Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 3 Post TPLO Surgery

Brinkley is doing even better today.  She only whined at us for 45 minutes this morning while we watched T.V.  That’s down from the 2 hours yesterday.  She wants on her couch so bad.  I feel like we’re teasing her by sitting on it where she can see us.  The only change I made to her meds was that I didn’t give her the Xanax this evening.  I’m not really sure it does anything or not, and I really don’t feel like giving her even more pills that she doesn’t need.  We’ll see how it goes without them.

We took Boone for a hike today and while we were gone we put the inflatable e-collar on her. We’ll when we got back it was not on her.  Not sure how she maneuvered that one, but the incision is still clean, all staples are in place and it didn’t look like it had been slurped on, so I think we’re okay.
The only thing I’m a little worried about is the amount of fluid settling in her hock/ankle.  It’s not swollen, just fluid, but it keeps getting bigger.  Nothing has come out of the incision as far as drainage, it looks like it’s all collecting in her ankle instead.  I’m going to call tomorrow and see if I should be concerned or not.  Here’s a picture of her incision this evening, you can see the fluid build-up in her ankle in the picture on the left.
 Boone didn't want to get left out either, so here he is on his hike today.

Read about how Brinkley's journey began here:
A Mastiffs Journey Through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery
And to read about the rest of Brinkley's journey:
BrinkleyMastiff - Walking on Day 8, Post-TPLO Surgery Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update
PassiveRange of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

Day 2 Post-TPLO surgery

Brinkley is still doing good, limping even less today.  She is using the leg much more than I anticipated.  It’s already getting difficult to keep her still.  She wants to go out in the backyard and play.  I did get her Xanax prescription filled and was only going to give it to her if need be, but after an hour of whining this afternoon she started getting ancy and wouldn’t lay down, so I gave her one.  She did take a nap for a few hours, but after dinner she was back at it again, so I had to move her from the x-pen to her crate to keep her off her feet.

I’m also finding it difficult to ice it like I’m supposed to.  She won’t hold still for it and starts getting upset and wanting to pace, so I have to stop each time.  I tried bribing her with a duck chew and Shawn (my husband) even tried to help by distracting her and loving on her, but it was still a no go.  We’re supposed to be icing it 2-3 x per day for 10 minutes each time and I really think we’ve only iced it for a total of 10 minutes in the last 48 hours.  Her stool is also back to normal already, so I have forgone giving her any of the stomach medication they recommended. 
The incision still looks good.  She does have quite a bit of swelling settling in her ankle.  I’m not sure if it’s fluid or just swelling, but I’m keeping a close eye on it.  She has not tried to lick it once, so we aren’t using the e-collar, which she is scared of anyway.  When we left her alone today while we went to the store we just left her in the x-pen and I put the inflatable e-collar on her.  She tolerates it much better and did fine while we were gone.  Here’s a video I took of her this morning while Shawn took her out to potty.
Read about how Brinkley's journey began here:  
And to read about the rest of Brinkley's journey:
Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update
PassiveRange of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

Friday, December 28, 2012

Coming Home From the TPLO Surgery Center

Well I got Brinkley home. She is doing well. The leg and incision both look good and she’s already bearing weight on it a little. I don’t know what kind of dog food they fed her but MAN does she have some nasty gas. Might be from the anesthesia, but it is deadly.  

They gave me the basic instructions before they sent me on my way. No physical activity other than on a leash to potty only for the next two weeks. She is on the same dosages of pain killers as she was before, 150mg Rimadyl 2 x per day and 150mg of Tramadol 3 x per day. They also wanted to prescribe her Acepromazine to keep her calm, but seeing how that is not a sedative that should ever be used in Mastiffs I refused it. Instead they gave me a prescription for Xanax, which I have to go to Walgreens tomorrow and fill. I have never given a dog or heard of a dog getting Xanax, but a quick question in one of my Mastiff groups confirmed it is used commonly in dogs and is quite safe. I'm also supposed to pick up some Pepcid for her and give it to her twice a day for 5 days to help keep her stomach settled. The leg is supposed to be ice packed (directly on the incision) for 10 minutes 3-4 times per day and she is to go back then to have the staples removed and for a recheck and in two weeks. At that point they will give me further instructions for beginning physical therapy. 

