What’s the Main Difference Between Papillon and Phalene?


Almost everybody is familiar with the papillon dog breed, a small dog breed known for its flashy looking fringed ears that somewhat resemble butterflies, but not many people are familiar with the phalene variety, a variation of this breed that is gradually undergoing a resurgence in popularity. Interestingly, the American Kennel Club accepts both varieties which are categorized as the same breed. In the USA, papillon are allowed to breed with phalene and their matings can produce litters encompassing both varieties. This is in contrast with what is allowed in nations governed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale where the papillon and phalene are considered two distinctly separated dog breeds.  So today we will be discovering what’s the main difference between the papillon and the phalene. Will you guess the right answer?

What’s the main difference between papillon and phalene?

A  Their distinguishing feature is their tails.

B Their distinguishing feature is their size.

C Their distinguishing feature is their coat color.

D Their distinguishing feature is their ears.

The Correct Answer is: drum roll please…



The correct answer is D, the main difference between papillon and phalene is their ears.

Introducing the Phalene

The phalene is a variation of the papillon, and, as mentioned, the main distinguishing feature that differentiates the phalene from the papillon is the ears. The phalene has dropped ears. The American Kennel Club describes the ears as being similar to the erect type, but being completely down.

Phalene are known to be one of the oldest specimens of the toy spaniels, also known as Continental Toy Spaniels, from which they descend. Phalene are basically the earliest form of the papillon.

There is belief that it is towards the end of the 19th century that fanciers started breeding a version with the erect ears. This version was called papillon, meaning butterfly, while the version with dropped ears was called phalene, meaning night moth.

While some years ago, the popularity of phalene diminished to near extinction, fortunately nowadays there has been growing interest in breeding this variety.

“In judging the phalène it should be remembered that apart from the ears the variety is identical in all other respects to the papillon and should be judged accordingly.”~Papillon Club of America

Introducing the Papillon

The papillon dog breed derives its name from the large butterfly-like ears, fringed with hairs. Indeed, the word “papillon” is the French term for butterfly. The papillon dog breed is categorized by the American Kennel Club under the toy group, a breed group encompassing the smallest kinds of dogs.

The ears in the papillon are described as being erect and carried obliquely, moving like the spread wings of a butterfly. These small dogs were much cherished by royal families around Europe, with many of them being portrayed in works of art.

It was towards the end of the 19th century that the ears of the papillon become fashionable and the breed became quite popular, much more than the phalene and was therefore given the name of papillon due to the distinguishing feature.

“Suddenly, toward the end of the 19th Century, the erect ear carriage with its butterfly appearance became highly fashionable. In fact, it so caught the public fancy that the new term of “Papillon” quickly became the name for the entire breed.”~Rachel D. Kemmerer 


  • American Kennel Club, Papillon Breed Standard, retrieved from the web on December 27th, 2016
  • Papillon Club of America, retrieved from the web on December 27th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • Spaniel_miniaturowy_kontynentalny_phalene na Światowej Wystawie Psów Rasowych w Poznaniu Pleple2000Own work CCBY3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, mika I love dog! CCBY2.0

What Dog Breed is Nicknamed the Jumping Up and Down Dog?


Among the world of dogs, there are a variety of colorful terms used and some dog breeds are known by their nicknames. Have you ever heard about a dog breed nicknamed the “Jumping Up and Down Dog?” This nickname is quite curious and it may bring mental images of dogs jumping up and down like kangaroos or some dog on a pogo stick. Here’s a little hint: as one may assume, it would take quite an agile type of body for a dog to jump up and down. So today’s dog trivia question is


What dog breed is nicknamed the “Jumping Up and Down Dog?

A Whippet

B Italian greyhound

C Australian Kelpie

D Basenji

The correct answer is: drum roll please…





The correct answer is D, the dog breed nicknamed the jumping up and down dog is the basenji.

Origin of Name 

Perhaps most people know the basenji by his other more popular nicknames “the barkless dog” or “the soundless dog” which obviously refer to this breed’s tendency to yodel rather than bark, but the jumping up and down dog nickname merits some attention too.

Curiously, this nickname derives from this breed’s African name “m’bwa m’kube m’bwa wamwitu” (now try to pronounce that!which translates to the “jumping up and down dog.”

Of course, the next question is “why are basenji known as the “jumping up and down dog” in the first place?”


Basenji Hunting Style 

The basenji dog breed is quite an ancient breed originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. Basenjis have a history of being used as hunting dogs, chasing animals and flushing them into nets for their hunters. Basenji were also used to keep the rodent population under control.

Their nickname “the jumping up and down dog” derives from this dog breed’s tendency to leap high over the tall grasses of his native land  so to take a quick peek around, checking for prey while airborne. Many basenji owners also report seeing their dogs stand on their rear legs,in a meerkat-like manner when their dogs are curious about something.

” It is marvelous to see one jump up and down in five feet high elephant grass, he almost seems to hover in the air at the top of his jump whilst he has a quick look around and scents the air. Hence, one of the African names M’bwa M’kube M’bwawamwitu, the jumping up and down dog.” ~Basenji Club of Great Britain

A Body Built for Hunting

If we looks closely at the basenji, we will see a dog breed that was purposely designed for hunting. Curiously, the American Kennel Club bred standard informs us that this breed hunts both through sight and scent.

The whole facial features of the basenji denote alertness. The basenji’s ears are erect, ready to capture the faintest sounds. Courtesy of this breed’s smooth musculature, basenji move in an effortless gait that is depicted as resembling a racehorse trotting.

