Discovering Dog Breeds With Wrinkles


When you think about dog breeds with wrinkles, perhaps thoughts of adorable rumpled little puppies come to mind. If you find dogs coming in a wrinkly-skinned package irresistible, rest assure you are not alone. Countless dogs lovers are drawn to those corrugated pumpkin faces; however, it’s important to recognize that all those wrinkles may need some TLC. Also, when considering opening your heart and home to a new dog, it’s important to look beyond appearance and consider whether your lifestyle is a good match for those dog breeds with wrinkles. Following are  dog breeds covered with wrinkles along with some interesting discoveries about the purpose of those wrinkles.

1) The Wrinkly Shar-Pei

Say the word wrinkles and images of Chinese shar-pei come often to mind. Some people nickname these dogs “little hippos” or “the dog in need of ironing” because of these dogs’ wrinkly appearances.

When shar-pei are puppies they are adorable piles of wrinkles. As they develop though, they tend to “grow into” their loose skin, and it’s time to say bye-bye to the skin folds on their legs flanks, and bellies. However, the profuse wrinkles on the head, neck and withers are there to stay–and for good.

Shar-pei are quite ancient dogs originating from the south of China and dating back more than two thousand years. What’s the purpose of shar-pei wrinkles? It appears that the shar-pei’s loose skin and prickly coat was developed to help them fend off wild boar. Later on, when shar pei were employed for dog fighting, their loose skin once again came handy, making them capable of turning and biting back the opponent.

Did you know?According to research by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona the recent increase in thickness and wrinkles in the shar-pei dog breed is the result of an inherited skin disorder known as cutaneous mucinosis which causes a build-up of mucin in the layers of the skin.

“The loose skin and wrinkles covering the head, neck and body are superabundant in puppies but these features may be limited to the head, neck and withers in the adult.” American Kennel Club

2) The Wrinkly Pug

These small dogs are blessed with wrinkles and a clown-like personality that is likely to brighten most people’s days. And this is not surprising if we look back at the pug breed’s history.

The Pug originated from China and is quite an ancient breed that has been known since before 400 BC. Pugs were selectively bred to provide companionship to Chinese emperors, making them much cherished and pampered lap dogs. These fortunate pooches were highly valued and there’s belief that they were even guarded by soldiers.

Later on, pugs were spread to other areas of Asia and in Tibet, where they provided companionship to Buddhist monks who kept them as pets in their monasteries.

Why do pugs have wrinkles? The features of pugs along with their wrinkly faces have been selectively bred by Chinese breeders because they were appealing, or better adorable to say the least.

Did you know? According to Animal Planet, Chinese breeders were hoping to create a wrinkle pattern on the pug’s foreheads that reminded them of the Chinese character for “prince.”

“The head is large, massive, round – not apple-headed, with no indentation of the skull.The wrinkles are large and deep.” ~American Kennel Club

3) The Wrinkly Neapolitan Mastiff

You won’t likely see these dogs much around as they’re not too popular abroad, but they are sure to leave an impression on those who see these wrinkled fellows for the first time.

First off, these dogs of Italian descent are massive, often weighing over 150 pounds.

Secondly, those wrinkles are quite impressive! The wrinkles are every where so much so you’ll  literally see them rolling as the mastiff dog moves about, but they are especially noticeable on the head and dewlap.

The presence of wrinkles and skin folds in some parts of the face are so typical of the breed that their absence is considered means for disqualification in the show ring.

Neapolitan mastiffs derive from ancient molosser bloodlines that descended from Roman war dogs. They were then employed as loyal estate and farm guardians.

Why do Neapolitan mastiffs have wrinkles? The wrinkles along with this breed’s other unique features are the result of years of selective breeding. With a history of war dogs and then estate and farm guardians, most likely the mastiff’s wrinkles were appreciated because they gave these dogs an imposing look. According to the book  The Complete Dog Bookby the American Kennel Club, there are chances that farmers of the Neapolitan area of southern Italy purposely bred an “alarmingly ugly dog” with looks that would have repulsed any invaders. But they’re far from being ugly, aren’t they?

The face is made up of heavy wrinkles and folds. Required folds are those extending from the outside margin of the eyelids to the dewlap, and from under the lower lids to the outer edges of the lips.” American Kennel Club

4) The Wrinkly Dogue De Bordeaux

Does the movie Turner and Hooch bring any memories? Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux (French mastiff) and he played the role of a troublesome pooch who managed to tear police investigator Scott Turner’s house apart and chew on his car. Also known as French mastiff, just like the Neapolitan mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux descends as well from the ancient molossers and inherits their massive body and large head.

Dogue de Bordeaux are one of the most ancient French breeds but their origins are a bit shrouded in mystery. Some believe they derive from  bullmastiff and the bulldog, others believe they derive from the Tibetan Mastiff or the Dogues de Bordeaux of Aquitaine. Regardless, they have quite a colorful history being used for guarding flocks, hunting bears and foxes, bull-baiting and even as war dogs.

“The head is furrowed with symmetrical wrinkles on each side of the median groove. These deep ropes of wrinkle are mobile depending on whether the dog is attentive or not.” ~American Kennel Club

5) The Wrinkly Bulldog

Another dog breed known for its wrinkles is the bulldog, a dog breed originating from the British Isles. Originally bred as a butcher’s dog for the purpose of subduing animals for slaughter, the bulldog was then employed in the bloody sport of bull baiting, a cruel practice that was fortunately outlawed in England in 1835.

The bulldog today has changed a lot in both looks and temperament and has now becomes a beloved companion.

The American Kennel Club breed standard depicts the bulldog has having the head and face covered with heavy wrinkles and two loose pendulous folds of skin forming the dewlap.

Why do bulldogs have wrinkled skin? There are many theories, a common one is that in the old days of baiting, those wrinkles helped channel blood away from these dog’s eyes, but there are other explanations out there. According to Animal Planet their wrinkles may have helped them better fight against their opponents. As with the shar-pei, even if they happened to be gripped by an opponent, their loose, wrinkly skin allowed maneuverability, so that they could defend themselves and fight back. The Bull Dog Club of America also mentions that the loose skin came handy when bull baiting preventing penetration of the bull’s horns.

Did you know? The big skin fold often found between the bulldog’s nose and eyes is known as the “nose rope.”

“Every point of conformation was selectively bred into the Bulldog to prevent it from injury as it went about the business of overcoming a bull…Forehead and face wrinkles directed the bull’s blood away from the dog’s nose and eyes…The looseness of the skin of the Bulldog’s body often served as a deterrent to penetration of the bull’s horns. “~Bull Dog Club of America

6) The Wrinkly Bloodhound

The blood hound was selectively bred for its wrinkles and for a very good reason: those wrinkles helped these fellows out in their jobs!

No, contrary to what the name may suggest bloodhounds weren’t used for the bloody sports as several of the other wrinkly fellows we have seen. Instead, there’s belief that bloodhounds were bred by monks of the Abbey of Saint Hubert for the purposes of tracking deer and boar.

Specimens of these hounds were often given as a gift to the King of France. Their name derived from the fact that they were were full “blooded” hounds and prized gifts among kings and nobles.

Why do bloodhounds have so many skin folds? It’s likely that, along with their pendulous ears, droopy jowls, saggy skin folds, the wrinkles help these dogs track scent. Basically, the long ears act as “brooms” sweeping up scent particles upward to reach these dog’s potent noses, while according to PBS Nature, that loose skin and wrinkles on the bloodhound’s face and neck help trap some of those scents.

Did you know? The brow wrinkles in the bloodhound may have a protective function. Since these dogs are perpetually tracking with their heads low to the ground,  those wrinkles may help protect their eyes from the dangers of sharp vegetation.

