and she said that she doesn’t do that. It never hurts to ask.

Another problem that some breeders run into is that SOME veterinarians don’t particularly like breeders. I know this to be true having experienced it first hand a few years ago. Imagine my delight when a new veterinarian’s office opened up in my town only five minutes away from me. The vet that owned this hospital I had seen before at another office so I was a little familiar with her. She has a very nice way with the animals and they seem to like her. However, breeders are at the bottom of her list as her favorite clients. I told her that the bitch that I brought her to examine I had planned on breeding. Her smile that she greeted us with quickly turned to a frown. She let me know that she was one of the veterinarians who took care of and did the operations on the shelter dogs. She did not believe anymore puppies needed to be born with the over population of unwanted dogs in the shelters. She further told me, if I chose to breed my bitch and she needed medical help with whelping her puppies that she would not be available to help her. Imagine my shock and surprise at this information. Needless to say, that ended my visits to this most convenient vet office.

Sometimes a vet is not particularly fond of breeders who come into his office with an attitude of “I know more about dogs than you do.” This is where a conflict can begin. He has many years of education and experience and the breeder may have just as many years of breeding dogs. The breeder will many times know as much or more about a certain thing when it comes to breeding dogs. Most veterinarians are not breeders, just like most breeders are not veterinarians. They are both experts in their field and unless they are willing to acknowledge the fact that they both know something about dogs, then a happy working relationship may not be possible. The breeder may find himself in search of another vet.

Another very important consideration when choosing a vet with the welfare and care of your animals is the staff at his office. Are they friendly and knowledgeable? Are they gentle and warm with your dog? How do they treat them when you walk out and close the door behind you? This is VERY IMPORTANT. I’ve heard of some pretty bad stories about some of the staff at some offices and even experienced it first hand. One time I was cat sitting for a friend of mine. The cat became sick and I called the phone number of the vet that my friend had left with me. The cat had to remain at the hospital. I never will forget how one of the young men who worked as an assistant took this cat and slammed it on the table. Yes, he slammed it on the table. I was appalled at this horrific treatment to a sick animal. When my friend returned from vacation, this veterinarian was read the riot act for having this uncaring young man work in his office. She never returned so I don’t know what became of this person if he was fired or not. Of course this is not the normal thing that happens in most offices, but occasionally it does happen because this is not the first time I’ve heard of something like this. I have a friend who is married to a vet. Another friend works for one.

Medical expenses to take care of your dog can be very high. Many breeders opt to give their dogs their shots themselves and medicines that they’ve bought elsewhere. However, there is not substitution for a good vet’s knowledge when it comes to diagnosing a medical problem and the proper care that is needed to help your dog on his road to recovery. Sometimes for things like x-rays, a breeder can find a great difference in price from one vet office to the next. When I had one of my girls x-rayed for the OFA on her hips and elbows, my vet was the most expensive of the several vets that where in my area. Another breeder recommended me to her vet who was a longer drive for me, but it saved me over $100!

Nowadays there are veterinarians who are specialists in a certain field. Some specialize in reproduction, dentistry, farm animal care, etc. Seek these out when you have a particular need arise especially reproduction specialists. There’s no substitution for their knowledge when you have particular breeding problems. They will do special testing on a bitch before you breed her or when frozen semen is shipped to impregnate the bitch.

It is important that your veterinarian keeps up to date on the latest medical procedures and health care that is available. You are paying for his knowledge so having a vet who continually educates himself with the newest techniques helps ensure that your animal is getting the best of care.

The best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask around and get recommendations from other people who use him. When you first visit with him, ask him the questions that are most important to you. Find out what his procedure is if you have an emergency. Definitely ask about his prices. Ask if he gives discounts to breeders. Ask him if your dog has a condition where he needs to stay overnight, will someone be checking in on your dog throughout the night or does he stay there all night without medical supervision?

Finding a good veterinarian is a “God send” to all pet owners. Take the time to find the best one that you can. Some day you dog’s life may depend on him.

My rating: vets education: (4), good with animals: (3), knowledgeable: (4), staff: (3)

Monday, September 14, 2009


Every pure bred dog that is recognized by the American Kennel Club has a breed standard for what constitutes an ideal temperament. The German Shepherd temperament as described by the German Shepherd Dog club of America is no exception. It describes the ideal temperament as (and I quote): “The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them.” Of the thousands upon thousands of puppies born every year, not all will have the “ideal” German Shepherd temperament.

There are many different types of temperament a puppy can have. Most of a dog’s personality and temperament traits will be hereditary. Others will be environmental. Still others can be a combination of both. As anyone who has been breeding dogs for a number of years can tell you, we all have dealt with most of these different types of temperament throughout the years. We already know what the ideal temperament for our breed is. Let’s take a look at some of those with less than “ideal” temperaments.

The “I love everybody” type of temperament. (Some people call this the Golden Retriever personality). This is the type of dog that is friendly to everyone he meets. Life is fun. Life is good and they want to let everyone they meet know about it. They greet everyone and look for them to give them affection and attention. It’s what they live for. These types of dogs are true “people” dogs. They are wonderful to have around when you are selling their offspring. Your puppy market people will eat this type of dog right up.

The “fear biter.” This type of temperament is totally opposite from the “I love everybody” temperament. This is a dog that is fearful of everything, but especially of people. He is the type of dog that a stranger could never pet or even get close to. He’s not necessarily aggressive. He wants nothing to do with outsiders because they fracture his already fractured dysfunctional little world. Get too close to this type of dog where he can’t get away from you and out of fear, he will bite. This type of dog should never be bred or sold into a pet home. Many breeders will choose to put this type of dog to sleep. He is disaster waiting to happen.

The “sharp” dog. This type of temperament would be considered an aggressive temperament. Unlike the fear biter that would be happy to get away from you, the sharp dog is one who will try to attack you. This too is a dog that you could never trust. A person wouldn’t have to even be considered a threat to this dog. This dog is just plain old nasty. Again, this is not the type of dog who should be bred or sold into a pet home.

The soft “timid” dog. This type of dog is also afraid of people AND just about anything else that might “rock his world.” He is timid and will back away from people, cowering; tail tucked, head down, body shaking, but is not a fear biter. He is not the type that bites, rather he is the type that submits and will roll over like you are about to kill him. Noise bothers this type of dog. Things falling off shelves, doors slamming, thunder, and fire crackers; all of these types of things disturb these dogs’ overly sensitive nervous systems. Again, this is not the type of dog that should be bred.

Although all of these above temperaments are far from the ideal, some of them can be worked with and lead fulfilling lives with their people. Some of them will be put to sleep by dedicated breeders that know that no good can come from having less than ideal temperaments. The choice is a personal one.

It is the responsibility of the breeders to incorporate the best temperaments in their breeding program. The majority of a litter will be going into pet homes with children. We owe the public the best of our breeding skills to produce dogs that are worthy of carrying the name “German Shepherd!”

The conscientious dedicated breeder will have bred two dogs of excellent temperaments to produce the best possible puppies. His next goal is to find the “ideal” home for his puppies. That in itself can prove challenging. A German Shepherds temperament can be compromised in a home where the owner totally ignores the puppy while she’s watching the latest episode of General Hospital and gobbling down bon bon’s all afternoon. These animals MUST be socialized. They MUST get used to other people. They MUST be introduced to new sights and sounds. There are many different ways to socialize a puppy. Go join a breed club. Look for a place that offers puppy classes for training and socializing. Take your puppy to a pet store that allows you to bring him in and shop with you. Take him to a park. Take him for a walk. Invite people over your house for coffee. There are a dozen different ways to introduce your puppy to the world. If you don’t, the world can be a very scary place for the youngster.

Make no mistake; the German Shepherd is one of the most intelligent of all breeds of dogs. It is because of their keen intelligence that they must be trained from an early age. The dog can never be given permission to be the leader in a household. It is not one that he relinquishes easily once he establishes himself on that throne. The owner MUST ALWAYS be and remain the alpha with this breed of dog. The dog will respect you for it.

If you can’t train the dog yourself, it is the wise owner who will have a professional dog trainer to do it for you. Watch this person’s training technique to make sure you like the way he trains. If he uses intimidation methods, this is not the type of trainer you want training your dog. You want the dog to like doing what he does by rewarding him for good behavior. A well trained dog is a happy dog and one that you will enjoy living with for years to come. Remember that the German Shepherd is the happiest when he is given a task to do. He can be a “rascal” to live with if he becomes bored. You owe it to him and yourself to bring out the best of this dog’s marvelous temperament and utilize his great intelligence and his will to please. You’ll be glad you did.

