What Dog Breed is Nicknamed the Grey Ghost?


ghost-dogThere are many dog breeds that come with cute nicknames, and there is one dog breed in particular that is known as the “grey ghost.”

Is this dog breed called this way because it has the mind of Houdini, appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye?

Is there some sort of mysterious ghostly legend surrounding this dog breed?

Or perhaps, does this dog breed have some characteristic that makes it resemble somewhat a grey ghost?

With Halloween around the corner, we thought to dedicate this trivia to the dog breed affectionately referred to as the “grey ghost” so can you guess today’s trivia question?

Which dog breed is nicknamed the “grey ghost?” Is it:

A The Weimaraner

B The Irish Wolfhound

C  The Italian Greyhound

D The Siberian Husky


The Correct Answer is: Drum Roll Please…





The Correct Answer is A, the Weimaraner.

 Why are Weimaraners Nicknamed the Grey Ghost?

The Weimaraner dog breed dates back to the 19th century when they made prized hunting dogs for the Nobles of Weimar, a city in Thuringia, Germany. Back then, Weims were used to hunt down a variety of big game including deer, wolves and bear. When Germany’s forests though started thinning out in the latter half on the century, big game started becoming more and more scarce, and therefore these versatile dogs were converted into successful bird dogs who also came handy for hunting down the occasional rabbit or fox. Today, Weims make loyal companions who thrive in homes that can provide them all the exercise and all mental stimulation they crave.

So why are Weimaraners called Grey Ghosts? Here are three good reasons.

1) That Ghostly Coatweimaraner-grey-coat

Also known as the silver ghost, the Weimaraner has attained his ghost nickname from the appearance of the coat.

The coat of the Weimaraner indeed is of a ghostly grey, that reminds people of ghosts. This grey color of the coat is indeed a staple of the breed, one of the traits that makes it easily recognizable.

According to the American Kennel Club, standard, the Weimaraner comes in a coat that that is short, smooth and sleek ranging from mouse-grey to silver grey.

And gray it must be….Only a white spot on the chest is permitted and any presence of a distinctly blue or black coat is means for disqualification.

2) Those Ghostly Eyesthe-grey-ghost-dog

OK, let’s face it, a Weimarener’s spooky looking eyes also play a role in this breed ghost-like reputation.

Indeed, this dog breed has some unique colored eyes that are rarely seen in other dogs. The American Kennel Club depicts them as having “shades of light amber, gray or blue-gray.

Another interesting characteristic that makes these dogs even more “spooky” is the fact that when the pupils are dilated in this breed as when he’s excited “the eyes may appear almost black” as explained in the American Kennel Club breed standard.

weimaraner-hunting3) That Stealthy Hunter

Another trait of the Weimaraner that’s ghost-like, is this breed’s hunting style. Hunters describe the Weimaraner as being “stealthy and catlike.”

Weimaraners belong to the category of hunt, point and retrieve gun dog breeds, all-around dogs who are particularly versatile in getting all the job done.

The American Kennel Club describes Weimaraners as dogs blessed with grace, speed, stamina and alertness who tend to work with great speed and endurance in the field. When it comes to gait, these dogs move around effortlessly with smooth coordination.

Did you know? Weimaraners tend to bond a whole lot with their owners, following them around like shadows and sometimes even to the point of developing separation anxiety. This has granted them a second nickname: “The Velcro Dogs.”



  • American Kennel Club, The Weimaraner Breed Standard, retrieved from the web on October 18th, 2016
  • Weimaraner Club of America, Brief History of the Weimaraner Breed, retrieved from the web on October 18th, 2016

Photo Credit:

Flickr, Creative Commons, wakefielddavid, Ghost Dogs CCBY2.0

What is Hydrolyzed Protein in Dog Food?


Today, there are more and more types of diets for dogs, and dog owners may sometimes stumble on terms that are not easy to understand and one of them is hydrolyzed protein. You may have heard a veterinarian recommend a diet with hydrolyzed protein for your dog or you may have stumbled on this term being advertised in pet food stores, but what exactly is hydrolyzed protein and how can it benefit your dog? So the trivia question of the day is:

What is Hydrolyzed Protein in Dog Food?

A It’s protein that has been converted into a form of fat

B It’s protein that has been soaked in water

C It’s protein that that has been broken down into smaller components

D It’s protein that has been allowed to evaporate completely

The correct answer is: drum roll please..




The correct answer is C, hydrolyzed protein in dog food is protein that has been broken down into smaller parts.

dog-hydrolyzed-protein-dietA Word About Protein

In order to understand how hydrolyzed protein works, it’s first important to understand the role of protein in dog food. Protein consists of large molecules of amino acids, the building blocks that make up proteins. Amino acids play an important role in the correct functioning of cells, muscles and tissue. Amino acids also play a role in the correct functioning of a dog’s organs, glands, tendons and arteries and help in repairing tissue and removing waste from the body.

So to re-cap, protein is made of large, complex molecules which are made up of hundreds of smaller individual units known as amino acids. 

Did you know? “There are twenty-two amino acids used by the body to build proteins involved in many important functions… Among the amino acids used within the body, there are ten amino acids that are essential in the diet for dogs…”~Sally Perea, veterinary nutritionist.


The Hydrolysis Process


The word hydrolysis comes from the Greek word “lysis” which means splitting and the word “hydro” which means water. Basically, when protein is hydrolyzed it’s broken down into smaller parts. The word “hydro”is used because the breaking down of components often takes place by the addition of a molecule of water.

The protein is therefore split into smaller molecules such as amino acid chains (polypeptide chains) and free amino acids.These smaller individual amino acid components make them unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, hence why dog foods with hydrolyzed proteins are often considered to potentially be “hypoallergenic.”

What happens exactly is that, since the proteins are broken up, the dog’s immune system is somewhat “tricked,” as it no longer recognizes the proteins they were originally and therefore, no longer reacts. This method has been used for years when it comes to infant formula so to help infants having a hard time tolerating cow milk.

idea tipDid you know? Most food allergens consist of glycoproteins ranging in size from 18 kD to 70 kD (kilodalton.) Hydrolysis reduces the proteins to small polypeptides creating proteins below this size that are therefore “hypo-allergenic.”

 dog scratchingPros and Cons

Hydrolyzed protein diets are not only good for dogs suffering from allergies. Since they are highly digestible, they may also benefit dogs suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, portosystemic shunts and hepatic encephalopathy, explains veterinary nutritionist Dr. Dottie LaFlamme.

Also, hydrolyzed diets may be beneficial as well to Dalmatians, a breed particularly prone to bladder stones, but without having to excessively restrict the protein content in their food.

Among the downfalls of hydrolyzed proteins is the fact that, since the protein sources are broken down, the food might not be as palatable as it would be with the protein kept in its original form.

Other potential problems involve reduced nutritional value, hypoosmotic diarrhea and persistent allergies, according to Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology. Another disadvantage is that people feeding such diets, must adhere to a very strict feeding regimen, not allowing anything else other than the diet and water.

warning cautionWarning: While hydrolyzed protein diets have a lower incidence of causing allergens, none of the currently available diets are hydrolyzed to such an extent to be able to guarantee complete absence of any allergens.  It’s therefore best to  use caution and  select a diet that is free of the protein that the patient is known to be sensitized to, suggests veterinary nutritionist Nick Cave.

Dog Foods With Hydrolyzed Proteindog eating

Today, the use of hydrolyzed protein is a fairly new concept and more brands of dog foods are offering this option for dogs suffering from food allergies and digestive problems.

Dog food brands currently known for using hydrolyzed protein include Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Ultra Canine, Purina HA HypoAllergenic Canine Formula, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Hypoallergenic.

Most of these diets use soy and chicken as protein sources. Soy is often chosen because few dogs have been exposed to soy based diets so they’re less likely to have been sensitized to it, explains veterinarian Matthew J. Ryan  with the Veterinary Hospital University of Pennsylvania Clinical Dermatology & Allergy Service.

idea tipDid you know? Hydrolyzed protein diets are different from novel protein diets. While a novel protein diet offers a source of protein the dog was never exposed to before (like exotic meats such as duck, bison and venison), hydrolyzed protein diets expose to less exotic proteins that are simply broken down in smaller components.


  • DVM360, When pieces are better than the whole: Hydrolyzed protein diets (Sponsored by Nestlé Purina), by Dottie LaFlamme, retrieved from the web on Oct 11, 2016.
  • HYDROLYSED PROTEIN DIETS Nick Cave, BVSc, MVSc, MSCVSc, DACVN Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, retrieved from the web on Oct 11, 2016
  • University of Pennsylvania Clinical Dermatology & Allergy Service, What to Feed? Hydrolyzed Diet vs. Novel-Protein Diet, retrieved from the web on Oct 11, 2016


What Kind of Dogs are Lurchers?


You might have stumbled on the term lurcher being used to depict a certain type of dog, but what kind of dogs are lurchers? Oxford dictionary tells us that the term lurcher derives from the Middle English word lorchen, which means to lurk. This seems to suggests that lurchers must have been dogs used to engage in some sort of obscure activity, such as remaining hidden so to then ambush for someone or something. For today’s trivia we will therefore discover more about lurchers, what lurcher dogs look like and general lurcher dog information, but first of all, can you guess the answer to our trivia question of the day?

What Kind of Dog is a Lurcher?

A: A valuable purebred sight hound

B:  A deerhound mixed with a wolf

C: The product of a sighthound crossed with another non-sighthound breed

D: The product of a sighthound crossed with another sighthound

The correct answer is: drum roll please…




The correct answer is C:  a lurcher is a sighthound mated with another non-sighthound breed.

picture-of-lurcher-dogA Mixed Bag of Genes

What does a lurcher dog look like? Lurchers are not a particular breed of dog, which is why you don’t find them typically depicted in books  featuring different dog breeds or in dog breed directories.

Lurchers are basically the offspring of a sighthound that was mated with some other type of dog, usually some type of sheepdog or herding breed, and sometimes terriers.

Because of this genetic variability, depending on what dogs their parents were, lurchers are a mixed bag of genes and can come in different shapes, colors and sizes.

For instance, they may be as small as a whippet or as tall as a Scottish deerhound! Generally though, common physical traits found in lurchers are long legs and narrow heads, which remind of the greyhound.

The Silent Hunter

The mating between a sighthound and a herding dog is to obtain a dog that is intelligent, tenacious and fast. Imagine the brain of a collie with the speed of a greyhound, that’s a good way to describe a lurcher. One of the biggest perks of a lurcher is this dog’s ability to hunt in silence, without giving voice. Once known as poacher’s dogs, lurchers have been around for centuries and were prized for their superior hunting skills. These mixed breed dogs are mostly popular in Great Britain, where centuries ago they may have developed as a result of accidental breeding, as it happened often in the Middle Ages.

A Look Back

While an accidental breeding here and there could have happened, there are chances that lurchers were sometimes purposely bred to evade trouble. A theory has it that back in the 14th, 15th and early 16th century, ordinary people were prohibited from owning sighthounds like the Irish wolfhound, Scottish deerhound and the greyhound. It is possible therefore that to avoid problems with the government, people astutely thought to breed sighthounds with other breeds so they could keep hunting, but this time though they stumbled on a dog that was particularly suitable for poaching rabbits, hares, and game birds courtesy of the lurcher’s winning combination of speed and intelligence! A win-win!

The Lurcher Today

Nowadays, modern lurchers are mostly used as pets but many people find them also useful for pest control, keeping rabbits, hares and foxes away from properties. Lurchers are also enrolled in some fun doggy sports such as lure coursing or racing and even agility.

The Best Home

Because lurchers are a type of dog rather than a specific breed, there may be great variability between one specimen and another. However, generally lurchers are likely to be more energetic than the couch-potato greyhounds. People owning lurchers often describe them as having a special zest for life and loving being around “their people.” According to the American Lurcher Project, lurchers are affectionate dogs who make exceptional family dogs. Because of their instinct to chase, they need to be kept in a fenced in yard and must be always leashed on walks. Caution should be used when introduced to small, fury animals due to these dogs’ strong predatory instincts.

Did you know? Lurchers were often used to catch rabbits when they were driven out from their burrows but then in the early 1950s a virus decimated the rabbit population, however, hares were not affected. At this point, special dogs were needed to run down hares. The longdog, a crossbreed between two sighthounds was therefore created.

Photo Credits:

Long Haired Lurcher, Sykes108, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International


Why Do German Shepherds Have a Sloping Back?


The German shepherd is a dog breed that has undergone several transformations in the past years. Many people may remember that the German shepherds of decades ago looked quite different than the ones we see today, especially those shown in the show ring. One trait of this breed that has become quite popular is a sloping back, a trait that seems to have been exaggerated, up to a point that many people wonder whether it’s a good thing for the breed or not. In today’s trivia we will discover why this breed has a sloped back.

So why do German shepherds have a sloped back?

A  It’s meant to help this dog work in the field with sheep

B It was introduced by influential ‘breed authorities’

C  It allows an effortless trot

D It’s meant to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia

The correct answer is: drum roll please….




The correct answer is B, the sloped back feature was introduced from influential breed authorities.

german-shepherd-old-pictureA Look “Back”

German dog breeder, Max von Stephanitz is credited as being “the father” of the German shepherd breed. Von Stephanitz was fond of dogs with a wolfish appearance and sharp senses and worked hard in creating a working dog that could have been potentially used for herding and protecting sheep throughout Germany.

In his book “The German Shepherd Dog In Word And Picture” Von Stephanitz describes the German shepherd as having a back that is “straight and powerful.” And then, he further adds “curvature of the spine diminishes the power of endurance and speed, and is therefore, an especially serious handicap for efficiency…”

“The gait of a good shepherd dog is so easy and gliding that, during an even trot, not a drop of what would be spilled from a full glass placed on his back.”~V. Stephanitz

german-shepherd-sloped-backThe German Shepherd Today

While back in time, German shepherds were mostly used for work, nowadays, a great part are used as companions and protectors of the home and farm.

Sure, there are several others still used for work, and the working line specimens must (hopefully, so!) have a body built for endurance and an effortless gait and one would imagine a level, non-roached back should be part of the package.

On the other hand, showing lines of German shepherds mostly used for the show ring and breeding, are often the ones that stray away from the necessary characteristics needed for being a successful working dog.

The breed’s conformation therefore shifted from a rectangular shape to sloped with an exaggerated hind leg angulation, features that would perhaps make Von Stephanitz roll over in the grave. But how did it all start?

Did you know? German shepherd dogs with sloping backs are now often nicknamed ” the hatchback, “downhill dog” and “dog in front, frog in back.”

A Bad Apple Spoils the Batch

According to Louis Donald, a working dog judge, the curved spine seen in German shepherds dogs is fruit of a ”very small number of very influential people” that go by the name of “breed authorities” who promoted this feature at dog shows. Why did they promote this feature? There is really no reason other than it came “with the package” and since these features gained them several wins at dog shows, they soon became the norm since breeders started breeding based on the looks of dogs who won the most, causing the breed to evolve accordingly.

