Siberian

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Originating from Russia (obviously), the Siberian moves with the grace of a ballet dancer. They are also known as the national treasure of Russia, the feline is well aware of this, so treat him accordingly or you make receive letters (lol). The Siberian coat has three dense layers (it’s cold in northern Russia!) that also sports a ruff around the neck, fluffy leg britches and a bushy tail. Their ears have tufts and probably sport lynx tipping.

Described as “lightning fast and whisper quiet,” a Siberian is also a problem solver. He will figure out how to get into anything — especially everything that you wants off limits. They love to play in water and enjoys a relaxing bath (you can keep the bubbles for yourself though). A natural explorer, he will tolerate learning to walk on a leash. Hind legs are longer than their front legs so a Siberian is a fantastic jumper. (I already warned you that he’d figure out how to get into off limit areas…) Soft voices demand to be heard — when they have something to say. They also love a hard
days work, so he will make sure your home is free of vermin. If he can’t have the real thing, he loves the fake toys too. He loves to play so expect to invest a lot of bonding time there. They love you, but won’t follow you around.

The Siberian is one of the biggest breeds. Females range between 9 to 18 pounds, and males are always larger. It also takes them a full five years to fully mature!

Their triple coat is water repellant. They shed twice a year and require regular brushing to remove dead hair. Siberians don’t tend to tangle easily. The most common coat pattern is brown tabby. However, Siberians come in all coat colors and combinations and they can be pointed.

Siberians developed on their own without human interventions. After the break-up of the Soviet Union Westerners finally learned of the breed. In 1990, they first Siberians were imported into the U.S.

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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.

Siamese

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Siamese kittens are born white and their points appear within their first year. Unlike other pointed breeds, Siamese only come in four true points: seal, chocolate, lilac or blue.

A classic feline staple, more than any other breed, Siamese cats have been used to establish other breeds. Most notably, they’ve been used to establish the Balinese, Bengal, Birman, Burmese, Havana Brown, Himalayan, Colorpoint Shorthair, Oriental Shorthair, Snowshoe and Tokinese. The Siamese is possibly the most widely recognized pedigreed cat in the world.  (Who doesn’t know what a Siamese cat looks like?) Those gorgeous points, the loud voice and their lordly manner are beloved worldwide and by millions of “owners.”

Loyal, intelligent and personable, Siamese love to snuggle. They do adore spending time with similar looking felines, though they love all other cats. (Even dogs.) To a Siamese, everything is a toy, so expect him to get into EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME! Beware of what he learns between the lines — if something is done (or tolerated) two days in a row, it becomes a rule and, therefore an expectation. A Siamese is another cat that plays hard then sleeps hard. When they love you they want to be with you all the time. A closed door is not an impediment.

Siamese cats originated in Siam (what is now Thailand) as early as the 14th century. Westerners were first introduced to the breed in the 19th century. The first Siamese in the U.S. was given to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. In Britain, they were introduced in 1884.

Siamese cats are moderately sized and females weigh between 6 to 12 pounds. Males are slighter larger.

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.

Selkirk Rex

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Known as the “Cat in Sheep’s Clothing,” Selkirk Rexes feel like lambs wool. Selkirk Rex are caused by a dominant curly-coated gene. At 6 months of age, they lose these curls to grow a sparse, straight coat during their adolescence. At 2 years of age, when they reach maturation, a thick, soft coat of curls reappear.

A naturally occurring gene, the first curly cat derived from a housecat, found in a Montana shelter in 1987. Named Miss DePesto (“Pest”) of NoFace, she was bred to a black Persian, Photofinish of Deekay. This produced a litter pf six kittens, three with curly coats and three with straight. Yes, there are curly and straight-coated Selkirk Rex as well as short- and long-haired varieties. It’s easy to tell if you’re going to have a true curly Selkirk Rex by their whiskers. Curly kittens have curled whiskers too. So why the name Selkirk Rex? The breeder responsible named the breed Selkirk after her stepfather. (This makes the Selkirk Rex the only breed to be named after a person.)

Selkirk Rex cats are patient and loving. He is completely used to being touched; everyone he meets just has to run their fingers through that gorgeous so so soft coat. Expect to laugh a lot; Selkirk Rex are known to be big clowns. Playful and laidback, he’s extremely smart too. He will learn how to get into drawers and to open doors. When it’s time for a chat, you’ll hear a quiet, gentle small voice. When he feels neglected (which shouldn’t normally be too often), he will let you know. Meanwhile, he doesn’t like to be left alone for too long (though they aren’t overly demanding), so provide him with a buddy if you have an active lifestyle. Don’t worry, this is a cat that gets along well with everyone.

A big cat, the Selkirk Rex comes in all colors and patterns and developed from the British and Exotic Shorthairs. These big boned cats have round heads atop semi-cobby, muscular bodies. They weigh between 6 to 16 pounds.

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.