Saturday, March 7, 2020

Ten Long-Lived Dog Breeds (Complete With Adorable Photos!)

The Ten Longest-Lived Dog Breeds (with adorable pictures!)

Any dog lover who has owned a dog for any significant number of years knows the pain of the inevitable fact that their lifespan is simply much shorter than our own. Even under the best of circumstances, the average dog lifespan (across all breeds and general demographics) is 10-13 years, and the average human life expectancy in the US is currently 78, and 82 in Canada. This math isn’t a happy thought. However, some dogs do live considerably longer than 13 years.
The world record for the longest-living dog ever was Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog who lived to be nearly 29 ½ years old! Many dogs have lived to 20 or more, and some breeds are especially known for their exceptional longevity.
Below is a list I’ve compiled of some breeds of dog that live the longest, on average. I have based this list on both average life expectancy and general health, since some breeds are considered long-lived, but are prone to genetic defects that can have a negative impact on that life expectancy.
So, here they are in a somewhat streamlined order- ten long-lived and healthy dogs to consider for the longest time together with your best friend.

1. Beagle: 15+ years
The beagle is one of the most iconic dog breeds around, including the famous yet fictional Snoopy (who is 51 years old, being born August 10, 1968- a whopping 357 years old in traditional “dog years!”). They are popular pets, fitting well in a variety of settings and households, though they can be stubborn and vocal. Beagles from good bloodlines are generally healthy dogs, but some may be prone to epilepsy and eye issues. Beagles are also prone to obesity as they age, so regular exercise and a healthy diet should be consistent throughout their lives.
The longest-lived real beagle lived 27 years, which is still very impressive!

2. Chihuahua: 16+ years
One of the most loved (and infamous) dog breeds is also one of the longest-lived. Love them or hate them, chihuahuas live a long time – 16 years or more is common, and it is not unusual to hear of a chihuahua living 20 years.
Chihuahuas come in a few sizes and shapes, but all are small (breed standard puts them at about 6 lbs). They can be long- or short-haired.
Chihuahuas are very resilient for their small size, and their generally good health lets them live such a long time, but some are prone to heart valve issues and airway issues, so be aware of your dog’s background and condition.

3. Poodle (all sizes): 12-18 years
Poodles are possibly the most iconic and recognizable breed out there, or perhaps matched with the likes of the dalmatian or dachshund. Known for their fuzzy, curly, fluffy fur that is often cut into fancy, distinctive styles, the poodle comes in three size classes (toy, miniature and standard) and all three are popular pets.
All three types of poodles live a long lifespan for their size class (keeping in mind that, generally speaking, smaller dogs live longer than larger ones). They are, to some, also considered the second most intelligent breed after the generally tied border collie and Australian herding breeds.
Poodles are average for health among popular breeds, owing to a multitude of bloodlines of various genetic quality. They are generally healthy but can be prone to hip dysplasia, epilepsy and certain other conditions. Poodle crosses, however, are extremely healthy and intelligent, often making excellent service dogs.
Another great health benefit of the poodle in all its varieties is that it is hypoallergenic, making a great companion for people who are allergic to many other animals.

4. Shih Tzu: 15+ years
This dog’s name means “lion” and with good reason. While tiny, this Chinese breed has a “mane” which can be highlighted with certain grooming cuts.
The shih tzu is a popular breed for its small size, playful and affectionate demeanor, and long lifespan. While this breed, like many other purebreds, can be associated with certain issues, overall they tend to be healthy and can easily live 15 years or more.
It is important to keep an eye on your shih tzu’s dental health. They have tiny jaws that sometimes result in an under bite or other alignment issues that can cause dental problems. Overall, a well-bred shih tzu should be a healthy and long-lived dog.

5. Australian Shepherd: 15 years
Another breed that made the list despite not being a toy-sized breed is the energetic and intelligent Australian Shepherd. These dogs are versatile and considered tied with the border collie as the smartest dog breed.  For a large dog, they also live a long time, frequently living well into their teens.
Aussies are generally healthy dogs, though they are prone to eye issues if not kept in healthy bloodlines. Any herding/shepherd dog should also be presumed to have the MDR-1 mutation, which occurs in up to 75% of these breeds. This mutation generally doesn’t impact overall health and longevity, but it is important to avoid certain medications, from antibiotics to worm treatments, because dogs with this gene are hyper-sensitive to their ingredients. There are plenty of affordable, accessible alternatives, however, so as long as you are aware of the need to be cautious, there is no need to worry for your best friend’s wellbeing.

6. Maltese: 14+ years
The maltese is another small, long-lived breed. Females are considered especially healthy, but in general this breed is a popular choice for its cute appearance, sweet disposition and good general health.
Like many small dogs, it is important to keep an eye on a maltese’s dental health.
Maltese are also often crossed with other breeds, such as poodles. “Maltipoos” are especially popular and healthy dogs. They make great family dogs and are intelligent, playful and sometimes hilariously stubborn.
For optimal health, it is advisable to shy away from super-boutique Maltese, such as “tiny teacup maltese” and other advertisements that give the impression the dogs are smaller than they should be. It compounds the likelihood of dental problems, and inbreeding.

7. Miniature Schnauzer: 15 years
Another breed that comes in different size variations, all of which have a long lifespan for their size class, is the German-bred schnauzer. Today I’ll talk primarily about the miniature schnauzer, since this version has the longest life expectancy, being the smallest.
These dogs are wire-haired and hypoallergenic, which makes them a great choice for people with allergies. Quoted from one source as having “a personality twice as big as he is,”* this breed is known for intelligence, affection and playfulness.
With a lifespan of 15 years or more, the miniature schnauzer is a healthy and robust breed. The standard and even giant schnauzer both have a lifespan of 13-15 years, quite high for larger classes, so any version of this dog has excellent longevity.
They can, however, be prone to bladder stones, so a healthy diet is recommended.

8. Pomeranian: 16+ years
Pomeranians are adorable, fluffy little dogs. They are descended from the larger Spitz breed, both of German origin. Known as intelligent, playful,  extroverted dogs, Pomeranians also have a loving and low-aggression personality, making them great family dogs when children are taught to treat them with respect (as with all animals). They can be vocal, and should be trained to quiet down on command.
Pomeranians are active dogs that will do well with plenty of physical and mental stimulation, so be prepared for a long and active life with your new best friend if you decide to go with this breed. They have generally excellent health, with consideration to the possible issues any small dog might have with their knees or “partially collapsed” trachea (a condition many small dogs have where the trachea is underdeveloped or slightly misshapen, leading to bouts of a hacking cough that sounds much scarier than it is. It generally does not require invasive intervention).

9. Shiba Inu: 15+ years
The Shiba Inu is another not-so-tiny breed on this list of mostly-tiny breeds. This Japanese small-to-medium dog is an excellent hunter and companion.
This dog is popular for its cute appearance and quirky personality. They are not overly vocal, but many will bark to alert you to someone at the door, or other common triggers.
Shiba Inus can be stubborn and should make a great companion over their 14-16-year lifespan to a confident, strong owner who is as passionate about training and interaction as they are about their overall companionship with their super-smart, quirky dog.

10. Mutts: 10-15+ years
Across the board, when you compare a mixed-breed (“mutt”) dog to a purebred of any of the breeds that make it up, you will generally find that the mixed dog will live longer and be healthier.
That is because mixed breed dogs are less likely to be inbred, or to inherit active copies of genes for the health issues that may plague their purebred predecessors.
Mutts tend to inherit the best qualities from their breed mixes, and fewer of the less-desirable traits, as the breeds have generally been selectively bred to strengthen the good while minimizing the bad over the course of generations. This is not an exact science, but many people prefer mixed breed dogs for their excellent health and temperaments.

So there’s my list of the longest-lived breeds to consider. Do you have a different favorite long-lived breed of dog? Have you had a dog that lived an extremely long time? Share in comments, and be sure to subscribe to receive updates from this blog.
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(*- from

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Ideal First Dog?

So, you’ve finally made the decision to get a dog. Good for you! You are in for many years of fun, companionship, love and devotion.  However, as a new dog owner, there are some things you need to prepare for, such as training, finding an excellent vet, and, if applicable, getting your new family member used to your old family members, furry or otherwise. I’ll cover all of these topics in future blog posts, but today I want to focus on finding the best dog for you, a new dog owner!

There are literally hundreds of breeds of dogs out there, and various other factors to consider when you are looking for the right kind for you. I’m not going to write another repetitive list of the “best” breeds for new dog owners. Instead, I’m going to give you some basic factors to consider to help you reach the right choice for you.

This is not an exhaustive list of factors to consider. If you have children, or other pets, certain breeds or mixes may not be ideal, for example. These are matters I will touch on in future blog posts. These are just a few universal points to consider.

1. Do you want a large or small dog?
This may be one of the most important questions to ask yourself as a new dog owner. The answers should be based on things like environment and lifestyle. While medium and even some larger (but lower energy) dogs may be suited to apartment life, many apartments that allow pets have a weight or size limit on what type of dog you may have. Also, the very largest breeds are simply unlikely to fit in well in a small living space. 

For elderly people or children, smaller dogs may be easier to handle. They are lightweight if they need to be picked up and carried, or even to wrangle them into their harness or on their leash. However, small dogs are also more likely to be high-strung, vocal and possibly aggressive for an owner who is not well-versed in how to train them.

Larger dogs tend to be calmer (once fully mature), but their care may be a bit more physical as far as grooming and exercise are concerned. They may also be territorial and protective, which can result in louder barking and unpredictable behavior around strangers. For this reason, it is very important to socialize any dog, regardless of size, to a variety of settings and people. 

Many mixed-breed dogs are unpredictable as to their final size upon reaching adulthood. If the breed makeup is known for certain (it usually isn’t), you can be fairly confident that a dog whose parents were both in the same size class will likely be similar. However, if thereare many breeds or size classes in the dog’s bloodline, their final size may not be known til they are one or even two years old.

2. Do you want a male or female dog?
Some people don’t have a strong preference in this area; those who do generally have their reasons. Some people gravitate to male dogs, believing females can have excess attitude or independence. Others prefer females, citing males’ leg-lifting and humping behaviors. For the most part, these trends have as much to do with breed makeup and individual personality as they do gender. You should seek out an easygoing, trainable dog for your first dog, first and foremost. 

3. What sort of energy level should your dog have?
Do you live in an urban apartment? On a large farm? Do you spend your weekends hiking, or sitting in front of the television? Are you home a lot or will your dog need to be content to have plenty of free time and not wreck your home out of boredom and anxiety? All of these lifestyle and environmental factors should be part of the decision when you are considering your first dog. Be educated on which breeds and mixes are likely to be high-energy and need a lot of physical and mental stimulation, or which are likely to be low-key and content with their own company for stretches of time.

Lastly, I’ll say this: oftentimes, it is wise for a first dog to be an adult. A dog who is already mature and trained, and hopefully altered. Starting out with a puppy may sound fun, but often they require an experienced hand to get the basics down. Of course, a puppy can make a wonderful first dog, but be sure you know what you are getting into. Make sure you know of a reputable and humane trainer in case you need some help. A good vet or animal shelter employee can probably point you in the right direction.

If you have any questions or comments about getting your first dog,  feel free to comment on this blog post as well and I will do my best to answer any questions you have. All the best with this wonderful new journey you’re embarking on!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The First Five Things To Teach Your New Dog

