Breed of the Week: German Shepherd Dog

It’s a bit late due to it being Memorial Day and all the time spent with the family, plus a very slow internet connection, but here it is.  This week, in honor of Memorial Day and all the military service dogs who have given their lives in war, we are taking a look at the German Shepherd Dog as one of the most common breeds chosen for military service.

Creek Defender

The German Shepherd Dog, or GSD for short, is one of the most popular dog breeds in the US.  In the UK it’s known as the Alsation or the Alsation wolf dog, it’s also known as the Berger Allemand, and Deutscher Schäferhund or just Schäferhund.  As one might imagine, the GSD originated in Germany, although it was not used as a military dog until some time later.  German Shepherd agilityThe GSD was bred first as a sheep herding dog.  Later, people started to recognize its loyalty, intelligence, trainability, obedience, strength, and courage as qualities that made them perfect for many other jobs such as therapy work, guide dogs for the blind, service work for those with disabilities, search and rescue, police work, and military service.  The GSD also excels in dog sports like agility, obedience, and herding trials.

However, the GSD is not for everyone.  Although they are very trainable, they also get bored easily due to their intelligence and do not like being left on their own for long periods of time, both of which can cause destructive behaviors.  Most GSDs need a job to do as they were bred to be a working dog and still retain those traits that made them such excellent herding dogs.  They also need plenty of exercise as many GSDs have high energy levels and may become bored and frustrated otherwise.

The GSD serves as a great watch dog.  They’re aloof and reserved with strangers, though should not be aggressive unless trained to be so on command if being used as a guard, police, or military dog.  With those the GSD considers to be their family, they are friendly and relaxed.  However, one should be aware that GSDs can become over-protective if not properly socialized as a puppy and given continued socialization as they get older.

Those known as Alsations many will see differ somewhat from the US bred German Shepherd Dog.  This is due to Americans breeding more for looks and conformation and those in the UK breeding more for intelligence and working ability.  There has been some controversy surrounding the breeding of GSDs in the US with concerns being raised about the GSDs severely sloped back where the UK GSD, or Alsation, has a much straighter back.

German Shepherd show quality
German Shepherd Dog (US)
German Shepherd Alsation
Alsation (UK)

What a difference, right?

The German Shepherd Dog boasts a double coat, meaning he has a softer and denser undercoat, and a coarser and longer outer coat.  Most GSDs have a medium-length coat, but there is a recessive gene for long hair.  The recessive gene makes long-haired GSDs more rare.  The GSD sheds year-round and is often affectionately, or exasperatedly, given the nickname “German shedder.”  They generally “blow” their coat twice a year, which means they’ll have a couple really heavy shedding periods in a year.  Keep this in mind if you intend to purchase or adopt a GSD.

The most common coat colors seen in GSDs are tan and black or red and black.  However, GSDs can come in a variety of colors including black, cream and black, black and silver, blue, gray, liver, sable, and white.  White GSDs are not recognized by the American Kennel Club and, therefore, cannot compete in conformation shows.

If you are considering purchasing or adopting (please adopt!) this wonderful breed of dog, please do your research!  The GSD really is not for everyone.  German Shepherd Dogs are highly intelligent and intensely loyal, but they are also high energy and get bored easily, which can cause them to engage in destructive behaviors if they’re not given enough exercise or a job to do.  They are also heavy shedders and, if hair is a concern for your family (my mom dislikes dogs that shed a lot), this should be taken into consideration.

Fun Fact:  The popular dog “Rin Tin Tin” was a German Shepherd Dog an American corporal from Los Angeles rescued from a bomb-riddled kennel in France as a 5-day-old puppy.  The corporal brought the puppy home, trained him, and that puppy later went on to appear in 26 movies, becoming one of Hollywood’s most recognizable canine stars.

Do you or have you owned a German Shepherd Dog?  Please tell us about him/her in the comments below!  I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions?  Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week?  Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family by liking, sharing, and/or following our blog.  We’d love to share our journey with you!

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What would you want to see?

As I get closer to finding vendors and companies willing to work with me upon the opening of my store, Fluffybutts Pet Boutique, I can’t help but think about all the different people I have following our story on my blog and on other social media sites like Twitter, where you can find us under OurFluffyFam, and Instagram, where you can find us under ourfluffyfam, and tumblr, where you can find us under fluffybuttsfamily 🙂

I’ve been thinking more and more … what would you want to see in a pet store striving for the most natural and effective pet products out there?

