Archive for January, 2012

Dogs are not as colorblind as you think.
Published on October 20, 2008 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions about dog’s vision is whether dogs see colors. The simple answer-namely that dogs are colorblind-has been misinterpreted by people as meaning that dogs see no color, but only shades of gray. This is wrong. Dogs do see colors, but the colors that they see are neither as rich nor as many as those seen by humans.

The eyes of both people and dogs contain special light catching cells called cones that respond to color. Dogs have fewer cones than humans which suggests that their color vision won’t be as rich or intense as ours. However, the trick to seeing color is not just having cones, but having several different types of cones, each tuned to different wavelengths of light. Human beings have three different kinds of cones and the combined activity of these gives humans their full range of color vision.

The most common types of human colorblindness come about because the person is missing one of the three kinds of cones. With only two cones, the individual can still see colors, but many fewer than someone with normal color vision. This is the situation with dogs who also have only two kinds of cones.
Jay Neitz at the University of California, Santa Barbara, tested the color vision of dogs. For many test trials, dogs were shown three light panels in a row–two of the panels were the same color, while the third was different. The dogs’ task was to find the one that was different and to press that panel. If the dog was correct, he was rewarded with a treat that the computer delivered to the cup below that panel.
Neitz confirmed that dogs actually do see color, but many fewer colors than normal humans do. Instead of seeing the rainbow as violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red, dogs would see it as dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow (sort of brown), and very dark gray. In other words, dogs see the colors of the world as basically yellow, blue and gray. They see the colors green, yellow and orange as yellowish, and they see violet and blue as blue. Blue-green is seen as a gray. You can see what the spectrum looks like to people and dogs below.

One amusing or odd fact is that the most popular colors for dog toys today are red or safety orange (the bright orange red on traffic cones or safety vests). However red is difficult for dogs to see. It may appear as a very dark brownish gray or perhaps even a black. This means that that bright red dog toy that is so visible to you may often be difficult for your dog to see. That means that when your own pet version of Lassie runs right past the toy that you tossed she may not be stubborn or stupid. It may be your fault for choosing a toy with a color that is hard to discriminate from the green grass of your lawn.

Dear Wendy Wendt

This note should serve as permission to repost my article on canine color vision which was published on the Psychology Today website. The reposting should contain a credit to me as the author and an active link to my Psychology Today blog website which is http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner

Stanley Coren, PhD, FRSC
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Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia
2136 West Mall
Vancouver, Canada  V6T 1Z4

E-mail: scoren@psych.ubc.ca
Website:  http://www.stanleycoren.com
Blog: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner


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Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is a fairly common respiratory event seen in dogs that can be quite frightening for dog owners to witness. Some owners may think their dog is choking, suffocating or even having a seizure during an episode, but dogs do not lose consciousness, nor do they collapse.

Reverse sneezing, also known as paroxysmal respiration or pharyngeal gag reflex, is not actually a sneeze but a spasm that occurs when the soft palate and throat become irritated. It is termed “reverse sneeze” because the dog is inhaling air rapidly and forcefully instead of expelling air, as with a normal sneeze. This phenomenon is usually harmless and, in most cases, does not require medical treatment.

During a reverse sneeze, which lasts a few seconds up to a minute or two, the dog is usually very still with head and neck extended, mouth closed and the corners of the mouth pulled back. The trachea becomes narrow and it’s more difficult to get a normal amount of air into the lungs. The chest expands as the dog tries harder to inhale.

Corgi during a bout of reverse sneezing

These spasms normally end on their own and pose no threat to your dogs health. Once the episode is over, the dog resumes normal behavior. Smaller breeds are more prone to reverse sneezing and may have several bouts in a row or during a day.

Reverse sneezing can be caused by various types of irritants and even some dog allergies. Dust, pollen, mites, household chemicals and cleaners, perfumes, viruses, nasal inflammation and post-nasal drip are some causes. Some triggers of reverse sneezing are rapid eating or drinking, pulling on the leash and excitement.

Gently massaging your dogs throat may help to stop the spasms. Covering the nostrils is sometimes effective because it makes the dog swallow, which can clear out whatever is causing the irration. Try depressing the dog’s tongue if the episode does not end quickly, as this will open the mouth and aid in moving air through the nasal passages. You can also pick up your dog or take him outside for some fresh air.

If reverse sneezing becomes a chronic problem rather than an occasional occurrence, your veterinarian may need to look up the nasal passages (rhinoscopy), and may even need to take a biopsy to determine the cause of the problem. Sometimes, however, no cause can be identified.


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Lure coursing, the most popular event for the sighthound breeds, entails an open field competition. This competition attempts to create a simulation of a hare’s zigzag path to evade a pursuing hound. The hare’s path is generated by a continuous-loop line through a series of pulleys simulating a non-uniform set of turns. Instead of a live bunny, a set of white bags or plastic strips attached to the line attract the hound’s attention.

A typical lure course is between 600 and 1000 yards (548 to 914 meters) long. In Europe the course length can be over 1000 meters, and may incorporate some obstacles or jumps. The course must have a minimum number of turns in order to simulate prey (the jack-rabbit or hare) changing direction in a chase.

Competition is usually limited to dogs of purebred sighthound breeds and principally run in braces only of the same breed.

However, in February 2011 The American Kennel Club launched a new event – the Coursing Ability Test (CAT) which is open to all registered dogs at least 12 months of age. The purpose of this test is to provide all dogs and their owners an enjoyable, healthy activity in which they can participate.

