English Bulldog

AKC Group: Non-sporting

The English Bulldog was bred from the Asiatic Mastiff in order to use its aggressiveness to bait bulls and bears. In 1835, bull baiting was outlawed. Unfortunately, Bulldog owners turned to dogfighting. Fortunately for Bulldogs they weren’t the greatest of fighters. British Bulldog lovers came together and took ahold of the breed. They were then bred to retain their shape and size, but removed the aggression and made the breed an excellent companion dog instead.

Size: 12 to 16 inches high; 50 to 55 pounds

Color: Red, fawn, brindle, white, piebald, yellow or any combination of colors.

Life span: 8 to 10 years

Health problems: Heart problems, thyroid problems, ectropion, entropion, cataracts, elongated palate, eye disorders, inverted tails, recessed tails, stenotic nares, skin problems. The short hair of the breed begs not to be exposed to extreme temperatures nor be over exerted due to his short muzzle. That muzzle can lead to breathing troubles.

The English Bulldog has a short, stout body and a glum expression. His skin falls in folds around his face and his legs are set wide apart. The Bulldog coat is short, sleek and lays close to the body. His ears are small and hang folded down the sides of his head.

Bulldogs are gentle, easygoing and affectionate dogs that love to entertain. The national symbol of Great Britain, the Bulldog loves to spend time with his family. His personality is amiable and friendly. The Bulldog is dependable with a capital DEPENDABLE. They can have a stubborn streak. They can get a little jealous if another animal tries to take their food. Otherwise they love everyone: kids, cats and dogs. With strangers, it depends. You can help him to be more friendly by socializing him as a puppy. Bulldogs are naturally lazy, so it’s up to you to initiate play and exercise times. Don’t wear him out; all he’ll need is a gentle stroll when it’s mild outside (not in the summer heat nor in the frigid winter). Bulldogs are sensitive and intelligent and thrive in a relaxed household.

To keep him looking handsome, brush him occasionally. When he sheds more heavily, brush him a little more often. He’ll require much more attention to his skin folds on a daily basis than he will with his brush. Clean his face to avoid infections and check on the skin around his tail. (This area will probably require as much cleaning as his face folds.) To commence training, you’ll need to employ positivity and gentleness to teach him that you’re the leader of this pack. (Don’t worry, this isn’t too difficult a concept for him to grasp.) Keep in mind: Bulldogs are extremely sensitive, especially to punishments. If you find your Bulldog to be extra-stubborn, your best bet is to find a puppy obedience class.  When your Bulldog doesn’t respond right away, don’t panic. It takes Bulldogs a few extra seconds to noodle it through. (He’s just trying to determine if the task is worthy of his effort.) As Bulldogs age, they naturally slow down, and it’ll take him even longer to noodle things through. All training sessions should be super-repetitive and last for short bursts of time. They love to please and respond well to praise and treats as a reward. Bulldogs tend to pack on the pounds easily, so try to limit food rewards. Chewing can also be problematic if he feels he’s not getting enough attention. Socialization to other animals and strangers will help him overcome his natural instincts of aloofness or jealousy.

Japanese Bobtail

Japanese Bobtails are medium in size, well-muscled, slender and “straight” cats. They have a long, lean body atop long, slender legs with oval paws. The hind legs are longer than the forelegs (which means Japanese Bobtails will be great at jumping). Males weigh 7 to 10 pounds, females weigh 5 to 7 pounds.

Japanese Bobtail heads form an almost perfect equilateral triangle. They have high cheekbones, broad muzzles, full chins and large, upright expressive ears. Eyes are large, oval, wide and alert.

Each Japanese Bobtail has a unique tail. The length, shape and flexibility vary from cat to cat. The extension of the tail bone is usually not more than three inches and usually has a curve, angle or kink (or two of any combination). The tail can be rigid or flexible. The tail can also be carried up- or downwards. But all Japanese Bobtails have a bobbed tail. (If you see a Japanese Bobtail that is tailless, it is not a real Japanese Bobtail.) The length of their tail is caused by a recessive gene, meaning that cats must inherit the gene from both sets of parents. When Japanese Bobtails are bred together, all resulting offspring have short tails.

