Many years ago I rescued a dog that looked like a mix between a yellow Labrador retriever and a Samoyed. Her coat was longer than a Lab and she had a dense undercoat, especially around her neck and chest. In fact, she looked (and acted!) like she had a lovely mane. Her ears were perky and triangular shaped and her tail was long and luscious, and curved over her back.
She was knock-down gorgeous. Out of all the dogs I’ve lived with, there’s never been another one that literally stopped traffic like this sweet pooch. Everyone we passed commented on her beauty and asked what type of dog she was. Upon learning that she came from an animal shelter, I was often told that she “had a lot of Spitz in her” or that she was a “Spitz type” dog.
At the time, I wasn’t clear on whether the term Spitz was an officially recognized dog breed, or if the designation was an umbrella term that referred to specific types of dogs. Turns out, Spitz is not an official dog breed. It’s more of an identifying term for a certain type of dog. Read More »
The Black Russian Terrier is one of the world’s youngest breeds, created in the 1940s. Nicknamed the Blackie, BRT and the Black Pearl of Russia, this breed was developed to fulfill a specific need for Russia and her people at a time of rebirth and reinvention. Because the history of the breed is relatively new, how it was created is well documented.
World War I and II had a direct impact on European countries that sustained major damage to the people, environment, wildlife and domesticated animals. Many purebred dog breeds were reduced to very low numbers and were only able to recover when breeders searched out quality dogs to use in rebuilding programs after WW II.
Periods of distemper outbreaks took its toll on dog breeds. Russia also had to deal with the Revolution in 1917-1918 and economic issues. All of these events caused many purebred dogs in Russia to suffer immense losses, and many breeds in this country were on the verge of becoming extinct. But there was a need for working dogs, so a breeding program was developed to create a breed from the few purebred dogs left in the country, and from imports of other breeds.
The program was established at the Red Star Kennel in the 1930s. Colonel G. Medvedev of the Central Military School of Working Dogs was given the task of developing a working dog that would meet the needs of the military. His team included breeders and geneticists. Their goal was to create a working dog that was powerful, intelligent and adaptable to the harsh Russian winters.
Over the years, selective breeding has given cat and dog breeds a variety of sizes, shapes and abilities. You can’t help but wonder if a Chihuahua really does think he’s as big as a Great Dane. Cats and dogs have found their way into our hearts, though, and I wanted to share some fun trivia about the smallest, tallest, fastest and oldest of our four legged friends.
Smallest dog and cat breeds
Chihuahua – He may be the smallest dog breed in the world, but his ancestors were thought of in a big way. The Aztecs believed this little dog had mystical powers and could see the future, heal the sick and guide souls through the underworld. That might explain the Chihuahua’s stubborn streak. Despite his diminutive size, the tenacious breed is on a list of the top ten watchdogs recommended by security experts. The Chihuahua is no more than 5 inches at the shoulder and weighs 6 pounds or less. Average lifespan is 12 to 20 years.
Singapura – One of the sixteen natural cat breeds, this intelligent kitty is athletic, muscular, playful and curious. Native to the island of Singapore where she lived as a feral cat on the streets, her early existence is a mystery. The breed developed naturally, without human intervention. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the Singapura was developed as a breed. The cat weighs 4 to 8 pounds and has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. You can learn more about the Singapura in this article from the CANIDAE RPO archives. The cat breed with the shortest legs is the Munchkin, with an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years.
Tallest dog breed
Irish Wolfhound – His name indicates a dog with a fierce demeanor, but this sighthound is a gentle soul despite his enormous size, and gets along well with everyone, including kids and other dogs. However, his fierceness as a hunter of large game is legendary. Native to Ireland, and old Irish proverb aptly described the breed as “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.” Standing 30 to 35 inches at the shoulder and weighing 105 to 180 pounds, their average lifespan is 6 to 8 years. The Mastiff is the heaviest dog breed, weighing 120 to 230 pounds, with a lifespan of 8 to 10 years.
Largest cat breed
Ragdoll – Developed in America in the early 1960s, the Ragdoll is a good natured, laid back kitty that loves to be with her people. She enjoys being held and has a tendency to go limp when she’s picked up. Some males weigh up to 35 pounds, but the average size is around 20 pounds. A Ragdoll can be three times larger than other breeds. This “dog-like” feline gets along well with the entire family. Average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Fastest dog and cat breed
Greyhound – One of the oldest dog breeds, the Greyhound originated in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Other sighthounds like the Whippet, Saluki and Afghan Hound aren’t that far behind, but at around 45 mph this speedy breed tops all dog breeds. The Greyhound is number 7 on the fastest land animal list, with the Cheetah holding the top spot. But when it comes to stamina, the Greyhound is far superior to the Cheetah who fizzles out after a short burst of speed. A Greyhound’s average lifespan is 10 to 13 years.
