Tibetan Mastiff?: a combination of strength and endurance

Dignified, loyal and bear-like, a Tibetan Mastiff is a dog who is smart and energetic, ready to protect you with all his might. ATibetan Mastiff is a noble and impressive dog with a solemn but kindly appearance. Their look is alert and watchful. Their gait is powerful, steady and balanced, yet at the same time light-footed. It is indeed a pleasure to the eyes to watch a Tibetan Mastiff pass-by. A Tibetan Mastiff is a very intelligent breed and are capable of doing simple things like undoing latch, undoing locks, getting things out and putting them back, etc.

“I have a beautiful female Tibetan Mastiff who has amazing capabilities. She sneaks into the kitchen and if no one is around, she even opens the fridge and drinks/eats whatever is inside it. But she makes sure that no one is watching her in her act,” proudly tells Himmat Singh Sekhon of Saras Tibetan Mastiffs, a well-known breeder in Punjab.

Susie Ochsenbein, ABR, Rose & Womble of USA admires the strength and power of a Tibetan Mastiff while Sekhon feels that a Tibetan Mastiff is one of the most adaptable and hardy breed as they can tolerate extreme temperatures of heat as well as cold.

General appearance

They are large, powerful, heavy built with big outstanding head and heavy bones. Their body is slightly longer than tall. They have a long coarse coat. What sets them apart is their large, strong, well-muscled body with a large outstanding head and powerful muzzle. Their bear-like head is wedge-shaped and they have very expressive, medium-sized brown eyes which are deep set, well-apart and almond shaped. The nose is large and generally black. The v-shaped, thick-leathered ears hang down. The hair on the head is short. Their well-feathered tail curls over the back.

They are found in varied colours like black (with or without tan), grey (with or without tan) and golden & sable (a gold variation which basically means having golden tips). The average height for females is 24” while that for males is 26”. According to Susie, there are no weight standards for them. “A male that might weigh 50 kg at 1 year might weigh 60 at 6 years,” she added. They have a life span of 12 –15 years.

But they are slower to mature, both physically and emotionally. Most common breeds physically mature by 1.5-2 years of age but Tibetan Mastiff females mature after 3-4 years and male matures after 5-6 years to form adult characteristics.

Temperament

They are aloof and one of the most independent natured breed. “They are too intelligent to accept orders but if the Tibetan Mastiff wants to do something, he does it at his own free will,” tells Sekhon. They are very good with family and children, if they are properly introduced from puppyhood. They are strong-willed and determined, but with a desire to please. It needs a lot of patience to keep this breed. They don’t go for walks or play with toys. They love to become family members, especially your bodyguard. When you will come home, they will greet you and when you go away, they just watch. As per Susie, although they need interaction, but at the same time, they are very independent. “So someone who wants a dog to chase a ball or play a Frisbee, a Tibetan Mastiff will not do that,” warns Susie. Besides, they love to play with each other.

They are extremely protective about their family and property and make wonderful guardian dogs. They are ideal for people who have huge premises and want to keep strangers away. When it’s quiet at night, they are mostly watchful.

This breed can truly bark for twelve hours. Besides, if they don’t like something, they keep their distance. “I enjoy the fact that they are so smart and entertaining,” tells Susie.

Tibetan Mastiff pup

A puppy keeps on recording everything that is going around in the house, so since young everything that you do has to be kept correct. They learn things very quickly, just like a naughty child. “If he pulls his leash when he is young, it is very cute but it might encourage him to have a dominant behaviour when he grows,” tells Susie. “A lot of puppy’s behaviour is developed by nature and nurture. If they have a very protective mother, and they are with her for more then 10-12 weeks, then they take on the similar characteristics of the mother. Hence, take the puppy out and socialise him to a group of people, so that he becomes accustomed to people. Early socialisation is a must as after they are 8-10-months-old, their guarding characteristics are strong,” adds Susie. Sekhon tells that a Tibetan Mastiff puppy requires balanced diet for optimum growth as the breed is large. “The puppy requires proper introduction to family members from the very beginning and should not be left alone,” he adds.

Upkeep

According to Sekhon, they are one of the easiest breeds to keep as they are very clean and have almost no odour. However, they are not suitable for living in small apartments. They need a lot of activity and since they are an athletic breed, they need a lot of free exercise and free enclosures where they can run freely. They are happiest when there are with other dogs and have lots of activity. They get bored very easily. They also enjoy socialising with other animals like cats, parrots, ferrets, etc. They also love children but should be socialised with them. Sekhon however feels that they should be handled with firmness as they can be very stubborn at times due to the independent nature of the breed. “It is also important to mention that they have only one breeding cycle a year,” adds Susie.

Grooming

Their coat has a under coat, which is soft and fluffy and tends to pick up dirt. “It does not matte or tangle much but the dog coat grows through which is very coarse and hard,” tells Susie. Their coat is weather proof and adapts to the climate where they are staying. They blow there undercoat what we call as “coat blowing”, once a year, usually in spring. But they don’t shed otherwise. “If you just take a large comb or blow dry them, the whole coat comes out at the same time. It’s like blowing cotton everywhere,” tells Susie. They are very easy to clean and are very clean dogs. The coat is very easy to keep since it is coarse. So just wet a towel and wipe would keep his coat clean of dust.

Health

“Large breed dogs always suffer from hip dysplasia, but we don’t have it with them since ordinarily they have a strong structure. Basically, this is a breed with very little health problem apart from checking their weight,” tells Susie.

(Inputs from Susie Ochsenbein, ABR, Rose & Womble of USA (vahousehunter@aol.com) and Himmat Singh Sekhon of Saras Tibetan Mastiffs (Ph: 9356125115, www. sarastmdokhyi.org).)

Beagle eyes that mesmerize

If you are looking for a big dog in a small package, then Beagle is for you. He makes a wonderful companion dog, is easy to maintain and loves his family. Small is beautiful and the phrase perfectly defines a Beagle who has all the qualities you want in your best friend. Take a look at his soft brown eyes and feel your heart going to him. I once met a Beagle at a dog show and the moment, I looked into his eyes, I knew that I have fallen in love with him instantly.

The Beagle is a fun-loving hound who was originally bred to hunt rabbits by following a scent. Because of their acute sense of smell, Beagles are popularly used in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA, to sniff out banned substances at airports and to find traces of fire-raising substances in cases of suspected arson.

Bold in character, this little tail-wagger is known for his stamina and determination. He is alert and intelligent with an even temperament, showing no aggression or timidity. He also has a keen sense of smell and an eagerness to wander.

General characteristics

The Beagle is small-to-medium sized, compactly built and usually well muscled. The body is longer than tall. The head is fairly long and looks powerful without any frown or wrinkle. The skull is slightly domed. The tail is moderately long and the Beagle characteristically carries it like a flag above his back. The ears are long, but not as long as a Basset Hound. “When the ears are pulled forward, they should almost reach the end of the nose; when at rest they tip over and lie close to the head,” adds Dr. Suresh Bhimsingh, a renowned breeder of Beagles. The most striking and beautiful feature of Beagle is his eyes. His stare is totally mesmerizing! “The Beagle will look at you as if he doesn’t have a friend in the world except you. And sometimes your Beagle may have a jet black rim around his eyes (like someone has applied “Kaajal”) and then this look becomes all the more beautiful,” tells Bhimsingh with a twinkle in his eyes.

Beagles can be found in a variety of colours with combination of three basic hound colours, viz. black, white and brown. So, the Beagle could be tri-coloured or have just two colours: black and white, black and brown or brown and white. “You can also find Beagles in the different shades of brown such as red and white, lemon (very light brown) and white, or tan and white. But whatever the combination, the tip of the tail (stern) is usually white,” tells Bhimsingh.

They are small to medium sized dogs, typically height ranging from 13-15”. The males weigh around 10-11 kg while females weigh 9-10kgs and they have a life span of 10-15 years.

Temperament

He is an affable, loving dog who loves to play and have fun. But he is also a “pack” hound and so he loves company more so than any other breed. “In fact, without companionship (at least another dog for company), a Beagle could become noisy and destructive,” tells Bhimsingh.

As puppies, they are the cutest things on earth. As adults, they still love to romp and play and bring a lot of happiness into the family. They seem to have a special relationship with children. They are extremely affectionate and make loyal companions. They love children but very young children should never be left unsupervised with any puppy, in the interests of both the puppy and the child.

The baying or howling of a Beagle is an in-built characteristic to use while hunting, to inform the hunter that the dog is on the trail. In apartment living, this could be disastrous. But practically speaking, as long as Beagles have company and know they will not be left alone for long, they do not bark or howl. But if left alone or hungry, the Beagle could vocalise.

Beagle puppy

Before you buy a Beagle puppy, ensure that the breeder is a responsible person who gives a lot of importance to the health and temperament of the puppy. Bhimsingh also tells that the colours of newly-whelped Beagle puppies can change. “For example, the head, ears and shoulders of tri-colour hounds are often black but gradually turn to tan a few weeks after they are born. Similarly, shades of cream or brown on the back usually disappear fairly soon. Also, little white spots all over the black and tan usually disappear by the time the puppy is 3 months old. Hounds not possessing a strong deep shade of black often lose it in old age and can appear almost all white. In tan and white puppies, the tan colour will be very light when the puppies are born. They will become darker in a couple of months,” he further explains. Bhimsingh further says that Beagle is no different as a puppy than any other breed. “But yielding to the temptation of responding each time he cries would mean that he will keep barking or howling all the time when left alone. So if you intent to keep him alone for at least a few hours a day, then he should be trained so from a very early age.” Bhimsingh tells a case of one Beagle who was fed from the kitchen every time he went and stood there. “So if he was not fed, he started to bark and howl. Every owner must remember that dogs acquire habits very easily and so the owner must never allow any concessions to the new puppy that he is not going to tolerate later,” tells Bhimsingh.

Grooming

Beagles have a double coat: a fine undercoat and a coarse topcoat to protect it from the weather. But they shed hair, especially in warmer weather, and need a good brushing. The Beagle coat is easy to maintain. However, care should be taken to keep the Beagles ears clean. Long ears have a tendency to attract yeast infection. The first sign is usually an offensive smell. Take the advice of a vet.

“In most parts of India, ticks can be a big problem. With regular brushing, the owner can find ticks and remove them. In some parts of India, fleas are a bigger problem. Take the advice of your vet while using anti-tick and anti-flea medicines and shampoo,” Bhimsingh gives a word of caution.

Exercise

The Beagle is not a toy breed and they need their quota of exercise. According to Bhimsingh, “They do not need intense or long exercise, just playful activity, preferably outdoors. If they are locked up day after day in an apartment and never allowed to play or never get the companionship they need, they could become noisy and boisterous.”

They love to play fetch and are crazy about balls or toys. “I know a Beagle who loves to play hide and seek. Only it is the people who have to hide and not the dog!” adds Bhimsingh lovingly.

Health

Since Beagles are usually good eaters and enjoy their food, owners should be careful not to over-feed them. With too much food and lack of exercise, they could become obese quite soon. They are prone to certain eye conditions such as Glaucoma, cataract, etc. However, with proper exercise and activity, he is overall an easy breed to maintain.

(With inputs from Dr. Suresh Bhimsingh, MBBS who has done training in Geriatrics. He is presently the content editor of a health portal run by a pharmaceutical company Orchid Chemicals & Pharma-ceuticals, Chennai. He loves dogs and runs a doggie portal www.dogsindia.com. He is a well-known breeder of Beagle, Bulldog and Dogue de Bordeaux at his kennel Sandstorm. He can be contacted at Ph : 9840098989, or e-mail : bhimsingh@gmail.com)

Glory of the German Shepherd

Which breeds come to your mind when you hear the words ‘king of dogs’? Undoubtedly, the name that flashes in our minds is ‘German Shepherd’ or ‘GSD.’ People all over the world prefer to be owned by a GSD because of his royal look and an equally loyal and passionate attitude.

If you have never owned a GSD, you have missed one of life’s greatest pleasures.

If you are looking for a superb companion dog, then GSD is for you. For here’s one dog who will be devoted to you at all times. I still remember the time when I got married into a dog-loving family. I knew that they have a GSD at home but I never had a chance to meet him before marriage. Once I stepped into the house, I was welcomed by a strong and handsome GSD, who conveyed a sense of strength and intelligence. He did not bark at me but gave me a warm welcome. Very soon, I developed a strong bond with him.

German Shepherd or GSD, also known as Alsatian, is one of the most versatile dogs, who has excelled as a sentry and guard dog, police and army dog, tracker, drug detection dog, guide dog for the blind as well as a search and rescue dog. Apart from these utilities, he is an excellent show and companion dog.

As Sasikala Giri of Ginzberg, Bangalore, a reputed breeder of GSDs, puts, “A GSD is probably an international favourite of all breeds. He differs from other breeds as he fills in many different jobs. Since the earliest dates of history, he has been employed by armies to aid in fighting, as sentries, guards of prisoners, defend camps from enemies, detecting mines, working with rescue units, to find wounded soldiers and carry medicine.”

General appearance

A GSD is a handsome and well-proportioned dog. He is strong with a sturdy, muscular and slightly elongated body with a light but solid bone structure. He has a harmonious development of forequarter and hindquarter. “Position and setting of limbs harmonise in such a manner that a far-reaching endurant trot is assured. The gait is supple, smooth and long-reaching, carrying the body along. His croup is long and gradually sloping,” adds Giri.

His head is proportionate to his body with average size ears, which are wide at the base and high on the head. His almond-shaped eyes are slightly slanted and their colour matches that of their coat. His eyes radiate intelligence and confidence, full of life. His tail is bushy and his coat is thick and dense, comprising of straight, rigid hairs, tightly layered on the body. There are different colours of coat found in GSDs, which include black with tan, all black and steel grey.

According to Giri, he has a beauty which is undisputed. “He is stamped with a look of quality and nobility, which is difficult to define, but unmistakable. He gives an impression of perpetual vigilance, liveliness and watchfulness, alert to every sight and sound, with nothing escaping attention,” she adds proudly.

The average height of dogs is 24-26 inches while that for female dogs is 22-24 inches. Their weight ranges between 35 to 40 kg. They have a life expectancy of around 13 years.

Temperament

GSD is an intelligent dog and his intelligence should be utilised in a positive way. You can teach obedience training or else keep him involved in the family activities. GSDs are often used as working dogs as they are alert and fearless. They are bold and cheerful and are easy to train. A GSD is full of loyalty, courage and confidence. They love to please and demand companionship of their families. You should never isolate a GSD for long period of time. Their protective nature towards their family makes them wary of strangers but proper training and early socialisation prevents this problem to surface. They possess highly developed senses, mentally and temperamentally. Besides, he is strongly individualistic. They are good with children and other pets in the family. “A GSD loves and craves for human companionship and thrives on love and affection, without which he is a miserable and neurotic dog. When you have a GSD as a companion, he is a guardian, protector and your children’s playmate,” adds Giri.

GSD puppy

Giri tells that the best age to acquire a pup is about 8 weeks, as by then the pup would have been dewormed, vaccinated and weaned. She advises to follow the feed chart given by the breeder. Also, the pup should be kept in a dry, clean place with lots of ventilation. It is not advisable to isolate him. He should be kept on a rough surface so that he will get a firm grip. “The bones of a pup are very supple, if they are on smooth surface, their movement gets affected,” explains Giri. Give him good nutritious food at regular intervals. “He needs a lot of calcium, Vitamin B and multivitamins,” tells Giri.

A GSD puppy should be socialised from an early age to avoid behavioural problems at later stage. They should be trained lovingly but firmly.

Upkeep

GSDs are easy to maintain and you can keep them in your apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors but a large yard to run around is an excellent option. “He is not a cage or kennel dog and requires freedom for his mental and physical development. In turn, you get protection and companionship. He will share your joys and sorrows and will never ask for anything in return except to be at your side,” says Giri.

Giri also tells that GSD make wonderful pets in city apartments as well as country homes or farms, because they are so easily trained.

Exercise

A GSD needs regular exercise. Physical activity benefits mental and emotional health. He loves strenuous activity, combined with moderate training. They love challenges and perform well. According to Giri, “Exercise is as important as food. To keep him fit, healthy and happy, he needs at least 8 km brisk walk or trot daily. A game of fetch, swimming, Frisbee disc, etc will be equally welcome by a GSD.”

Grooming

A GSD sheds hair constantly and is seasonally a heavy shedder. A quick daily brushing is an excellent idea. But, they should not be bathed frequently. “Start grooming when he is a pup and he will enjoy it for the rest of his life. Daily brushing will give the coat a healthy appearance and sheen,” adds Giri.

Health

A GSD is prone to hereditary diseases such as hip dysplasia, dermatitis and ear infections.

GSD shows

Sieger Show in Germany is an exclusive event for German Shepherd dogs and their breeders and handlers. Here, more than 3,000 dogs compete and are watched by over 70,000 spectators. The dogs are put to real test not only for confirmation but also for their working abilities, since GSD is a shepherd dog.

(With inputs from Sasikala Giri, a reputed breeder of German Shepherd dogs for nearly 30 years. She can be contacted at: Ginzberg, 710 Shyama Kamal, 47th Cross, 5th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore -560041, Tel: 26632671, 26647648.)

Lovable Labs

Which breed comes to your mind when you think of a lovable, majestic and ideal family pet? Yes of course, a Labrador Retriever, which is the most docile and reliable-natured dog for everyone. Istill remember the day when I went to a friend’s place for the first time. I knew she had a dog and she was full of praises for him. I was excited to meet him and when I barged into her home, I was greeted lovingly by a smart bark with an equally smart and elegant jet-black Labrador, with kind brown eyes that stole my heart away! I still remember the warm welcome he gave to a stranger like me and the aura of love and warmth that surrounded this beautiful creature.

Perhaps the most popular pet dog is Labrador Retriever, who loves the company of his master and is ideal for children playmate and family pet. This may be the reason that guide dogs for the blind and assistance dogs are Labrador Retrievers. They are very responsive to training. They can also be trained as drug detection dogs. As per Meenakshi Reddy of Maidens Kennel, a well-known breeder of Labradors, “A Lab is a strong, muscular and well balanced dog with powerful forelimbs. His genial nature, responsiveness to training and retrieving abilities are invaluable in assisting the disabled, while his gundog nose has been well employed in scent trailing for search and rescue or detection roles.”

Labrador Retrievers originated in Newfoundland. They were excellent, powerful swimmers and were admirably trained in retrieval. All these skills were equally complemented with their good temperament.

General characteristics

The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built and medium-sized dog. His head is broad and round. He has a wide skull, powerful jaws and a wide nose. His eyes are medium-sized, brown or hazel. His kind friendly eyes express character, intelligence and good temperament. His ears are fairly well back, neither large nor heavy, falling against the head.

His body is powerful and roundly built. His clean-cut neck, wide chest, well sunk and fully-arched sides and short, broad, powerful loins make him distinct from other breeds. His muscular limbs and round compact paws make him a pillar of strength.

His tail is very thick at the base, tapering towards the tip. It is medium in length with no feathering but completely covered with short, thick, dense hair, giving it a rounded, otter-like experience.

A Lab’s hair are short and dense, without waves or feathering, fairly rough to the touch. Their undercoat is weather-resistant that provides protection from water, cold and all types of ground cover. The coat of a Lab is black, yellow or brown (liver-chocolate). The yellow ranges from pale cream to reddish-brown (fox red).

The average height of dogs is 56- 57 cm while that of female dogs is 54-56 cm. The average weight of male dogs is 27 – 34 kg while that of female dogs is 25 -32 kg.

Temperament

Very agile, with an excellent nose and a great passion for water, the Lab steals everyone’s heart. They have a very stable temperament, making them an excellent family dog. Extremely active, confident and tenacious, this dog has a remarkable keen sense of smell. This breed has an even temper and is never aggressive. He is a faithful friend, who will adapt to any situation. Devoted and very obedient, this dog is very cheerful. He has a fantastic visual memory.

A Lab has a style of his own. He is a dog with a lot of substance. He is eager to please and is non-aggressive towards man or animal, making him friendly to children and pets. Labs will probably bark if a stranger approaches the home, but they are not aggressive guard dogs. He can be a calm house dog, playful yard dog and intense field dog, all on the same day.

Meenakshi feels that Labs are good tempered, easy to train, eager to please and devoted to their families. “They are easy to live with because they are considered the most trainable of all breeds. They are reliable with children and crave for affection,” she added.

Lab puppy

The Lab pup should be leash trained from the very beginning. He should be taught to sit on command to prevent him jumping on people in his desire to say hello. Here is a pup who will love to play games like fetching and using his nose to trace things out.

Upkeep

Labs are easy to maintain. They are active dogs who love to play games like fetch. They need a well-fenced yard with space to run. They need daily physical and mental challenges to keep them occupied as a bored Lab can be troublesome. Exercise in the form of retrieving or swimming is also welcome by them. Meenakshi suggests a good run or a long brisk walk.

“You can also play with them with the ball as they love to retrieve. Also, they love water,” she added.

Weekly or bi-weekly brushing will help to control moderate shedding. Meenakshi, however, recommends daily brushing to prevent shedding hair. She also recommends to clean their eyes and ears as well as paws. “Bath can be given once a month with a good shampoo,” she said.

Most importantly, they love human company and can be destructive if left alone for hours on end.

Health

Labs are known to gorge on food which makes them obese. Hence, they should be fed the right quantity. Meenakshi says that their love for food makes them obese, hence they should be given regular exercise and a planned diet to keep them fit.

Labs are prone to hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint that ranges from mild to severe and can cause disability or pain. They have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.

On the whole, a Lab is a very accommodating dog, adjusting with your moods and your lifestyle. If you are in mood to play, jog or swim, your Lab is with you. If you wish to lie down and have a nice siesta, you will still find your Lab with you. Meenakshi feels that Labs will put up with almost anything from children, love their company and are tolerant to the point of saintliness, asking for nothing more in life than to be with the family. He is truly a dog for all reasons and all seasons.

(Inputs from Meenakshi Reddy of Maidens Kennel, Bangalore. She has been breeding and showing Labs?–?champion Labradors actually – for last 12 years. She also runs Pet Post, which is a one-stop shop for pet products. She can be contacted at Ph:23617135, 23610026, Mobile: 9844002627.)

Cocker Spaniel: a joyful breed

Do you remember the popular mismatch couple in Walt Disney’s ‘Lady & the Tramp?’ The Tramp was a stray and the Lady was a sheltered pure-bred Cocker Spaniel. The most famous scene was when these larger-than-life canines slurped pasta and fell in love. The sensitive and demure Lady projects the true Cocker Spaniel.

Anyone who looks at a Cocker Spaniel will surely fall in love with her long ears and silky and shining coat. Her expressive face will sweep you off the floor. This ever-enthusiastic dog is always busy wagging her tail, giving a feeling of joy all around. Her expressive face and twinkling eyes lifts the spirit of the owners as well as the onlookers.

The name Cocker comes from the woodcock, a bird this spaniel was originally bred to hunt, though they can hunt other birds as well. They are excellent retrievers and are good for tracking, hunting, agility and obedience as well.

The general appearance:

Cocker Spaniels are compactly built with bundles of energy. They are medium-sized dogs with long ears, reaching at least to the nose when pulled forward. They have dark oval eyes, with a melting yet intelligent expression. The nose is either black or brown, depending on the colour of the coat. Their legs and underside of the body are well feathered. The feet of a Cocker Spaniel are round like a cat with tight, arched toes. Mahesh Chaudhary, a well-known hobby breeder of Cocker Spaniels in India, particularly admires their lobular ears and lovely expression of intelligence.

This is one breed, who comes in a variety of colours such as black, red, golden, liver, blue roan, orange roan, black & white, black & tan, etc. According to Chaudhary, “A Cocker Spaniel sets herself apart with good demeanor, outline, balance, size, sound, action and merry disposition.” The average height of male Cocker Spaniels is 16-17 inches while that of females is 15-16 inches. Their average weight is 13-16 and 12-15 kg, respectively. They have a life expectancy of 12-15 years.

Temperament:

Perhaps the most typical and most wildly appreciated characteristic of this breed is their friendliness and willingness to please. Being a very gentle pet, they are even called the Merry Cockers. They are full of life and exuberance, says Chaudhary. Cocker Spaniels are alert, easy to train and are very playful.

They form good companion dogs as they are less destructive and are wonderful with children. They also get along well with other pets. They are sociable with strangers and are obedient.

Upkeep:

Cocker Spaniels are easy to maintain. Simply brush and comb regularly to remove dead hair and keep their coat shiny. Chaudhary rules out the myth that long-haired dogs shed a lot of hair. According to him, they shed their coat several months before they reach the yearling stage and it is easier to maintain a long-haired dog.

They should be fed in deep, narrow bowls that allows them to eat and drink without getting their ears into the food or water.

Ears should be regularly checked for grass seeds and signs of infection. Excess wax should be cleaned regularly. Hair over the toes and base of feet should be brushed and trimmed, when necessary, says Chaudhary.

Exercise:

Cocker Spaniels love to exercise. Daily walks and free run should be part of routine as she is a sporting dog. According to Choudhary, a good walk for 20 minutes twice a day, is good enough for a Cocker Spaniel.

Health:

They are prone to eye diseases and ear infections. Sore ears, whether from trapped vegetative matter, mites, or infection, cause a dog to shake head frequently and violently. If the ears are dirty and smelly and the dog seems to be uncomfortable, contact your vet. An early treatment can avoid major problems.

Since they love to run in fields, they frequently pick up a variety of seed heads and bits of shrubs and weeds that can cause the coat to tangle and mat. Regular brushing will keep the coat free of tangles. Also, tangles can pull the skin and cause sores that make the dog uncomfortable and may result in major skin problems.

The way to a healthy Cocker Spaniel is through good nutrition. It is also essential to visit the veterinarian for checkups, which will keep your friend healthy.

All in all, you will love the company of a Cocker Spaniel as she brings a lot of joy in your life. Mahesh Chaudhary adds, “I have had lots of breeds since my childhood, but ever since I had a Cocker Spaniel, I can’t think of my house without one. A Cocker Spaniel is an ancient bred and has always been held high in esteem through the years,” He concludes with a mention from the ancient Welsh Laws codified by Howell the good in 914 AD:

“There are three kinds of animals:

A beast, a dog and a bird.

There are three higher species of dogs?:

A Tracker, a Grey Hound and a Spaniel.”

(Inputs from Mahesh Chaudhary, Mumbai, a well-known show enthusiast and experienced hobby breeder of Cocker Spaniels. Contact him at 09821345055.)

Dalmatians:sporting the spots beautifully!

What does the word Dalmatian brings to your mind? A beautiful, friendly white dog with black patches, the hero of the popular Disney movie ‘101 Dalmatians’ and its sequel ‘102 Dalmatians’.


All those who love dogs would remember watching and enjoying the movie ‘101 Dalmatians’ and obviously, all of you would have fallen in love with Pongo, the intelligent black-and-white Dalmatian. The movie depicted Pongo’s love for his owner Roger Radcliff and his lady love Perdita. The movie also showed his wits which helped him save another 100 Dalmatians from the clutches of Cruella, the villain of the movie.

In fact, the movie portrayed Pongo’s character as a typical Dalmatian! For here are the dogs who are loving, social and intelligent. They make good companion dogs. They are fun-loving and are a picture of elegance. “A Dalmatian is poised and alert – free of shyness. He is intelligent in expression and is capable of great endurance combined with a fair amount of speed,” says N Sridaran, a proud owner of Dalmatians.

The general appearance

The most striking characteristic of a Dalmatian are their black or liver spots randomly splashed over a white body. According to Sridaran, “The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog. His spotting sets him apart from all other breeds.” Interestingly, when a Dalmatian puppy is born, he is white. Spots appear later on.

A Dalmatian is a sleek, symmetrical and short-haired dog. His feet are round with well-arched toes and nails. Their eyes are dark brown, amber or blue. His ears are soft, narrowing towards the point. Dalmatians are considered a medium-sized breed. The average height of these dogs is 19-23 inches and they weigh around 23-25 kg.

Temperament

Dalmatian make a superb family companion. They are fun-loving and affectionate. He is generally not a one-man dog. “He is sensitive to the moods of all According to Sridaran, “His intelligence surfaces in many ways. Dalmatians love to interact with humans, many a times expressing their affection for one and all. In short, Dalmatian is simply a lovable breed who makes a mark in one’s life.” They are quite social but sometimes they become aggressive with strangers or other dogs. Though they love to play with children, but care should be taken when they are playing with toddlers. Sridaran smilingly remarks that his Dalmatian Samantha actually smiles when she plays with his daughters Shruti and Srenidi. She actually shows all her teeth. A big close-up smile!

“Dalmatians are very fond of children and share their games with enthusiasm. Their superior intelligence helps them sense a child’s immaturity so that they make some allowance for the child’s behaviour,” says Sridaran. You will be surprised to know that Sridaran’s Dalmatian Samantha lives with pigeons and chickens and loves them too.

Puppy care

The stunning white Dalmatian puppy is a darling and you will be tempted to cuddle him up and keep him close to you. “But make sure you handle him with care,” says Sridaran. Undoubtedly, the puppy will be afraid for a while in his new surrounding, without the mother and littermates. Just comfort him and reassure him. Encourage him to walk around and sniff over his new home and soon he will be okay. Feeding a puppy is also important. Do remember to ask his previous owner the diet schedule and health card. Follow the same before you switch over to your new schedule. “Change his food gradually. Do not try a new diet all of a sudden as this will definitely upset your puppy. Never overfeed your puppy but do feed him at intervals,” warns Sridaran. Like babies, a Dalmatian puppy also needs a lot of rest. Give him a proper bedding to sleep on. However, Sangeeta, another proud owner of a Dalmatian, says that, “When you get a puppy, take a blanket or an old mattress along, so that you can rub it against the pup’s mother. Keep the same cloth near the pup so that he can smell his mother and be comfortable. You can also keep a small clock under his bed which will give him a feeling of his mother’s heart-beat.”

Grooming

The Dalmatian is principally a white dog and as with most white pets, he will show any dirt more dramatically than a coloured breed. Wipe him with a wet cloth. Their toe-nails should be cut at regular intervals. Since they have short-haired coat, they are easier to maintain. Regular brushing prevents ticks and fleas, it also helps in removing dead hair.

Exercise

Dalmatians were bred to run besides horse-drawn carriages, thus they have a vast amount of stamina, gait and endurance. They need a lot of constant and structured exercise. If properly exercised, Dalmatians can easily go many miles and still be ready to play ball at the end of the day. Sridaran suggests letting the Dalmatian exercise on soft ground like grass rather than concrete areas. They can be taken for longer walks which is well liked by them. Their stamina can make them an excellent companion for jogging, cycling and biking. However, the dog should have basic training and good leash manners before one makes an attempt to do any of these activities. Exercise your Dalmatian at least twice daily. Sridaran however warns that care should be taken in hot and humid climate. Clean water should always be at your pet’s disposal.

Dalmatians enjoy all types of outdoor recreation particularly like playing with the ball. Their agility often makes for some spectacular catches! They love to play catch with anything and are usually good swimmers but one has to be careful as wet ears can bring out a painful ear infection.

Health

Dalmatians are genetically predisposed to deafness. It is advisable to check the puppies for deafness before adopting them. Another problem encountered in Dalmatians is Atopic dermatitis. Also, Dalmatians can have two-coloured eyes depending on the black patch! Dalmatian crave for quality time with their owner and family. Sridaran personally feels that before anyone picks up a Dalmatian, he should be sure that he can spend quality time with him. “The emphasis here is on balance and fitness, which can be obtained only when you have the time. They are sensitive by nature and love to have companions,” he added. “A Dalmatian is a fun loving animal. Give him the care and affection and you are sure to get back the same from him in multiples,” concludes Sridaran.

(Inputs by N Sridaran, Chennai, Ph : 9840208591)

Basset Hound:eyes that take your breath away!

If you have seen that cute brand ambassador of Hush Puppies, then I am sure you will never forget those soulful eyes and the long droopy ears. Yes, I am talking about the Basset Hound. ABasset Hound is a dog you can never forget. His soulful eyes, the droopy look, wrinkled face, ears touching the ground, nose sniffing, all make him very special and different. A dog who brings out compassion and love at the same time! Contrary to his sad look, he is a comical dog. He will make you laugh even at the toughest times. He can become that special family member whom your children will love and adore and who will adore your children as well.

“With his guileless disposition, soulful eyes and comical ways, the Basset, is one of the real characters of the dog world. The expression of the Basset would melt even hard-hearted person’s heart. They have an ability to put on a smile on people’s face. Everyday, when I go for the morning walk with my Bassets and my Dachshunds, people stop by and cars slow down, just to get a glimpse of my Bassets and their faces are all lit up. It makes my day!” shares Mr. Padmachandran of Chennai, a proud owner of Basset Hounds.

The general appearance

A Basset Hound is a long, low-slung, heavy-boned scent hound bred for hunting small game, primarily rabbits. His long ears were developed to stir up ground scent for his large nose to smell. The folds of skin under his chin are useful for trapping and holding the scent. His large feet give him steadiness and his heavy bone makes him sturdy.

According to Mr. Padmachandran, “Till about four weeks, the growth of a Basset puppy is quiet symmetrical. The ears of the Basset starts growing at a faster rate between the fourth to the eighth week, as result, they trip over their ears, hence after a while they stick the neck up to avoid falling and while moving in pack they look like the elephants moving around in the movie “The Jungle Book.“ Believe me, it’s a sight to behold!”

The Basset Hound has the head of a bloodhound and the body of a Dachshund. He has a fat body but short legs. His bones are heavier than other breeds of the same size. You will love and laugh to see him move. His movement is humorous and slow, but not clumsy. A lovely and amusing household pet for people with a good sense of humour!

Bassets are considered a medium-sized breed, although a male Basset can weigh (23-29 kg)! Females generally weigh (20-27 kg). The average height of dogs is 12-15 inches while that for females is 11-14 inches.

Temperament

Although the Basset Hound is mild, but sometimes he can be as stubborn as a bull. According to Mr. Padmachandran, “He is mild, never sharp or timid. He is enduring and is extreme in his devotion. He is perhaps best known for the lovable nature which led him to be dubbed ‘the armchair clown’.” Basset Hounds have a very deep bark and have a tendency to howl. Mr. Padmachandran gives a word of caution that in case you are living in an apartment, this could disturb your neighbours, especially the old people. “Given the opportunity, the Basset Hound is a potential wanderer. One sniff at an interesting scent and away he goes, nose to the ground and tail aloft, apparently oblivious to anything or anybody. Because he does have a stubborn streak, the Basset requires firm but sympathetic handling. The Basset is a “big dog on short legs” and he is extremely strong and heavy for his height and should not be considered by owners who want a small dog,” adds Mr. Padmachandran.

The Basset Hound is among the most good-natured and easygoing of breeds. Basset Hounds are quite social. But, they have a laid-back attitude, which makes them look lazy, but they can sweep you off your feet when they get kinky.

Absolutely obedient and devoted to his master, he makes a wonderful family companion. They adore children as much as they are adored by them. They are very tolerant; however, we must be careful that children do not injure them.

“At home, the ?Basset will assume his subtle manner of “ruling the roost.” He refuses to accept the fact that he is a dog by devious methods. He can affect poor hearing when he doesn’t want to obey or pretend to sleep so soundly that you do not have the heart to disturb him. But his alertness miraculously returns if you open the refrigerator door ever so stealthily. He is a built-in babysitter, an ideal family pet. A Basset needs firm convincing that his big, brown eyes will get him nowhere. But first convince yourself of this, if you can. He will do his best to outmanoeuvre you to gain his own way, and he will make you like it. You need only one Basset to fill the house with laughter,” says Mr. Padmachandran.

Upkeep

Bassets are easy to maintain. Regular brushing will keep the shedding to a minimum. Except for ears and drool, the Basset is an easy care pet. His short coat repels dirt and water and needs minimal brushing to remove loose hair and dirt. He needs few baths and appreciates rubdowns with a coarse cloth or glove. According to Ms. Tejinder Sidhu, “One needs to be careful with the ears. Each time they are fed, I put a rubber band and after every meal their faces are cleaned. I even clean his ears after every walk.”

Health

Although he is generally healthy, the Basset is susceptible to ear infections, glaucoma, obesity, gastric torsion etc. His long back predisposes him to disc problems and can cause problems if he is overweight, out of condition, or jumps on and off furniture. Like other deep-chested breeds, Bassets should be fed twice a day throughout their lives to minimize chances of bloat.

They should have a daily walk and a moderate diet to avoid the problems that can come with overweight.

Bring up your Basset with kindness, patience and affection and your world will be a brighter place because of him!

(Inputs by Mr. Padmachandran-Chennai (www.padpranpark.com) and Ms. Tejinder Sidhu – Gurgaon.)

Greatness of the Great Danes

The Apollo of dogs, Great Dane is amongst the tallest of dogs. A dog who has it all — magnificence, royalty and power. Read on to find out more about Dane magic … Iwalked into a colleague’s house, just to be greeted by one of my favourite breeds — the “Great Dane”. Little did I realise that the people accompanying me disappeared, literally into thin air, my focus being totally on the dog — a Harlequin (white base with black patches) with blue eyes. I was completely awestruck. The moment froze and it felt completely like a typical Hindi movie scene – my sweetheart was right in front of me! Just then, the owner interrupted and introduced “Angel” to me, I definitely agreed! From that moment on, Angel and I became friends. It took a whole lot of coaxing to get my other friends in, as they did not believe that Angel is a “Gentle Giant”. Needless to say, they had a tough time and had to literally force me to leave, when we were through with our social call. Such is the magic of Great Danes.

The personality of a Great Dane goes beyond words. He is a handsome dog, with a huge and sturdy body. And behind this huge body, is a heart of gold. Great Danes make very good companions. They are sensitive and highly affectionate. They are spirited, courageous, friendly and dependable, never timid or aggressive. They are the gentle giants and are excellent with children. They’ve got that majestic and a diplomatic look on their faces.

They were originally developed in Germany to hunt wild boar and stags but today they make excellent pets due to their nice temperament. He is the gentlest and the kindest dog with his own family and friends. Great Danes love human company and when segregated from human company, they can become unruly and destructive.

Often considered as the king of dogs, Great Dane is extremely loyal, dependable and devoted. They are spirited and courageous. Rajesh Katyal, one of the renowned breeders of Great Danes, recalls his experience with his pet “Bony”, a female Great Dane, who had been terribly ill and no treatment worked on her. She had been lying in the corner of the room for more than 48 hrs. As Rajesh sat on the mattress on the other side, he saw her suddenly get up and come toward him. Wow, he was happy to see her move. She came near him, sat right next to him and put her head in his laps, which she would normally do, but this time she slept forever. It was her unconditional love and her will to be with her master which made her gather the strength to walk a few steps just before she passed away in his arms. Such is the loyalty of Great Danes. Rajesh particularly admires the Great Dane’s combination of beauty and brains, accompanied with great sensitivity towards their owners.

The general appearance?: The Great Dane combines within himself size, substance, elegance, strength with a well developed smoothly muscled body — all put together with a very regal appearance. The Great Dane is one of the giants of the working breeds and should never appear clumsy therefore his general conformation should be very well balanced and should move with a long reach and a powerful drive. The Great Dane should be very friendly, spirited, courageous and dependable but should never be timid in nature. It is this mental and physical combination in his characteristic, which makes a Great Dane majestic. The Great Dane expressions should give an impression of great masculinity in dogs and femininity in the females. Any deviation or lack of breed type as defined in the standard is a very serious fault.

Size and proportion?: The males are massive with larger frame and heavier bones and are often square in proportion. Females should be square but a somewhat longer body is permissible, providing she is well proportioned to her height. The average height of males is around 30-32” at the shoulders while that for females is 28-30”. (Seems huge!) The average weight of dogs is 54-90 kgs while that for females is 45-59 kgs. (Sounds similar with the weights of human beings!) Unfortunately, they have a shorter life span of around 7-10 years.

These dogs are found in five colours (six in US including mantle?– black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body). These include fawn (yellow gold with black mask), brindle (deep yellow colour brindled with strong black cross stripes), blue (pure steel blue), black (glossy) and harlequin (pure white base colour with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the body).

Training?: Even though a Great Dane is a huge creature, he is a child at heart, forget the saying, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ as this dog needs a gentle training. Any harsh treatment will only make it distrustful and edgy. Training should be motivational, an untrained Great Dane could be a serious hazard. A proper training plan must be made from the time one gets the pup home. The Great Dane puppy needs lot of love and attention. They need to be fed a moderate protein and fat diet. Socialization is very important. Lots of love, correct diet and play will help your puppy grow into a handsome/ pretty individual.

Grooming?: Quality time to spend with your pet, a daily quick brush for your short-haired Dane would keep you in touch with his health, bathing is a major chore for this tall dog and one needs time energy and patience! Like other dogs, Danes also require regular ear cleaning, dental care and toe-nail trimming. They need plenty of exercise – at the least a daily routine of long walk or run is essential. Care should be taken of the exercise given to puppies as their bones are still forming. Puppies enjoy exercising themselves in free space.

Common heredity problems:

As all dogs, this breed is also susceptible to various diseases. Some of these include:

  1. Hip dysplasia or poor formation of the hip joint where the head of the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the pelvic socket, is one of the most common problems.
  2. Bone disorders : The Great Danes suffer from bone disorders like–Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), Osteochondritis Dessicans (OCD) and Panosteitis.
  3. Hypothyroidism is also an abnormality seen in Great Danes. It is a generalized metabolic disease characterized by malfunction of the thyroid gland, which cause lethargy, weight gain, hair loss and skin problems.
  4. Bloat is a condition where a dog’s stomach produces excessive gas and enlarges severely enough to cause death. It is usually associated with gastric torsion (a condition where the stomach twists, thereby impeding input and output).
  5. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of weakened heart muscles.

The breed might have problems like wobbler’s syndrome, capped elbows and thickening of skin on pressure points. Care of the puppy begins with careful selection of parents to produce the litter. Akshay, a proud owner of a Great Dane, opines, “Lots of care need to be taken in bringing up a Great Dane pup. Especially during the first 6 months of the dog’s age, one needs to be very careful with their overall growth, one needs to take special care of their diet to avoid any bone related disorders”.

In a nutshell, the Great Dane is a people-oriented dog, a gentle-giant which is loving and kind – a truly companion dog!

(Inputs from Rajesh Katyal, a breeder of Great Danes since 1987. Breeding under the prefix “Paquin”, his aim is to produce top show quality Great Danes as defined in the breed standard, keeping strong emphasis on health, soundness and socialization. He can be contacted at 0120-2570872, 9899113993, or e-mail at neharajesh2001@yahoo.co.in)