Interestingly, basenji are known for lacking the typical doggy odor of many dogs, a trait that may have helped them go undetected by other animals when hunting. The fact that basenji are bark-less may stem from their primitive heritage as silent hunters. Barking was a trait that was selectively bred by humans so dogs could alert them about the presence of animals or intruders. A dog’s ancestors were quiet hunters.

Did you know? Because basenji are silent on the trail, Congolese natives have them wear a bell made of wood, or iron, or the shell of a Borassus nut so they are aware of their whereabouts.

Not Everyon’es Cup of Tea

A dog that doesn’t bark but yodels, that’s virtually odor-less and that’s blessed with exotic looks, is sure to draw attention and many people may feel tempted to open their hearts and homes to a basenji, but they’re not everyone’s idea of the ideal dog.

Basenjis do cherish time with their families, but as a primitive breed with a history for hunting, they have characteristics that can make them not everyone’s cup of tea.

Basenji are very inquisitive, energetic, highly intelligent, independent and have a strong prey drive. They are escape artists who will do what it takes to get to the sight or scent of something that attracts them regardless if it means jumping over, crawling under or digging his way out. And when it comes to training, you really have to work on making it fun and worthy of his attention. Fail to do that and your basenji will walk away and look for something better to do.

Did you know? The Basenji Club of America offers a Basenji University guide for owners. The guide has interactive tests to help learn the basics about this breed.



  • The Mythology of Dogs: Canine Legend, By Gerald Hausman, Loretta Hausman, St. Martin’s Griffin (December 15, 1997)
  • Basenji Club of America, Nature’s Masterpiece

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr Creative Commons, fugzu, Basenji in libertà CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, fugzu Barak e il giovane elefante 1 CCBY2.0
  • Pixabay, Dog Jumping Silhoutte Public Domain

What Dog Breed is Nicknamed “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog”?


When it comes to the world of dog breeds, many of them are provided with nicknames and some of them are plain cute, others are more on the honorable side while some others portray what the dog breed was used for. We therefore have dogs nicknamed the “Firehouse Dog” or the “Dutch Barge Dog” and then we have the “Gamekeepers Night Dog.” As the name implies, these dogs likely pulled guard duty at night and therefore were dogs who must have looked quite imposing. Can you therefore guess this trivia question?

What dog breed is nicknamed “the Gamekeepers Night Dog?”

A The Rottweiler

B The bullmastiff

C The great dane

D The Doberman

The correct answer is: drum roll please…






The Correct answer is B, the dog nicknamed the gamekeeper’s night dog is the bullmastiff.

The Gamekeeper, by Richard Andsell, 1815-85.

What is a Gamekeeper?

To better understand the nightly duties of the Gamekeepers Night Dog, one must first understand exactly what is a gamekeeper.  A gamekeeper is basically an individual employed by a landowner who is responsible for managing an area of the countryside.

His main job is to ensure that there is enough game for shooting or fish for fishing. Gamekeepers, therefore, monitor farmland, woodland and moorland, to ensure that game birds, fish and wildlife in general are not threatened.

Poaching, the illegal capturing of wild animals, was a problem back in the days when impoverished peasants were searching for  sustainable food. In the 17th and 18th centuries poaching was considered a serious crime that could have lead to imprisonment or even death by hanging.

Back in those times, the nobility had exclusive rights to hunt and fish on the lands they ruled and any intrusion by poachers was considered a serious intrusion of those rights.

Introducing the Bullmastiff

Thorneywood Terror. Source: “Sporting Dogs. Their Points And Management In Health, And Disease”, by Frank Townend Barton.

As one may imagine, a gamekeeper had to pay a lot of attention to his surroundings, but no worries, here comes the bullmastiff!

The bullmastiff is a large dog who was purposely developed by 19th century gamekeepers to help them guard large English estates. Standing between 25 and 27 inches at the withers and weighing between 100 and 120 pounds, the bullmastiff provided quite an imposing presence.

Bullmastiffs were created by crossing mastiffs with the early ancestors of the bulldog. Mastiffs were large but they were too slow, while bulldogs were fast and tenacious but they weren’t much imposing, so they combined these two breeds and got the best of both worlds. And the rest is history.

Bullmastiffs were known for their fearless and confident demeanor and for tracking quietly covering short distances quickly. While bullmastiffs today also come in a fawn coat, back in time when poachers abounded, the brindle coat was particularly cherished as it worked best for camouflage in the forest at night.

Did you know? A bullmastiff going by the name of Thorneywood Terror (picture above) had a history of being known as the best night dog ever. Mr. W. Burton, of Thorneywood Kennels, Nottingham, bred bullmastiffs and challenged people to try to escape from Thorneywood Terror. He therefore would muzzle his dog and then give volunteers a 10 minute head start into the forest.  Thorneywood Terror never failed to catch and hold the volunteers and Burton made much money this way!

“The Poacher at Bay” by Richard Andsell, 1865

Bullmastiff Guardian Style 

Silence was a virtue when looking for poachers on estates, therefore the bullmastiff has a history of not barking much.  The American Bullmatiff Association describes bullmastiffs as being independent thinkers. They had to make their own decisions at times but their job wasn’t to maul people. Instead, they would knock down and hold poachers until the gamekeepers arrived.

This breed’s large and square head worked perfectly for the task of  pinning the poacher down and holding him. Also known as “Poacher’s Nightmare” these dogs were quite effective in deterring poachers and keeping them at bay, so much so that poachers feared them often more than the gatekeeper himself!

“The original gamekeeper’s night dog was appropriately brindle, and this original color of choice is for obvious reasons: a brindle dog could blend well with the vegetation, with the dark muzzle and ears further providing camouflage even when his head was lifted up to sense, smell or sight the poacher. ” American Kennel Club

The Bullmastiff Today

After a while, poaching declined and the bullmastiffs took a whole new role as guardian dogs. Because it was no longer necessary to camouflage in the dark, the fawn coat with a black mask became common.  Today, bullmastiffs are used mostly to fill the role as loving companions. These devoted dogs require loads of early socialization and training.

