Category Archives: Dog Breeds

Why We Love German Shepherds

 Breed of the Month: Why We Love German Shepherds

It’s not easy to earn worldwide respect and admiration, yet one canine breed has accomplished just that.

Renowned for intelligence, physical prowess, and functionality, the German shepherd has developed into one of the most popular breeds across the globe, surpassed in popularity by only the Labrador retriever in the United States. This fact comes as little surprise to most German shepherd owners, who’ve witnessed this breed embody some of the most desirable traits any human or dog can offer, including loyalty and heroism.

The German shepherd first achieved international prominence following World War I, when soldiers returned home raving about the intelligence this breed displayed while serving as military messengers and rescue dogs. Since then, this breed has been both purposeful and beloved while occupying roles ranging from police and military service to household protection and devoted companionship.

Here are six reasons we adore German shepherds:

1. Noble Look

Sporting a domed forehead, long muzzle, erect ears, and bushy tail, German shepherds exude a handsome yet dignified appearance. They often come across as stately and self-confident. Moreover, the breed’s appearance offers tremendous diversity, as German shepherds have a variety of color combinations (black/tan, black/red, black/gray, etc.) and coat lengths ranging from short to long.

2. Remarkable Intelligence

German shepherds were bred specifically for intelligence, and the end result does not disappoint. Among the smartest of all canine breeds, German shepherds tend to be easily trainable, learning basic tasks with few repetitions and obeying commands with impressive regularity. In fact, German shepherds were ranked the third most intelligent breed by American Kennel Club judges. Their intelligence level explains their high degree of functionality (more on this later), as well as their success within the entertainment industry. Rin-Tin-Tin – a German shepherd who lived from 1918 to 1932 – remains one of the most notable canine movie stars of all-time, having appeared in 27 Hollywood films.

3. Unparalleled Functionality

It’s safe to say German shepherds like to have a purpose in life. Originally bred in Germany as sheep herders, they demonstrated the versatility necessary to transition into many other occupations. Today the German shepherd’s combination of intelligence and strength makes him the preferred breed for many lines of work: military and police service, search-and-rescue missions, assistance for disabled individuals, and household protection.

4. Heroism

This courageous breed deserves to be commended for the many heroic feats these canines have contributed through service to society. German shepherds have been responsible for loyal military service during times of war, for alerting deaf people when the doorbell has rung, and for locating missing children. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, German shepherds were utilized for search-and-rescue attempts amidst the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center.

5. Family Appeal

Under the right circumstances, German shepherds can make excellent household pets. In addition to being intelligent and trainable, this breed tends to be highly sociable and fairly energetic in nature. They serve as proud companions once loyalty develops. Perhaps the ideal guard dog, ever-devoted German shepherds often become protective of their beloved family members, as they’re not particularly fond of strangers. Their medium-to-large size (50 to 90 pounds) means they can provide adequate family protection without proving cumbersome around the house.

6. Physical Prowess

An impressive physical specimen, the German shepherd boasts an extremely muscular physique. This breed is like the LeBron James of the canine family, possessing a rare blend of strength and agility. The German shepherd’s strong frame becomes raised during times of excitement and lowered when the canine is moving at a quick pace. They can reach top speed quickly, yet round corners with ease. Because of their physical attributes, German shepherds are well-suited for athletic competitions like agility trials and obstacle courses.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

German Shepherds – Choosing German Shepherd Dogs

 Breed Profile on German Shepherd Dogs

Since his rise to movie fame in the early 1920s, the German shepherd has become a favorite breed for families, law enforcement and the disabled. Also known as the Alsatian, the German shepherd has consistently been one of the top 10 companion dogs in the United States and is a member of the “herding” class. Despite the similarity in appearance to the wolf, the German shepherd is a loyal, faithful and devoted human companion and, with proper training, can perform nearly any task. The German Shepherd is commonly abbreviated as GSD by veterinary staff.

The German shepherd was one of the top 10 breeds for the year 2014. Click here for the complete story on Top Dog Breeds of 2014.

History and Origin of German Shepherd Dogs

Prior to the late 1800s, sheep herding dogs were randomly bred, and only those that worked well were selected. As the 20th century approached, a strict breeding program was undertaken in Germany to develop the current randomly bred shepherd dog into a more uniform herding dog with versatility and intelligence. The newly developed German shepherd breed progressed and gained in popularity until the early 1900s. When World War I broke out in 1914, all things German became taboo; even German language courses were dropped from school curriculums. The fate of the German shepherd dog was in doubt. In order to save the breed, the American Kennel Club, which had registered the breed in 1912, temporarily changed the name to the shepherd dog. After the war, however, the original name was reinstated. In Britain, the name was changed to the Alsatian, although the German shepherd dog name was finally reinstated in 1979.

In the 1950s and 60s, Americans became interested in the German shepherd dog, and large numbers were imported. A syndicated television show and a number of movies starring Rin Tin Tin, a descendent of the canine movie star from the 1920s helped spur the renewed interest.

Over the years, German shepherds have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, trainability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people. The military and police force employ the breed for scent-discrimination to track criminals, drugs, weapons, bombs, and to find people buried in debris of earthquakes or other disasters.

Appearance and Size of German Shepherds

The German shepherd dog is medium to large size with erect pointed ears, a long body, and a weather resistant coat. A thick stiff outer coat covered by a softer inner one makes the German shepherd readily able to withstand extreme climates. The most popular colors are black and tan or a mixture with a dark saddle. White shepherds are not acceptable colors for showing but are becoming popular pets.

The German shepherd dog is typically 22 to 26 inches from the ground to the top of the shoulder. The normal adult weight is 75 to 90 pounds.

Personality of German Shepherds

The German shepherd dog is very intelligent, easy to train, powerful and elegant. Though not overly affectionate, shepherds are loyal and faithful. The breed is renowned as a police dog and is often used in search and rescue missions. The German shepherd is also a popular companion dog, family member, assistance dog and guard dog.

Home and Family Relations

Due to their tolerant nature, German shepherds are excellent pets for childrenand are natural protectors. With proper training, the shepherd is an effective and imposing guard dog.

Training of German Shepherd Dogs

Training should begin early in life. Untrained shepherds have a tendency to be difficult to handle and control. Since shepherds are intelligent and eager to learn, they can be trained to do a variety of tasks. They perform well in sentry duty, police work, tracking, obedience, search and rescue as well as assistance dogs for the disabled. Originally trained as a herder, the breed is still used in this capacity in some areas.

Special Care

German shepherds do not require any special care. Daily grooming will help keep their coat clean and healthy.

Common Diseases and Disorders of German Shepherd Dogs

Even though the German shepherd dog is a strong muscular breed, they may be prone to a variety of ailments.

  • Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
  • Elbow dysplasia is the abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow joint during the growing phase.
  • Epilepsy is a seizure disorder, which develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.
  • Panosteitis is an inflammation of the long bones during growth. It results in pain and lameness until the dog matures.
  • Pyoderma refers to deep skin infections.
  • Hot spots are areas of itchy moist skin irritation.
  • Pannus is a disease of the eye resulting in inflammation.
  • Corneal dystrophy is a primary, inherited, bilateral (both sides), symmetrical condition of the cornea that is not accompanied by corneal inflammation or systemic disease.
  • Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive degenerative disease of the spinal cord that slowly results in weakness and eventually inability to use the rear legs.
  • Intervertebral disk disease is a disorder that affects the spinal disks resulting in pain, difficulty walking and possibly paralysis.
  • Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.
  • Pancreatic insufficiency is another pancreatic disease that results in inability to digest food properly.
  • Malassezia Dermatitis – is a yeast infection of the skin caused by Malassezia pachydermatitis.
  • Food Allergy can occur in some pets. Affected pets develop skin lesions secondary to some food ingredients
  • Perianal Fistula – is an infection and development of fistulas of the anal glands and tissues around the anal area.
  • Aortic Stenosis – this disease is caused by stenosis of the aorta and causing symptoms such as weakness, collapse and sudden death.
  • Pericardial Effusion – is an accumulation of fluid within the pericardial space. It can be caused by tumors of the heart or idiopathic (no known cause).
  • Congenital Idiopathic Megaesophagus – is a dilatation of the esophagus caused by decreased contraction of the muscles, causing food regurgitation.
  • Lymphocytic plasmacytic enteritis (LPE) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lick granuloma is a condition in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed.
  • Anal Sac Adenocarcinoma is an adenocarcinoma of the anal glands.
  • Testicular tumors are tumors that involve the testicles in intact male dogs.
  • Dwarfism is a deficiency of growth hormone (GH), which is normally secreted by the pituitary gland.
  • Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to loose transparency and can result in blindness.
  • Lens luxation is a dislocation or displacement of the lens within the eye.In addition, German shepherds have a higher incidence of allergies, ear infections and malignant cancer such as hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma.

Life Span

The average life span for a German shepherd dog is 10 to 13 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid


310 919 9372

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

The Truth About Teacup Dogs


After Paris Hilton introduced the world to Tinkerbell the Chihuahua on the TV show “The Simple Life,” veterinarians say there’s been an increased interest in “teacup” dogs—animals bred to be so small they could fit in a designer purse.

But the practices used to breed these tiny dogs could lead to a host of medical problems, and owners should know what they’re getting into before plunking down big bucks for a small dog.

What Is a Teacup Dog?

Teacup dogs are animals that have been bred to be as small as humanly—or shall we say caninely—possible. Most dogs considered to be teacups weigh 5 pounds or less, says Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney.

You’ll find teacup versions of many already-small dog breeds, including teacup Poodles, teacup Pugs, and teacup Yorkies. Other popular teacup breeds include Maltese, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus.

To create teacup dogs, breeders pair the so-called “runts” of the litters to make the smallest animal possible, says Dr. Cathy Meeks, a board-certified internal medicine specialist and a group medical director at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. But sometimes the dogs selected for breeding are small because of a birth defect or other medical condition.

“Health risks for these tiny dogs are significant,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian and author of several books. “This is not a natural breeding situation. It is an unnatural practice by breeders looking for a marketing edge.”

The edge comes with a price. Teacup dogs can cost thousands of dollars.

Perceived Advantages of Owning a Teacup Dog

Having a dog that fits in a pocket has potential advantages. You can take them anywhere, they get lots of attention from friends and family and—when they’re healthy—their small statures mean they don’t need large quantities of food and/or preventative medications. This can keep yearly costs low.

Small dogs are also appealing to pet owners who live in facilities with pet size restrictions or can only provide short walks or other forms of exercise.

But doctors say the breeding history of teacup dogs can make these tiny canines more predisposed to certain health issues.

Health Risks for Teacup Dogs

Doctors say common health issues for teacup dogs include hypoglycemia, heart defects, collapsing trachea, seizures, respiratory problems, digestive problems, and blindness.

The breeding practices can also lead to an increased risk for liver shunts, says Meeks. Liver shunts are often congenital birth defects in dogs that affect the liver’s ability to flush out toxins. Treatment for liver shunts can cost up to $6,000, and some types of shunts don’t respond well to therapy regardless of the cost.

Many small dogs are also predisposed to developing dental and gum issues, says Mahaney. Their baby teeth don’t always fall out on their own, and it’s not uncommon for doctors to remove all the baby teeth when the animal is spayed or neutered.

Another size-related health problem is patella luxation, or sliding kneecap, which can affect a teacup dog’s ability to walk. The condition also often makes the animal more prone to arthritis.

In addition, teacup dogs may also be predisposed to developing hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain,” says Mahaney.

“When you breed for the way the dog looks instead of for the healthiest genetic stock, health problems emerge,” he adds.

More Potential Dangers for Tiny Teacup Dogs

Owners of these pint-sized pups have to stay vigilant.

If the dogs miss even one meal, their blood sugar levels could drop dangerously low and cause seizures and even death, says Meeks. They also have trouble keeping their bodies warm in cooler weather, which is why you see so many teacup dogs in sweaters.

The dogs’ small bones can break easily, which means owners have to be on alert not to step on them or allow them to jump from too-high surfaces.

“Traumatic events can be life-ending for these dogs,” says Morgan. “Surviving a traffic accident, a fall from the furniture or the owner’s arms, or an attack from a larger dog is less likely.”

Teacup dogs’ low blood sugar and body temperature can also lead to problems in the operating room. Doctors have to make sure the operation doesn’t outlast the animal’s blood sugar reserves or provide them with the necessary supplements. They also have to work hard to keep the animal warm as body temperature drops under anesthesia.

“They’re harder to treat,” says Meeks. “Can you imagine putting an IV in a 3 pound dog?”

Meeks says she would prefer if breeders stopped trying to create the miniature pups because of their potential health problems. But if pet owners absolutely have to have one, they need to make sure they’re working with a reputable breeder or rescue group.

You have to do your homework to find the healthiest animal possible, says Mahaney.

“Nobody likes to see a pet suffer and no one likes to see an owner struggle under the cost of medical care,” he says. “I think there are healthier options out there.”

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Top 10 ‘Small Breed’ Dogs

Great Things Do Come In Small Packages

If you’re thinking of getting a small dog because they’re cute, cuddly and quiet, you probably should think again; what they lack in stature, they often make up for in arrogance. Sure, small dogs are cute, and some of them look cuddly, but not all small dog breeds have meek personalities. Like people, small dog breeds come with different personalities, so before you pick up your small-framed dog, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting.

Here are PetMD‘s 10 favorite “small breed” dogs:

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#10 Skye Terrier
This is not a dog to get if you are a cat owner, as they dislike those of the feline persuasion. Otherwise, the Skye Terrier is extremely dependable, gets along fine with people, and is a great family pet. It is also a great dog for avid outdoorsmen.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#9 Pekingese
This small but ferocious dog is a faithful companion and good watchdog. The Pekingese’s aggressive nature, however, does make it unsuitable for a family with other pets and kids. Its thick undercoat and coarse overcoat also requires daily grooming.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#8 Dachshund
Believe it or not, the Dachshund actually makes an excellent watchdog and was bred to exterminate vermin! It is very attached to owner and family, but can be aggressive around unfamiliar children. The daring, adventurous and curious Dachshund is also fond of digging, hunting, chasing game, and tracking by scent.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#7 Bichon Frisé
The small-framed Bichon Frisé gets along well with children and other animals. Known for its white puffy coat and curious name, the Bichon Frisé is considered an active, easily trained dog. Overall, a wonderful small dog breed for families and individuals alike.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#6 Shih Tzu
While it does no shed, it does require daily grooming. The Shih Tzu, also known as the “mini lion,” makes for a good family dog — it is very friendly and gets along with all creatures (even children).

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#5 Maltese
A good dog for those with allergies (it’s not a big shedder), the Maltese is friendly and often gets along well with other dogs and even cats. The Maltese doesn’t like to be left alone too much, though, as it was bred as a companion dog.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#4 Jack Russell Terrier
Do not choose this small breed dog if you’re looking for a quiet dog that likes to lounge around being pampered all day. The Jack Russell Terrier is an active breed that loves to jump up on furniture, run around and lead a generally boisterous, happy existence. However, proper training can help make the dog calmer.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#3 Boston Terrier
A great family dog, the Boston Terrier is friendly and bonds well with kids. Another plus is it doesn’t require a ton of grooming. But be warned, it loves to munch on household items, so lots of chew toys are definitely recommended. You should probably keep anything you don’t want destroyed out of this dog’s way, too.

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#2 Chihuahua
Meek though it may look, the small Chihuahua can really pack a punch in attitude. It is known for nipping at children (probably not the best choice for a house with kids) or barking incessantly at strange dogs. It can also be loud and demanding. But before you say no, the Chihuahua is loyal and affectionate, and it’s even been known to get along with cats (after an adjustment period, of course).

Public Domain Image, distributed under GPL

#1 Pomeranian
The Pomeranian is an adorable, mellow and gentle dog, but it can sometimes get noisy (just like children). As a matter of fact, if you want a Pomeranian, it is great with kids, just as long as it’s introduced as a puppy. Despite this, the Pomeranian, which sheds profusely, may not be the best choice for a house with very small children.

As you can see, there are many small dogs to suit all tastes and lifestyles; it’s all a matter of what you want. However, many small dog breeds are purebreds that have been interbred for hundreds of years, causing various congenital defects. So if you decide to choose a compact canine pal, find a reputable breeder.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Mixed or Purebred Dogs: Which is Better?

There has been a longstanding argument amongst dog lovers and experts alike on the merits of a mixed-breed versus a purebred puppy. Some believe that there are many advantages to getting a mixed-breed for a pet, saying that a mixed-breed has a better disposition and can more easily adapt to its new home. And without a doubt, mixed-breeds are sold at lower prices compared to purebred dogs.

Of course, in some instances, the price of a mixed breed may be higher, depending on whether particular breeds were intentionally bred to produce a new breed (such as Puggles – Pug+Beagle), but in general, mixed breed dogs are sold for very reasonable costs. The best place to get a mixed-breed puppy is often an animal shelter, where the cost is mostly limited to the adoption, spay/neuter and vaccination fees, with the added benefit of knowing you have actually saved the life of a puppy.

A mixed-breed puppy often has the advantage of having a much lower chance of being born with inherited congenital diseases, since the mating process naturally leaves out the defective genes. This is a general truism.

However, there are many dog enthusiasts who disagree with mixed breeds being the best choice for a pet. Some believe that getting a mixed-breed puppy is a big risk because you cannot be entirely sure about the exact mix of breeds that have come before that puppy. For instance, it can be difficult to tell if the puppy will grow to be a small or large dog. The tiny puppy you adopted in the hopes that it would stay small or only grow to a medium build may grow into a huge dog that you are not capable of housing. There is a possibility that you will end up with a dog that is entirely unsuitable for you, but by the time you have found that out for yourself it is already too late.

For breeders of purebred puppies, they have the advantage of being able to tell prospective owners what they can expect in regards to size, behavior and health. Responsible breeders carefully match prospective breeding pairs based on temperament and physical conformity.

In some cases, a breeder will even go so far as to match their dogs according to their genetic test results, so that the pairing does not result in puppies getting potential disease causing genes from both parents. This increases the chances of your puppy growing into a healthy, intelligent and well-behaved dog. Some breeders will also include a guarantee of their puppies’ long term health and temperament, in case an unknown genetic variable expresses itself later. (Not all breeders guarantee their puppies. It is important to inquire first and to get it in writing if this is important to you.)

On the flip side, there are many dog lovers who are devoted to mixed breed dogs. They feel that mixed breeds are much less likely to exhibit the results of interbreeding, such as temperament, intelligence and health issues. This is generally true, but being a mixed breed is not a guarantee of superior health. There are occasionally cases where a mixed breed puppy is born with the negative genetic traits of the breeds it is descended from.

Matching Personalities

With today’s technology, you can easily do research on the behavior and physical traits of a specific breed you are interested in. By doing this, you will have a good idea of what to expect as your puppy grows up and better determine if it will be a good match for you. If your goal is to become a breeder, then selecting a purebred, and being very diligent in choosing the breeder you buy from will be the right choice for you. The same is true if you are looking for a dog that you can compete with or take part in certain activities, such as running or hiking. Whether you want a calm, laid back dog or a high energy dog, the decision can be made easier by looking for a particular breed with those qualities.

Finally, if you are simply looking for a companion, a pet that will be devoted to you, it will not matter whether you choose a purebred or a mixed breed dog. Breed alone does not determine the final outcome. In addition, if you want a dog for training and competition, these activities are not limited to purebred associations alone. There are various mixed breed organizations that specifically register dogs of mixed lineage for obedience and agility competitions.

Both mixed breeds and purebreds have their own advantages, but at the end of the day, how your puppy turns out will depend entirely on how you raise your puppy. The puppy will still need to be disciplined and trained in order to grow into an intelligent and well-trained dog. Immediate obedience training and proper health care are essential for a well balanced dog. With the firm and loving guidance of a committed owner, almost any kind of dog will grow into a reliable and loving companion.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Top 5 Pit Bull Myths Get Busted:Pit Bull Facts

The pit bull breed has become shrouded in myth and misinformation in recent years. Highly publicized media reports and misleading statistics have portrayed them as violent, dangerous bullies instead of animals that deserve love and respect. For years, legislators and concerned pet owners have debated pit bulls’ reputation and temperament, bringing a cloud of negativity to over the breed.

We’ve decided to clear away the confusion by busting the top 5 pit bull myths. Read on — the results may surprise you!

Here are Pit Bull Facts and Pit Bull Information:

Myth #1: Pit bulls are more aggressive than other breeds.

Not true. Although pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressors, interdog aggression is a common behavior and plenty of other breeds are known for it as well. In fact, in the American Temperament Test Society’s annual tests of over 240 breeds, pit bulls consistently achieve a passing rate that’s as good as or better than other popular breeds. As of December 2007, American pit bull terriers had a pass rate of 84.3 percent compared to the 81.6 percent pass rate for all breeds tested. (How did your favorite breed do? Find out here.)

Myth #2: Pit bulls are a “bully breed,” which means they’re more dangerous than other dogs.

There are several breeds of dogs often referred to as bully breeds, including pit bulls, bulldogs, mastiffs, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, boxers and bull terriers. The term does not refer to their behavior – it means they have bulldog origins and are descendants of English baiting dogs. Just like any other animal, “bully breed” dogs are shaped by their environment, and if not provided proper socialization and training, can be encouraged to show hostility.

Myth #3: Pit bulls have locking jaws.

Nope. There are no unique locking mechanisms it pit bulls’ jaws – they are functionally identical to the jaws of any other breed. In fact, no breed has ever been found to possess a mechanism that would allow them to “lock” their top and bottom teeth together.

Myth #4: Pit bulls have stronger biting power than other dogs.

False. In fact, a recent National Geographic test comparing the bite pressure PSI (per square inch) between a pit bull, a Rottweiler, and a German shepherd revealed that the pit bull had the lowest PSI of the three!

Myth #5: Pit bulls are known to attack without warning.

Pit bulls are no more or less unpredictable than any other type of dog, and no dog is likely to transform from a docile companion to a violent aggressor without warning. There are always red flags when dogs become aroused, upset or afraid. The issue is not that pit bulls attack without warning; it’s that humans often fail to recognize the warning signs.


While media stories of pit bull aggression may spark controversy, like any breed of dog, pit bulls can run the gamut from very aggressive to exceptionally friendly. Pit bulls are not ferocious beasts to be feared and reviled, but they aren’t perfectly behaved angels either. Breed can have some influence over behavior, but ultimately it’s a dog’s upbringing and training that will determine how well behaved the dog will be.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Do You Love a Breed As Much as I Love the German Shepherd Dog?

For me, German Shepherds have always been my soul dogs. Do you have a breed like that?

Annie Phenix

This article is close to my heart.  I just got a 15-week-old German Shepherd Dog    -Diana Davidson

I have a new German Shepherd puppy. This whirling dervish is named Trinket. She was the runt in her litter but you’d never know by the size of her paws. She keeps me on my trainer toes because she is brilliant, feisty and easily bored. She’s not my first German Shepherd, nor will she be my last. I am nuts about this breed.

Every year when annual “most popular breed” reports arrive, I keep hoping my favorite breed — the German Shepherd — will finally be announced as the No. 1 breed in the country. They keep getting beat out by Labradors and Golden Retrievers as America’s favorite dog. Every year I check these listings and my beloved German Shepherd never lands in the No. 1 spot.

I only want my favorite breed to be No. 1 so that others publicly acknowledge what I know about these dogs: They are phenomenal! I don’t really want them to be as popular as they are because so often when a breed becomes that big, their health goes down the drain as opportunistic breeders start breeding the popular dogs for a lousy buck. That part of being a popular dog truly sucks.

I have started thinking lately about why German Shepherds are so loved. This breed came from herding stock in Germany, hence the “shepherd” part of their name. Herding breeds are nearly always put near the top of the list when it comes to which dogs are the most intelligent. I like a smart dog. I am particularly found of herding dogs because they are among the few we allow to have some sort of original thought process as they work. A herding dog must make split second decisions, and since they are eye level with the sheep and the handler is not, a good sheepherder is invaluable to the working shepherd. Usually the dog’s intuitive decisions are faster and better than the human’s. The dogs do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and they do it far better than we ever good.

The German Shepherd is a good-looking dog. They look a bit like a wolf, and perhaps that ancient bond our ancestors likely developed with people-friendly wolves speaks to us still. Their appearance in my opinion has suffered the past few decades, when breeders fell in love with that sloped back hip appearance. I hate that look and like many other aficionados of this breed feel that their hips and thus their health have suffered from breeders going for that famous slope.

Shepherds can have serious health concerns. I’ve shared my life with many of these dogs and only one of them lived until 13 years old, and he was a rare Shiloh Shepherd. I mourned so many shepherds dying so young that for a decade I shifted over to Border Collies. I once again have a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy in my life, and now my life feels complete again.

German Shepherds are quite possibly the most versatile dog there is. You see them as police dogs, war dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, obedience competition dogs, sport dogs and on and on. It would seem that whatever a human can think up for a dog to do, a German Shepherd can do it — just one more reason for their popularity.

For me, German Shepherds have always been my soul dogs. They both represent and speak to my soul somehow. Is it their eyes and they way they look deep into a person’s inner self that makes them seem so soulful? Is it that they seem to know exactly what their human is feeling and how to help when you are sad or upset, as well as how to share in your joy when you are really happy? Perhaps it is that every shepherd I have shared my life with walks right next to me of their own free will, constantly checking in with me by looking right into my eyes. Perhaps what they truly shepherd are our souls?

All of these things and more make German Shepherds famously popular. Even saying all that I have about this great breed, they are not for every person on the planet. For one thing, their big brains mean you need to keep them mentally stimulated. This is not a dog who will sleep all day and night and leave your couch, shoes, walls, and whatever unmolested if you have not satisfied his mental genius each day. They are supremely built athletes (except for those sloping hips) and you must ensure they get daily exercise. Please do not bring a German Shepherd into your life and home unless you truly can commit to daily brain and physical work. Shall I repeat that? These dog are a lot of work, so if you are a lazy owner or hate to work hard on behalf of a dog, skip this breed.

Sometimes people get German Shepherds for macho reasons. They think they look tough or menacing or God knows what with a German Shepherd dog at the end of the leash. People who have this dog for this reason have little understanding of the true nature of this breed. Underneath all that they can do, there is nearly always a sensitive dog soul in there who loves his human so deeply that he is willing to die for us in the line of duty — especially when the shepherd sees his duty as protecting us. We humans owe this breed more and have to finally step up and stop the everyday abuse from owners and trainers who insist that this sturdy German dog needs a “heavy hand” in training.

All of my shepherds are clicker trained, even my super brave, incredibly feisty working-stock, long-coated German Shepherd puppy. She has that powerful canine brain coupled with a desire to please me, and we get along famously in our training sessions. My only real problem in training is keeping her from boredom.

As you can tell, I love this breed. I wish more people could look deeply at this magnificent creature and see that while they are tough, physically strong and brilliant, they are still vulnerable and have feelings inside just as we do. They give us so very much of themselves, so lets give them back a little of us and do right both in breeding and training these loyal, beautiful dogs.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372