The Paw Print Genetics Blog

How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car?

How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car?

It’s August and the heat index is soaring throughout the country. While modern conveniences can keep us cool, our canine companions suffer through these “dog days of summer” in much less comfort.

When the heat first hit earlier this summer, I was having a conversation with an officer from the local humane shelter. While we talked, call after call came across her radio of reports about dogs being left in cars. The outside temperature was pushing 100 degrees.

“When the warm weather starts, that’s what most of our calls are for – responding to dogs left in parked cars,” she said.

It’s astounding to me that someone would leave their dog in a car – even for “just a minute” – when the temperature is pushing 100 degrees, but apparently way too many people do. This tragic story out of North Carolina illustrates just how horrible death by heat stroke is, and that even people knowledgeable about dogs can make bad decisions. It’s also a perfect example of just how sensitive dogs are when it comes to heat – temperatures that day were in the mid- to high-70s with thunderstorms in the area.

Sadly, just eight days prior to ...

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself About Your Breeder!

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself About Your Breeder!

As discussed in my last blog, before buying a puppy, there are many things that the careful and wise buyer wants to educate themselves about to ensure the best experience possible.  Once you have figured out which breed(s) suits/interests you and have educated yourself about the positives, negatives and potential issues, including health issues, the final step is to find possible breeders of interest and most importantly at long last - your puppy!  Many breeders are doing their due diligence to produce and raise the best puppies possible.   0thers are just giving this lip service, and with all the seemingly "right" answers to questions, it is not always easy to tell the difference.

No one can guarantee a healthy puppy.  Just like human couples that do "everything right" during the  pregnancy will say "we do not care if we have a boy or a girl, as long as the baby is healthy".  Even with the utmost of caution, things can and do go wrong.  Some have perpetuated the notion that a responsible breeder can guarantee a perfect and normal outcome in every way and that anything wrong is the breeder's fault.  Just ...

Breed of the Week: Golden Retriever

Breed of the Week: Golden Retriever

As entertaining, happy and hard-working dogs, golden retrievers have become one of the most popular breeds in the world. They consistently rank among the most-registered breeds in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, and serve many roles with an unrivaled eagerness to please.

Developed in Scotland in the 1800s as a water dog used to retrieve shot fowl, golden retrievers descend from a non-descript “yellow-colored” retriever, two extinct breeds (the St. Johns water dog and the Tweed water spaniel), Irish setters, the bloodhound and wavy-coated black retrievers. This combination of dogs set the stage for the modern golden’s characteristics: love of water, superb scenting ability, trainability, biddable disposition, desire to retrieve, soft mouth and intelligence. A well-balanced dog, golden retrievers possess soundness of body, character and intelligence (author Stanley Coren ranks them as the fourth most-intelligent dog).

While they were originally bred to retrieve waterfowl for hunters, and they still perform this duty today, golden retrievers have successfully crossed into all roles of canine athlete and assistance dog. Owners of golden retrievers compete in field trial and hunt tests, agility, flyball, obedience trials and the conformation ring. They are also used extensively in search and rescue, detection (from ...

German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

One of the most easily recognized breeds throughout the world, German shepherd dogs have packed plenty of accomplishments, while garnering a storied reputation, into a very short history.

The modern German shepherd dog (GSD) dates to 1899 and descends from that country’s herding and guarding dogs. Through a strict breeding program grounded in working ability, the standardized GSD developed quickly; and while it continued to be used for herding and guarding sheep, the breed’s outstanding characteristics suited it for a wide array of working roles.

German shepherd dogs serve in military and police roles to track and detain criminals, as patrol and personal guard dogs and in scent detection – everything from tracking and narcotics work to mine, explosive and accelerant discovery. GSDs are also used in search and rescue operations and as guide dogs for the blind.

The GSD’s diversity of use stems from their inherent working abilities that include intelligence, courage, trainability, strength, a sensitive nose, obedience and loyalty. In fact, in the book The Intelligence of Dogs, author and psychologist Stanley Coren ranks GSDs as the third-most intelligent dog (behind the border collie and poodle).

German shepherds are intelligent and hard-working dogs who need daily stimulation and ...

Breed of the Week: The Newfoundland

Breed of the Week: The Newfoundland

A gentle giant, the Newfoundland likely descends from the mastiff, and possibly the Great Pyrenees, but beyond that, the history and dog or dogs to which it contributed to, or received DNA from, becomes a bit muddled. Undeniable, however, is the Newfoundland’s (affectionately known as the Newfie) work ethic – especially in water – and mild disposition.

In the late 1800s, fishermen from England and Ireland ventured to North America and, on what is now known as Newfoundland in Canada, discovered two dogs inhabiting the island. The smaller now-extinct dog had a smooth coat and medium build, and was known as the Lesser Newfoundland or St. John’s Dog – it became the foundation stock of many of today’s retrievers. The larger, long-haired dog was essentially today’s Newfoundland, which has contributed to the evolution of the Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog and Leonberger.

Both dogs were working dogs that were used to primarily haul nets for fishermen, but also as draft animals pulling carts and other labor-intensive duties. The necessary love of water influenced the evolution and use of both dogs. While the smaller version contributed to the genetics of several breeds of retrievers that were developed to pick up ...

