Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) or Endocardiosis (as referred to by veterinarians) is a chronic degenerative heart disease affecting the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Deposition of mucopolysaccharide in the valve and its attached cords causes the valve to become distorted and allows blood to leak back into the atrium during contraction of the ventricle. Most often only the mitral valve is affected, but in one-third of affected dogs, the tricuspid valve (between the right atrium and the right ventricle) is affected as well. MVD is most often seen in small breeds, particularly the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and most other small spaniels. The Chihuahua, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Pinscher, Dachshund, Pekinese and Whippet can be affected as well.

A diagnosis of MVD is usually done by auscultation. Murmurs are rated as grade 1 through 6 and is dependent on how loud the heart murmur is. As MVD progresses, your dog’s heart murmur will be become louder; to the point that you’ll be able to hear the murmur without a stethoscope. As the heart disease progresses, other organ systems can be affected. Controversy remains about when to start treatment for MVD. Commonly, treatment begins at stage 3.

The most common treatments include a vasodilator such as enalapril, a diuretic such as furosemide and digoxin, a drug to help the heart beat slower and stronger. Surgical mitral valve replacements have been successful, but this is not considered standard treatment yet. A yearly heart exam is strongly recommended.

There is a strong genetic component for contracting MVD. Breeders are encouraged to use older stud dogs (over 5 years old) with healthy hearts. Another suggestion asks that Cavaliers be at least 2 to 2 and a half years old and free of heart murmurs when breeding.


AKC Group: Non-sporting

The exact origin of the Dalmatian is unknown. One school of thought believes Dalmatians came from Dalmatia, which was once part of Croatia. Evidence of Dalmatians was discovered in Egypt. In the 1800s, Dalmatians were used as guard dogs to protect the contents of carriages and as carriage dogs (they ran alongside them). For the same reasons they were used as carriage protection is the reason they’ve been whole-heartedly accepted at firehouses everywhere.

Size: 20 to 27 inches tall; 45 to 70 pounds

Color: Spotted — black or liver spots on a white background. Dalmatians are born pure white and develop their spots after a few weeks.

Life span: 12 to 16 years

Health problems: Glaucoma, deafness, diabetes, gall stones, allergies and seizures.

Dalmatians are a muscular dog with an alert expression. They’re a handsome dog indeed. A Dalmatian has a close fitting, dense, short coat. Dalmatians are active, possessing an abundance of energy. They are confident, possessing problem-solving skills and a natural obedience. Courageous, friendly and outgoing, how can you not love a Dalmatian? Dalmatians tend to bond closely and can be strong willed (not the best choice necessarily if a Dalmatian is your first dog). Dalmatians love a variety of activities and require plenty of physical and mental activity to curb destructiveness. Early socialization is imperative. When raised with children, they’re great. With other pets, they’ll do well if socialized early on (like they should be). With strangers, their natural personality is the determining factor. They may be fine or reserved, but polite. A natural protector, a Dalmatian can be hard to manage if you aren’t confident and assertive (read experienced).

Grooming is super easy. Brush occasionally to remove dead hair and to keep the coat gleaming. Dalmatians tend to shed all year long, but not excessively. To house-break, the easiest way is to establish a daily routine. (This will also aid in socialization to people and other situations.) Be aware that establishing your routine can take up to six months, but persevere, once he’s trained and as long as the routines are maintained, life will start to move along quite smoothly. In terms of teaching basic commands, always treat your Dalmatian when he performs successfully. Never use negative reinforcements, punishments and yelling will not bring out the best in him.


With the same body type and long, silky coat as the Persian, the difference between them: Himalayans sport the Siamese pointed pattern. The long hair of the Himalayan keeps the points soft.

Himalayans are medium-to-large with short, thick legs and a heavy-boned, cobby body. Their heads are round and massive, necks are short and thick. Himalayans have large, round eyes set far apart, short, stubby noses and small, rounded ears that are set far apart and sit low on the head. Tails are thick and short. Males weigh 9 to 14 pounds, females weigh 7 to 11 pounds. Himalayans are solid, round cats. They are not — and should not be allowed to get — fat.

There are two distinct head shapes: Extreme and Dollface. Dollface Himalayans have lower placed noses. The Extreme is the type shown in the show ring. Many Dollface Himalayan breeders contend that Dollfaces lack the health problems found in the Extreme type.

The Himalayan coat is long, flowing and thick. Coat color ranges from white to beige. A clear, uniform color is found in the youth, as a Himalayan ages, their coat will develop subtle shadowing that will continue to darken throughout your Himmie’s life. The point color comes in all shades. (The Siamese is no longer allowed in Himalayan breeding programs.)

Himalayans were first bred in 1950 by an American. Soon after British breeders began crossing Persians and Siamese. For many years, Persians and Himalayans were considered separate breeds. While trying to establish a good gene pool, Himalayan kittens were consistently bred with Persians. Purist Persian fanciers were not happy; they wanted to keep their bloodlines pure. In 1984, both breeds were united; Himalayan breeders wanted their bloodlines to be pure too. Controversy remains and not every cat fancy organization distinguishes the Himalayan as a distinct breed.

Though all the hair of a Himalayan might be a turn off for some, converted Himalayan owners plead “no contest;” the Himalayan personality makes up for it. Himalayans are the most poised, loving, sweetest cats ever to pad around the planet. Himalayans are regal, sedate and so-so-so affectionate. Cuddling is their go-to activity. They are also quite responsive to your moods and emotions. When you’re happy, so are they. If you’re sad, they’re there to pick you up. They crave affection and love to be petted. Himalayans tend to be more playful than Persians. Himalayans love to fetch. Some breeders claim Himalayans talk more than Persians, but that might be a difference due to a particular bloodline.


AKC Group: Hound

Artifacts from ancient Egypt depict a dog with short legs. That German breed of dog hunted badger. In German, “dachs” means “badger,” while “hund” means “hound.” The early ancestor of the modern Dachshund was a mix of German, French and English hounds and terriers. The name “Dachshund” first appeared in the 1700s. Over time, the dachshund was bred to be smaller. In fact, today there is even a miniature version of the breed.

Size: Miniature is 5 to 6 inches high and 11 pounds or smaller. The standard dachshund is 8 to 9 inches tall and over 11 pounds, with 16 to 32 pounds being normal.

Color: Solid red, sable or cream; black and tan, chocolate and tan, wild boar and tan, gray and tan or fawn and tan; brindle; single dapple (a lighter coat set against a darker background) or double dapple (single dapple coloring that also incorporates white).

Life span: 12 to 14 years

Health problems: Cataracts, diabetes, epilepsy, spinal problems, luxating patella, progressive retinal atrophy, elbow dysplasia or obesity.

Also known as the “sausage dog,” Dachshunds have low, elongated bodies. A Dachshund is a muscular, sturdy built dog that have sweet and eager expressions. There are three varieties of Dachshund — the long-haired, the short-haired and the wire-haired. The short-haired (also referred to as smooth-haired) Dachshund has a short, dense, smooth coat. The long-haired variety has a soft, long, slightly wavy coat. The wire-haired Dachshund has a harsh, short, wiry coat.

The Dachshund is a lively, sweet, loyal dog that makes a wonderfully devoted companion for the right person. The right person is someone who has the right amount of time for a Dachshund; they need love, attention and companionship. It’s worth it, though. If you give it, you’ll get it back. A Dachshund is an adaptable, intelligent, sociable dog. He is a fast learner, eager to please, but can be possessive of his toys and food (and space). Dachshunds tend to get along better with older (gentle) children. Dachshunds make great friends for other Dachshunds and require early socialization to get along with other pets. With strangers, a Dachshund’s innate personality (and coat variety) will determine the outcome — some Dachshunds are fine while others are reserved. The long-haired Dachshunds appear to be the most gentle and friendly of the three. Dachshunds love to dig, so provide him with another option of you value your landscaping. A Dachshund is a sensitive dog. Don’t tease and taunt and don’t handle them roughly. If you have boisterous youngsters, you’ll need to teach them how to gently play with your Dachshund.

Your smooth-haired Dachshund is the easiest to care for while the long- or wire-haired require more attention. These two need brushing twice a week. Occasionally, they will need to be trimmed and clipped. Dachshunds need a firm, consistent trainer that can move them beyond their stubbornness. Early socialization is vital to help them overcome their natural aloofness. Try to diminish their affinity for excessive barking and discourage jumping up on people. To housebreak, crate training works great with a Dachshund.

Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (Vlcak)

AKC Group: Foundation Stock Service

In 1955, a German Shepherd was crossed with a Carpathian Wolf. By 1982, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog or Vlcak was recognized as the national breed.

Size: over 23.5 to 25 inches high. Over 44 to 57 pounds.

Color: Yellow gray; dark gray. Silver gray is preferable. Light mask, chest, belly and undersides of legs, black tail tips and black nails.

Life span: 12 to 16 years

Health problems: Prone to hip dysplasia

Vlcaks are stunners and draw attention wherever they go. Though they retain their wild wolf looks, they are lighter and taller. Their hair is thick and straight. They size up people and situations with ease. Vlcaks can run — 62 miles (or 100 kilometres) easily, react with lightning reflexes and have a terrific sense of direction. No terrain type is impassable, no weather type nor time of day will keep a Vlcak from completing their task. Vlcaks have amber eyes and short, triangular ears sit upright. Their spines are straight with a short loin. The chest is large and flat. The belly is strong and drawn in. The back is short and slightly sloped. Their tails are set high. The forelimbs are straight and narrow set with paws slightly turned out. The hind legs are muscular with a long calf.

Vlcaks are fearless and courageous, lively and active. Naturally suspicious, a Vlcak won’t attack without a cause. The Vlcak is a loyal, playful dog. Without a confident leader, they can act up. Highly intelligent, they learn quickly. If you love nature and exploring trails, a Vlcak will be your best friend and constant companion. They have a much larger toolbox of expression, so don’t be surprised if barking isn’t the only way they try to communicate with you. A Vlcak will not do well with other pets, but is usually good with kids.

The Vlcak sheds heavily twice a year. Bathing is completely unnecessary; dirt just doesn’t stick easily to him. Dry shampoo occasionally. Socialization will be a lifelong pursuit, Vlcaks are highly suspicious dogs. Obedience training is a must. So is a varied training method. Vlcaks can become bored and unmotivated with endless repetition. They need stimulation and require a purpose. If there’s no point, a Vlcak isn’t going to do it. Keep all training sessions short. Keep all sessions respectful, firm, fair, consistent and be patient. Remember, a Vlcak is part wolf. You need to be strong-minded in your leadership and if you get violent, he will respond likewise.