Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why isn’t my Mastiff very big?... and Other Questions About Why My Purebred Looks Different Than Yours...

This might seem like a silly topic, but I get asked by alot of people who meet my dogs why the Mastiff they have is so much smaller than mine.  I’m always as careful as I can bein my response as to not offend them, but the fact is that more than likely they have a poorly bred dog. 

Genetics determine size as well as appearance, build, type,etc.  Many people assume that a purebred dog with ‘papers’ means their dog is bred to fit the standard.  99% of the time this is an incorrect assumption.  Puppy mills sell AKC registered dogs with papers, back yard breeders do to, as well as the guy down the street with two ‘purebreds’ he assume should be bred because they have these magical things called ‘papers’.  No reputable breeder would sell a puppy to someone with full breeding rights to it if it was not a quality dog.  This means that the people with these dogs acquired them from breeders who were not on the high end of being reputable.  I’m not saying they weren’t nice people, but they shouldn’t be producing living creatures on purpose without doing a little more research.

"baby' Brinkley the lap dog at 11 months and 150lbs
So how do I explain to someone without offending them that more than likely they got duped and didn’t do enough research when buying their beloved pet?  We’ll, I still haven’t figured that one out yet.  I guess the real I-don’t-care-who-I-offend answer is that you more than likely got your dog froma less than reputable breeder who is breeding sub-standard dogs.    If this is the case, and you don’t care about the quality of the dog, only the prestige of owning a ‘purebred’ dog, Iwould encourage you in the future to rescue or adopt.  There are thousands of purebred dogs in shelters and rescues that need saving.  Most of these purebred dogs are produced by these irresponsible breeders.  So what’s the difference?  Might as well save a life right? 

Sorry, so sugar coating here. I’m still working on the sugar coated, non-offensive version!

If you are set on purchasing a puppy PLEASE do your research.  Find a puppy from a breeder who health tests their breeding dogs for relevant breed specific disorders (FYI - a vet check is NOT the same as health testing).  Find a breeder who shows their dogs to prove they are what a purebred is supposed to be. Find a breeder who does not make thier main point of advertising that their dog has 'papers'.  If you chose to do the right thing and get a healthy dog from quality lines you will thank yourself over many times throughout the life of your dog.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Basic Understanding of Pedigrees

Tracing the lineage of a purebred dog should be easy, and the pedigree is the main tool used to do this research. Knowing the history of your pedigreed puppy gives you an excellent idea of what you might expect from the dog in the future. How it will turn out physically, what health issues it is predisposed to and what genotypes might be present.
Being able to visit the puppies litter, parents and other relatives is an important step in choosing a purebred puppy. Puppies brought home from a pet store have a shady background at best. How will you know whether or not a particular health problem runs in that litter or family of dogs? How did it's littermates and parents behave? What can you expect from the dog temperament wise? You have no history to compare the new puppy or dog to. It is always best to buy your pure bred puppy from a reputable breeder, after all, you are considering adding a companion and friend to your family for the next 8 -10 years.  It is not a purchase that you want to make on impulse.
To an amateur dog owner or potential puppy buyer a pedigree simply looks like a bunch of funny names on a page. Pedigrees are setup like a basic family tree.  The dog/puppies name will be center left, with its Sire (father) listed on top slightly to the right and its Dam (mother) listed on bottom slightly to the right.  The Sire and Dam’s parents are listed next (puppy’s grandparents) and so on and so forth.  Any reference to the puppy’s father’s side of the family is its paternal side and reference to the puppy’s mother’s family is the maternal side.
In researching pedigrees, breeders may use terminology to advertise a litter like “Champion lines” or “Championed pedigree”.  What exactly does this mean to an unsuspecting buyer? 
First of all what is a Champion? A Champion is a dog that has been shown to approved AKC judges in approved AKC shows and won enough points to earn the title of Champion.  It takes 15 points to earn a dog’s championship, which includes 2 major wins (I will reference this later).  The number of points in each show is determined by the number of dogs or bitches of the specific breed present at the show. The maximum number of points awarded at any one show is 5, so it takes a minimum of 3 shows to earn a dogs championship.  Included in those 15 points the dog must earn 2 majors under two different judges.  A major is simply a show in which enough dogs or bitches of that breed are present to make 3, 4, or 5 points available.
An International Championship through the IABCA is easier to earn than an AKC Championship, however it takes a getting a certain rating in three different shows by two different judges to be awarded this title.  A nice dog can complete this Championship in a weekend if several shows in the same location are offered. No competition needs to be present for the dog to earn it's Intl. Championship, hence why it's so much easier to gain.
So back to what a Champion Pedigree means... to reputable breeders this means numerous champions in the dogs first 3-4 generations.  For example, my female has 10 AKC Champions in her 4 generation pedigree (her parents, grandparents and great grandparents), 2 International Champions, and two dogs that did not receive their championship status. One of those happens to be her mother, who has 13 of the 15 required points and was unable to finish due to an injury.  This is a Champion Pedigree. 

Unscrupulous breeders will sometimes say their puppies are from Champion lines, but when you look at the pedigree you might see one or maybe 2 Champions 4 or more generations back.  This is NOT a Champion pedigree in my opinion.  After 2-3 generations of breeding to poor quality or sub-standard dogs, the genes of those Champions is diluted enough to make no difference in the quality of the puppies.

