Growing up with a Beagle

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A few months ago, I blogged about German Shepherd Dogs (http://www.myzooanimalhospital.com/the-german-shepherd-dog) and Labrador Retrievers (http://www.myzooanimalhospital.com/the-labrador-retriever).   So this next blog post is about another popular breed: the beagle. Beagles ranked 4th this year on number of registrations through the AKC.

Dr. Katie's childhood dog.

Dr. Katie’s childhood dog.

 

I grew up with a beagle.   I think I was in 4th grade when Mr. Bailey joined our house. Our neighbor bought an adorable beagle puppy for his significant other…who didn’t want a dog. My brother and I climbed over the fence and played with the puppy almost every day. Occasionally we even dug holes under the fence, and said the dog did it to get in our yard! It became clear that we loved that dog, and my neighbor asked if we wanted him.   My brother and I joyfully ran in the house and begged our parents to keep him.   He was an awesome dog for next 15 years, but he didn’t start out as the perfect pet.   That first year we owned him, he nearly destroyed our house from chewing, the dog catchers knew us by name, and my mom nearly rehomed him!   What changed? We got him neutered, and that helped with his roaming. We built a better fence around our yard. Every single evening my dad would work on his obedience training for an hour or two. By the end of his life, Mr. Bailey would sit, stay, roll over, play dead, speak, jump through hoop, stand on a platform, and “find George” (my brother). He passed away from old age while I was in veterinary school. He was 16 years old.

 

So what makes a beagle a great pet?     Like any breed, they aren’t the right dog for all families. Like any other dog, they require training.   Here’s some information on the breed:

 

Origins

Small beagle-like hounds have been around for probably thousands of years.   They tracked rabbits and deer on hunts in England as early as the 1500s.   Over many years of selective breeding, the modern day breed was established.

Appearance

Beagles are medium to small dogs in the hound group. They range from 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder, and can weigh up to 35 pounds. They feature a square-ish, medium length muzzle.   Most of the time their eyes are brown or hazel and feature a “houndlike-expression gentle and pleading” (AKC breed standard).   They have long, soft ears that can reach to the tip of the nose.  While the tricolor is most commonly what we think of as a typical beagle color, beagles can come in a variety of colors: black, brown, white, lemon, tan, and more.

Temperament

Beagles are described as “happy go lucky” dogs who are eager to please. They are usually very social and enjoy the company of other dogs and people.   As scent hounds, they can get in trouble following their noses to places they shouldn’t be. Beagles can be very stubborn.

Beagles as hounds

Beagles are hounds and they were bred to track animals. They have a very keen sense of smell and can be trained to detect a variety of substances. There is a “Beagle Brigade” that assists in the detection of illegally imported agricultural food for the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

 

Health issues

Beagles are generally healthy dogs, but can be prone to a number of health issues: obesity, hypothyroidism, back issues, and heart disease.   Your beagle should receive an annual exam from a veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy.

Famous Beagles

Beagles are commonly featured in movies, comic strips, and television shows.   Of course we all recognize the world’s most famous beagle: Snoopy!

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The Labrador Retriever

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For many years now (since 1991), the Labrador Retriever has ranked as the most popular breed of dog in the United States.    So what makes the Labrador so popular?  This blog post takes a look at the characteristics of Labs.

 

Origins       

The Labrador Retriever breed has its origins in the early 1800s.     The first lab-like dogs were known as “St. John’s dogs” as they were in the city of St. John, Canada.   In the 1920s the St. John’s dog was brought to England for selective breeding.  Since they retrieved in the Labrador Sea, they were became known as “Labrador Retrievers.”

 

Appearance

Labs are large dogs (55 to 90 pounds) that come in 3 main colors: black, yellow, and chocolate.   Originally, labs were only black, but over the years yellow and chocolate colors have become acceptable.  Labs have a short, dense coat covering a muscular, strong body.  This characteristic coat is present on the tail as well and is said to look like an “otter tail.”  They have medium length muzzle and a broad head.  According to the breed standards, they should have “kind and expressive eyes.”

