For the 22nd year in a row, the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog breeds in the United States according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The second favourite remains the German shepherd dog with the golden retriever swapping places with the beagle for third and fourth respectively. The top ten is rounded out, in order, by the bulldog, Yorkshire terrier, boxer, poodle, Rottweiler, and dachshund.
In the last decade the popularity of the smaller breeds has gradually been replaced by resurgence in the medium to large sized dogs. Small breeds that gained in popularity this year include the havanese (a Cuban breed known for its sassy attitude and sashaying hip movement) and the affenpinscher, which has a face that is often said to resemble that of a monkey. The Chihuahua, Pomeranian and pug all saw declines in their ranks this year.
Other trends included the increase in mastiff-type dogs such as the English mastiff, bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Dogue de Bordeaux. The latter three are all fairly new to AKC recognition and have grown in popularity since they joined the list last year. Bully breeds are also on the rise including the bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and miniature bull terrier. Bulldogs are the mascots for several school teams including Yale University, Georgetown, Butler University, and the United States Marine Corp. The last grouping that saw an increase was the rarer gundog breeds such as the boykin spaniel, Welsh springer spaniel and Spinone Italiano.
Popularity is often relatable to entertainment trends and the presence of certain breeds in film and television shows. In the 1920s, perhaps riding on the popularity of Rin Tin Tin, the German shepherd dog was the most popular breed in America. Although it can be argued that sometimes breeds are chosen for media use because of their popularity as well. The Chihuahua has been in the top twenty for over a decade coinciding with its appearances in Taco Bell commercials and the Legally Blonde films. Currently the French Bulldog may be experiencing a similar gain in popularity. In 2002, it ranked 58th in popularity. Stella, the French Bulldog, is a current regular on Modern Family and this year the breed ranked 14th.
It is important to remember that dogs seen on television and in movies have been trained to behave in certain ways and should not be purchased with the expectation that the new puppy will be just like the one in the media. Popularity due to films like 101 Dalmatians can cause an upsurge in interest in the breed leading to unscrupulous people looking to make a quick dollar by breeding dogs without proper health checks and careful scrutiny of the suitability of potential homes. This, in turn, results in floods of dogs ending up in shelters when they fail to meet their owner’s expectations. Therefore, it is always important to remember that if you are interested in getting a new pet, do your research and pick a breed who’s temperament and lifestyle meets that of your own.
PETALING JAYA: The grit and will to live displayed by a severely disabled puppy inspired a pet groomer to name her centre after him and appoint the canine as its “CEO”.
Jovy Lee decided to name her salon after one-and-a-half-year-old Mr Gwing because even the veterinarian who attended to him and advised euthanasia now calls the dog a miracle.
“I felt it in my heart that naming my salon after Mr Gwing would bring me luck and inspire me to have his tenacity and perseverance,” said Lee, 40.
Mr Gwing, dressed in red to symbolise luck, was seen walking around and meeting guests who patted and pampered him during the official opening yesterday.
Lucky dog: Derene (holding Mr Gwing) with Lee at the pet grooming salon in Kota Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
He is required to come to “work” at the salon every morning and goes home in the evening after a day's pampering and feasting on doggie treats.
Lee said she was still amazed at how Mr Gwing had allowed himself to be put through hours of strenuous physiotherapy and training without even a whimper until he was able to walk.
Mr Gwing was unable to move because his entire spinal column was spiral-shaped and the major bones in his body were either crooked or twisted.
The then three-month-old puppy was rescued by a canine welfare project Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB) volunteer at the Semenyih wet market, where it was lying in its own urine and faeces without being able to move much.
“The puppy must have been dumped at the market because of his acute disability and MDDB was advised to euthanise him, as in addition to being severely disabled, he was also very fierce and would not allow anyone to touch him,” recalled Lee.
However, Lee said MDDB being strictly “no-kill” asked her cousin Derene Lee who was on a semester break to take up the challenge of rehabilitating the puppy.
“My cousin took the puppy back to our hometown Kuantan and a long rehabilitation process took place where the puppy was first made to overcome its fear of people and gain confidence,” said Lee.
Derene has since adopted Mr Gwing.
The outlet called Mr Gwing & Furry Friends Pet Salon is located in a petshop Superpetfans in Kota Damansara.
Mr Gwing has his own FB page http://www.facebook.com/Mr.Gwing and the story of his arduous journey has been made available on YouTube and is called “A Year With A Dog named Mr. Gwing”.
It's important to do your homework before you buy that cute little pooch.
PET lover Emily Tan was at the veterinary clinic with her four-year-old beagle, Rocky, when she met a dog owner she'll never forget.
Tan, 30, recalls that Rocky, a friendly and inquisitive dog, had tried to give the young, well-dressed woman a sniff when she recoiled in fear and backed against the wall.
“She was afraid Rocky would bite, but I assured her that he's a very friendly dog. Her reply was He's very big',” says Tan.
Rearing them right: de Run with his white German Shepherd puppies. He says that every dog needs to be trained but it’s a matter of what level of training.
When she asked the woman if she knew how big her dog would grow into, she in turn asked if the puppy would be bigger than Rocky. Speechless, Tan could only nod in reply. The reason? The puppy was a rottweiler.
“She had obviously not taken the trouble to research the breed of puppy she had ... she could be headed for trouble,” Tan says.
Too often, pet owners here do not do their homework and research before bringing a dog home.
“I always tell people to take their time. See which breed suits their lifestyle. If you have a lazy lifestyle, for example, getting a dobermann would be a huge mistake. You also have to consider the dog's personality, temperament and size. Can you handle your dog's size? If your dog is sick, can you carry him to the vet? Is your car big enough to accommodate the dog?
“Getting a dog must never be a spontaneous decision. It's just like if you're planning for a child, you need to think of your living arrangements, your finances, everything. A puppy is a commitment for the next 15 years,” Anthony explains.
Knobel with his German shepherds Aik (right) and Kimba (left). He says it’s not the breed but the handler that determines whether a dog ends up being dangerous.
An owner and trainer of four service dogs two German shepherds, a dobermann and a Shetland sheepdog Anthony firmly believes in responsible ownership.
“Everyone has the right to walk in public and not fear that he might get attacked by a dog. If that happens, it's the owner who holds all responsibility. The owner has to be the one to take charge and be in control of his/her dog. It would be a terrible thing if a dog is allowed to run out on its own and make its own decisions.
“What if it attacks someone or another animal, or it gets knocked down by a vehicle? On the other hand, don't go the extreme to cage and tie up your dog all the time. A dog that does not socialise will only become a monster,” he says.
Being a responsible owner also means getting your dog trained, says seasoned dog trainer Edmund de Run, who advocates training for all dogs, regardless of breed.
“You might understand your dog, but your dog doesn't understand you unless he's been trained. Every dog needs to be trained, it's just a matter of what level of training.
“If you have a dog, you can always get a trainer to assess your dog, and give his views. The trainer will be able to tell if he thinks you can control the dog. If you can't, it's better to find him a home where the owner can train and control him, than for him to end up attacking someone,” says de Run, who has been training dogs for the police force and the army since the 1960s.
De Run, who has long worked with working dogs (such as German shepherds, Belgian shepherds and rottweilers), adds that knowing a dog's history is also important.
“If you buy an adult dog, you have to know its history and background the environment he grew up in, who his previous owners are, what they are like. One way to easily do that is to make sure dogs are microchipped, so that their history can be easily tracked.”
Affectionate play: Anthony with his dobermann pup, Dobe Ace Zha. He says getting a dog must never be a spontaneous decision and equates it to planning for a child.
Equally crucial is getting the dog from a responsible breeder, who breeds from proper bloodlines. Bad breeding, or too much in-breeding, he says, can often lead to dogs with bad temperament or aggressive and/or destructive behaviour.
Dog aggression made headlines on Tuesday after a jogger, 74-year-old Yip Sun Wah, was bitten in the neck and ear by a licensed three-year-old dog in his residential area at SS19, Subang Jaya, Selangor. He died on the spot.
The dog has been identified by the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) as a miniature bull terrier cross, a restricted breed in Malaysia. Such breeds (like the English bull terrier) are allowed to be kept as guard dogs provided they are given proper training.
In Yip's case, the dog owner has been slapped with a RM1,000 fine by MPSJ. The case is still being investigated by the police under Section 304(A) of the Penal Code for negligence to the extent of causing death. The dog is now with the Selangor Veterinary Services Department pending further action.
Seven dog breeds the akita, Neapolitan mastiff, American bulldog, dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanesa tosa and the American pit bull have been banned from import and export activities in Malaysia. DVS imposed the ban last April after they were deemed to be “unmanageable or possibly dangerous”.
