Just like humans, dogs have their own set of stereotypes. Since they can’t defend themselves against these common breed myths, our friend Dr. Patrick Mahaney is here to clear the air on their behalf and tell you whether or not these beliefs are fact or fiction. See what he had to say about some of the most commonly believed dog breed traits.
The Golden Retriever is certainly one of many dog breeds that seem to seamlessly incorporate into the family fold. It’s an iconic pooch that can easily be imagined romping around behind a picket fence in American nuclear family households (hypothetically, those containing a father, mother and 2.2 children).
The Golden Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1927 and is one of most popular dog breeds in the United States. It is often featured in television and movies as a hero capable of seeing family members through challenging times.
They are gentle natured, eager to please, highly intelligent and readily trained (provided the appropriate authority and consistency in discipline are employed by a responsible person). The breed’s congenial disposition also makes for excellent workers, as they are commonly used as assistance (guide, therapy, etc.) dogs for physically impaired individuals.
Yet, before a family pursues a Golden Retriever as a canine companion, its important to be aware of some of the breed-specific illnesses to which the dog may prone, including (cue the “Debbie Downer” music):
— Metabolic Disease - Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s or Addison’s Disease, etc.
— Cancer - Lymphoma, Hemangiosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Mast Cell Tumor, etc.
— Neurologic Disease - Seizure activity
— Musculoskeletal Disorders - Hip Dysplasia, Arthritis, Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD, the progression of arthritis)
— Gastrointestinal Ailments - Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV, or “bloat”), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), etc.
Additionally, the Golden Retriever is a shedding breed and may contribute to allergies of a child or adult with sensitivities to dander (skin cells) and hair, which seem to be incessantly shed. As a result, more frequent grooming (bathing, brushing, etc.) may be needed to remove dander, hair and environmental allergens.
The Chihuahua is a breed that is small in size but often has a big personality, lending to their reputation for ornery or even fractious (ill-tempered) behavior.
For the most part, the Chihuahua is hearty and even athletic breed capable of handling physical altercations with other dogs, walks around the neighborhood or even moderately paced hikes.
One reason that the Chihuahua may have a tendency for less than cooperative behavior stems from dog owners who are afraid or unable to provide appropriate training and discipline. As the breed typically weighs between two and six pounds, it can exude a fragile appearance that some owners perceive makes them suspect to injury or inability to function like a normal dog (and therefore perpetually carried around and overly “babied,” like Paris Hilton’s infamous Tinkerbell).
When a Chihuahua owner continually and excessively dotes over a pampered pooch and does not provide leadership, the line between being a subservient canine companion and ruler of the roost is readily crossed.
Additionally, Chihuahuas are prone to health conditions that cause discomfort-related behavior changes, potentially manifesting as aggression. These conditions include:
Luxating Patella (“sliding kneecap”) - When the kneecap slides out of place, typically to the inside of the knee (medially), the knee joint becomes unstable and pain-inducing arthritis or traumatic injuries (cranial cruciate ligament rupture) can ensue.
Periodontal Disease - Like other small dogs, the Chihuahua is well known to have disease of the teeth and their associated structures (periodontal ligament, gums, etc.). Pain from loose teeth or gingivitis (gum inflammation) can affect a Chihuahua’s ability to chew and lead to behavior changes.
Yes, the Poodle is a breed that can be considered hypoallergenic. Although, when you consider the actual definition of the term hypoallergenic, it means "less" (hypo-) likely to cause allergies, and not "100-percent allergen-free."
Poodles are non-shedding dogs, but they still slough off some dander (skin cells) and hair. Yet, as a result of not losing their hair, the coat of non-shedding dogs is more prone to retaining environmental allergens. As result, the Poodle must be bathed on a more frequent basis, depending on how quickly their coat becomes dirty or their owner’s preference. If an owner is prone to seasonal or non-seasonal allergies, then bathing every seven days (or even more often) may be needed to reduce the runny nose and itchy eyes of an allergy-prone child or adult.
There are three size variations to the Poodle; the Toy (smallest), Miniature (middle), and Standard (largest). Interestingly, in dog shows like the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) All Breed Dog Show, the Toy is judged with other breeds in the Toy Group, while the Miniature and Standard are part of the Non-Sporting Group. All Poodle varieties are highly intelligent, responsive to training and make great companions for single people or families.
In general, mutts are healthier than purebred dogs. Unfortunately, any dog, regardless of pure or mixed breed, can be less than ideally healthy as a result of genetics or environmental influences (nutrition, stress, infectious organisms, etc.).
With pure-breed dogs, owners have the benefit in being aware of specific health conditions that are known to occur from the observations of many years of breed-specific mating. Mixed breed dogs are really a “grab bag” of two or more pure or mixed breeds contributing to a unique genetic concoction.
Knowing or strongly suspecting what mix of breeds have been assembled in creating your mongrel can provide greater awareness of potential health problems so that preventative measures can be taken. With mixed-breed dogs, the exact genetic makeup can’t be determined without laboratory testing. Herding breeds like the Australian Shepherd, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and their mixes may have a defect in the multi-drug resistance gene (MDR1) which causes an increased likelihood for adverse reactions to certain medications, including:
— Antiparasitics - ivermectin, milbemycin, etc.
— Antidiarrheals - loperamide (Immodium), etc.
— Anticancer agents - doxorubicin, vinctristine, etc.
Fortunately for the dogs that could be negatively impacted by administration of these drugs, the Veterinary Clinical Pathology Lab at Washington State University offers a blood or cheek swab test to determine if a defect in the MDR1 gene exists.
Next: Dog Breeds That Attract Men & Women
Determining a dog’s "true age" by multiplying the number of years lived by seven is a common practice that may work for some dogs and not for others. More important than dwelling on a dog’s exact age is the practice of considering the tendencies for dogs of a known or suspect number of months or years to exhibit age-related health conditions.
Most adult to geriatric dogs develop a variety of age-related conditions, including periodontal disease (disease of the teeth and their associated structures). Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) estimates that “more than 80 percent of pets in the U.S. experience gum disease by age 3”, which makes periodontal disease one of the most common and preventable conditions diagnosed by veterinarians.
Additionally, obesity is more commonly seen in dogs have a few years under their proverbial (and seemingly ever-expanding) belts. Months to years of a general tendency for owners to feed their dogs excessive amounts of processed dog foods (yes, kibble is the main culprit here) and provide insufficient exercise causes most pooches to pack on the pounds. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) estimates that approximately 54 percent of pets in the United States are overweight or obese (nearly 89 million cats and dogs). Obesity is associated with numerous health problems, including arthritis, glandular imbalances, cardiovascular disease, poor skin health and cancer.
Arthritis (painful joint inflammation) and its inevitable progression to irreversible degenerative joint disease (DJD) also affects nearly all older dogs. Yet, large and giant breed dogs are more prone to these conditions earlier in life than their smaller counterparts. Overweight and obese dogs are also more likely to develop arthritis and DJD than slimmer pooches.
Pet owners should take proactive steps to reduce the occurrence of preventable and potentially irreversible conditions during the juvenile, adult and geriatric life stages.