It’s important to invest time in teaching bullmastiffs to become accepting of strangers when welcomed by their owners. Ideally, when the door bell rings, a well trained mastiff should accompany the owner at the door and patiently wait behind the owner or on a mat with a “wait and see” demeanor. When the person is accepted in the home, he should accept that. Failure to provide sufficient socialization may lead to a bullmastiff is suspicious of everyone, which can lead to fear and defensive biting.

While bullmastiffs are large, despite their fleetness of foot they are overall calm and quiet as adults, once the boisterous puppy times are over. Many may find it appealing that these dogs are in need of moderate exercise and are generally pretty much mellow fellows.

“Fearless and confident yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence, and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.”~ American Kennel Club

Photo Credits

  • Picture of a Bullmastiff, author Kumarrrr, CCBY2.5,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
  • The Gamekeeper, painting by Richard Andsell, 1815-85.
  • “The Poacher at Bay” painting by Richard Andsell, 1865

What Dog Breed is Nicknamed the “Dutch Barge Dog?”


When it comes to dog breeds, many of them are provided with nicknames. Some of these dog nicknames are plain cute, describing endearing traits or physical characteristics, others are more on the honorable side, and then some are crafted to depict some significant roles these dogs filled. We therefore have dog breeds nicknamed the “Firehouse Dog” and the “Gamekeepers night dog,” just for sake of example, and then we have the “Dutch Barge Dog.”As the name implies, these dogs were employed in the Netherlands and worked nearby rivers or canals. Can you therefore guess  this trivia question?

What dog breed is nicknamed the “Dutch Barge Dog?”

A  Bouvier des Flandres

B Dutch Shepherd Dog

C Wire-haired Pointing Griffon

D Keeshond

The correct answer is: drum roll please…




The correct answer is D, the Keeshond is the Dutch Barge Dog!

Keeshond in a Chair, by Otto Eerelman

A Closer Insight

The keeshond is an an ancient dog breed dating back to the 16th century in Holland and that is categorized as a German spitz dog, also known as Wolfsspitz. German spitz dogs are characterized by a head that has a wolfish or fox-like appearance, a double coat, high-set triangular ears and a tail curled over the back.

The keeshond is therefore related to other spitz-like breeds such as the Samoyed, Chow,  Finnish Spitz , Norwegian elkhound and Pomeranian. Because of being related to the latter, the keeshond was also often infamously referred to as the “overweight Pomeranian.”

The hallmark of this breed is its spectacles, dark lines running from the outer corner of the eye to the base of the ear which makes these dogs  appear as if they’re wearing glasses.

dog tipDid you know? The presence of such lines is so important that the American Kennel Club considers the absence of “spectacles” a very serious fault!

A Look Back

Dutch barges by Adam Silo
Dutch barges by Adam Silo

Also known as the “Smiling Dutchman,” due to this breed’s bright, cheerful, and lively demeanor, the keeshond was used in the 17th and 18th century as a watch dog on barges that navigated through the Rhine River, a river that flows from Germany to the Netherlands.

What are barges exactly? Barges are small cargo vessels equipped with living quarters for the captain and his family. Keeshonds worked as zealous guardians of their owners’ belongings on these vessels and made great playmates for their children.

However, as the barges became larger, this breed became less favored and soon became scarce. Thankfully, their numbers were restored courtesy of the efforts of Baroness Van Hardenbroek.

dog tipDid you know? The plural form of keeshond is “keeshonden.” So if you own a couple of these fellows, remember this!

keeshon-on-leashThe Breed Today

While keeshond lost their jobs on the barges long ago, they have still retained their strong watch dog instincts and are always on duty, sounding the alarm for anything they believe is unusual. Being sensitive, keeshond may be reactive towards loud noises and may not cope well in families where there is lots of tension or shouting.

They are also nicknamed “velcro dogs” because of their tendency to follow their owners around and wanting to be involved in every activity. This breed therefore does best in the home with its family as keeshond are very people oriented and being around their people is what makes them most happy!

dog tipDid you know? Talk about politics! The name Keeshond derives from Cornelis “Kees” de Gijselaar, Dutch politician and leader in the rebellion during the Dutch Republic against the House of Orange. Cornelius owned a keeshond which soon became a symbol of the rebel party. When Cornelis was executed, the breed unfortunately became unpopular because of its political association.



The Keeshond Club, The History of the Keeshond, retrieved from the web on December 6th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • Wikimedia, Německý špic vlčí Zuza Punkt Widzenia, Public Domain
  • Wikimedia, Dutch barges by Adam Silo, Public Domain
  • Wikimedia, Keeshond in a Chair, by Otto Eerelman Public Domain


What is a Topknot for Dogs?


In the world of dogs, there is a wide array of colorful terms and the word “topknot” is surely one of them. You might have never heard about this term, or perhaps you heard it and are unsure of what it means. Or even better, perhaps you never heard the word ” dog topknot'” before and you are curious about how this term pertains to dogs. Here’s a little hint: owners of certain dog breeds are quite familiar with this term, especially those folks who are in the dog showing business. So today’s questions is:

What is a Topknot for Dogs?

A  It’s a special hairdo of certain dog breeds

B It’s a special knot made on top of a leash for better grasping when grooming

C It’s the technical name for a special knot made to prevent an elastic band from sliding off a dog’s hair

D It’s a special type of barrette used to keep a dog’s hair in order

The correct answer is: drum roll please…




The correct answer is A, a top knot is a special type of hairdo of certain dog breeds.

what-is-dog-topknotWhat is a Dog Topknot?

