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Archive for the ‘BREEDING AND WHELPING’ Category

Today I’m going to discuss a totally disgusting topic, coprophagia.

Coprophagia is a pleasant term for stool eating.

Although the idea of this activity is totally gross, there is actually one stage in a pet’s life when coprophagia is expected.

When mother dogs and cats have litters, they deliberately consume the feces of their puppies or kittens to hide their scent while the litter is vulnerable and sheltered in the den.

Wendt Worth Corgis Jr Low Riders

Wendt Worth Corgis Jr Low Riders

Beyond that, stool eating — although a very common complaint among pet and especially dog owners – is just plain gross.

Reasons Behind Coprophagic Behavior

Pets eat poop for a variety of reasons. Medical problems are a common cause, including pancreatic insufficiency or enzyme deficiency. Intestinal malabsorption and GI parasites are also common medical reasons that can prompt a dog to eat his own poop.

This is why I recommend dogs have their stools checked by the vet’s office every six months to make sure they’re parasite-free. Healthy dogs can acquire intestinal parasites from eating feces, so twice-yearly stool analysis is a great idea for all dogs.

The pancreas of dogs does secrete some digestive enzymes to aid in the processing of food, but many dogs don’t secrete enough of these enzymes and wind up enzyme deficient. Since the feces of other animals are a source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will ‘recycle’ by eating the enzyme rich poop. Gross, I know, but true.

Rabbit poop is one of the richest sources not only of digestive enzymes, but also B vitamins. Many dogs, if they stumble upon rabbit droppings, will scarf them right up to take advantage of those nutrients.

And dogs on entirely processed, dry food diets, who eat no living foods at all, will intentionally seek out other sources of digestive enzymes to make up for their own lifelong enzyme deficiency.

Cats with enzyme deficiencies, malabsorption, or who are fed poor-quality diets can provide litter box temptations for dogs in the family. Many cheap dry foods contain ingredients that are not bioavailable, so ingredients are passed out in the stool undigested, providing scavenging dogs with the opportunity to “recycle.”

Feeding your pet a diet containing human-grade protein, probiotics and supplemental digestive enzymes can sometimes curb the urge to find gross sources of free enzymes around the yard or in the litter box.

Coprophagia Can Also Be a Behavioral Problem

Another cause for coprophagia in dogs is behavioral.

Some dogs, especially those in kennel situations, may eat feces because they are anxious and stressed.

Research also suggests dogs who are punished by their owners for inappropriate elimination develop the idea that pooping itself is bad. So they try to eliminate the evidence by consuming their feces.

Another theory that seems to hold some weight is that coprophagia is a trait noted in all canines – wolves, coyotes and domesticated dogs – and arises when food is in short supply.

Sadly, I see this most often in puppy mill dogs. Puppies who go hungry, are weaned too young, have to fight for a place at a communal food dish, or are forced to sit for weeks in a tiny crate with nothing to do, are at high risk of developing habitual stool-eating behavior that becomes impossible to extinguish.

Coprophagic behavior can also be a learned behavior. Older dogs with the repulsive habit can teach it to younger dogs in the household.

Like a dysfunctional game of ‘monkey see, monkey do,’ one dog can teach the rest of the pack that this is what you do while wandering around the backyard.

Wendt Worth Corgis Low Rider

Wendt Worth Corgis Low Rider

When Poop Eating is Compulsive

Some scientists believe dogs eat poop simply because it tastes good to them.

I disagree with this.

Some dogs have weirdly strange ‘standards’ about the poop they eat. It’s strange to think any standard is applied to poop as a food group, but for example, some dogs eat only frozen poop (we affectionately refer to these as poopsicles at my practice).

Others consume only the poop of a specific animal. Still others only eat poop at certain times of the year.

So some dogs who stumble upon feces occasionally decide to sample it, while others become completely obsessed with eating certain specific poop.

Tips for Curbing Your Dog’s Revolting Habit

What we do know for sure is dogs don’t eat poop because they have a poop deficiency!

Fortunately, there are some common sense ways to reduce your dog’s coprophagia habit.