“Once a characteristic is entrenched, once it becomes the norm meaning only dogs possessing those traits win at dog shows even if it is a bad trait, self interest being placed above the breeds best interests makes it ”very difficult” to eradicate and if it is eradicated it can take a long time to do so. Unfortunately there are far too many people with an attitude that is not one of ‘”what can I do for the breed’ but one of ‘what can the breed do for me’.”~Louis Donald

german-shepherdsWhat the Standard Says

Oddly enough, many German shepherds with sloped backs are competing and winning in the show ring, yet the breed standard doesn’t state a requirement for such a back. According to the American Kennel Club German shepherd breed standard: “The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short.”

Just recently, three-year-old Cruaghaire Catoria, a German shepherd bred by Susan Cuthbert, won Crufts Best of Breed 2016  and there were several complaints  about the dog’s heavily sloping back  and associated struggle to walk. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, RSPCA claimed to be “shocked and appalled” and asked the Kennel Club to “take urgent action” to better protect animals’ welfare, says an article for The Telegraph.  The video can be watched in the Telagraph’s article.

The Negative Impact

A sloped back can affect a great deal when it comes to orthopedics and therefore  it can have an overall effect on a dog’s health. With the back curved, the dog’s hip and knee come closer to the ground causing the dog’s hindquarters to become more angulated (the bent legs in German shepherds, people describe). These dogs often shuffle when they walk and after years of wear and tear they may become prone to serious complications that can negatively affect their quality of life. Below are some quotes coming from veterinarians about the impact of a German shepherd’s sloped back.

“Because her hind legs are sloped rather than straight up and down, your German shepherd is prone to lower back pain.”~Winterpark Veterinary Hospital

” I thought we had moved on from backs like playground slides.  This conformation will only lead to hip displasia, spinal problems and an early death due to the inability to walk.  I actually now rarely see GSDs this extreme in the ‘real world’ and was super surprised, and really sad, to see that they are alive and well in the show ring.”~Cat the Vet


  • American Kennel Club, German Shepherd Breed Standard, retrieved from the web on Sept. 27th, 2016
  • The German Shepherd Dog In Word And Picture, By V. Stephanitz, Hoflin Pub Ltd (January 1994)
  • The Telegraph, Crufts plunged into cruelty row over ‘deformed’ German Shepherd, retrieved from the web on Sept. 27th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • Wikipedia Creative Commons, The show-line dogs usually have an extremely sloping topline, revista de monogràfiques del pastor alemany, Copyrighted free use


Why is There Ash in My Dog’s Food?


If you ever read a dog’s food label, you may have noticed that among the list of ingredients there is ash. What is ash doing in your dog’s food? Is it really ash as the ash you would find after having a barbecue? And most of all, is it healthy for dogs to have ash in their food? With the many unscrupulous things pet food manufacturers have been known for doing in the past decades to make easy money, it’s tempting to point the finger and blame ash content as one of those things that shouldn’t be there. So today’s trivia question is:

Why is there ash in dog food?

A It’s added as a filler to make kibble less expensive to make

B It’s residue from cooking bones that should be removed but it’s not

C It’s a pet food label’s way of describing mineral content

D It accidentally gets there and cannot be removed

The correct answer is: drum roll please….




The Correct Answer is, C, ash in dog food is on the label to describe the mineral content of a dog’s food.

ash-in-dog-foodAbout Ash in Dog Food 

When it comes to ash in dog food, it’s not really what it sounds. So, no, it’s not the type of ash we are used to seeing as when burning charcoal for a barbecue or burning wood in a fireplace. Ash in this case, refers to the amount of minerals that are found in the food. Ash is therefore not an ingredient that’s purposely added to a dog’s food, it’s just there because it’s part of the food.

Basically, ash is the mineral content that would be left behind if the dog food was incinerated at high temperatures (like at 550 degrees) causing proteins, fats and carbs to be burned, leaving behind all the minerals.

Yes, technically speaking it’s the “cremains” left behind if you were to “cremate” a canned dog food or a pile of kibble. Of course, the food you feed your dog is not incinerated, unless for laboratory testing purposes, otherwise what a waste that would be! Ash content is therefore just a statistical measurement of the combustible part of the food.

 “Ash is the inorganic residue remaining after the water and organic matter have been removed by heating in the presence of oxidizing agents, which provides a measure of the total amount of minerals within a food.”~University of Massachusetts Amherst

Is Ash in Dog Food Bad?food

Since ash consists of minerals, it’s a good thing to have in dog food. Indeed, ash is also often found in many human foods if you have time to read labels. Ash contains calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and other trace minerals that dogs need in their diets. For instance, zinc is much needed for the skin, calcium and phosphorous are needed for healthy bones, while potassium is essential for the heart and kidneys. Generally though dogs do not need a whole lot of minerals though. So yes, ash in dog food is actually a good thing and also quite inevitable, but as with everything, moderation is key. If you are looking for precise numbers of recommendations, consult with a veterinary nutritionist.

idea tipDid you know? Many dog food manufacturers do not disclose their ash statistics. Indeed, according to Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) ash guarantee is not required on pet food labeling.

puppy food

Expressed in Percentages

There are a myriad of dog food types on the market nowadays and each brand of dog food varies when it comes to moisture and ash content. The amount of ash in dog food is expressed in percentages. The percentage basically reflects the amount of ash remaining at the end of the incinerating process compared to how much food there was to start with at the beginning of the process. Usually, these percentages range between 5 and 8 percent in kibble and between 1 and 2 percent in canned food. The total ash content found in a bag of food however isn’t really helpful when it comes to indicate the specific minerals in it. More information though may be obtained from contacting the dog food manufacturer.

“I was taught ash of 7% or lower is the goal in constructing a quality food… Ash denotes the amount of bone that’s ground into the meal. A low ash content signifies a higher grade meal due to more protein included and less bone…Cost of using higher quality proteins, thus lower ash, then comes into play and you can tell that by what a food costs.”~Dr. Tim Hunt, DVM

Today, computers can easily measure ash content.

An Insight into The Procedure

As one may imagine, the process of measuring  moisture and ash content is quite elaborate for pet food manufacturing companies. It entails carefully monitoring the food’s mineral contents and moisture routinely so to maintain a high level of consistency. The traditional method requires ovens or furnaces which can be time consuming, but now there are new computers on the market which are meant to measure moisture, solids and ash contents with accuracy at 1/10 of the time for moisture testing and 1/7 of the time for ash testing. These computers can effectively provide an in-depth analysis from a single sample.



  • Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide: Good Health, Loving Care, Maximum Longevity, by Matthew Hoffman, Rodale Books (May 15, 1998)
  • Brown S., Taylor B., “See Spot Live Longer”, 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, p 55


Do Dogs Have Blood Types Like Humans Do?


We never see dogs lined up in front of blood donation centers so it makes sense to wonder whether dogs have specific blood types like humans do. This is something worthy of knowing about considering that dogs may at some point in their lives need a transfusion, and it’s sure interesting discovering whether there is such a thing as dogs donating blood and whether they must go through the same screening for blood-borne infectious diseases as people do. So today’s trivia question is:

Do dogs have blood types like humans do?

A Yes, dogs have blood types too, but more than humans

B Yes, dogs have blood types too, but less than humans

C Yes, dogs have blood types too and the same exact types as humans

D No, dogs do not have blood types.

The correct answer is: drum roll please….




The correct answer is A, yes, dogs have blood types too and even more than humans do.

dog-blood-transfusionA Greater Variety

Even though all dog blood is made of the same elements, not all dog blood is the same. Dogs have different blood groups and types, and just as in humans, it’s important to know about a dog’s blood type.

Blood transfusions in dogs can be needed when a dog loses blood as from a car accident or other traumatic injury causing lots of blood loss, or from medical conditions that cause destruction of red blood cells. While in humans there are four major blood groups, that is A, B, AB and O, when it comes to dogs and delivering blood transfusions things are a tad bit different.

Dogs have about eight basic blood types, however, as many as 12 may exist, explains veterinarian Dr. Chris Bern.

A Different Structure

bloodDog blood falls under a different system compared to humans when it comes to blood groups. In humans, blood groups are based on inherited proteins that sit on the surface of red blood cells. These proteins differ between one person and another. Dogs do not have the same blood group proteins as humans do, but rather their groups are basically structured based on the dog erythrocyte antigen (DEA) system.

A dog’s DEA is always followed by a number, so for example, you may see DEA 1.1 positive, DEA 1.1 negative, DEA 1.2, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5, DEA 7 and DEA8. According to veterinarian Linda M. Vap, DEA 1.1 and DEA 1.2 tend to occur in about 60% of dogs, DEA 4 occurs in up to 98% of dogs and dogs with this type alone are universal donors, while DEA 3 and 5 are found in lower proportions and DEA 7 is seen in 8 to 45 percent of dogs in the U.S. Little though seems to be known about DEA 6 and 8 and other possible antigens thought to exist.

dog-bloodAbout Dog Transfusions

As with human transfusions, dog blood donors need to screened for diseases and the antigens in the blood need to be known. In humans, transfusions are risky when the blood is not compatible as the body detects the blood as foreign and attacks it as if was a life threatening virus. This can cause life threatening complications. In dogs, though, in a first time transfusion the risks for complications are generally low; however, if a dog has had a transfusion before then there are higher risks of a reaction, explains board-certified veterinarian Dr. Joey. In this case, cross-matching, the process of determining whether a donor’s blood is compatible with the blood of the recipient, can help prevent severe allergic reactions to the donor dog’s blood.


Did you know? Greyhounds are often used a blood donors because they have special traits that makes them suitable for the task. On top of being docile and having large veins, their blood is particularly appealing. “Oxygen-carrying red blood cells can account for up to 47 percent of the blood of other dog species. In greyhounds, however, that number runs as high as 70 percent, which allows the species to replace lost blood quickly and “recuperate faster,”explains shelter veterinarian Leonard Vidrevich for an article for Sun Sentinel.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is sick, please see your vet for proper treatment.



