Must-Have Book: ‘Insta Grammar Dogs’

As an Instagram aficionado — especially when it comes to accounts chronicling dogs and cats — I’m psyched to see a book that brings the medium into print. Insta Grammar Dogs from Lannoo Publishing (an imprint of ACC Publishing) features photos of adorable pups and inspirational quotes from the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Mark Twain, Barack Obama and Kevin O’Leary, among others.

What inspired author Irene Schampaert to bring the digital feed to a photo book? “I’ve been an Instagram fan for years, for various reasons,” she says. “It’s an excellent source of inspiration on different levels, it’s an efficient way to showcase your work and attract interested ones. And it’s nice to use it as some sort of diary. It seemed like a good idea to grab this nonstop stream of images and perpetuate it on paper. As a graphic designer, it felt like a challenge to make a strong selection and turn different images from different accounts into a whole.”

A photo from Insta Grammar dogs.

A photo from Insta Grammar dogs. Photography by @hellohoku.

The 115 photos range from funny — a city dog in an Uncle Sam getup staring at a hot dog — to artsy — a dog pondering a bright blue balloon animal dog against a contrastingly stark white backdrop.

It’s the perfect addition to the coffee table in any dog lover’s home. The book is available on Amazon or ACC Publishing.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

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How to Trim Dog Nails — Safely

I’ve done my share of dog nail trimming, so I realize that it makes many pet parents a little twitchy. Sure, the thought of inflicting possible pain tends to have that effect. But remember that successful trims really come down to a few basic guidelines involving 1) the comfort of the canine, and 2) the technique used by the trimmer (i.e., you). Nail trimming isn’t something we can ignore entirely because overly long nails can actually affect pup posture and joints. But if you’ve been on the fence about how to trim dog nails safely at home, let’s start with a quick anatomical overview.

First, let’s talk about the anatomy of dog nails

NailQuickIllustration

The quick, a pinkish-colored area near the nail base, is much easier to visualize on lighter-colored dogs with whitish nails. Photography by Marybeth Bittel.

The canine nail is kind of like a Klondike bar, meaning it’s composed of layers. The sturdy outer “shell” is the part we actually see. Inside this protective coating is a soft inner layer known as the quick. This layer — which contains blood vessels and nerves — begins at the base of the nail, and ends near the curve. Cutting the quick is a big “ouch” for your pup and often causes yelping/bleeding/general dismay. So it’s important that you can picture precisely where that inner layer is situated.

If you have a dog with light-colored nails, the quick is easy to see. It looks like a pinkish-colored segment near the nail base. Dark or black nails usually conceal this; so if necessary, borrow a white Poodle to get a feel for general positioning. Once you’ve located the quick, never trim closer than 2 to 3 millimeters away.

Dog nail trimming tools

Before talking about how to trim dog nails, let’s look into at-home trimming tools. Some people prefer clippers; others like grinders. Simply select the option that makes you and your pup feel most at ease.

I’ve noticed that grinders provide some added control and smoothness — a Dremel is one example — but certain dogs are spooked by the buzzing noise. Clippers are available in two varieties: scissor and guillotine. The first is self-explanatory, with Safari and Miller’s Forge representing two solid options. Guillotine clippers are designed with a hole that the dog’s nail pokes through. Squeeze the handle, and a blade snicks up to cut the nail. The easy-to-use Zen Clipper, which we reviewed recently on Dogster, falls into this category, too.

Preparing to trim your dog’s nails

A dog getting his nails trimmed.

Prepare appropriately before trimming your dog’s nails. Photography by Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock.

Initially, experiment a bit to decide which dog nail trimming tool you prefer. I like to do a few practice cuts on a toothpick or skinny chopstick. Then put aside that tool, and get your pooch accustomed to having his paws held. Some dogs, like our Maizy, abhor any type of foot contact and will yank their leg away. So simply hold each paw in your hand daily, touching the nails for a few seconds. The moment you release, reward with tons of praise and a tiny treat.

After doing this for several weeks, place your chosen trimming tool on the floor with a few tasty treats on top. Let your pooch sniff the tool and take the treats, while you praise enthusiastically. Using a grinder? Switch it on for a couple moments and give your dog a treat. Perform these exercises for a minimum of two to three weeks — or until your canine seems completely at ease.

Once you’re ready to try an actual trim, choose some favorite low-cal training treats to keep nearby. Also have a small jar of styptic powder and some cotton balls on hand. This is only a precaution because cutting the quick is unlikely if you’re careful. But know that patting styptic powder around the nail base stops any bleeding. Now go back and read those last couple sentences again. Okay? Deep breath — you got this!

Find a comfy spot with nice, bright lighting. Get your dog in a relaxed position — standing or reclining on the floor. For each individual nail:

How to trim dog nails: clipper method

  1. Hold the tool in your dominant hand.
  2. Hold your pup’s paw firmly in your other hand — thumb on the foot pad, fingers atop the foot, near the nail bed.
  3. Begin at the very tip — especially if your dog has dark nails.
  4. Only trim about 1 to 2 mm at a time, gradually moving toward the quick.
  5. Examine the cross-section of your dog’s nail each time you cut. When you start seeing a tan-colored oval, you’re nearing the quick … so stop cutting.
  6. Use a nail file to smooth rough edges.

How to trim dog nails: grinder method

  1. As with the clippers, hold the tool in your dominant hand; dog’s paw firmly in your other hand.
  2. Gently touch the grinder to the tip of your dog’s nail and silently count to two.
  3. Remove the grinder for a few seconds; praise your pup; repeat.
  4. Continue until you begin seeing that tan-colored oval … then stop.

Some final tips on how to trim dog nails

Be extremely patient, go slowly, and offer tons of praise and/or training treats. Never trim when you’re rushed. Likewise, if you start seeing canine stress signals like yawning, take a calming break. No rule says you need to do all four paws at once. So after you’ve rewarded your pup, reward yourself. Klondike bar, anyone?

Tell us: What are your tips for how to trim dog nails?

Thumbnail: Photography by Remains/Thinkstock.

April is Spring Cleaning month here at Dogster! Stay tuned for a few articles every week on all things spring cleaning and dog — whether that’s dog-safe ways to clean your home, spring-cleaning your dog’s grooming routine with advice on brushing and bathing — and much more.

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The Mission Behind Support Dogs, Inc.

At Dogster magazine, we love to shine the light on dog-centric organizations like Support Dogs, Inc. This national nonprofit headquartered in St. Louis provides assistance dogs to those with disabilities, courtroom facility dogs and specially trained therapy dogs that visit healthcare facilities and offer reading assistance to students.

Major milestones for Support Dogs, Inc.

Of course, they’ve been very busy. “We’ve been increasing the number of dogs that graduate from our specialized programs, which means we’re helping more people than ever before!” says Anne Klein, president and CEO. “Also, we’re sending our first dog overseas in early 2018. His job is to be there for crime victims, staying by their side, so they can feel calmed and supported as they proceed through the challenges of the legal process.”

What’s next for Support Dogs, Inc.

So what are the goals for the next few years? “We want to continue to grow the number of dogs who help people through each of our programs,” Anne tells us. “We have assistance dogs who help clients with physical challenges, dogs trained through our TOUCH therapy program who go into places like hospitals and senior living centers and give love, dogs who are specially trained to listen to children as they practice reading. We’re recognized for doing great work; our biggest goal is to do more of it.”

Of course, Support Dogs, Inc. needs help to keep on helping. “We invest over $27,000 per assistance dog we train and give them to people who need them for free,” Anne explains. “Being able to help more people means we need more volunteers and more donors. We need more people to cuddle puppies, more people to take them outside to play, more people who will take them into their home for a year as they grow. We’re a nonprofit, so we rely on donations to fund veterinary care, buy doggie chow, toys, beds, leashes. Anyone who’s had a dog knows how many things they need!” Want to know more? Follow them on Facebook at @SupportDogsInc or visit supportdogs.org.

Thumbnail: Support Dogs, Inc.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

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Why Does A Dog Start To Pee In Its Owner’s Bed?

Why Does A Dog Start To Pee In Its Owner’s Bed

If your housebroken pup suddenly starts to pee in your bed, you are sure to get very annoyed with it. But at the same time you’ll be dawned with a curiosity to finding out the reasons behind such behavior. You surely don’t want your canine to attach itself permanently to this irritating habit. No owner wants his/her deep sleep being interrupted by a soaked bed and sheet soiled by their pooch’s urine.

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The only route to cure is to understand the reasons behind this problem behaviour.

1) The dog wants to hide its scent: Young and old canines in the wild world seek protection from predators by hiding their scent. They opt to roll in decomposed bodies of dead animals and smelly stuff like poop. A domesticated pooch on the other hand may try to mask the scent of its urine by peeing in its owner’s bed. It is an attempt to hide the scent of its pee in its human’s/guardian’s scent. The bed smells of its human parent and a dog relieves itself there, to shield itself from any threat/foe.

2) Anxiety and Fear: If your dog is afraid of something he/she might want to run to your bed and lay there. In such a scenario the pooch looks at the bed as something that offers solace to it. Sometimes a very nervous dog might end up peeing in the bed. Fear could be a result of you scolding the pooch for some reason. The vulnerable fellow might head straight for your bed after being reprimanded. It is not trying to get back at you by peeing in your bed but only attempting to feel safe and comfortable. Some canines feel anxious when left alone at home. Instances where dogs were phobic about thunderstorms and peed on their owner’s bed on hearing the sound of loud thunder have also been reported.

3) Your dog could be a submissive eliminator: If your pet is the submissive type, it could randomly and unexpectedly pee on certain occasions simply to show respect/submissiveness. If something elicits excitement or fear in the furry chap, it might pee when confronted with such events. Submissive dogs may even pee when their owners enter the room.

4) Marking its territory: The pooch peed in your bed to mark it and thereby defend it from trespassers. An aggressive dog is often seen marking the boundary of the house it resides in. Dogs that aren’t that confident opt for their owner’s bed when it comes to marking their territory and defending loved ones. It may even mark your bedroom door in an attempt to protect you. The dog feels that the smell of its urine will scare away anyone who tries to intrude into its space. Such dogs don’t want to fight the encroacher but only hope their urine will scare the invader.

5) Medical conditions: A urinary tract infection, diabetes or a kidney disease could cause your canine companion to suddenly pee on your bed. If you own a senior dog then it could be suffering from incontinence making it difficult to hold its piss. It’s important to make an appointment with your pet’s vet to identify the health issue and follow a proper course of treatment.

What can an owner do to solve this issue?

A natural impulse would be to stop the pup from accessing your bed. You can keep your bedroom door shut at all times or use a baby gate to prevent the pet from entering your crib. Offer the canine with his/her own personal bed and place it in its favorite corner of the house.

Also make sure your furry baby is properly toilet trained. Sometimes it takes time for a dog to figure out as to where he’s supposed to go for relieving itself and which spots are off-limits.

If your dog is peeing out of anxiety issues, you must spend enough time with it. Follow a fixed schedule for feeding and exercising the pet. Make time to walk and play with it.

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In case your pet dog is marking its territory in a bid to offer you protection, don the role of the alpha in this pack. Let the dog know that you are in-charge of things around and capable to defend yourself.

Clean the soiled sheets with an enzyme based stain and odor remover. It’s important to clean the sheets in a way that the dog cannot smell its urine from earlier accidents. A dog is more likely to pee on the same spot if it is able to get a whiff of its urine smell.

[ Buy Stain Removing Products at Best Prices: Click Here ]

Your dog doesn’t need a scolding rather your support to come out of this behaviour. Focus on improving your relationship with your pet by observing it closely for things it likes or dislikes and events that frighten or comfort it. This will help you solve the problem at hand so that you and your beloved pooch can continue to share a wonderful bond and also the same bed!

5 Ways to Prepare For a Hike With Your Dog

I love hiking in the mountains with my dogs. We all know a tired dog is a happy dog, right? If you don’t regularly hike with your dog, though, here are a few things to do before heading outdoors, whether for a 30-minute walk or a multi-hour hike.