  • First on the agenda is to pick up your dog’s poop immediately, as soon after he eliminates as possible. Don’t give him the opportunity to stumble across old feces in his potty spot.
  • Next, if you have cats, get a self-cleaning litter box or place the box in a location in your home where you dog can’t get to it.
  • I also recommend you improve your pet’s diet as much as possible, and add digestive enzymes and probiotics at meal time.
  • Offer toys to your dog that challenge his brain and ease boredom.
  • Sufficient exercise is also crucial in keeping your dog’s body and mind stimulated. Bored dogs tend to develop far stranger, disturbing habits and behaviors than dogs that get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Lastly, consider trying one (or more than one) of the many over-the-counter coprophagia deterrent products. These are powders you either sprinkle on the stool itself or feed with meals to create an unpalatable stool. But keep in mind these powders contain MSG, including most of the remedies you can buy online.

    Also, you may have heard you can add a meat tenderizer to your dog’s food or stool to discourage poop eating, but most meat tenderizing products also contain MSG.

    I recommend you look for a non-toxic deterrent than doesn’t contain MSG.

If your pet’s coprophagic behavior seems to be going from bad to worse, make sure to talk to your vet about your concerns. You definitely want to rule out any underlying medical reason for this very gross, yet very common behavior problem.

 

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.
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By Dr. Becker

Puppies go through several development stages on their way to adulthood.

The goal of any breeder or pet owner should be to take maximum advantage of each sensitive stage by providing the puppy with age-appropriate social and learning opportunities.

  • Between 4 and 8+ weeks, puppies learn best how to interact with other dogs.
  • Between 5 and 10+ weeks, they grow adept at interacting with humans.
  • Between 5 and 16 weeks, they are most able to investigate new environments and stimuli. And in fact, a puppy not given a full range of socialization opportunities by about 10 weeks can develop fear of the unfamiliar.
Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

How a Puppy Learns Dog-to-Dog Skills

Prior to about 8½ weeks of age, puppies are primarily working on their dog-to-dog skills. It’s beneficial and therefore preferable during this period for a puppy to remain with his parents and littermates. The better your puppy’s social foundation with other dogs, the more equipped he’ll be to manage a brand new world – your world.

Responsible breeders keep new litters for at least 8½ weeks and sometimes longer if they plan to begin housetraining and socialization before sending the pups to their new homes.

The biggest advantage to leaving your puppy with the breeder until she’s at least 8½ weeks is to allow her to develop socially with other dogs.

Other ways to socialize young puppies (those receiving timely core vaccines and other preventive healthcare) include play dates with other puppies and puppy day care or kindergarten.

An older dog in the family can also be a great teacher for a new pup. Just make sure the current dog is well-behaved, or puppy will learn the older pet’s bad habits!

It’s not a foregone conclusion a puppy who doesn’t receive the right experiences at the right stages of development will grow into a dog with behavior problems. But why take the risk? Why not try to do everything right, right off the bat, with your new furry bundle?

I can’t guarantee you’ll wind up with a perfect pet. But I can promise your efforts will accomplish two things:

  • You’ll reduce your dog’s risk of developing behavioral problems.
  • You’ll dramatically increase your chances of sharing your life with a balanced, confident canine companion.

Your Job Once Puppy Comes Home: Socialization and More Socialization

In his first two months with you, your puppy should:

  • Learn to accept being handled and having all his body parts touched.
  • Be introduced to as many healthy and safe people, animals, places, situations, sights and sounds as possible.
  • Be encouraged to explore and investigate his environment, with supervision.
  • Be exposed to lots of toys, games, surfaces and other stimuli.
  • Take car rides with you to new, unfamiliar environments.

One of the most important challenges in socializing your puppy is to minimize the fear he feels while you expose him to a wide range of unfamiliar stimuli he will encounter in his new life with you. This means you need to recognize and understand puppy fear.

 

Graduation Day

Graduation Day

How to Recognize Puppy Fears and What to Do About Them

Your pup may act a bit startled when she encounters someone or something new or unfamiliar. This is fine as long as she recovers quickly, remains curious, and is willing to continue on with the adventure. This indicates she’s adapting normally to strange stimuli.

If, however, she doesn’t recover within a few minutes, it’s not okay.

And certainly if your puppy is so upset she starts crying, pees or poops out of fear, or tries to find a place to hide, it’s not okay. It’s also never okay to ‘toughen up’ a puppy by deliberately scaring her. This will only intensify the problem.

Other signs of fear in your dog can include:

  • Whining
  • Avoidance
  • Salivating
  • Withdrawal
  • Excessive panting
  • Refusal to eat
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting; diarrhea
  • Scanning
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Vigilance

Research shows puppies can inherit fearful tendencies which can be spotted as early as 5 weeks of age.

And pups who are anxious worriers at 3 months will grow into worried, anxious adults without proper intervention.

The earlier you recognize and seek help for fear-related behaviors in your puppy, the better the outcome. I recommend you talk with your holistic vet, a responsible breeder, and/or an animal behavior specialist about how to help an abnormally fearful or anxious puppy.

Please don’t make the mistake of assuming if you continue to expose your dog to a fearful situation she’ll overcome her fear. In fact, the opposite will happen and you and your furry companion will end up dealing with a long-term, intractable problem.

When Your Puppy is Ready for Housetraining

Among the many things your puppy needs to learn in his first months of life is that his bathroom is outdoors.

The age to begin house training your puppy is around 8½ weeks. Before 8 weeks of age, most puppies haven’t yet developed the neurological control to hold back eliminating –they have no choice but to go when nature calls, wherever they happen to be at the moment.

At 8½ weeks, your pup will be at the right age to select his preferred surface (for example, grass or cement or another outdoor substrate) and take action.

A dog at 8½ weeks is able to make a mental connection between the scent and surface of his potty spot and the act of going potty. And nature has arranged it that this is also the age at which your puppy becomes aware he can control when and where he piddles and poops. It’s fine to begin the process of housebreaking a puppy the minute you bring him home, but he may not begin to fully understand the process until 8½ weeks of age.

The goal of house training is actually two goals:

  1. Teaching puppy to go in his potty spot
  2. Teaching him to wait to go until he reaches that potty spot

Not every 8.5-week-old puppy is the same. Some puppies will pick up the whole outside potty thing quickly. Others will take more time, effort and patience.

You should anticipate and prepare for the occasional accident as your canine youngster learns this crucial but complex skill.

Remember — your new puppy is much more than an adorable ball of energy. He’s also a furry little sponge, ready to soak up everything you can show him about how to get along in his new life with you.

Make those precious first six months of your puppy’s life really count. You’ll be so glad you did!

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

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By Dr. Becker

Here’s more proof puppies need to stay with their families of origin (their litters and the mother dog) for at least the first two months of life …

A study done in Italy and just reported in Veterinary Record, the official journal of the British Veterinary Association provides yet more evidence puppies should not be separated from their mother and littermates too early.

The study, titled Prevalence of owner-reported behaviours in dogs separated from the litter at two different ages, involved 140 adult dogs. Half were taken from their litters at 30 to 40 days of age and half were removed at 60 days.

Half the dogs were purchased at pet shops, a third came from a friend or relative, and the rest came from breeders.

The study results indicate the puppies separated early from their litters were significantly more likely to develop behavior problems as adults than puppies who stayed with their littermates for at least two months.

The ‘Sensitive Period’ in a Puppy’s Development

There is evidence certain behavior tendencies in dogs — anxiety, fearfulness, noise phobia, aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example – have a genetic component.

However, researchers and experts in the field of canine behavior believe it is a combination of genetics, environment and experience (nature and nurture) that contributes most significantly to behavioral development.

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

We know for a fact puppies pass through a sensitive stage during which it is critically important they be well socialized to other dogs, humans, and a wide variety of stimuli in their environment.

During this important period, generally agreed to be from around 2½ to 3 weeks through 12 to 14 weeks, a puppy’s brain is primed to accept new experiences with minimal fear. The experiences the pup has during this sensitive time actually have the capacity to modify the brain. What your puppy experiences (or doesn’t experience) during this stage of development has a profound impact on his adult character, temperament and behavior.

Since part of a pup’s socialization is learning appropriate dog-to-dog interaction, it is in the best interests of puppies to remain with the mother and littermates until they are at least 8 to 8½ weeks old.

Research suggests many of the social and behavioral problems seen in adult dogs have their roots in too-early separation from the litter.

Purpose of the Italian Study

The intent of the study was to determine if and how early separation from the litter plays a role in undesirable behavior in adult dogs.

The measured behaviors:

Aversion to strangers Toy possessiveness Stranger aggression Paw licking
Excessive barking Food possessiveness Owner aggression Shadow staring
Fear during walks Attention-seeking Play biting Pica
Reactivity to noises Destructiveness Tail chasing House soiling

The dogs in the study ranged in age from 18 months to 7 years, and the information about their behavior came from a questionnaire their owners completed.

Intriguing Results

Two behaviors were the most frequently reported among all dogs (those removed early from litters and those removed at 60 days) according to their owners:

  • 68 percent of the dogs were attention seekers – they nuzzled, pawed or jumped up on family members looking for attention and physical contact
  • 60 percent showed signs of fear when exposed to loud noises

Also in terms of the entire group of dogs, age played a factor in two behaviors. Dogs under 3 years of age were significantly more prone to tail chasing and destructiveness than older dogs.

