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Dog Grooming Products

Even though it’s very important to have your dog groomed every 6-8 weeks if they grow long hair, there are some dogs who don’t necessarily need to go to a groomer. As a groomer, I have several dog grooming products I trust and have experience with for several years. I think it’s excellent for dog owners to be able to clip their dog’s nails, clean their ears, and give baths. I think it is vital that owners brush their dogs.

Brushing is very important for all dogs whether they have short or long hair. Nail trims should be done on a monthly basis for most dogs. Ear cleaning and bathing can be done as needed, in fact, I don’t recommend bathing your dog more than once a month. Most dogs don’t even need it that often unless they rolled in something smelly outside, went swimming, or got muddy. A dog’s natural oils are important for a healthy coat and bathing more than once a month can strip those oils and cause the hair to be more coarse and the skin to become dry and itchy. Always use a dog shampoo because it balanced for the pH of their skin. Never use something harsh like Dawn dish soap unless you have extreme amounts of oil (like it got dumped on your dog) or for tiny puppies and kittens who aren’t old enough for flea shampoos/treatments.

Nail Care

The very best brand of nail clippers that I’ve used is Miller’s Forge. My first pair was the large orange handled ones I bought as a bather about 12 years ago. They have continued to easily cut even the thickest nails and stay sharp. I’ve never had to replace them. They also come in medium and small depending on how big your dog is. I use the medium nail clippers for most of the dogs I groom. For really small breeds like chihuahuas, I generally use cat nail clippers.

The best way to learn to clip nails is to be shown, and I am willing to show anyone who comes to me. White nails are easy enough to see the pink quick, and you want to clip a little before that so you don’t make the nail bleed. On dark nails, it’s not as easy, but you can usually see where the nail starts to curve downward and you can clip right after the start of that. You can take small bits off each time until you read what looks like a black dot in the middle of the nail. I did make this video that I posted to YouTube to show a nail trim with grinding, but I plan to make a better quality one soon. If you do accidentally make the nail bleed, you can use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding, or get something like this Kwik Stop Styptic Powder.

Grinding the nails can help make them even shorter while also taking off the sharp edge created by clipping the nails, so I do both if the dog allows it. Some dogs are scared of the noise the grinder makes and some prefer the grinder to nails being clipped. The Dremel 7350-PET is not the exact grinder I use, as it’s no longer available, but the Dremel brand is the best, in my opinion. I’ve had my grinder for several years.

Ear Care

Not all dogs need ear cleaning on a regular basis. It is included in my grooming services whether the dog comes in for just a bath or a full groom. Some dogs are more prone to ear problems, especially dogs with floppy ears and/or those with a lot of hair in their ears. Sometimes ear problems can actually be caused by allergies or infection so it’s important to talk with your vet if your dog seems to be scratching or rubbing his/her ears a lot. Your best bet for ears that are otherwise healthy is to get an ear cleaning solution made for dogs and use a cotton ball.

You can either apply the cleaning solution to the cotton ball and wipe inside the ear, being sure not to go further into the ear than you can see, or you can squirt a small amount of solution into the ear canal and wipe it with the cotton ball. The second method works best if you also rub the base of the ear. Your dog will shake his/her head after this, but that will help remove the fluid as well. Note: Do not put a large amount of solution in the ear, if you can’t judge the amount, just use the solution on the cotton ball method. Never go into the ear farther than you can see you risk damaging the ear drum.

The solution I currently use is Nurtri-Vet Ear Cleanse partially because it’s affordable and contains aloe vera for soothing ears. Because I groom very few dogs now due to my back problems, I buy this exact size and it has lasted quite a long time.

Dental Care

Some may not realize that dogs need dental care too. A few products I recommend for this would be the Vet’s Best Toothbrush and Toothpaste kit. Enzymatic toothpaste is going to work the best and this style of toothbrush is much easier to use over dog teeth than say a small human toothbrush. Toothbrushing ideally would be done daily but should be done at least a few times a week to have any benefit. A water additive like Arm & Hammer’s is something you can try to help with tarter and plaque buildup. I personally have not tried it, but this is a pretty trustworthy brand.

Another option to help are dental sticks such as the Dentalife chews. The chewing action can scrap loose tarter off and helps with bad breath. Chewing is excellent for getting out energy and dental care. For chewing, you can also get kneecap beef bones, I think these work well for scraping tarter off teeth and are safer than some other bones. I have had issues with rib bones and others that become hollow after the marrow is gone and have splintered and even gotten stuck on one of my dog’s jaws.

Bathing

As said above, a dog should not be bathed more than once a month and really only as needed. The natural oils are important for healthy skin and coat. If your dog constantly smells, there may be either a yeast or other type infection on the skin. Itchiness can be dry skin, fleas, mites, or a problem like allergies. If your dog itches a lot, talk with your vet and they can look over the skin and let you know if further testing is needed. Also note, if your dog is matted, please take him/her to a groomer, bathing your dog while matted is going to make it worse and the mats are painful.

Shampoo, conditioner, and face wash

The shampoo that you use for your dog should be a dog shampoo. The Isle of Dogs brand is excellent and used by many groomers. I currently use the Isle of Dogs Puppy Shampoo for all dogs because it is tearless and gentle. It has a light scent, not perfumy like some. There are also options for a conditioner. Another brand I love is Ikaria. My favorite of theirs is Renew which smells like Ylang Ylang and Juniper, but is a nice mild scent, again not perfumy. All their scents are mild and the shampoo works very well and for different purposes. They also offer a conditioner and face wash. A face wash is great for dogs who have beards and get them dirty, as well as for cleansing around the eyes for dogs who get tear stains. Even being tearless, be careful not to get anything into the eyes.