So what on earth is exactly a dog’s topknot? In simple terms, a dog’s top knot is a type of pony tail on the top of the dog’s head that is often held in place with a flashy bow or barrette.

Of course, not all dog breeds may boast a top knot considering that it requires a certain length of hair!

Most dog breeds that can be adorned with a topknot  have long, flowing hair over the forehead, something commonly seen in dogs breeds with hair covering their eyes.

Dogs may boast a topknot in the show ring when they are being exhibited or they may just carry their hair this way to look neat or cute and/or prevent their hair from covering their eyes.

A topknot also comes handy in keeping a dog’s hairs free of moisture or debris such as when the dog is drinking or eating.

Four Dog Breeds with Top Knots


Perhaps, one of the most popular dog breeds boasting a topknot is the shih-tzu. A dapper topknot indeed is the shih-tzu’s signature style, one that many people associate the breed with. You won’t typically see  shih-tzu puppies with this hairdo as the hair doesn’t grow long enough until shih-tzu are at least five months of age, explains the American Kennel Club. 

Another cute dog breed who sports a a topknot is the Maltese. The Maltese has a glorious flowing coat which in the show ring gives the impression of these dogs to be floating on air. A Maltese topknot is one of the most charming features of this breed especially when adorned by two cute little bows. You may see the breed sport one single top knot, mostly seen in puppies or a double top knot as seen in adults once they have sufficient hair.

The Yorkshire terrier is another breed known for sporting topknots adorned with cute red bows. Indeed, a little bow-ribbon has become one of the first identifiable features of this breed.

And then comes the Lhasa apso. This breed is not typically shown in the show ring with a top knot, as normally they are shown naturally with their hair parted down the middle, but many dog owners enjoy adorning their faces with this practical hair-do.

dog tipDid you know? The term top knot is also used sometimes to refer to the hair on the dog’s skull,  starting from the stop to the dog’s occiput.

How to Make a Dog Topknotlowchen-top-knot

Perhaps the hardest part of making a topknot is keeping a dog still! If your dog breed is one that requires frequent grooming, training a dog to stay may come helpful.

Don’t forget though to also train a release cue, so that your puppy or dog know when’s he’s free to move about again!  A common release cue used in dog training is “done!” which is more preferable than “OK” since, the word OK is used commonly in every day language.

Once your puppy or dog learns to stay still, you can then incorporate working on his hair for gradually longer and longer periods of time. Just make sure to talk to your dog in calm, soothing voice as you groom him and don’t forget to thank him for staying still with a tasty treat!

Be careful not to hurt your dog when handling his hair, be very gentle. You always  want to make touching the hair a pleasant experience so that your dog remains calm and collaborative.

Once your dog has learned to stay still and cooperative (this may take from days to weeks of practice), part the hair over the top of your dog’s head using a fine toothed comb. Comb the hair thoroughly section by section until it is completely free of mats.  Using some bow gel may help keep the hairs sleek and static-free.

Next, comb the section straight up, as if you were making a ponytail but create a poof and hold it in place by twisting a tiny elastic band around it. Depending on the size of the elastic band you are using, you may have to wrap it around anywhere between 2 and 4 times. Make sure it’s not too tight or pulled too closely to the head.

Finally, wrap the hair coming out of the elastic band behind the elastic band and use another elastic band to secure it. This last step will form a cute fan at the top that can be embellished with a cute bow.

These are instructions for a simple topknot for dogs, but more intricate variations are possible. If your top knot doesn’t look anything close to the ones you have seen in pictures,  don’t be discouraged; consider that it may take months of practice to master a professional looking topknot for dogs! There’s a reason why groomers go to school to master the art of grooming!

And now for some eye candy, let’s take a look at some dogs breeds sporting their topknots!

Shih-tzu With Topknot


Yorkshire Terrier With Topknot


Maltese with two topknots secured by two bows


Lhasa Apso with Topknot



Photo Credits:

  • Flickr, Creative Commons, Dave, Toy CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, PRO Petful Lowchen-10-Ch-Boondock Musicbox Don’t Roll Those Eyes At Me! CCBY2.0
  • A Tricolor Shih Tzu with a black nose and grey ear tips.Melanie Dullinger – White Magic Kennels- Own work, CCBY3.0
  • JorkshireNamedNika View author information, CCBYSA3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons,  SheltieBoy AKC Helena Fall Dog Show 2011, CCBY2.0
  • A young Lhasa Apso All4lhasas at Slovenian Wikipedia, CCBYSA2.50


What are Skin Tags on a Dog?


dog-skin-tagsIn dog circles, there are often some terms that are not quite readily easy to understand and skin tags may be one of them. What are skin tags on a dog? What do dog skin tags look like? Where are dog skin tags found?

If you never heard about the term skin tag before, you may be wondering exactly what dog skin tags are, especially if you are a dog owner. Or maybe you may have stumbled on the term before, perhaps coming from other dog owners or from a vet, but were too embarrassed to ask what on earth dog skin tags are exactly.

On the other hand, it might be you know what dog skin tags are and just want to learn more about them. So today’s trivia question of the day revolves around skin tags in dogs, will you be able to identify the correct answer?

What are skin tags in dogs?

A  It’s a tag embedded in the dog’s skin for identification purposes

B It’s a tag attached to a dog’s skin with a registration number for breeding specimens.

C It’s a small growth on the dog’s skin

D It’s a small remnant of skin that may stick out after a dog had stitches that failed to close correctly.

The correct answer is, drum roll please ……




The correct answer is C: A skin tag in a dog is a small growth found on the dog’s skin.

skin-tag-on-dog-legSo What on Earth Are Skin Tags in Dogs?