Here she is when we first got her in the house, she was so happy to be home. We pottied her and then came back in and she went in her makeshift pen and laid right down. 

Once she got settled we had to peel off the sticky bandage covering that was over the incision. They generally take if off before they send them home, but I convinced them to leave it on for our 2 hour car ride so she didn't have to wear the e-collar in the car. I'm actually not sure if it would have fit in the car if it was on her. This is what her leg looked like after we got the super sticky bandage off of it. It looks pretty good. Her leg does have some swelling and it has settled in her ankle a little bit, but all in all I'm impressed at how good it looks at this point.

But then we had to put on the e-collar so we didn't lick it. Not to happy with the e-collar. Is that not the saddest face in the world? 
She is being pretty whiny at this point. Hopefully she'll get over that pretty quick. She's had a bit to drink and we're going to have some raw hamburger and a chicken leg quarter in a little bit. I'm going to ice it now.
Read about how Brinkley's journey began here:
A Mastiff's Journey Through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery
And to read about the rest of Brinkley's journey:
Day 7 Post TPLO Surgery
Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update
PassiveRange of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

Preparing the House for a Mastiff After TPLO Surgery

In preparation for Brinkley coming home this evening I spent the night last night cleaning the house up and getting everything post surgery ready.  I bought two 3x5 rugs yesterday to go on the linoleum in front of the sliding door so she doesn’t slip when we go outside. I put up an x-pen in the living room so she can be around us when we are home, but she will still need to be crated when we aren’t home.  I'm forseeing sleeping in the floor with her the first few nights, but we'll see how it goes. 
When I pick her up they are supposed to give me a harness that goes under her abdomen so I can help her walk and an e-collar, but I’m hoping we won’t have to use either of those much.  I hate those giant plastic e-collars, and I’m sure that’s what they have ready for her.  I purchased one of the donut type inflatable ones that should fit her in case we need to use it instead. 
Here is the setup I have ready for her.  I hope the drive home goes well.  We’re expecting some snow and it will be rush hour St. Louis traffic I’m driving back through, so it will probably be a long ride home.

To read the beginning of Brinkley's CCL story start here: A Mastiff's Journey Through Craial Cruciat Liagment Surgery
And to read about the rest of Brinkley's journey:
Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update
PassiveRange of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Mastiffs Journey through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery

In the Beginning...

Well in less than 24 hours Brinkley will get dropped off for her TPLO surgery.  I have deliberated back and forth, back and forth on whether to do the TPLO surgery or the Tightrope surgery on her and I have decided that I think the TPLO will yield the best results for the long term for her.  This was not an easy decision for me, so I hope by documenting her surgery and recovery I can maybe help someone else out down the road to make their decision a little easier. 
Flashback to where this all started…. Brinkley is a 175lb female English Mastiff who just turned 2 years old in October.  She is very high energy for a Mastiff and that is one of the reason’s I think her ligament tore. She first tweaked her knee a few months ago.  Nothing severe, just a little limp for one or two steps when she first got up after she played too hard or ran or walked too far.  In an effort to help her heal up we put her on house arrest and restricted any roughhousing indefinitely.  It seemed to be going well and the last month or so she seemed to be doing fine…. Then her knee went out completely on December 12th.  We got home from work, both dogs went out in the backyard and 3 minutes later I heard a yelp. I ran outside to see what was wrong and she was not using it at all and was barely even toe tapping it.  She was in obvious distress, so we brought her in and crated her so she couldn’t move it to much and I gave her a Deramaxx I had left over from Boone’s neuter.  The next morning I was off to the emergency unit at the University of Missouri to confirm my suspicions, a torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament.  They gave me Tramadol and Rimadyl to get her through until she could have surgery, but the earliest open appointment they had was January 23rd.  Although they are one of the top orthopedic surgery vet groups in the Midwest, I was worried that in compensating for the injured leg she would blow the other knee out if we waited 2 months, so I called around and was able to get an appointment at Midwest Veterinary Referral Center in St. Louis a specialist group that only focuses on surgery, oncology and other specialized canine treatments.  They got her in the three days later and we scheduled a surgery appointment for December 27th…. tomorrow.
Now, back to the present…. Brinkley gets dropped off in the morning.  Since the tear I have dropped around 10lbs off of her (she is as skinny as I ever would want her to get now) in an effort to take some stress off the leg during recovery.  She was prescribed 150mg of Rimadyl 2 x per day and 150mg of Tramadol 3 x per day. For the first week and a half I gave it to her, but have since weaned her off as she really doesn’t seem to need it.  I have had her on Glucosamine/Chondroitin as well as Fish Oil supplements since she was a puppy also, something the vet was pleased to hear and said she should be on for the rest of her life to lubricate the joint. She limps much less now that when she initially tore it, making me wonder if it is only a partial tear.  Only the pre-op x-ray will tell though.
I weighed the pro’s and con’s of the surgery options and I’ll share with you how I decided on the surgery I did. There are four surgical options for dogs with CCL injuries; traditional Extracapsular Ligament Surgery (sometimes referred to as the fishing line surgery), Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) surgery, Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteomy (TPLO) and the Tightrope surgery. With a dog like Brinkley the only real options for surgery are the TPLO or the Tightrope.  The Extracapsular and the TTA surgery were out of the question.  That left me to choose between the TPLO and the Tightrope surgery. Below are the things I considered while trying to come to my decision.
TPLO Pro’s – (1) longest term option, once it’s done it never has to be done again, (2) veterinarian doing the surgery uses a new type of TPLO plate that screws into the bone, making less room for ‘wiggle’ while the bone heals (3) metal plate can be removed once the leg is 100% healed (
TPLO Con’s – (1) some people think the metal plate used to hold the bone together while it heals can cause cancer later in the dogs life, (2) the bone itself is cut and repositioned, making it a more intensive surgery and (3) a more intensive recovery time (4) if the surgery fails there is nothing else that can really be done.
Tightrope Pro’s – (1) no bone cutting, less intensive surgery resulting in (2) a less intensive recovery time and (3) if the surgery fails you can always go back and do the TPLO surgery at a later time.
Tightrope Con’s – (1) tape they use to ‘replace’ the ligament can give out overtime and the surgery will need to be repeated possibly resulting in (2) arthritis in the meantime, (3) the tape they use is also a wonderful place for bacteria to harbor and grow once the surgery is done, sometime making it necessary to remove the tape yielding the surgery as a failure, (4) the holes that are drilled through the bone that the tape runs through can wallow out over time making the surgery less effective and arthritis to proliferate faster.
As I said above, I decided on the TPLO surgery after reading MANY hours worth of personal stories about both procedures (success and failures) and by considering the recommendations and personal experiences of many other Mastiff owners who have gone through similar circumstances. I will have to say that I do LOVE the vet that I have chosen to do the surgery.  Orthopedic surgeries are her specialty and she not only attended the University and interned under Dr. Jimmy Cook (the inventor of the Tightrope surgery), she is also accredited by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. I hope we made the right choice. 

Here is a video of Brinkley Pre-TPLO.  You can see why she most likely isn't a good candidate for the Tightrope surgery.  Even injured she still is as rambunctious as ever.

Read about the rest of Brinkley's journey here:
Makin'Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO Update
PassiveRange of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feeding Your Mastiff Puppy

UPDATE: January 2016 - This post is several years old.  I have been feeding a raw diet for nearly 5 years now and it is in my opinion the best thing I could ever do for my dogs. If you are looking for advice or opinions on a specific brand of food please follow the protocol I set forth in the blog post Choosing a Top Quality Dry Food or visit to find out the specific rating of a food. I have fed raw so long I can't comment on any one food other than what is outlined in my articles and at

