While there are several well known giant breeds of dog available, some folks just want a “big” dog, not necessarily a giant dog. Large dog breeds are thought of as fun and playful while also being quite capable of guarding and protecting their families. For folks like me who love big dogs, the list is quite extensive. Here are four large dog breeds that are popular in America:
For the past 22 years, the Labrador Retriever has been the #1 dog on the American Kennel Club’s Most Popular Dogs list. Labs are intelligent, friendly, loyal and playful. They are good with children and require very little grooming, which makes them an ideal large dog for families.
German Shepherds are often used as police dogs because they are very effective security animals. However, they are also very loyal and loving, playful and gentle. Some of my favorite photos on the internet are from a Facebook group called the German Shepherd Dog Community which features members’ dogs cuddling with their kids, other dogs and even kitties. If you’re looking for a large and loving dog that will protect his family, then you can’t go wrong with a German Shepherd.
Deciding on the perfect name for a new puppy or dog isn’t always easy to do. You want to pick one that fits his personality and is easy to learn. Now imagine coming up with a name for a new dog breed. The history of dog breeds is an interesting story. The history behind naming some of our popular dog breeds is also an intriguing tale.
Spaniels date back to the 14th century; they evolved over the years with some working on land and others working as water retrievers. These dogs were highly prized by English hunters for their outstanding ability to flush out and retrieve a large, short legged and bulky wading bird called a woodcock. This nocturnal bird spends most of the day hiding in dense cover. People started calling the dog “cocker,” and the name caught on.
Newfoundland is the land of the Labrador Retriever, not Labrador. Fishermen around the Canadian province used a small water dog that was bred with Newfoundland dogs to produce a first-class swimmer called the St. John’s Water Dog, the ancestor of the Labrador. The breed had webbed feet and was used to retrieve fishermen’s nets from the icy waters and bring them back to shore. In the early 1800s, the Earl of Malmesbury saw one of the dogs in action and imported it to England. He trained his dogs to retrieve ducks and called them “Labrador dogs.” Even though the Earl was confused about which province his dogs came from, the name stuck as the dog became more popular.
This little dog was developed on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland. Farmers wanted a small, feisty dog with lots of courage, determination, intelligence and the ability to go to ground when necessary after prey. The Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt badger, otter, fox, rabbit and other vermin. They were especially good at digging prey out from under cairns, which are mounds of man-made piles of stone used in the Scottish Highlands as grave site memorials and boundary markers. People started calling the dogs Cairn, and that’s where the breed name came from.
Labrador Retrievers have claimed the top spot on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dogs for the last 22 years. They are also among the most intelligent breeds, coming in at number seven. If you’re looking for a great family pet that gets along well with other dogs and cats, the Lab is a good choice. However, there are three important things to know about sharing your home with a Lab.
Labs love to play and run. Some become so wrapped up in what they’re doing they don’t slow down, even when they get tired. They can become so exhausted that they collapse. Overly excited or stressed out dogs are also at risk of collapsing. This is an inherited genetic disorder common in Labs with signs beginning to show up between the ages of five months to three years. Both sexes and all coat colors can be affected, but it seems to be more prominent in black Labs bred for field trials.
EIC was first detected in the 1990s, but this condition is on the rise and showing up in dogs that are otherwise perfectly healthy and fit for rigorous exercise. Collapse can happen within 5 to 20 minutes after beginning strenuous activities. High temperatures and humidity also play a role.
Symptoms can be mild to severe, and EIC can be life-threatening. Symptoms include: an unsteady/rocking gait, weak back legs, dragging the back legs, falling over while running, inability to move his head or legs after exercising, an abnormal movement of the feet while walking or running, front legs are stiff after collapsing, and high body temperature. Most dogs remain alert during a collapse and don’t experience any pain. Some dogs, however, may show confusion and appear disoriented. Recovery time is five to twenty-five minutes.
Dogs have been selectively bred with specific characteristics and temperaments that help them perform certain jobs for us. Some breeds, however, are known to be more affectionate than others. I wrote an article recently on why dogs like to lean on us. All of my current dogs are leaners, but my Huskies never were. Priscilla, Eva the Sheltie‘s mom, wondered if there’s a difference between dog breeds and if that’s why some dogs lean on their owner more than others. It’s a good question, and I decided to do some research on the most affectionate dog breeds. Is your dog a leaner, regardless of his/her breed? It could be leaning is more of an individual preference all dog breeds do.