To outline some of my plans, I’d like to offer (pictures are only examples, not actual products):

raw and holistic pet foods

Raw dog food

natural pet treats

Dog treats - pizzle

natural remedies to common ailments

Apple cider vinegar

essential oils that are good for pets

Essential oils

proven training tools

Training tool

grooming tools

toys

kennels and carriers

harnesses, collars, tags, and leashes

pet beds and houses

sweaters, booties, and other accessories

food and water bowls

art featuring pets from pet owners and aspiring artists

So, with those in mind, what other suggestions might you, my readers, have for an online pet store?  If you were shopping online for your pet, what products would you want to see?  Please, if you have any suggestions, add them to the comments below.  I’d love to hear your opinion!

Forget-Me-Not Friday

It’s another Forget-Me-Not Friday here on Fluffybutts Family! This week we again remember Kaya, the little kitten with the need to climb, climb, climb! May she never be forgotten.

Fluffybutts Family

Today we feature Kaya, one of Noah’s three kittens (I did say we’d talk about her later).  Kaya’s story is not as happy as Fuzz’s story.  It still makes me sad thinking about it.

Kaya

Kaya was easily one of the spunkiest of the two combined litters of Raina and Noah.  She had so much energy and such a zest for life!  She was also, we discovered very quickly, a climber.  We found this out when she persisted in climbing our pant legs when all the others had stopped.  It was really cute … at first.  As she grew and her claws grew stronger and sharper, it became a lot less cute.  We had to persistently pull her off our pant legs and put her back on the ground.  Over and over and over and over again.  Ouch!

So I built a little climbing/play area for the cats, partially in the…

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Breed of the Week: Tibetan Spaniel

This week we’re taking a look at the Tibetan Spaniel.  Like the Tibetan Mastiff and Tibetan Terrier, the Tibetan Spaniel hails from the mountainous region of Tibet where they were originally kept by Buddhist monks, also known as lamas, as companion and alarm dogs.  They would also gift the little dogs to foreign dignitaries, which is how they ended up in both China, where they crossbred with the Pekingese, and Japan, where they crossbred with the Japanese Chin.

Although they are known as a spaniel, they are, in actual fact, not a true spaniel.  True spaniels are quite different and were bred to be gun dogs.  Tibetan Spaniels may have been given the name spaniel simply because of their resemblance to the bred down lap-dog spaniels such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

SONY DSC
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Friendly and loving with their family, Tibetan Spaniels may be aloof toward strangers due to the watchdog characteristics bred into them thousands of years ago.  They should, however, never be aggressive.  Just like a larger watchdog, Tibetan Spaniels will set up an alarm bark when they see or hear something out of place or when a stranger is approaching their home.  For this reason, they may not be suitable for apartments where sound is an issue.  However, if sound isn’t an issue the Tibetan Spaniel is suited to any home, whether studio apartment, townhouse, suburban house, or ranch house.

The Tibetan Spaniel is known as one of the most cat-like of the dog breeds.  Why?  Because they love to be as high up as they can possibly be to see what’s going on outside!  This includes on the backs of couches, on tables, on dressers, on window sills (if they’re wide enough), and any other high place they can reach.  They are also rather independent thinkers and, though easy to train, may choose when and when not to obey.  For this reason, a fenced in yard is a must!  One never knows if their Tibetan Spaniels are just going to up and walk away one day simply because they feel like it.  They should also be kept on a leash during walks.  Some of that independent nature may have them wandering away and choosing not to come back when their owner calls.

Nonetheless, the Tibetan Spaniel is a social, emotional, and empathetic breed with a need to be with their human and their family as much as possible.  They do not like being left on their own for long periods and may develop separation anxiety as a result.  The best place for a Tibetan Spaniel is with their human, although they fare better when left alone if they have a companion animal (or two) around.  As they tend to get along well with both dogs and cats, either will do as a companion.

Their coat, though a double coat and long on their tail, the backs of their legs, and on their ruff, only requires minimal brushing once a week and baths only as needed.  Their exercise requirements are also minimal.  Although they can and sometimes do participate in dog sport like agility, Tibetan Spaniels are quite happy with one or two walks a day or some playtime in the yard.

These are great dogs for first-time owners, but even so, before purchasing or adopting a Tibetan Spaniel, do your research!  They are easy to groom and easy to exercise and even easy keepers, but they don’t always like to obey and will need firm and consistent training from an early age.  Just like any other dog, they will also need early socialization and exposure to different sights, sounds, and smells to prevent fear or anxiety associated behaviors.

Chinese guardian lion

Fun Fact:  Tibetan Spaniels came to be regarded as “little lions” due to their resemblance to the Chinese guardian lions that gave the little dogs great value and prestige.

Do you or have you owned a Tibetan Spaniel?  Please tell us about him/her in the comments below!  I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions?  Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week?  Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family by liking, sharing, and/or following our blog.  We’d love to share our journey with you!

Forget-Me-Not Friday

On this Forget-Me-Not Friday we remember Fuzz, the little cutie I never knew was an interesting color of tabby. May she never be forgotten.

Forget-Me-Not Friday is for the pets we have lost. Please share your story with us!

Fluffybutts Family

It’s another Forget-Me-Not Friday and this time we’ll be featuring Fuzz in a happier story 🙂  I do hope someday to have Fluffybutts Family followers participate in Forget-Me-Not Friday and to expand this community of pet lovers.  Until then, I’ll continue to feature pets we’ve had until there just aren’t any more, in which case I’ll be posting previous Forget-Me-Not Fridays until someone, I hope, decides they want to add their story.

So, Fuzz was born to Raina before we managed to get her spayed (see the post World Spay Day for why waiting really wasn’t a good idea – although, better late than never).  Fuzz was one of four kittens born to Raina, and one of seven we had in March of 2013 due to Noah falling pregnant at nearly the same time (they had their kittens three days apart).  There were originally thirteen, but having been born outside…

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Breed of the Week: Himalayan

We’ve done a lot of dog breeds the last few weeks, so let’s take a look at one of many a cat person’s favorite breeds of cat, the Himalayan.  If you’re not a cat person and not familiar with the Himalayan, just picture Sassy from Homeward Bound.  Yes, that feisty, sarcastic feline voiced by the lovely Sally Field is a Himalayan.

The Himalayan is a cross between a Persian and a Siamese, basically a cat with Siamese coloring and blue eyes and the Persian’s long, luxurious coat.  There are many variations of the Himalayan.  There are those with differing coat colors such as the blue point, lilac point, seal point, chocolate point, red or flame point, and cream point.

Besides coat color, the Himalayan can also vary in face conformation.  Some take after their Persion ancestors and have a flat face; these are known as peke-faced Himalayans.  While others take more after their Siamese ancestors and have the face of a more traditional-looking cat.  These are known as doll-faced Himalayans.

Much like the Persian, Himalayans have a sweet disposition, though they are discriminating about who they spend their time with.  Family members and friends of the family they trust may be the only ones Himalayans will accept within their circle.  They prefer a quiet, slower-paced environment where they can sun themselves in the window or curl up on a warm lap.

Himalayans are not cats to be found climbing the curtains, jumping on tables or counter tops, or perching high on the refrigerator.  Rather, Himalayans can usually be found on more accessible furniture or sprawled out on the floor in a beam of sunlight.  They enjoy and require only minimal amounts of exercise (unless one has a cat prone to putting on weight, like our Merlin – who is not a Himalayan, just saying 😛 ) through playtime with a catnip mouse or a feathered teaser or even fetch with a crumpled ball of paper.  Yes, you read that right.  Himalayans, like Siamese cats, often enjoy the game of fetch!

What Himalayans enjoy most, however, is the attention of their people.  They are devoted companions who crave their humans’ affection and will ask (rather than demand like most Siamese will) to be petted with a gentle, pleasant, and musical voice and some hinting rubs around their humans’ ankles.  They’ll even play house with the children if the children are gentle, allowing themselves to be groomed, pushed about in a baby stroller, and served “tea” at parties.

If you want a quiet, gentle, beautiful, calm, and loving cat, the Himalayan might just be for you!  However, if you are interested in purchasing or adopting a Himalayan cat, please do your research!  They are wonderful cats, but high maintenance where it concerns their grooming needs.  To prevent tangles and mats in their fur, Himalayans require daily brushing and a bath once a month is recommended to help keep their long coat clean and shiny.  The litter box can also become an issue if not kept clean or if the grains continuously get stuck in the fur between a Himalayan’s paw pads.  This might cause them to stop using the litter box at all.  For Himalayans it might just be better to get larger, pellet-type litter rather than the sand or gravel-type.

Fun Fact:  Martha Stewart owns three Himalayan cats named after famous composers, Beethoven, Mozart, and Bartók.

Do you or have you owned a Himalayan?  Please tell us about him/her in the comments below!  I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions?  Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week?  Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family by liking, sharing, and/or following our blog.  We’d love to share our journey with you!

 

Spring Shoot

Had some fun doing a spur-of-the-moment Spring photo shoot.  Couldn’t resist since the flowers are blooming so nicely!

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Have a wonderful day!

Like this post?  Please consider becoming a part of our Fluffybutt Family and witness our journey as we work toward opening our online store, Fluffybutts Pet Boutique!