Veterinarians are quite used to dog owners wondering about skin tags. Dog owners may be petting their dogs when they suddenly stumble upon this fleshy little growth that is flexible and bends and that they have never noticed before.

Next thing they know, they rush over to the vet concerned about it.”What is this penduculated blob of  hairless skin doing on my dog’s chest?”

What do dog skin tags look like? Dog owners may describe skin tags as being small like a grain of rice or fleshy like a raisin, but what are really skin tags, and most of all, how did they end up being on the dog in the first place?

Medically known as acrochordons, the Merck Veterinary Manual describes skin tags as being benign, cutaneous growths often found in older dogs. Skin tags can develop in any dog breed and can present as isolated growths or they can be in good company appearing in several different parts of the dog’s body.

Skin tags are normally not painful when touched and may appear on the dog’s face, head, legs, chest area and armpit area, but they can really appear just about anywhere. Fortunately, in many cases, skin tags are nothing to worry about and the vet may recommend just keeping an eye on these growths and report if skin tags in dogs get bigger or change appearance. Yes, dog skin tags are unsightly, but they often seem to bother more owners than dogs. While skin tags are considered benign, as with any lumps, bumps and growths, a biopsy may be needed to confirm it’s truly a skin tag.

Dog skin tags may look like ticks!

Skin Tag or Tick?

Often, when dog owners find a skin tag on their dog, they often wonder if it’s an actual skin tag or a tick. The two may resemble a bit each other, but there is an easy way to figure it out.

Simply, part the dog’s hair and then carefully look at the area where the “growth” attaches to the skin. Do you see wriggling legs or a mouth part? To get a better look, you might have to grab a magnifying glass just to make sure. Just in case you are wondering, yes, the picture on the right is featuring an embedded tick.  Yes, gross!

If you see wriggling legs, then  you can simply remove it by grabbing it firmly by the head as close to the dog’s skin as you can  with a pair of tweezers and then gently tug it off. Ideally, you should get the tick all out, but if you leave the head behind, the dog’s body, with time, will dislodge it on its own.

If it’s a skin tag, you should have your vet take a look at it and see what he recommends doing. Chances are, if it ‘s just a skin tag, he may recommend keeping at eye on it, but some vets are more conservative and will recommend having it biopsied to err on the side of caution.

How to Remove Skin Tags in Dogsveterinary

Removal of skin tags in dogs is usually optional, but sometimes there may be some good reasons for removing them.

For instance, if the dog tends to pester his skin tag, chewing on it or scratching it, it’s a good idea to have it removed as skin tags tend to bleed, get irritated and can become infected.

If the dog’s skin tag is located in a bothersome area such as where the collar goes or near the dog’s eyes, rear end or mouth area, removal is also often recommended.

If the vet recommends having a skin tag removed, there are several options. Skin tags in dogs can be removed through a small surgical procedure that can be done under local anesthesia with some sedation or total anesthesia.  The choice for dog skin tag removal may vary based on its location and the over all temperament of the dog. Some vets may recommend having them removed through electrosurgery or cryosurgery.

warning cautionAbout Home Remedies for Dog Skin Tags

Many people look for home remedies for skin tags in dogs, but most of them are not safe and not recommended! We stumbled on several website offering tips on removing dog skin tags, but no, it’s not something to do at home!

For instance, veterinarian Dr. Loretta warns that yes, technically one can tie off the end of a skin tag with dental floss, apply alcohol and then cut it off with scissors, using a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding, but this can be stressful on the dog and will cause the dog to be likely screaming in pain!

Also, even though a skin tag may appear thin, it actually has a large blood vessel that bleeds and there are risks for infections. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can just easily remove a dog’s skin tag at home. Many have, and they have regretted it when their dogs got nasty complications.  It’s is best to have this done by a veterinarian in a sterile environment possibly with the vet using only local anesthesia.

And what about cutting off blood supply to the skin tag by tying it with dental floss if hopes of it dropping off? Even this procedure is dangerous. Veterinarian Dr. Deb warns that she has seen people with the best intentions trying to remove dog skin tags at home, only to create some nasty infections. No matter what you read, this is something that should not be done at home!

“Using floss, string, or rubber bands in this way is one of the worst things you can do… It is literally dying and rotting off the body.  Who thinks this is a good thing?  There is a big risk of infection or having more tissue than desired affected.  In the case of a mass or polyp, you leave the base in the skin so it has a chance of regrowing.  In order to completely resolve the problem you have to cut away the attached skin, not just remove the dangling part.” ~Dr. Chris Bern

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as substitute for veterinary advice. If your dog has a lump, bump or growth, please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.


  • Merck Veterinary Manual, Connective Tissue Tumors, retrieved from the web on November 21st, 2016
  • A Vet’s Guide to Life, Dental Floss Doesn’t Remove Skin Tags, But Thanks For Trying, November 21st, 2016

Photo Credits:

Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Jack Russell terrier sitting and tilting her head, Writ Keeper


What Breed of Dog Hunts Truffles?


There are dogs bred to search explosives, dogs bred to search illegal drugs and then you have dogs bred to search for truffles. Truffles might not be too popular in the United States, but they are quite popular in Europe such as in countries like Italy and France. And for sake of clarity, when we mention the word “truffle”we’re not talking about those delectable chocolates everybody loves, but rather those prized edible mushrooms eagerly sought out by chefs worldwide. Since truffles are not easy to come by, their prices can easily amount to hundreds even thousands of dollars which makes people eager to search for them. Truffle hunters may employ pigs to search for truffles or, more commonly now, specially trained dogs, but not all dogs are created equally for the task. So today’s trivia question is:

What dog breed hunts for truffles?

