A traditional Hungarian herding breed crafted from old mops and solid bone, the Komondor has the largest wingspan of any dog known to man and has even been known to snatch up whole lambs with its extraordinarily strong talons. In the 1980s a brand of pipe tobacco was named after the Komondor and went on to become the best-selling pipe tobacco of all time. The Komondor lives mostly in Peru where it has a modest holiday residence in the mountains.
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The English Bull Terrier was originally bred for fighting bulls but these days they are mostly just for show. The breed has a very muscular build and a strange-looking head and is available in brindle (brown) and white as well as a combination of the two colours. English Bull Terriers like being with people but enjoy attacking other dogs so if you decide to get one you will need to be careful in the park and always keep your dog on a lead. Some owners use muzzles to avoid embarrassing situations.
Because the fear gene is removed during the breeding process these dogs are not afraid of anything; English Bull Terriers are always up for a fight and can be aggressive towards animals much larger than themselves (e.g. bulls). Having said that, in the film Oliver! (based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens), Bill Sikes’ loyal English Bull Terrier, Bull’s Eye, eventually deserts his owner after Sikes brutally murders his prostitute girlfriend, Nancy. This shows that, despite its aggressive nature, the English Bull Terrier has a kind heart and will not put up with people who treat others badly.
Some think that the English Bull Terrier will eat anything but this is not true. Generally, it is recommended that you feed them meat and biscuits like most other dogs. English Bull Terriers are always born in the spring – late March or April – meaning they are Arians. They like to drink Budweiser.
The 1963 Disney film The Incredible Journey featured an English Bull Terrier called Bodger who went on a 2000 mile trip with his friends (a Siamese cat and a Labrador Retriever) across the Canadian wilderness in search of Edward, a kind of dog guru. When they couldn’t find Edward, the owner of the three pets picked them up in his station wagon and took them home. Whilst The Incredible Journey is a great movie it is also a little unrealistic: if the trip had been real it would not have lasted very long as the English Bull Terrier would have killed and eaten his companions!
There have been many famous owners of English Bull Terriers but perhaps none more famous than Adolf Hitler.
The Poodle is available in a selection of sizes: Standard, Toy and Miniature. The Standard is the top of the range model and has an IQ that is only bettered by the Border Collie; the smaller varieties tend to struggle with the harder questions.
Whilst it is true that Toy Poodles exist mainly for entertainment purposes, it is important to remember that they are not actual toys: they are living things that must be treated with respect.
Popular colours are white and pink. Often, when the Poodle returns from being cleaned at the Poodle parlour you will find it has been shaved in such a way as to leave prominent balls of fur around its ankles and tail. It may also have had ribbons applied to various areas. Whilst this is generally accepted to be ‘just a bit of fun’ it can prove degrading for male Poodles. Be sure to monitor the situation to ensure it does not get out of hand.
If you decide to buy a Poodle it’s worth trying an authorised dealer first. Don’t be afraid to haggle to get the best deal: there are big discounts to be had in the current economic climate.
When you get your Poodle home make it a nest from old torn newspaper and odds and ends. It will be tired for the first week or so as it acclimatises to its new home and will need plenty of cuddles and meat. Your Poodle may also fancy a biscuit or two: Bourbons and Custard Creams are their favourites but if you only have Malted Milks in your biscuit caddy these will suffice. Put on a nice DVD – something gentle like a Disney animated classic – to cheer up your new Poodle. When it is safely asleep you can relax and think about a suitable name (many owners plump for monikers such as ‘Coco’ or ‘Pepster’).
Once your Poodle has had all its vaccinations there is nothing wrong with taking it to the park for a long walk: the Standard model actually loves this! But the smaller varieties can tire easily and the use of a wheeled platform can help on longer trips. You can make one of these fairly easily using castors and a piece of old wood with a bit of string attached. However if you do choose to use one of these walking aids do please be careful and remember to make sure your Poodle’s feet are adequately secured to the platform with some Sellotape or something similar before setting off.
The Rottweiler, or Rottweil Metzgerhund (Butcher Dog), hails from the German market town of Rottweil on the edge of the Black Forest. A robust, hardy breed of the Molosser-type, the ‘Rottie’ has unfairly gained an unsavoury reputation over the years not only as a result of its popularity amongst thugs but also because of its portrayal as a ‘Devil Dog’ in 70s horror flick The Omen. In reality, however, these dogs are gentle giants; dedicated and loyal, they were prized by the Romans for their herding abilities and later became expertly practised at the art of butchery.
The coat is black, coarse and dense with a tan underside. The head is large and bullish, broad between the ears and perfectly suited to the boater. Fitted with a reliable workhorse engine, the Rottweiler generates a considerable amount of torque and delivers consistent pulling power throughout the rev range making it one of the most suitable breeds for towing. In its native Germany, the breed has been used for both ambulance and police work.