A much larger proportion of early separated dogs demonstrated all listed behaviors with the exception of pica (eating non-food material), owner directed aggression, shadow staring and paw licking.

Also, dogs separated early and purchased from a pet shop showed much greater tendency toward toy possessiveness, fearfulness on walks, attention-seeking, stranger aversion, excessive barking, destructiveness and play biting. Dogs from pet shops not separated early from their litters had fewer of the same behavior issues, which leads to one to conclude early separation combined with temporary housing at pet stores is particularly inhibiting to a puppy’s social development.

What It All Means

The conclusion we can draw from the Italian study is that early separation from the litter sets the stage for behavior problems in adult dogs. And if the early separated puppy is also moved directly to a pet store-type environment, the problem can be exacerbated.

To illustrate the significance in a puppy’s life of time-sensitive, appropriate socialization, the study authors offer the following:

Much of what is learned during the sensitive period results in stimulus-specific and long-lasting behavioural changes, potentially providing a foundation for many adult behaviour patterns and problems (Fox 1978, Godbout and others 2007), aversions, social responsiveness (Scott 1958), patterns of active and passive agonistic behaviour (Fox 1966), general activity levels (Wright 1983), reactions to separation (Pettijohn 1977), approach-avoidance patterns (Fox 1966), the development of social hierarchical relationships (Scott and Fuller 1965), anxiety (Ramos and Mills 2009) and functional fear responses (Melzack and Scott 1957).

As you can see, the ‘sensitive period’ is a powerful molding process for puppies.

There’s enormous benefit to be gained or potentially lost in how a very young puppy is handled – whether she’s old enough to leave the litter, her first environment away from her mother and littermates, and how and to what degree she’s socialized by her human family to a new life full of unfamiliar people, animals and other stimuli.

The Dam Provides a Secure Base from Which Her Puppies Can Explore the World

When a puppy remains with her mom and siblings during the earliest part of socialization (2½ – 4 weeks to 8 weeks), she is able to learn dog-to-dog social development from them.

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

Wendt Worth Corgis Litter

According to study authors:

During the socialisation period, puppies are normally exposed to novel environmental stimuli within the context of the guidance and reassuring presence of their dam. From about three weeks of age, puppies become extremely distressed if they are placed in a strange situation without their dam, littermates and nest sites (Elliot and Scott 1961).

The authors go on to say that absent the security of their mother and siblings, the early separated dogs were much more likely than the other group to exhibit avoidant and fearful behaviors. Specifically they were:

  • 15 times more likely to be fearful on walks
  • 7 times more likely to have attention-seeking behaviors and noise reactivity
  • 6 times more likely to bark excessively

Study authors also found behavioral problems were more likely to develop in dogs obtained from shelters and pet shops, as well as in strays.

It can be reasonably assumed puppies in these groups aren’t adequately socialized. They are also often the result of poor breeding practices. In addition, the pet shop or shelter experience may have lasting effects, as would being homeless.

How We Can Use These Study Results

Some important potential benefits of this study:

  • It provides further evidence that early separation from the litter influences specific problem behavior patterns in adult dogs.
  • With this knowledge, we can continue to stress the importance of keeping litters together with the mother until the puppies are at least 8 weeks of age.
  • It may generate ‘early behavior intervention’ information and ideas for owners of early separated puppies.
  • It re-emphasizes 1) the potentially harmful effects of housing puppies in pet shop and shelter environments, 2) the critical importance of appropriate and time sensitive socialization of puppies, and 3) the need for behavioral intervention for early separated dogs and those who’ve spent time in pet shop and shelter environments.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of HealthyPets.Mercola.com. You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to MercolaHealthyPets.com, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.


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UPDATE: This essay is now available as a two-page PDF handout for easy printing and distribution.

Note: HumaneWatch’s editor recently traveled down to the Palmetto State in order to attend his first dog show. Here’s his report:

I spent this weekend at the Myrtle Beach Kennel Club’s all-breed dog show in Florence, South Carolina. The club invited me down to talk about the threats its members are facing from the Humane Society of the United States and the rest of the animal rights movement. Since I had never been to a dog show, I said yes. (I grew up thinking that “fancy” was an adjective. Silly me.)

I’m not a big fan of people who pooh-pooh things they’ve never tried or seen up-close. If one of my children says she “doesn’t like” something on the dinner table before taking even a tiny bite—well, let’s just say that doesn’t wash in my house.

And I’ve always thought the whole “dog show” community was rather mysterious, a kind of benevolent secret society with its own rules, customs, and vocabulary. Sorta like Deadheads, but with a lot better grooming and a lot less fleas.

Truth be told, the dog breeders I met this weekend do have their own peculiar ways of saying and doing things. But they’re really just ordinary people with a shared hobby. They’re really into what they do. And they taught me a lot in just a Saturday. Here’s some of what I learned.

——-

  1. When you go to a dog show, bring your own chair. But don’t be surprised if someone offers to lend you theirs. (I’m typing this in someone else’s customized, embroidered lawn chair.)
  2. Dog shows are competitive, but the people involved are remarkably supportive of their human opponents. I heard a steady stream of “congratulations!” offered to blue-ribbon holders from handlers who were trotting away empty-handed.
  3. If you’re a first-timer who asks “what kind of dog is that?” too loudly, somebody might look at you funny.
  4. These people treat their dogs like royalty. It was 90 degrees in the shade on Saturday, and the dogs had shade, electric fans, and cold water—even if their owners didn’t.
  5. Judging from this weekend, the typical show-dog handler isn’t a stuffy Brit wearing Saville Row tweed. She—yes, she—is an energetic 40-year-old married mom whose husband packs up the kids and brings them along on the trip.
  6. Sometimes the kids strut the dogs around the ring. The under-18 handlers even have their own judging category in which their skills are being judged, not the qualities of their dogs.
  7. The name of the game is “conformation” (not “confirmation,” as I used to think). Dog show breeders are trying to breed animals that “conform” to a set ideal of how a breed can look, “gait,” and behave if they do everything right. (I read an article in Wired this week about how Cheetos in the factory are checked every 30 minutes against a “reference sample” from Frito-Lay headquarters, just to make sure the ideal color, texture, and crispiness is being matched. It’s kinda like that, but it takes years for these folks to make a single Cheeto. And Cheetos don’t pee on you.)
  8. Watch where you step in the parking lot.

If this particular dog show is any indication of what’s typical, the “dog fancy” is a lot of fun for a lot of people who contribute a lot of money to the economy—and aren’t hurting anyone. “If we’re not having fun here,” one judge told me, very much off-the-cuff, “we shouldn’t be doing this.”

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Humane Society of the United States has such a visceral hatred of everything they stand for.

I think what’s going on is that HSUS, PETA, and other animal rights groups are conflating breeders whose main goal is to sell puppies with those who just happen to really love Pomeranians, Pinschers, or Poodles. This latter clique of people (far larger than the former) shows their favorite animals because they’re proud of them, not because they believe it will make their next litter worth more money.

It’s not hard to understand HSUS’s stated motivation for attacking people who breed dogs. The group wants everyone to believe that rampant pet overpopulation in America is all their fault. But personally, I just don’t see it.

I didn’t meet “puppy millers” this weekend. I met hobbyists, just like if I were at a model railroad convention, an antique fair, or a swim meet. They ask after each others’ kids. They visit each other in the hospital. They have knitting circles where the dogs watch approvingly. They’re 50 percent garden club, 50 percent church pot-luck. Zero percent animal abusers.

I asked one breeder how much money she had spent raising her champion dog, a mammoth Anatolian shepherd. “Who knows?” she answered. “I never really added it up. If you’re pinching pennies you probably aren’t treating the dog right.” In addition to the two purebred dogs she was showing, she had “two rescue mutts at home, and they have the same food, supplements, and everything else my show dogs get.”

And when I asked one of the veteran breeders how many of her peers raise dogs so they can sell the litters commercially, she looked at me like I was from Mars. “We all sell dogs, son,” she told me. “But none of us make a cent doing it. And I know where all my dogs live. If anyone can’t provide for them, we take ‘em back.” And then, almost as an afterthought: “I sure don’t want any of mine going to the pound or a rescue.”

Everyone I asked about this had the same kind of answer. If they found out that any of their puppies wound up in a shelter, they’d sure do something about it.

So why all the hostility from the Humane Society of the United States? Why did I hear from North and South Carolinians who had beaten back attempt after attempt from HSUS to have them taxed, registered, regulated, raided, and otherwise priced out of their hobby? What is it about these men, women, and children, so passionate about running up and down a concrete floor with their pets, that demands intervention from activists who think they know better?