When it comes to feeing your puppy, try to feed them 3 to 4 times a day until your pup reaches 3-4 months of age, and then advance them to twice a day. Your puppy will indicate to you how much you should be feeding them. You can start with the guide below, but if your puppy eats the recommended amount of feed within a reasonable time, 20 minutes or so, then increase the feeding 1-cup at a time.
4-8 weeks of age         3-4 cups per day spread between 3-4 meals
8-12 weeks                  4-6 cups per day spread between 3-4 meals
12-16 weeks                6-8 cups per day spread between 3-4 meals
4 to 6 months             8-10 cups per day spread between 2-3 meals
6-18 months               8-12 cups per day spread between 2-3 meals
It is also important to remember how prone to bloat Mastiffs are.  I don’t feel comfortable feeding more than about 3 ½ cups in one sitting to help keep the risk to a minimum.  Also be sure to keep you puppy or dog from guzzling water after a meal.  A drink is fine, but don’t let them drain the dish, you don’t want all that dehydrated kibble expanding too quickly in their gut.
Make sure you puppy has access to fresh clean water at all times.  Water should NEVER be withheld to aid in potty training.  The only time my dogs or puppies do not have access to water is when they are crated, and for very young puppies this should be for short amounts of time only.
When choosing a food for your puppy, make sure to feed a quality kibble with no by-products or added chemicals.  It is also good to go ahead and start your puppy on adult food, not puppy food (your vet may argue with this, but they aren’t giant breed specialists, remember these aren’t large breed dogs, they are giant breed dogs).  Most puppy foods have protein levels that are too high for giant breeds that grow so rapidly.  You want your protein level to be right around 25% and absolutely no higher than 28%.  It is also important to keep  your calcium/phosphorus ratio right at 1:1.  Doing these things is a huge step in preventing conditions like HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) or Panosteitis.  These are both painful conditions and can be crippling for life if not treated with a balanced diet.
Remember, the size of your Mastiff is genetic, not nutritional. You cannot hurt your puppy by keeping him lean and fit, but overfeeding a Mastiff puppy can ruin them orthopedically for life, causing a lot of pain and numerous vet bills over the life of your Mastiff.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Intl.Ch.Harvest Haze Griffin's On The Brink

Brinkley earned her International Championship the first weekend in November! Her overall comments from the judges were “very typey bitch, balanced, solid” and “great representative of breed”. I didn’t get a picture, but here is a picture of her I took this weekend.

And to top if off I got the results back on her hips and elbows.  That complete's her health testing.  She is the healthiest Mastiff she could be! 
*OFA Hips:Good (MF-8451G24F-VPI)
*OFA Elbows:Normal (MF-EL5025F24-VPI)
*Cardiac: Normal (MF-CA2414/16F/P-PI)
*Patellas: Normal (MF-PA2282/16F/P-PI)
*Thyroid: Normal (MF-TH1302/16F-VPI)
*CERF: Clear (MF-364503 - 2.18.2012)
*PRA: Clear (MF-PRA1246/16F-PI)
*DNA Cystinuria: Clear (1:1)
*CMR: Clear (MF-CMR12/15F-PI)
*von Willebrand's: Normal 140% (20199-12)
*Deg. Melopathy:Clear (MF-DM38/17F-VPI)
*Fluffy Gene: Clear N/N (Case# 37687)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Training Your Mastiff

Every dog should be taught at the minimum, basic obedience, however because they are destined to be VERY large dogs, it is necessary for Mastiffs. Most Mastiffs are very easy to train because of their willingness to please their owners.  They are a ‘soft’ breed, meaning they require little to no scolding.  A simple raised voice may have a reaction similar to that of a much worse punishment.  I can give my Mastiffs a look and point my finger and they act like I’ve punished them for days. Positive reinforcement training methods are really the only way to go with a Mastiff.  Praise and treats everytime they do something correct or you are happy with, they will learn quite quickly.

It is also very important that your Mastiff gets proper socialization as it is growing to ensure it’s attitude in public, around other dogs, people and children is positive.  A fearful or shy Mastiff can be quite hard to handle should a situation arise where they need to be taken out of their comfort zone and in some situations fear turns into aggression.  Something any dog owner wants to avoid at all costs.  A well socialized Mastiff is a stable Mastiff.