“The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin, which in nearly every position appears superabundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face” ~American Kennel Club

Basic Dog Wrinkle Care

While all those wrinkles may look appealing, as mentioned, wrinkles in dogs may need some care. Dogs with deep wrinkles and skin folds are prone to getting food, dirt and moisture trapped within all those nooks and crannies. On top of trapping dirt and debris, wrinkles are also prone to constant friction.

Wiping the wrinkles with hypoallergenic baby wipes or wipes especially designed for wrinkly dogs can help keep the wrinkly coat clean and prevent annoying skin infections. Areas that are particularly prone to annoying irritations and infections and that require more care include the lip folds, facial folds, arm pit areas and the base of the tails.


  • PBS Nature, The Bloodhound’s Amazing Sense of Smell, retrieved from the web on December 18th, 2016.
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. “Why Shar Pei Dogs Have So Many Wrinkles.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2008.
  • American Kennel Club, Breed Standards, retrieved from the web on December 18th, 2016.
  • Encyclopedia of K9 Terminology, By Edward M. Gilbert, Jr, Patricia H. Gilbert, Dogwise Publishing 2013

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr Creative Commons,  Syuuki Oneimauo A11 CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Muggsy & Debbie P9121572 CCBY2.0
  • Wikipedia Commons, A “blue” Neo puppy The original uploader was Phil2511 at English Wikipedia CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia Commons Stenotic nares (pinched nostrils) may cause breathing problems. Ewa Ziemska CCBY3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons Tammy Lo, Lazy Bulldog CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, John Leslie, Bloodhound Trials Feb 2008 -79 CCBY2.0

Discovering The Six Different Types of Retriever Dogs


When it comes to retrievers, there are different types of retriever dogs and none of them were created equal. Each retriever dog type is unique and selectively bred to work in a certain environment even though the tasks carried out roughly remained quite the same. Retriever dogs fall under the gun dog category, dogs bred to work along hunters carrying out several different tasks. Gun dogs are split in three different categories: the retrievers, the spaniels and the pointers. Today, we will be discovering more about retriever dogs, the kind of work they were used for in the past (and continue to be used for nowadays) and the different types of retriever dogs that today populate the doggy planet.

The Gamekeeper, by Richard Ansdell (1815–85)
The Gamekeeper, by Richard Ansdell (1815–85)

Types of Retriever Dogs

As mentioned, a retriever is a type of gun dog. As the name implies, retrievers were selectively bred to retrieve game for the hunter. When the hunter aims and then shoots, these dogs are sent to retrieve any downed birds that land to the ground. In order to excel in their work, well-trained retrievers must meet certain requirements.

Retrievers  must be under control so to not interfere with the hunter as he’s aiming to shoot the birds. Sometimes the hunter may be in a small boat, and a rambunctious dog may easily capsize the boat. This gun dog’s ability to “steady to wing and shot” is therefore not only a matter of obedience but moslty a matter of safety.

Retrievers may also have a good memory so that they can remember where the fallen birds have landed, even when visibility is not the best. Since dogs do not see where the birds have exactly fallen, hunters call this a “blind retrieve.

On top of retrieving downed birds with precision, it is also quite imperative that retriever dogs return the birds with a soft mouth so to prevent spoiling the meat which will then be later served on the table.

All these tasks require a dog with a certain predisposition to follow directions and stay focused on the task, qualities that fall under the term of “biddability.” Retrievers are dogs who are often prized for their biddability, which is the opposite of what people describe as “head strong,” dogs who are more on the independent side, but not because of being stubborn, but mostly because of different work requirements.

1) Golden Retriever golden-retriever-hunting

The golden retriever was selectively bred to retrieve downed waterfowl such as ducks and upland game birds. The breed was originally bred in Scotland in the mid 19th century when hunting for game birds both on water and land was particularly appealing to the Scottish elites of that time.

The ability to retrieve on land and water was a must back then considering that, at that time, the Scottish hunting grounds were covered in marshy ponds and rivers.

With the introduction of guns firing at longer ranges in the 1800s, there was a need for hunting dogs that would retrieve at great distances and on harsh terrains. It was the goldens who helped fill that role.

To succeed in their hunting tasks, Golden retrievers were selectively bred for a long coat with a dense undercoat meant to provide a nice layer of insulation topped with a water repellent top coat meant to help them dry off quickly. The biddable nature of golden retrievers makes them suitable today as family dogs that lend themselves to training and work as therapy dogs and assistance dogs.

labrador-retriever-hunting2) Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers originated from the island of  Newfoundland, Canada, where they were selectively bred as helpers for local fishermen in the early 1700s.

Labrador retrievers at this time were mainly used to haul nets and ropes and retrieve fish who were able to evade the hooks.

Impressed by this dog’s utility in working in the chilly North Atlantic waters, English sportsmen imported a few specimens to England and converted them into hunting companions. Instead of retrieving nets, Labradors were used to retrieve downed birds. Their powerful noses and willingness to follow directions, made them excel in this task.

Labradors are powerful dogs with a hardy water-proof coat that helps them tolerate exposure to cold water for extended periods of time. Their broad, strong tails and webbed feet helped them excel in becoming excellent swimmers.

Today, Labradors rank high as friendly companions and their eagerness to work has made them excellent candidates as drug and explosive detection, search and rescue and therapy or assistance dogs.

3) Chesapeake Bay Retrieverchesapeake-bay-retriever-hunting

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is not as common as the golden or Labrador retriever, but deserves a spot of honor among the retrieving dog breeds.

As other retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers are large dogs with a history of retrieving waterfowl for hunters. This breed was developed in the United States in the 19th century

While the Labrador retriever has a smooth coat, the Chesapeake has a wavy coat. The coat is also water proof and may have a slightly oily feel that may have a musky odor.

The toes are webbed which contribute for swimming, not to mention this breed’s powerful chest that helps break ice apart when hunting ducks in the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake also boasts a unique amber, yellowish  eye color, which is quite unusual in dogs, considering that most dogs have brown eyes. Chesapeake are happy dogs, with lots of stamina and very smart. They have the potential to make wonderful companions when socialized well and trained.

curly-coated-retriever4) Curly Coated Retriever

As the name implies, this retriever has the distinguishing factor of having a heavily curled coat characterized by tight, crisp curls.

This dog breed was originally bred in England for the main purpose of hunting waterfowl. This is one of the oldest of the retrieving breeds, possibly established as early as 1860, and it also gives the impression of being  one of tallest retrievers, perhaps because of the moderate angulation of front and rear which gives the idea of being higher on leg.

Curly coated retrievers were prized for their ability to retrieve both furry and feathered animals from the heaviest cover and the iciest waters.

Affectionately called “curlies,” curly coated retrievers are still used in several countries as bird dogs that hunt both upland birds and waterfowl. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as being wickedly smart, a trait that makes it highly trainable and cherished as  a loyal companion both for the home and in the field. As long as they are provided with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, as the other retrievers, curlies can become laid back in the home.

5) Flat Coated Retrieverflat-coated-retriever-retrieving

As the name implies, the flat coated retriever is a retriever with a coat that is flat, and not curly. This gun dog breed originates from the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century where it was selectively bred to retrieve both on land and in the water.

While the most common coat color is black, flat coated retrievers are also sometimes seen in dark brown and sometimes yellow.

The flat coated retriever was quite popular for some time, but then its numbers decreased when it was outranked by the more popular golden retriever.

As other retrievers, this breed has a tendency to want to please people and is an active companion who requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

The fact that flat coated retrievers have a strong sense of smell along with a biddable nature, makes them excellent candidates as drug sniffer dogs. Their great  temperament also makes them potentially good assistance dogs.

duck-tolling-hunting6) Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever is a medium-sized dog. It is the smallest of all the retrievers. Due to their small size, Tollers are often confused for a smaller version of the golden retriever.