1. Build up endurance

A fluffy dog out for a walk. Photography by Eudyptula/Thinkstock.

Build up your dog’s endurance before taking her on a hike. Photography by Eudyptula/Thinkstock.

Dogs (or humans) who have been lounging around on the couch will need to build endurance for those longer adventures. If your walks are typically short, start working up to longer walks or jogs, depending on your endurance goals. On warm days, try to walk in the morning or later in the evening when the air and the pavement has cooled.

2. Get gear for your dog

If you have a bigger dog, consider getting her a doggie backpack to help lighten your collective load. Make sure that the loaded backpack isn’t heavier than 15 to 20 percent of your dog’s body weight and adjust the pack so it is up near your dog’s shoulders, not down on the hips. Also, have your dog wear the backpack during regular walks first before heading out on the trails.

My dog’s backpack carries a first aid kit, dog waste bags, water, water bowl, food and food bowl. Sometimes the water is too heavy, so I end up carrying that, but my dog carries the rest of her stuff.

3. Practice good manners and consistent recall

Quite often, hiking means your dog gets to run free and off-leash, but with that reward comes responsibility for both the pet parent and the dog! Even if your dog is staying on leash, good manners are still very important so that everyone (including you!) can enjoy the trail.

For those off-leash dogs, consistent recall is one of the most important behaviors you can teach your dog. This is great if there is another person or another animal around, or just to keep your dog within eyesight. It might take a while, and you should gradually build up to more distracting environments, so start practicing now! And remember to always keep training positive and fun for your dog.

You also have to consider that while your dog might be friendly, other dogs (and people) may not be as friendly, so it is good trail etiquette to have control of your dog and have him sitting or walking next to you when other hikers walk by. If your dog is interested in saying hi, ask the other person if it is okay for your dog to approach. Wendy Newell’s Dogster article “6 Tips for Sharing a Trail with Hikers and Their Dogs” has some additional suggestions as well.

4. Protect against critters and other dangers

Many of the points already mentioned will help keep you and your dog safe, but it is also important to make sure that your dog is up to date on vaccinations as well as heartwormflea and tick prevention. You may want to carry a copy of your dog’s vaccination record if there isn’t a rabies tag on his collar.

If your dog has very light skin or thin fur, you also may want to consider sunscreen made just for dogs.

And keep your dogs’ nails trimmed. If her nails are too long, it can cause foot problems or blisters on those longer hikes. If your dog hates having her nails trimmed, gradually get her used to it.

Finally, keep an eye on your dog for heatstroke. Many dogs will just keep going until they drop, so it’s important to know what to look for and what to do if your dog gets overheated. To prevent heatstroke, make sure your dog has plenty of water, take breaks if she needs to, and try to find shade along the trail.

5. Where to go?

Now that you are prepared, where can you take your dog? National parks have very strict rules and many either do not allow dogs or the dogs are not allowed on the trails, so those are generally not a good option. Many state parks allow dogs, as long as they stay on a six-foot leash, which is nice for those who don’t have the friendliest pups or those who are still in training.

Most areas have the information posted or available online, so just make sure you check out leash laws and dog policies before you head out so that you aren’t disappointed.

DogFriendly.comBringFido.com and Nature Dogs are great resources to find places you can take your dog on a hike. Best Hikes with Dogs is an excellent series of books that covers hiking all over the United States. Each book has information about difficulty, distance, leash laws and the popularity of the trails.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Raquel Pedrosa Perez | Thinkstock.

Tell us: Do you hike with your dog? What are your tips and tricks? Where do you hike with your dog?

About the author: Abbie Mood lives in Colorado with her dogs Daisy, Sadie, and Buster, and can usually be found outside with one of them. She is a freelance writer who loves to explore environmental and animal rights issues, food culture, and the human experience through her writing. You can find out more about her at abbiemood.com or her blog, lifediscoveryproject.com. Follow Abbie on Twitter @abbiemood or Instagram @abbiemood.

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How to Prevent Dog Bites

In my new book about helping troubled dogs, The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with a Reactive or Aggressive Dog, I devote an entire chapter to the “scope of the problem” facing dog owners today. I could have, however, written a very large book just on the subject of why some dogs are willing to use their teeth to communicate. Dog bites are a serious problem. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 4.5 million people bitten by dogs every year in this country.

