Posts Tagged ‘guard dogs’

Dalmatian

Now, here’s a breed that needs no introduction! As everyone knows, the Dalmatian was popularised in the 1955 animated Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp, and will forever be associated with the actress Glenn Close after she played the wicked Cruella de Vil in the remake. Do you remember her coat? Yes, it was covered in black spots and made from the skins of poor little Dalmatian puppies! She was such an evil character – probably the most evil character in the history of the cinema. Fortunately, in real life, the Dalmation is a much-loved breed that has been around for a lot longer than fifty years or so: indeed, it is one of the oldest breeds of dog on Earth.

Like Marco Polo and Goran Ivanišević, the Dalmatian is said to have originally hailed from Croatia. Although the breed is usually characterised by its heavily-spotted black and white coat, a special (and less common) liver-coloured version is also available. Pups are born in litters of six to eight, but without markings (these are added later). Whilst the breed generally enjoys very good health, a genetic predisposition to deafness has been identified. This is actually a good thing, as in the past many Dalmatians were drowned or discarded for being stupid or refusing to follow commands when in fact they simply couldn’t hear anything! (This is a bit like some teenagers, today, when they wear their headphones all day).

The Dalmatian is very good at sports such as hunting and running and is, on the whole, a kind dog. Dalmatians excel at catching vermin and helping firemen (so much so that the dog is now the official mascot of the American National Fire Protection Association). They are also associated with Budweiser, though they do not drink it themselves as they prefer Ožujsko, a native beverage. Dalmatians can live for as long as eighteen years, which is like a human being living to 216 years old! For this reason, they are not recommended for elderly owners. Like the Great Dane, they are also not suitable for people who live in small apartments.

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Dachshund

dachshund‘Dachshund’ is German for ‘Badger Dog’ but in English the breed is commonly known as the ‘Sausage Dog’ (or ‘Wiener Dog’ in America). There are three varieties in varying shades of brown and black: the smooth-haired, the long-haired and the wire-haired. A stretch version is also available for weddings and other special occasions.

The temperament is plucky and individual, and with its loud bark and exceptional hearing the Dachshund makes a surprisingly effective guard dog. Like many other small breeds, these little fellows do not take kindly to strangers or children, though these can be tolerated in small doses, more so if the dog is regularly familiarized with outsiders from an early age.

Bred in the UK for their sweet, pork-flavoured flesh until the practice was outlawed in 1827 with the passing of the Consumption of Dogs Act, the Dachshund’s unique and distinctive shape was developed through centuries of selective breeding. The legs tended to be somewhat neglected as there was not much meat there to be had, whilst longer-bodied examples were highly prized for the size of the ‘sausage’: the long fillet produced when the animal is slaughtered and boned. Though the Dachshund is no longer customarily eaten in the UK and is now a familiar household pet these breeding preferences have been maintained for showing purposes and so it remains the case that, generally speaking, the longer the dog’s body and the shorter its legs the better. In the early 1980s, Herr Flasche (Mr. Bottle), a Dachshund with one inch legs and a body nearly three feet in length dominated at Crufts, winning Best of Breed in 1981, Best in Group in 1982 and Best in Show in 1983.

Interestingly, the Dachshund is one of only two breeds of dog in the world that is not a mammal (the other is the Shar Pei). Females lay clutches of six or so eggs at a time in a nest made from straw and other material. Unfortunately, a high level of infant mortality is normal for this breed, and usually only one or two of the hatchlings will survive.

The dog has long been associated with Germany and in 1972 a multi-coloured example named Waldi was chosen as the official mascot of the Munich Summer Olympics. Much favoured by artistic types, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and David Hockney were all proud owners. Radclyffe Hall, one of Britain’s finest lesbian writers, successfully bred Dachshunds for many years with her lover, Lady Trowbridge. The resulting hybrid progeny were, of course, eventually destroyed.

German Shepherd

german shepherdThe German Shepherd possesses a fine lineage: every example can be traced back to a single dog, Horand von Grafrath (formerly Hektor Linksrhein). As the ‘shepherd’ part of the name indicates, these dogs were originally used for herding livestock. These days, however, most decide at an early age to abandon the profession in order to pursue careers with the police or the military. Accomplished at soccer when young, with a particular aptitude for penalty taking, the breed has an unfortunate susceptibility to Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM), a progressive disease of the spinal cord which affects the hind legs, meaning they are often forced to retire from the game early.

German Shepherds are always born between December 23rd and January 18th, meaning they are Capricorns. As such they are very ambitious yet also family-oriented and therefore good with children. Fearsomely loyal, German Shepherds are highly territorial and make very efficient guard dogs, often killing intruders on sight and, if necessary, sacrificing their lives to protect their owners. They have excellent organizational abilities and a proven track record in the field of personal security. The breed’s somewhat cold, aloof personality can be deceptive, however: at heart, these dogs are ‘big softies’ who, in the evenings, like nothing more than to curl up in front of the fire with a good book! They have a refined taste in music, responding most favourably to Wagner’s Ring Cycle and the symphonies of Richard Strauss, and also enjoy ballet and contemporary dance.