Berger Picard

AKC Group: Miscellaneous

Perhaps the oldest of French sheepdogs, Berger Picards were brought to northern France in the 9th century. Berger Picards are also known as Picardy Shepherds. Concentrated in northeastern French farms, World War I and II almost killed the breed. The breed’s easy care and mellow temperament ensured their survival. Breeders were more than willing to bring the dog back.

Size: 22 to 26 inches, 50 to 70 pounds.

Color: Gray, black/gray, blue/gray, red/gray or fawn.

Life span: 11 to 14 years.

Health problems: Only hip dysplasia occurs sporadically. Eye infections most often occur.

Berger Picards are medium-sized dogs with a tousled appearance. The ears are naturally erect and high set. Their eyebrows are thick. Despite their rugged look, a Berger Picard carries himself regally. They are known for their “smile.” Their tail curves slightly at the tip. Their waterproof coat feels “crispy,” but they don’t have a true undercoat.

Berger Picards are a sensitive lot. They don’t like to be ignored or isolated. They are loyal and assertive, alert and hard-working. They are well mannered and energetic. They do great with children, dogs and any other pet they were raised with. They naturally protect their family and property.

All you need to do is comb your Berger Picard once a month. Resist bathing as much as you can. Try to dry shampoo instead.

Early socialization and basic obedience should help keep a Berger Picard’s stubbornness at bay.


AKC Group: Miscellaneous

Bergamasco dogs are an ancient breed that developed from the shepherds and cattle dogs that spread from the Orient westward. These dogs were exchanged for sheep. After World War II, the demand for wool tapered off and Bergamascos almost went extinct. An Italian breeder stepped in and after 40 years of careful breeding, has developed numerous line of champion dogs.

Size: 22 to 26 inches tall, 55 to 85 pounds.

Color: Black or gray.

Life span: 13 to 15 years.

Health problems: Nothing major noted.

The Bergamasco is a heavy, muscular herding dog that has a large head. Its tail hangs down and curves upward slightly at the end. A Bergamasco has a unique coat — it has three layers of hair. The coat forms “cords” (hair strands woven together to create flat layers of hair). These cords cover the body and legs to protect the dog from the elements. The hair on their head is long and hangs down over their eyes.

Gentle and loyal, a Bergamasco is protective of their home and family. They tolerate dogs they don’t consider a threat or other pets they’ve been raised with. A Bergamasco is tolerant and patient with children. They do not tolerate strangers whatsoever; they’re very distrustful. Forever alert, attentive, dignified and sensible, this is what makes a Bergamasco.

Each coat cord needs to be separated and lightly brushed individually. Bathing is only done when it’s necessary. A Bergamasco takes a very long time to dry. A Bergamasco can think on its feet, no submitting here. They don’t tolerate harsh treatment. Train them with firmness and fairness. Socialization and obedience training is a good investment.

Expensive Breeds of Dogs and Cats


These cats are a cross between domestic cats and the Asian leopard cat (a small wildcat). Bengals have been around for about 100 years. Kittens can cost thousands of dollars.


This large dog came from the mountains of central Asia where they share their lives with nomadic tribes. They were used for protection.

LOWCHEN (German for “little lion”)

Lowchens are one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. Originally from Europe, they were bred for the lords and ladies 400 years ago. A Lowchen puppy will set you back a few thousand dollars.


Originated in Thailand. Khao Manees are pure white and usually have two different colored eyes. They didn’t receive any export “papers” from Thailand until 1999.


These hard workers pull the sleds of Canada’s Inuit population in the Arctic. Eskimo dogs have extremely thick coats to survive those brutal winter temperatures. When the Inuits turned more to snowmobiles during the 1950s and 60s, Eskimo dogs were nearly eliminated. In the 1970s, the Eskimo Dog Research Foundation bought, bred and saved the last remaining dogs.


Savannahs are hybrids of domestic cats and servals (a small African wildcat). They were first bred in the mid-1980s and have quickly become a popular pet choice. You can have one too — if you shell out at least $5,000!


Egyptian Pharaoh Hounds were used as companions for Maltan hunters. They are strong, athletic and independent and rarely found outside of Malta. If you really want an Egyptian Pharaoh Hound, you’re going to be paying at least five grand.

Dog People vs. Cat People

While prowling around the internet, I came across some factoids about the personalities and lifestyles of dog people versus cat people. (I don’t know how scientific any of these “facts” are, but they’re usually always interesting.)

Studies show that our preference is dependent on the animals we were raised with and factors like our age and living space. Families with young children are more apt to have a dog. Older adults and singles are more inclined to cats. If you live in the suburbs, you probably have a dog. If you live in an apartment, you’ll tend to have a small dog or a cat.

Dog people are said to be more extroverted, laidback and conscientious. Cat people are creative, adventurous and prone to suffer from anxiety. Both dog and cat people are equally likely to have graduated from post-secondary education, while cat people are slightly more likely to have completed graduate studies.

Both dog and cat people talk to animals (not just their own!), have an affinity for nature, are more optimist and tend to dislike animal-print clothing.

Dog people seem to gravitate more to rural areas (it is always good to give your dog plenty of open space to exercise), while cat people prefer urban areas.

Dog people have no qualms about calling in professional reinforcements if they find abandoned kittens while cat people are more prone to open their homes, hearts and eventually wallets for those same kittens.

Dog people are more likely to have a song as their ringtone. Cat people maintain the same group of contacts in their phones as well as in a physical address book.

Dog people are more likely to have kids. Cat people prefer to take care of a friend’s kids rather than to take care of their friend’s dogs.

Dog people are more likely to laugh at slapstick humor and impressions while cat people find ironic humor and puns to be more humorous.

Dog people have a better impression of zoos and prefer jam bands, reggae and psychedelic rock music. Cat people are more active on Twitter and are fans of new wave, classic rock or electronic music.

What do you think? Does this sound like you?

More cats versus dogs:

Belgian Tervuren

AKC Group: Herding

The fourth variety of Belgian Shepherds, the first trace of the Tervuren was in the 1880s. The Tervuren, German Shepherd, French Shepherd and Dutch Shepherds were referred to as Continental Shepherds. The Tervurens almost disappeared after WWII. Breeding and importing into the U.S. helped the breed survive (and make a comeback). Tervurens were used as guard or sled dogs to pull the injured to safety or to deliver messages. Today, Tervurens are used for guarding and alongside law enforcement.

Size: 22 to 26 inches, 40 to 65 pounds.

Color: Black and tan, solid black, grey, silver or red.

Life span: 10 to 12 years.

Health problems: Mostly a healthy breed, Tervurens can develop hip dysplasia, epilepsy, eye or skin problems and gastric disorders including bloat or tortions.

This beautiful dog is hopelessly devoted to his family. They excel at work from obedience training, agility competitions, visiting seniors as a therapy dog, serving as a guide dog to the blind or in their original capacity as a herder. Tireless in their efforts, law enforcement agencies have fallen hard for the talented Tervuren.

The elegant Tervuren stands proud. He is alert, strong, agile and well-muscled. He is full of life and vigor. He has almond-shaped eyes, triangular ears that are stiff and erect. His tail has a slight curl and hangs low. The Tervuren feet look like they should be on a cat.

Possessing a wide array of skills, the Tervuren needs a job to exhibit their intelligence and expel some of their energy. In fact, if your Tervuren isn’t kept busy, you’ll learn to regret it. He’ll become destructive and hyperactive.

Tervurens form strong, deep bonds with their family. They tend to be reserved with strangers. Socialization is very important for your Tervuren. A wide array of experiences and different faces will help him develop self-confidence and mastery over his abilities. Easy to train, your Tervuren will provide many hours of entertainment. They even display a sense of humor! Need a workout buddy? Your Tervuren will happily accompany you.

His dense, heavy, long outercoat covers a dense undercoat that needs to be brushed daily. He may need a brushing multiple times during shedding seasons. Mats should be clipped from between toes and the outer ears. Tervurens shed heavily twice a year.

Tervurens don’t like leashes so be prepared for initial training in that area. Training (in every endeavor) should be firm, yet positive. Obedience is a great first step. If you can’t perform the obedience, it’s an absolute necessity to find a professional trainer. An untrained, unsocialized Tervuren will not last long in any home.

Belgian Sheepdog

AKC Group: Herding

Known in Belgium as the Groenendael, the Belgian Sheepdog is the third of the four types of Belgium Shepherd dogs. Coming from a single kennel in Groenendael, they were developed in the late 1800s from a pair of all black shepherds. Bred for herding and protection, they grew in popularity with each litter.

Size: 22 to 26 inches; 60 to 75 pounds.

Color: Solid black. Some may have small areas of white on the chest, toe tips or on the hind feet.

Life span: 13 to 14 years.

Health problems: Like the other Belgian Shepherds, nothing major occurs. Minor concerns include epilepsy, skin allergies, eye problems, hip or elbow dysplasia. The dogs have a genetic leaning towards either shyness or aggressiveness. This breed can become overweight from excessive feeding or lack of exercise. Make sure your Belgian Sheepdog doesn’t develop a couch potato personality.

Groenendaels are athletic, strong, imposing dogs. They are muscular dogs with a flattened skull. Medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes are always brown. Erect ears are triangular in shape. Their tails are feathered and usually have their dewclaws removed. Their feet look cat-like. Groenendaels have a weather-resistant coat with a ruff around their neck and extra feathering on their legs, tail and undersides.

Groenendaels are extremely intelligent, active, loyal dogs that are genuinely affectionate. If you have the time and energy to give to this dog, you’ll get a lifelong friend in return. Early, firm¬† and loving training and socialization is a must. They are wary of strangers and protective of their family. They do great with kids as long as they’re introduced to them as a puppy. Their bonds of love run deep and cannot tolerate an outdoor life away from you.

Their long, straight heavy outer coat covers a dense undercoat that requires brushing every day. When shedding, they may need multiple brushing. Mats should be clipped out especially from the ruff or legs. The toe hair and outer ear hair should be clipped too.

Training should never be harsh or punitive. Positivity will be the name of the game for successful training. Socialization needs to start from day one. Obedience training is an excellent idea with a Groenendael. A naturally obedient dog, your kids will love doing obedience or agility events with them. (What a great bonding experience for them both.) A Groenendael wants to — and if properly trained and socialized¬†will be — a huge part of your family.