Egyptian Mau – This super intelligent kitty is the only domesticated cat with a spotted coat that occurs naturally. Originating in Egypt, the Mau was given high status and worshiped like a god. In Ancient Egypt, the word Mau means cat. The Cat Fanciers’ Association describes the breed as “something a little exotic, a little jungle, a little breathtaking and a little primitive.” This little beauty’s hind legs are longer than her front legs, and along with her spotted coat, she looks Cheetah-like. Not as fast as the Cheetah or Greyhound, the Mau has a top speed of 30 mph. Average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Oldest dog and cat breed
Saluki – Originating in the Middle East sometime around 329 BC, the Saluki holds the title as the world’s oldest breed. The Saluki was bred as a medium size sighthound to hunt gazelle and hare in the deserts. Highly prized, the Saluki was given noble treatment over all other dog breeds, sharing their owner’s food and tent. The Saluki may look elegant, but he’s an athletic, quick and unrelenting hunter, with stamina and speed to chase down his prey. Average lifespan is 12 to 14 years.
Egyptian Mau – Not only is the Mau the fastest cat breed, it’s most likely the oldest as well. Depictions of cats resembling the Mau are found on Egyptian hieroglyphics. These cats were so revered by their owners, after death their bodies were mummified and placed in tombs.
Chihuahua photo by Jose Antonio Tovar Singapura photo by Lil Shepherd Ragdoll by Steve Jurvetson Egyptian Mau photo by Nickolas Titkov Saluki photo by Renee Johnson
One nice thing about cats is that no matter how insistent they meow for their supper, it usually won’t annoy the neighbors. A barking dog can, on the other hand. Some breeds use their voice more than others, and others will bark just for attention. Thankfully, there are some dogs that typically don’t bark a lot.
Chinese Shar-Pei – Bred in southern China as an all purpose farm dog, the wrinkly Shar-Pei dates back to at least the 1200s. The breed was highly prized as a herder, hunter, tracker, and guard dog for property and livestock. He shares his distinct blue-black tongue with only one other dog breed, the ancient Chow Chow, also from China. Shar-Pei means “sand skin” in Chinese. This breed is intelligent, devoted to his family, an independent thinker with a stubborn streak, wary of people and dogs he doesn’t know, and a good watchdog. As a general rule, the Shar-Pei only barks when he’s worried about something or during play.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – This is an ancient breed native to South Africa, developed by farmers who needed an intelligent, athletic and courageous dog for hunting, herding, and guarding livestock and the home from large predators. Also known as the African Lion Hound, the Ridgeback was used to hunt lions and leopards, holding them at bay until a hunter came. A distinctive ridge of hair along the spine, growing in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat, is how the breed got its name. The Ridgeback is extremely devoted to his family and will do what’s necessary to defend them. Read More »
The American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous group is where a breed goes to wait to be officially recognized. Once a breed is AKC recognized, it is eligible to be shown at the Westminster Dog Show. Three recently recognized breeds are ready to strut their stuff at the 2014 Westminster show February 10-11.
When gold was discovered in Alaska in the 1880s, Arthur Treadwell Walden left his home in New Hampshire and headed to Alaska. He found work hauling freight by dog sled, and his favorite lead dog was a Husky mix named Chinook. Walden was hooked on sled dogs, but after returning home, he was disappointed with the sled dogs he found in the New England area. So he decided to create a new breed. Walden bought a female Greenland Husky from Admiral Peary and bred her with a Mastiff mix. Three tawny yellow pups were born, and named Rikki, Tikki and Tavi. One pup’s name was later changed to Chinook, in honor of the lead dog he had in Alaska. Chinook is the foundation dog for the breed.
Growing up, I always had my nose stuck in a book, which was usually about the adventure of a dog, cat or some other animal. One book was about a dog described as having wirehairs sticking out around his muzzle, which gave him a grizzly sort of look. It was an old library book, written sometime in the 1940s or earlier, and about the only thing I remember is the breed of the dog. He was an Otterhound, a unique dog originally bred to hunt only one critter.
The exact origin of the breed isn’t known. Britain is where the Otterhound was developed, but it’s believed the breed began in France because of similarities the breed shares with the French Griffon Nivernais in coat type, appearance and conformation. Although a large dog weighing 65 to 125 pounds and standing 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder, the Otterhound has a rough, unkempt-looking double coat with a somewhat oily undercoat and water-repellent outer coat. His feet are large and webbed which helps him do the job he was originally bred to do: hunt river otters.
The earliest writing that mentions the “Otter Dogge” was in England in 1175. William Twici, a 14th century huntsman, described the breed as “a rough sort of dog between a hound and a terrier.” During the early years in England, fisherman had to compete for trout and other fish with river otters that were considered to be vermin. Hunters used terriers to flush otters from dens dug into banks along ponds, lakes and rivers. Once the otter was on the run, packs of Otterhounds followed the animal on land or into the water.
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