Category Archives: dog breed

Xoloitzcuintli, One of the Oldest and Rarest Dog Breeds

xolo micyBy Langley Cornwell

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Unusual Cat Breeds. One of the breeds profiled was a hairless cat known as the Ukrainian Levkoy. While unusual, it’s not the only hairless breed in the feline family; there are several others including the Elf Cat, the Bambino, the Peterbald, the Donskoy and the Sphynx.

As unusual looking as hairless cats are, can you imagine what hairless dogs looks like? There is a dog breed called the Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican hairless that is – you guessed it – hairless. This is one of the oldest and rarest dog breeds in existence.

Background

Many modern dog breeds are the result of crossing two breeds or some other type of manipulation by human interference. Xoloitzcuintlis, on the other hand, are considered an original breed shaped by natural selection.

The word Xoloitzcuintli is a combination of the word Xolotl, the Aztec god of fire and the deity responsible for escorting the dead to the underworld, and itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog. You pronounce Xoloitzcuintli like this: show-low-eats-queen-tlee. The breed is also referred to as the Xolo (show-low).

These unusual looking dogs are thought of as “healing” dogs or “doctor” dogs because people with arthritis or other similar conditions find relief when they cuddle with a Xolo; apparently they give off intense body heat. I’ve even seen Xolo’s referred to as living hot water bottles. They are also said to have the magic of a healing touch, with special abilities to help people with things like rheumatism, asthma and even insomnia. Another otherworldly gift, they are said to have the power to frighten off evil spirits.
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Icelandic Sheepdog: The Dog That Traveled with Vikings

Icelandic Alan LevineBy Linda Cole

The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog breed. A member of the Spitz family of dogs, this ancient breed traveled with the Vikings when they sailed from Norway and other Scandinavian countries to settle in new lands. Considered one of the oldest breeds, this primitive herding dog dates back to between 874 and 930 AD. They adapted so well to Iceland’s challenging environment and farming techniques, they were invaluable to farmers who used them to manage and move livestock.

The breed is known by other names such as the Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog, the “dog of the Vikings,” or simply ISD. Legends tell the story of a loyal and noble dog that worked side by side with Icelandic farmers. The climate was harsh and the terrain difficult to traverse. The Icelandic Sheepdog, a crucial partner to those who worked the land, was a hard working and beloved companion of farmers.

Isolation from other dogs allowed the Icelandic Sheepdog to evolve over the centuries through natural selection and development by man. Well suited to work in and withstand the harsh Icelandic environment, these hardy dogs have changed little over the centuries. They were so respected and cherished by their owners, archaeologists have found many primitive grave sites of ISD indicating ancient farmers felt their dogs were worthy of being honored with a proper burial.

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Stabyhoun: A Calm and Intelligent Breed from the Netherlands

staby mjk2By Linda Cole

Considered a rare breed, this versatile, hard working farm dog has slowly gained a following in the United States. The Stabyhoun isn’t recognized by the American Kennel Club at this time, but was accepted into the Foundation Stock Service in 2005, and will be in the Sporting Group once the breed is officially recognized. However, the Staby is recognized by the United Kennel Club. This isn’t a herding dog, but has been described as like a Border Collie – with an off switch.

The Stabyhoun, pronounced Stah BAY hoon, originated in the northeastern region of the Netherlands in a province called Friesland during the Spanish occupation from 1568-1648. During this time, Spaniards crossed their spaniels with local pointing dogs to produce a well rounded, gentle yet tenacious and smart farm and hunting dog. Affectionately known as the Staby or Bijke in his native country, the breed name translates from the Dutch phrase “sta me bij hond” which means “stand by me dog.” That’s a job this dog is more than willing to do. The breed has also been known as Friese Stabij or Friesian Pointer, and the breed name is sometimes spelled Stabijhoun.

This breed belonged solely to poor farmers who could only support one dog. He earned his keep by helping out around the farm wherever he was needed. With a keen nose and sharp eyes, the Staby was an excellent duck and upland bird hunter. He was a capable pointer and soft-mouthed retriever, and an excellent swimmer even in cold water. Today, few hunters utilize the Stabyhouns hunting skills, and most have found a comfortable life as a friendly, loyal and affectionate family pet.

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The Bearded Collie, a Hard Working Herding Breed

beardie arild andersonBy Linda Cole

The Bearded Collie is a medium sized sheep herder and cattle drover well known for his clownish and enthusiastic attitude. This athletic, affectionate and happy dog gets his name from hair flowing down from his chin to form a beard.

