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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.


Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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 

Read Full Post »

By Anita Nordlunde 3/05/2011


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 

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

Sable Cardi with one blue eye
Brindle Cardi with one blue eye
Brindle Cardi with two blue eyes
Pem with two blue eyes
Pem with one blue eye
Pem with one blue eye
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 5












ab 13 








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.

Blue merle Cardi with one blue and
one brown eye (same dog as above)
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

Read Full Post »



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

Read Full Post »

A study comparing a University of Pennsylvania method for evaluating a dog’s susceptibility to hip dysplasia to the traditional American method has shown that 80 percent of dogs judged to be normal by the traditional method are actually at risk for developing osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia, according to the Penn method.

The results indicate that traditional scoring of radiographs that certify dogs for breeding underestimate their osteoarthritis susceptibility. The results are of clinical importance to several populations, most notably veterinarians, breeders and pet owners.

The two hip screening methods — the standard Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, or OFA model, and Penn Vet’s PennHIP model — were applied to a sample of 439 dogs older than 2 years. The four most common breeds included in the study were German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and Rottweilers, all breeds commonly susceptible to hip dysplasia.

According to Penn researchers, even if breeders were to selectively breed only those dogs having OFA-rated “excellent” hips — the highest ranking but in some breeds, a very small gene pool, the study suggests that 52-100 percent of the progeny, depending on breed, would be susceptible to hip dysplasia based on the Penn Vet scoring method.

“We believe the lower rates of hip laxity detection using the OFA methods are not the fault of the expert radiologist reading the radiograph but rather a deficiency of the radiographic view,” said veterinary surgeon Gail Smith, professor of orthopaedic surgery, lead author and director of the PennHIP Program. “We believe many veterinarians are not using the best test to control a disease. In many ways this is an animal-welfare issue.”

The findings point to a weakness in current breeding practices. If breeders continue to select breeding candidates based upon traditional scores, then, according to the Penn study, breeders will continue to pair susceptible dogs and fail to improve hip quality in future generations. Despite well intentioned hip-screening programs to reduce the frequency of the disease, canine hip dysplasia continues to have a high prevalence worldwide with no studies showing a significant reduction in disease frequency using mass selection.

Canine hip dysplasia, or CHD, is defined by the radiographic presence of hip joint laxity or osteoarthritis with hip subluxation (laxity) early in life. A developmental disease of complex inheritance, it is one of the most common orthopaedic diseases in large and giant-breed dogs and causes pain and loss of mobility.

The traditional OFA screening method relies heavily on conventional hip-extended, or HE, radiographs, which the study contends do not provide critical information needed to accurately assess passive hip joint laxity and therefore osteoarthritis susceptibility.

“We suspect that all hip-screening systems worldwide based on the HE radiograph have similar diagnostic deficiencies,” Smith said. “Hopefully, our results will motivate veterinarians and breeders to consider this newer approach.”

To achieve genetic control of CHD, researchers said, an accurate test must minimize false-negative diagnoses which mistakenly permit the breeding of dogs that carry genes coding for CHD. Particularly for a late-onset disease such as CHD, dogs remaining in the gene pool must not only be free of obvious signs of CHD at the time of evaluation (2 years of age for OFA) but ideally should not be susceptible to the osteoarthritis of CHD that occurs later in life.

The PennHIP method quantifies hip laxity using the distraction index, or DI, metric which ranges from a low of .08 to greater than 1.5. Smaller numbers mean better hips. The PennHIP DI has been shown in several studies at multiple institutions to be closely associated with the risk of osteoarthritis and canine hip dysplasia. It can be measured as early as 16 weeks of age without harm to the puppy.

Specifically, the PennHIP method considers a DI of less than .3 to be the threshold below which there is a near zero risk to develop hip osteoarthritis later in life. In contrast, dogs having hip laxity with DI higher than .3 show increasing risk to develop hip osteoarthritis, earlier and more severely, as the DI increases.

Comparing the overall results of the study, 52 percent of OFA-rated “excellent,” 82 percent of OFA-rated “good” and 94 percent of OFA-rated “fair” hips all fell above the PennHIP threshold of .3, making them all susceptible to the osteoarthritis of CHD though scored as “normal” by the OFA. Of the dogs the OFA scored as “dysplastic,” all had hip laxity above the PennHIP threshold of .3, meaning there was agreement between the two methods on dogs showing CHD or the susceptibility to CHD.

The key feature of the PennHIP radiographic method is its ability to determine which dogs may be susceptible to osteoarthritis later in life. Because dogs are recognized as excellent models for hip osteoarthritis in humans, the authors are interested in the prospect of applying this technology to humans. Knowing a dog’s risk for osteoarthritis early would allow veterinarians to prescribe proven preventive strategies, like weight loss, to lower the risk of this genetic disorder. Also, dog breeders now have a more informative measure to determine breeding quality to lower the risk of hip osteoarthritis in future generations of dogs.

“In humans, with appropriate studies of course, it is conceivable that mothers of susceptible children — and there are many — may adjust a child’s lifestyle, including diet, to delay the onset or lessen the severity of this genetic condition,” Smith said.

PennHIP is currently in common use by service-dog organizations such as the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army and numerous dog-guide schools. There are approximately 2,000 trained and certified members currently performing PennHIP procedure worldwide.

The study was conducted by Smith, Michelle Y. Powers, Georga T. Karbe, Thomas P. Gregor, Pamela McKelvie, William T. N. Culp and Hilary H. Fordyce of the Department of Clinical Studies at Penn Vet. Culp is currently with the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

The study was funded by the University of Pennsylvania, the National Institutes of Health, The Seeing Eye Inc., the Morris Animal Foundation and Nestle Purina Co. The article was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Smith, who is the inventor, and the University of Pennsylvania, which holds the patent, have a financial interest in the PennHIP method.

Original Article Click Here


Read Full Post »

Joe Konopka

Last week at Londonderry’s Appletree Mall, I noticed a tiny white and tan dog surveying the parking lot from a car window. That little Bijon-like face and soft hairy body made it irresistible in the cuteness department.

Its owner said it was a “Royal Shih Tzu.” That she had an AKC registration supporting her claim conflicted with the animal’s mixed-breed appearance. She subsequently conceded her dark-eyed little cotton ball might not be the pedigree shown on its registration.

That’s not unusual. In fact, my wife purchased a puppy purported to be a purebred Shih Tzu. She, too, was given papers confirming the pedigree. She, too, was scammed.

Normally observant, she was so enamored by Mozart’s affectionate nature, she was blinded to what the oversized paws and snout im- plied. Unscrupulous dealers rely on that.

They also rely on a delayed wakeup to reality. The latter usually occurs only as a puppy matures, revealing features not characteristic of its assigned breed.

By that time, it’s too late to take the dog back. For most people, doing so would be like giving up a child.

My daughter, Latasha, agrees. She runs a pet salon in Merrimack called the PawPad. She grooms both mixed breeds and purebreds. Recognizing the difference is important in regard to grooming issues.

Some breeds have fur. Others have hair. Still others have both. Mixed breeds can have any combination, so it’s necessary to recognize which coat variation needs addressing.

Hair is easy. It’s consistent throughout the strand. Cutting it long or short makes little differ-ence to the coat, aside from appearance.

Fur is different. At its base, the texture is soft in order to retain body heat. At the tip, it’s hard and shiny in order to fight the elements and reflect sunlight. Cutting fur leaves that soft lower surface exposed to the elements. Consequently, the animal feels the effects of sun and moisture more intensely.

For that reason, Tasha won’t cut fur. She’s had that policy since she stumbled into this niche after a couple career changes following college. It combines her enjoyment of animals with a way to earn a living.

Nevertheless, it’s a continuous learning process, through which she’s acquired considerable expertise. Hence, like much of her clientele, I defer to her on issues regarding breeding or breeders.

Certainly, most breeders are ethical in their business dealings. Yet, the registry system is fertile ground for fraudulent activity. It relies heavily on breeder integrity. That’s an invitation to abuse.

For instance, a disreputable breeder might have a stable of registered dogs. For whatever reason, if a mixed-breed litter is produced, the breeder has a problem.

Puppies need to be sold at a good price to support the operation. The process makes it easy to falsify the litter registration. All that’s needed is to complete the form with a sire and dam of the same breed using one of the registration numbers from the stable.

No one verifies breed purity except the breeder. Therefore, when the registration is recorded, the mixed-breed litter can all be sold as purebreds.

That’s why it’s important to buy from a long-established, show-dog breeder with a reputation to protect. Better yet, animal shelters are another option.

Registry organizations do not to guarantee breed purity. The American Kennel Club website disclaimer states: “As AKC does not breed or sell dogs, it cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry.”

The Dog Registry of America Inc. avoids the issue. Its website refers buyers to “Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.”

Clearly, dog registries are merely database mills that sell bragging rights. Garbage in, garbage out. The onus of ensuring actual breed purity is on the buyer.

States such as New York and California have puppy lemon laws. They allow buyers to obtain a partial refund of the animal’s purchase price if mongrel qualities appear. Our state does not.

New Hampshire’s “Title XLV. Animals. Chapter 466. Dogs and Cats. Licensing of Dogs” covers everything but breed purity. Just a single additional sentence would remedy that: “Sale of a dog with a registration representing it as a breed to which it does not belong shall entitle the buyer to claim from the seller (1) a refund of the purchase price (2) reimbursement for costs of proving misrepresentation (3) ownership of the misrepresented animal.”

Such a puppy lemon-law amendment would give defrauded consumers a means by which to recover their money while keeping their pets. That would not only discourage the sale of misrepresented pups, but also improve breed purity.

Seems like well-reasoned justice, but might it ever become law? I think not. There are too many other concerns on the yardstick of importance for this to claim legislative attention.

As a scam, this is mild by comparison to what’s found when Googling “puppy scams.” So then, why should anyone care if someone looking to fill an empty life pays too much for the affection of a cotton ball with legs?

One might answer by saying it’s a matter of morality: “When I see thee, I see me.”

Full Article Here

WWC NOTE: Every dog deserves a loving home but I do not condone faulty paper work or misrepresentation and charging for something that is not what is portrayed. If your questioning if your beloved pet is indeed a pure bred or not, there is a DNA test kit that you can order for around $50.00 that will identify the breeds your dog is indeed. If your questioning the pedigree that is shown on papers, then you would need to do DNA testing on the sire, dam, and your dog. Any male that has produced more then 5 litters in a year or 7 litters all together has DNA testing by AKC. Without the law in practice in your area and a breeder who is not willing to prove that the paper work matches your dog, then I guess you would have to file papers with the courts unfortunately. Though I have to stick up for the reputable breeders who has a buyer questioning their breeding practices and say that if you want to question them and have DNA done on their dogs then I feel you should pay for it until you’ve proven that breeder guilty. Many different looks come within ideal standards on breeds of dogs and its all in how you interpret those standards and what you like in those breeds and standards. With that being said, many pups look great but as they mature they don’t have the look you were striving for and this is why it is important to see the sire and dam of that pup to get an idea of what your pup will look like at maturity.

Read Full Post »

By Josh Harvison

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Officials with the Batesville Animal Control Office said Thursday people are selling, giving away and bartering unwanted animals on public streets, a violation of a 19 year city ordinance. Jeff Pender, Animal Control Officer, said he’s asking the public to stop violating the law before he has to begin writing citations, which are $130 for each offense.

“It’s just the time of the year with the breeding season. You get more puppies born in the spring and more puppies born in the fall,” said Pender.

Pender said the ordinance, which was implemented in 1991, states people cannot give away puppies, kittens, ducks, chickens and other fowl in public areas.

“About a month ago, we started getting some extra calls than we normally do about folks showing up on parking lots, convenience stores, shopping malls, and service station lots, city parks, and giving away and selling puppies and kittens,” said Pender.

Pender said he answered more than a dozen complaints in a two week span.

“You can’t bring puppies into town and give them away on a street corner. There are other avenues to do that such as the paper or the internet,” said Pender. “If somebody is serious about adopting an animal, they can come to your home. They can see where the dog or kitten was raised, what type of environment and make an educated decision whether or not they want that puppy or kitten.”

Pender said the Batesville Animal Control Office’s primary function is to find lost animals homes. He said another avenue a person could take to find a new home for an animal is through the Independence County Humane Society.

Pender said most people who violated the ordinance didn’t know such a law was in existence. He also said the ordinance is in place to ensure safety.

“A lot of times I know in the past a lot of people just, oh look it’s a cute puppy or it’s a cute kitten. They get it home and it’s sick. They don’t know its sick or it’s been exposed to something, and they take it home and make their healthy animals sick,” said Pender. “There’s a safety issue. If you’ve got folks out on a street corner somewhere, you know there’s a traffic issue but most important is the health issue. You don’t know where the animal really comes from.”

“You don’t know what it’s been exposed to. You don’t know the mother and father of the animal. There are a lot of things you don’t know,” said Pender.

Pender said animals are put through an evaluation process to determine how they interact with people and if they are healthy. He said there’s a ten day quarantine period before the city become owner of the animal.

“I’m not here to write you a ticket. I can but that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to give you the information and help you help yourself,” said Pender

original posting click here

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »