Monday, February 1, 2016

What Breed of Dog are You?

The best dog quiz ever

Take the Gone to the Dogs quiz to find out what breed you are.
When you get to the site, press MUTTSCOPE. Then on the right side you'll see an icon with the words Click here to play what dog are you.  Then press the start button and respond to the questions. 

Dr. Barkman is a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Small Dogs Have a Lower Incidence of Cancer

Cancer mortality varies across breeds, from under 10 percent to higher than 60 percent. In general, small dogs weighing less than 20 pounds are at very low risk. For instance, the chance that a Chihuahua, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher and Pomeranian will get cancer is less than 18 percent.
Breeds with the highest risk include the Bernese Mountain Dog and Golden Retriever - upwards of 60%. (The average cancer risk in dogs is 27%. In humans it's 23%.)
Only 10% of Chihuahuas get cancer.
Cancer rate in Golden Retrievers bred
in North America is higher than 60%. 

Why do miniaturized dogs have a lower incidence of cancer? Scientists suspect that one reason might be low levels of IGF-1, a hormone that, along with growth hormone, affects bone and tissue growth.  Dogs under 20 pounds are small because of a mutation that puts the brakes on IGF-1 production.    
Although there are many causes of cancer, each type starts with alterations in genes that tell cells how to function, which triggers accelerated and uncontrolled cell growth. A lower level of IGF-1 is related to shunting growth in small dogs, so maybe it does the same to cancer cells.  
This journal article addresses the possibility of the link between size and cancer in dogs: The Size-Life Span Trade-Off Decomposed: Why Large Dogs Die Young.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Eye-Gaze and the Human/Dog Bond

When dogs stare into their persons' eyes (and vice versa), the gaze activates a hormonal response that reinforces their bonding system.

It's well known that oxytocin, the so-called cuddle hormone, strengthens human social ties.  In new love relationships, people produce higher levels of oxytocin. It's why mothers are heads over heels in love with their babies. 

And now scientists say it's why people who make gaga eyes at their dogs have more oxytocin in their blood, and why their dogs do, too.

Mutual gazing has an intense effect on both the dog and the owner.  The researchers suggest that human-dog interactions elicit the same type of oxytocin positive feedback loop as seen between mothers and their infants.  
One caveat though. Don't try this at home with a wolf.
In wolves, eye gaze signals aggression.
Better to look at your feet.
Read more in The New York Times or check out the the scientific journal article, Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and coevolution of human-dog bonds.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tail Wagging Side Dominance

"You might think a wagging tail is a wagging tail, but for dogs there is more to it than that.  Dogs recognize and respond differently when their fellow canines wag to the right than they do when they wag to the left. The findings show that dogs, like humans, have asymmetrically organized brains, with the left and right sides playing different roles."
Read the entire article at  Science Daily or see the October 31, 2015 issue of the Cell Press journal.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Canine Microbiome -

I published an article in the summer issue of The Bark magazine on the canine microbiome.  In summary - Kiss your dog. It's good for you in more ways than one.

Here's an excerpt:
"Affected by age, environment, ancestry, evolution, genetics and diet, microbial communities vary widely between species and across individuals within a species. A recent study suggests that our housemates—including the family dog—may also affect the composition of our personal microbial signature. 
If you and your significant other kiss, hug and/or share a bed with your dog, the three of you have more in common than you think. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder,  revealed several similarities: Adults who share a dog have more similar mouth microbes than those who don’t. Dog-owning families have more diverse and different microbial colonies than dogless households
Parents tend to share more kinds of mouth bacteria with their dog than they do their children. And children raised with dogs have a wider variety of microbes than dogless kids (Song et al. 2013). 
Whether these spit-swapped microbes serve a purpose or are just passing through is not clear. But research shows that children raised with dogs are less likely to be afflicted by eczema (Epstein et al. 2010) and asthma (American Society for Microbiology 2012)."
Read the entire article in this issue-
 canine microbiome.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Identical Twin Dogs? It's Rare but Possible

I posted this originally in October of 2013, saying that identical twin puppies delivered in a single amniotic sac rarely if ever occur.  Well… I stand corrected. Several people have responded to the post describing identical twin pups in one of their litters.  This is what they said:

"I  have to say that until it happened to my dog, I never knew it could happen. 2 puppies, one sac with umbilical cord going from puppy to puppy and a 3rd cord going to mom. It looked like a Y or T. I just buried the babies as they did not survive. I could seal them up and send them to you if you wanted to see this yourself. Shocked the heck out of me - a seasoned and experienced breeder. My vet says this does happen just not very often."Anonymous 4-25-2015

"My dog had a litter of 15 on 11/12/15. She had a set of twins at 7:57am. 2 pups, one male on female, come out the same sac attached to the same placenta. So yes, it is possible! I couldn't get a picture as the mother quickly tended to them. The female twin is very tiny about a third her twin brothers size but she is doing well and is definitely a fighter."Samantha S 11-15-2015

"My dog just had identical twin girls, she had a couple of hours after birth of first pup, then delivery of second was much more of a struggle. When it finally came out she got straight in and began cleaning the sack away so I never got a good look immediately, but the slimy blob definitely seemed bigger than the first. When I lifted her leg to make sure she was getting the membrane off it's face, I realised it was actually 2 pups in the same sack, one laying on top of the other, both head first. They were identical, both cream, both females and even both exactly the same weight, at 174g each, whereas the first pup only weighed 145g also a female, but pure white".Mandy 12- 9- 2015

The original post is below:

Can dogs be identical twins, meaning two animals developed from the same fertilized egg, having the same genetic material and delivered in a single amniotic sac? The answer is somewhere between not likely and probably never.
That's just your reflection Bud, not your twin.
Puppies in a litter are usually fraternal twins or triplets and so on, no closer than you and your siblings, having the same mom and dad.

They can also be half sibs meaning they have the same mom, but different dads.

But monozygotic twins? The only foolproof way to identify identical twins is to use a DNA test, and no reports exist. Sometimes breeders report two pups in one placenta, but more likely the placentas grew together during the pregnancy.

Identical twinning in cats is
 fairly common.
What about pups with identical markings?  Random cell divisions that occur after the fertilized egg splits determine spot placement, along with where the fetus develops in the womb.  So two pups may look the same, but that doesn't mean they are identical.
Are these Aussie twin pups? Not likely.

Twin cows aren't unusual

Baby armadillos are  identical quadruplets.
Identical twins are fairly common in sheep cattle, cats, ferrets, deer, and humans, but identical twinning in dog just doesn't happen.

Just a band of brothers (and sisters)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Best Antique Dog Photographs

If you're charmed by antique photos with dogs in the picture, don't miss The Antique Dog Photograph Gallery.

The Pug with Bells
Blogger Lauren Goode has been collecting period dog photographs since 2009. She posts regularly and includes information about the breed, photographer and history behind the image. You can index her photos based on context, breed, photographer, and location.

The Greyhound in Durban

See all of Lauren's photos at

The Dalmatian and the Donkey

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Australian Cattle Dog and Poodle Mix Designer Hybrid Dogs


Australian Cattle Dogs and Poodle, called Cattle Doodles or Cadoodles, are crossed accidentally and on-purpose. Some are offspring of Miniature Poodles and others Standard Poodles. 

This is my Cadoodle. According to Gus' DNA test, he is Australian Cattle Dog and Miniature Poodle. Unlike either parent, he is long and low like a Corgi.  Neither parental breed exhibits this particular type of dwarfism in the phenotype, but both may be carriers.  He weighs about 25 pounds, stands 14 inches tall, and is about 30 inches long.

I took a photo almost every week for 12 months. See my Gus grow up
at Watch Dr. Barkman's Gus McBarkley Grow

Thanks to all my readers who send pictures of their Cadoodles.  They're posted below. If you know an Australian Cattle Dog (a.k.a. Heeler) and Poodle hybrid pooch, send photos to this email- -and I'll post them here.
Below is Kimber at 12 weeks and 16 pounds. Her father is a purebred Standard Poodle and her mom is a purebred Blue Heeler.  Her person said, "A breeder from Lynchburg Virginia listed a litter on Craigslist. The breeder told me she should be around 40 pounds, but I'm thinking a lot more. She is a handful but I love her so much. She is lucky she has the cutest face ever."

Kimber at 12 weeks

Kimber relaxing in her yard.
Cattle Doodles, like other hybrid dogs, don't breed true where the offspring always look the same.  In other words, some may look more like dad, while others look more like mom, just like you and your human siblings.

Check out more cuties after the break.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dog Ghosts

Tales of ghostly dogs.
Not this kind...

...more like this kind.

Dog ghosts just aren't very scary.  According to first hand reports, canine apparitions bark, pant and lick people, behaving pretty much as they did in life.

Rudolph Valentino's dog 
It's rumored that when Valentino, a great lover of dogs, died in a New York hospital on August 23, 1926, his dog Kabar, who was in Los Angeles, sensed the moment of death and let out an unearthly howl. Kabar lived three more years.  A lavish ceremony was held at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park when the dog was laid to rest. Kabar haunts the grounds and from time to time, can be seen inside the walls of the cemetery, pretty much doing what dogs do.

Valentino with Kabar who haunts a
pet cemetery in Los Angeles.

Johnny Morehouse and his dog
Johnny Morehouse and his dog haunt the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.  In l860,  five year old Johnny fell into the Erie canal. Despite his faithful dog's efforts to pull him out, Johnny died.  After the boy was buried, the dog maintained a vigil at the grave site, refusing food and water. The dog soon died from a broken heart (or dehydration and starvation).   The special stone in which the large dog grieves over the dead child is usually decorated with trinkets, candy and dog toys.  Reunited beyond the grave, Johnny and his dog roam the cemetery at night.
Neil from the Topper series
On a lighter note, Neil, the martini-loving Saint Bernard from the Topper movie of  1937 and subsequent television series (1953-1955), along with his people,  George and Marion Kerby, were friendly ghosts who haunted the home of the sophisticated and stuffy Cosmo Topper. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Prehistoric Canine Burials

My article about prehistoric canine burials, Digging Up Bones, was published in the Winter 2014 edition of The Bark magazine.

"Dogs have been buried more often than any other animal: singly, with other dogs, near people and with people. This ancient practice was a global phenomenon, one that crossed nearly all cultural boundaries. Precisely why dogs were buried may never be clearly understood, but the universality of the practice suggests it may be embedded in the human psyche and according, is a fundamental part of the human/dog connection."

Modern research techniques applied to prehistoric bones suggest it wasn't all sacrificial killing. Rather like us, some ancient people just loved their dogs.
In 2006, dogs were found in a thousand year old
pet cemetery near Lima, Peru. Many had
separate plots near their people and were buried
with food and blankets. Read more.
These are other posts about ancient dog burials: