Adopting From a Good Dog Breeder

Have you ever purchased a car that was a lemon? Facing problem after problem robs you of the pleasure of enjoying your new car. Unfortunately, there are dogs that are lemons, too. A dog with health problems can lead to heartache and empty checkbooks.

A good dog breeder will stand behind health guarantees and do everything possible to set things right if you end up with a dog that has a serious health defect. There are several types of dog breeders. The first type is a person who shows dogs and works hard to maintain the breed standard. The puppies this breeder produces will often be more expensive than other puppies, but there are several advantages to buying one.

These breeders test their dogs for common genetic diseases and they only breed their best dogs, because they are breeding dogs to acquire a new generation of champions. This means that the resulting puppies that are not show quality are usually still quite nice. The second type of dog breeder is usually called a backyard breeder.

These breeders rarely show dogs and often have a litter of puppies just because they want other people to have a dog just like theirs. Unfortunately, few backyard breeders test for diseases or know how to look for traits that match the breed standard. The final type of dog breeder is often called a puppy mill breeder. These breeders have many different breeds of dogs and often breed their females until the dogs become run down and die.

Puppies are frequently very poor examples of the breed and may have genetic health problems as well as diseases such as Kennel Cough. Obviously, you want to find a good dog breeder. However, knowing the importance of finding a good dog breeder doesn’t always make it easy to locate one. Fortunately, if you look for signs of a good breeder and ask the breeder the right questions, you should be able to tell if you’ve found a good breeder. First, take a look at how the breeder is advertising. Breeders who advertise in newspapers are not necessarily unethical.

Some of them love their dog breed, but do not care for the show world. However, be wary of an advertisement that lists puppies from five different dog breeds and a few poodle mixes thrown in for good measure. Next, ask the breeder to allow you to stop in and look at the puppies. If the breeder refuses and offers to deliver the puppy or meets you outside with a portable pen full of puppies, it may very well be because of safety concerns.

However, it could also mean that the breeder’s kennel is dirty and the dogs are not cared for properly. Once you’ve seen those adorable puppies, do not pull out your check book. Instead, ask the breeder whether they’ve been to a vet and ask about a health guarantee. Some breeders vaccinate the puppies themselves, but there is a chance they did not give the vaccinations correctly and that the puppies are still vulnerable to disease.

Also, the puppies could have serious hereditary defects, such as a severe heart murmur, that a preliminary health exam would have uncovered. Finally, ask for references from previous owners and get the name and phone number of the breeder’s veterinarian. Then, go home and call the references and ask them about their experience with the breeder and ask how their puppies turned out. If you are satisfied with the response of the references, call the veterinarian to verify that the breeder really did bring the puppies in.

Now, you can finally buy your new puppy. Of course, first you will have to decide which of those little balls of fluff is the right dog for you!

So You Want To Adopt A Standard Poodle? (Part II)

Some people take one look at the fluffy, immaculately groomed Standard Poodles in the show ring and discount them as silly, shallow dogs.

However, the Standard Poodle is considered by many people to be the most intelligent breed in the world, with the reasoning ability of a three year old child. These dogs may look like lightweights in the show ring, but they were originally bred to work hard in the water. The Standard Poodle spent hours retrieving water fowl for hunters and the breed’s dense coat helped protect it from the cold, damp working conditions. Because the breed is not commonly used as a working dog today, The American Kennel Club classifies the Standard Poodle as part of the Non-Sporting Group.

These dogs weigh 45 to 70 pounds and stand over 15 inches tall. The Standard Poodle has a muscular body under all of that hair. Its ears are long and fold over close to the head and its eyes are dark brown and filled with intelligence. This dog’s tail is docked and stands erect. The tail should not curve over the dog’s back.

The Standard Poodle comes in a wide range of colors, including apricot, black, cream, red, blue, gray, silver, brown, parti-color, and white. Overall, the white and cream colored Standard Poodles seem to be a bit more high strung and nervous than other colors, while black Standard Poodles seem calmer. The Standard Poodle does best in family settings and is extremely devoted to its family’s children.

This breed also is an excellent choice for families with more than one dog, as the Standard Poodle rarely meets a dog it doesn’t like. If you have a cat, be prepared for your dog to rampage through the house as he gives chase, although when he finally catches up to the cat, he will just want to play. If you live in an apartment, your dog will need to take a long walk or go for a romp in the park every day. These dogs can live in apartments, but do much better in a home with a fenced yard.

Because of its high intelligence, this breed enjoys learning and should attend puppy obedience classes. In addition, Standard Poodles need to be socialized as puppies, or their natural aloofness with strangers can turn to fear. Your puppy will work hard during classes, because he will want to please you. If he can’t figure out what you want him to do, he will wrinkle his brow and try again. If he still can’t figure it out, he may start to get depressed and frustrated. If this happens, give him a command that he already knows and after he joyously obeys he will be ready to try to learn the new command again.

Many Standard Poodles and their owners go on to take advanced classes so that they can compete in obedience and agility trials. The Standard Poodle breed has several common health problems. Addison’s disease, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy problems are prevalent enough that many breeders actually screen their parent dogs to be sure they don’t carry these genetic faults. Your dog could also suffer from renal disease, bloat, and skin problems. Standard Poodles are big dogs and have big appetites.

If you’ve never had a big dog before, be prepared for a noticeable increase in the grocery budget. These dogs also should receive a daily vitamin. In addition, ask your veterinarian about giving your poodle a daily vitamin C tablet, which many veterinarians say can help decrease the chance of hip dysplasia. If you do not want to spend time grooming a dog, don’t buy a Standard Poodle. These dogs need to be brushed daily, and, with their large size, it can take an hour or more to thoroughly brush out a Standard Poodle’s coat. Also, you will have to learn to cut your poodle’s hair or you will need to take him to a professional groomer every six weeks. The Standard Poodle is a fun loving, intelligent dog. If you don’t mind brushing your dog instead of watching the news, this may be the breed for you.

Adopting a Collie

Almost every child wants to own Lassie, the wonder Collie. Unfortunately, if the child really expects one dog to be that incredible, a Collie puppy may be a bit of a disappointment.

After all, in real life, Lassie is actually played by several hard working Collies. The Collie was originally bred to herd sheep and still has a strong protective instinct, which makes the breed an excellent choice for a family dog. Of course, not every Collie is a highly intelligent, diligent protector. Some of these dogs are high strung and nervous, but most are wonderful with children. The American Kennel Club classifies the Collie as part of the Herding Group.

These dogs weigh 55 to 80 pounds and stand 22 to 26 inches tall. The Collie is strong and graceful and has plenty of endurance. This dog’s almond shaped eyes seem to sparkle with intelligence, whether they are brown or blue in color. The Collie’s prick ears give it an alert appearance. The Collie can be rough or smooth coated. The rough coat is longer and fuller than the smooth coat. This breed can come in sable and white, tricolor, or blue merle colors. The Collie enjoys living in the midst of an active family.

This breed is not a good choice for apartment living, since it loves to spend time outside. A home with a large yard is ideal for the Collie breed. Although the Collie is friendly and outgoing, this dog is protective of its family and takes its duties as a watchdog seriously. Your Collie will bark at intruders, whether they are people, cats, squirrels, or pieces of trash blowing around the yard. The Collie can be quite headstrong and can get into quite a lot of mischief as a puppy. You should consider attending puppy obedience classes with your Collie, since it is easier to train a small puppy who hasn’t developed bad habits than a sixty pound dog that has. Also, be sure to be firm with your puppy about staying on the floor if you do not want Collie hair on all of your furniture. Once you allow your dog on the furniture, he will feel that he has a right to be there any time you leave the room. The Collie breed has very few health problems. Eye diseases and PRA are the most common problems these dogs face. In fact, you are much more likely to take your puppy to the veterinarian because he has injured himself while jumping from a moving vehicle or exploring his surroundings than you will for a health problem. Collies are quite happy to pack away plenty of food. These dogs have a tendency to overeat, so it is best to give them three small meals a day.

If your Collie develops a bulge around his middle, talk to your veterinarian about switching to a food that promotes weight loss. Although a rough coated Collie has long hair, the Collie does not need extensive grooming. Brush through your dog’s coat several times a week to avoid mats, paying close attention to the hair around his face, behind his ears, and around his legs. The Collie is an intelligent family dog. If you want a dog who will protect your family and will play with the kids, the Collie may just be the perfect pet for you.

Adopting a Golden Retriever

So, you read THE WATCHER a dozen times, you’ve seen Golden Retrievers working as guide dogs, and now you want to buy a Golden Retriever puppy of your own.

However, before you bring one of these cuddly yellow fuzz balls home, you need to be sure a Golden Retriever is really the right dog for you and your family. The Golden Retriever is a big, muscular dog, weighing in at 55 to 75 pounds and standing 21 ½ to 24 inches tall at the shoulder. This dog breed has a broad skull, which may be why Golden Retrievers are so intelligent. Coat colors range from a deep, honey colored gold to a light gold that is almost white. The palest gold or darkest gold colors are considered to be undesirable, as are any white patches or markings.

Did you know that Golden Retrievers were originally bred to be working dogs? They are members of the Sporting Group. These dogs are high energy animals and need plenty of exercise, especially while they are less than three years of age. This desire to stay busy is one reason that Golden Retrievers make good rescue, Seeing Eye, or drug sniffing dogs. If you do not keep them occupied, they will find ways to amuse themselves, such as eating your entire shoe collection. If you are an avid gardener, you will need to be sure you have a separate area where you can contain your dog, since most Golden Retrievers love to dig. While they are going through their puppy stage, they are also prone to chewing up shrubs.

Since Golden Retrievers are large dogs, you may want to consider the cost of food before buying your puppy. These dogs eat a lot. Also, since Golden Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia, you may want to ask your veterinarian about feeding your puppy food that is especially formulated to help large breeds grow properly. If you have small children, you may need to consider whether a Golden Retriever puppy will be too boisterous for them. Although adult Goldens are excellent family dogs, puppies can be quite mouthy and rowdy. They may accidentally knock toddlers down while they are playing. If you do buy a puppy when you have small children, you will need to find time to teach him good manners quickly. You may want to attend obedience classes with him, so that he is used to other dogs and people and learns how to act when he is outside the house. Training your puppy before he is too strong for you to control easily is a good idea.

Golden Retrievers need frequent grooming to keep their coats from tangling. You will need to pay special attention to the area behind your dog’s ears, as it is prone to developing large mats. Frequent grooming will also help you alleviate dog hair on furniture, which can be quite heavy when your dog is shedding his coat. In addition, you will need to have enough time to check your dog for ticks after he goes for a romp in the park or other grassy and wooded areas. If you still feel that this is the breed for you, be sure to look for a good breeder to buy your puppy from. A healthy, good tempered Golden Retriever makes a wonderful, intelligent companion.

Adopting a Puppy With Poor Genetics and Weak Nerves

We adopted her from the age of 2-3 months, and she was fine in the beginning. Very loving and extremely hyperactive. The hyperactivity continues, and she still jumps up at anyone coming near the house. She seems to fear tall men, especially if they have anything in their hands, like a garden rake or spade, and she backs away from strangers, even small children. She is afraid. She gets aggressive with anyone she senses is afraid of dogs, and she has gone for them, making it worse for them, of course! She becomes aggressive with anyone who passes her by when any food is around, and she will growl and snarl at them, telling them in effect that the food is hers, so hands off!

To crown it all off, she snarled and growled at me today when I went up to stroke her, which she has not done before. I have always tried to correct her, either by the leash, or we have a muzzle which we correct her with, and failing that, I will put her in her crate as a punishment. I am not a novice with a dog. Before Honey, we had the most wonderful shepherd/husky dog, who was similarly abandoned, and I never had one problem with him – He was wonderful. I have taken honey to obedience classes – She does sit and stay, also goes down when she is instructed to.

I feel that I have done everything possible to alleviate her aggression, but it doesn’t seem to work. I have two daughters who both pour love on her too, and quite frankly, I am afraid one day that she will become vicious – Can you please give me some advice, because I do not want to have to have her put down.

I have tried everything you recommend in your book, including spitting in her food, and making her wait to eat last. But I must be doing something wrong! I know mixed breeds aren’t your favorite, but please make an exception in my case. I love dogs, and hate to be beaten. I am also English, and you must know that we are softies when it comes to animals!

I await your reply in haste!


Dear Diana,

First, let me point out that I share my home with a mixed breed.

And yes… I like him. A whole lot! His name is Forbes and he is one of the most compatible dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with.

To be honest, I have a feeling that your dog’s issues are very much a result of poor genetics and weak nerves.

But before jumping to any conclusions, you must first recognize that all of the information you’ve droned on about provides me with NONE of the information I need in order to help you.

So… what do I need? I need to know what happens when you correct the dog? Does she continue to act aggressive? Does she stop immediately? Does she try to bite you? Does she go submissive? And once you get her to pay attention to you, what’s happened once you’ve started to create new/positive associations with the stimulus, as described in the book?

These are all of the questions you need to be asking yourself. As well as:

– Is my timing on the money? Is the dog associating my corrections with the behavior (the aggression).

– Am I being consistent? (Be honest… if the dog isn’t getting a firm correction EVERY TIME she exhibits the behavior, then it’s no wonder that you’re not getting the results you seek.)

– Are my corrections motivational? If the distraction/stimulus is more motivational than your correction, then you’ll never get any results. You’ll know that your correction is motivational when the dog stops looking at the stimulus and starts looking at you.

Please let me know. However, judging on what you’ve described I would not be surprised if this is mostly the results of poor genetics and weak nerves. And in which case, you will never be able to overcome the dog’s genetics, so the dog should either be put to sleep or confined to such a lifestyle that she only comes in contact with you and people that she does not show the aggression towards. But before you make any snap decisions I would recommend consulting with a professional who can evaluate the dog for you. It’s impossible to give an accurate assessment without seeing the mutt. Err… dog. 😉

Adopting An Affenpinscher

The Affenpinscher is a charming little breed with an almost cute monkey-like appearance.  In fact, the prefix ‘Affen’ is a German word for monkey.  In his country of origin he is often called Zwergaffenpinscher (‘Zwerg’ meaning dwarf.)  The French have dubbed it the “mustached devil.”  In any case, he is an appealing comical little dog, the smallest of the Schnauzers and Pinschers breed.  He is alert, gentle, intelligent, and affectionate.  He is wary of strangers and is always prepared to defend his home which makes him a good watchdog.


Size: The average height for this breed is about 91/2-11in.  His average weight should be about 61/2-9lb.

History and origin: Miniature Pinschers and Affenpinschers were, until 1896, classified as a single breed.  However, in that year at the Berlin show, it was decided that the long-coated variety should be known as the Affenpinscher.  The Affenpinscher is a very old German breed that was depicted by Jan van Eyck (1395-1441) and Albrecht Durer (1471-1528).  However, there are some controversies as to where his origin began, although his nationality was never been in doubt.  Some people believe it to be related to the Brussels Griffon while others attribute the Brussels Griffon to the Affenpinscher.  Another theory is that the Affenpinscher is a toy version of the German coarse-haired terrier, the Zwergschnauzer.  In any case, this wonderful dog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936.  He was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1975 and was first shown at Crufts Dog Show in 1980.