Maybe it’s that HSUS thinks the only way to shut down “puppy mills” is to paint every dog breeder with the same broad brush. Maybe. I haven’t yet really wrapped my mind around why HSUS is opposed to everything I saw this weekend. I just know that it is.

As with pretty much every group of ranchers, dairymen, biomedical research scientists, and chicken farmers I’ve met, the breeders I spoke with this weekend had varying levels of awareness about the looming political threat from HSUS. Some of them can’t be bothered to be bothered. Others are fired up at the mere mention of Wayne Pacelle’s name.

“Somebody has to take that guy on,” one 50-ish man barked when I brought up the name of HSUS’s CEO. “That whole movement is nuts. After I showed up to lobby against HSUS’s last North Carolina breeder tax, I started getting calls in the middle of the night, untraceable phone calls, from these people saying they were going to come on my property, take my dogs, and burn my house down. I told ‘em my new rifle has an awesome night scope. That pretty much ended it.”

I spoke to the crowd after the Best In Show was awarded, in this case to a fluffy pekingese named “Noelle.” I told them that their problem is the same as the one faced by pork producers, egg farmers, dairymen, and even cancer researchers. But it was up to them to reach beyond their circle of friends—outside their comfort zone—if their kids and grandkids were going to keep being Junior Handlers and continue to raise the dog breeds they’ve come to love.

At the end of the day, I have to be skeptical of HSUS’s blanket condemnation of pet breeders. I’m confident that there are some horrible ones out there, as there are with any group of people (including animal activists…), but any legislative or cultural movement that lumps the people I met this weekend in with the bad actors is just plain wrong-headed.

Because the dogs I met in South Carolina were among the best-cared-for animals I’ve ever seen. Anyone who’s truly interested in animal welfare would want to make sure more dogs—not fewer—are treated this way. So how ’bout it, Wayne? Why aren’t you promoting dog shows?

Probably because you’ve never been to one.

Posted on 05/24/2010 at 09:55 AM by the HumaneWatch Team

Gov’t, Lobbying, PoliticsPets • (153) Comments

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17:09 21 July 2011  

MacGregor Campbell, consultant X-Ray Video Reveals How  A Dog Moves

From Great Danes to dachshunds, dogs can have radically different body types. But now X-ray video is revealing striking similarities between the way different breeds move (see video above).

Martin Fischer and colleagues at Jena University in Germany used high-speed X-ray cameras to film hundreds of dogs representing 32 different breeds. Then they compared the footage with 3D motion-capture data to create a precise profile of how each breed walks, trots, and runs.

The team found that during most movements, a dog’s shoulder joints stay still. Their forelimbs rotate around the shoulder blade which is connected to the rest of the skeleton by muscles. Thanks to the X-ray view, they also found that the shoulder blade and forearm move in sync, as do the thigh and foot. Therefore if the shoulder blade is parallel to the ground, the forearm is too.

ScienceDaily (May 31, 2011) — Zoologists of Jena University have presented the results of an extensive study worldwide concerning the motion of dogs and offered new insights into their course of movement.

How does a dog run? Until now even experts found it nearly impossible to answer this simple sounding question. “We simply didn’t know,” says Professor Dr. Martin S. Fischer from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). A dog moves on four legs, in pacing, trotting or galloping. But so far, scientists could only guess at the exact motion sequence within the locomotor system. The reason being: “So far scientific studies were limited mostly to the movement of sick animals or to single aspects of locomotion,” says Fischer, Professor of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology. To change this, Fischer and his team started a comprehensive study about the locomotion of healthy dogs in 2006 and have now presented the results.

With enormous technical effort the scientists measured, documented and compared the motion sequences of 327 dogs from 32 different breeds. The dogs were filmed by two high speed cameras in different gaits from the front and from the side. “In addition we analysed the movements three-dimensionally,” Dr. Karin Lilje explains. For this, the zoologist glued reflecting markers on the skin of the animals and filmed their movements with infrared cameras. These sent out short flashes and registered their reflections. Up to 1.000 images per second went into these analyses. “As the reflections were being recorded from several cameras we could assess the position of the markers in the room from the data,” Dr. Lilje continues. Additionally, the movements of the dogs were recorded with a high speed X-ray video system. The University Institute for Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology, which the Phyletisches Museum is also part of, owns one of the most modern and efficient systems of this type. “By combining these three methods data about the movement of dogs are available now in a precision so far unknown,” says Fischer.