Who gets bitten by dogs?

A dog growling and looking angry.

Children are bitten by dogs most often. Photography ©Volodymyr_Plysiuk | Thinkstock.

Who is bitten most often? Children — usually young boys. One study showed that an adult was not present in the dog bite incident 69 percent of the time. Even when an adult stands inches away from a child and a dog, that’s no guarantee that a bite won’t occur.

It is vitally important that parents and all dog owners understand what they can do to prevent such a tragedy. When a dog bites — even if harassed by a child — there is a substantial chance that the bite leads to a swift death by euthanasia. It also can create lifelong fear and anxiety of dogs in children who suffer a bite. And let’s not forget the potentially large financial consequences should your dog bite someone.

How can you prevent dog bites?

A national study of 256 fatal dog bites that occurred between 2000 and 2009 noted these facts:

  1. no able-bodied person was present to intervene
  2. the victim had no familiar relationship with the dog
  3. the dog was not spayed or neutered
  4. the victim’s ability to manage interactions with the dog was compromised due to age or physical condition
  5. the dog had previously been mismanaged
  6. the dog had been abused or neglected

Based on that information, my knowledge of other studies, and as a professional dog trainer, here are eight things dog owners can do to reduce the risk of a dog bite:

  1. Never leave a dog unattended with a child or anyone who is not capable of intervening in the event it is necessary to do so. Never? Really? Yes, really. Any dog with teeth can bite, even your super sweet fluff ball at your feet. Forced into just the right situation where a dog feels he needs to defend himself, he has those teeth there to do the job.
  2. Respect dogs you don’t know, and do not approach them. Simply don’t do it.
  3. Spay or neuter your dog at an appropriate age.
  4. Use positive reinforcement training. Never use pain, force, or fear to train a dog. Using these outdated methods is counterproductive, harmful, and unnecessary.
  5. Proper and positive early socialization before the dog hits 16 weeks of age lays the foundation for the dog for the rest of his life. Get busy introducing the world to your young dog in a way that builds his confidence and resilience, and you will enjoy a lifetime with a well-rounded dog (assuming there are no genetic or medical reasons causing undesired behavior issues).
  6. Teach young children positive methods of interacting with dogs. No child should be allowed to sit on a dog, pull a dog’s body parts, or in any way corner or harass a dog. Teach children to respect the dog’s right to walk away from a situation that makes him uncomfortable.
  7. We have bred dogs to be our companions. Dogs left alone outside in the backyard or on a chain are unhappy, lonely dogs. They grow frustrated, which can lead to aggression, just as it does in humans. Dogs need to be “residents” of the household and not left alone.
  8. Learn canine communication. Dogs have their own species-specific language. They warn us when they feel uncomfortable. Take the time to learn from a professional in the dog industry just what fear, anxiety or frustration look like from a dog’s point of view.

If a bite does occur, after medical needs are met, step back and reassess your management and training plans. Reassess why and how the bite occurred:

  1. What was happening in the dog’s environment just prior to the bite?
  2. What warning signals did the dog give that the humans didn’t understand or ignored?

Dogs don’t bite “all of a sudden.” They warn using their canine communication language. Warning signs include trying to escape or avoid the situation, lip licking, tail tucked, sudden sniffing or scratching out of context, whites showing in the eyes, shaking, barking, growling, lunging, body stiffness, giving a hard stare, etc.

Call in a true canine behavior expert for help. Do it sooner rather than later, as the dog’s life may depend on quality help. Dogs are masters of understanding us. Let’s return the favor, and spend more time and energy understanding their point of view and how they communicate.

Doing so can literally save a life, and that life may be that of your own dog — or your own child.

Editor’s note: Have you seen the Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

Thumbnail: Photography ©TongRo Images Inc | Thinkstock. 