Congratulations, you have just acquired a new dog! Regardless of age, breed, or how you got your new best friend, there will always be the important first task of training her to be prepared for your life together.
Whether you’re starting out with a puppy who needs the basics from scratch, or an older dog who may simply be adjusting to a massive change in his life, there are five key behaviors every dog should know to make his life (and his owner’s) safer, happier and easier. Some of these behaviors are pretty typical, and your new dog may even already have a pretty decent handle on them. However, it is very important to reinforce these commands with you, their new alpha, as the issuer. A dog will have a baseline for behavior in every individual relationship she has, based on expectations, hierarchy (real or perceived) and trust. Therefore, reinforcement with positive, consistent discipline techniques is always critical from everyone who handles the dog.
Remember, it is always easier, kinder, and more effective to reward and reinforce positive behavior than it is to train out negative replacement behaviors if you are lax in these early training techniques.
Below, you will find the five behaviors you should focus on now to lay the groundwork for any other training you wish to pursue with your new dog; whether for a working animal or family pet, these five skills will lay the groundwork for excellent bonding and cooperation between you for many years to come.

1. Come/Stay/Go
This is the trifecta no dog can live without, and as such they are being treated as one behavior for the purpose of this article.  Every dog needs to be completely reliable to obey when they are given these directives from you, their safety could depend on it.
It is important to socialize your new dog to a variety of settings, including indoors and out, being around other animals and different types of people, and riding in the car. In each situation that your dog will naturally encounter throughout her life, it is important that she understands these three commands are non-negotiable.
Suppose one day you are walking your dog out to the car after a vet appointment, and suddenly the link on her collar breaks away from her leash. You may be in a busy lot or surrounded by strange animals in an environment your dog considers stressful and possibly unfamiliar. It is imperative that despite her anxiety and confusion, she listens immediately if you tell her to stay or come so you can put her leash back on her, or take hold of her to guide her to your vehicle if you cannot put the leash back on her due to the broken collar or leash.
Training your dog to go in a signaled direction is also vital. For example, in a fire, many animals will hide, or become disoriented as to how to get out of harm’s way. You may not be able to safely reach her, and therefore, also be unable to tell her to come, but being able to tell her to go in the right direction to escape through an alternate route may very well save her life.
These training commands are also important in a variety of potential situations with other animals, both other domestic animals and, in some cases, wildlife that may potentially pose a threat of harm to you or your dog. Therefore, it is important to make sure she understands these three words in any situation at any time, and follows them unerringly.

2. Heel
Closely related to the previous set, but not quite the same, is the command to heel. This tells your dog to drop whatever he is currently focused on and return to your side immediately. Training your dog to heel will help prevent various undesired behaviors and situations, especially if you wish to train him to be off-leash with you away from home.
It is important to remember that, as with come, stay, and go, it’s important that your dog obeys a command to heel consistently, whether he is in a calm, familiar setting, or if for any reason he is anxious or confused. This training will be useful to keep him in reach, and in line, no matter what distractions or unexpected occurrences take place.
Heel has the added benefit of being a shared command in your new dog’s training. While the commands in the first set are entirely dependent on your dog’s focus and obedience, heel will require your participation, too. Your dog will depend on your location and openness to obey your command, and therefore this can help reinforce bonding with your new dog.

3. Potty and Housebreaking Training
Let’s face it, any advice about training your new dog would be remiss if it didn’t bring up the topic of housebreaking. If you’ve adopted an older dog, maybe you’ll get lucky and she will already be housebroken. Even some puppies get the concept fairly quickly, especially those of the highly trainable breeds, such as herding dogs like border collies and heelers.
Search the internet, library or any trainer’s or veterinarian’s published materials and you will find a plethora of advice on all sorts of house training and how to accomplish it quickly and thoroughly. Some people will go the tried and true route of teaching the dog to go outside on command or during walks. For others, crate training may be a part of this process, to help avoid accidents around the house. Some dogs, especially smaller ones (size or age), may take most easily to using dog potty mats, which come in a range of sizes and absorbencies, and even an increasing number of formats (recently, mats with attachments for males to aim for when lifting their leg have been introduced).
The exact form of housebreaking you decide on should be what is best for you and your new dog. This decision should be based on factors such as your time availability and the age and size of your dog. Know his maximum wait time between bathroom breaks, and remember that puppies and dogs up to age 2 may have occasional accidents even after they are considered housebroken.

4. Leave It!
Dogs are curious creatures. This is a given despite breed, age or background. They see something they don’t recognize or quite understand, and they are often instantly fully invested in checking it out. This can pose a problem for a variety of reasons, including if they spot something potentially harmful like a dropped pill or other dangerous object. Or, they may simply run up and eat or steal something off the ground of unknown origin, or that was, at the very least, not intended for them. The answer to this matter is train your new dog to leave it by deliberately expanding her attention span and patience.
Start by having your dog sit facing you. Place a treat or toy you know will hold her attention, and be perceived as a worthwhile reward, in front of her front paws. When she bends down to take it (make sure she remains sitting), simply guide her back up to an “at attention” stance and say firmly, “leave it!”
Have her wait five seconds, maintaining focus on you and not the reward, then let her take it. For most dogs, treat rewards work best for this behavior, rather than toys, simply because they can then be consumed and you can start over. However, use what you know will work well for your dog. Gradually and patiently increase the time from 5 seconds. You should make sure that your new dog learns to leave something enticing untouched on command for a minimum of ten seconds, so you have time to retrieve the item if it is something she shouldn’t have. Teach a counterpart command, that sounds unique to her other commands, to let her know she can have whatever it is only when you say so. For example, tell her to leave the treat. After five seconds, point to it (touching your finger to it or the floor, ideally) and say “take,” or, “you can have it.” Be sure to practice both the leave and take commands daily as you lay the groundwork for training with your new dog. Also, make sure she doesn’t always get the item. At least half the time, you should take it and remove it from reach. Of course, make sure you offer her something else as a reward for having obeyed you. In this case, exuberant praise is often the best choice over another tangible item, just to make sure she doesn’t confuse leave it for a trading exercise.
Not only can leave it help prevent your dog from getting into something harmful, it is also useful to help deter her from destructive behaviors such as shoe chewing or confusing her toys with other objects, such as a child’s toys, which may not be suitable, and she is likely not welcome to claim.

5. Be Nice!
Of all the training commands for your new dog, this one might just be the most important for some. Some dogs, no matter how sweet or submissive with their owner, may display aggressive or simply undesirable behaviors with others. These can generally be worked out over time with more advanced training, but it is wise to start with the blanket command “Be nice!”
When a dog is being nice, he should be sitting or standing calmly near you or the individual you wish him to “be nice” to. He should not be overly excited and waggy, nor should he be growling or snarling.
Be nice can help deter unwanted attacks from an overly territorial or protective dog. This is extremely important, especially with certain breeds that may be viewed harshly if an attack leads to any sort of litigation or report.
This command will also work well to train your new dog not to continue undesirable behaviors such as jumping up, pawing, chewing/biting, and snarling. Use the command consistently and firmly. If your dog snaps or snarls, say “Be nice!” and remove yourself from his reach. Be sure never to point at a biting dog, or a dog who may be considering biting, as it is  often seen as a threat, or at the very least, a target.
If you are trying to stop unwanted, non-aggressive physical behaviors, such as pawing or jumping up, say “Be nice!” and turn your back to your dog, crossing your arms in front of you so he cannot reach you to interact. Do not speak or look at him for several seconds. Most dogs do not like being socially cut off, and removing yourself as a source of attention and affection, even for a few seconds, will make the point clearly that his behavior is inappropriate. It will remind him of similar tactics his mother likely used to deter excessive roughhousing, if she didn’t feel it warranted a warning nip. Your point will be made quickly, without unhealthy disciple methods, and likely leave a lasting impression. Done consistently, you should see his use of these unwanted behaviors drop off quickly.

So, there you have it. The five things your new dog should learn right away. Some dogs thrive on training and you can teach them many more behaviors and tricks after these groundwork commands are established, but any and all dogs should be able to master these with patience and consistency. Remember, positive reinforcement when taking the time to teach positive behaviors is always easier, faster and kinder than trying to correct bad habits later. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but starting now will be best.

Ten Long-Lived Dog Breeds (Complete With Adorable Photos!)

The Ten Longest-Lived Dog Breeds (with adorable pictures!) Any dog lover who has owned a dog for any significant number of years kno...