A Pachon Navarro

B Beauceron

C Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

D Lagotto Romagnolo

The Correct Answer is: Drum Roll Please…




The correct answer is D, the Lagotto Romagnolo is the dog breed that hunts truffles.

truffle-hunting-dogAn Alternative to Pigs

Ah, truffles! Everybody seems to love truffles. Truffles are tubers that grow underground so it takes a good sense of smell to detect them and extract them.

A while back the domesticated pig, called “the truffle hog” was primarily used to hunt for these delicacies. While pigs are not easy to train as dogs, they are highly motivated as they naturally love truffles and are able to detect them from as deep as three feet underground.

However, using pigs has several disadvantages. For starters, pigs don’t have too much stamina, secondly, they’re not very easy to train (try to train a pig the leave it cue), and thirdly, they want to eat the truffles once they find them and no matter how valuable truffles are, you definitely don’t want to wrestle a 300-pound hog that’s highly motivated in chowing down on a truffle, explains Charles Lefevre, the president and founder of New World Truffieres. It looks like truffle hunting has therefore gone to the dogs.


A Matter of Trainingdog sniffing

While pigs hunt down truffles naturally because they are drawn to them, dogs need a little bit of extra training considering that truffles are things that dogs don’t really have a natural interest in…at least until you create strong associations with food.

Dogs though tend to catch on quickly once they learn that finding truffles means food. The training generally starts by training dogs to find an item that was coated in truffle oil. Criteria is then increased and the dog is asked to find the item first buried under leaves, then under rocks and then under soil.

Finally, the dog is asked to find a ripe truffle and voila’ you got a glimpse into the making of a trained truffle dog. While many types of dogs can be trained to hunt for truffles, some of them seem to excel more than others, and a sure winner in this department is the Lagotto Romagnolo dog.

lagotto-romagnolo-dog-pictureIntroducing the Lagotto

In Italy, the use of truffle hogs has been prohibited since 1985. The reason being that, in their enthusiasm for hunting truffles, pigs ended up  causing substantial damage to the truffles during their digging efforts, making them no longer an option.

Dogs are therefore the only option and the Lagotto Romagnolo surely does a great job when it comes to hunting truffles.

Coming from the Italian region of  Romagna, this dog breed’s name literally means “the lake dog of Romagna.” Lagotttos indeed were initially bred as gun dogs who retrieved downed ducks from the water. Their  wooly waterproof coats indeed were helpful for this original task. However, somewhere between 1840 and 1890 the Lagotto gradually lost its original function as a water dog.

Yet, these dogs were quite far from retiring, and their highly developed nose and aptitude for searching, made them wonderful candidates for truffle hunting and this is what most of them are employed for today. This breed’s tightly-knit coat also turned handy for hunting in the chilly and thorny woodlands during the fall-winter period when truffles are most abundant.

” A natural gift for searching and a very good nose has made the breed very efficient in finding truffles. The former hunting instinct has been modified by genetic selection; hence his work is not distracted by the scent of game.”~American Kennel Club Breed Standard

idea tipDid you know? The Lagotto Romagnolo was just recently officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. This breed indeed was just welcomed in 2015.

Photo Credits:

  • Trained pig in Gignac, Lot, France, Vayssie Robert Robert VayssiéOwn work Gignac Lot France CCBY3.0
  • A female Lagotto. EnthetaOwn work Female Lagotto Romagnolo, 2½ years old CCBY3.0

What is a Pathological Bone Fracture in Dogs?


When it comes to bone fractures in dogs, there are several types. Fractures seen in dogs can be categorized into two main categories: open and closed fractures. The term open fracture refers to fractures that communicate with outside. In other words, the broken bone penetrates through the skin and is exposed. Closed fractures instead refer to fractures that do not communicate with the outside. In other words, the broken bone remains encased within the skin. Fortunately, according to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, most fractures involving dogs are closed. Another type of fracture involving dogs, is a pathological fracture. Do you know what a  pathological fracture in dogs is? Today’s trivia question therefore is:

What is a Pathological Fracture?

A) A fracture caused by an underlying disease

B) A fracture caused by trauma such as an automobile injury or a fall.

C) A fracture that breaks in several parts

D) A fracture caused by an unknown reason.

The correct answer is: drum roll please….




The correct answer is A, a pathological fracture in dogs is a fracture caused by an underlying disease.

dog-pathological-fractureAbout Dog Pathological Fractures 

Normal and healthy dog bones are quite resistant to wear and tear and, unless exposed to traumatic events, they are quite resistant to fracturing.

Bone density in dogs isn’t not lost as much as in humans, which is likely why osteoporosis in dogs is quite rare.

Osteoporosis, which is very common in post-menopausal human women, is therefore not a widely accepted diagnosis for dogs among veterinarians, also because dogs don’t go into menopause as human women do.

Healthy dogs are also (in most cases) fed a balanced, high-quality diet provided with all the nutrients they need to develop and maintain healthy bones.

Dogs therefore should not need calcium supplementation for healthy bones as their foods already contain adequate amounts of the minerals in proper balance with other minerals, explains veterinarian Dr. Erika Raines.

Causes of Pathological Fractures in Dogsveterinary

A fracture in a dog occurring without a history of trauma is suspected to be occurring because of an underlying condition that weakens the bone. When a bone is weakened to a certain extent, it reaches a point where it’ll spontaneously break or it takes very little trauma to break it.

What conditions in dogs are known for causing pathological fractures in dogs? Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of pathological fractures are bone cancers. Osteosarcoma in dogs is known to cause bone to be destroyed from the inside out.  As the bone is destroyed, tumorous bone replaces it, but it’s not as strong as regular bone and therefore has a tendency to break.