My rating: Love everybody type of temperament: (3), fear biter: (1), sharp: (1), timid: (1)

Friday, September 11, 2009


Probably the hardest part of being a pet owner is when our beloved animal’s life nears its end. When faced with the unavoidable many of us chose to take our dog to the veterinarian and have our pet’s life end as humanly as possible by having him put to sleep. Then there are others who chose to let their pet die naturally.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a dog die naturally unless it didn’t recover from a medical treatment or surgery. Ideally (if there is such a thing), I would prefer he died peacefully in his sleep. It’s when he doesn’t that many of us find ourselves in the unenviable position of deciding to have our veterinarian end his life as gently as possible.

Many years ago, I read an article about having this procedure done by your veterinarian. It scared the hell out of me. In this article it said, make no mistake about it, your animal doesn’t die a peaceful death. It said that he feels the pain in his heart until it puts him out of his misery. I don’t know how true this was, but hopefully we’ve come a long ways since then. It is my understanding that the veterinarian gives the animal a stronger dose of anesthesia and sometimes a second one until the animal succumbs and passes.

I know of three people who did not own German Shepherds and all three of them would not have their animals put to sleep. They believed in letting nature take its course and letting the animals die on their own. Two people owned a dog and the other a cat. All the animals lived very long lives. Two of them said to me, “God brought them here and he’ll take them when it’s their time.” I hesitantly voiced my unpopular opinion but ultimately I knew they would do what they thought best for the animals that they raised. One of these people grew up on a farm so was very familiar with animals and the ebb and flow of life. She saw animals born and die all the time, so she came from this mind set of letting nature have its own way. I on the other hand objected because her old cat refused to eat and literally starved himself to death. He lived like this for 2 – 3 weeks. Her cat now rests in her backyard with a headstone marking his grave. The one dog just went into seizures and then was taken to the vet where he died with his owner by his side. The other dog on the last day of his life let out a “death” howl and fell over and died.

Like many other pet owners when faced with this “life or death” decision, I would find myself day after day saying, “Not today. I’ll deal with this tomorrow. Just not today.” Then the day would come when “today” was the day. These are some of animal owner’s worst days. We are of the belief that we love our dogs so much that we don’t want them to have to suffer and we do the kindest thing that we can for them. It’s time to say goodbye! We have our veterinarians help take them to the other side. Then someone will say to me, “You’re not God. You shouldn’t be making that decision.” For a moment or two, I may feel a tinge of guilt and may even find myself beating myself up for it. But in the end, I feel that I’ve done the last best thing that I could for an animal that gave me so much and deserved to have his life end with dignity and as pain free as possible.

Owning an animal leaves you in a position of responsibility for the life and care of your pet. He has no voice. We are the guardians of his life and in many cases of his death. Deciding whether or not to end the animal’s life is a matter of personal choice. The choice is never easy, but many times we have no alternative. It is not our place to judge someones decision about whether or not he should end his pet’s life. I may not like what someone decides to do with their pet by letting it suffer and die on it’s own, but when I decide to have my beloved dog sent back to his maker, I do so knowing that I’ve weighed all of my decisions and that this is the one I do to show him one last time how much I love him. Does it mean that I love my dogs anymore than those who let their animals die on their own? No, it’s just my choice and it’s one that I have to live with.

Many pet owners will chose to have their dogs remains cremated and put in an urn. I did this with my first show dog. We took the urn and buried it in front of the dog runs so he would always be with us and the rest of the dogs that followed. Some people chose to bury the dog’s body in the backyard. Others buy a headstone and have it engraved. And then there are still others that bury their animals in a pet cemetery.

I’m not right and the other guy is wrong when it comes to deciding what to do when our animals last days draws to an end. Once again, it’s a personal decision. We both loved our pets and they lived as long as they did because of the loving care that we gave them. We both loved them……we just loved them differently.

Expenses covering the death of an animal: depending upon the vet (office visit, needle, urns, disposing of animal, etc.) over $100. Grave stones and a pet cemetery will run you hundreds of dollars.

My rating concerning taking an animal to the vet to humanly be put to sleep: (4), choices for remembering a pet – grave stones, urns, etc.: (4)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I appreciate all of those who read my blogs and e-mail me with suggestions for topics to write about. This article was suggested to me by a top winning kennel whose dogs you might see in the show ring most week ends. She wanted to know what people think about a long coated German Shepherd winning in the ring. As she said, it’s only a minor fault. I just looked at the German Shepherd Dog Club of America’s new and improved website under the breed standard. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought I once read that the long coated shepherd is considered a minor fault. Now I read that it classifies it as a fault in coat. Perhaps it’s just a difference in wording.

The above picture is of a dog that I bred MANY YEARS AGO with Marge Dolan of Dolmar German Shepherds. He was a coated puppy. However, his coat wasn’t very long at all on his body. Mainly the long hair was on his head around his ears. I showed him twice and both times he took Best Puppy under specialty judges. He was exceptionally well bred with a magnificent side gait, having both front and rear angulation. His bone was oval, his head masculine, tight feet and a temperament to die for. I mean he had no other faults beside the coat. Because I was relatively new in the breed, I decided instead of trimming his ears, I would sell him into a pet home. If I had to do it over again, I don’t think I would have made that same decision. He was a product of the best of the Doppelt Tay lines (#2 Select Gilda’s son Steel Curtain bred to the famous Reno/Rhyme bloodlines).

Many a time in a breeders litter, the long coated puppy is the best in conformation and temperament. I wonder why that is. The long coated puppy is generally very easy to sell into a pet home. Some coats are indeed, very long. Others like mine, might just have the tell tale sign of being a coat around the ears….sometimes between the toes as well.

For those readers not familiar with the coat of the German Shepherd Dog, the breed has a double coat which is medium in length. His undercoat insulates for warmth and protection from the elements. The long coat doesn’t offer him this same protection. It is a softer coat in texture and gets wet quicker than the double layered coat.

So what does a breeder do when faced with a long coated puppy of superior conformation and movement? Many breeders will keep this type of puppy for breeding purposes and breed her to a stud that doesn’t carry the long coat gene. Then there are some who will trim the dog and show them anyway. The long coat is not considered a disqualification.

In my opinion, there a many more things to worry about in the breed than a long coated German Shepherd. Temperament should be the first thing we look for in a good quality dog followed by a sound functional body. I know some people will think, let the long coated dogs win and next we’ll see the livers and blues winning. We over look one thing and then where does it end? This is why we have a standard to base our breeding program on.

Faults of gait are considered very serious faults, and yet I’ll see dogs that kick up in the rear, those who lift from the elbow, dogs who are sloppy going away and they’re winners; many of them are champions. Surely if the faulty gaits are judged and overlooked then a minor fault like a coat shouldn’t be eliminated. Ideally, we would like to see all winning dogs be faultless. It’s not going to happen. The perfect dog hasn’t been bred. Genetics being what it is hasn’t produced the perfect specimen yet. We as breeders can only hope to show the best of our litters and come as close to the standard as possible.

So what do you think? Would you keep and show a long coated dog who had everything else going for him or sell him into a pet home?

My rating on a long coated dog being shown and finished: Only is it’s superior to all the others in the ring: (4), use for breeding: (4)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Let’s face it, everybody loves to win, and it’s not always true as the old song would have you believe, “Everybody loves a winner!” No one goes to a dog show to loose. But what about that winner; how many people who entered and showed their dog is truly happy for the person’s dog who won? Now come on, let’s be honest here. You wanted that win just as much as the winner did.

You bred or bought the best dog you could. You’ve worked and trained him. Maybe you road worked him. You feed him the best food and supplements that you can afford. You bought and use the top shampoos and conditioners. You groom him to perfection insuring that the judge will look at him a second time. The judge points to his winner and it’s not your dog. John Doe just won another major on his dog. Are you feeling excited? Are you jumping for joy? I mean, are you really happy for John? Do you suck it up, bite your lip and extend your hand for congratulations? Or maybe you walk away in a “huff” cursing like an old sea captain not caring who sees or hears you.

What does it take to have good sportsmanship? What does it take to show goodwill towards your fellow exhibitor? I believe it comes from the person who intelligently knows that when he enters a show, there’s a big possibility that he may not win. Now some people who enter expect to win every time. As I said before, no one goes to a show expecting to loose. But common sense will tell you, that it can and will happen, more times than you’ll want to admit.

Showing good sportsmanship to another person by showing goodwill and extending congratulations means that you think the other person has won a fair, good hard contest knowing he was as worthy of the win as you. But what about when you don’t think his dog was as good as yours? That’s when your true character will come through. I quote: “A sportsman has been defined as a person who can take loss or defeat without complaint, or victory without gloating, and who treats his opponents with fairness, generosity, and courtesy.”

A good sport should be able to maintain control of his emotions whether or not he agrees with the outcome of an event. He recognizes that his opponents have devoted just as much time and money in the sport of showing dogs as he has. He realizes that some days he wins and other days he loses. He’s going to want people to recognize and congratulate him when he is triumphant in the show ring as well. He realizes his behavior on the show grounds are viewed by……spectators, judges, breeders, exhibitors, etc. He realizes that he loses nothing by showing goodwill and gains so much more by having and maintaining a good reputation.