The course shall be basically rectangular in shape with turns no more acute than 90 degrees. The total length of the course shall be no less than 600 yards and should be as close to 600 yards as is possible. The lure will consist of plastic strips. Depending of the size and type of dog, the dog will run either the full course or a 300 yard course.
Safety is of utmost importance. Many of the dogs running the Coursing Ability Test will not possess the agility of a sight hound and this must be a consideration in the design of a course.

For dogs shorter than 12 inches at the withers and / or brachycephalic (“flat-faced”) dogs the distance is 300 yards. A dog must complete this course in less than 1 ½ minutes. For all other dogs the distance is 600 yards and the dog must complete this course in less than 2 minutes. If there is a question which course a dog should run, the judge will decide.

The Coursing Ability Test is a non-competitive pass / fail event. Dogs run singularly. To pass dogs are required to complete their course with enthusiasm and without interruption within the maximum amount of time for the course length.

The AKC awards the following suffix titles:
CA – Coursing Ability: Three qualifying scores in the Coursing Ability Test from 2 different judges at 3 different tests. A dog must complete the course with enthusiasm and without interruption within a stated maximum amount of time.
CAA – Coursing Ability Advanced: Ten qualifying scores in the Coursing Ability Test.
CAX – Coursing Ability Excellent: Twenty five qualifying scores in the Coursing Ability Test.
CAX2 – Coursing Ability Excellent 2: Fifty qualifying scores in the Coursing Ability Test.
A higher numbered title will be awarded for every additional twenty five passes.

Coursing Corgis
On Saturday, 26 February 2011 Janet Suber’s Spencer (Caduceus Spencer Batrille CD HT GN RAE3 OAP NJP CA) and Scout (Am. Grand Ch. Cardiridge Jean Louise Finch HT RN CA) became the first Cardigans to earn AKC’s new Coursing Ability (CA) title. And the next day Janet was told that Scout was also the first Grand Champion of all breeds to earn the title. Janet who lives in Chattanooga, TN, says that it was a great experience and that the sighthound people were super in helping out all of the newbies.
Mocking Bird Cardigans

Spencer and Scout (in front)

Veni Harlan, breeder of Borzois from Baton Rouge, LA, also has a Cardigan, AmCh. Cornerstone’s Mardi Gras, HT, CGC. Back in 2003 when lure coursing was for sighthounds only, Veni reported that when Mardi was about 5 months old, she brought her along with one of her Borzois to a practice and quickly realized that Mardi was keen on that lure. She wanted it every bit as much as those fanatical whippets. When finally, someone yelled, “let the corgi run!” she slipped her and off she went. The course was straight and about a block long and Mardi stayed right on the lure (shreaded plastic) all the way there and back while everyone clapped and cheered her to the finish. The “coursing cardi,” was so popular, she was asked to be the “official” course tester for the upcoming Louisiana KC Coursing Trial!
Farfield Borzois

Mardi, the coursing cardi

Also in 2003, Sue Hallock reported that her 2½ year old Cardi Louie got the chance to try lure coursing and he LOVED it! What he lacked in speed he more than made up for in enthusiasm. Sue belongs to a medieval living history organization that occasionally does hound coursing. When she was at an event where they were doing it, Louie was frantic to get the lure so Sue decided to give it a try. The course was about the size of 1/3-1/2 a football field and had 3 turns. Afterwards his tongue was hanging out but he was completely focused on the lure and never lost interest or track of the lure at any point.

And Sue added: “Since herding behavior is a modification of a dog’s prey drive, I would think a strong herding instinct would go along with a great desire to chase fast moving things. I would think that most herding dogs would be pretty good coursers (although not matching the speed of the sight hounds). So don’t let those stubby legs fool you. Cardis are natural coursers!”

But Cardigans are not the only ones interested in coursing, there are also some very keen Pembrokes.

Kathleen Mallery from Parma, Idaho writes in February 2011:
“When the Idaho Lure Coursing Club was active, they always offered demo and full courses that we could all run. I ran the Pems every time it was available and found my dogs were quite talented.
I’ll never forget the year our dear Ribbon (Am/Can Ch. Castell Blue Ribbon Special PHC ran for the first time. The course then was just a straight line. Ribbon chased down the lure, shook it “to death” then brought it all the way back to me. People were in awe! At first, when she took off, they laughed because our command was “kill”! Ribbon had a game we played with her by that name so she related and took off like a flash! After that you could hear the “oh, Wow!’s in the audience.”
Castell Pembroke Corgis

Years later, when she was 12, Ribbon ran a full course and never stopped.


Ribbon on her 15th birthday

Peggy Newman from Salt Lake City, Utah used to take her homebred Pembroke bitch Solo (Taflar Scott’s Sweet Solo) to some practices with her whippet Gambler. As Solo did well there, Peggy took her to some trials put on by the club she was involved with and ran her after the trial. Solo would run about half the course, sometimes a little more than half (which is what is needed for the JC title.) A full course is 600-700 or so yards total.

Solo – Photo: Leaping Lizards Photography

Solo was the unofficial mascot for the Utah Sighthound Club for several years and had her own fan club. Soon exhibitors and judges would ask Peggy if she was going to run her corgi and so she did after the trial. The judges told Peggy that Solo was as “keen” on the lure as the sighthounds and had great “follow” and several would gladly have awarded her the legs needed for the JC (Junior Courser) title, but the AKC does not award it to any dogs but sighthounds. This was also before the Idaho club started to offer CAT (Coursing Ability Test) titles.
The only time Solo ever had trouble following the lure was when the grass was a foot over her head. And after that trial the grass was cut down as the basenjis had trouble too!

Coursing Corgi on YouTube

If you would like to test your dog, go to http://www.akc.org/events/performance/ and click on “Coursing Ability Tests” to find one near you.


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