Archive for February, 2009

Chow-types in Hong Kong

Here’s a video that features some chow-type dogs in Hong Kong. These are the smooth coated version, which makes sense for Hong Kong’s climate. Ignore the black and white puppy at the beginning of the video. The dogs I’m talking about are at the end.

From holewisym.

The chow dogs have definitely changed as they have been developed in the West.

There are two smooth chows in that photo that are a bit different from the dog in the video.

There are two smooth chows in that photo that are a bit different from the dog in the video.

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Remember how I said that it can be hard to tell a brown-skinned red to yellow dogs from some shades of liver?

Well the Chesapeake Bay retriever is a breed that comes in only brown-skinned colors. All Chessies are brown-skinned red to yellows or livers.

The dog pictured above is most likely a brown-skinned red dog. You would get this same color in a brown-skinned golden or most tollers. In Chesapeake parlance, it is a “sedge.”

Now, the dog above was relatively easy to assess. What about this one?


This dog is probably a very dark red Chesapeake, but it approaching something like what we seen in “chestnut livers.”

The dog below is a chestnut liver.


Chespeakes also come in “deadgrass,” which is something like what we call light gold in golden retrievers.


Chesapeake Bay retrievers come in colors that were associated with the Tweed water dog or Tweed water spaniel. In fact, my reading of the descriptions of the Tweed water spaniel suggest that they looked a lot like slightly smaller chessies.

These light yellow puppies could be born to liver dogs, so they were called “light livers.”

In Chesapeake Bay retrievers, black skin pigment does not exist. That means there really is no consequence of misindentifying a chestnut liver or a very dark red.

When the golden was split off from the flat-coat, it was decided very quickly that goldens would have black skin. Brown-skinned goldens are extremely rare. This trait in the Tweed water dog was bred out of them. It still pops up every once in a while, but it is rare compared to the black-skinned red to yellow.

Why did goldens have to have black skin?

Most sources say that the brow-skinned dogs had rather hard expressions.

However, I think there is another good reason.

If you breed a black skinned red to yellow to a liver, you can produce black puppies.

If you’ve accidentally moved a chestnut liver into the golden registry, which did happen, and breed it to a mahogany or dark red golden, chances were pretty good that the puppies would be black. If you breed a brown-skinned red to yellow to a black-skinned red to yellow, you will most likely get a litter that is a heterozygous black-skinned red to yellow in color. However, if that so-called brown-skinned red to yellow is actually a reddish liver,  the puppies will probably be black in color.

Because it is sometimes hard to tell a red to yellow with brown skin from a liver, you simply make brown skin an undesireable trait. Then you don’t have the confusion.

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From Clerice. These puppies are out of a Brazilian and American show champion sire.

The hindquarters of a chow are nearly straight. These dogs move in a stilted, yet surprisingly graceful motion.

They do not have the legs of a water dog or any breed that is designed to run hard for many hours.

As a result, the chow is really a laid-back breed.

This gait is one of the defining features of the breed in the show ring, every bit as much a part of the breed as its blue-black tongue.

If I were breeding show chows, I’d be very much concerned about producing this gait in my line. If  I saw this in virtually any breed of working dog, I’d be really concerned.

Don’t chow chows have a purpose?


They are natural guard dogs for Chinese farms.

They were also prized for their pelts and meat.

We can encourage watch-dog abilities in Chows.

Eating them and wearing their fur, well, that’s not part of our social mores.

And although I might complain about dogs shows and their effects on working breeds that still have a purpose, can we accept that the show ring might be the best way to evaluate these breeds?

I know that the chows Konrad Lorenz kept and loved looked a bit different from these dogs, but I have no good  answers here. These dogs looked a bit like the Eurasier dogs, which are derived from the old-type chow.

Please don’t think I’m going soft here, I just don’t think there is a good way to evaluate chow chows, except dog shows.

And yes, the hindquarters of this dog will continue to get straighter and straighter as selective breeding for this gait continues through the generations.

Lots of questions. No good answers.