Japanese Bobtails come in either a long- or short-coated variety. Longhairs have a soft, silky coat of medium-long to long hair with a noticeable ruff. The coat is short around the shoulders and grows longer down the body towards the rump, tail and britches. Tails are fluffy and the cat also sports ear and toe tufts. Shorthaired Japanese Bobtails have the same silky coat in a medium length and has no ruff.

The exact origins of the Japanese Bobtail has been lost, but the breed is one of the oldest-existing breeds. Japanese Bobtails are believed to have been transported into Japan from Korea or China at the beginning of the 6th century. Bobtailed cats are found throughout much of Eastern Asia, suggesting that the mutation occurred long ago. The Japanese consider the cats to bestow good luck. Tricolored Bobtails of red, black and white markings are especially lucky felines. In Japan, these cats are referred to as “mi-ke” (pronounced mee-kay) and means “three fur.”

Japanese Bobtails came to North America in 1967 when a breeder saw a cat at a Maryland pet show. She began a year-long process to import the cats so she could begin a breeding program. Three arrived via another American breeder living in Japan who brought more cats home with her. They teamed up to breed and promote them. Meanwhile, a judge imported 8 Japanese Bobtails. After the breed was recognized by all the cat fancy associations as late as 1979, more Japanese Bobtails were imported to improve the bloodlines. It was another decade before the longhaired variety were regarded with love by breeders. (Before then, all longhaired Japanese Bobtails were given away as pets.)

These revered feline beauties are single-minded in all pursuits — from hunting a live mouse or stalking a toy. They do notice your human presence and are quite adoring. They will spend many hours by your side, all the while conversing with you and sticking their sweet little noses into everything. (Be prepared.) Ever helpful, they also love to stick a paw into everything — even when it doesn’t belong. None of this translates into clinginess though, they develop deep bonds but won’t be a complete pest.

Highly intelligent and entertaining, Japanese Bobtails are active with a capital “act.” If you need the medicine of laughter, this is your cat. Japanese Bobtails have a few requests: they like interactive toys, they love when you join in on the fun and require a tall cat tree so they can climb to their heart’s content (and they will whether you provide one or not).

Japanese Bobtails are talkative, chirping frequently and it almost sounds like they sing! Their ears, eyes, tail flicks and chirps help them get their point across every time. You’ll never have any problems distinguishing between what their meows mean, have no fear. Opinionated and stubborn, Japanese Bobtails are not easy to train. They love to walk on a leash as long as they get to lead. Their superior intelligence leads them into mischievousness. Closed doors are not a deterrent, simply an obstacle to be overcome — and they will. Beware if you let more than one Bobtail into your home. They will gather together and conspire. You know that book about how your cat is plotting to kill you? It may have been inspired by a group of Japanese Bobtails.

Dogue de Bordeaux

AKC Group: Working

Also known as a French Mastiff or Bordeaux Bulldog, this breed is a result of England’s brief occupation of Aquitane, a province in France. English Mastiffs were bred with the local French guard dogs. “Dogue” is derived from the Latin word “canis” and simply means (you got it) dog. Since the 1200s, Dogues have been used for many activities. They have protected livestock, hunted fox and bear and hauled heavy loads (including wounded soldiers during wartimes). Disgustingly, they have also been used in dogfighting circles. Dogue aficionados are experiencing a resurgence in population in France and around the world.

Size: 23 to 30 inches high; 100 to 150 pounds

Color: Solid red-brown, fawn or mahogany. May have white patches on the chest or extremities.

Life span: 10 to 12 years

Health problems: Hip dysplasia and cancer have been noted. A breed-specific ailment happens during birthing as Dogues have very high litter sizes. If you have a female Dogue who becomes pregnant, secure some veterinary assistance.

These massive dogs are muscular with a well-balanced, powerful build. Though they are large, they don’t have long legs. They are set much lower than English Mastiffs. Though Dogues look frightening, they are actually a calm, affectionate canines that make excellent companions. A Dogue is a loyal dog, so much so that long periods of time spent alone make him feel like he’s been abandoned. His size makes him an effective watchdog. His past work as a herder make him great with kids and other pets, provided they’re smaller than him (other pets that is, not children). A larger dog companion may call up his hunting instincts (did you miss the part where he was once used to hunt bear?)

The Dogue is a low energy breed and extremely intelligent. Keep training sessions under an hour. You do need to be assertive when training because Dogues have little to fear (this does not mean to be violent!) Deep down, a Dogue is an obedient, eager to please breed that excel in obedience courses. Brush him with a firm bristle brush to remove excess hairs. Mostly though, all you’ll need to do is wipe him down with a dry towel or damp washcloth.

Doberman Pinscher

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AKC Group: Working

Created from German Pinschers, Rottweilers, Beauceron, Pinschers, Greyhounds, English Greyhounds and German Shepherds. German tax collector, Louis Doberman wanted a watchdog that looked like a miniature Pinscher. After Doberman’s death in 1894, this new breed was given his name.

Size: 24 to 28 inches tall; 65 to 90 pounds

Color: Black, red, blue or fawn. All colors have tan markings.

Life span: 10 to 12 years

Health problems: Cancer, bloat, thyroid problems, liver problems, spinal problems.

The Doberman is a powerful, athletic dog that possess great agility, stamina and endurance. These handsome fellas have a close fitting, smooth, short coat. Their ears may be cropped to stand erect, otherwise they will hang down. Despite their reputation, Dobermans are devoted, adoring dogs with plenty of love to give. They are an intelligent, creative quick learner that possess an even temperament. In fact, a Doberman is one of the most intelligent and fastest learning breeds of dog. A Doberman excels at obedience training assuming the training is positive and includes treats and/or praise. They can be stubborn, so he’ll need to know you’re the boss. They do not take kindly to teasing and rough treatment. Dobermans require much physical and mental stimulation so he won’t become bored or restless which will lead to numerous behavioral issues. If you raise your children alongside a Doberman puppy, they’ll be the best of friends. If not, be mindful of your Doberman’s size. Other pets won’t pose a problem, but he may be bossy and dominant and even chase them. (This can be rectified by early socialization as a puppy.) He is reserved with strangers (socialization can help here too). The reason to never be rough or punitive, a Doberman is naturally fearless and protective and will not back down and fight if he’s provoked. His effectiveness as a watchdog and his fearlessness have created the Doberman’s reputation. Make no mistake: a Doberman makes a loving, wonderful pet as long as he is socialized properly as a puppy and trained positively.

With a naturally sleek coat, all you have to do is brush him occasionally. You’ll spend more time sponging him with a damp cloth than you will with a brush. They do shed seasonally so you’ll need to ramp up grooming sessions during these times. A Doberman is not a dog for the meek of heart — or the inexperienced. Their personality is dominant due to their size and strength. They are naturally assertive and, contrary to popular belief, they only become aggressive when trained to be aggressive (and this cannot be said or stressed enough). If you’re afraid or not assertive enough yourself, a Doberman is happy to stay the “alpha” in your relationship.

Early socialization to new people, situations and other animals are imperative. They love activity, don’t be afraid to give them plenty of opportunities to wear themselves out. Whatever you can dish out, they can take it. Training should include all members of the family. All training sessions should include ONLY positive reinforcements. If you end up having any issues training him, you aren’t being assertive enough. If you aren’t being aggressive with your Doberman, THERE IS NO REASON to fear him. When a Doberman is trained with positivity and respect, there is almost no better family dog. They want to be with you and they want to show you their love. A Doberman — again, contrary to popular belief — is not the best dog to live his life outside in your yard away from the human loving interaction he craves.