Bone cancer in dogs can often be confirmed by x-ray. Because a bone that is broken because of cancer is not going to heal properly, amputation is often recommended, explains veterinarian Dr. Christine M.  Splints and casts are unfortunately not helpful for pathological fractures due to bone cancer. Some big universities though may offer limb sparing options.

Other possible causes for pathological fractures in dogs include osteomyelitis; an infection of the bone, an endocrine disorder known as hyperparathyroidism, and malnourishment although this  is very rare in dogs fed a normal diet, explains veterinarian Dr. Scott Nimmo. When it comes to pathological fractures of the jaw in dogs, these can be due to severe periodontal disease secondary to bone loss, explains Dr. Niemiec a veterinarian specializing in  animal dentistry. These fractures of the lower jaw are quite common in small and toy breed dogs and can happen with very mild force during innocent activities such as eating or playing with a toy.

” While typically fractures occur after a traumatic incident, such as being hit by a car or falling from a height, some fractures occur following a pathologic weakening of the bone, which is seen with certain neoplastic conditions, such as osteosarcoma.”~Today’s Veterinary Practice

Photo Credits:

Flick, Creative Commons, F Delventhal, Schuyler’s Cast CCBY2.0


What’s the Origin of the Saint Bernard Dog Name?


The Saint Bernard dog breed boasts the name of a saint, but have you ever wondered what’s the actual origin of the Saint Bernard dog name? When people think of the Saint Bernard, they often picture in their heads a massive drooling dog as seen in the movie Beethoven, or perhaps they have a Disneyland image of dogs wearing brandy or whiskey kegs around their necks. Discovering the origin of the Saint Bernard’s name requires a bit of historical digging, and some facts still remain shrouded in mystery. So today’s trivia question is:

What’s the Origin of the Saint Bernard’s Dog Name?

A) Saint Bernards are named this way because of their peaceful demeanor

B) Saint Bernards are named this way because they were used in the Saint Bernard hospice

C) Saint Bernards are named this way because they saved the life of Saint Bernard

D) Saint Bernards are named this way because their coat color matched the clothing of the monks of Saint Bernard

The correct answer is: drum roll, please…




The correct answer is B: the Origin of the Saint Bernard’s Dog Name derived from their use in the Saint Bernard hospice.

Along the Saint Bernard Passsaint-bernard-pass

Before becoming companions and guardians of our homes, Saint Bernard dogs were utilized for a very noble cause: saving human lives.

Indeed, these large dogs were used along what known as “the Saint Bernard Pass,” the third highest road pass in Switzerland, towering at an impressive 8,100 feet.

The Saint Bernard pass is a 49-mile route connecting Martigny, the French-speaking district found in the canton of Valais in Switzerland with Aosta, a bilingual region in the Italian Alps.

This ancient pass has a long history dating back to the Celtic and then Roman period. In the 1800, Napoleon used this route to pass through with his numerous troops and heavy artillery.

Nowadays, the Great St. Bernard Tunnel allows a more practical route, but the pass today still remains a historical landmark.


Home of the Hospicesaint-bernard-dog-history

At the highest point of the alpine pass, is the Great Saint Bernard Hospice which was founded around 1049. The founder of this hospice was Saint Bernard of Menthon, the archdeacon of Aosta who created it in hopes of helping distressed travelers along the treacherous path.

The ancestors of today’s Saint Bernard dog breed were originally bred between 1660 and 1670 using descendants of several mastiff-like Asiatic dogs that were brought over by the Romans.

These dogs were meant to be a guardian of the hospice, but then later turned out becoming handy mountain rescue dogs. Saint Bernard dogs indeed were strong enough to walk through deep snow drifts and had a good sense of smell to track travelers.

Once found, the stranded travelers were offered nourishment, clothing and shelter in the hospice by the monks.

Amazing Rescue Dogs


It is said that the Saint Bernard dogs, trained by the monks, were quite amazing in their work. They were sent in packs of two or three. There are reports of them digging to find buried bodies, but if the stranded travelers were found to be alive, one dog would provide warmth while another one wold head to the hospice for help.

According to the Smithsonian Institute Magazine, the rescue efforts were so organized that Napoleon was impressed considering that none of his 46,000 soldiers had lost their lives crossing the pass.

One Saint Bernard worthy of mentioning was the legendary Barry, who is credited for saving the lives of over 40 people. Barry is now displayed at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where he still can be admired today – as seen in the picture on the left.

saint-bernard-breedAn Insight into Changes

The Saint Bernard dogs used at the hospice were quite different than the Saint Bernard specimens seen today. Barry, who lived from 1800 to 1814, was considerable smaller than the modern Saint Bernard, weighing between 88 and 99 pounds, while today’s Saint Bernard dogs weigh between 180 and 290 pounds.

In the years between 1816 and 1818, the Saint Bernard pass was afflicted by severe thunderstorms and avalanches which caused the death of several rescue dogs. This caused Saint Bernard dogs to be on the brink of extinction.

Fortunately, two years later their numbers increased courtesy of crosses with similar dogs from the nearby valleys.

Around 1830, Newfoundland blood was added in hopes that the longer hair would help the rescue dogs better cope with the cold. The longer hair though came with a price: the formation of ice. Discouraged, the monks started giving their dogs away to people living in the surrounding valleys.

In 1855,  innkeeper Heinrich Schumacher gained an interest in the dogs and started a breeding program using a studbook. It wasn’t until 1880 that the Swiss Kennel Club decided to officially recognize the breed and call it St. Bernard. And the rest is history…

Did you know? According to The Saint Bernard Club of New South Wales, it is widely agreed that the actual use of small barrels of brandy attached to a Saint Bernard’s neck is a myth. Those barrels were not used in ancient times, but are rather a more recent trend. The belief originated from a painting: ‘Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveller’ by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer which portrayed a Saint Bernard carrying a wood barrel on the collar.



  • Smithsonian Magazine, A Brief History of the St. Bernard Rescue Dog with barrels around their neck. According to legend, the brandy was used to warm the bodies of trapped people in avalanches or snow before help came.retrieved from the web on November 1st, 2016
  • The Saint Bernard Club of New South Wales, History of the Saint Bernard, retrieved from the web on November 1st, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • Painting by John Emms portraying St. Bernards as rescue dogs, Public Domain
  • Barry’s preserved body as currently on display at the Natural History Museum, Bern. by ZenitOwn work Stuffed body of Barry, famous rescue dog, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • View toward the Italian side from the monastery. Beyond the buildings at the end of the lake the road drops sharply. On the hillside above the modern road can be seen the Roman road. © Hans Hillewaert / Great St. Bernard Pass at the Italy – Switzerland border. CC BY-SA 3.0

What is Dog Ear Plucking?


Among the variety of procedures dogs undergo, ear plucking is one that is often a subject of controversy, with some people suggesting its use and others frowning upon it. Not all dogs need ear plucking, there are certain dog breeds that it is believed need it more than others. But what exactly is ear plucking? The procedure is perhaps not that as common as other ones, but we thought to add it in our trivia collection. So today’s question is:

What is Dog Ear Plucking?

A It’s another term for cropping a dog’s ears

B It’s another word for clipping the hair around the ears

C It’s the removal of hair from a dog’s ear canal

D It’s the term for removing any awns, grasses or thorns stuck to the fur of the dog’s ear

The Correct Answer is: Drum Roll Please…




The correct answer is C: dog ear plucking is the removal of hair from a dog’s ear canal.

dog-ear-pluckingAn Insight into the Procedure

What exactly is dog ear plucking and what does it entail? Ear plucking is a common dog grooming procedure where the hairs from a dog’s ear canal are pulled (plucked) using either fingers, hemostats or some other tool for the purpose.

The dog’s hairs in the ear canal should be removed little by little, versus large chunks all at once so to help prevent irritating the dog’s delicate ear canal skin.

Is dog ear plucking a painful procedure? Many groomers say it is not, but considering that hair is innervated, it must certainly not be a pleasant one.

We watched several videos and saw many dogs twitch and whine. However, there are chances that after a while, the hairs become easier to pluck out, which should make the procedure less painful. Some groomers use special ear powders which are meant to make gripping the hairs easier.

Dog Ear Plucking Video (the more gentle version)

The Purpose of Dog Ear Plucking

What’s the purpose of ear plucking? There is belief that ear plucking is a needed procedure for certain dogs as it removes excess hair from the dog’s ear canal, allowing more air flow. It is mostly used in hairy dog breeds such as poodle, schnauzers, Maltese and bichons to prevent the hair in their ears from trapping moisture, which is a predisposing factor that increases the chances for bacterial and yeast ear infections.

One Side of the Story…dog-ear

Veterinarians and groomers have been frowning about the dog ear plucking procedure because it can irritate the ear canal and the tiny wound left from the procedure actually end up causing micro-inflammation in the hair follicles, attracting more bacteria compared to just letting the hairs be.

Also, the irritation may lead a dog to scratch and shake his ears more which may lead to more problems down the road.

Dr. Heide Newton, a veterinary dermatologist claims that groomers should stop plucking ear hair from inside a dog’s ears, explaining that “healthy ears are self-cleaning.” She recommends instead that groomers continue the practice of ear cleaning, massaging the ear so to remove any wax and debris from the ear canal using products specially formulated for ear care. When it comes to removing hairs, she just suggests clipping excess hair from around the ear opening.

There are really no studies out there that have found a correlation between an increased number of hairs in the ear canal with the incidence of ear inflammation, points out Dr. Christopher G. Byers with MidWest Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Omaha. Dermatologist Dr. Paul Bloom also agrees that ears should not be plucked, but if there is an infected ear, he says those hairs gotta come out so to clean the ear out, but otherwise those hairs should be left alone. You can listen to his statement below.

“I also recommend not to pluck the hair from the ear canals of dogs during grooming, as this creates inflammation within the canal that often leads to secondary infections.” Dr. Amelia White, veterinary dermatologist.

And the Other OneDOG EAR SLITS

It’s always interesting hearing both sides of the story when there are controversial practices under debate. Dr. Anthony Remillard with Acupet Veterinary Care of is well aware of what dermatologists think about plucking dog ears, but he shows another side of the story.

In his article, he observes how years back when ear plucking was still quite popular, dogs’ ears were much healthier and  with the ear canal’s micro-environment in better shape than today.

He claims that when the hair is plucked for the first two or three times, micro-inflammation might form, but soon, the hair follicles should become easy to pluck out causing little to no inflammation. He therefore concludes than when hairy-eared puppies are groomed and plucked from an early age, the ears can be easily be kept healthy and hair free.

“Any dogs (at any age) with significant amounts of hair in their ears should have the hair plucked out routinely, usually at least every 6 weeks…Plucking hair from the ears allows a deep, thorough cleaning of any built-up wax or debris, and allows the canal to breathe, thus keep the canal drier.”~Dr. Remillard

We understand that dog ear plucking is a controversial issue, but thought it would be interesting discovering both sides. What are your experiences and thoughts on dog ear plucking? Feel free to post in the comments below.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is prone to ear infections, consult with your vet.

Photo Credits:

  • Severe otitis externa in a four year old Cocker Spaniel. The ear canal is inflamed and swollen shut, and ceruminous exudate is present, Joel Mills,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Allan Henderson, Nahni Big Ears CCBY2.0



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