Preparing Your Pet for Fires, Tornados and Other Natural Disasters

Preparing Your Pet for Fires, Tornados and Other Natural Disasters

House fires, wildfires, tornados, hurricanes and other disasters can destroy a home and displace families in a matter of minutes. If you live in an area prone to the destructive forces of nature, having a plan can save the lives of both you and your family – including your pets.

In the case of a house fire, when seconds count, organization matters even more when it comes to saving your pets. July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and as such, we’re here to offer a few tips to help you prepare in the case of an emergency situation.

When Quick Exits are Required

First and foremost, you have to get to a safe place – and you have to take your pet with you. Don’t leave your dog behind to fend for itself or for first responders to rescue – they’ll likely be too busy saving human lives to take responsibility for your pet.

Depending upon the situation, those safe places could be very different – from the highest ground possible during a flood to an interior room or safe room during a tornado. During a house fire, evacuation is usually the best action, which makes organization very important ...

Paw Print Genetics Health Segments on Working Man’s Retriever Television

Paw Print Genetics Health Segments on Working Man’s Retriever Television

You can now catch some great Paw Print Genetics information on The Working Man’s Retriever television show, which airs during “The Landing Zone” block of programming on the Sportsman Channel. You can also view each episode on the Paw Print Genetics YouTube page at any time!

Paw Print Genetics founder and CEO, Dr. Lisa Shaffer, a geneticist with more than two decades of experience, visits with host Dan Hosford and co-host Cynean Kenny in five separate episodes and discusses everything from the basics of how genetics work and the impact upon breeding decisions to when, how and why to test a new puppy and interpreting the results on your Canine Health Certificate.

Episode One: In the first episode of Working Man’s Retriever that Dr. Shaffer appears on, she discusses silent, or recessive genes; the differences between clear, carrier and affected dogs; how you can still safely breed dogs that are carriers of known genetic mutations and how, with consistent genetic testing you can eventually eliminate genetic mutations from your breeding program. She also touches on how a Canine Health Certificate adds value to a litter of puppies and acts as a safety measure for the puppy buyer.

Episode ...

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself!

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself!

Before buying a puppy, there are many things that the careful and wise buyer wants to educate themselves about in order to have the best experience with what should be many happy years with their dog.  First questions are about yourself and what type of dog will best suit you.  Then it is important to learn about the breed, what are the positive and negative attributes, and what health and genetic issues the breed, or particular family of dogs, may be at risk for.  Finally, it is then important to find a breeder whose goals and investment coincide with yours.

The first thing to consider in purchasing a puppy is what type of dog do you want?  Or better stated, what are the qualities in a dog that will get along well with your personality and activity level.  Do you want a puppy at all?    Do you want to raise a puppy; socialize it, potty train it, teach it commands, and, in general, how to be a model canine citizen?  This involves living through the stages of puddles and landmines, puppy chewing with the potential destruction of some of your favorite items, adolescence ...

Canine Emergencies: First Aid Kits and Care

Canine Emergencies: First Aid Kits and Care

Paw Print Genetics recently attended the Washington State Search and Rescue Conference in Ellensburg, Wash. The conference provides educational classes for civilian search and rescue personnel, including canine teams.

While several canine-related classes were offered, including tracking, testing and meteorology, perhaps my favorite was the first-aid class offered by Dr. Michael Fuller, a 30-plus-year veterinarian at the local Ellensburg Animal Hospital. He covered a lot of material in the hour-and-a-half session, everything from must-have items in a first aid kit to broken bones. And while the class was devoted to SAR teams that are often far removed from help, the suggestions on what to pack make an excellent quick, easy-to-carry kit for travelers, hikers and hunters.

First, according to Fuller, nothing is more important than commonsense. The most well equipped first kit won’t do any good if you use it incorrectly. Second, many of the items found in a human first aid kit can be used in a canine first aid kit – including triple antibiotic ointment, eye wash, sterile bandages and wraps, pain relievers and anti-histamines.

First Aid Kits
Fuller recommended starting with a commercial first aid kit and then adding a few items to it. You should carry ...

Are There Risks for Genetic Disease with Cross-breeding?

Are There Risks for Genetic Disease with Cross-breeding?

Some people will say that there is little or no risk for genetic disease in crossbreeding and no need for genetic testing by virtue of the fact that the dogs are crossbred. I use Progressive Retinal Atrophy as an example to illustrate the potential genetic consequences of such breeding, but the premise and the potential risk for disease holds true for any possible genetic condition that affects dogs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited progressive eye disease that affects the part of the eye called the retina.  Light striking special cells of the retina (primarily photoreceptor cells called rods and cones) leads to the creation of the picture that is seen by the brain.  The retina is often compared to the film of a camera.  PRAs can progress from vision impairment, to night blindness or to hesitancy in certain situations and lead ultimately to total blindness.  Total blindness in a PRA affected dog may not be recognized until they are taken to an unfamiliar environment while other dogs may be recognized far earlier due to dilated pupils, an attempt by the eye to let in more light, and eye shine that occurs when the retina ...