It is important to note that while you may want your Mastiff to grow into the guardian of the family, a Mastiff does not need protection training. A well socialized Mastiff has, in essence, been taught what a normal situation is and will be able to sense when something is wrong. It takes a loving bond with a family or person for a Mastiff to instinctually protect, not aggression training.

Please also remember that even if your dog is well socialized and friendly, NEVER under any circumstance leave any child unattended with ANY dog.  If a dog bites a child when a parent isn’t watching the parent is the one at fault, they were the negligent one.  In most situations the dog was just reacting when provoked or in pain from something the child probably did.  However, a 200lb dog can injure a child in a seconds time, so be responsible with your children and protect your dog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Backyard Breeder v.s. The Responsible Hobby Breeder

This is just a quick reference guide I put together to help you in your choice of a breeder.  Be sure to watch out for some of the key indicators you are working with a backyard breeder that should not be breeding.  Steer clear of these individuals that don't have the wellbeing of the dogs and puppies as a top priority.

1.) The Backyard Breeder...Is motivated to breed because it is "fun", "good for kids", "to make money," or "thinks it’s good for the dog." Doesn't screen buyers  or does minimal screening and seldom refuses to sell, even if buyer is unsuitable.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Is  dedicated to producing quality dogs as a serious avocation. Has so much invested in dogs that s/he struggles to break even, rarely making a "profit." Will sell pups only to approved buyers.
2.) The Backyard Breeder...Breeds family pet or breeding stock to any convenient dog of same breed just to have purebred pups "with papers." Has no  knowledge of: genetics, bloodlines, animal husbandry, or breed improvement.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Can explain how and why the breeding was planned, with emphasis on specific qualities through linebreeding or outcrossing. Will often use a stud from another area, state or even country to make sure it is the best possible fit between the breeding pair.

3.) The Backyard Breeder...Has little or no knowledge of breed specific health issues. Though pet may be well loved, it wasn't tested for heritable problems prior to breeding. May claim they “they have never had any issues.”

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Has breeding stock x-rayed to check for hip dysplasia and tests for other genetic faults. Can produce certification to prove claims. Or proof is documented with the OFFA.

4.) The Backyard Breeder...Offers no health guarantees beyond proof of shots, if that. Unqualified and/or unwilling to give help if problems develop.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Lifetime commitment to replace a dog with genetic faults or to help owner deal with problem.

5.) The Backyard Breeder...Seller has little knowledge of breed history or AKC "Standard." May claim that this doesn't matter for "just pets".

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Loves the breed and can talk at length about the breed's history, background, uses, and ideal type.

6.) The Backyard Breeder...Pups raised in makeshift accommodations, indicating lack of long-term investment in breeding or sometimes raised outside.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Has a serious investment in dog equipment such as puppy pens, crates and whelping boxes and numerous puppy socialization items.

7.) The Backyard Breeder...Even when selling "just pets", may display AKC "papers" or "championship pedigree" as proof of quality. Yet seller doesn't increase their own knowledge through participation in national or local breed clubs. Doesn't show their breeding stock in shows to "prove" quality, often feeling that dog shows are too expensive, to cliquey or that judges don't know anything. Has no knowledge of ancestors listed on the pedigree, much less their ownership, health status or whereabouts.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Belongs to and is actively involved with local or national dog clubs which indicates a love for the sport and welfare of dogs as a whole. Exhibits his/her own dogs at dog shows on a regular basis as an objective test of how their stock measures up to the standard. Can identify ownership and whereabouts of all dogs listed on pedigrees. If they don’t show then they at least have an objective person assess their dog against the breed standard, an AKC Judge, a handler, or someone who does show that particular breed.

8.) The Backyard Breeder...May be unwilling to show buyer entire litter or to introduce dam and/or sire of litter. Can't or won't compare/critique pups or pups' ancestors.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Shows litter and other family members in a sanitary environment, generally in the breeders home.  Can see the area where the pups were whelped and raised with no secrets.