As most of the other retrievers, this breed was selectively bred for hunting. As their name implies, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers originated from southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada where for many years they were used for luring waterfowl (tolling) within shooting range and then retrieving the downed ducks.

Want to learn more about the unique hunting style of the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever? Read here: how Nova Scotia tollers hunts ducks.  Quite fascinating that is!

The Toller as several other retrievers is blessed with a water-repellent double coat that helped him retrieve ducks  from icy waters. Tollers are high energy dogs that require loads of exercise and mental stimulation. They are also very smart. To make them happy, they do best when they have a job to do. Nowadays, they are still used for hunting but also in several canine sports such as agility and dock diving. Tollers also make great search and rescue dogs.

Photo Credits:

  • A Golden Retriever, by Marlies KloetOwn work CCBY3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Blaine Hansel, Mac Pheasant Hunting, CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Donna Callejon, Dillon first snow CCBY2.0
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers retrieve well on land or in the water Gunnandreassen, CCBY3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Mattias Agar, Kita is chillin’ CCBY2.0
  • The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was bred to “toll”, or lure, ducks into shooting range by causing a disturbance near the shore. After the duck is shot, the dog brings it to the hunter. kallerna; Edited by jjron (cropped, adjusted levels and curves, sharpened) – Own work CC BY-SA 3.0


Problems Affecting Dogs With Hair Covering Their Eyes


There are several dog breeds with hair covering their eyes, and many people wonder whether these dogs are bothered at all by all those hairs and if they are even able to see. One of the most popular dog breeds known for having fur over the eyes is the old English sheepdog which is required by breed standard to have “the whole skull well covered with hair.” Whether these dogs can see or not is often a subject of debate, but more and more people are recognizing that their dogs do much better when their facial hairs are removed or tied up in what’s known in grooming circles as a “top knot.”

dog-breeds-with-hair-over-eyesBreeds with Hair Covering Their Eyes

What breeds have hair covering their eyes? There are several and the length of the hair covering their eyes may vary to just a few hairs just barely covering them to thick hairs almost covering the dog’s whole face. Here are just a few examples of dog breeds with hair over their eyes: Old English sheepdog, Briard, Lhasa apso, puli, Tibetan terrier, skye terrier, Portuguese water dog, soft coated wheaten terrier and the schnauzer.

Many of these dogs are working dogs which may makes one wonder how on earth they can get anything accomplished with all that hair covering their eyes, but when watching an old English sheepdog in action herding a group of sheep, one can see how their constant bouncing around helps move those hair out of the way, as seen in the video at the bottom of this article.

idea tipDid you know? The hair that covers the dog’s face and eyes is commonly referred to as “fall.”

Preserving a Tradition briard-dog

Breed standards are basically written descriptions portraying the ideal features required in a specific breed.  Many breed standards have strict requirements when it comes to how dogs must look. The goal of most breed standards is to preserve a traditional look but often these standards conflict with the dog’s well being and are therefore subject of debate. Not adhering to these standards can often make the difference between a dog who has success in the show ring and a dog who is disqualified. The rules are often quite strict when it comes to coat colors and styles.

For instance, the American Kennel Club breed standard for Old English sheepdogs requires that these dogs have the whole skull covered with hair. Shaving that hair seems out of question for those who show dogs as the standard clearly says “Neither the natural outline nor the natural texture of the coat may be changed by any artificial means except that the feet and rear may be trimmed for cleanliness.”

Physical Effects lhasa-apso

As seen, the hair falling over the dog’s eyes is a feature is highly cherished and considered a desirable show point in the show ring. Many owners of such breeds have belief that just because their dogs were born with such long hairs, they are not harmful since they must have been deliberately selected for good purposes. For quite a while there has been belief that the purpose of keeping the hair long was to protect the eyes from the effects of sunlight. This belief has been further reinforced by the fact that when the hair is lifted to expose the eyes, the dog’s eyes reflexively respond to the light by blinking and tearing.

This natural, photo phobic reaction has therefore led owners to come to the erroneous conclusion that the eyes need to be left covered, when in reality these dogs are reacting in such a way to bright light because of the hairs  constantly covering the eyes in the first place, explains world-known veterinarian, Michael W. Fox.  Another physical effect of the hairs covering a dog’s eyes is the constant irritation to the eyes which are prone to developing chronic conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers and other eye problems.

 “Popular mythology claims that if you cut the “shaggy bangs” exposing his eyes, the Old English will go blind. Rubbish! An innately watchful creature, this dog likes to see what is going on just as much as we do. For that reason, you will often see them with hair pulled back and fastened with an elastic or barrette.” ~Canine Review – August 2012 issue

Behavioral Effects top-knot-dog

On top of eye problems, those hairs almost constantly covering the dog’s eyes may also predispose dogs to behavior problems. These effects on behavior also contribute to a welfare problem that should be kept into consideration. Unable to see well and discern details of what is going on around them, dogs with hairs covering the eyes may suffer from behavior effects such as skittishness, defensive behaviors and unpredictability. According to Fox, once visual occlusion was corrected by moving the hair away from these eyes, dramatic changes in behavior occurred, turning skittish dogs into emotionally stable companions. Talk about the solution being “right in front of your eyes!

Several people claim that dogs do just fine with their eyes covered with hair because they can rely on their other senses, such as their sense of smell and sense of hearing to detect stimuli in their environment. However, dogs were blessed with their wonderful eyes for a purpose: seeing! Dogs rely on their eyes to communicate with one another, and they do best when they perceive the world around them using ALL the senses they were gifted with. Something worthy of therefore asking is “If you had all that hair in front of your eyes, could you see?” The answer is obvious, so if shaving a dog’s “fall” is not an option, putting it up in a neat top knot with elastics, barrets or clips can provide a wonderful compromise; basically, a win-win situation for all.

“When working with a long-coated breed such as the Old English, I watch coat movement. If the hair moves over the eyes, or around the mouth, I assume that the dog is making some kind of expression. I then watch the rest of his body language to see if I can understand what he is trying to say.”~Mary Stout, dog trainer. 



  • Fox, M.W. (1983). Occlusion of vision in Old English Sheepdogs. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4(1), 9-10
  • American Kennel Club, Official Standard of the Old English Sheepdog, retrieved from the web on September 10th, 2016
  • A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards, Koharik Arman Can Vet J. 2007 Sep; 48(9): 953–965.
  • Dogspeak: How to Understand Your Dog and Help Him Understand You, edited by Matthew Hoffman, The Editors of Pets: Part of the Family, : Rodale Books; 1 edition (September 18, 1999).


What’s Up With Siberian Huskies Escaping Their Yards?


“My Siberian husky escaped, can you help me find him?” This is a familiar plea of help that comes from many distraught Siberian husky owners looking for their lost best friends. Their hopes for finding their dogs materialize under the form of posters of their lost dogs affixed to electric poles, and announcements on newspapers and bulletin boards. Animal control officers are even quite familiar with seeing these “hairy Houdinis” roaming around in search of an adventure. So what’s up with all these huskies escaping from their homes and yards? Turns out, several husky rescues are well aware of this breed’s tendency, so much so that they are reluctant to adopt out unless perspective adopters meet certain fencing requirements.

runningA History as Nomads

By looking back at the history of the Siberian husky breed, it’s possible to pinpoint where the tendency to roam may stem from. Siberian huskies were selectively bred by the Chucki people, a tribe of Siberian nomads living in the tundra. Huskies back then provided a fast, economical transportation solution over the vast frozen lands, covering long distances while eating minimal amounts of food. When not transporting sleds over great distances, huskies were often utilized as soft beds for the tribal children. Despite being introduced into the United States in the early 1900s and no longer being utilized as sleds dogs, Siberian huskies still retain the many qualities that the Chucki people raved about.

Did you know? In 1925, a serious outbreak of diphtheria affected the city of Nome, Alaska. It is thanks to teams of huskies that vital supplies of the serum were delivered to this city.

Runners at Heartrunning husky

With a history of pulling sleds for about 50 to 60 miles a day and traveling to new places, it’s no surprise that today, Siberian huskies have a strong desire to run and explore new places.

If we look at their bodies, we can see how they are built for the task. According to the American Kennel Club  breed standard, Siberian huskies are blessed with firm, well-developed muscles that allow a smooth, effortless gait which allows them the speed and endurance needed to travel over great distances.  And they do so very quickly! Their tough and thickly cushioned  paw pads also play a role in allowing power, speed and endurance in these light-footed fellows.

Did you know? A Siberian husky who escaped his home in 2012 on New Year’s Day, was found 7 weeks later but just a “mere” 300 miles away!

Gregarious Animalsgregarious husky

With a history of working along with other dogs and people every day in their native lands, Siberian huskies are born to be very gregarious animals. Because of this gregarious nature, huskies are often known for making poor guard dogs. If they meet an intruder, they might as well invite him over for a movie and some popcorn as if they just met a long, lost friend.

While loyal to those in his family, a husky has a tendency to remain friendly to everyone he meets. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but generally huskies are known for being good-natured with everyone and sociable with other dogs.

The truth is, Siberian huskies hate being left alone and they enjoy any opportunity that allows them to make new friends, even if this entails escaping from the yard!

“The characteristic temperament of the Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, but also alert and outgoing. He does not display the possessive qualities of the guard dog, nor is he overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive with other dogs.” ~ American Kennel Club

  chasingStrong Prey Drive

Back in time, huskies were often sent off to fend for themselves and this sometimes meant they had to kill prey. Siberian huskies tend to have a strong prey drive and will want to chase fleeing animals such as squirrels, cats, small rabbits and possums. In some cases, they may even manage to kill small furry, fleeing animals. given the opportunity.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and many husky owners can attest that their huskies live happily with their cats. When raised with cats from a young age, huskies tend to be more accepting, but this may not apply to fleeing cats on the roads. It’s important to realize that predatory drive has nothing to do with aggression. Just like a cat chasing and killing mice isn’t considered aggressive, a husky killing small critters shouldn’t be either.

“Prey drive is simply an innate hunting behavior learned over many hundreds of generations in harsh arctic conditions, where Siberian Huskies were often kept on a lean existence. This was especially so over summer when the Siberian tribes had no use of sled dogs and often turned them loose to hunt for themselves.” ~Siberian Husky Club of Victoria Inc.

diggingDiggers at Heart

Huskies, have a strong desire to dig, and that may also stem back again from their history as sled dogs in their native lands. When it was time to rest in the tundra, huskies would dig up a burrow so to sleep in it and keep warm, resting in their signature nose-to-tail sleeping position.

While huskies may not always dig to keep warm, the activity remains quite enjoyable especially when they unearth interesting things like a buried treasure such as a forgotten toy or bone, the roots of a plant or the tunnel of some wild animal.

Siberian huskies may also dig a hole to keep cool in the dog days of summer, but in some cases, when the digging is focused by the fence lines, consider that your husky may be digging to escape!

“Smarty Pants Dogs “smart

When it comes to being smart, Siberian huskies are blessed with great brains. This was often demonstrated in the past when they exhibited and continue to exhibit what is known as “intelligent disobedience” upon pulling sleds. At some time, their drivers may be telling their sled dog to go forward, but what if there is a hazard ahead? Will the husky be smart enough to say :” No way, I am not going to fall in this crevice or walk onto thin ice!” The answer is a good Siberian husky must be able to that, and this husky’s strong will is sure a godsend, explains Matulich in the book “Siberian Husky.” This breed has therefore  proven to be smart enough to make decisions on his own, even if it entails disobeying the driver.

So when it comes to being smart, these dogs can use their great brains in many circumstances, but that also involves bad projects such troubleshooting  problems for planning an escape.

Putting it all Togetherfence

So what happens when you have a dog with a nomadic history, who loves to run, enjoys the company of people and dogs, has a strong prey drive and is very intelligent? Sure, we can attribute all of the above to many other dogs. After all, what dog doesn’t love to dig, chase animals and be in company of other dogs? However, in Siberian huskies these traits may be a tad bit more pronounced, so when you add their free spirit, determinism, intelligence  and zest for life you have the perfect recipe for an escape artist dog. So what can be done to prevent Siberian huskies from escaping? Here are a few tips:

  • Have your husky microchipped. Consider that ID tags can easily fall off such as when snagged on a branch or fencing.
  • Provide plenty of outdoor time to drain excess energy. Don’t forget about adding environmental enrichment ,  playing games and engaging in fun reward-based training to make staying at home with you attractive. Huskies who are bored or under-stimulated are more likely to escape.
  • Train your Siberian husky to come when called and make sure to make it always super fun and rewarding! When your husky comes to you, don’t just snap on the leash and relegate him to the yard again. Play a game, go for a walk, so that he knows that coming to you is worth it!
  • Keep your Siberian Husky away from animals he may feel like chasing when alone in the yard.
  • Avoid underground electric fences. These won’t stop a strong willed husky and they can cause behavior issues in the long term.
  • Look at a fence from a Siberian husky’s perspective. Basically, think like a husky. Can your husky jump over it, dig under it, wriggle under the gate or squeeze through it?
  • Generally, the accepted height for fence meant to contain a husky is about 6 feet and should not have anything that can be used as paw holds. Don’t forget to have concrete at the perimeter base so to prevent digging under and make sure there are no gaps in gates too.
  • Never punish your husky for escaping, no matter how frustrated you feel. Your husky will think he’s being punished for coming to you rather than escaping and next time this he’ll be running away when called or whenever you try to approach him.
  • If your husky has a habit of bolting out of the door, keep him secured in a closed room when you’re heading out.
  • If your husky tends to slip out of collars when walking, consider trying a martingale collar.



  • A New Owner’s Guide to Siberian Huskies, By Linda Forshaw, Hyperink 2012
  • Siberian Husky, edited by Dog Fancy Magazine,  Kennel Club Books (November 2, 2010)
  • Siberian Husky: A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog, By Lorna Winslette, Kennel Club Books; Revised edition (August 16, 2011)
  • Siberian Husky Club of Victoria Inc, Prey Drive, retrieved from the web on August 5th, 2016

Dog Breeds With Dreadlocks


Among the vast variety of dogs coming in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, dog breeds with dreadlocks surely stand out from the crowd. You might not stumble too often on these fellows unless you visit their country of origin or admire them competing in the show ring, but they surely boast unusual hairdos that people often compare to a kitchen mop. Interestingly, several of these dog breeds with dreadlocks didn’t develop their hairdos just for looks; indeed, if we look at these dogs’ past history as working dogs, we will see how those dreadlocks fulfilled a couple of important fuctions.

Three Dogs Breeds With Natural Dreadlocks

For those who wish to be precise, the correct term for those twisted hairs is “cords.” While there are several dog breeds sporting dreadlocks, this list of dog breeds fashion cords that occur naturally, mostly without any human intervention. Selective breeding throughout the years, led to the development of dreadlocks which played a role in allowing these dogs to be the excellent working dogs they were meant to be. Several other breeds boasting dreadlocks instead develop them with the help of humans,  by “semi manipulating” their coat for showing purposes. We will see these other breeds with in a further section.

fully cordedKomondor

The American Kennel Club describes this breed as having a coat “covered with an unusual, heavy coat of white cords.” During puppy hood, this breed’s coat is relatively soft and wavy, but it lacks its signature tassel-like cords.

It’s only once the puppy matures that the coarse hairs of the top coat trap the dense, wool-like undercoat naturally forming the traditional cords that feel like felt upon being touched.

Generally, by the age of two, the coat is expected to be corded, otherwise it’s means for disqualification in the show ring. The coat is expected to be always white in an adult dog.


idea tipWhy does the Komondor have a corded coat? Despite its fashionable looks, this breed is a working dog at heart. Komondors were selectively bred to be flock guardians, guarding livestock on the open plains of Hungary with little or no assistance from their owners. The appearance of the Komondor’s coat helps him blend with his flock of sheep and there’s belief it also protects him from from wolves’ bites and the elements. Today, the Komondor breed is considered one of Hungary’s national treasures that’s meant to be preserved and protected from modifications.

The Pulipuli

Another dog breed known for its dreadlocks, the puli is another Hungarian dog breed that’s often confused with the Komondor, but unlike the Komondor, this breed can come in different coat colors other than white.

Indeed, this breed is allowed to boast rusty black, black and all shades of gray, and white coat colors.

As the Komondor, this dog breed works with flocks of sheep, but rather than guarding them, the puli herds the flocks on the vast Hungarian plains.

While this breed boasts long, flat or round dreadlocks that may reach the ground, it can be shown in the ring also brushed.

idea tipWhy does the puli have a corded coat?  According to the Puli Club of America,the corded coat in this breed starts developing naturally around the age of 9 months. Just like the Komondor, it’s the result of the top coat hairs mingling with the undercoat’s hairs. Both the Komondor and puli coat requires lots of care to ensure the cords don’t grow into forming painful and unsightly mats.

Did you know? The puli and Komondor were often used together to work as a team. The Komondor would guard the livestock at night, while the Puli herded and guarded during the day.


 bergamascoThe Bergamasco

This is a new breed that has been recently welcomed to the American Kennel Club’s registry.

Like the Komondor and puli, the Bergamasco boasts dreadlocks. Unlike the Komodor and puli though, rather than being called “cords” this breed’s Rasta-like hairs are known as “flocks.”

According to the American Kennel Club, this breed’s most distinctive feature is its unique coat which is made up of three types of hair: the undercoat, the “goat hair” and the outer coat.

The undercoat is short, dense and oily to the touch so to provide a waterproof layer against the skin.

The goat hair is long hair that’s straight and rough and falls into cords found in this dog’s ‘saddle area’ and head where the flocks cover the eyes.

The outer coat instead is woolly hair that is more fine than the goat type.

Unlike the komondor and puli, a solid white coat color is not accepted, while solid gray or gradations of gray are accepted.

As with other dog breeds with dreadlocks covering the legs and rest of the body, the corded coat in this breed is meant to protect the dog from weather and potential predators.

idea tipWhy does the Bergamasco have a corded coat?According to the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America, the flocks were meant to protect these dogs from the freezing temperatures found in the cold Italian Alps and prevented the risks for sunburns in the summer.

 Wanna Be Rastafarianskomodor

These are dog breeds known for boasting a corded coat courtesy of owners “semi manipulating” their coats for the purpose of showing them in the ring.

Of course, not all dogs’ coats can be “semi manipulated” to form dreadlocks as the coat needs to have certain characteristics; therefore only some breeds can have a corded-like coat.

Following are some dogs breeds that have a coat that can be morphed into dreadlocks.


  • Poodles. This breed’s naturally curly locks lend themselves to become corded if the hairs are coarse enough, but owners must patiently work on cording the coat themselves. This can be a painstakingly slow process, but the effort is surely rewarded in the show ring as poodles may look amazing when sporting a corded coat.
  • The Spanish water dog.  This dog breed also has a coat that lends itself to cording.  Like the poodle, the hair is curly, but unlike the Komondor and puli, it’s a single coat. According to the Spaniel Water Dog Club of America, the secret behind a corded look is to shave down the coat and then allow the coat to grow and keep it from forming knots.
  • Havanese.  The Havanese can join the wannabe Rastafarian group as long as dog owners are willing to put the effort in creating sections of hair that can grow together and form cords that need to be checked and re-checked to prevent them from matting. For those who think this is easy enough, consider that according to the Havanese Rescue website the process can take up to two years!



  • American Kennel Club, Puli breed standard, retrieved from the web on July 14th, 2016
  • American Kennel Club, Komondor breed standard, retrieved from the web on July 14th, 2016
  • The dog selector, by David Alderton, 2010, Barron’s Educational Series (September 1, 2010)
  • Spaniel Water Dog Club of America, Cording your Spanish Water Dog, retrieved from the web on July 14th, 2016
  • Havanese Rescue, Grooming a Havenese, retrieved from the web on July 14th, 2016
  • Puli Club of America, FAQ about the Puli dog breed, retrieved from the web on July 14th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • A fully corded coat. The coat is long, thick and strikingly corded Wiki.awalOwn work, Komondor dog breed CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Black Puli Anita RitenourFlickr: Moumental Puli, CC BY 2.0
  • A young bergamasco, Chique Adulation, owned by Mrs Rottger, Source: photo taken by Sannse at the City of Birmingham Championship Dog Show, 30th August 2003. photo imported from the english wikipedia,author: Sannse Permission: photo under licence GFDL


Surprise, These Dog Breeds Are Likely to Sink Rather Than Swim


Dog owners may sometimes take a dog’s ability to swim for granted, only to get an abrupt wake-up call when they find their dog struggling in the water, risking to sink like a stone rather than staying buoyant as expected. Sure, when dogs are introduced to a body of water the very first time, they may have an instinct to “doggy paddle” but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the canine version of mermaids who will safely swim and stay afloat for any determined period of time! Turns out though, that more than a matter of ability or willpower, it’s sometimes a matter of conformation when it comes to certain dog breeds who are more likely to sink rather than float.

dogs that swim wellFloating Mermaid or Sinking Stone?

What makes a dog an efficient swimmer while another can barely stay afloat? It’s often a combination of various factors, but conformation plays a big role. Several dog breeds were selectively bred to work in the water so they boast traits that helped them excel in their water-related tasks. Labrador retrievers, Chesapeake bay retrievers, Portuguese water dogs, Newfoundlands and poodles are examples of dogs that generally make excellent swimmers. These dogs are agile, and often showcase distinctive traits such as webbed feet , strong legs, water-repellent coats and thick tails that works as rudders, allowing them to efficiently swim in the water. However, just because a dog was selectively bred for work in the water in their past, doesn’t necessarily mean he will come to instinctively love water and know how to swim when introduced to water the very first time. Just like people, dogs come with individual variances even with a breed.

On the other hand, there are many dog breeds who were not selectively bred for work in the water, but who do manage to swim if the need arises. These dogs may need a little assistance, but once they get a hang of being in the water and swimming, they seem to to manage. And then, we have dog breeds, which, due their conformation may be prone to serious challenges when it comes to staying afloat, and if they really must go for a boat ride, they better have a flotation device to help keep them from drowning. Hey, pass that life jacket for Rover would you?

A Matter of Conformation

What makes certain dog breeds sink rather than float? As mentioned, it’s often a matter of conformation. While several dog breeds have been selectively bred for working in the water, selective breeding has also yielded certain types of dogs that have been shaped for other purposes and this has contributed to the loss of the “tools” necessary for making good swimmers. Generally, dogs that have large, heavy chests in relation to their hindquarters and short noses are going to have problems, explains veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker in an article for Vet Street.  Following are some dog breeds that have a reputation for making poor swimmers.

dog breeds that can't swimDog Breeds That Make Poor Swimmers

Following is a list of dog breeds that are likely to make poor swimmers and tend to have the buoyancy of cinder blocks. While we are aware that there may be sometimes exceptions to the rule with certain breeds, the general consensus seems to be that it’s best to practice caution with these fellows as some may get easily tired after a little paddling which can generate panic and lead to circumstances that can cause potential drowning. If you have a pool, your best bet is to fence it off, so to protect these fellows. Some dog owners though provide these dogs with a life jacket so these pooches can get to enjoy supervised time in the water with their owners.