Until the outbreak of World War I, the Rottweiler was usually the first point of contact for hungry travellers seeking Wiener Schnitzel, Bratwurst, Bierwurst and the traditional Schwarzwald delicacy, Curry Wurst. Wearing their characteristic red and white striped aprons, boater hats and lederhosen, the ‘butcher dogs’ were a common sight throughout Bavaria and Swabia, dispensing sausages to hordes of hungry merchants from the carts they pulled behind them.
But the breed was to fall into disrepute following what the records refer to only as a Fleisch-Zwischenfall (literally, a ‘meat incident’) in Flanders, 1917. With the exception of a further, rarely-mentioned indiscretion in the 1940s and a brief appearance in the aforementioned movie The Omen, not much was heard from the Rottweiler until the late 1980s, when the breed was re-launched as a family dog and all-round good egg.
These days, Rottweilers are just dogs, plain and simple, and no longer work as butchers. ‘No more the butcher’s life for me,’ sings the lonely, oft-misunderstood Rottweiler to himself in melancholy moments when he pops out to the back yard to smoke a cigarette and ponder what it’s all about. Luckily, such moments are few and far between as the Rottie has now found new purpose as best friend to the men, women and children of the world. ‘Hooray for the Rottweiler,’ all the people sing, ‘for he is our friend!’ Indeed he is.
Dog Breeds of the World is pleased to announce its first competition winner! We would like to thank all those who entered; please keep the entries coming as the competition is ongoing. The prize of a beautiful and original signed picture of the winner’s chosen breed (right) goes to Judith Rachmani of Tel Aviv, who writes:
‘Greetings from sunny Israel. I would like to see the Rottweiler featured – to counter the recent unfair negative publicity about Rottweilers. Let us pay tribute to the Rottweiler’s unfailing courage, loyalty, good nature, eagerness to please and capacity for hard work.’
Thanks, Judith, your picture is on its way. In the meantime, you can read about your chosen breed here.
Well, the Rottweiler certainly proved a popular choice! In no particular order, here are our runners up…
Jennifer Gibbard of Hampshire:
‘I think Rottweilers are a misunderstood breed. Having owned 3 beautiful Rotti’s I think its about time people remember the good things about them – how majestic, strong and loyal they are. I love them!’
Laura Love from Londonderry (great name, Laura):
‘…for the last year my son and I have been volunteering as dog walkers at our local shelter for abandoned dogs and cats. We have come into contact with a number of Rottweilers and have found them to be gentle giants. They adore affection and have been given a bad reputation by people keeping them as status symbols to appear fierce. They are really lovely animals!!!’
and Rachael Hardy of Sheffield:
‘I would love to see the Rottweiler featured, they are a gorgeous dog, loyal, strong and a wonderful companion. Sadly they are a much misunderstood breed due to bad ownership. I have just been lucky enough to adopt my fourth Rottie from a Rottweiler rescue and she is a beautiful, loving natured dog.’
Unfortunately there are no runners-up prizes available at present, but thanks to all contributors for your entries. For more information on Rottweilers, Dog Breeds of the World recommends the Rottweiler Welfare Association.
The New Guinea Singing Dog, or Singer, is native to the harsh tropical wetlands of the Melanesian region and is traditionally associated with the early morning delivery of milk to the homes of local residents, a practice which continues to this day. The people of the towns and villages of New Guinea write messages such as ’2 pints of red top’ or ‘no milk today please milkie’ and leave them in empty milk bottles on their doorsteps for the Singer to collect. The Singer then delivers milk along with eggs, cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and juice as requested. The dog has a reddish brown coat but wears an immaculate white uniform with contrasting red piping when going about its business.
A relative of the wild Australian Dingo and curiously fox-like in appearance, the Singer was isolated from other breeds in its native territory for as many as six thousand years. In recent times, no doubt partly due to the rise of the supermarket, populations have dwindled to such an extent that the breed’s conservation status is now classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Singer usually goes to bed in the late afternoon and rises in the early hours of the morning. It sleeps close to its dairy produce so it can keep an eye on things and make sure nothing is stolen (in the jungle there are no rules and life is tough). Although the breed is short sighted and often needs to wear spectacles it sleeps very lightly and is difficult to deceive.
The New Guinea Singing Dog bonds for life. To attract a mate the Singer goes alone into the forest to sing its unique and beautiful song. In Melanesia, it is said that the sound of the Singer’s voice is so beguiling that even human beings have been enticed! To listen to the sound of a NGSD singing, click here.