9.) The Backyard Breeder...Prices puppies at low end of local range, since most want to move pups quickly at 8 weeks or often younger or they are “just pet quality.” May accept credit payments or have a “cart” on their website where you can purchase a puppy unforeseen through Paypal. 

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Prices will be at medium to high end of local range. Price won't reflect all that is invested in pups and the breeder will generally not accept credit or installments.  If buyer can’t afford a puppy upfront they most likely will not afford items like quality food, healthcare, or have money for unforeseen medical emergencies and vet bills.

10.) The Backyard Breeder...No concern for the future of individual pups or breed as a whole. Doesn't employ AKC's limited registration option nor ask for spay/neuter contract to guard against breeding of substandard pets. If you can't keep the pup, s/he tells you to take it to sell it. Doesn’t care if you chose to breed your puppy in the future.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...After purchase, will help with grooming or training problems. Will take back pup you can't keep rather than see it disposed of inappropriately. Sells companion quality puppies with spay/neuter agreement or limited AKC registration.  Will not sell a puppy with breeding rights without a specific contract outlining acceptable breeding mates, health testing conditions, and age and frequency of breeding the dog.

11.) The Backyard Breeder...May use puppy broker websites like,, ebay, Facebook or even craigslist to try and find homes for puppies. Uses terms like “vet checked”, “full-blooded”, etc. in their sales pitch to convince buyers of puppies value.
The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Generally has a list before the breeding even takes place of puppy buyers waiting on a puppy.  Puppies may be listed on breed specific websites, with pedigrees and full parental health testing listed along with the litter announcement

12.) The Backyard Breeder...Breeds a female for the sole purpose of making or selling the puppies.  If they do keep a puppy it’s usually just the last one left they couldn’t sell, not the pick puppy to carry on the best genetics in the bloodline.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder...Generally only breeds for their next keeper puppy.  Will not breed a litter just to sell the puppies. Will not breed more than a litter or two a year, and never breed a female twice in one year.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

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 doing. You are considering adding a companion and friend to your family for the next 8 -10 years, 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 to the right and it’s Dam (mother) listed on bottom 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 puppies father’s side of the family is its paternal side and reference to the puppies 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 IBCA is easier to earn than an AKC Championship, however it takes a certain rating 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.
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. 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 do 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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Experience in a Raw Food Diet for Dogs

In a blog post we published in January “Choosing a Top Quality Dry Food” we outlined what to look for should you choose to feed dry kibble to your dog.  I hinted that I would like to try feeding a raw diet, but didn’t want to further elaborate until I had some experience.  
Well, the good news is we have been feeding raw since February and LOVE IT!  The dogs love it, they eat better, they drink less water (which makes me feel better about bloat and the heat this summer) and best of all, they poop so much less.  We’re talking about two 170+lb dogs that poop as much as mini poodle.  Their coats are healthy, Boone’s skin allergies have all but cleared up, they are very physically fit and I know exactly what it is that is going into my dogs.
The work I put into it is much less time consuming than I originally had anticipated as well.  While it does take more effort than pouring some kibble in a bowl, it isn’t like I have to butcher the cow each meal either.  I try and stick with feeding them approximately 3 lbs per day.  When I first started out I was weighing everything, however after a month or so I can estimate close enough the scale is unnecessary.  I feed on average 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ meat.  I do feed some veggies, while not a staple in thier diet they do act as a very health filler and the dogs love them.  Sometimes I puree various raw veggies and put the paste in cupcake pans and freeze it.  The dogs love them, I even mix in eggs or broth sometimes for added yumminess. I also feed whole sweet potatoes sometimes with meals or just as a snack. 
I will add that even with some of the recent recalls, should I need to switch back to a dry kibble, Diamond Naturals Large Breed 60+ is still my dry kibble of choice. If you are thinking of switching to raw or have questions about raw diets, I don’t claim to know it all, or even much at all, but I will give you my honest opinion in regards to my experiences. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Horseplay in the Yard

I just love the expressiveness of this breed!  While it is still pretty miserable here in regards to the heat, we were able to spend about 20 minutes (in a row!) in the yard the other evening. I got some great shots of the puppers. Enjoy!

