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Breed All About It: Dogs

Learn more about the dog breeds that pet parents all across the world call canine companions - and their common health problems

Developed for stamina, versatility and of course, cold temperatures, the Elkhound’s form has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. Her silver-grey outer coat has saddle markings, often with black points, and covers a soft, dense undercoat meant to protect her from harsh weather. Energetic, loyal and devoted to her family — she is happiest when she is close to her people and can make an excellent tracking or agility dog.

The precise origins of the Sarplaninac (pronounced shar-pla-NEE-natz) are unclear, but theories abound that she descends from either the ancient Molosser dogs of Greece, cattle dogs that migrated west from Asia, or the livestock guarding dogs of Turkey. She gets her name from the mountain Shar Planina, located in the Balkans, which stretches from Macedonia and Yugoslavia to Albania.

The Tosa Inu is a Japanese dog that was developed between 1868 and 1912 by crossing several different breeds. Tosas were often referred to as the Sumo wrestler of the dog world, and indeed, they were traditionally used for dog fighting, which dates back to the 14th century in Japan. Dog-fighting is now illegal in Japan and many other countries, and today the Tosa is considered a Japanese national treasure. While his coat is easy to keep he does have a tendency to drool!

The Peek-a-poo (or Pekepoo) is the result of cross between a Pekingese and a Toy or Miniature Poodle. An active and energetic dog, the Peek-a-poo greatly enjoys her daily walks or romps in the backyard, which can help her avoid destructive tendencies. She is loving, affectionate and protective toward her family, and she is known to announce the presence of suspicious strangers with a mighty voice.

The Silken Windhound is a relatively new breed of sighthound, having first been developed in 1987 by a Kentucky Borzoi and Deerhound breeder, Francie Stull. Stull was attempting to create a smaller sighthound with the same athleticism and elegance of the larger sighthounds, with a wonderful temperament, long coat and all-around good health. She combined champion Borzois, small Whippet-based Lurchers and purebred Whippets, and the Silken Windhound was the result.

The Patterdale Terrier gets his name from a small village in the Lake District of Cumbria in Northwest England, where he comes from. His exact origins are unknown, but Lakeland, Border and Bedlington terriers were all used in developing the breed.

The Dutch Smoushond, or Dutch Ratter, is a very rare breed of dog descended from terrier-type dogs in Germany and the Netherlands. He was originally bred to keep stables free of rats and other vermin, but he was also popular in the late 1800s as a gentleman's companion.

Did you know the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is the only dog breed to be named for a fictional character? His name comes from a character in an 1814 Sir Walter Scott novel, Guy Mannering. In the book, the farmer Dandie Dinmont owns terriers named “Pepper” and “Mustard” after the colors of their coats.

In early 18th century, a breed of little white dog similar to the Bichon Frisé or Bolognese of today arrived in Russia. There are differing accounts of how she got there — some say that a small dog from the courts of Louis IV of France was presented to a member of the Russian nobility, as a gift. Others claim the breed migrated to the Russian Empire with Napoleon’s army and were known as “Bolonka” (which translates to “Bolognese” in several Slavic languages).

The Berger Picard, or Picardy Shepherd, was likely descended from dogs brought to France by Central European Celts around 400 B.C., making him one of the oldest of the French herding breeds. Sheepdogs resembling Berger Picards have been depicted in tapestries and engravings dating back to the Middle Ages.

As her name suggests, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon has a wiry, coarse double coat that enables her to pursue her prey through brambles and brush. Her coat gives her a somewhat unkempt appearance, but regular brushing will keep its natural unruliness under control. As she is a hunting dog, she does require plenty of exercise to stay physically and mentally fit, but she is also known for being calmer than most field breeds when indoors.

Standing around 20 inches at the shoulders, the Small Münsterländer weighs between 40 and 55 lbs. His intelligence and devotion make this #dog breed easy to train, but these traits also mean he needs plenty of mental and physical exercise. He is happiest when pointing, tracking and retrieving — all of which he will do naturally — so a fenced-in yard is best to keep this natural hunter well-exercised and close to home!

The Plott is a big-game hunting dog with a very unique – and well-documented – history. He's also the state dog of North Carolina!

The Large Münsterländer is an athletic gun #dog averaging 60-65 lbs., with a medium-length black and white coat. His thick coat provides protection against the cold, but he can also do well in warmer climates. Plenty of exercise and a strong leader are especially important for him, and without both, he can become destructive and distressed. He is happiest when working, and does best in a home with a large yard.

Despite her name, the Irish Red and White Setter is a distinct breed, not just a different colored version of the Irish Setter. Originating in the 17th century, she descended from the ancient livestock-herding dogs brought to Ireland by invading Roman armies. But by the early 19th century, she was nearly extinct, due in part to the overwhelming popularity of her all-red cousin. #dog-breed

A natural working #dog, the English Shepherd requires regular activities and daily exercise. His courage and intelligence make him a natural at search and rescue, and his gentle, patient nature — especially with children — makes him an ideal therapy dog.

The Bolognese, named for the northern Italian city of Bologna where he originated, is closely related to both the Bichon Frise and Havanese. Already known in the Roman era, the Bolognese appears prominently on lists of gifts to and from powerful men, including Cosimo de Medici and King Philipe II of Spain, and he even appears in works by Titian and Goya #dog-breed

Originating in the Artois and Normandy regions of France in the 1600s, the Basset Artésian Normand is one of six recognized French Basset breeds. Bred to hunt, the Artésian is a brave, determined and headstrong dog. However, her friendly, good-natured temperament also makes her a good family companion. #dog-breed

The Barbet, or French Water #Dog, is an ancient breed, with earliest references dating back to the 14th century. His name comes from the French word “barbe,” which means beard, and indeed he does sport a wiry beard. #dog-breed

While always highly valued by the Tibetan people, an 11-month-old male Tibetan Mastiff #dog named "Big Splash" became the most expensive dog in the world when he was purchased in March 2011 by a Chinese businessman for 1.5 million dollars

The Stabyhoun, or Stabij, originated around 1800 in Friesland, a northern province in the Netherlands, and was likely descended from spaniels brought there by Spanish conquistadors. Her name indicates her loyal nature: “sta me bij” is Dutch for “stand by me,” and “houn” means #dog

For the last 1,000 years, the Spanish Water #Dog has helped herd sheep and goats in the mountainous Andalucían region of Spain (which he still does today), where he is also employed as a search-and-rescue dog.

There is some dispute as to whether the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wirehaired Fox Terrier are variations on the same #dog breed, as they were considered to be for many years. Today, the consensus seems to be that despite their similarities, they likely had different ancestries.

The Schipperke (whose name in German means “little boatman”) is a small, solid #dog with a pointed, fox-like face. His diminutive appearance hides an extremely mischievous demeanor, and he possesses a natural curiosity about everything in his surroundings.

The first red coonhounds were brought to North America by Scottish immigrants at the end of the 18th century. Peter Redbone of Tennessee (for whom the #dog breed was named) was one of several breeders who combined those hounds with Irish Foxhounds and Bloodhounds to further develop their hunting abilities.