Monday, September 30, 2013

Science Research about Canine Genetics

Researchers pinpoint possible cause of canine hereditary ataxia, a fatal neurodegerative disease affecting muscle coordination.


Identifying the gene responsible for dwarfism in 19 breeds of dogs including the Dachshund, Corgi and Basset Hound

Learn why some dogs are born without tails

Only three genes control coat variation in dogs

The dog genome project - everything you ever wanted to know about the canine genome

Village dog diversity project - understanding the evolution of dogs requires genetic analysis of global village dogs

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dog Hackles

The hackle is the perfect tool in the canine communication tool kit.  It's visual AND smelly. 

When the hairs between the shoulder blades bristle upright, the dog is involuntarily "raising its hackles".

Humans hackle too. Goosebumps are
a type of hackling.
Hackling can convey any number of emotions. Depending on the dog's personality, it might mean he is defensive, alarmed, afraid, angry, insecure, or unsure.  Usually it's a way of saying, "Watch out. I'm prepared to meet any challenge."

Dr. Barkman wouldn't mind being able to hackle.  It's a handy way
of saying something without saying something.

An erector muscle connects the skin to the primary hair follicle (dogs have up to 7 follicles per shaft). Hackling, also called piloerection, is an involuntary response to a stimulus that causes the body to secrete adrenaline, which in turn causes the the erector muscle to contract and raise the hair.  

The erector muscle also pulls on the glandular bulb attached to each hair follicle causing it to secrete oil that empties into the shaft surrounding the hair follicle. The glandular secretion is not only a waterproof skin lubricant, it also contains pheromones for communication.

Can poodles hackle?
Poodles, Pulis, water spaniels and some other curly coated breeds have coats without the course primary hair, which is the only follicle involved in the hackle.  If you have a dog with a fuzzy coat, let me know if she hackles.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Early History of Spaniels 1500-1700

Today there are 26 breeds of Spaniels, but in 1500
there were only two, the Land Spaniel and Water Spaniel.

Land Spaniel and Water Spaniel
Illustrations from Edward Topsell's The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (1658)

The Land Spaniel crept forward then flushed game.  Hunters either ensnared animals in nets, or used trained falcons and hawks to grab birds in flight.
Land Spaniel, Etching by P. Tempest, mid 1600s
British Museum

The Water Spaniel flushed game in water.
Water Spaniel, 1799
British Museum

In 1576,  cynologist Johannes Caius described the generic land spaniel, “The most part of their skins are white and if they be marked with any spots, they are commonly red, and somewhat great therewithal, the hairs not growing in such thickness but that the mixture of them may easily be perceived.  Other some of them be reddish and blackish, but of that sort there be but a few.”
The land spaniel
Print by Jan Verkolje, Dutch, 1680
British Museum

I don't know why, but Caius described the generic water spaniel with much more detail: "His head should be round, with curled hair, his ears broad and hanging, his eyes full and lively, his nose short, his lips like unto an hound's, his neck thick and short, his shoulders broad, his legs straight, his chine square, his ribs with a compass, his buttocks round, his thighs brawny, his belly gaunt, his pasterns strong and dewclawed, and his fore-feet long and round, with his hair in general long and curled, not loose and shagged; for the first sheweth hardiness and strength to endure the water, and the other much tenderness and weakness...” 
Woodcut of Water Spaniel
French, about 1700
British Museum

Caius believed the word spaniel derived from the dog's country of origin, Spain or Espagna.  Others say the name is a derivative of the French verb espanir, which means to crouch in a low position.
The Water Spaniel is on the left, the Land Spaniel on the right.
William Smith, Spaniels, engraving on paper, 1831
Victoria and Albert Museum

The invention of the firearm and subsequent interest in gun hunting changed the way Spaniels were bred. For instance when the flintlock replaced the wheelock, the time lag between the trigger and discharge was eliminated, meaning birds could be shot in flight. 
I'm not pretending to know anything about antique guns, but
the wheel lock is on the left, the new and improved flintlock above right.

As technology continued to assist hunters, different types of Spaniels were bred.  Small spaniels flushed game under brush, others flushed birds and retrieved them.  Today there are 26 Spaniel breeds worldwide.  You can see 110 vintage images of old-time Spaniels at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
F. Barlow, intaglio print, 1640
Victoria and Albert Museum

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

English Setters in Vintage Photos

I'm a softee for setters, having lived with them most of my life.  These are some of my favorite English Setter photos, vintage and otherwise.

The only English Setter ever trained as a guide dog, with his guide dog trainer, about 1975.
Guide Dogs of the Desert

A Setter contemplating his lifetime achievment awards... or maybe his birthday cards.

President Grover Cleveland with his English Setter
Library of Congress
My ex-husband and his first dog, Peggy. 

A proud Setter dad

Setters on the front porch, circa 1890s

Is that a Setter or a Field spaniel? I think it's a well-fed Setter.
I've lived with seven English Setters, all pictured below except Roscoe and Spot. Spot was really my sister's dog, but I had him for the first 5 months of his life, so he counts.   

Kate (1977-1989)
Mickey (1984-1994)
Mike (1999-2012)
Will (1980-1993)
Rose (1979- 1992)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dog Word Trivia

Cynolgy is the serious zoological study of dogs and dog domestication. As a cynologist, Dr. Barkman knows a lot of trivial stuff about dog nomenclature.

A cynophile is a person interested in dogs.  Not all cynophiles are cynologists, but my guess is all cynologists are cynophiles.

Canophobist is a person who has a fear or dislike of dogs.

The Canary Islands are not named for their native yellow bird. Rather the name comes from the dog that was found there, the ancient relative of today's Perro de Presa Canario. The name of the island is from the Latin word for dog, cane.

Historically, a prefix of dog denoted an inferior sort. The word doggerel, first used by Chaucer in 1386, meant undignified verse.  The phrase doggonit was used to put a curse on someone, similar to the way pox-on-it is used.

In the naming of plants the prefix of dog denotes an inferior variety. Some examples include: dog-chamomile, dog-daisy, dog-bramble, and dog-wheat.   Even the lovely dog-wood tree was named, not for its flowers, but for its inferior quality of wood.

Dog Days, named by the Greeks, was the time of year during the helical rising of the dog-star, which just happened to be the hottest season. Many cultures believed it was when dogs are most likely to run mad and spread rabies. 

Today it is the season when dogs stay inside and cool off in front of the fan.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dog People with September Birthdays

Lauren Bacall, September 9, 1924
Bacall and Bogie were particularly fond of Boxers.

Greta Garbo, September 18, 1905
Garbo didn't really "want to be alone".
She surrounded herself with a menagerie of rescued pets.

Ed Sullivan, September 28, 1901
He seems like the kind of guy who would have a Scottie.

Brigitte Bardot, September 28, 1934
Bardot was never without animals, even on movie sets.

Bardot is a French animal rights activist.

She even had Setters! A woman after my own heart.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

How many teeth does a dog have?

Having a puppy around with sharp little needle teeth and very little bite inhibitation has been making me wonder when exactly those weapons of mass destruction are going to fall out.  I did a little research and this is what I found out.

Ouch - nature's diabolicle design
Puppies are born without any teeth, and I imagine mama is thankful for that.  When nursing is complete, 28 primary teeth erupt, beginning about 5 or 6 weeks of age.  That lovely puppy breath is related to tooth development.

Beginning at 14 weeks and ending around 7 months, the 28 puppy teeth are replaced by 42 adult teeth. Thank goodness they don't have 42 baby teeth.

 The reason you hardly find puppy teeth around is because as the adult tooth develops, the body absorbs the tooth material below the gums, so only the thin caps fall out of the pups mouth, usually while she is eating. But if you were to find some, here's what they'd look like.

What's a puppy tooth worth to the tooth fairy?

To read more about puppy teeth, click here.