Feeding: Recommended feeding for this breed would be 1/3-1/2 can of quality meat product (13.3oz size), with biscuit added in equal part by volume; or 1-11/2 cupfuls of high quality dry food.  When feeding this dog dry food, make sure that he has an ample supply of water.

Exercise: Just like most toy dogs, he will be satisfied with a short walk around the park, but will gladly walk you off your feet if that is to your pleasure.

Grooming: Regular brushing will keep his coat in great condition, as well as all normal grooming habits of most dogs.

Adopting A Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is a lively and attractive American breed of dog.  It is intelligent, trainable, and makes for a delightful companion who is always ready for a walk or a playful game with its owners.  However, achieving the desired markings can be a show aspirant’s nightmare, and the females frequently require a cesarean section when giving birth (whelping).  These animals will not reach more than 25 pounds in weight.

Brief History: The Boston Terrier, sometimes called the “American Gentleman” can trace its ancestry from the mating of a crossbred Bulldog/terrier called Judge, which was imported to the United States from the United Kingdom in 1865.  In time the English and Staffordshire Bull Terrier were added to the mix through breeding.  At first it was known as the American Bull Terrier, but as a result of objections from other Bull Terrier clubs, it was renamed the Boston Terrier after the city responsible for its development.

Feeding: An ideal meal for this dog would be ½ to 1 can (376g, 13.3 oz size) of a branded, meaty product, with biscuit added in equal part by volume.  Or you may add 1 ½ cupfuls of a dry complete food mixed in the proportion of 1 cup of feed to ½ cup of hot or cold water.

Grooming: You must brush your Boston Terrier every day.  In the United States the ears are cropped in some states according to law.  This practice is illegal in the United Kingdom.  Also, the coat never sheds with this dog breed.

Exercise Requirement: This breed does not need any specific exercise regimen, but of course a normal healthy dose of daily walks is ideal.  Try to offer him as much free movement as possible, but again, there is no required heavy use of exercise that this dog will need.

Adopting A Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is considered to be the world’s tiniest dog, weighing from 2 to 6 pounds.  He is perceptive, intelligent, intensely loyal and passionate, very affordable to keep, and extremely protective of his house – which makes him an excellent miniature guard dog.  And because he is a tiny dog, he easily gets the approval of many landlords; therefore, he is the ideal dog to own for those who live in apartments and small houses.

The adult Chihuahua normally takes a few weeks before he shows his true personality, which keeps his owner under careful observation.  Some Chihuahuas give their owners an impression that they are shy, although what they are actually doing is sizing up their owner to see which one of them is to be the leader in the home.

Brief history: The Chihuahua got its name from the state of Chihuahua in Mexico where he is believed to be the sacred dog of the Incas.  There is a theory that Chihuahuas were once fierce little dogs that lived in holes in the ground, which could well account for their inclination to huddle together in every warm nook and cranny.

Feeding: Chihuahuas only need a small portion of food in each meal.  The requirement of a very small Chihuahua should be 2-3oz of cooked minced beef of a high-quality brand of dog food, along with a handful of puppy biscuits.  These dogs do best on 2 or 3 small meals rather than 1 large daily feeding.  Bigger sizes Chihuahuas are able to eat up to ½ can (13.3oz size) of high-quality dog food or the equivalent portion of home-made dog food, and a handful of biscuits.

Exercise requirement: Contrary to what many people believe, the Chihuahua is ready and able to walk as far as most owners would wish, though he will not object to an occasional ride in a shopping cart either.  He gets most of his needed exercise from running around inside the house as he is playing.  The fact that he only requires moderate exercise makes this dog a great choice of pet for the elderly.

Grooming: The Chihuahua should be groomed using a soft brush.  A rub down with a glove or wet towel makes his coat shine.  His nail needs to be trimmed regularly and the ears need to be kept clean.

Health care: This dog is not as fragile as one might think, but he does not like the cold and appreciates a thick covering to keep him warm outdoors.  He is absolutely not designed for kennel living.  Be careful with his molera, a small opening on top of the skull.  His molera, unlike that of the human baby, may never fill in and a blow on the head could be fatal.  They also have the tendency to shiver.

