Miniature Pinscher

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AKC Group: Toy

The Miniature Pinscher is a German breed and is unrelated to the Doberman, despite the fact that they look identical (except for their size). Miniature Pinschers developed from terrier breeds, including the German Pinscher and the Italian Greyhound, even the Dachshund. The Doberman was bred to look like the Miniature Pinscher and not the other way around. (Pinscher in German means terrier.)

Size: 10 to 12.5 inches high; 8 to 10 pounds

Color: Clear red, stag red, chocolate and blue; black and tan.

Life span: 12 to 14 years

Health problems: Luxating patella, Legg Perthes, skin problems, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.

The Miniature Pinscher is a small athletic dog. They are compact with an alert and inquisitive expression. Folded ears give the Miniature Pinscher a softer look, but ears can also be erect which leads more to an alert looking dog. The coat is close-fitting, short and sleek. Tails are usually docked. A tapered narrow head contains dark oval eyes. The forelegs and hind legs move in parallel. Brush your Miniature Pinscher occasionally and wipe down with a damp cloth to keep his coat looking sleek.

A fun loving dog, a Miniature Pinscher has plenty of courage and enthusiasm for everything he does. These spirited dogs can be difficult to train and are better suited to experienced owners. They are intelligent and quick learners though. They have no problem to sound the alarm. They may be territorial and dominant and housebreaking may pose a problem too. Miniature Pinschers love to play and exercise and have very high levels of energy. They can be clingy, thriving on love and affection. They cannot abide rough treatment by exuberant children or trainers (so keep your training methods positive). They are often wary of strangers and not always tolerant of companion animals. Ensure that your Miniature Pinscher has a secure yard as they enjoy escaping and are great at climbing. (A mini Houdini?) Training should be firm and consistent. (Once successfully trained, they make an exceptional family pet.) They must always understand that you are the “alpha.” You can tell if they are loyal to you and seek your approval. Never laugh at misbehavior as they do seek out your amusement. Early socialization can help to nix many unpleasant behaviors in the bud. Crate training works best to housebreak. Discourage barking.

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Miniature Bull Terrier

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AKC Group: Terrier

During the early 1800s dog fighters wanted to create a breed that retained the aggressiveness of the Bulldog with the speed and intelligence of the terrier breed. A crossing between Bulldogs and English terriers resulted in the creation of the Bull Terrier. Too bad for them that the dog did not perform as well as they wanted in the dog fighting world. The breed was left to their own devices and showed more promise as guard and watchdog since they were able to scare off intruders, but not to hurt or kill them. The breed got smaller (down to the mini size they are today) in an attempt to retain the watchdog qualities but be a size that trainers and handlers could manage.

Size: 10 to 14 inches tall; 25 to 33 pounds.

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

Life span: 11 to 14 years

Health problems: Heart or kidney problems, paralysis of the larynx, luxating patella, eye problems, seizures, thyroid disorders, skin problems and allergies.

Miniature Bull Terriers are small, sturdy dogs that most people agree are not the most attractive dog, but they are distinctive looking. They have oval, sloping muzzles and small eyes. The coat is short, sleek and close fitting. Grooming time is minimal. Brush occasionally and wipe down with a damp cloth to keep his coat looking sleek.

Personality-wise, Miniature Bull Terriers are a most determined dog. They are active and energetic and should exhibit a stable temperament. They can be amusing and entertaining — especially when they are receiving enough love and affection from their family. (Word of warning a neglected Miniature Bull Terrier can be very destructive dog!) While they are able to make family pets, Miniature Bull Terriers are best suited to an experienced dog owner as you need to be confident and assertive when training and reward positively. Early socialization is key with this breed as they were developed to be aggressive. The more they are exposed to as puppies, the more stability and even temperament you can bring out in them. They need plenty of exercise. They do great with other dogs but require much socialization to handle cats. Your children should be considerate and gentle with him. Most Miniature Bull Terriers are unaffected by strangers, save barking to announce their arrival.

If a Miniature Bull Terrier is not trained properly, he will pose a danger to you. The earlier you start his training and socialization, the easier and more success you will have. He will be more interested in playing since he has a very high level of exuberance, but be firm, patient, firm and kind and it will pay off. Though you will still have to pull most of your hair out. This is a very difficult dog to train. Try not to positively train with food rewards as this can exacerbate health problems. Praise, affection and other positive rewards are much better alternatives. Reserve food at the end of the session for exceptional progress. Most of your training will focus on socialization. Downplaying aggressiveness and protectiveness with other animals and people by constantly and slowly exposing him to new situations and strangers is the name of the game.

Miniature Australian Shepherd

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AKC Group: Herding

The Miniature Australian Shepherd came to fruition in California during the late 1960s. They were used to herd small livestock like sheep and goats, though they do have the determination to herd larger stock. Their loveable nature ensured that they had a place inside the home too. They became quite popular with the equestrian set by accompanying them to shows.

Size: 13 to 18 inches high; 20 to 40 pounds

Color: Solid black, red/liver; red/liver, blue merle. May have white markings on the face, chest and legs.

Life span: 13 to 15 years

Health problems: Progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, microphthalmia, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy.

The Miniature American Shepherd is a small herding dog. Highly intelligent and biddable, the breed is often trained for dog sports such as herding, agility, obedience, disc dog and flyball. They are easy to train, enthusiastic and persistent (especially when herding) dogs that make a lovely companion whether you live in the city or country. This is such a loyal little dog. I hope your children like to be herded. The Miniature Australian Shepherd is neither shy nor aggressive. He is a herder. Have I mentioned that? It’s super important because he’s super great at it. It’s okay, though, it’s natural and totally normal. They’re herders; they love to herd. Got that? 😉

The Miniature Australian Shepherd may not realize that he’s a small dog. His body should suggest strength. They sport natural bobtails or they will have a docked tail that won’t exceed three inches. The coat is medium in length and may be straight or curly with moderate feathering on the back of the legs. Both sexes sport a moderate mane, though it may be more pronounced on males.

Mastiff

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AKC Group: Working

The Mastiff descended from the now extinct Pugnaces Britanniae. “Mastiff” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “masty” meaning “powerful.” It is recognized as the oldest breed of English dog. It is believed to have been brought to Britain in the 6th century BC. They were used for the blood sports of bull, bear and lion baiting as well as dog fighting. There is evidence to say that the Mastiff was brought to the New World via the Mayflower, though actual documentation begins in the late 1800s. In 1835, the UK passed the Cruelty to Animals Act that prohibited the baiting of animals and the popularity of the Mastiff began to wane.

Size: 27.5 to 30 inches tall; 175 to 200 pounds

Color: Fawn, apricot or brindle

Life span: 10 to 12 years

Health problems: Luxating patella, strokes, epilepsy, spinal problems, eye problems, thyroid disorders, osteochrondritis dissecans, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, hip or elbow dysplasia, heart defects, bloat, kidney problems, and sensitivity to drugs and chemicals. During the sticky summer months, Mastiffs can suffer from heatstroke.

The Mastiff is a giant dog, with a muscular and powerful build. An alert and keen looking dog, they look menacing without even having to move. The coat of the Mastiff is close fitting, short, and sleek. They may have black markings around and/or between the eyes. Small ears fold down toward the sides of his head. An occasional brushing and wipe down with a damp cloth is all the grooming requirements your Mastiff needs. A Mastiff sheds constantly but lightly.

A dignified, courageous, and loyal dog, a Mastiff has a pleasant nature and a high level of intelligence. Due to his size, he makes an effective deterrent/watchdog. Despite their look, the Mastiff has a even temper and docile nature (unless they’ve been raised not to). Early socialization and confident, assertive training are required. A Mastiff is not a difficult dog to train. If you spend frequent time away from home, a Mastiff is not the dog for you; they thrive on companionship and affection. A Mastiff is not an overly active dog; he does best with a moderate amount of exercise. They don’t bark that much. Unfortunately, they are too large for apartment dwelling. They need a safe, secure yard in which to play and exercise. They should do great with children and animals (though they may try to dominate) that they’ve been raised with. If you’re doing a great job with him, your Mastiff should be friendly and welcoming to guests. If he isn’t, you’ve done something wrong.