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Sizing Up 5 Medium-Sized Dog Breeds

The canine species is remarkably diverse in both appearance and size. At the high end, we have a 140-pound Newfoundland. At the small end, there’s the 6-pound Biewer Terrier. But today we’re turning to the middle and focusing on five medium-sized dog breeds. Let’s classify medium-sized dog breeds as between 25 and 60 pounds.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis make our list of medium-sized dog breeds. Photography courtesy Brandon Pfeffer.

We’re a short-legged herding breed weighing about 25 to 30 pounds. We’re sturdy and conscientious workers, bred in Wales to take charge of a farmyard. We worked as heelers and drovers of livestock, eradicated rat and mice populations in barns, led fowl to market and guarded property. Our short legs served an actual purpose, helping us avoid the kicks of small Welsh cattle. Today, although I’m not as large as most guard dogs, my situational awareness makes me a celebrated home guardian. I’m also highly intelligent and (perhaps even more importantly by your measure) highly trainable. I can excel in many dog sports, including tracking, herding and obedience. We’re speedier than you might think, and we can ace an agility course, too. Maneuvering around weave poles is easy compared to avoiding cattle kicks!

Bulldog

Bulldog

Bulldogs are a mid-sized dog breed that weigh in at about 40 to 50 pounds. Photography courtesy Judy Claytor, Cymri Bulldogs.

Weighing about 40 to 50 pounds, we were developed first in England to work on farms and drive cattle. In time, some of my unlucky ancestors were chosen for bull baiting. After bull baiting was banned, we were mainly bred for our good-natured companionship. Today, we’re eager for time with our families, but often less keen on obedience classes. How about we stop and smell the roses instead? Although we look tough, we’re more friendly than ferocious. While we’re not exactly sprinters, we’re definitely strong and stubborn. So, we love being the mascot of many sporting teams.

Beagle

Beagle.

Beagles are a popular medium-sized dog breed. Photography courtesy Cassie Miller.

I’m a scent hound weighing in at about 25 pounds. I was developed in Britain from various hounds to hunt prey such as rabbits. Today, we still love to catch a scent; you’ll see us using our incredible noses to discover illegal drugs in airports. A legendarily companion, we also wrap our hearts around family time. You can train me for sure, as long as you find a way to navigate around my independent thinking. Let’s give a shout out to Snoopy, the Beagle who starred in Charles M. Schulz’ cartoon strip, Peanuts. Was there ever a more charming mid-size companion?

Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz.

Finnish Spitzes are a rarer medium-sized dog breed. Photography courtesy Michelle Badger, Badger Den Finnish Spitz.

You’ve haven’t heard of me? I’m the National Dog of Finland, a.k.a. the barking bird dog. We weigh about 26 to 30 pounds, with our females slightly smaller. Fox-like, spry and enthusiastic, we’re an old breed developed to hunt bird and small game. When we found our quarry, we were taught not only to point, but to vocalize our find. Today, my cousins still hunt in Norway, but here we’re chiefly devoted companions and efficient watch dogs. Even outside of Finland, we remain true to our barking bird dog nickname. Sometimes we bark, but you’ll also hear me sing or yodel.

Schapendoes

Schapendoes.

Schapendoes are Dutch Sheepdogs and are among medium-sized dog breeds. Photography courtesy Colette Peiffer, schapendoesdubouleaublanc.com.

A Dutch Sheepdog, we weigh about 30 to 40 pounds. My forefathers were developed in the Netherlands for sheep work. Our herding style involves barking, movement and body contact. Since my homelands had few sheep predators, we were developed smaller than many other sheepdogs. I’m celebrated for my work ethic, ability to jump and pride in my accomplishments. We’re also loyal and loving companions, with top-notch social skills. My jumping talents and spryness help me excel in sports such as agility, fly ball and rally.

Tell us: What are your favorite medium-sized dog breeds or mixes? What medium-sized dog breeds should we add to this list?

Thumbnail: Photography ©srugina | Thinkstock. 

Why read breed profiles?

Dog breed profiles help everyone, whether you have a mixed breed or purebred dog, to better understand and improve the quality of your dog’s life. If you have a mixed breed dog, read up on all of the breed profiles that make up your dog. Not sure what breed your dog is? There are a number of easy DNA tests out there to help your find out.

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