Bathing Aids

Something that may help you when bathing your dog is a suction cup with short leash that you can put in your tub to keep your dog in it. A lot of groomers will use something like this if they don’t have another type of set up. Another bathing helper is a rubber curry comb if you have a short haired dog. This can help remove loose hair and massage the skin. You can also use it on a dry dog for brushing. I don’t find that these work well on longer haired dogs, however.

If you will be bathing your dog yourself most of the time, I recommend getting a shower head with a hose like this one. It helps so much to be able to spray the dog, be able to stop the water while you shampoo without messing with the water temp, and it also has pretty good water pressure. I use the exact one linked! The last helper may not be something every dog owner wants to invest in, but if you want to bathe your small to medium sized dog, you can purchase this Free Standing Bathtub that sits in your tub. The dogs are then at your level so you don’t have bend or kneel. I, again, use this exact one.

Brushing

All dogs need to be brushed, even short-haired ones. Not only does it spread the natural oils across the skin and coat to keep it healthy, but you need to remove the loose hair so they don’t become matted. Even dogs like Huskies, who don’t necessarily have long hair, can become matted as the loose hair clumps together tightly. Even dogs who are taken to a groomer on a regular basis should be brushed at least a few times a week. Very long-haired dogs need to be brushed daily just like people brush their hair every day. If you can’t maintain the coat of a longer-haired breed, your groomer can do a short hair cut every 6-8 weeks to keep the coat manageable.

There are a variety of brush types and what you use depends on the dog’s coat. Long-coated breeds like Yorkies and Shih Tzus need not only brushing with a slicker brush but combing that can get out smaller tangles. Very short-haired breeds like Boxers may just need a rubber curry comb run over them a few times each week. Double-coated breeds like Huskies and Newfoundlands could use a combination of brushes and combs such as slicker brushes, a Furminator de-shedding tool, a rake, and a metal comb. Below are images of each type I recommend so you can easily see what I’m talking about and they are linked to their respective Amazon pages.

Slicker Brush
Furminator Deshedding Tool
Rake
Metal Comb
Rubber Curry Comb
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Overview of Basic Dog Care

Dogs require a lot more care than some people realize. This is an overview of basic dog care, especially for those who have never owned a dog before. I will have other posts about some of these topics and other dog-related topics, as I have time to complete them. I have linked the posts that I’ve written so far within the topics that they fit in.

Basic Coat Care

Depending on the type of coat your dog has, you may need a slicker brush, comb, rake, curry comb, pin brush, or soft bristle brush to take care of your dog’s coat. Slickers, pin brushes, rakes, and combs are for medium to long coats, while rubber curry combs and soft bristle brushes are for shorter coats. Dogs with continuously growing hair will need haircuts and ideally are groomed every 6-8 weeks. However, hair brushing should occur daily for longer-haired dogs and at least a few times a week for shorter-haired dogs.

All dogs, even smooth-coat breeds, need to be brushed to spread the oils throughout the coat and over the skin to keep it healthy. All dogs shed, even those said to not shed, they just do it in different ways. Certain breeds like the Poodle or Bichon, generally, shed back into their own coat, meaning that brushing and regular haircuts are even more important to prevent matting. For other dogs, regular brushing can help cut down on the amount of hair that is shed all over the house.

For the longer-haired breeds, using a slicker and going back through with a comb is ideal for being sure there are no tangles that can turn into bad mats. Pin brushes can also be used on these dogs, I just find them less effective. Double-coated breeds need extra care in spring and fall to keep up on the undercoat “blowing” out to get ready for new growth. Rakes and slicker brushes are ideal for this. Curry combs can be used in the tub while bathing your shorter-haired dog to help release all the loose hair, but the curry comb is also great on a dry coat. Soft bristle brushes really only work on smooth coats or to run over the coat for loose hairs from haircuts and other brushing. I have more information and product recommendations on my Dog Grooming Products post.

Ear Cleaning

Not all dogs end up with ear problems, even if they are rarely cleaned. Dogs with upright ears like German Shepherds, tend to have fewer ear infections. This is likely because there is plenty of air flow. It is always a good idea to still check your dog’s ears to be sure there is no build-up of wax or dirt. Floppy-eared dogs are more prone to ear infections and should have regular ear cleanings.

The best way to clean your dog’s ears is to get cotton balls and a dog ear cleaning solution. Get the cotton ball wet with the solution and wipe what you can see. Don’t go down into the ear canal where you can’t see, or you may injure the ear. Sometimes you might notice your dog’s ears don’t look normal. Swollen, red, and itchy ears can indicate an infection, but also that the dog may have an allergy. If you see anything out of the ordinary, set up an appointment with your vet. They can treat ear infections as well as help you figure out if your dog might have an allergy instead. Dogs can be allergic to their foods or even have seasonal allergies like people. I have more information and product recommendations on my Dog Grooming Products post.

Nail Trimming

Some owners are afraid to trim their dog’s nails. This is understandable when you know that if they are cut too short it can hurt the dog and make the nail bleed. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can set up a time to have a groomer or vet do the nail trim. Some will even show you how to do the trim if you want to learn to do it yourself.

Nail clippers or Dremels can be used for maintaining nails. If clipping, you can generally see the pink quick in light-colored nails. You will want to trim just a little bit in front of that. If the nail is dark, the best bet is to look at where the nail starts to curve down and cut just a bit in front of that. You may want to start out just clipping little bits at a time. As you near the quick, you will see a darker spot in the center of the nail if you look at it directly, stop there. Grinding requires you to put light pressure on the nail while holding the paw. This can help get the nail shorter than clipping and smooth it out so they aren’t as sharp. Just watch for long hair and keep your fingers and anything else out of the way. If you need supplies for nail care, I have some products listed on my Dog Grooming Products post.

Anal Gland Expression

Anal glands are something that many owners don’t seem to know about or feel awkward discussing. Dogs have two small glands on either side of their anus that produce a fluid that is used to mark territory. Dogs often express these when they poop. Some even will “shoot” this fluid when very stressed or scared. Sometimes, if they have soft poop all the time, these don’t get expressed and some dogs just seem to have more of a problem regardless. Many dogs have no issues with their anal glands, but when they start scooting their back ends across the floor, or excessively licking or chewing the area, it could be a sign that the glands are not working properly. Some groomers will express these, but they can also be taken to the vet. If the glands are unable to be expressed naturally, they can become infected, impacted, and just plain uncomfortable. It is not recommended for an owner to try and express these themselves, as it is possible to rupture them.

Dental Care

Another serious health problem that people face with their dogs, is too much tarter build up on the dog’s teeth. Some dogs refuse to have their teeth brushed, or it gets forgotten with our busy lives. Ideally, a dog would have their teeth brushed at least a couple of times a week. Some dogs that are allowed to chew bones can help keep that tarter from building up as much. Just be sure the bones are not splintering. Poultry and fish bones should never be given, as they splinter terribly and can cause injury to your dog. Large animal bones like beef, pork, and even deer bones or antlers are ideal.

You can use a small toothbrush or one made for dogs, and dog toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Some accept it readily and some will take some time to get used to it. After brushing, you can put a dental gel on your dog’s teeth to help keep them cleaner longer. There are also water additives that may work as a wash for the teeth. Along with these, dogs should ideally have a dental at the vet, once a year. Possibly less often if you keep up on their dental care. The vet will help you decide when one is needed and, during the dental, can look for any bad teeth or abscesses. I have a few recommendations on dental care products on my Dog Grooming Products post.

Feeding Your Dog

Most people don’t think much about what is in their dog’s food. They figure about anything should be fine. The truth is, many of the lower-end commercial dog foods, contain a lot of fillers like corn and by-products. These are the cheapest foods, but they can also mess with your dog’s digestive system, cause gas, cause your dog to need to eat more to get enough nutrition, and even contribute to your pet becoming overweight. They are also more likely to contain allergens that will bother your pet.

The best foods have whole meat as the main ingredient, no corn, no by-products, no BHA, BHT, or other unnatural preservatives (they will use mixed tocopherols which are from Vitamin E), and no dyes. Always double-check ingredients. Understand that even if the food is more expensive per pound, your dog likely will be eating less and be healthier. This means a longer life and fewer vet bills. If you could help your dog live longer and be healthier, wouldn’t you want to? I have a separate post, Choosing a Pet Food, giving more detailed information and some recommended brands. I also have recommendations on treats in my Dog Care Products post.

Preventative Health Care

Dogs should ideally have yearly checkups, be kept on flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives, and be kept updated on vaccinations. Your vet can guide you in what is best for your dog. Preventing fleas and ticks can prevent many illnesses and some parasites. Preventing heartworms can save your dog’s life. Heartworms have to be treated with poison that can even possibly kill your dog. If they are bad enough, heartworms may not be able to be treated and your dog will, sadly, need to be euthanized to avoid suffering a painful death. Yearly exams can catch health problems early. Staying up to date on shots can prevent many illnesses, some of which are also deadly to your dog. Do not take your dog’s health care lightly. You can even order your preventatives online from Chewy.com. They will confirm with your vet that the products are what your dog needs, so it’s super easy!

Most people also know that spaying and neutering their dogs is ideal to prevent some reproductive cancers, as well as pyometra in females. Pyometra is a terrible infection in the uterus and is fairly common. If a dog is not spayed when she has this condition, she WILL die. Spaying and neutering also prevent unplanned puppies. This is good because there is a massive overpopulation of dogs in the world. Sadly, many are euthanized every year because there aren’t enough homes for them. Fixing your dog also can help keep your dog from wanting to roam as much, or trying to find a mate, and will very likely prevent unwanted behaviors like marking and humping. Dogs have been known to tear through, dig under, and leap over fences to go after a female in heat. Needless to say, a female in heat can also create a mess and would not only have to wear diapers like these but be kept from any intact male dogs. Fixed dogs tend to be better behaved overall.

Exercising Your Dog

Some dog breeds can run for hours and not really tire out, while others are content laying around most of the day. What amount of exercise a dog will need, depends on the age and breed of the dog (or a mix of breeds). Even some dogs of the same breed may have different exercise requirements dependent on their individual personalities. The gentle giant breeds, tend to be more calm and happy with sitting on the couch, watching TV with you. Terriers, herding, and sporting breeds tend to be the most energetic.

Several breeds will find playing fetch or catch to be a decent substitute for long walks or runs, but be prepared to play for quite some time. You can also help them burn more energy by providing jumps and other agility equipment for them if they are a high-energy dog. Another thing to consider is the intelligence of some breeds. You will need to stimulate their brains by working on training and tricks. A combination of physical and mental exercise is ideal for most dogs, but especially herding and working breeds.

Research the breed (s) you are getting. If you are adopting a rescued/shelter dog, ask what their energy level is. If possible, get to know dogs of different breeds and the dog you will be getting so you know what to expect and can decide if they will fit into your home. You can check out my post Choosing a Breed of Dog to learn some specifics of different breeds.

Training Your Dog

Some dogs go through life without any training or very minimal training, but almost any dog can benefit from even learning simple commands. Obviously, all dogs should be housebroken or trained to use litter boxes or potty pads. Ideally, a dog would learn to only go outside, but in some cases that may not work for a specific home.

Dogs should have a basic set of rules in your household and be trained enough to not cause problems for you or any guests you may have over. Simple rules like not being allowed to beg for food, having to sit and take treats gently, not being allowed to jump on anyone, and having their own beds to rest in should you not want them on your lap. Sometimes a trainer may be needed to help you with certain behaviors or issues. It is much better to hire a trainer than to get so frustrated with your dog that you feel the need to re-home him. Training does require patience and time. I have some links for dog training that can be done from your home on my Dog Training for Pet Owners post. Or you can just pop over to the Dunbar Academy site that I linked on that post.

Conclusion

In conclusion, dogs do require a lot of care and sometimes can cost a lot for vet care. If you need to hire a trainer or do classes there can be a bit more. Just remember that you could have them for 15 to 20 years. They are a long-term commitment, but they are so worth the effort! Dogs are some of the most loyal pets, who give unconditional love for their whole lives. Having a healthy, happy, and well-trained companion for possibly up to two decades is a wonderful thing. If you need to know about products I recommend for your dog and I have used myself, I have a post called Dog Care Products. Don’t forget to scratch your dog behind the ears and give plenty of belly rubs. Who else in your life would do anything to get that?

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Choosing a Breed of Dog

Many people find dogs adorable, loving, fun, and sweet. Some daydream about playing fetch with Fido, staying in shape by running with Rufus, or lounging on the couch with Cooper. However, those same people may not actually realize how much work goes into owning a dog. Canine ownership is more than doing fun things and having a cute companion. Much of owning a dog is also about keeping them healthy, well-trained, and properly groomed. All dogs require brushing, occasional baths, nail trimming, and dental care in some form. Different breeds of dogs also have different exercise requirements. All things need to be considered when choosing a breed of dog to bring into your home.

One of the most important considerations in choosing a breed of dog is knowing what each breed type requires. Some may not know that all dogs fit into specific groups. These groups are the Terriers, Hounds, Working, Sporting, Non-sporting, Herding, and Toy groups. Consider the energy level of these breeds compared to your own, as well as how much training and grooming they need. Within these breed categories, you will find different sizes of dogs with different coat types. Are you willing to take your dog to the groomer every 6-8 weeks? Do you have the time and energy to run with your dog for hours, or will they be doing a job they were bred to do? Do you want a big couch potato? Can you train your dog, or are you willing to hire a trainer if you can’t? If you want a large dog, do you have the room or the income for their food? If you want a small dog, will it be handled by kids who may accidentally hurt it?

Terriers

Terriers were bred to hunt and kill pest animals and even do some guarding for owners. This created a dog with high energy, that can also be pretty feisty and strong-willed. They require an owner who can work with them to ensure they don’t become little terrors. If not trained and socialized early on, they can even become nippy and unwilling to deal with other people handling them (though that can happen with almost any breed). Terriers are smart and can easily get into trouble. They need a lot of exercise or you will find them starting destructive behaviors like digging and destroying things around the house.

Some smaller breeds that require regular grooming include the Schnauzer, Bedlington Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Wire-haired Fox Terrier, and West Highland Terrier, while some larger breeds would be the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, and Airedale. Some of these terriers should be hand stripped to maintain their coarse hair coat, but if the dog is not a show dog, it is up to the owner to decide. Hand-stripping done by a groomer can be expensive, but it should not be attempted by the owner without an experienced instructor. Some of these breeds do have a soft coat and the Bedlington even has a fluffy poodle-like coat. There are also some larger short-haired breeds like the Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier and smaller ones such as the Rat Terrier and Manchester Terrier. As you can see, this group of canines has quite a variety to offer if you have the type of home that works well for them.

Hounds

The vast majority of hounds were selectively bred to hunt, though their prey varies. These hunters go mainly for animals of the four-legged variety. There is quite a selection of sizes in this group. These breeds have the hunting instinct built in whether it’s to actually pursue the prey or just sniff it out for the hunter. Their training especially needs to include good recall, as their eyes and noses tend to only focus on their pursuit of prey. The majority of these breeds are very energetic, loyal, and loving.

Sight Hounds

You will find sight-hounds like the sleek Afghan Hounds, Borzoi, Greyhound, Saluki, and Pharaoh Hounds were bred to pursue smaller prey over long distances and use their eyes to keep sight of them. They are built to run, with their long legs and narrow heads for streamlined speed. You see some coat variety with these breeds, some require more grooming than others. The Afghan Hounds have flowing long hair while the Pharaoh Hounds are smooth coated.

Scent Hounds

Scent hounds like the Beagle, Plott Hound, Bloodhound, Foxhound, and Bassett Hound, feature what most people consider “typical” hound features like floppy ears, shorter legs, broad muzzles, and short somewhat coarser hair to protect from various brambles and other vegetation they may run through. These breeds you will find, as the saying goes, “shut their ears when their nose is to the ground” and may have trouble coming back when called until they have completed their job of finding the prey for the hunter.

A feature of this variety of hound is that they have a “baying” bark to alert a hunter that they picked up the scent or have found the prey. This should be kept in mind if you would like to own a hound, but live in an apartment, or with close neighbors. They get quite vocal when bored or excited, and will even try to escape fenced-in yards to track a scent they have caught. Some breeds like the Deerhound, Otterhound, Wolfhound, and Rhodesian Ridgeback were bred to take down or help hold off very specific prey. Most get their names from that prey, so because the Rhodesian Ridgeback can also be called the African Lion Dog, you know they are a brave canine. Of course, you may find that some dogs of any specific breed don’t fit with what is typical of the breed. Nowadays, fewer dogs are bred for these specific purposes.

Working

The working breed dogs in this group are large to extra large, as they are bred to assist people for a variety of purposes. Many of these breeds are highly intelligent and require ample training. These breeds have been used for guarding property and livestock, police work, pulling carts or sleds, and even rescuing people from drowning or avalanches. Most people consider several of the extra-large breeds in this group, gentle giants who are content to just spend time with their people.

You will find the Rottweiler, Giant and Standard Schnauzers, Saint Bernard, Siberian Husky, and Samoyed in this group. With a variety of coat types, you can certainly find one of these loving breeds that will fit in your home. Double-coated breeds like the Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, Leonberger, Husky, and Samoyed require a lot more grooming than the shorter-haired breeds like the Great Dane, Mastiff, Rottweiler, or Doberman Pinscher. Some of the largest breeds in this group tend to be more of the couch potato variety, but are some of the calmest, most mild-mannered dogs you will find. Unfortunately, the downside to their massive size is that they often have shorter life spans of only 9-10 years compared to the possible 15 or more years of breeds smaller than them.

Sporting

Sporting breeds are specifically bred for hunting purposes. The majority is for bird hunting. You will find a variety of retrievers, spaniels, setters, and pointers in this group. They are all fairly energetic breeds, though some may have a calmer demeanor. Some of the pointers in this group include the breed that is actually called the Pointer, German Wire-haired and Short-haired pointer, and Wire-haired Pointing Griffon. You can see these breeds tend to have short or wiry coats as they run through the brush in search of birds to point out. They tend to be very focused on the task at hand.

The Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and Spinoni Italiano were bred to retrieve the game that hunters have shot down. They often are good swimmers and tend to be a little more “happy-go-lucky” in personality. The English and American Cocker Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, and the English and Welsh Springer Spaniel, are obviously all spaniels, who either were bred to flush birds from hiding, or even flush out and retrieve downed birds. Setters are another variety that is meant to find game birds for a hunter. These may include the English, Gordon, Irish, and the Red and White setters.

Setters originally were meant to detect game birds and then “set” quietly waiting for the hunter. Some breeds like the Brittany, Vizsla, and Weimeriner are generally considered “all-purpose” breeds. The Lagotto Romagnolo may be one of the few breeds in this group that was not meant to help hunt animals, but they instead sniff out truffles. The breed is known for its keen sense of smell in detecting these “treasures”. Both setters and spaniels can have more of a flowing coat than some of the other breeds in this group (though most know that the Golden Retriever also has a beautiful flowing coat). However, the Lagotto Romagnolo has a curly coat very similar to the poodle. It is important to keep them fully brushed out to keep them happy and healthy.

Non-sporting

The majority of the non-sporting breeds most consider just pets rather than purchased or adopted for a specific job. Some may have once had jobs but either no longer are needed for that purpose or the “job” simply isn’t done anymore. Some were bred just to be companions. The Bulldog (mostly referred to as the English Bulldog) was created for bull-baiting, which is not done anymore. While they maintain some of their stubbornness, they often make great family dogs. A lot of the smaller bulldog breeds like the French bulldog and the Boston Terrier may have originated from fighting bulldog breeds, but now tend to have very sweet playful demeanors.

Two of the most distinguishable breeds in this category are the Chinese Shar-Pei, with its wrinkly skin and very broad muzzle, and the Dalmatian with its white coated spotted in black. Shar-Peis may have been used for a variety of purposes from helping farmers to dog fighting. Their coat texture is quite unique, having almost a prickly feel to it. Like any dog with wrinkles, it’s important to keep all facial wrinkles or deep body wrinkles clean so as to prevent any infections or irritations. Dalmatians used to be associated with being firefighters’ dogs, as well as trotting alongside horse-drawn coaches. The main purpose was to protect these horses when the horse-drawn coaches and fire engines were unattended. Of course, nowadays we have fire engines and dogs are not required so the Dalmatian fell into the non-sporting group.

Fluffier breeds in this group include the Chow Chow, the Bichon Frise, American Eskimo Dogs, Keeshond, and Coton de Tulear. The Poodle is also in this group, though the Standard size poodles (those over 15 inches) were actually used for retrieving downed ducks from the water, they are not any longer. The Poodle comes in three sizes, toy, miniature, and standard. The smaller size was bred for companionship and even to perform in circuses. Many of the “fancy” haircuts associated with the breed were done in order to protect the joints of the dog while they retrieved ducks from colder waters while cutting short the rest of the coat kept it out of the way. Many people also don’t realize this breed is German, they are not “French Poodles” though France has made them their national dog. It should be noted all the non-sporting breeds continue to be bred mainly for the purpose of companionship, at this point, so they tend to make great family dogs.

Herding

The Herding breeds are known for their intelligence, energy, and trainability. They were bred to herd and protect various livestock, such as sheep or cattle. Many of these breeds are often used in agility and dog sport competitions like flyball. They thrive on activity, instruction, and using their brains They can easily get destructive if bored or not exercised enough. They need proper socialization as they are protective of their family and can become very wary of strangers. Their coats can be short and coarse to resist the elements, thick to keep them warm, and even corded in a way to help them blend in with the sheep they protect. Herding breeds such as the Australian Cattle Dog (also called a red or blue Heeler), Beauceron, Berger Picard, and the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis have shorter coats. An interesting note about the Australian Cattle Dogs is that they actually had Dingoes bred into their bloodline to create the dog we know today.

The Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, German Shepherd Dog, and Collie are some of the most popular herding breeds. The Border Collie and Collie actually come in both the “rough” coat (fluffy) and smooth coat (short), the fluffier variety is just more commonly seen (Lassie was a Rough Collie). One notable breed in this group, the Puli, people often think looks like a mop when dreadlocks are grown. The cords are essentially controlled matting whose original purpose was to protect the dog from extreme winters while herding sheep. In the working group, a similar type of coat is kept on the Komondor to not only protect the dog from weather but from wolves and other predators that may attack the sheep. Komondors are also white, to blend in with the sheep. Pulik (plural for Puli) come in white, silver, and black. Either breed takes a lot of work to maintain the coat and those who keep them just as pets often keep their hair cut short for ease of control.

Toy

The Toy group includes the smallest breeds, such as the long and short-haired Chihuahua, Maltese, Japanese Chin, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, and Yorkshire Terrier. Other breeds include the Pug, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Pekingese, Silky Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier. You will see many of these breeds are some of the most common companion dogs these days, even if some may have actually had jobs in the breeds’ early years, such as killing mice and rats. Some were exclusively bred to be companions or “lap warmers”, even being used to warm up beds for their owners in the days before electricity and other forms of heating were in existence. One of the most unique of these breeds is the Chinese Crested. Most commonly known to have a hairless body, with tufts of hair on the lower legs/feet, tail, and head, they also come in a “powderpuff” variety that is fully covered in long flowing hair.

Many of these breeds are friendly if socialized early on, though they tend to act like a big dog in a little body. The unfortunate side to these breeds is that people tend to carry many of them around as “fashion accessories” or even just because they are so small, and this can make for a dog who is not comfortable in situations without their owner. They can become nippy towards strangers and not really know how to behave as regular dogs. The best bet is to give them plenty of time to play with other dogs and meet new people if you get one as a puppy. If you adopt an adult dog, work slowly on introducing other dogs and people to them so they can become accustomed to those interactions. Some of these breeds need to be groomed often, as they may have a double-coat or long flowing coat that continues to grow to the ground. Be sure you can afford to give these dogs proper grooming with a professional groomer.

Conclusion

Choosing a breed of dog is one of the most important steps when deciding to bring a dog into your home. If you make sure you can give the dog all its breed requires and take the very best care of your dog, you will have a long-time companion. The dogs who fit best in their families are those who were chosen with care, not just brought home because they were cute. Also, consider that individual dogs and mixes of different breeds may vary from what is expected. If you are looking for a canine companion, make sure you research the place you are getting them from. I wrote To Buy or Adopt A Dog, specifically to help you choose the best route.

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Choosing a Pet Food

There are many things you need to consider when you are deciding on what to feed your dog or cat. Choosing a pet food is not something that should be taken lightly. The majority of people will use a commercially made food, so that is what I will discuss in this article. Homemade foods can be great, but I am unable to recommend how to prepare that at this time, it would be best to talk with your vet about that.

Wet vs. Dry

There has always been a debate on wet food verse dry. Wet foods are generally easily accepted by pets due to their stronger smell. However, they can cause dental problems if the teeth are not taken care of by brushing or having things to chew on. There, generally, are more calories in wet foods, but fewer carbohydrates. There is more protein, fats, and moisture. Wet foods are often recommended for cats with weight issues since carbohydrates can contribute to that and the fact that many cats don’t drink very much water.

A cat that drinks a lot of water and is not overweight, would likely be better off with dry food to prevent dental problems. However, a cat that rarely drinks water and is not very active may be better off with wet food. A combination may even be ideal in cases such as a very thin dog, who needs all the protein, carbohydrates, fats, and nutrition both can offer. The choice will also depend on if you have an animal that will chew bones or allow brushing. A dry food may allow for fewer dentals needing to be done at the vet. Dry foods are also cheaper and easier to store in some sense, as well as can be left out if your pet free feeds. An open can of wet food must be refrigerated, however, an unopened can lasts even longer than dry kibble. The choice will fully depend on your pet’s individuality, and your vet may be able to help you decide which is best.

Ingredients

One of the most important considerations for your pet’s food is what the food is made from. For both cats and dogs, meat should be the main ingredient. It should ideally be a whole meat and not a meat by-product or meat and bone meal, which is questionable as to what kind of meat is included. Organ meats included in higher-end foods offer better nutrition for your pet. An ideal food should not contain corn or other fillers. However, other than meat and possibly some vegetables there will be grains, unless you specifically get a grain-free diet. Some dogs tend to develop grain allergies, so some people prefer to just start out with a grain-free diet. Some studies have shown heart problems when dogs are on grain-free diets, but there really isn’t enough information to say it’s for sure. Cats often will be completely fine without grains.

Some other things that should not be in your pet food are added colors and the preservatives BHA and BHT. Pets are no more likely to eat colored food than the typical brown kibble, and these dyes used can actually cause allergies and other issues. Foods should be preserved with a more natural preservative like mixed tocopherols derived from Vitamin E, as BHA and BHT have been known to cause health problems including cancer! Some would say they are safe, but since dogs and cats pretty well eat the exact same food every single day, I feel it is best to steer clear.

Your income

While not the best deciding factor, a person does have to consider their own income when choosing a dog or cat food. However, even if you don’t have a high income you still need to get the food best for your pet. Although some foods may be more expensive, most of the time they are better for your pet. If you can’t afford the very high end of pet food, at least consider something better than the grocery store brands. In the long run, better food will save you money in vet costs and amount fed. This will also help you decide on feeding wet or dry food since dry foods are much less expensive than canned food, especially for larger dogs.

Pet’s health

Some dogs or cats may require a special diet due to certain health problems. There are many diets that are tailored to overweight pets, urinary problems, hairball issues, joint health, etc. Choosing a pet food that will help manage a health problem is a very important consideration. Some brands even make diets for high-energy pets (like young working dogs) or for indoor cats, who may need different nutrition than outdoor cats. Your vet will be the best person to speak with about special needs for your pet.

Pet’s Age

Most brands of pet food offer a variety of different formulas that are made for a specific age group. There are diets for puppies or kittens, adult animals, and senior animals. These specific diets help make sure that what you are feeding your pet, is what they need. Puppy and kitten foods have higher amounts of protein and calcium for proper growth and are also best for pregnant and nursing animals. There are even foods for large-breed puppies, that encourage slower growth for reducing the chance of joint issues. Adult foods are maintenance foods for most adult animals to keep them healthy for the majority of their lives. Adult dog foods can even be split into foods for large or small dogs, once again keeping the joints healthy in large breeds. Senior foods are generally for animals 7 years old and older (depending on the breed) to provide nutrition to help them through the later years. Most of the time these senior foods contain glucosamine and chondroitin to stave off arthritis or help any arthritis that has started. Foods for elderly pets often are also tailored for heart health and weight management.

Recommended Brands

I have tried different dog foods for my dogs over the years, as well as some different cat foods for my cats. Throughout the years, I have done ample research and even taken pet nutrition classes and have found some pet food brands I can highly recommend. I also have considered affordability. At this time I recommend Diamond Naturals dog and cat food. I personally use Diamond Naturals Indoor dry cat food for our cats. I feed Diamond Naturals Large Breed adult food to our dogs, though they aren’t that large I like that it has glucosamine and chondroitin in it for joint health.

Another brand that is excellent is Taste of the Wild, both for dogs and cats. It is more expensive than the other brand I mentioned, but it is really high quality. For our cats, I did feel they have trouble with fish in their food and I couldn’t find one of the Taste of the Wild cat foods that didn’t contain fish. The Diamond Naturals indoor cat food doesn’t contain any fish at all. The most important things when choosing a pet food are the ingredients and what actually works for your pet.

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Dog Care Products

These products listed are ones I have used or at least know to be quality products. I’ll continue updating this list as needed. Please reach out with my Contact Me form if you need any recommendations. I only recommend products I trust. Some of these will be affiliate links I can receive a small commission from.

Behavior

Dog Training– First and foremost, all dogs need training, even if you do it yourself at home. The very basics of sit, lie down, come, and stay should be the basis of your training commands. I have a whole page about this so that is what I’ve linked here. Or you can go directly to Dunbar Academy, who I recommend for online dog training courses.

Collars

Martingale Collar– This type of collar is great for training because you can give and release pressure with the leash in a more gentle way than traditional chain training collars. In my opinion, and in many dog trainer’s opinions, it is the best type of collar for walking dogs as well. This specific one linked is the exact one that I have for my dog and it is sturdy, pretty, and works exactly as it should. I don’t leave this one on my dog all the time, only when I need to leash her.

Buckle Dog Collar– This is the usual type collar most people get for their dogs, I have this one as well. This one in particular can be embroidered with your phone number just in case your dog escapes the house or yard, or slips away from you. Of course you should always have tags on your dog as well, at least the rabies and license tags. This collar is sturdy and again, pretty, plus customizable.

Leashes

Rope Leash– I personally prefer these rounded rope leashes with padded handles for walking and training. You want to have a fairly short leash so there isn’t a lot of slack when you’re training, but enough that you can walk your dog without the leash pulling when you aren’t wanting it to. These leashes are sturdy and comfortable to use and while your dog is learning how to properly walk, you’ll really be thankful for the padded handle! Also they are just super easy to hold on to so your dog doesn’t slip away.

Long Line– So this type of leash is for training mainly, though if you take your dog places they can’t fully free roam but you want them to be able to run around, they can be handy too. You can teach your dog good recall by training with one of these. These aren’t for walking on sidewalks near the road or anything like that where your dog could get too far away and get hurt. You do need to learn how to teach a good recall before trying to use the long line. It’s, of course, safest in your own backyard or somewhere fenced, since you are still training your dog to come back when called.

Feeding

The links to these foods take you to the Chewy website where you can sign up for Autoship and save money plus have it shipped to you on a regular basis as often as you need. I use it for our pets and highly recommend it!

Diamond Naturals– This food is a quality food, that isn’t outrageously priced.I feed Diamond Naturals dog food and have been very happy with it. I have more detailed information in my article Choosing a Pet Food if you’d like to read more about that.

SmartBones– These are nice chew treats that are even healthy for dogs. My dog loves them and they contain some ingredients that can help calm your dog. They can get them fairly quickly, but it gives a moment of calm and makes them happy. Far safer than rawhides!

Training Treats– Blue Buffalo is a great brand and our dogs love these treats and they can be broken in even smaller bits if you are doing a lot of training. You always want to use very small treats for training because you’ll usually go through a lot and you don’t want to fill them up or give all their calories in a day from their treats. Of course, if they love their dry kibble, that is the most ideal “treat” to use during training.

Toys

Stuffable Dog Toy– This toy is really mainly for stuffing and helping to keep your dog calm, stimulating the brain, and making your dog work for her food. I have even put some peanut butter mixed with her dry food or added some wet food and then froze it for her. You can use anything dog safe like plain yogurt with blueberries or even buy cans of filling spray made by Kong who has their own brand of fillable toy. Kong brand just tends to be more expensive so I bought the “off brand” toy. You’ll see a product like this mentioned a lot in the dog training course I’ve recommended above.

Treat Ball– My dog also loves this. You can fill it with your dog’s food if they enjoy it, or with very small dry treats (dry so they don’t get stuck). It gives them mental stimulation and makes them work for their food. You can adjust the size of the hole in the divider piece depending on the size of treat you have. If it takes your dog too long to figure it out and they get frustrated, you can remove the divider so the treats fall right out. Once they get that, add the divider so it makes it more complicated.

Stuffed Lamb Toy– For whatever reason, I know so many dogs who love this Lambchop toy, Lambchop like the character, or as we like to call her, Lamby! My dog thankfully doesn’t rip stuffed toys up too much, but if yours does, be sure to monitor them when playing with it. Even my dog has ripped up a few. This toy does have a squeaker or two depending on the size of the toy (there’s a few sizes). This 10″ one that’s linked, my pup loves best. This is really the only stuffed toy she plays with.

Confinement

Playpen– Some dogs are better off having a playpen when you can’t watch them or need to leave for awhile. You can place a bed, a water bowl, and something to potty on in the playpen. Some dogs you may need to tie the gate if they can easily figure out gates. I actually used this when I had my dog grooming salon and have since used it for a puppy. This is for level ground like in a house, not to pen dogs up outside. You can actually add more panels or just put 4 together so it’s pretty flexible for different needs.

Kennel– Most dogs should start out in your home, staying in a kennel when you can’t watch them or need to leave. This is especially ideal for potty training puppies. For some dogs, a playpen is not an option either because they can jump out, knock it around, or find a way to escape. Kennel training is very important in case you ever need to kennel your dog for their safety, for emergency situations, or whatever other reason. With training, most dogs take to the kennel easily. The one linked is generally called a “pet taxi” because it’s more portable, being lightweight, and can easily be used in a car. Some dogs will need a metal crate however, if they chew or extremely strong.

Housebreaking

Dog Potty Pad– This is a pretty cool tool for housebreaking your dog/puppy. We used this for housebreaking a puppy so he had somewhere to go between potty breaks that we could give him outside. This has fake grass in a tray and they seem to pick up pretty quick on what to do with. Also a great alternative to disposable potty pads, you can wash this one (easiest in a tub with sprayer, or outside with a hose). If you live in an apartment or something like that, it would be great to avoid taking your dog down several floors to go outside or even for dogs who won’t go out in bad weather. They also have a spray you can use to get your dog initially started using it.

Disposable Pee Pads– Some people just want to be able to throw away the mess or maybe you want to cover a large area like the playpen floor, so here’s a link to those. If your dog chews up things like this, you may have to try a different type of pee pad like this fabric pee pad that can cover the floor and you can wash it!

Doggie Doorbell We just recently got our dogs a doggie doorbell since our newly adopted pup wasn’t indicating he needed to go outside. In just one day of training, the dogs figured it out and have been using it, just touching their nose on the touchpad and it chimes at the receivers we have near the rooms we sit in and they get to go outside! It has been an amazing product! You need to teach your dog the “touch” command and then it’s pretty easy to go from there. Have them touch the pad, then open the door while saying whatever word you use for going outside (ours is just “outside?”). Not all dogs will pick up on it super fast, but I feel most will.

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Dog Training for Pet Owners

Dog training is so important! The number one reason dogs are taken to shelters is because they are not trained properly. Not only can it make things easier at home, but when dogs go to public places, the vet, the groomer, the pet store, etc, a well-behaved dog can be a dream to spend time with. Being able to properly greet people and other dogs is hugely important for just about any situation.

The best way to teach a dog to behave around other dogs and people is to socialize from an early age. Of course, some of us adopt adult or older dogs, or even puppies older than the ideal age to begin socializing and the only way to get them better adjusted is to work on training. That could mean in home sessions with a trainer, a board and train program, taking your dog to a class, or even purchasing courses to do on your own time online. You want to be certain to purchase a program that will actually help you and is done by a professional trainer. One of my favorite professional trainers who is also a veterinarian and has decades of experience is Dr. Ian Dunbar.

Dr. Dunbar has created the Dunbar Academy which offers some free online dog training courses, but also has subscription or a la carte programs if you have a specific behavior you need to work on. These are so well detailed and he explains the reasoning behind why a dog should be trained a certain way and how they think. He has programs for pet owners and also people who work with dogs. I HIGHLY recommend visiting the Dunbar Academy site and at the very least going through some of the free information and programs he offers. You can do all of these in the comfort of your own home.

The free courses are available HERE.

If you do decide to sign up for the subscription they offer for only $20/month to access everything, click HERE to get your first month free.