  • Basset Hounds. These dogs struggle in the water because of their short legs and overall low, heavy structure.  Indeed, basset hounds have such dense bones, they’ll drop like a stone in water, claims Animal Planet. The breed standard set by the American Kennel Club describes basset hounds as being heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog. According to Dog Time,  two thirds of the basset’s weight is distributed in the front of this dog’s body, a trait that predisposes these dogs to drowning.
  • Bulldogs. This breed has a reputation for not being able to swim, so much so that some bulldog breeders refuse to sell their puppies to families who have pools, explains Susan M. Ewing in the book “Bulldogs For Dummies” The problem with these dogs is that they have a limited range of motion in their shoulders and their big, heavy chests make lifting their front paws high for the purpose of paddling quite difficult. On top of that, they tend to have breathing difficulties, and once in the water, they may struggle to lift their heads high enough so to avoid water going up their nose, explains Susan deGozzaldi in the book “The Olympic Bulldog.
  •  Pugs.  There are pugs who can manage to swim (somewhat!) while others will simply sink like rocks. Best to assume the latter though and not take the risk of exposing these dogs to a scary experience in the water that can leave long-lasting emotional scars. Fact is, swimming for pugs can be quite a strenuous activity. Their heavy, barrel-shaped bodies makes swimming quite a challenge, so even though pugs may enjoy time in the water, swimming should be limited  to a few brief minutes to prevent exhaustion, explains Linda Whitwam in the book “The Complete Pug Handbook: The Essential Guide For New & Prospective Pug Owners.” On top of their heavy body shapes, pugs also have short faces, which makes them prone to fatigue easily.
  • Dachshunds. Dachshunds also fall in the “iffy”category when it comes to swimming. With their long backs, short legs and short necks (that may be a challenge to keep above the water,) these dogs are not really built for the task. Sure there are some doxies who have taken a liking to swimming and brief swimming sessions are sometimes suggested by vets as a helpful non-weight bearing activity for dachshunds suffering from spinal injuries, but extra caution is always needed to keep these fellows safe.
  • Toy breeds. While many toy breeds can swim decently, it should be pointed out that they are prone to easily chill, so owners should keep an eye on small dog’s vital signs and watch for shivering, point out M. Christine Zink and Janet B. Van Dyke, in the book “Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.”

Did you know? When it comes to swimming styles in dogs, a study conducted by Frank Fish, biologist at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University, found that dogs despite dogs coming in vastly different sizes and showing substantial variations in gait, when it comes to swimming, they tend to share a universal swimming stroke that is more akin to a run than a trot.

Watch this Dog’s Swimming Stroke



  • Vet Street, Can all dogs swim?, retrieved from the web on June 18th, 2016
  • Dogs’ Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Man’s Best Friend, By J. A. Wines,  Michael O’Mara; 1 edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Bulldogs For Dummies, By Susan M. Ewing, For Dummies; 1 edition (January 4, 2006)
  • The Olympic Bulldog, By Susan deGozzaldi, Xlibris (6 Feb. 2013)
  • The Complete Pug Handbook: The Essential Guide For New & Prospective Pug Owners, By Linda Whitwam, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 29, 2015)
  • Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, by M. Christine Zink, Janet B. Van Dyke, Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (April 22, 2013)
  • F.E. Fish and N.K. Dinenno. The ‘dog paddle’: stereotypic swimming gait pattern in different dog breeds. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, January 5, 2014.)
  • Science News, Dog-paddle science debunks notion of underwater trot, retrieved from the web on June 18th, 2016
  • Inside Science, Scientists Dive Into The Mystery Of The Dog Paddle,  retrieved from the web on June 18th, 2016


Are Poodles Smart Dogs?


Are poodles smart dogs? The video of Sailor the poodle performing impressive tricks has gone viral and many people may be wondering whether poodles are smart dogs, or perhaps the smartest dogs on earth. Well, the answer is that it depends. Sure, Sailor can push a shopping cart with ease, jump a skipping rope and even climb a flight of stairs using his rear legs, so there’s no denial that poodles can be smart dogs, and their history may even suggest that, but when we talk about canine smarts, things can go beyond the ability to perform tricks. So let’s take a peek at how smart poodles really are.

Five Reasons Why Poodles are Smart Dogs 

Sailor has set a new record for the Fastest 10 Meters on a Walking Globe, setting an amazing 33.22 seconds, and, on top of that, he has also set another world record in 2015 for the Fastest Time to Climb 20 Stairs using the hind legs. These tricks are quite impressive and this has got many people wondering whether poodles must be one of the most intelligent dogs on earth.  The following five reasons can explain why poodles are so smart.

Poodles Are Versatile Dogs…

Behind the poofy hair tied in ribbons and regal attitude, the poodle is a working dog at heart, and quite a versatile one too! Poodles have a history of making great water retrievers, jumping into water without hesitation in order to retrieve waterfowl for their hunters. Indeed, if we look at their name, it derives from the German word “pudel” which means “to splash in water,” while in France these dogs are referred to as “caniche” which means “duck dog.”

On top of retrieving ducks, Miniature poodles were used for finding truffles while toy poodles were utilized as companions for the nobles and wealthy class.  There’s no doubt therefore that these dogs had to be quite smart to be able to play so many different roles and carry out so many different tasks!

poodleWith a History as Circus Dogs.

Other than performing many jobs, poodles boast a history as circus dogs performing many cute tricks in front of an audience. This required dogs that were capable of traveling and quickly adjust to unfamiliar surrounding and not reacting to noises and the presence of many people and other animals.

Poodles also had to be enthusiastic performers when needed, yet capable of being calm and under control at other times. Gypsies and many traveling performers therefore used to take advantage of the poodle’s trainability dressing them up in costumes and letting them perform at circuses. Some would even sculpt their coats letting them sport fancy hairdos often boasting pom poms trimmed to match the clown’s attire so to increase their stage appeal. Even as today, poodle are often seen performing at dog shows and circuses. 

Poodles Have an Agile Body…circus poodle

It takes a certain body type for dogs to perform impressive tricks and the poodle seems to meet all the requisites.  According to Dorothy MacDonald, a history buff and field trial judge, the poodle was originally a “considerably off-square dog” when used as a water retriever. It was only when the gypsies fell in love with this dog that their off-square shape changed in favor of a square shape which granted  more agility so they could spin and perform their acrobatic acts.

The square shape of today’s Poodle is derived more from his function as a performing dog than that of a retriever. This square shape does not hinder his work as a retriever but makes him a dual function dog.” ~Dorothy MacDonald

 are poodles smart dogsAnd Along with That, A Sharp Mind.

The American Kennel Club Poodle Standard, describes the poodle as “A very active, intelligent and elegant appearing dog, squarely built, well proportioned, moving soundly and carrying himself proudly.”

These dogs are often described as wanting to be involved in every activity and craving human companionship. This is certainly not a breed that could cope with living in a secluded yard all day!

Poodles are quick learners who are quite adept at figuring things out and they are eager to please.  Regular training and loads of mental stimulation can help put these dog’s prodigious abilities to work.

Did you know?  Living with a smart dog that is easy to train can also have its challenges. Just as they can learn desired behaviors quickly, they are as quick to learn bad habits!