  • Hohenhaus AE. Importance of blood groups and blood group antibodies in companion animals. Transfus Med Rev 2004;18(2):117-126.
  • DVM360, An update on blood typing, crossmatching, and doing no harm in transfusing dogs and cats, retrieved from the web on September 13th, 2016


Where Do You Measure a Dog’s Height?


Getting your dog’s weight is pretty much straightforward, all you need is a large scale, your dog and some tasty treats, but how do you take a dog’s height? Measuring a dog’s height at one time or another may be necessary such as when you need to purchase a doggy door or if you’re planning to enroll your dog in some type of dog sport or activity. In humans, height is easily measured by standing against a wall and marking the position on top of the head using a measuring tape, but in dogs taking a dog’s height is different. So today’s trivia question is:

Where do You Measure a Dog’s Height?

A At the top of the skull

B At the top of the ears

C At the base of the tail

D At the top of the shoulders

The correct answer is: drum roll please




The correct answer is D, a dog’s height is measured at the top of the shoulders.

square built dog withersDog Withers Definition

A dog is measured where the shoulders are the highest, the area that is technically referred to as the dog’s “withers.” This is the area where the dog’s neck and shoulders meet and is used to measure the height of both dogs and horses as it’s the tallest point of the body, obviously excluding the head.

Did you know? Some dog breeds are required by standard to be “square” which means that their height from withers to the ground is supposed to measure approximately the same as the length of the body measured from the withers to the base of the tail. Examples of squarely built dogs are the Maltese, poodle and the boxer.

dog height measureHow to Measure a Dog’s Height

To measure your dog’s height in 3 easy steps, you will need your dog of course and some measuring tape (or a yard stick.)

  1. Make sure your dog is standing straight without leaning or shrinking to the ground. He should be on an even, level surface with the head carried in normal position. Small dogs can be measured on a table.
  2. Starting at the top of the withers, run the measuring tape parallel to the dog’s front leg so that it falls perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Record the measurement for future reference.

Did you know? To measure dogs with precision, professional dog show judges use what’s called a “wicket.”


dog door measurementMeasuring for a Dog Door

If you are purchasing a dog door, your dog’s height at the withers is important as you need to make sure he can easily fit through the flap without the need for crouching. Consider that the top of the dog door’s flap opening should be at, or even better, over, your dog’s height. Adding an inch or two to the pet door’s height may be helpful. For large growing puppies though, things may be challenging due to their rapid growth, so unless you plan to upgrade to a larger door once your puppy turns adult, you’ll have to have an idea of how tall your puppy will turn to be.

idea tipTip: bigger is better when it comes to door dogs. Best to err on the side of caution and end up with a slightly larger door, than a door that is too small for your dog to fit through.

Measuring for Agilitydog agility

In the sport of agility, how can one calculate how tall a dog agility jump should be?  The answer is fairly easy: the height of the jump is based on the height of the dog! By measuring a dog’s height at the withers one can therefore attain an insight as to the height of the obstacles he should jump. Just to have an idea, the American Kennel Club has this jump height regulation:

  • 8 Inches: For dogs 11 inches and under at the withers.
  • 12 Inches: For dogs 14 inches and under at the withers.
  • 16 Inches: For dogs 18 inches and under at the withers.
  • 20 Inches: For dogs 22 inches and under at the withers.
  • 24 Inches: For dogs over 22 inches at the withers.
  • 26 Inches: Dogs may be entered at this height at their owner’s discretion.


dog show judgeMeasuring for the Show Ring

Measuring the height of a dog for the show ring may also be important so to ensure the dog meets the height requirements for his breed standard. While for some breeds some minor differences are negligible, in others being outside of that height range can be means for disqualification. So of course, measuring the dog at the withers at home with precision is important before entering the show ring. Judges may at times decide to verify the height at dog shows using a wicket which they are allowed to use only one time and must get it right that first time around. Because of the possibility of getting measured by a judge, it’s not a bad idea to get the dog used to being around the wicket  and measured with it as some dogs not used to it may get easily spooked.



  • American Kennel Club, A bit of a sticky wicket, retrieved from the web on Sept 6, 2016
  • American Kennel Club, Regulations for agility trials, retrieved from the web on Sept 6, 2016


Where Do You Find a Pulse on a Dog?


It’s important to know how to check a pulse on a dog and this is something that must be practiced when dogs are feeling well, so to know what to do in case of an emergency. The best way to learn this is by taking a pet first aid class and pet CPR certification which are now offered by many organizations. Also, asking the vet for a practical, hands-on demonstration can come handy. Checking a pulse on a dog is fairly easy if you know what to do and you have a collaborative dog. There are a couple of places where you can find a pulse on a dog, but there’s a specific location where the dog’s pulse is strongest and is considered more reliable. So today’s trivia question is:

Where is a common place to find a pulse on a dog?

A Under the tongue

B By the femur

C Inside the ear

D In between the toes

The correct answer is: drum roll please….




The correct answer is B, the pulse of the dog can be found by the femur. In order to practice taking a pulse, you will simply need your dog and a stop watch. Following are some instructions on how to measure a dog’s pulse.

dog femoral arteryRight by the Artery

The femur is a preferred site for taking the pulse on a dog because the dog’s femoral artery passes right there. Also known as thigh bone, a dog’s femur is a bone that is located between the hip and the knee joint.  The femoral artery is the main artery that runs by the internal part of the thigh traveling to the bottom of the dog’s rear legs so to supply blood to them. It can be accessed by finding the femoral bone and then sliding the index and middle fingers about a finger-length behind it while pressingly gently.

If you are having a hard time locating this artery, feel around until you feel pulsing. It may be easier to find the femoral artery when your dog is standing by simply feeling where the rear leg meets the abdomen. It’s important to avoid using the thumb to feel the artery as the thumb has already a pulse on its own. Once you locate your dog’s femoral artery when your dog is standing, you may then want to practice locating it when your dog is lying on his side, as in most emergencies the pulse is checked when a dog is unconscious. A video is worth 1000 words, so we have included a video at the end of this article for a demo by a vet.

Counting the Pulse

check dog's pulse

Once the pulse is located, it’s time to start counting using your stopwatch. When you look at most average timings for a dog’s pulse it will be given in minutes (bpm). If your dog can hold still for a minute, that’s great, but if he can’t, here’s a quick trick to make taking your dog’s pulse much quicker: Simply count your dog’s pulse up to 15 seconds and then multiply the number you obtained times four.

So if say, you counted 15 pulses in 15 seconds you would multiply it by 4. Since 15 x 4 equals 60, now you have your dog’s pulse for a minute. Now that you have your dog’s pulse for one minute, you can compare it with the average “normal” pulse number for dogs that match your dog’s size as outlined below.

“Because “normal” varies so much, it’s difficult to assess abnormal without a baseline, so take your dog’s heart rate a few times and make notes. If you’re concerned about what you’re finding, discuss your results with your veterinarian.” ~Dr. Marty Becker

chest wall dog pulseThe Right Numbers

When you are listening to the dog’s pulse, you are basically feeling the expansion of the femoral artery which basically reflects the contraction of the left ventricle of the dog’s heart. A dog’s pulse in therefore, the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the dog’s body. The pulse rate in dogs tends to vary, with small dogs having higher pulse rates compared to larger dogs. Generally,  puppies and small dogs have a pulse ranging from 120 to 160 beats per minute, while dogs over 30 pounds tend to have a lower pulse, usually between 60 to 120 minutes, explains veterinarian Dr.  Debra Primovic.

Did you know? Another option to get a pulse is to listen to the dog’s heart “directly” by feeling it through the chest wall. Simply place one hand behind the dog’s elbows and the other hand right under the chest and squeezing a little.

dog pain goes away at the vetSigns of Trouble

It’s a good idea to get accustomed with how your dog’s normal pulse feels so to quickly identify signs of trouble. Normally, a dog’s pulse is rhythmic and strong. A fast pulse can be indicative of  anxiety, exercise, pain or a  fever. The presence of a fever can be further confirmed by taking a dog’s temperature.  In some cases, a fast pulse can be indicative of a heart problem. A dramatic change in the dog’s pulse is often a sign of problems that require immediate attention. For example, a slow, weak pulse can be indicative of a serious heart problem or even shock. If your dog has an abnormal rate and/or if you notice any worrisome symptoms, please see your veterinarian at once!

Did you know? A good way to access a dog’s circulation is to check a dog’s capillary refill time. 

Pulse Rate VS. Heart Rateheart

Did you know? There is a difference between pulse rate and heart rate. Every heart beat causes a flow of blood that travels to the dog’s body through his arteries causing a ripple effect similar to a stone thrown in the water. This “ripple effect” causes us to feel a pulse in certain parts of the dog’s body where the arteries travel closer to skin. Therefore, a heart rate is the number of times a dog’s heart beats in a minutes; whereas the pulse rate is the number of times that the arteries expand and contract as a response to the heart. In most cases, the heart rate will be the same as the pulse rate, but when the two rates don’t match up, it could be a sign that the blood, for some reason or another, is having a hard time reaching or passing into the arteries.

“Pulse deficits are present when the pulse rate is less than the heart rate. This occurs because a cardiac contraction or several contractions take place prematurely not allowing enough time for ventricular filling (preload). This results in heart beats that do not eject enough blood to generate a palpable pulse.”~Michael R. O’Grady DACVIM, M. Lynne O’Sullivan, DACVIM

Vet demonstrates how to get a dog’s pulse

 Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog has an abnormal heart rate or is showing concerning symptoms, please see your vet immediately.

What Dog Breed is Known for Missing Teeth?


Most dogs have 42 permanent teeth with 20 teeth on the upper jaw and 22 on the bottom jaw. To be precise, the dog’s upper jaw has two canines, six incisors, eight premolars and four molars, while the lower jaw has two canines, six incisors, eight premolars and six molars. In some dogs though, there may be variations, and in particular there is a dog breed that is known for missing teeth. So today’s trivia question is:

What dog breeds is known for missing teeth?

A  The Mexican hairless dog

B The German shepherd

C The Rottweiler

D The great dane

The correct answer is: drum roll please…




The correct answer is A, the Mexican hairless dog.

dog missing teethThe Missing Teeth

The technical term for a dog who is missing a few teeth (usually between one and five) is “hypodontia.” Generally, hypodontia is quite common in small dog breeds and the teeth that are more commonly missing are the premolars, especially the first and the second ones, the incisors and the mandibular third molars, explains Brook Niemiec a board-certified veterinarian specializing in veterinary dentistry.

In some cases, the premolars may be missing in some large dog breeds too but in those cases (unless they are missing because of an accident,)  a lack of teeth is often considered a serious fault.

The Mexican hairless, also known as xoloitzcuintli is a breed that is often missing teeth, however, not all specimens miss them.


The Xolo’s Teethxolo missing teeth

According to the American Kennel Club’s standard for the xoloitzcuintli breed, this dog’s teeth must meet in a scissor bite. In the hairless variety, the absence of premolars is acceptable, and while a complete set of incisors is preferred, missing incisors are not considered a fault to be penalized. This is considered normal for this dog, and the missing teeth do not interfere with the dog’s ability to eat. On the other hand, the coated variety of this breed is required instead to have a complete set of teeth.

A Matter of Genes

One may wonder at this point, why does the hairless variety have a tendency to miss teeth while the coated variety does not? It appears to be a matter of genes. There are two types of genetic hairlessness in dogs: dominant and recessive. The Mexican hairless has a dominant gene for hairlessness which means that this breed has a genetic disposition to pass down the lack of hair to their offspring. Dental, skin or other health conditions are often associated with the dominant gene for hairlessness and this includes the missing teeth in the hairless variety. Because the coated variety doesn’t have the dominant hairless gene, it’s therefore not affected and boasts a complete set of teeth.

Did you know? The Xolo’s unique dentition, with its lack of premolars has made the remains of this breed easy to identify at archaeological sites.

Photo Credits:

What’s The Name of That Slit in a Dog’s Ears?


dog ear foldIf you ever carefully looked at your dog’s ears you might have noticed a fold of skin on the outer side of his ears. Many dog owners wonder about this anatomical feature. “What’s the slit on the side of my dog’s ear? What’s that extra flap doing on the edge of my dog’s ear?” Does that pocket on the outer edge of a dog’s ears have any particular function? To get an idea of exactly what skin fold in a dogs’ ears we are talking about we have attached a picture on the left.

Interestingly this extra fold of skin has a name, so today’s trivia question is: What’s the name of that double flap of skin on the edge of a dog’s ear?


A External pinna

B Rose ear fold

C Henry’s pocket

D Aural hematoma

The correct answer is: drum roll please….







The correct answer is C, Henry’s Pocket.

Also known as cutaneous marginal pouch, Henry’s Pocket is a fold of skin that forms an open pouch on the dog’s lower edge of the ear. This anatomical feature is particularly noticeable in cats, but it’s also quite visible in dogs especially those with little hair in their ears and dogs with erect ears.

DOG EAR SLITSA Possible Function

As of today, the function of this pocket remains unknown (Kumar 2005). There are however some theories that it must have something to do with helping dogs detect sound. The outer portion of a dog’s ear that is visible is known as pinna and it’s made of skin and cartilage. The pinna works as a funnel that helps the dog gather sounds that are then funneled to the ear canal where it travels to the ear drum. While some sound waves enter the ear drum directly, some other sound waves may bounce off the ear flap causing a slight delay before they impinge upon the dog’s ear drum. Sound waves that reach the dog’s Henry Pocket, are further delayed considering that they tend to bounce around that area. What does this possibly mean? It could mean that those slits on the edge of dog’s ears may play a role in attenuating lower pitches while helping the dog detect high-pitched sounds. But again, this is just an assumption! Some people believe instead that the fold is there to help the dog flatten his ears to protect them. Until research is conducted, we can only make guesses. 

A Weak Spot

A dog’s cutaneous marginal pouch is a preferred location for vets to use for skin biopsies of the ear when needed to diagnose conditions such as pemphigus foliaceus or small vessel vasculitis. Because the Henry’s Pocket is a preferred site for ear mites or ticks to hide, it’s an area vets often check often upon physical examination of the dog. Also, being that this area is dark and often moist, it can attract bacteria and fungal infections. Vets may therefore sometimes get a swab sample from this area so to evaluate it microscopically.



  • Lomond Hills Veterinary Clinic, Henry’s Pocket description, retrieved from the web in Aug 16th, 2016
  • August, John (2009). Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine, Volume 6. Elsevier Health Sciences

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr Creative commons, tanakawho, Yokozuna, CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Allan Henderson, Nahni Big Ears CCBY2.0



Enjoy this blog? Follow us on Facebook!