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Here’s proof:

From ShortFilmView.

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From ReelDogs

I watched this film many, many times when I was a child. I think it had some influence on my love for frontier stories and our regional dog breeds. I’ve read the novel on which the film is based. (I’ll warn you that Miley Cyrus is the music played on the youtube video, in case you haven’t already clicked it).

The dog that plays Old Yeller in the film was a Labrador cross named Spike.

In the novel, the dog was a cur of some sort.

If this film is ever remade, I hope they use a cur and not a retriever.

Labs didn’t exist in the 1870’s, at least as we know them now.

And the first real yellow Lab didn’t exist until 1899.

That dog was Ben of Hyde.


This is an actual photo of Ben of Hyde retrieving trout, just like the dog in the dog in film caught fish.

This is a photo that shows Ben’s rather feathered tail, and I’m beginning to wonder if he might have had a Tweedmouth strain of wavy-coat in his background.

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Raccoon dogs are strange dogs. When I say raccoon dogs, I’m not talking about coonhounds. I’m not talking about “Ol’ Blue.”

I am talking about an unsual canid that was originally found only in Asia, but  the Soviets introduced them to Latvia after World War II. Their range expaneded rapidly to encompass a wide range of Europe.

This species is one of those primitive dogs, like the gray fox. And like the gray fox, the raccoon dog can climb trees. However,  it is not as good at it as the gray fox is.

These dogs go into a kind of hibernation during the coldest months of the winter. They go torpid during this time period, just like the true raccoon.

In parts of Europe, especially Germany, both introduced raccoons and introduced raccoon dogs live in the same forests. But they are not that closely related.

If you would like to see one bayed by a Finnish hound, check out the video below:

These animals are a bit of pest in parts of their range. They kill lots of small animals and destroy ground bird’s nests.

Raccoon dogs can be kept as pets in some European countries. However, these are fundamentally wild animals, and they don’t have all the nice traits that make domestic animals so easily to deal with.

The raccoon dog is a strange animal. We don’t have them in North America, so when people see pictures of them, they think they are large raccoons. Or if they hear the term “raccoon dog,” they think of Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s really just another species of wild dog, albeit a rather strange one.

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The golden retriever and Chesapeake Bay retriever are descended from the same ancestors, the St. John's water dog and the wavy-coated retriever. However, they are very different dogs in terms of temperament.

The golden retriever and Chesapeake Bay retriever are descended from the same ancestors, the St. John's water dog and the wavy-coated retriever. However, they are very different dogs in terms of temperament.

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is a dog that is either loved or hated in the world of retrievers. It is the only retriever in existence that was bred specifically for retrieving waterfowl. It is also the only one that developed  for swimming in frigid salt water. And, importantly, it was the only one that was expected to be a guard dog as well as a retriever.

Virtually all other retrievers were bred by the wealthy. The golden’s founders were high-ups in the Liberal Party in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The flat-coat had members of parliament and the founding president of the Kennel Club demanding its “improvement.” The Labrador was bred first by the Earls of Malmebury, and then it was developed as distinct breed by the Dukes of Buccleuch. The curly-coat and the toller were also meant to be gentlemen’s dogs, but the toller did have some blue collar support.

The Chesapeake, though, is the blue collar retriever. It was developed by hunt clubs and market hunters in Maryland from two St. John’s water dogs that survived a shipwreck in 1807, one of which was a reddish liver dog.

Such dogs never got to work pheasants on driven shoots. Instead, American gun dog fanciers trained their setters and pointers to retrieve. They had no use for a retriever whatsoever. However, market hunters and men who just liked shoot waterfowl on Chesapeake Bay often needed a dog. In America, the usual breed chosen for this task was some strain of Newfoundland, which means all the various different strains of that dog from that island.  Audubon had a Newfoundland of some sort when he shot birds in Florida named “Plato.” This dog was used as a retriever, although he had to dodge alligators on occasion.

Retrieving Newfoundlands or St. John’s water dogs, which included some of the smaller ones, were a major influence on the development of all retrievers. In fact, all retrievers partially descend from these dogs.