One of the worst emotions we humans (and even the dogs that we love) have is that old “green eyed” monster known as jealousy. It can ruin and destroy many relationships in our lives. No where is it more pronounced than when you’re competing. Dog show people are highly competitive people. They love their dogs and think that they are just about the best thing walking on four feet. Challenge that thought and you might just see some of the most “bad to the bone” type of behavior.

I’ve had two friends who live on opposite coasts of the US tell me recently about their experiences in the show ring. Both had exhibited in their clubs shows so naturally many of the clubs members were there. Both of their dogs won. Both friends told me not one person from their club congratulated them. Both of these people are very nice sweet kinds of people so no one could say that they didn’t like them as individuals. Both have had success in the show ring, one having Select champions and the other one having group winning dogs. So what gives with that?

Nothing is more important for the newcomer to the sport of showing dogs is to feel welcomed and have goodwill extended to them. This tells them that we “dog people” are a friendly lot and we want them here. This is what makes a breed club grow and prosper. Tomorrows ambassadors of our breed are today’s newcomers. It’s up to us to nurture them and see to it that they protect and maintain the principals that our forefathers had a vision for this the most noble of dogs, the German Shepherd. If we drive them away with our indifference and lack of goodwill the thrill of showing dogs just may become a pastime of the past.

My rating on good sportsmanship and goodwill in our breed: good sportsmanship: (3), goodwill (3), welcoming the newcomer: (2)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Living with animals is a constant challenge when trying to keep your house clean. If you have dogs or cats or the combination of the two, dander and hair will be a reminder of why some people build a kennel to house their animals. But if you are like most animal lovers, your pets will spend a considerable amount of time in the house. When confronted with the constant shedding of the German Shepherd Dog, owning the best vacuum you can get your hands on is one of the wisest investments you’ll make.

When choosing a vacuum, there are some important things to look for. First you have to decide what price range you are looking to spend. This will eliminate some of your choices right away. Once you’ve established what you want to pay for it, then one of the first things you want to look for is the power of the machine. You need to look for the machine that has the strongest suction to pick up the dog’s hair. You’ll have to decide if you want an upright or a canister type of vacuum. Also check to see the weight of the vacuum. Some can be very heavy and cumbersome to use. It’s always good if you can go into a store to see a demonstration and feel the ease of using the vacuum.

Many vacuums come with a Hepa filter which is good for picking up the allergens. Also another consideration you need to make is do you want a vacuum with a bag or a bag less model? I have the one that I need to change the bag all the time. I wish now that I bought the bag less type.

Here are some of the models that I’ve found rated by consumers and Consumer reports: Kenmore Progressive #35922 – the tools and machine are excellent for picking up dog hair. This includes the Hepa filter. Kenmore Progressive #36932: similar to the above which is excellent for picking up dog hair and includes the Hepa filter. Eureka The Boss Pet smart Vacuum #4870RZ – excellent for picking up dog hair, lower cost alternative, Hepa filter. Dyson Animal – was rated extremely high by pet owners, but not by consumer reports which rated it at #9. Some pet owners complained about the weight of this machine and also they thought it was better on the rugs than the floor. It is a very expensive machine. Kenmore canister #2805 was rated #1 by consumer reports for a canister model. Top rated for picking up dog hair with tools for picking it up. This is another expensive model. Electrolux Oxygen #EL6988 – top rated, Hepa filter captures 99.97% airborne dust and allergens so it’s not thrown into the air. Miele dog and cat vacuum – this got mixed reviews; some people loved it and others gave it a low to medium rating. Hoover Wind tunnel seemed to be favored by some pet owners. Of the sweeper type vacuum, the favorite was the Dirt Devil brown vac #MBV2030 which offers a great price and is good for dog hair.

I bought a Eureka The Boss Pet smart Vacuum a few years ago after reading the positive reviews it received. I got a tremendous price break when buying it. I bought it on Amazon which was having a sale, plus I had a coupon for it, so I saved a great deal of money. My thoughts about it: on the positive, it has a strong suction and picks up the dog’s hair very well. It has a Hepa filter which is important to me because of my allergies. On the negative side: It’s a very heavy machine and cumbersome to use. I don’t like having to change the bag so much.

One very important thing to remember is no matter which vacuum you buy, and no matter how strong it is, ALWAYS clean the beater brush. This is what many pet owners forget to remember. No matter how good the vacuum is, this brush must always be kept clean of dog hair. The dog hair will always get wrapped around the brush and will prevent it from working properly. This is how some motors burn out. Cut the hair off with a scissors if you have to. Just get that dog hair off of the brush.