One might ask, if I am only looking for a pet, then why I care about such things as pedigrees, champions, lineage, etc.  Check out the article Why should anyone spend a little more money to buy a puppy from a show dog breeder?, for answers to these questions.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 18 Post TPLO

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 weeks since Brinkley’s surgery.  As far as my personal opinion goes she is doing amazing.  We have been doing some PROM exercises each day, and our 2-3 five minute walks per day are all going well.  The only dilemma is that we've had some icy weather lately, so instead of going in the back yard for our walks we walk circles in the house through the living room, dining room and kitchen.  After the 3rd lap Brinkley has this ‘why are we doing this’ look on her face, but we keep on trucking.  I’m hoping at this point we are doing enough to stop her muscle in that leg from atrophying any more.  I don’t think it’s enough exercise to build much muscle, but keeping what she has is good enough for me right now.  Her surgery leg is significantly smaller and has hardly any definition at this point compared to her good leg.
In the 3rd week we are supposed to start sit to stand exercises, but with her level of progress I think we are going to start 2 days early and begin tonight.  She seems to be handling everything I throw at her in stride, so we’ll see how this goes.

Her incision is looking pretty good. Just a few little scabs left and a little pooch at each end where the skin was stretched during surgery. 

These exercises are exhausting for such a big girl.

Read about how Brinkley's journey began here:

Tasty Homemade Dental Treats to Combat Your Pooches Bad Breath

I’m not going to sugar coat this, and to some this may be news… but dog breath STINKS!  My dogs generally have a nice fish smell about their breath from the fish oil I add to each meal.  With a Mastiff that is obsessive about licking faces and one that thinks it’s fun to bark at you incessantly 8 inches from your face while you are watching TV getting a whiff of that nasty breath is inevitable.

My dilemma is that I don’t think there is a product on the market that I have found made to improve dog breath that I approve of.  Most have so many additives and indigestible crap that I would rather my dog just has the bad breath.

After whipping up a new batch of the peanut butter pumpkin treats I make for the dogs (get the recipe here) I thought, surely there is do it yourself recipe for breath treats for dogs.  Low and behold my trusted friend Google came through for me and I found a recipe that was almost what I wanted.  With just a few tweaks here’s what I came up with and am quite happy with.  Plus the dogs love them!

1 quart Plain Non-Fat Yogurt
1 Package Fresh Mint
1/2 cup Package Fresh Parsley

Mince up the parsley and mint.  I used my magic bullet to literally make a paste out of the parsley and mint. Add the mixture to the yogurt. Once mixed, spoon the mix into ice cube trays and freeze.  (I used a mini muffin pan) You can leave them in the ice trays, or to save freezer space pop them out and put them in a gallon zip lock bag.  

The dogs love them and it’s a huge improvement in their level of stinky breath.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Passive Range of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

For those keeping track, we're now on day 13 post-TPLO.  Brinkley’s appointment for her staple removal and follow up/check up was yesterday.  Per the surgeon she is doing very well.  They told me I didn’t need to be using the sling to help her walk anymore.  She also got the go ahead to go on 2-3 five minute walks per day.  We are also supposed to start the PROM (Passive Range of Motion) exercises.  This includes icing the leg, massaging the leg, then 5 minutes of ‘bicycling’ the leg forwards, 5 minutes of ‘bicycling’ the leg backwards and 6-10 repetitions of us holding up the good rear leg for 15-20 second intervals to force her to stand on the surgery leg.  We’re going to start this tonight.  I hope she cooperates. 
The bad news is that the surgeon told me she is not allowed to get on the couch for the full 8 weeks following surgery.  She won’t be cleared for that until the second set of post-operative radiographs are taken, and everything looks okay of course.
On a separate note I collected all of the paperwork, bills, vet notes, etc to go to the pet insurance company.  I had the operation pre-authorized, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed everything goes through and we get a reimbursement from them.  So far our total bills are over $3600, the insurance should reimburse around $2700 of that.  If all goes right there I’ll have a nice thank you note to write to them. 

Read about how Brinkley's journey began here:
A MastiffsJourney Through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery
Preparingthe House for a Mastiff After TPLO Surgery
ComingHome From the TPLO Surgery Center
Day 2 PostTPLO Surgery
Day 3 PostTPLO Surgery
Day 7 PostTPLO Surgery
BrinkleyMastiff - Walking on Day 8, Post-TPLO Surgery
Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Makin' Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update

Well Brinkley gets her stitches out tomorrow. Since she’s been so whiny and has been barking at us because she doesn’t want to be in her x-pen anymore.... I found this ribbon a while back, but it was out of stock everywhere online. I just happened across it the other day back in stock and super cheap, so I bought up several yards. Meet Brinkley's new collar. I just LOVE it!  It is so fitting for her.  Green is so her color too. Isn’t it adorable?

She is doing so well.  We’re done with all our prescriptions now, just the Glucosamine and Chondroitin, Fish Oil and Vitamin C I mix in with her food each meal.  She is rearing to go.  The incision looks great, all swelling is gone, and her limp is minimal.  When she’s out in the yard sometimes you can’t even tell she has a limp at all.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed the surgeon will be equally impressed tomorrow.

Read about how Brinkley's journey began here:
A MastiffsJourney Through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery
Preparingthe House for a Mastiff After TPLO Surgery
ComingHome From the TPLO Surgery Center
Day 2 PostTPLO Surgery
Day 3 PostTPLO Surgery
Day 7 PostTPLO Surgery
BrinkleyMastiff - Walking on Day 8, Post-TPLO Surgery
Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update

And to read about the rest of Brinkley's journey:
PassiveRange of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff