The German Shepherd is hands down one of the most versatile dog breeds around. This is an intelligent breed capable of doing a wide variety of jobs. The original job of the dog was as a multi-purpose herder that could protect the flock, home and family, and be a companion pet at the end of the day. However, a split occurred that took the breed in two very different directions and created an American bloodline and a German bloodline.
Captain Max von Stephanitz is the German breeder who developed the German Shepherd dog. He wanted to create a smart, strong, courageous, protective and adaptable herding dog capable of doing his job and then returning home to his family to play with the children. Von Stephanitz was interested in the working ability of the breed, and everything he did was to preserve the characteristics and traits of the dog he developed.
In 1899, he mixed early versions of shepherd dogs to come up with the Deutsche Schäferhunde, the German Shepherd dog, and wrote the standard for the breed in 1901. Soon after, von Stephanitz created a test to evaluate each dog’s herding ability, and Schutzhund to measure their mental stability, protection ability, courage, willingness to work and obedience. Both tests determine if a dog is a good candidate to use in a breeding program. Any German Shepherd bred in Germany and Europe to this day must earn a Schutzhund I title or a certificate in herding in order to be used in breeding.
Most of my dogs from the past and present have been rescued, but I did have two Siberian Huskies and three American Eskimos that came from breeders. We all have personal reasons for choosing a pet from a breeder or a shelter. If you do decide to go with a dog breeder, there are some things you need to know – beginning with picking a breeder that’s reputable. Asking the right questions and knowing how a credible breeder should interact with you, helps you make a wise choice.
Good breeders are associated with local and national breed clubs, and kennel clubs like the AKC or UKC. They know their dogs well, and their objective is to constantly improve on the breed(s) they raise. Only healthy dogs are mated, and kennels, exercise areas, yards and homes are clean. All of the dogs are clean and well cared for, and their kennels are not overcrowded. Their dogs are family pets first, and many breeders enter them in dog shows, hunting, herding or Earthdog trials and other activities.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) was established on September 17, 1884, with the adoption of a constitution and by-laws. One delegate from each of the 12 active dog clubs that had recently held a bench dog show or field trials, met in Philadelphia to discuss forming a sort of “club of clubs.” The National American Kennel Club had already been established in 1876. With a need for a reliable stud book in the U.S., the AKC combined their records with The National American Kennel Club’s Stud Book, which was published in 1878 for a complete and thorough record of a dog’s pedigree (male and female) for all registered purebred dogs in America. Westminster Kennel Club was the first dog club to join the AKC and is the only remaining member of the original 12 dog clubs that established the club. The AKC has been responsible for maintaining written documentation of purebred dogs in this country ever since; however, the AKC does more than just keep records.
The American Kennel Club is a nonprofit organization with the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, and is responsible for the rules and regulations for more than 20,000 AKC-sponsored events every year. The Westminster Dog Show is one of the AKC’s more famous events, but they also oversee events in other conformation dog shows, rally, lure coursing, hunting tests, field trials, agility, herding, tracking, obedience, coonhound events, and earthdog tests. The AKC’s mission is to be an advocate for purebred dogs as family companions, to advance dog health, to be a champion for the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership. The AKC is responsible for the integrity of the Stud Book, and promotes dog sports and dog breeding to make sure breed standards are maintained.
Finding the right dog for your lifestyle is difficult if you don’t know what a specific breed’s characteristics are. We see well trained dogs in movies and TV commercials, and think maybe that dog breed would be a great pet, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the right breed for you. A dog show gives you the opportunity to see different breeds up close and personal, making a difficult and important decision a little less of a gamble.
Dog shows give you a venue where you can talk with responsible breeders who raise purebred dogs. They know their dog breed inside and out, and are your best source of information. Breeders can tell you about a dog’s personality and breed characteristics which helps you decide if a dog breed will fit into a certain lifestyle. A Border Collie, Pointer or any dog from the working group is perfect for an active family who loves getting outside with their dog, but they may not fit into a lifestyle that includes small children or small pets, like cats. Someone looking for a small dog thinking the dog’s smaller size would be perfect can be surprised by a Terrier who digs up their flower garden or spends the day yapping at the neighbor’s outside cat.