So there you have it. Depending upon the price you want to spend, there is a vacuum for all consumers who own a dog. Check around when Sears has a sale going on or look on Amazon for sales and coupons. Don’t pay full price if you can get a bargain.

Prices will vary depending on the model, and brand that you choose. You can get a sweeper type vacuum from $65 to the canisters running over $600!

My rating on my Boss vacuum that is one that is highly recommended by consumer rating: durability: (4), weight and ease of use: (2), gets the job done: (4)

Monday, September 7, 2009


Anyone who has owned a number of dogs over the years will have lived with one or two that seems to have chronic bad breath. Nothing is more “yucky” then when your dog comes to give you a big slobbery kiss and his breathe just about knocks you out! We shouldn’t be surprised. If we can have bad breathe, so can our dogs and they eat a lot more unsavory “tidbits” than you or I do. For some reason when it comes to the care of our dogs, many of us forget to take care of our dog’s teeth. How often do we check his mouth and look at his teeth?

I had a big hunky male one time that had a stinky mouth. When he sat down next to me, which was often because he thought he was meant to be a lap dog, the smell that assaulted my nostrils was far from pleasant. He was a gentle giant so opening his mouth and looking at his teeth was no problem. He would get a brown stain on the top of his teeth running along his gum line. Looking back at what he liked to chew, his favorite toy was his Kong toy. Those toys are not good chew toys because they really can’t chew down on them like they can a bone. He didn’t like Nylabones, so that wasn’t an option. He was ball obsessed. So I had to take him to the vet to have his teeth professionally cleaned. They would knock him out and he’d come home with his “pearly whites” and all would be fine for awhile. But the stinky mouth returned and we would have to take him in to the vet periodically to have his teeth cleaned.

So what do you do to insure that your dog has good oral health? It’s very important to check your dogs’ mouth and teeth to make sure they are healthy. Red, swollen gums and tarter build up can produce gingivitis and disease. What can happen if your dogs’ teeth are not taken care of? The tarter build up can push the gums away from the teeth. This can allow food particles to get trapped and the tooth can become loosened and fall out. If tarter is not removed from the teeth, infection can occur. If not treated the infection can get in to the blood stream leading to disease of the kidneys and infection of the heart valves.

Sometimes the dog will have mouth problems not due to tarter build up. If you have a dog who loves to chew on sticks and stones and whatever else he can wrap his jaws around, it is the wise owner who checks on this type of dogs mouth more than usual. It is not unheard of that a dog will get a piece of the stick caught in between his teeth and infection begins.

There are a few different ways to help insure that your dog has good canine health. Training him at a young age to have his teeth brushed is wise, but let’s face it; it can be difficult with a squirming youngster. But like everything else, it all comes down to training the dog. Giving your dog bones to chew on helps with tarter build up. Also, like I had to do with my dog, taking him to your vet to have a professional cleaning will insure that he is getting the most thorough cleaning and inspection of his mouth. The drawback with this is that he’ll need to be put under anesthesia. Also it's very expensive. Then, there is the dog that is fed a raw diet. Many people believe that a dog fed this kind of diet has the healthiest teeth and gums because a raw diet consists many times of bones.

If you decide on your vet cleaning your dogs’ teeth and mouth, it will normally consist of four steps: scaling – removes the tarter above and below the gum line, polishing – smooths the surface to help prevent plague formation, flushing – removes dislodged tarter and the bacteria that accompanies it and fluoride for teeth sensitivity, strengths the enamel and future plague formation.

There are many stores and websites that carry canine toothbrushes, paste, gel, etc. to use for your dog. Check with your veterinarian what he suggests you use for your animal. Preventative care is the smartest thing we can do when taking care of our dogs and also the least expensive. It’s the problems that can arise when preventative care isn’t part of our dogs’ regular check up.

Expenses surrounding our dog’s teeth and mouth can be relatively inexpensive when purchasing the brushes, paste and gels. It’s when your dog runs into trouble and his teeth haven’t been checked and infection sets in. Then you can be looking at thousands of dollars in medical bills.

In doing research for this article, I’ve learned that there are dog vet dentists who specialize in the oral care and surgery of the dog’s mouth. Let’s hope that we never have to call upon their services.

My rating: importance of oral health care: (4) preventative treatments: bones (3) brushing(4) vet cleaning (4) raw diet (4)