 

Temperament

Just as much as the appearance, the disposition of labs is a trademark of the breed.  Labs are supposed to be kind, outgoing, and eager to please.   They should not be aggressive toward humans or other animals.    In the right home, Labradors can make wonderful family pets.   As with any dog, appropriate training is a must.

 

Labrador Retrievers as working dogs

Labradors are considered a working breed.   As such they can be found hunting, tracking, retrieving, and detecting bombs/chemicals.   They also can be found as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and even as canine lifeguards.

 

Health issues

Labradors tend to be healthy, robust dogs, but they can have some health issues.   Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are 2 orthopedic issues that can be an inherited health problem for this breed.  Selecting a puppy from a breeder who screens for these issues can help minimize risk for orthopedic issues.  Keeping your Labrador a healthy weight by feeding an appropriate, balanced dog food is very important.  Labradors are known for being discriminant eaters and “getting into everything.”

One issue with Labradors that isn’t necessarily related to their health is their popularity can make them a target for thieves.    We can place a small microchip in your pet to help facilitate reunification if your pet accidentally escapes or was stolen.  While not a tracking device, these microchips are scanned for by veterinarians and shelters and can helps get your pet back to you!

 

 

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The German Shepherd Dog

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Veterinarian's German Shepherd

Xena is Dr. Debbie’s German Shepherd Dog.

One popular dog breed in the United States and among My Zoo’s team members is the German Shepherd Dog (GSD).   Both Dr. Debbie and Patti have GSDs.   In 2012, the GSD ranked number 2 in most popular breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.

 

Origins

German Shepherd Dogs are working dogs originally bred in Germany for herding sheep.  The breed was selectively bred for its intelligence, agility, strength, and sense of smell in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

 

Appearance

GSDs are large dogs and weigh around 50 to 90 pounds.   The GSD is characterized by a long muzzle with a black nose, erect ears, and brown eyes.  They can come in a variety of colors, but black and tan is the most common.  They have medium to long hair on their body and a bushy tail.   Their fur grows in a double coat, with an outer coat and a thick undercoat.  The outer coat sheds all year round.  To reduce the amount of fur shed in a home, GSDs should be brushed regularly.

 

Temperament

German Shepherds are highly intelligent, working dogs.   As such, German Shepherds need an outlet for their mental and physical energy.   Frequent walks or jogs with appropriate training are a must.  Owners of GSDs should be calm, but authoritative.  Without appropriate training and socialization, GSDs can become timid and bite out of fear.    German Shepherds can be wonderful with children, but they need consistent training and socialization.  As with any breed of dog of any size, we recommend ALWAYS monitoring children with dogs.   Additionally, children require education and training on how to handle and behave around dogs.

 

German Shepherds as working dogs

German Shepherds are used as working dogs (especially as police or military dogs). They can be trained for explosive detection, search and rescue, messenger dogs, drug detection, and as guide dogs.   Of course, in some areas they are still used for herding and protecting sheep.  Owners of GSDs are frequently involved with obedience training, agility, herding, and other sporting events.

 

Health issues

Inappropriate breeding has led to the German Shepherd breed having multiple hereditary diseases.   Hip dysplasia is of particular concern as it can lead to hip pain and arthritis.   They can also have digestive issues, allergies, and tumors.   When selecting a dog, it is important to purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder.  Of course, we also recommend looking at German Shepherd rescue groups if you are considering this breed.

 

Famous German Shepherds

Strongheart

Strongheart

Strongheart– This was an early canine star in the 1920s.   He helped contribute to the breed’s rise in popularity.

 

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin – Rin Tin Tin is probably the most famous German Shepherds in the movies.    He was originally rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American Soldier, and he went on to star in 27 films.

 

 

 

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