 Before the festivities begin.

Boone about to bark incessantly at me for 2-3 minutes… This is his ‘stare down’

And then it starts. 

And then the stick war begins…

Brinkley takes a quick break.

Boone decides to have some zoomies.  I swear this dog is ‘special’, LOL

And Brinkley decides she is DONE!  Mommy help me!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mastiff Health Information and Links

Mastiffs, like all breeds, have specific health issues that need to be considered when purchasing a puppy or when breeding them. Reputable breeders will health test their dogs to ensure they are not passing on genetic conditions. Breeders and owners both want healthy, happy dogs with great longevity.

We recommend that before breeding a dog the following tests be completed on both the sire and the dam. Additionally if you are buying a puppy please be sure that these tests have been completed on the parents.  While different breeders have varying levels of testing, the best breeders test for everything possible.  Why not rule out a problem if the technology exists? 
Most health testing information is tracked through  You can look up a dog by their name or their AKC number.  Please make sure that you can verify the testing, sometimes backyard breeders and puppy mills will tell you their dogs are tested, however ask to see the proof.  If you can’t find the sire and dam on OFFA then ask the breeder to see a copy of the testing certificates for each test.

It is also important to remember that “vet checked” really means nothing when it comes to the genetics of a puppy.  All that means is a vet looked at the puppy and it wasn’t obviously malnourished or had a visible illness.  While I’m not saying it is a good idea to have a puppy vet checked before it goes to it’s new home, it is NOT a replacement for proper health testing.

Here is a brief overview of each condition we recommend testing for.

Genetic Canine Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia is an especially important test in the Mastiff breed due their size. Dysplasia can vary from mild to completely debilitating and in severe cases require that your dog be euthanized, even if it's still a puppy. In other words it does not just affect older dogs. A reputable breeder will never breed or stud a dog that does not pass this exam with either a Fair, Good, or Excellent rating. (

Elbow Dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs. This can cause lameness in the dog. There is no way to know when a dog that is affected will become lame as environment can also be a factor, meaning over-exercising, weight gain, etc. Again, due to a Mastiffs size this test is extremely important. Reputable breeders test! Ask to see those test results before you buy a pup. (

Congenital heart diseases in dogs are thought to be genetic in nature. Abnormal heart defects are present at birth and usually get worse as a puppy grows. Unfortunately there is no "cure".  The best alternative to a cure is to not breed dogs that have tested with cardiac problems.  Make sure both parents have had a cardiac screening before purchasing a puppy. (

Hypothyroidism is just one of the disorders of the thyroid gland. It can affect an animal’s behavior and turn a once friendly dog into an aggressive dog. The thyroid can be checked via blood test to see if your dog is at a healthy level. If suddenly your dog is having aggression issues, etc I would recommend having its thyroid checked before any other actions are taken just to rule out the issue before training methods are used to try and correct the problem. (

Cystinuria is a genetic defect where the kidney doesn't work properly. Affected dogs are born with the disorder, but it can be years before it's caught. Some dogs who are positive for the disorder are never affected. Over time, stones block the urinary tract requiring surgery. Only males are affected by this disease; however females can pass the disease onto their offspring. Traditionally, only males could by tested by a urine nitroside test, however a DNA test is now available for males and females to see if common genetic markers are present in carriers and affected dogs. (

Problems with the patella's are issue that affect the knee. The condition causes the knee to pop out of place. This is considered to be an inherited disease and the OFA test is one that can be performed by your regular vet.  Again, because of the size of the breed, having bad knees can be devastating to the quality of life of your dog. (

CERF(Canine Eye Registry Foundation)
CERF is a national eye registry for dogs that have been screened for genetic eye diseases. This exam is done by a veterinary ophthalmologist. A CERF exam is one test that needs to be performed annually on dogs as eye issues can develop as the dog ages.  A CEFT exam screens for things such as entropian, retinal folds, etc. (