Dogs are not only “man’s best friend” – they are also aiding researchers who study dogs to discover better ways to treat humans. Because dogs live in the same environment that we do, they are also exposed to the same sort of things that cause cancer, diabetes and other diseases we share with our dogs. By discovering the genome responsible for a disease in dogs, researchers have a better understanding of the disease in humans, and know what to look for. New research in dog health is helping scientists learn more about people health.
A genome is one single set of chromosomes that contain all of its genes, i.e., the total genetic makeup of a cell. A genome contains all of the biological information all living things need that makes each species unique, including humans. The information in the genome is encoded in the DNA and divided into genes. Because our genetic makeup is so diverse, it’s been difficult for researchers to pinpoint exactly where diseases like cancer and diabetes originate in our complicated makeup.
When people decide to adopt a puppy, they usually want to know how big it will be when full grown. Interestingly enough, the genes that determine a puppy’s adult size come from both the sire and the dam, not just one parent. They each contribute three alleles of size to their offspring and the combination of these determines how large your puppy will be. However, without knowing which alleles for size each parent is providing, it can be difficult to determine the puppy’s adult size.
If you get a puppy from a reputable breeder and are getting an AKC recognized breed, ask the breeder if both parents are on the property and if you can see them. By looking at the sire and dam of your chosen puppy, you can get an idea of how large it will be as an adult. An alternative is to check your local library for the American Kennel Club’s latest edition of The Complete Dog Book. It contains the breed standards of dogs currently recognized by the AKC. It can provide you with the adult size and weight that your puppy should be when full grown.
If you are adopting a mixed breed puppy, it can be a bit more difficult to determine its adult size. Not everyone owns both the sire and the dam of a mixed breed puppy. Many times the female will come into season and become pregnant before her owner knows what has happened, and they don’t always know the male or males responsible. If you are adopting a puppy from a shelter, they may not know the breed of either parent or the age of the puppy. If you can see both of the parents, you can get an idea of the size the puppy will be when full grown. If both the parents are seventy pounds, chances are your puppy will be close to that size full grown. Likewise, if you have two ten pound parents your puppy will be a smaller adult.
I read an article which stated that with two dogs of differing sizes, the puppy’s size will come more from the mother. I disagree with that; I personally know of several dogs whose father was larger than the mother and the puppy is a large adult. One dog I know is a fifty pound cockapoo/terrier mix whose mother was a cockapoo that weighed ten pounds and whose father was a terrier mix that was over sixty pounds.
There are several other ways to help you determine the size that your adorable puppy will grow to. Look at their paws – if they have large paws it is a safe bet they will be a large dog when they are full grown. How loose is their skin? If they aren’t a Shar Pei it is another indicator that they will be growing into that extra skin and could be a large dog.
You can also document the puppy’s weight and height as it grows, and by keeping track of this on a growth chart you might be able to estimate how large your puppy will be as an adult. If the age of the puppy is unknown you could have your vet examine their teeth to help determine their age. The growth plates of a puppy’s long bones (found in their legs) fuse closed between the age of eight to eleven months old, but their weight continues until they are adults. A large breed puppy like a Saint Bernard or Great Dane will not be fully grown before the age of two.
An easy way to predict your puppy’s adult height is that it will reach approximately 75% of its adult height at about six months old. A non-scientific method is called the “double it” formula. You take the puppy’s weight at fourteen weeks and by doubling this you can get the estimated weight it will be as an adult. Since many of the larger breeds are not adults until the age of two, this formula won’t work for them.
Whichever method you choose, make sure before you get a new puppy that they will be a welcome addition to your family. A dog can bring great joy, unconditional love and plenty of laughter to your household, but you need to remember they will be with you for a long time. So now that you know how big your puppy will be, how big of a puppy do you want?
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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.