The origin of the word Collie is Scottish and used to describe the various sheep herding dogs like the Bearded Collie, Border Collie, Smooth Collie and Rough Collie. (Lassie was a typical Rough Collie). It’s possible the word was derived from “coaley” which was used in Scotland to refer to their black sheep, although it may have come from the Gaelic word Colly which means useful.

The Bearded Collie, or Beardie, originated in Scotland sometime in the 1600s, possibly earlier. Like other working breeds used by shepherds and farmers, there are few records to trace the early years of the Bearded Collie. One common belief is that in 1514 a Polish merchant arrived in Scotland to trade grain. He had what is believed to have been Polish Lowland Sheepdogs with him and traded them for two sheep. The farmer who made the trade bred the Polish dogs with local Scottish herding dogs.

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Tibetan Spaniel, the “Little Lion” Dog Loved by Monks

By Linda Cole

The Tibetan Spaniel is an old breed, dating back at least 2,000 years. Like the Saint Bernard that was raised and bred by Augustine monks living in the Western Alps, the “Tibbie” was developed by Lamaist monks living in the high Himalayan mountains of Tibet. These little dogs were highly prized by their owners. According to legend, the Tibetan Spaniels were used to turn prayer wheels in monasteries, but in reality, they had a more important job.

In the Buddhist religion, Buddha was able to tame the lion, and in doing so, he taught the mighty cats to follow him. Because the Tibetan Spaniel is so loyal, they were in the habit of following the monks everywhere around the monastery, and the breed became known as the “Little Lion Dog.” With thick hair similar to a lion’s mane surrounding their neck, and a confident plumed tail held proudly over their back, this little dog looked like a small lion to the monks. According to Buddhist belief, the lion represented Buddha’s triumphal win over violence and aggression. And since the Tibbie reminded the monks of a lion, it made them a popular breed to have.

The monks treasured the Tibetan Spaniel so much that they were given as gifts to visiting dignitaries and ambassadors from Japan, China and other Buddhist countries. Chinese diplomats presented their own “lion dog,” the Pekingese, to the monks, and there was most likely interbreeding between the Tibetan dogs and the Pekingese. People living in the villages also bred their own dogs, and then gave the smallest ones to the monks, who used them in their breeding program, producing a well balanced and stable breed.

The Tibetan Spaniel was kept primarily as a companion pet, but the monks discovered the dogs were excellent watchdogs, as well. The little lion dogs found the high walls surrounding the monastery to be a good place to sit and watch for approaching strangers or wild animals. When an intruder, human or animal, was seen, an alarm was sounded to alert the monks. Tibbies are known to have a keen sense of hearing, a good nose and eagle sharp eyes, able to see clearly into the far distance.

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Dog Breed Profile: the Elegant Pharaoh Hound

By Suzanne Alicie

We’ve looked at many different dog breeds here on the CANIDAE Responsible Pet Ownership blog. This is a learning experience for those of us who write the posts as well as our readers. Today I have the pleasure of sharing what I’ve learned about the Pharaoh Hound. While this breed is known as a Maltese hunting dog, those interested in the breed have concluded that it originated in Egypt. When the Phoenicians settled on Malta it is believed they brought the breed with them. The Pharaoh Hound is one of the oldest domesticated dogs, recorded since around 3000 B.C. They were first brought to the United States in 1967, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1983.

Upon first glance, the Pharaoh Hound appears similar to a Greyhound but the differences are notable. They have a fine, short coat that doesn’t stand away from the skin; coat colors come in shades of red that range from tan to a deep chestnut. White markings on the chest, toes, tip of the tail, center of the forehead and the bridge of the muzzle are common to this breed. Pharaoh Hound’s are born with blue eyes that change to a light gold or amber color. One unique trait of the Pharaoh Hound is that it blushes when excited – the nose and ears turn a deep rose color.

This breed is elegant while maintaining a powerful and athletic shape. Typically perceived as a medium sized dog, the Pharaoh Hound stands between 21 and 25 inches at the withers and typically weighs between 40 and 60 pounds, with the males being somewhat larger than the females.

When it comes to personality, the Pharaoh Hound is very intelligent, eager to learn and please, playful and active with its family and other dogs that it knows. However, it can be quite aloof or reserved with strangers, and defensive with strange dogs. This independent and strong minded breed is also known to be stubborn, so proper training is important.

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