The Golden Retriever was developed by Lord Tweedmouth. He wanted to create a solid retriever that could stand up to the Scottish Highlands weather, terrain and game found in the countryside. In the late 1800s, the Golden Retriever was used mostly for hunting. Lord Tweedmouth used his Yellow Retriever, which was the original breed, with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. The Irish Setter and Bloodhound were also used to produce today’s Golden Retriever. This devoted, patient, affectionate, easygoing, energetic and loving dog is great with kids, and friendly with other pets and people.
The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland. The dog’s job was to help fishermen catch fish that escaped from fishing lines, and swim in the freezing waters to help pull in nets. English sailors brought them to England in the 1800s from Labrador. Easy to train, these dogs were crossed with setters, spaniels and some other types of retrievers. Labs have a very reliable temperament, are friendly, devoted to their family, good natured, eager to please, and great with kids.
My one-time canine companion was a black Labrador. She was the sweetest, most willing-to-please pet I’ve probably ever had. This good gal would look at me for assurance or confirmation before doing almost anything; we were completely bonded and inseparable for 17 years.
This dog had an incredibly high energy level and was excellent at the job she was bred to do, which was interesting because I rescued her from a horrible situation when she was just a few weeks old. It took drastic medical help and a great deal of veterinarian attention to nurse her back to health, but with love, care and good nutrition like CANIDAE, she grew up to be an awesome dog. I say all this to let you know that she was never officially trained on how to retrieve. I certainly never trained her to do it and she had no previous owners. Still, her desire to please me made her so easy to work with. She was a champion.
At the time, I hadn’t heard of Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) but I did know that Labrador Retrievers (and quite a few other breeds) were tireless when they were playing fetch or seriously retrieving, and they didn’t have a good monitoring system that alerted them when it was time to slow down. Since we live in the very hot and humid south, I had to be especially careful with my Lab during the summer. The newspapers and local pet bloggers did an excellent job issuing warnings to dog owners about the dangers of the extreme heat. Still, I heard too many stories about dogs collapsing and/or suffering from a heat stroke.
Since that time, a friend of mine has adopted a Golden Retriever. The shelter where she got her pet said the dog was an ‘owner surrender.’ Apparently, the dog had a good pedigree and was field trial trained but tested positive for Exercise Induced Collapse. She dug into the condition and wanted me to research it too.
This is the true story on how my Labrador Retriever, Taylor, got her portrait painted, but first I need give you a little bit of background information. My very good girlfriend of 20 plus years, Trudy Soneson, is an artist. She creates lovely paintings in oils. I am a photographer. I can photograph anything but I can’t paint, even walls with a roller, without making a mess. I have always been in awe of those who can create art by drawing and painting. I digress, so let’s get back to the story. Taylor always loved to curl up in our patio chairs like a person to take a nap, and one evening she was curled up in her favorite chair in her favorite position watching us while we were eating dinner. Trudy and Eric (her husband) were our dinner guests that evening.
Trudy, the artist she is, was inspired and said, “Take her picture and I’ll paint her.” Jumping at the chance to have a portrait painted of my dog, I quickly snapped the photo through the patio door. The photo didn’t turn out so well, seeing that the screen was also in the way, the glass was dirty with paw prints and it was getting dark. However, Trudy’s finished painting of Taylor was so perfect and did justice to my beloved dog in a way that my photo never could. Several years later Taylor passed away, and to have this perfect memory of her on that evening, preserved forever on canvas, means more to me than words can ever express.
I decided to write an article about Trudy – how and why she paints pet portraits – and share her thoughts with our readers here at the Responsible Pet Ownership blog. So here it is – her interview with me conducted at the CANIDAE office.
Question: How do you start a portrait, and do you need anything special? Trudy: I want a clear photo of the pet with a good natural light source that emphasizes the bone structure and fur, especially around the face and eyes. It’s very important to see the eyes because the eyes show the character of the pet more than anything else. Multiple angles and positions are very helpful.
Q: How long does it take you to paint a portrait? T: As a client you will need to be patient. Painting the portrait takes time. I like to have the client view the unfinished portrait during different stages. You want the client to be happy. They know their pet the best. For example, how they hold their ears, tail, etc., and it’s easier to make changes in the painting in the early stages.
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