And That Explains Why Poodles Rank Second Place. 

poodle stay

Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, compiled a list of the most intelligent dog breeds according to over 200 professional dog obedience judges. According to his list, the poodle ranks a honorable second place just after the border collie.

Does this mean that everybody should rush and purchase the top ranking breeds? Certainly not, as we have seen, owning a smart dog doesn’t mean easy!

On top of that, it’s important to consider that when it comes to intelligence in dogs there are many different types.

“Every dog has an instinctive intelligence for which it was bred. Thus the Afghan Hound, at the bottom of the list, was bred to spot, pursue and pull down antelope and gazelle. If you ever saw one of them running you would appreciate how refined his skill as a running hunter is” says Coren.

This list therefore needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Sure poodles are smart, but just because they top the list, doesn’t mean that other dog breeds less sharp. Just like human intelligence, dog intelligence comes in various forms.


Meet Sailor the Smart Poodle and his famous Guinness World Record tricks!

For further reading:  The Secret Behind Dog Tricks



  • Dog Time, Poodle, retrieved from the web on June 5th, 2016
  • Canine Horizons, Historical Poodle, retrieved from the web on June 5th, 2016
  • The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions Paperback – by Stanley Coren, Atria Books; Reissue edition (January 5, 2006)

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr, Creative Commons, Poodle by Andrew Colin# Gloria Serenity Belek, Antalya, (CC BY 2.0)

Dog Breeds that Need Hand Stripping


Among the variety of dog breeds that populate the world, you may stumble on dogs who blow their coats naturally, dogs who grow hair that needs clipped routinely and dog breeds that need hand stripping. Why do some dogs need hand stripping? Turns out, it’s a matter of how the coats are crafted in certain dog breeds. You won’t have to necessarily hand strip your dog’s coat if he belongs to any these breeds, but if you want to keep your dog’s traditional breed look and or are planning on showing your dog one day, hand stripping may become a way of life.

hand stripping dog terrierPulling Out of the Roots

Hand stripping is the process of ridding a dog’s coat of dead hairs. This can be accomplished in two ways, either by using a stripping knife, a serrated edged knife which comes in left and right-handed models, or the good old-fashioned way which involves using fingers.

Unlike clipping a dog’s hair using electric clippers which just entails cutting through a layer of hair leaving the root intact, hand stripping involves pulling out every single hair from its root so that there is room for the new coat to grow in.

For the girls reading, the difference is quite similar to shaving legs with a razor versus using an epilator or waxing which involves plucking out hair from the roots.

Did you know? A dog’s wire hair reaches its maximum life span around 6 months which is when it starts to die off.


For Rough-Coated Dogs

Dogs who have a wiry coat, basically, those “rough-coated” breeds  usually need hand stripping. Dogs with wiry coats generally have a top coat that is wiry and a soft and short undercoat. The wiry hairs are typically rough on the end and soft near the base. Once their hairs of the top coat have reached their maximum length, they will start dying, and thus, remain loosely anchored into the hair follicle until they’re manually removed or shed naturally.

One may wonder, what is the advantage of hand stripping dogs versus  just clipping the coat? When a dog’s coat is clipped, the wiry hairs lack their rough end and therefore risk becoming soft and of a dull color, whereas the hand stripping procedure grants brightly colored hairs with a nice wiry texture. Hand stripping therefore helps remove dead dull-looking hairs of the dog’s top coat so that the dense, soft undercoat is revealed and room is left so that the new top coat can grow in. The procedure is done twice a year.

“A wire hair has a hard point, but is soft near the base. Clipping removes that hard end, and the soft, faded portion grows farther out. Stripping removes the entire hair from the follicle, allowing for a new, wiry, brightly colored hair to grow.”~Renae Hamrick RVT


Stripping entails holding a few hairs between the thumb and side of the index finger and pulling straight out using a gentle, yet firm motion. Those who are using a stripping knife will keep the hairs between the thumb and the blade when pulling out. For better traction, some people like to use chalk.

Once the dog’s entire coat is stripped, the dog remains only with its undercoat until the wiry top coat starts growing back. “Rolling the coat” is a similar procedure but it involves routinely going through the whole coat only to remove the longest dying hairs; whereas in stripping the coat all dead hairs are removed so to leave the dog with the undercoat only.

According to Groomarts, it generally takes  about 8 to 10 weeks for the new coat to come and cover the undercoat.

Does hand stripping dogs hurt? Many experts in the field claim it does not as the hairs are already weakened and ready to come out, but until dogs can talk we might not know exactly how they feel about it.

There are chances that dogs who are hand stripped from an early age may find the process more tolerable. According to the Irish Wolfhound Club of America, possibly the most bothersome part of all is having to stay still in the same spot for any great length of time, however, certain areas may be more sensitive such as the ear area and the belly.

“Properly performed, handstripping is not painful to the dog and improves skin condition. It clears the hair follicles of sweat and hair secretions and promotes healthier skin.”~Karen L. Campbell


As mentioned, dogs who are hand stripped are often dogs with a wiry coat. Hand stripping can be offered by groomers but it can turn out being a costly service as it’s time consuming and requires a certain level of expertise. Many dog owners opt to hand strip their dogs at home once they master the technique. Done correctly, it shouldn’t be painful, and many dog owners attest their dogs even relax and end up falling asleep!

For those who do not wish to get their dogs hand stripped but still want to maintain a certain level of “texture,” it’s possible to rake out some dead hairs before and after using the clippers.

Following is a list of some dog breeds that are commonly hand stripped.

  • Affenpinscher
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Dachshund wirehaired
  • Dandie Dinmont
  • German wirehaired pointer
  • Irish Terrier
  • Irish wolfhound
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Parsons Terrier
  • Spinone Italiano
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Schanuzer
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • Wire-haired pointing griffon

Video of Handstripping a Terrier



  • The Pet Lover’s Guide to Cat and Dog Skin Diseases, By Karen L. Campbell, Saunders; 1 edition (November 14, 2005)
  • GroomArts, Hand Stripping Information Sheet, retrieved from the Web on May 29th, 2016
  • Irish Wolffound Club of America, Stripping your Irish Wolfhound’s Coat, retrieved from the Web on May 29th, 2016
  • Pet Place, Stripping: Reveal Your Wirehaired Dog’s Show Quality Coat, retrieved from the Web on May 29th, 2016


Photo Credits:

Flickr, Creative Commons, Liz M, Rogue-stripping-face, CCBY2.0
Flickr, Creative Commons, Tony Alter Dachshund Details: Smooth Coat – Long Hair – Wire Hair, CCBY2.0

Understanding a Working Terrier’s Gameness


Among the world of terriers, gameness is a trait that is often misunderstood. Working terriers, as the name implies, are dogs who have been selectively bred for working and their work required specific characteristics that allowed them to excel in their tasks. A terrier’s gameness is sometimes still perceived as a negative trait, often related to aggression. In reality, if we take a look back at the history of working terriers we will notice how gameness had nothing to do with aggression and that gameness was actually considered a virtue that helped these tenacious dogs carry on with their tasks.

rat catcherA Look Back

Working terriers are small dogs with a past of being selectively bred to hunt down burrowing animals. The word terrier indeed derives from the Latin word “terra” which means earth. As agriculture developed in Britain in the 1700s, working terriers were in high demand as they helped farmers get rid of critters who ate their crops, bothered other farm animals and infested their stores. The terrier’s work encompassed fitting through the burrows so the critters could be located. Once located, the terriers would bark and flush them out, and in some cases, even kill them.

Later on, when fox hunting became popular in Britain in the 18th and 19th century, hounds were often used for tracking foxes on foot, but many times the hunt was interrupted when the fox ended up hiding in an underground burrow. This is where the terriers came handy as they would “go to ground” and bolt it free so the hunt could continue.

