Month: July 2014

Rare Breed: Dog

Rare Breed: Dog


6 – 8 kilograms

12 – 15 years


short snout, toy breed, big eyes, big personality, curly tail…
difficulty breathing, spinal problems, overcrowding of teeth…

Guessed the breed yet? Well, unfortunately it’s a very popular little breed – the pug! Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I dislike the breed, just saddened by how much inbreeding has damaged this breed. The reason it is in a post of Rare Breeds is because there are less than 50 genetically individual pugs, out of all pugs, in the UK alone! So most pugs will be related somehow, which means inbreeding is harder to avoid – whether you know you are inbreeding or not!

This breed was originally bred for Chinese nobility, they are good companions with a fun personality. Unfortunately with too much human interference, this breed has many health issues, and despite the knowledge we have kept breeding from unhealthy stock.

The breed standards set up by the kennel club haven’t helped either – the standards of how dogs must look causes health issues, which are often hereditary.

Overcrowded Pug Mouth
Overcrowded Pug Mouth (BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image)

Pugs have the same amount of teeth as any other dog, the same amount of nasal tissue as any other dog… but with a brachycephalic (flat and wide) skull, all of this has been squashed up – which causes issues. The flatter skull also means less space for the eyes, and pugs are prone to eye prolapses. Having the same amount of nasal tissue is what causes the breathing difficulties, often pugs need surgery to remove some of this tissue to enable their airways to be cleared and normal breathing to be established.

The kennel club breed standard for the pug calls for a double curl of the tail, this has had negative affects on the spine. The persistent breeding over and over of damaged, to conform to breed standards, has left pugs with worse spinal problems over the years. The spine can become twisted and painful, just so that they can have a tail curled to the way people want it to look!

Curved spine as a result of breeding for a curlier tail (BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image)
Curved spine as a result of breeding for a curlier tail           (BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image)

These are just the tip of the iceberg with pug health issues. We will never get this breed back (or others) if we don’t try to start out-breeding, and expanding the gene pool, to preserve these animals. Let’s face it – this breed is loved worldwide, and we’d hate to see it go extinct!

Pug (wiki)
Pug (wiki)


Did you know? The 5 Freedoms

Did you know? The 5 Freedoms

Short one this week. As much as we love our pets, not all animals have it as good as our little sweetie’s. Some have it very bad which sucks. It’s lovely to read rescue adoption stories and see animals get a second chance at happiness (they needn’t need a second chance, they should be loved right the first time).

The UK has the best animal welfare laws in the world, but even our laws do very little to help animals that really need it, without hard evidence. There are the 5 Freedom’s that were originally written by farmers for livestock, but have since been applied to domestic animals too. I have also realised that not many people have actually heard of the 5 Freedom’s – so this is merely an informative post to share what the 5 Freedom’s are and what they mean.

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst – fresh water readily available at all times, and a diet to maintain a healthy vigour

2. Freedom from discomfort – providing a suitable environment, including shelter and a comfortable area to rest

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease – by prevention, or rapid diagnosis and treatment

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour – by providing sufficient space and proper facilities, and the company of the animal’s own kind (suitable socialisation)

5. Freedom from fear and distress – ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

I firmly believe in providing animals with the highest standard of care and good welfare that is possible. These are a good starting point.

Daisy Dog & myself
Daisy Dog & myself
Sleep Time!

Sleep Time!

I have been thinking about sleep this week, and how with longer days and more sunlight during summer, often we rise earlier and stay up later. This is because of serotonin released in your brain (the waking hormone) caused by sunlight (you can counter this with heavy curtains that block out most light). Melatonin is the hormone that causes sleep. Obviously these hormones work differently depending on what species you are, and whether you are diurnal, nocturnal or a crepuscular species.

Anyway – with all that technical nonsense floating around my brain I decided to share some random things about animals and sleep, with a few pictures for your enjoyment too!

Fish and snake need darkness to help them sleep due to not having eyelids – snakes may bury in substrate but fish do not, so remember to turn off tank lights

Some species of snails can sleep for as long as 3 years!

Elephants sleep only 3 and a half hours per day, usually standing

Horses and cows cannot dream unless they sleep lying down

Giraffes need less than 2 hours of sleep per day, often getting no more than half an hour of sleep daily – broken into several intervals of between 5-10 minutes – they sleep the least of of all mammals


When dogs sleep on their back, with their paws up, they are in a deep sleep

The little brown bat sleeps up to 12-20 hours a day

Cats (big & small) need a minimum of 12 hours sleep per day, on average sleep for 14 hours daily

Sharks must keep moving whilst they sleep, often covering great distances

Birds have a locking system to stabilize them whilst they sleep, perched


Dolphins and ducks can half sleep – where only half their brain is asleep at a time, the other half stays awake!

Flamingo’s also sleep half their brain at a time, whilst on one leg

Walruses can go up to 3 days without sleep, but when they do sleep they get on average of 14 hours (just like cats!) daily

Koala’s sleep approximately 18 hours daily

Sloth’s sleep 15-18 hours daily (not as much as you may have thought)


Bats sleep (and rest) hanging upside-down as their wings are not strong enough to take off from standing – they need to drop into flight

The green tree-frog turns a tan colour during sleep

Prey species tend to sleep little and often in safe (often high) places, or stood up – whereas predator species sleep for long periods and where they like

I hope that you found that interesting – if you want any more information or have any questions, about anything animal related, please feel free to ask in the ‘thoughts’ box below or on the comments page, or via social media sites
– Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Loose the Leash!

Loose the Leash!

We get dogs as companions; as pets.  Our pets rely on us to live – they trust us with their lives, trust us to take care of them. We love our pets, and we take pride in training them and teaching them things. We like to show off the fun tricks we have taught our new puppy or even our older dog! But we often neglect to keep up with, or even do, basic training – we all toilet train, and at least attempt sit, stay, and recall.

Teaching your dog not to pull on the lead is often not done, and not kept on top of. This training not only to make things easier on us, especially with larger breeds, but is good for your dog’s health. I go nuts when I see people yanking their dog back on the lead – especially an extender/ retractable lead, because they are designed for your pet to roam – don’t want him to roam, don’t use the extension or use a normal lead! Unfortunately this seems to happen more with small breeds, because we are strong enough to lift them of their feet via their neck… doesn’t mean we ought to.


If you do this, you may seriously damage your pet’s neck – and surely that’s not why you got a companion animal, to cause harm?! If the dog is pulled up sharply to a hard stop, just one jerk can cause lasting damage – permanent damage that will stay with your pet for the rest of his life.

Extender/ retractable leads are more likely to cause this reaction from us – they are harder to get your dog back with, without jerking the lead. Teach your dog simple commands, to walk to heel and come back when called.

If you still have issues with your dog pulling on a lead, then for both your benefit and your dog’s, try a gentle leader or a harness – not a “check” or “choke” chain.

Gentle Leader
Gentle Leader

Take into account the breed of dog you have – for instance, a harness will cause a dog breed such as a Husky to pull more, as their instinct to “mush” and pull will kick in. If you choose to use a lead and collar, as I do personally, ensure that you train your dog to come back when called and walk to heel on command to avoid any (accidental) jerking of the lead – remember that just one jerk can cause permanent damage to your furry friend.

Collar & Lead
Collar & Lead
Rare Breeds: Cow

Rare Breeds: Cow

Vaynol cattle are white, with black ears, eyelids, hooves, and a black nose; sometimes also black socks and ends of the horns (black points). The females may even have black teats on their udder. The males have long horns, which grown out the side of the head, and then flick upwards (to quite a height); the females do not have horns. The breed on average weighing 300-450kg.

The breed itself is very old, dating back to the  late 1800’s. White cattle with coloured points are first mentioned in literature, dating back almost 2,000 years. It is also a beef breed (not a dairy cow).

Bull (male)

Vaynol cattle are on the Rare Breed survival trust list, classified as Critical – meaning there is less than 150 left in the UK. This makes them one the rarest breeds in Britain. They are a semi-feral breed, largely maintained on large estates and national parks. Due to being semi-feral, with little human interaction/ intervention, they are quite wary of humans and seen as a timid breed. Although, slowly making a come-back with more human intervention nowadays – with breeding programmes set in place and measures taken to avoid inbreeding within such small numbers of individuals.

Cow (female)
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