Maremma Sheepdog

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AKC Group: Non-Specific

The Maremma hails from Italy and has been traced back 2000 years. Both the Maremma and Abruzzo areas of Italy take credit for the breed and at one time the dogs were thought to be separate breeds. Bred to guard, they continue in this role. The breed is rare outside of Italy. (Though they are gaining favor in Australia. A population of penguins were dwindling due to foxes and other dogs. The people have tried various methods of protecting the birds to no avail. A farmer suggested using a Maremma puppy to protect the penguins. Successful, more Maremmas have been invited to Australia to help the effort.)

Size: 23 to 30 inches tall; 65 to 100 pounds

Color: White; some may have ivory, yellow or orange markings around the head and ears.

Life span: 12 to 15 years

Health problems: Only hip dysplasia or eye diseases have been noted infrequently.

The majestic-looking Maremma have large, sturdy frames covered by rough, thick and slightly wavy coats. The broad, triangular head has a slightly tapered muzzle, almond shaped eyes and hanging V-shaped ears. Their all weather coat needs regular, thorough combing and brushing to remove dead and loose hairs.

Used for guarding, the Maremma is a defender of their people and property. (Thankfully they are slow to anger, so they shouldn’t appear aggressive.) One trait that you may never like — unless you’re going to put him to work — is he always questions commands and usually ends up doing what he thinks is best. (When you put him to work, his natural instincts take over and he just seems to know what to do.) Not demonstrative, he does bond very deeply with his family. Think of a Maremma as a giant cat and then you’ll be able to understand his personality a lot better! Due to the difficulty of keeping him happy inside the home as a pet, a Maremma is not recommended at all as a pet.

Manchester Terrier

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AKC Group: Terrier

The Manchester district of England was a noted center for two “poor men’s sports,” rat killing and rabbit coursing. A fancier by the name of John Hulme, with the idea of producing a dog that
could be used at both contests, mated a Whippet female with a celebrated rat-killing dog, a crossbred terrier dark brown in color.

Size: 15 to 16 inches high; 12 to 22 pounds. (The toy Manchester cannot exceed 12 pounds, while the Standard size cannot exceed 22 pounds.)

Color: Black and tan

Life span: 15 to 16 years

Sleek but sturdy, friendly but discerning, neither aggressive nor shy, and usually agreeable with kids and other dogs. Most terriers were created for country life, but Manchesters began as
urbanites with city folk that wanted a compact pet with big-dog style. A Manchester is easily recognized by his close fitting coat of mahogany and jet black. Their heads are long and wedge-shaped with tan spots above the eyes. Machesters are fast runners. Manchesters do well with kids and other companion animals. Training should be a breeze. The Manchester is a spirited, bright and loyal dog that does possess that independent terrier streak. Brush him weekly andbathe when necessary.

Maltese

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AKC Group: Toy

The Maltese breed is one of the oldest European toy breeds and, in fact, one of the oldest dog breeds overall. Charles Darwin had traced the breed back to 6000 BC. The exact origins are
unknown, but the common theory is the Maltese was developed on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. They developed from a Spitz-like dog used for hunting in marshes and wooded areas in Southern Europe. Other people believe the Maltese developed in Asia from the Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Terrier and Spaniel and Pekingese.

Size: 9 to 10 inches high; under 7 pounds.

Color: White

Life span: 12 to 14 years

Health problems: Glaucoma, deafness, thyroid problems, low blood sugar, sensitivity to drugs or chemicals, dental problems, luxating patella, progressive retinal atrophy and entropion.

As a toy breed, the Maltese is a small, dainty dog that have the sweetest expression. The coat is long and straight and silk to the touch. Brush him daily. Clip every few months. Check his eyes and ears often and trim bottom hair.

This popular breed is mild mannered, affectionate and loving. Their intelligence and alertness make training a breeze. The only problem he will probably give you is housebreaking. Crating is most effective in this situation. (If you try pee pads, your Maltese will expect to be able to go on any paper left on the floor.) Energetic and spirited, Maltese love to play. To keep his mind engaged, give him a variety of mentally stimulating toys. They thrive on attention, so if you travel a lot or don’t have time to devote to him, consider another breed. He doesn’t like rough treatment, so gentle children are his favorite. They are polite to strangers and usually don’t present any problems to companion animals. They do not have a problem standing up to a larger breed of dog. By nature, Maltese are standoffish. To combat this, socialize often and early. Always discourage barking.