Belgian Laekenois

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AKC Group: Miscellaneous

Belgian Laekenois dogs have originated from the sheep herding dogs from the Royal Castle of Laeken. Today, the breed is considered to be the oldest and most rare of the Belgian Shepherd dogs.

The Laekenois is the only Belgian Shepherd breed not recognized by the American Kennel Club. The three other breeds (Groenendael, Malinois and Tervuren) are all recognized. This makes the Laekenois rare; which is probably the reason it isn’t recognized, it’s too rare.

Size: 22 to 25 inches; 55 to 65 pounds.

Color: Mahogany to fawn, rarely seen in brown or pure white.

Life span: 12 to 14 years.

Health problems: No major health problems have been noted. Hip dysplasia, skin allergies and eye problems have been occasionally noted.

The Laekenois has a wiry coat and really long tail. The hind legs are muscular to aid herding. The muzzle looks fairly pointed and the ears seem out of place; they’re excessively small. (This drives enthusiasts crazy; they hate it!) Their coat appears to have an underlying black appearance. Laekenois have black noses and their teeth should meet like scissors.

If you’re looking for your first ever dog, a Laekenois probably won’t be for you. They are extremely loyal and protective. They crave human companionship and will become destructive without it. They tend to bond to only one person. A Laekenois will do well with children when raised together.

The key here is to never engage in chasing games, tug of war or rough housing. A Laekenois can only get along with other dogs if they’re raised together from puppyhood. They are forever suspicious of strangers and will protect their home and family fiercely.

Grooming-wise, a Laekenois needs a trim twice a year. Don’t let him get a close trim, his coat will be ruined for numerous ensuing years. Use a coarse-toothed comb to keep the coat rough-looking (not tangled), nor curled. Bathe only when it’s absolutely necessary (it removes the waterproofing of the coat).

Harsh training will result in an overly aggressive Laekenois. They love to be challenged mentally. Agility is a great undertaking for a Laekenois. Socialization as a puppy is essential to turn him into a well-behaved, confident adult.

Bedlington Terrier

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AKC Group: Terrier

Originally known as the “Rothbury” or “Rodbery Terrier” from a female that settled in with a family from Rothbury. These terriers hunted rodents underground and worked alongside Foxhounds. Bedlingtons were used to develop the Kerry Blue Terrier.

Size: 15 to 17 inches; 17 to 23 pounds.

Color: Blue, sandy or liver; may have tan points or not. Bedlington puppies are born dark and lighten to their adult color by their first birthday.

Life span: 12 to 17 years.

Health problems: Liver problems, specifically copper toxicosis or copper storage disease. These are genetic diseases that allow copper to build up in the liver to cause cirrhosis or death. Responsible breeders are careful to breed lines without the disease, but, if you take on a Bedlington, have him checked by your vet as an early warning sign.

Bedlington Terrier look like lambs. They have a pear-shaped head that is narrow, but deep and rounded. The muzzle is strong. The almond-shaped eyes are small. Low-set ears are triangular with rounded tips. Chests are deep with an arched back. The back legs are longer than the front. Tails are low set and taper to a point. Their dewclaws are usually removed. They have thick double coats with their long hairs and short hairs mingling all over their bodies.

Bedlingtons are graceful, lithe dogs with a mild and gentle disposition. When aroused, Bedlingtons are extremely alert and full of energy. They can gallop at great speeds. Bedlingtons are known for being one of the calmest of terriers. Smart and attentive, they are one of the most reliable terriers. They are adept at problem-solving and make a loyal companion for families.

Bedlingtons are incredibly affectionate and deeply devoted dogs. Cheerful, playful and lively, a Bedlington can get along with cats or other dogs (no domineering or threatening companion dogs please). They tolerate strangers well. They even make adequate watchdogs. When challenged, a Bedlington is a frightening dog to behold.

Your Bedlington requires specialized clipping every six weeks. If you can’t afford that much on a groomer, you’d better learn how to groom him yourself. His coat needs to be thinned and clipped lose to his head and body. Shave the ears close. The legs can be left slightly longer. Regular brushing is essential as is regular ear cleaning. An occasional bath will keep your Bedlington’s coat from becoming lank. Bedlingtons are considered good for allergy sufferers.

Beauceron

AKC Group: Herding

As their name suggests Beaucerons come from France, where they were used as a herding dog. The Beauceron has been used to create the Doberman Pinscher. Though their name hints at coming from the Beauce region, Beaucerons descended from northern France.

Size: 24 to 28 inches, 80 to 100 pounds.

Color: Black and tan or merle with tan points (black, gray and tan).

Life span: 10 to 12 years.

Health problems: Generally, Beaucerons are a healthy breed. Some bloodlines are prone to bloat. All Beaucerons are prone to hip dysplasia (as are any breed of dog that weighs over 40 pounds).

Beaucerons are an old, distinct French dog breed. Bred for their intelligence, they herded and guarded flocks of 200 to 300 sheep (or dwellings). They moved their flocks up to 50 miles a day and never tired.

Beaucerons are solid, muscular dogs that are alert, energetic and regal looking. They demand respect, however they do not have violent tendencies. They look imposing, but, deep down, are pussycats. They are fearless, yet are easily trained. They are faithful, gentle and obedient dogs. Beaucerons have excellent memories and an eagerness to please. He is reserved around strangers and won’t bark or lash out. You can easily approach a Beauceron with no fear.

Beaucerons are proud of themselves and their family. They are known for their strong leadership. To properly train a Beauceron, you need to help him understand that you are as strong a leader as he is — without violence or harsh treatment. A Beauceron that hasn’t been trained properly can be destructive. They make effective watchdogs and will only become violent if they or their family is being threatened. You need to ensure that a voice is never raised too high if a Beauceron is around. Beaucerons can get along with other animals (that will submit to them) and to children (that have been taught to handle them).

An occasional brushing is all that’s necessary to keep your Beauceron looking gorgeous. During shedding season, they may need a bit more brushing.

Bearded Collie

AKC Group: Herding

Developed in Scotland from the Poland Lowland Sheepdog, the Komondor and sheep herding dogs from the British Isles, the Bearded Collie was bred to herd. Bred for its independent thinking and to make decisions about how to ensure the safety of their flock, Beardies never bring home the wrong (someone else’s) sheep. Beardies almost disappeared, but were saved circa 1944 with re-population mating.

Size: 10 to 20 inches, 35 to 55 pounds.

Color: Any shade of gray or chocolate. White is common as a blaze, on the chest, feet or tail tip. Tan points can appear too.

Life span: 12 to 14 years.

Health problems: Hip dysplasia.

Your Bearded Collie will need brushing every day. To prepare, you should mist his long, shaggy coat and tease out the mats. If you can’t find the time for grooming, you can get him professionally clipped every two or three months. His eyes, ears and paws should be checked every day and trimmed regularly. The other thing to take note of is to check for external parasites regularly as well. They can be harder to spot in all that hair.

Beardies are the ancestors of Old English Sheepdogs. Beardies are medium-sized agile dogs. They have broad heads, short muzzles and are shaggy all over. Their beard is how they got their name. Their coats are dense and waterproof with a thick, soft undercoat. Their ears lay close to the head and their long tail rides low unless they’re excited.

Their coat helps them be able to sleep outside. Beardies make an excellent farm dog. They don’t like to be too confined and, if living in the city, need to have a yard where they can run and get some exercise. They love the outdoors and are adept at escaping — ensure you have a sturdy fence.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing a Beardie, you may (as well as breeders) swear that Beardies are somehow crossed with a grasshopper; Beardies are bouncy. Their tail always wags. If Beardies were human, they’d all be clowns. Joyous and affectionate, Beardies do great with kids and thrive with a loving family. If left alone for long periods, a Beardie will get into mischief. A Beardie can be trained to do almost anything. They will replace your doorbell, but they don’t possess the skills to be an effective watchdog. (This seems to be the only skill they don’t have.) If your Beardie is raised alongside other animals, they can grow to love them. Though they may always steal all the toys and be tempted to chase.

Can Cats be Trained?

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Thanks to their natural independence and aloofness, cats interact with others on their terms, but can a cat be trained? The answer is a resounding yes! Like dogs, cats respond to praise, but not so much for treats. You will have to find a reward that your cat will work for in order to train him. Cats have short attention spans; a typical play session only lasts 5 to 10 minutes. Training sessions need to be just as short (if not shorter).

Cats can easily be taught to fetch. Start with a furry ball toy. To reinforce the behavior, reward with food (or whatever you’ve found that will work) or praise (petting, words or both) when they return the toy. Start out by having them fetch a short distance and reward every time. When the cat gets bored and walks away, end the session and try later or the next day.

You can teach your cat to use the human “facilities.” Some cats have a natural interest in this, but most cats can be trained to do this, but it takes a lot of patience. The younger you start training your cat (before he starts using a litter box — and we all know how ingrained that behavior is!), the easier it will be. The easiest way to train is to purchase a potty training kit for cats. Or try this homemade way: Start by placing the litterbox near the toilet. Gradually start to raise the box off the floor. (The cat always needs to be able to use the box without falling off the step or falling into the toilet.) After a few weeks, place the box on the toilet (lid up, seat down). When he’s comfortable with this, take a heavy-duty foil turkey roaster pan and secure it under the seat onto the toilet base. Place litter in the pan. Gradually put a hole that gets gradually larger through the tray until your cat is standing on the seat with a hole the size of the bowl in the pan. Then you take away the pan and your cat will be using the toilet.

Leash training is another easy trick. The key is to find a proper-fitting harness that won’t allow him to slip a collar nor stress his neck. Keeps all walks short and always praise. This is much easier when you start during kittenhood, but it is possible for an adult cat to grow to love it. (After a long period of the “flop”. You know what I’m talking about.) When your cat grows tired, it’s okay to pick him up and take him home. A cat will never walk the same as a dog, think of it more as a preamble than a true walk.

Guest Star: Buddy and the Bunnies

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(This is not Buddy, but looks very much like him.)

I have a friend, a single mom who lives with her teenage son. They have three cats and two bunnies in their home. Last week, they had a wee problem with their toilet and it overflowed into their apartment. Normally, the bunnies are kept in the son’s bedroom, but the water went into his room and the bunnies are currently (temporarily) being accommodated in the kitchen until the management company finishes installation of the new bedroom carpet. Buddy has never been feral, in fact, never been outside; he has never had to fend for himself and use his natural hunting abilities. He is a very sweet, cuddly fluffball. When I visited them this week, Buddy was just staring at those poor bunnies, even being so bold as to stick his paw into the cage and pawing at them.

It’s amazing how little it takes for a cat to revert back to their hunter state, isn’t it?