The New Guinea Singing Dog is undomesticated and as such makes a challenging pet. It is essentially a wild animal and you will have a job on your hands if you decide to take one into your home. The Singer is a very robust and energetic dog which loves to run and jump and play well into old age. In its homeland people say that one day it will fly away and never return.
The Beagle is a good, old-fashioned working dog, a scent hound with an extraordinarily keen sense of smell. All dogs smell better than humans but Beagles smell ten times better! In the late nineteenth century both smooth and rough varieties existed (like peanut butter) but now, although the breed is as popular as ever, you will only find the smooth variety (like peanut butter when you go shopping at your local corner shop). The Beagle’s highly developed olfactory capacities have led to them being used for centuries as pack hounds alongside mounted riders on hunts for animals such as foxes and hares. However, since hunting for foxes was banned in Britain in the late twentieth century many Beagles have found themselves pushed to the margins of society, hanging around with unsavoury characters and sniffing drugs in airport toilets, despite the fact that they make very good pets.
There is, however, no denying that Beagles love drugs. They can sniff out a single milligramme of cocaine from two hundred yards which is why customs officers like them so much. But the Beagle’s favourite drug of all is nicotine. Yes, Beagles love to smoke! At least, that’s what the scientists thought until they realised that cigarettes killed them. But by then it was too late and thousands of Beagles had already perished. Fortunately, there was a silver lining: thanks to the Beagle’s extensive research we now know that inhaling cigarette smoke is harmful to humans. Indeed, to this day Beagles continue to carry out illuminating work on behalf of human beings, ingesting various chemicals and food additives in huge quantites over long periods of time to ensure that they are safe for their masters to consume. Whilst many people can only dream of becoming a drug tester, for literally thousands of Beagles this seemingly ideal career is a daily reality!
If you are thinking of getting a Beagle as a pet remember that a good diet and exercise are of paramount importance as is plenty of variety and mental stimulation. Think meat, vegetables, long walks on the common followed by Countdown and a steaming mug of hot tea with a couple of digestives. Sounds idyllic? It is, and it could all be yours if you buy a Beagle. Do make sure you get one from a reputable breeder and not a rescue centre, however, as you will find many of these poor creatures have damaged lungs, respiratory tracts and other faults. Also, remember never to let your Beagle out alone and to always keep him away from sources of nicotine; like the Scottish Terrier and the Great Dane, the breed has strong addictive tendencies.
When you look at a picture of a Beagle you might be surprised to find that the breed was used as the model for Snoopy, the popular cartoon character. This is probably because Snoopy is almost entirely white, whereas real Beagles like the one pictured here tend to have more colour. Also they do not have small yellow birds as friends.
The Shar Pei looks like no other dog on Earth. An ancient Chinese fighting dog which almost became extinct after WWII, the breed was resurrected by the Americans in the 1970s after the Communists banned dog breeding and other fun activities. Originally thought to be a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Chow Chow, recent research has uncovered a genetic link to the humble earthworm, throwing science into confusion. In 1996, a study at Harvard University revealed that, like the Dachshund, the Shar Pei is not, strictly speaking, a mammal at all but, rather, shares its DNA with both the geranium and the gecko and falls into a taxonomic class all of its own.
The characteristic loose skin and wrinkles were positively encouraged over hundreds of years of selective breeding and, indeed, there is such an excess of subcutaneous tissue that some have suggested the Ancient Chinese may have also bred the dogs for their pelts to guard against the harsh winters of the mountainous regions.
Though the Shar Pei has a strong, muscular build, it is not without health problems. Depression and bipolar syndrome are common ailments, as are breathing difficulties and worms. The Shar Pei is a sensitive breed, and in many ways is still getting over the rejection it suffered at the hands of the Chinese. Having said that, it’s fair to say the dogs have, in general, successfully managed the transition over to the American Way of Life and have embraced it wholeheartedly: they are now regularly spotted at baseball games, high school proms and the like and are even popular in Hollywood.
In terms of diet, you can’t go too far wrong by feeding your Shar Pei burgers, fries, chilli dogs and cola, though obviously not every day as this can encourage obesity. Also, don’t forget to give them plenty of fruit and vegetables so they don’t get cancer. Exercise is also important, but not that important as these dogs sleep for an average of 16 hours per day. If your Shar Pei seems to just want to spend all day on the sofa you should allow this; your pet is probably just tired (or depressed, which isn’t surprising given the circumstances).
When it comes to entertainment, the Shar Pei very much enjoys dressing up, especially at Halloween, when it is fond of ‘Trick or Treating.’ Its favourite Halloween costume is the illuminous green skeleton, though it also likes the witch. If the Shar Pei was a human being, it would be The Fonz from TV’s Happy Days.
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.