Adopting A Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Although once popular as a badger and fox hunter, the Dandie Dinmont is now kept mainly as a household pet.  However, they fare batter living indoors as a single pet than living with their fellows in kennels.  They do, however tend to be a little suspicious of strangers, giving  all their devotion to their owner.  They are excellent guard dogs with a bark that should deter any burglar.  The size of this dog breed may reach a height of 11 inches at the top of the shoulder.  The ideal weight for a Dandie Dinmont in good condition is approximately 18 pounds.

Brief History: Most Dandies can be traced back to the late 1700s, to an individual named Piper Allan, something of a character of his day.  He had two Dandie Dinmonts, called Charlie and Peachem.  Also well known is James Davidson, who was renowned for his “pepper and mustard” terriers, so called because of their color.  It was from Davidson that Sir Walter Scott Acquired his dogs, and indeed it was from a character in his novel called “Guy Mannering” that the breed received its name.

Feeding: The Dandie Dinmont is recommended to be fed ½ to 1 can of a branded meaty product (376g, 13.0oz size), with biscuit added in equal part by volume; or 1 ½  cupfuls of a dry, complete food mixed in proportion of 1 cup of feed to ½ cup of water.

Exercise Requirement: The Dandie Dinmont is an adaptable dog and will be happy outside moving around regardless if he is in action killing foxes, or enjoying a slow walk in the park.  It would be unfair to keep this naturally active dog breed at home locked inside without the ability to move about.

Grooming: Grooming this dog is not difficult to do at all.  All you need for equipment is a stiff brush and a comb.  Old hairs should be removed with your finger and thumb, allowing the undercoat to come through.  Incidentally, don’t use a trimming knife, because this will ruin the coat.  For a healthy look, brush your Dandie Dinmont daily.

Adopting An English Cocker Spaniel

This ‘merry’ Cocker, as it is sometimes called makes an excellent family pet.  Being considered as an excellent gun-dog, he is a great dog for Dad to take out shooting with.  And because he is also a good playmate for children, he is the ideal dog for them to romp with in the garden.  He is intelligent, manageable, affectionate, gentle natured, and has a merry temperament.

Size: His ideal weight should be about 28-32lb.  Full grown height for the male should be 151/2-16in and 15-151/2in for the female.

Origin and history: The Cocker Spaniel is very popular in Britain, and in the United States where he is known as the English Cocker.  He is also sometimes referred to as the ‘merry’ Cocker because of his happy and lively temperament and constantly wagging tail.  Other titles that he has been referred to were the Cocking Spaniel or simply “Cocker” because of his one-time prowess at flushing out woodcock.  The Cocker Spaniel was originated in Spain where the name ‘Spaniel’ and his ancestry can be traced all the way back to the 14th century.  He is believed to have been used in various countries in falconry.  Today, however, he is in his element while rabbit hunting, flushing out game for his master.  The larger Field Spaniel is of a similar origin to the Cocker.

Feeding: Recommended feeding for this breed would be 1-11/2 cans of a branded meaty product (13.3oz size) with biscuit added in equal part by volume; or 3 cupfuls of dry food.  Rations will need to be stepped up if the dog is taking vigorous exercise.  This is a breed that will plead endearingly for small meals, which should be denied to avoid it from becoming overweight or smelly.  With correct diet and exercise, he proves to be one of the healthiest and most long-lived of dogs.

Exercise: He is a very active dog that needs plenty of exercise.  He adores the country and is likely to return from a walk with tail wagging and covered with mud so he is not perhaps the ideal choice for town living

Grooming: This breed requires daily brushing and combing.  Extra care is needed to make sure that his coat does not become matted and his ears do not become tangled.  Also, make sure that his ears do not flop into the feeding bowl.  You might want to tape them back while he is eating or you may use a special ‘spaniel’ bowl.