Archive for February, 2009

Golden retriever enjoys the pool

This is wonderfully silly and eccentric.

From b0zer.

It’s an old-fashioned golden, and you know how much I love these dogs!

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The Obamas have picked a dog.

They are rescuing it. That’s the good thing.

Problem: it’s from a breed with really poor genetic diversity.

In 1975, there were 66 Portuguese water dogs and 85 worldwide.

All Portuguese water dogs descend from these animals.

It’s not that this is a bad breed. It’s not.

It’s that it is a relict. At one time, nearly every European country had a shaggy, low shed dog of the poodle type. The British version of this dog, and the precursor to the retrievers and water spaniel is the rough water dog, also known as the “water rug.” And relicts don’t have good genetic diversity. All of these dogs descend from a mere 30 dogs. That means they these dogs don’t have as many genetic cards to shuffle to breed for good health.

The Portuguese water dog is so inbred that it is model organism for genetics research.

I would say that in ten years that Portuguese water dog will have the following problems: 1/3 will have temperament issues and the average lifespan will be about 6 years.

This breed will not be able to withstand the popularity surge that is sure to happen. This surge will lead to puppy milling and uninformed backyard breeding. Both of which will lead to less genetic testing for disorders.

Ted Kennedy may have a pair of them, and he was probably instrumental in choosing the dog for President Obama.  He might like them, but if he really understood  their issues, he’d reconsider having the president choose one.

They need to do some more vetting, because the Portuguese water dogs will need a vet or two in the future.

I hope that this dog is chosen for the right reasons. Bill Clinton got Buddy the wild Labrador because he wanted a dog that made him look like a family man. This dog arrived on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He was chosen because Labs were (and still are) the number 1 dog breed in America. He couldn’t be a black one because that dog wouldn’t photograph well. He couldn’t be a yellow one because the dog’s color would photograph too well. So a chocolate was chosen. And to make matters worse, he was a working-type chocolate- the wildest kind of Lab you can get!

I don’t think Buddy was really President Clinton’s favorite animal. I’ve always felt that he was just a photo-op dog. If Clinton had really wanted a Lab, he would’ve done lots of research and found that the working-type dogs are very energetic. He would’ve provided a lot of room for the dog to exercise, or he would’ve gotten a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, which is exactly what Reagan did.

Reagan received a Bouvier des Flandres puppy as a gift. The Bouvier puppy, named lucky, had very strong herding instincts. He also used his teeth to herd. The problem was he was herding the staff.

So Lucky got sent to Reagan’s Ranch.

And Reagan got a Cavalier named Rex.

(It’s not that Cavaliers are wonderfully healthy, but Rex fit their lifestyle far better than hard driving Bouvier. And for that, I do give the Reagans some credit.)

Update:  False alarm. Obamas still haven’t decided on dog.

The Portuguese water dog community can sleep soundly for now.

Update 4/13/09:  The Portuguese water dog community has proven to be very careful in the unveiling of the Obama dog. I doubt that this breed will be ruined as my earlier “chicken little” thoughts suggested.

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I have yet to find a video that so perfectly juxtaposes the mannerisms and movement of field-line goldens versus American show-line goldens. Well, here it is:

From LindsayAndLumi.

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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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