Numerous displays and preparations of skeletons in today’s schoolbooks and museums show how patchy and in some aspects fundamentally incorrect the knowledge about the locomotor system was until now: The displays position the hip and shoulder joint of the animals on the same level. “However this implies that these two joints correlate with each other and that they are the centre of rotation in the movement — which is wrong as we could now prove with the help of our analyses,” Professor Fischer points out. According to this in the course of the evolution limbs with three — formerly two — segments each developed from the legs. “And so the shoulder blade is added to the forelegs as a segment close to the body while the middle foot of the hind leg is being rebuilt,” explains evolutionary biologist Fischer. Therefore it is not thigh and upper arm and lower leg and forearm that are correlated but the shoulder blade and the thigh, the upper arm and lower leg and forearm and middle foot. The centre of rotation of the front legs is the shoulder blade which is only connected to the skeleton through the musculature. The actual shoulder joint stays nearly immobile in the dogs’ process of movement.

CH Wendt Worths Beyond Boundaries Lark

CH Wendt Worths Beyond Boundaries Lark

“These findings will alter the academic teaching,” Professor Fischer is convinced. For this zoologists present comprehensive material with their scientific results: With the help of high definition X-ray and position data the scientists animated the course of motion into video sequences. Thus not only the dogs’ skeletons can be viewed from all sides, the corresponding patterns of musculature and activity can also be studied in detail according to the gait and the phase of the movement. “In contrast to previous animations our video sequences are based on exact measurements. With this we are setting new standards,” Fischer believes.

The Jena study provides another astonishing insight into the locomotion of dogs regarding the proportions of the front legs of the dog breeds examined. These were nearly identical in all dog breeds — although, according to Fischer “it is clear that the upper arm of a Schnauzer is shorter than that of a Great Dane.” Regarding the total length of a foreleg its length is always exactly 27 percent. Whereas the relative length of the shoulder blade varies between 24 and 34 percent. “The shoulder blade of short legged dogs is relatively long and that of greyhounds is relatively short. But the length of the upper arm always stays the same.”

CH Wendt Worths Meadowlark Lyric

CH Wendt Worths Meadowlark Lyric

Moreover the zoologists owe the discovery that the shoulder blade and forearm and the thigh and the middle foot are moving in matched motion — as if linked — to the X-ray view. “If the forearm is in a vertical position, then the shoulder blade will be in the same position,” the Jena scientist explains. In its motion sequence this principle of a ‘pantograph leg’ is highly dependent on the length of the segment in between. “And that is the upper arm that is exactly the same length in every dog.” From this can be concluded that all dogs run very similarly, no matter if they weigh two or eighty kilograms.

Friedrich Schiller University Jena (2011, May 31). Insights into the motion of dogs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/05/110527080325.htm 

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By Anita Nordlunde 3/05/2011

Pembroke

The breed standard for the eye colour of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi says:
KC/FCI: Preferably dark, to blend with coat. One or both eyes pale blue, blue or blue flecked, permissible only in blue merles.
AKC: Clear and dark in harmony with coat color. Blue eyes (including partially blue eyes), or one dark and one blue eye permissible in blue merles, and in any other coat color than blue merle are a disqualification.

Eyes of blue merle Cardigans 

Cardigan
Puppy with two blue eyes
Cardigan
Adult with one brown and
one blue flecked eye
Cardigan
Adult with one blue and
one brown eye

And for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi:
KC/FCI: brown, blending with colour of coat.
AKC: Variations of brown in harmony with coat color.While dark eyes enhance the expression, true black eyes are most undesirable, as are yellow or bluish eyes.

It occasionally happens that a tricolor, red, sable or brindle Cardigan has one, very rarely two blue eyes. These so-called “wall eyes” do not automatically indicate that the dog carries the merle gene. There is a type of blue eye that follows a different pattern of inheritance. It is genetically the same sort of blue eye found, e.g. in the Siberian Husky. This type of blue eye is also seen in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, albeit equally rarely.

Cardigan
Sable Cardi with one blue eye
Cardigan
Brindle Cardi with one blue eye
Cardi
Brindle Cardi with two blue eyes
Pembroke
Pem with two blue eyes
Pembroke
Pem with one blue eye
Pembroke
Pem with one blue eye
Pembroke
Pem with one blue eye

The following is partly a quote from an old article Genetics of the Blue Eye written by Libby Babin (Babinette Shelties, USA):

“Research shows that this sort of blue eye occurs in the approximate proportion of one out of sixteen from parents that carry the recessive genes for this blue eye. Those two genes are inherited in an entirely different manner, the merle gene being an autosomal dominant and the blue eye being a polygenic recessive.

This blue eye does not appear as frequently as one could expect of the usual recessive quality because it depends on a polygenic mode of inheritance; that is, a blue eye does not appear unless there are more than one pair of recessive genes in a homozygous or pure state.

The diagram shows the recominbations possible of two pairs of genes in the mating of individuals that are heterozygous for both genes. The genes are labelled Aa and Bb. The capital letters represent the dominant gene for dark eyes and the lower-case letter is the recessive for the blue eye. The puppy must have four genes for the recessive quality in order to have a blue eye. The number of genes necessary for a blue eye to occur is theoretical at this point of research. We know that it takes at least two pairs.

Sire (AaBb) x Dam (AaBb)
A and B – the presence of either of these genes assures brown eyes.
a and b – four of these genes are necessary to produce a blue eye. 

AB Ab aB ab
AB

AABB

AABb

AaBB

AaBb

Ab 5
AABb

AAbb

AaBb

Aabb

aB

AaBB

10 

AaBb

11 

aaBB

12 

aaBb

ab 13 

AaBb

14 

Aabb

15 

aaBb

16 

aabb

Notice that out of the sixteen there is only one that is homozygous (pure) for the dominant quality (AABB), thus cannot produce or pass on genes for anything but brown-eyed offspring and only one that is homozygous (pure) for the recessive quality (aabb), thus expresses the blue eye. The possibility of this particular pair coming up with that one-out-of-sixteen puppy is there, but rather slim.

The diagram also shows all the other possible combinations of these two pairs of genes. We can see the reasons why one cannot declare an individual free of the recessives by breeding results in just one generation as is possible for a simple recessive. For example, any dog with the pairing of either dominant such as AAbb or aaBB will be incapable of producing a blue-eyed puppy, yet they are passing along recessives for the quality – recessives that may be just the key to bring out the blue eye in the next generation. In the mating of AAbb to aaBB the offspring would all be the same, AaBb. These, of course, take us right back to the examples in the diagram.

All this adds up to the fact that this unwanted blue eye is genetically well-established in the breed; even a line that never produces the blue eye can still be carrying the genes for this quality; that it can and does reappear in the most unexpected places.

It would be impossible to eliminate these recessives without “sweeping” out our best studs and bitches, and we still could not be sure of any degree of success. The best course for breeding success still remains in the careful selection of our breeding stock for the desired qualities of the whole dog and in not getting lost in any one detail which is purely cosmetic and in no way detrimental to the dog’s health.”

Why do blue eyes reflect red?

The pupils of dogs with brown eyes reflect either green or yellowish when photographed with flashlight whereas dogs with blue eyes reflect red.


Red Cardigan with brown eyes

Dogs (and cats) have an iridescent layer behind the retina, the so-called tapetum lucidum, which gives a shining appearance to the eyes when illuminated in the dark. This layer acts like a mirror and reflects light back through the retina thus improving vision in low-light conditions.

The red reflection is caused by the lack of pigmentation or lack of tapetum lucidum whereby the underlying choroidea shines through just like in the eyes of humans who don’t have a tapetum lucidum. The colour of the iris itself is of virtually no importance for the red-eye effect.

The cells of the tapetum are modified melanocytes but do not produce pigment (in contrast to genuine melanocytes). Some genes responsible for the general pigmentation, such as the merle gene (M) and the extreme-white piebald gene, also adversely affect the development of the tapetum, its structure and/or function. In certain cases the tapetum lucidum may even be absent altogether. So far, there is no clinical evidence that the lack of tapetum impairs the dog’s vision at night.

In blue merles even the brown eyes reflect red, whereas in Corgis who do not carry the merle gene only the blue eye reflects red as is beautifully illustrated by the photo of the Pembroke puppy with one brown and one blue eye.

Cardigan
Blue merle Cardi with one blue and
one brown eye (same dog as above)
Pembroke
Pem puppy with one blue eye

I wish to thank all those who have sent me photos of their dogs with blue-eye dogs. Special thanks go to ophtalmologist Dr.med.vet. Marianne Richter, Dipl.ECVO, http://www.eyevet.ch, for assistance regarding the “red” eye effect.

Welsh Corgi New in English

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WENDT WORTH CORGIS DM CLEAR LITTER

WENDT WORTH CORGIS DM CLEAR LITTER

To learn more about this litters sire and dam…please visit our website by clicking the picture.

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