But banning the breed is not a solution, says German dog trainer Juergen Knobel.
“It won't stop smugglers from bringing the dogs in. People who want the dogs will still find a way to get them. The only difference is they will probably have to pay twice the price. It only makes the smugglers richer,” he says.
Knobel, who has had some 45 years of handling and training dogs, adds that it's not the breed but the handler who determines whether a dog ends up being dangerous.
“I have trained more than 35 pit bulls, and they have never bitten anyone. in the hands of people who know how to handle them, they are harmless dogs.
“Over here, you keep hearing how these dogs attack people. In Europe, many families have pit bulls, but you hardly ever hear of such cases,” he says.
In Germany, for instance, those who want to keep pit bulls have to attend a special school where they are first taught how to handle and train the dogs. “It's like getting a driver's licence. If you can't handle the dog, you can't have it,” he says.
Dog ownership also comes with serious legal repercussions, says lawyer and MBPJ councillor Derek Fernandez.
Fernandez explains that when things go awry, action can be taken under three branches of the law criminal law, civil law and municipal by-laws. For example, dog owners can be charged under provisions of the Penal Code for criminal negligence. Under municipal by-laws, they can be fined.
“Further, under the civil law, a victim of a dog attack also has common law rights. They can sue the dog owner and claim compensation. If there is loss of life, even a claim of up to RM1mil or RM2mil would be reasonable. It should act as a deterrent human lives shouldn't be cheap.
“Under the law, every dog owner has to exercise reasonable care over his dog. And if he knows that he owns a dangerous breed, then the standards for reasonable care is higher, isn't it?” he says.
The trainers concur that ownership is not a subject to be taken lightly. As Anthony puts it: “If you don't want to do your homework, and if you're not willing to commit, don't get a dog. Get an alarm system.”
History-chasing US shooter Kim Rhode has had a rough and lonely build-up to her Olympic bid after flight cancellations forced her to miss her team training camp... before her puppy ate her ticket.
Rhode, seeking to become the first American to win individual medals at five Summer Games in a row, went to the airport in Los Angeles on Friday intending to fly to Copenhagen in Denmark for the training camp.
But the first leg of her flight -- to Newark -- was twice cancelled and as timed ticked away she eventually flew direct to London, arriving on Tuesday.
Speaking during training at the sun-baked Royal Artillery Barracks on Wednesday, Rhode said she was tired after her ordeal but was upbeat about her Olympic chances.
"I've had a little bit of a problem with the airlines getting here," said the 33-year-old.
"I stayed home, trained there and then came directly from LA to London so essentially I didn't get all the time adjustment. I'm a little jet-lagged but other than that, things are good."
Adding to the stress, Rhode's husband initially could not find his passport and her four-month-old white puppy devoured her re-issued ticket.
"My husband lost his passport and couldn't find it. My dog ate my ticket.... I know that sounds crazy but I can honestly say and I have the pictures to prove that really happened. It's not just an excuse."
The missing passport was located and the ticket was reprinted after it was eaten by the toy poodle called Norman -- dubbed "hell on wheels" by Rhode.
When asked whether the dramas of the past few days had affected her, a relaxed Rhode said: "It's like anything. You just roll with the punches and hope for the best."
"You can't really let it get to you. If you did, you'd be in trouble before you even started so you just have to let things go," she said, adding she had even managed to pack in moving three pianos and buying a car in the run-up to her departure.
"I feel tired because I'm jet-lagged but I think that through it all I have five or six days to adjust, be better prepared sleep-wise essentially, which is right now what's affecting me the most but I'm essentially happy with where I'm at at this moment," she said.
Rhode, taking part in the women's trap and the skeet, said she was looking forward to the arrival of her team-mates on Wednesday, ahead of the start of shooting events on Saturday.
"It is very different to be travelling, going through all the things by yourself. At the Olympics you have the support of everybody, everybody's going through the same things so it's been a bit of a challenge," she said.
"Some of them sent me some well wishes on Twitter and Facebook. I know they're having a blast in Denmark. They've gone and seen ZZ Top and have been training really hard -- a lot of team-building going on there. I'm kind of bummed that I missed that," she added.
Rhode, seeking her fifth straight medal and her third gold overall, said her chance to make history was in the back of her mind but she was feeling relaxed.
"There's a certain added element of pressure when you come to an event like the Olympics to begin with. When you add in the achievements there's an element of pressure. However, as it's my fifth I'm feeling very comfortable with it.