PRA(Progressive Renal Atrophy)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a family of inherited progressive degenerative eye diseases affecting the retina which ultimately result in blindness. PRA is a Dominant gene mutation, meaning that one parent being a carrier for the disease can result in affected puppies.  If a sire and dam are proven free of the gene then no offspring from that paring will be affected by the disease or be able to pass the disease on. (

CMR(Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy)
CMR is a genetic eye disease that is known to occur in Mastiffs. This disease causes lesions that look like blisters on the dog’s eyes and eventually in severe cases can cause blindness.  As the dog ages this can become quite painful and cause other eye issues to develop.  CMR is a recessive gene mutation, meaning both parents must be carriers or affected to have affected offspring, however all dogs should be tested prior to breeding to prevent 2 carriers from producing affected pups. (

vWd(vonWillebrands Disease)
vonWillebrands Disease is an inherited bleeding disorder. Dogs with a low vWF factor have blood that does not clot properly and causes excessive bleeding if the dog is injured, much like hemophilia in humans. This can be an issue with birthing as well.  This disease is most common in Dobermans, however several cases in Mastiffs have shown up in the recent past, making testing a must before breeding. (

DM(Degenerative Melopathy)
Degenerative Melopathy is something that many Mastiff breeders are just beginning to test for, so not all reputable breeders will have their dogs tested for this disease yet.  DM is a condition of the spinal column and can have symptoms similar to Wobblers.  Depending on the location of the issue in the spine and the severity sometimes surgery is an option, however this can be a dehabilitating disease that may have no other solution than euthanasia in some cases. (

AKC DNA Profile
A DNA profile on your dog proves that your dog is who you say it is.  It is a DNA sample that is taken and also witnessed by someone verifying your dog’s identity either by tattoo or microchip.  Dogs must to have a DNA profile in order to enter an MCOA (Mastiff Club of America) Specialty Show. (

Non-Genetic Canine Health Issues

The following issues can affect all dogs; however they seem to have a strong presence in our breed due to their size and structure.

Bloat - Few afflictions kill an otherwise healthy dog as quickly as bloat and torsion. Bloat is a time sensitive emergency, if you suspect your dog is suffering from bloat you must get to a Vet ASAP. Bloat commonly affects large, deep chested dogs but following a few preventive measures can drastically reduce the chance of your Mastiff getting it. If you own a large/giant breed dog I recommend having a bloat kit on hand at all times (I keep mine in the trunk of my car). Having the proper tools on hand could mean life or death to your dog if it takes more than a few minutes to reach your vet.  There is a procedure that can be done in dogs called a Gastropexy where the stomach is actually stapled to the abdominal wall.  This procedure will not prevent bloat, but does help to prevent torsion (the flipping of the stomach) if the dog does bloat.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries - A ruptured cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury in dogs. Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery will most likely be necessary and can be costly.  Because of the common occurrence of this injury in large dogs there are up to 3 surgery options available. It is important to not let your dog run or play on slippery surfaces as a slip and fall can cause the cruciate to become stressed or even torn.
Pyometra - Pyometra is a bacterial infection of the uterus that mostly occurs in middle-aged or older unspayed female dogs, though it may also occur in young dogs. It can result in the accumulation of infection in the bloodstream or abdominal cavity, which can rapidly lead to systemic infection, shock, and death. The severity of symptoms varies depending on whether the female’s cervix is open or closed. If the cervix closes the dog can become sick and even die within 24 hours, so if your dog show symptoms get to a vet immediately.  Females are generally more susceptible to Pyometra 3-5 weeks after a heat cycle.

Cancer – If Cancer isn’t the leading cause of death in dogs then I would be surprised - 1 in 4 dogs will die of cancer.  For dogs over 10 years of age, approximately 50% of deaths are cancer-related. Like humans, there are many types of cancers and many clinical signs. In our breed Osteocarcenoma (bone cancer) is probably the most common form of cancer, and if left undiagnosed for too long spreads and leads to metastasized lung cancer or other internal cancers. At this point it is unknown if Cancer has some link to genetics or not, but numerous studies are in the works to see if genetic markers do exist and are common among affected dogs.

If anyone has any questions or would like more information you can visit my website or email me,

Amanda Griffin