Flat-Coated Retriever

AKC Group: Sporting

The Flat-Coated Retriever’s story began in England in the mid-19th century. They are thought to have descended from Labradors. They quickly became a favorite for those who needed a gun dog. Flat-Coated Retrievers are excellent as watchdogs, retrievers and as hunters and trackers. Today the breed is used mostly for show as it requires attentive breeding to bring out its natural talents.

Size: 22 to 23 inches high; 60 to 70 pounds

Color: Solid black, brown or liver. Can have white or black spots.

Life span: 10 years

Health problems: Luxating patella, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, cancer, thyroid issues, entropion.

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a large dog with a powerful build. He’s always ready to spring into action — no wonder he looks so eager. Their energy levels rests at high, so he’ll need plenty of game and exercise time. Their coat is dense, flat (obviously) and medium in length.

Flat-Coated Retrievers are on outgoing, keen, eager to please breed that thrives on your company and attention. These dogs are cheerful and sweet and make an excellent companion. (If you have the opportunity to get a Flat-Coated Retriever for a pet, you won’t regret it.) Highly intelligent and naturally obedient, they throw themselves into every endeavor and give 100%. Flat-Coated Retrievers require a high level of commitment: they need a lot of physical and mental stimulation and plenty of affection to avoid boredom and the inevitable destructiveness. They love kids, but may too exuberant for small youngsters. He adores other animals, but may be too overwhelming for smaller companions. A sociable dog, strangers don’t faze him. Flat-Coated Retrievers love to jump and to chew. These are two more reasons why he needs plenty of exercise — or outlets to indulge. Give him plenty of appropriate toys to chew on so he won’t choose valuables.

Flat-Coated Retrievers shed heavily during certain times during the year. He should be brushed twice a week to avoid matting and keep his coat beautiful. During seasonal shedding, he’ll need more help. Check his ears often — they need to be clean and dry to avoid infections. A Flat-Coated Retriever is easily bored, so plan on a varied training method and activities. They develop strong bonds and need consistency and direction when they’re young. Using toys or objects in training helps them to grasp skills easier. Excellent motivators for them are food, new toys and a trip to the park. Positive reinforcement will be your best friend and your most used tool. Harsh tones or mannerisms and heavy handed tactics will cause him to retreat, become anxious and uncomfortable. Socialization and obedience training are a must for them. A happy and loving dog, you may have to set some ground rules through constructive training. However you can encourage your Flat-Coated Retriever to use his natural skills (hunting and scenting), do it. Set up some “hunts” for him.

Maine Coon

Known as the gentle giant, Maine Coon cats are large, affectionate and easygoing. Males weigh 13 to 18 pounds, females weigh 9 to 13 pounds.

Maine Coons are muscular and broad chested with a long body. Overall, a Maine Coon should have a well-balanced rectangular appearance, no part of their anatomy should have an exaggerated or dominant look. The body should feel solid and muscular without flabbiness. The paws are tufted (to help Maine Coons walk on snow). Maine Coons have long tails that taper with long, flowing fur.

Maine Coon cats have medium heads that are slightly longer than they are wide with high cheekbones. Muzzles are square. The chin is strong and firm.

Maine Coons have two facial types: “sweet” which is a refined look or “feral” — a wild, rugged look. Breeders (according to some) are saying the breed is developing a more uniform look, while other breeders are holding fast to the two types.

Maine Coons have large, tufted ears that look pointed. Their large eyes are expressive and oval-shaped. Maine Coons reach maturity around age 4. Males are slightly less easygoing than females.

Maine Coon cats have a thick, semi-long, all-weather, water-resistant coat. Their fur doesn’t easily mat. The fur is shorter on the shoulders and longer on the britches and stomach and should appear as a frontal ruff. The coat is silky to the touch.

Brown tabby or tabby with white is most common, though Maine Coons can come in all colors and patterns.

No one quite knows where or when the cat arrived in the New World. Appearance-wise, Maine Coons resemble the Norwegian Forest Cat, suggesting Maine Coons came over from Viking ships in the 11th century (long before the Pilgrims landed). Maine Coons were called “Shags” (due to their shaggy coats) and were an integral part of life in the New England colonies. Maine Coons (like all cats) helped keep granaries free of rodents. The New England climate is harsh during the winter and only the fittest cats could survive. Maine Coons (through natural selection) developed into a large, hardy cat with that dense, water-resistant coat. They also developed into skilled hunters by using their nimble, hand-like paws.