During the Industrial Revolution, terriers were also welcomed for their ability to kill rodents which were a major health problem so urban rat control became a new profession. To get rid of the many rats, the bloody sport of rat baiting became  popular and owning a ratter dog  helped earn a good sum of money from bets. Fortunately, this bloody practice has become illegal in most countries.

A Working Driveratter dogs

A terrier’s work required a determined and courageous dog willing to fight animals that were often much larger than him in dark, tight places. Fights between the dog and cornered animals weren’t unusual. Animals hunted down often consisted of woodchucks, groundhogs, foxes, rats, raccoon and badgers. In order to succeed in their tasks, terriers had to be capable of tolerating the pain associated with being bitten or scratched and keep going. Pain sensitive and weak specimens were certainly not fit for the job.

Gameness is therefore the strong working drive that allowed these dogs to keep working despite being wet, cold, injured, ill or tired. When other dogs gave up, the terrier kept going which is why many owners today are so pride about their terrier’s “drive” which makes them determined competitors in several canine sports.

“Gameness does not mean aggressiveness. Gameness refers to the ability to continue in the face of adversity, to continue trying no matter how difficult the task becomes.”~D. Caroline Coile

yorkshiter terrier tailThe Terriers Today

While most terriers are used today mostly for companionship, their temperament, energy, swiftness, creativity and gameness are still attractive to many terrier owners who have opened their hearts and homes to these intelligent dogs. It’s important to become aware of the “terrier personality” before committing to these dogs. After many years of selective breeding, the strong instincts of digging, finding and even harassing other animals still remain alive and well. This makes owning terriers quite a different experience (but oh, so intriguing!) from owning the average Labrador or golden retriever!

“Understanding these instincts and working with them, rather than against them, will help us have positive, happy relationships with our terriers.””~Dawn Antoniak-Mitchell



Did you know?  Today, owners of terriers can test their terrier’s gameness in fun earth dog trials and the American Working terrier Association even offers a Certificate of Gameness title meant to test a terrier’s natural instincts.



  • Terrier-centric Dog Training, By Dawn Antoniak-Mitchell, August 1, 2012, Dogwise Publishing

Six Dog Breeds Named After a Real Person


Dogs have surely some fascinating histories behind them, and dog breeds who bear the name of people have quite some intriguing stories to tell us.  There are a handful of dog breeds who were named after people and it’s interesting taking a glimpse back into their past to discover how they got their breed names in the first place. How many dog breeds which are named after somebody of relevance can you count? We found several dog breed named after a real person and have compiled a list.

dobermann1) The Doberman

Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann of Apolda is credited for creating the Doberman pinscher breed. His project started around 1890 just after the Franco-Prussian war. What inspired him to create this dog breed? The fact that he was a tax collector and also a dog fancier who worked the night shift for the Public Dog Shelter of Apolda, Germany. Because his door-to-door job of collecting taxes in bandit-infested areas was quite risky, he found a need for an elite partner under the form of a canine guardian. His dream started to materialize courtesy of having access to a wide gene pool to experiment with over the years. His goal was to create the perfect dog, a combination of intelligence, strength and loyalty and he got very close to it when he obtained a large version of a terrier.

While Louis Dobermann was very meticulous in his breeding program, selecting only the best specimens, good record keeping was his weakness, leaving us now wondering what breeds were used. After his death in 1894, his legacy was passed on to Otto Goeller, who owned “Von Thurigen Kennels” and who named the breed Doberman pinscher (pinscher is the German word for terrier) in his honor, but half a century later, the word “pinscher was dropped, as no longer deemed appropriate.

2) Jack Russell/Parson Russell Terrierjack russell

Reverend John “Jack’ Russell from Devonshire, England, was an enthusiastic dog breeder and avid fox hunter who is credited for developing the Parson Russell terrier dog breed. His passion for dogs and hunting was inherited from his father who took him along hunting sprees with a pack of hounds ever since he was a child.  When he was studying in Oxford, he was impressed by a female terrier owned by a milkman so he persuaded the milkman to sell him the dog. This little white terrier with tan spots over the eyes, ears and tip of the tail, soon she became the foundation stock for the Parson Russell terrier breed. The short and strong legs of Parsons made them perfect for digging and hunting down foxes who had “gone to earth” getting them out of their holes so that the hounds could continue their chase.  In 1875, the Fox terrier club was formed and Rev. John Russell was one of the founder members. Unfortunately, after his death, the breed underwent significant changes making it quite unrecognizable when compared to Reverend Russell’s original specimens.

boykin spaniels3) The Boykin Spaniel

The history of the Boykin spaniel starts with a delighting encounter taking place in the early 1900s. Banker Alexander L. White was walking home when a stray spaniel started following him. It was love at first sight and the banker decided to bring him home. White called the dog “Dumpy” and after noticing this dog’s strong predisposition for retrieving, he decided to send him off to Lemuel Whitaker Boykin, a friend and hunting partner living in Camden, South Carolina. Boykin transformed this little dog into a superb hunting companion who hunted turkey and waterfowl. Dumpy went from being a stray to being the foundation stock for the Boykin spaniel breed. Since the area around Camden was a resort area, it didn’t take that long for people to fall in love with this breed, so the breed spread quickly across the United States.

4) Cavalier King Charles Spanielcavalier king charles

As the name implies, this breed derives from King Charles II who had developed a deep love for dogs that he inherited from his dad, King Charles I of England. It always seemed like everywhere he went, he always had some spaniels trotting alongside. His love for these dogs was so much that he even mandated a decree that they were to even be allowed in the Houses of Parliament! In particular, the king had a weak spot for a special line of white and chestnut spaniels he once saw at Blenheim Palace, specimens bred by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. After the death of King Charles, the breed’s popularity steadily decreased, and specimens were bred with short-faced dog breeds causing a quite drastic change from the original dogs. Many attempts were made to bring back the original specimens back to life, so much that in 1926, Roswell Eldridge offered a prize for the best specimens and the breed started again closely resembling its original precursors.

gordon setter5) The Gordon Setter

This Scottish breed gains its name from Alexander, the 4th Duke of Gordon who owned a kennel of setters at the Gordon Castle, near Fochabers in the United Kingdom. These dogs were initially referred to as as “Black and tan setters,” but there is some evidence that back then, the dogs bred by Alexander the 4th Duke of Gordon was mostly tri-coloured with black, white and tan coats, rather than black and tan. However, the duke had a preference for the black and tan specimens and therefore it appears like he selectively bred for this coat color. Still as of today though, occasionally, some specimens show a white patch of hair on their chest area which may be a relic of their earlier ancestors. After a decline following the death of Alexander, the 4th Duke of Gordon and the 5th Duke of Gordon, the breed was then revived by the 6th Duke of Gordon. The breed was given the name “Gordon setter” by the Kennel Club in 1924, in honor of the 4th Duke of Gordon and his dedication.

6) The Plott Houndplott hound

This dog breed is named after the  Plott family who migrated from Germany to the United State in 1750 and brought along their Hanoverian hounds. The family established in the English colony of North Carolina. The Hanoverian hounds were remarkable dogs with the stamina and gameness needed for boar hunting.  However, there were no local boar to hunt in the area the Plott family established, so they decided to convert these dogs for bear hunting.

Soon, voice spread about the remarkable abilities of these dogs. A hunter even traveled from Georgia to check these dogs out for himself and was so impressed that he borrowed a stud dog to breed with his line of “leopard spotted bear dogs.”  In 1780, the Plott dogs became property of of Henry Plott.


Did you know? The Dandie Dinmont terrier is named after the character Dandie Dinmont, a jolly farmer in the Novel Guy Mannering novel by Sir Walter Scott



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