The Chesapeake strain of these dogs gradually developed into a distinct landrace. Virtually all of these dogs were liver or reddish in color. None had black skin. All were of the brown-skinned. They could retrieve anything from even the roughest and coldest water.

Because some of their owners made money off the birds they caught and the seafood they hauled, they very much needed a dog that could protect their catch. Chesapeakes are unique among retrievers in that they were selectively bred to guard.

When the Chesapeake was first standardized as a breed, it was thought of as the toughest and most aggressive of all the retrievers. These dogs were rugged in looks and in character. The breed also had something of a bad reputation for hard-mouth, which further hurt it in the trial circuit.

Since then, the Chessie has been mellowed out. It is still a protective dog. It develops strong bonds with its owner, and it is still the only retriever that can be recommended as a guard dog. However, it is an easier dog to handle than it once was.

The Chessie has all the working retriever characteristics, but it also has a stronger temperament. I would put its temperament in about the same category as a Weimaraner. It’s not a surly dog, but it needs careful socialization and training to ensure that its temperament is sound.

However, this breed is very much a working dog, and its owners appreciate its very different temperament.

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My new blog



Yes, this blog is still going to be my main blog.

The other is but a “commericial side venture.”

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The Altdeutsche Huetehunde is a working German sheepdog. It is a known ancestor of the GSD, but it is also a probably ancestor the koolie and the Australian shepherd.

The Altdeutsche Huetehunde is a working German sheepdog. It is a known ancestor of the GSD, but it is also a probably ancestor the koolie and the Australian shepherd.

Photo from Ralf H.

The landrace German sheepdog is the Huetehunde (“herding dog,” a very generic term.) It comes in a wide range of colors, including blue merle, and in smooth, long, and shaggy coats. Some of these dogs look more like sheep-poodles, others more like Australian shepherds, and others like Belgian and German shepherds. These dogs existed in the higher regions of Germany, bred solely for their working ability. The wolf-like dogs were the main breed behind the German shepherd dog as we know it today, and this breed is widely credited as being the ancestor of the GSD.

However, this mid-European shepherd breed has a bit longer reach than just the modern versatile shepherds of the European continent. In Australia there are several breeds of stock dog. We know the Queensland heeler, blue heeler, or Australian cattle dog the best in this country. It is a mix of collie, dingo, dalmatian, and bull terrier. We also might have the odd kelpie dog in this country. Kelpies, where are named after their foundation dog, who was himself named after a mythical Scottish creature also called a water horse, are believed to be entirely derived from collies. However, there is some evidence of dingo ancestry in them, too. There is, however, a breed that we usually do not see in this country. It is called a koolie or “German collie.”


Koolie or "German collie."

The dog in this photo is very similar to the Huetehunde. These dogs were kept by German settlers in the southern part of Australia. They were always associated with Germans in Australia, which is why they are called “German collies.” The Germans called them “koolies,” probably in their attempt to connect them with the more common collie-type dogs that their British and Irish counterparts were keeping. The koolie is probably partially derived from the Huetehunde.

Some of these dogs are also long-haired and have semi-pricked ears.


And others come in red merle:


Now, German settlers also brought the merle dogs to the US, where they were called “German tigers.”  (Tiger is  pronounced with the i as an “e” sound). And these dogs mixed into the bob-tailed herding dogs that were developing in the American West. True collie types were mixed with Pyrenean shepherds, and the German tiger dog.  It is also possible that some collies from Australia were imported into the West to handle the great flocks of sheep that once were found there. In fact, that could be the origin for the very strange name we currently have for this dog. Even though it developed and was entirely standardized in the US, we call it an Australian shepherd.

Not all Huetehunde are  merle. Some look more like GSD’s or sheep-poodles in color and appearance. It is meant to be a working breed, so a wide variance exists in appearance with these dogs.

So out of that German landrace, we have culled out three distinct breeds on three separate continents.

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I’ve added a new page

My writings

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