In the early 20th century, Maine Coons fell out of favor as cat lovers fell for the new European breeds (that seemed to be arriving daily). Once the most numerous New World breed, Maine Coons became relegated to their “native” New England. In the late 1950s, the breed was declared extinct. Thankfully, that wasn’t true. Devoted Maine Coon fans plugged away for years to re-establish the breed — and it paid off. Today, the Maine Coon is the second most popular longhaired breed and the third most popular breed overall.

Maine Coons have a heart of gold (they must have to match their size). Maine Coons are kittens in big cat suits that remain playful their whole lives. Maine Coons are standoffish at first (and shy around strangers), but, take heart, they’re simply adjusting; the Maine Coon is an adaptable cat indeed. Once they’ve decided they can trust you, they develop close bonds and become a truly devoted companion. They become a family member and participate in all family activities. Maine Coons are not lap cats though; they want to be near you, not on you.

Maine Coons are endlessly fascinated with water. They are often found pawing at water bowls and walking in a still wet shower or tub. They’ve even been known to swim or shower with their humans. It’s best to keep the bathroom closed up and the toilet lid down. They like to try to empty toilet bowls and mop up with toilet paper.

The Maine Coon has a unique vocabulary of cheeps, chirps, trills, squeaks and meows. They laugh when they’re playing, trill when they’re happy to see you and chatter when they see prey.

Grooming is best done twice a week.

Finnish Spitz

AKC Group: Non-sporting

History says the Finnish Spitz originated from the Volga River area of central Russia and evolved from the tribes in Finland. The Finnish Spitz is the national dog of Finland. The Finnish Spitz displays many fox-like mannerisms and make great hunters of birds and even greater pets if properly trained.

Size: 15 to 20 inches tall; 30 to 35 pounds

Color: Red/gold; red; gold. All have white markings.

Life span: 12 to 15 years

Health problems: Cataracts, hip dysplasia or luxating patella.

Finnish Spitz are very independent, aloof dogs. They love to play and be active. They require a lot of mental and physical stimulation to avoid boredom which leads to destruction. Despite their independence, the Finnish Spitz is a loyal, devoted friend to you and especially your little ones. They may bond more to one person but still loves to be part of the family unit. He does have a sensitive nature, so keep that in mind. The Finnish Spitz get along with other pets, though they may be aggressive with dogs of the same sex and may chase smaller animals. With strangers, he’ll be aloof and reserved.

The Finnish Spitz acts and looks like a fox. They have muscular square bodies. The head flattens between the ears. They have narrow muzzles that taper to a point. The ears are set high and are erect. Their plumed tails curl up over their back. The Finnish Spitz has a double coat. A dense, soft short undercoat lies beneath a long, straight harsh outercoat. Puppies are born dark and lighten to their reddish color as they age.

Finnish Spitz are heavy seasonal shedders. They need to be brushed weekly. More so during shedding periods. The Finnish Spitz is a quick learner, but that may not be evident with that independent streak in them. They aren’t difficult to train unless they’re anxious or fearful, then they become really stubborn! When training, be relaxed. A Finnish Spitz will perform readily when they’re comfortable. The best type of training for them is playful and motivational. Train them outside in 2 or 3 15-minute sessions a day. They love to explore, so a new environment can help keep them motivated. They are very sensitive to tones, so don’t yell. Feel free to enlist them in an obedience class.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is a blood disease caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand Factor, an adhesive glycoprotein in the blood required for normal platelet binding (clotting) at the sites of small blood vessel injuries. Von Willebrand Factor is a carrier protein for coagulation Factor VIII (which is necessary for blood to clot). Similar to hemophilia in humans, von Willebrand’s disease can lead to excessive bleeding following an injury, since the blood isn’t able to clot.

Von Willebrand’s disease is the most common hereditary blood clotting disorder in dogs, occurring more frequently in German Shepherds, Doberman Pinscher, Standard Poodles, Shetland Sheepdogs and Golden Retrievers.

The symptoms to look out for: spontaneous hemorrhages from mucosal surfaces (nosebleeds, blood in the feces, bloody urine, bleeding gums or bleeding from the vagina), skin bruising, prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma, after prolonged bleeding blood loss anemia.

Your veterinarian will need to perform a blood chemical profile, including a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. A clinical diagnosis of vWD is based on a specific measurement of plasma von Willebrand’s Factor concentration bound to the antigen.

Your dog may need blood transfusions of blood, plasma or cryoprecipitate to supply von Willebrand’s Factor. Component therapy (adding plasma or cryoprecipitate) is best for surgical prevention or for nonanemic patients to prevent red cell sensitization and blood volume overload. Dogs with severe von Willebrand’s disease may require repeated transfusions to control and/or prevent hemorrhages. If your dog does require surgery, a pre-op transfusion will be given.

If your dog has mild to moderate von Willebrand’s disease, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t experience a good quality of life, though he may minimal to no special treatments. You’ll simply need to monitor when he has an injury. However, a dog experiencing severe von Willebrand’s disease will require much more diligence and potentially a lot more interventions. Most of the time, a dog can be maintained comfortably but his activities will need to be monitored and limited. No matter the severity of his condition, any time your dog experiences prolonged bleeding, get him to his vet immediately for medical treatment.

Finnish Lapphund

AKC Group: Herding

Originally Finnish Lapphund (or Lapinkoira or Svomenlapinkoira) were used to help the Sami, a tribe of semi-nomadic people that lived in Lapland (the northern regions of Finland, Sweden that extended into Russia). Eventually the Sami settled down to keep their reindeer herds and the Lapphund evolved into a herder of the reindeer. When the snowmobile came on the scene, the Lapphund was pushed out of his job and moved on to herd other livestock. Around 1940, interest grew in saving the breed. Breeders collected dogs from the original Sami tribe to develop their program. Today, the Lapphund is the 8th most popular breed in their native Finland.

Size: 16 to 20 inches; 33 to 53 pounds

Color: Lapphunds come in any color. The solid color should dominate the coat.

Life span: 12 to 15 years. Newer research suggests their life span is close to 15 to 17 years.

Health problems: A small percentage of purebred Lapphunds have been afflicted with progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts or hip dysplasia

The Lapphund is a hardy, muscular, medium-sized, spitz-type dog. His coat is long, straight and coarse. His undercoat is thick and dense. His double coat requires little maintenance and makes him weather resistant. (A good thing since he hails from the Arctic.) The Lapphund ears are small to medium in size and either stand erect (pricked) or have folded tips with hair inside.

The Lapphund is an intelligent, friendly, mild-mannered dog. Eager to please, they’re very loyal to their family yet retain an independent streak. As a working breed, he learns eagerly and excel at dog sports like agility.

Having a double coat, your male Lapphund will shed once a year while your female will shed twice a year. Brush him or her regularly and bathe occasionally. Lapphunds require early socialization and obedience training. Training sessions should be short and varied, Lapphunds become bored easily. You need to be firm, fair and consistent and things should go swimmingly.

Fila Brasileiro

AKC Group: Working

The ancestors of Fila Brasilieros date back to the 1400s and seem to have descended from the old English Mastiff, Bloodhound, Rafeiros and Bulldog. The Fila was used to manipulate Brazilian livestock thanks to their threatening demeanor. They aren’t actually an aggressive breed and false claims of unmerited aggression led to the breed’s banning in several countries worldwide. Another original job of the Fila was to return slaves to their Brazilian captors without harm. The Fila is an adored breed in Europe.

Size: 24 to 30 inches; 85 to 100 pounds

Color: Fawn, black, brown, brindle

Life span: Approximately 10 years

Health problems: Hip dysplasia, bloat, congenital heart disease, gastric torsion, elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.

Looking at a Fila, you would liken him to a Bloodhound, of which they descended. The Fila is a loyal, proud dog and is covered by a short, soft coat. The Fila has a large muzzle and a heavy upper lip. His skin should hang loosely from his body. Filas have a distinctive walk: Both legs on one side move forward before the legs on the other side follow.

As a large dog, the Fila is not for everyone. They are a powerful, courageous, fearless, attentive dog. They do have a bad reputation for aggression, but it is not in their nature to do so, except when provoked (or are trained to be). They are naturally suspicious of strangers but completely and hopelessly devoted to their family. When you take your Fila for a walk, always ensure he’s on a leash. Be mindful of his whereabouts even in your yard. Dognappers routinely (and frequently) would nab a Fila to sell him into dogfighting circles where a Fila can bring in quite a profit.

The Fila coat requires an occasional brushing with a firm bristle brush. Wipe down with a damp cloth to remove dead hairs and bathe only when necessary. To train, enroll your Fila in obedience classes as he’ll probably have times where he’s a little difficult to control. Otherwise, a Fila requires firm, positive training and socialization for him to become well-mannered and obedient. To help stave off bloat, instead of feeding him one huge daily meal, feed him two to three smaller meals a day.