Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Start The Year Out Right By Resolving To Improve Your Pet’s Life


New Year, New Resolutions

Make 2015 a great year for you and your pets.

By Sandy Robins

Dogs and Cats Celebrating the New Year

Start this year out right by making a resolution to implement your resolutions, especially those that will help your pets have healthy and happy lives for years to come.

Yes, every year it’s the same pattern. We vow we are going to do certain things in the New Year and make positive changes to our lifestyles—and our pets’ lifestyles, too. Somehow, the year picks up steam and hurtles along and soon we are back making the same statements at the start of a different year.

Let’s start this year out right by making a resolution to implement the resolutions. Our pets truly rely on us for everything, from their food to a topped-up water bowl, from a comfortable bed placed away from any household draughts to their grooming and exercise routines.

The following basics are a great place to start making things better for your pets.

Cat Drinking from a Water Fountain

A resolution: Remember to regularly refresh and top off your pets’ water bowls and fountains. Every pet needs constant access to fresh water. Photo courtesy of PetSafe.

From a feline perspective, as the litterbox janitor you can resolve to scoop daily (if you aren’t already doing so) and ensure its topped up with fresh litter—about 4 inches’ worth inside the pan. The rule is one litterbox per cat in the house. So, if you don’t have the correct numbers, put another pan on your shopping list. You might even score a post-holiday bargain.

Water bowls and fountains also need to be refreshed and topped up daily. If you have been slacker, this is a quick fix. You can also delegate kids in the household to keep an eye on the water levels and nag you to top up. Kids know how to nag, right?

Exercise is vital to good health for both cats and dogs. When it comes to cats, short games with a wand or a toy they can chase makes all the difference. Try to introduce playtime twice a day. The kids can step in here as well and commandeer a play session. This daily exercise offers felines both mental and physical stimulation. Interacting with pets also provides great learning opportunities for children.

Dogs need several good walks in a day. During the winter, you can take them on several shorter walks instead of just one or two long walks in the cold. If the weather is just not conducive to going outdoors, a pet treadmill can be a great investment when it comes to taking care of their exercise needs.

Dog Playing With Treat-filled Toy

A resolution: Ensure your pets always have something to keep themselves occupied–safely and constructively. Puzzle toys, especially treat-filled ones, are great for dogs and cats. Photo courtesy of PetSafe.

Be sure to introduce other interactive games, too, so that you can spend quality time together. Puzzle toys are great for both cats and dogs left home alone as they truly give pets a chance to constructively occupy their time—and their minds.

If you are like me, no resolution in the world is going to stop you from being a part-time couch potato with all that good material available on Netflix. However, make sure you curl up together with your favorite pets so that you can all enjoy quality time together—as well as (low-calorie) snacks.

About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as, and She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats


Keep Your Cat Healthy With Visits to the Veterinarian


Take Your Cat to the Vet

Why your cat needs to have regular health checkups.

By Lisa King

Cat Examination at the Vet Hospital

Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary.

Veterinarian visits are expensive. Taking your cat in for a routine checkup can run over $100 if he’s due for a vaccination. If you have multiple cats, the costs mount. Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. For these reasons, many cat owners avoid taking their cats to the vet unless there is an obvious medical problem. In fact, dogs are taken to the vet twice as often as cats are.

Avoiding routine vet visits can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary. If your cat is older or has any existing health issues, he should see the vet twice a year.

The vet will check your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listen to his heart and breathing. She will also weigh your cat, and might recommend blood work, especially if your cat is senior. If any problems are found, they can be dealt with before they become more serious—and more expensive.

It’s a good idea to bring a stool sample in a plastic baggie to your appointment. That way, the vet can test for intestinal parasites right away.

Veterinarian Listens to a Cat's Lungs

A typical veterinarian exam includes checking your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listening to his heart and breathing.

The annual vet visit is a good time to discuss other topics with the doctor. Is your cat exhibiting any unusual behaviors? Has he suddenly started urinating outside the litterbox? Has his appetite increased or diminished? Is he drinking more or less water than normal? Changes like these can be indications of underlying medical issues.

If you are avoiding vet visits because your cat goes postal at the sight of his carrier, there are steps you can take to calm him down. Start by placing the carrier in an area your cat frequents so it isn’t a signal that a vet visit is imminent. Leave the door open and put a favorite blanket, a couple of toys and some treats inside.

Put a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray. These synthetic pheromone products are designed to reduce anxiety in cats by mimicking the scent of lactating mother cats.

Cat in a Carrier at the Vet's Office

Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. You can help your cat deal with a trip to the vet by putting a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray.

Take your cat on car rides that don’t end up at the vet. Drive around for several minutes and then come home and give your cat a treat or a favorite toy. This will lead him to associate car rides with rewards rather than punishment.

In extreme cases, your vet can prescribe a sedative to be given shortly before visits. This will make it easier for you to transport your cat and will also make it easier for the vet to examine him.

If your cat still gets very stressed by vet visits, it is possible to find vets who make house calls. Ask your vet if she does, or if she can recommend someone who does. Keeping your cat in familiar surroundings and skipping the car ride will reduce his anxiety significantly and will make his annual checkups relatively painless for both of you.

About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

Your Dog’s Antics Aren’t All That Strange


Dog Behavior, Explained

There really are reasons behind your pet’s weirdness.

By Stacy Mantle

Dog Acting Weird

REM sleep disorder, which occurs when the brain signals the large muscle groups in the body to move, is the reason why your dog “runs” in his sleep.

Our dogs do a variety of strange things, from walking in a circle three times before they lie down to running a special pattern before eating. However, believe it or not, there are often some very legitimate reasons for them to do these things. Here a few of these behaviors and the reasons behind them.


Why Does My Dog Press His Head into the Wall?

Recently, there was a “wall-staring” meme that started on YouTube, where people posted photos and videos of their dogs and cats sat staring at a wall—or pressing their head against it—for extended periods of time. If your pets do this, you should consider it an emergency situation and get them into the vet. Known as “head pressing,” it is an indication of neurological damage. Causes of head pressing can include tumors, liver shunt, stroke, encephalitis, hepatic disease, prosencephalon disease and even toxic poisoning. Take this behavior very seriously.


Why Does My Dog Run in His Sleep?

You see your dog running in your sleep and wonder what he’s dreaming about. The truth is, he might have a sleep disorder. REM sleep disorder occurs when the brain signals the large muscle groups in the body to move. Usually this is harmless, but if you’re really concerned because your dog has begun injuring himself (such as suddenly standing up and running into a wall), it’s time to see a veterinarian. They can provide medications that will help control the disorder.


Why is My Dog Crying?

Dogs sometimes start “chuffing” and make a snorting or choking sound, they might even appear to be crying. The phenomenon is known as paroxysmal respiration. It sounds awful, but it’s really a reaction to several different factors, including eating too fast or reacting to an irritant in the air. If it happens often, you’ll want to see a veterinarian.


Dog Rolling in Cow Patties

There are numerous theories as to why dogs like to roll in horribly smelly things. Whatever the reason, the end result is always the same: a bath.

Why Does My Dog Roll in Dead Things?

There isn’t a dog alive who wouldn’t choose to roll in stinky stuff if given half a chance. There are many theories as to why dogs do this. Some people believe the dogs are “disguising” their own scents—an instinct leftover from the days when dogs were actual hunters. Some believe it indicates a dog doesn’t like the way he smells (especially right after a bath). I subscribe to the theory that they are showing other dogs where they have been that day (similar to a child running up to you and saying, “Look what I found!”). Still, others believe their pets just really like the smell. The real reason? Only our dogs know for sure.


Why Does My Dog Circle Three Times Before Laying Down?

This is likely another instinctual behavior leftover from the good ol’ days of being predators. In order to pat down the long grasses on ranges, dogs would turn around in a circle (usually three times is enough to pat down grasses), making a perfect grass shelter bed. Dogs are pack animals and the circle is a way of staking out a preferred sleeping area.


Why Does My Dog Pull the Stuffing Out of His Toys?

Dog Destroys Stuffed Toy

A dog who enjoys disemboweling her stuffed toys is probably just following her natural hunting instincts. To solve this problem, simply switch her over to unstuffed toys.

If your pup enjoys disemboweling her toys, don’t be too concerned. There is nothing more instinctual to a dog than pulling all the stuffing out of her toys. I you watch the process, you’ll see there is a specific way she accomplishes this behavior. She will first pull out the “perceived” intestines, kidneys and liver, then the heart, lungs and spleen. This is because the organs are “high-value” targets due to their concentrated levels of vitamin B, which wild animals need a lot of to survive. If your dogs were in the wild, they would then move on to the large muscle mass of each leg, then to the ribs and finally to the tougher portions (like bone, tendon, cartilage and hide).

Of course, it might also be that the stuffed toy “stomach” is generally where the seam is usually located. However, personally, I like the hunting theory.

No matter how strange your dog’s behavior is, you can rest assured there are physiological or instinctual reasons behind it. Taking the time to explore the history of your dog and understanding her reasoning for doing certain things will give you a huge advantage in distinguishing between “learned behavior” and “instinctual behavior.” This will go a long ways toward helping you train your dog.

About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting or get to know a little more about the author at


Regular Veterinarian Visits = Happy Healthy Dogs


Happy, Healthy Dogs

Your Canine companions need to see a veterinarian at least once a year.

By Audrey Pavia

Veterinarian Exams a Lab

Depending on what your veterinarian finds during the exam, he might recommend changes in your dog’s lifestyle.

Your dog seems happy and healthy. He’s full of energy, eats all his dinner and always has a bright look in his eye. So why stress him out by putting him in the car and taking him to the vet?

While it might seem that the only time you should take your dog to the vet is when he’s sick, the truth is that regular vet visits—at least once a year—are as important as giving him good food, daily exercise and a warm place to sleep.

Chances are your medical doctor recommends a yearly checkup to make sure your body stays in good working order. The same rule applies to dogs. By taking your dog to the veterinarian once a year for a wellness exam, you are helping to keep him happy and healthy.

Here is what your dog’s vet will be checking for when you take him in for a yearly exam:

  • Body condition. Your vet will determine if your dog is of a healthy weight, and will make suggestions to correct any issues she might see. She might also perform an exam on your dog’s joints to look for early signs of arthritis.
  • Healthy skin. An exam of your dog’s skin will reveal any issues with allergies or parasites, such as fleas and ticks.
  • Healthy teeth and gums. Infected teeth or gums can lead to serious illness in a dog. The vet will examine your dog’s mouth thoroughly, looking for gum disease or loose or infected teeth.
  • Normal heartbeat. By listening to your dog’s heart with a stethoscope, your vet will determine if your dog has a heart murmur or any other irregular rhythm.
  • Normal breathing. Using a stethoscope, your vet will listen to your dog’s breathing to ensure his lungs are clear and his respiration normal.
  • Healthy eyes. Your vet will look into your dog’s eyes with a light to check for signs of cataracts or other issues. She will also examine the area around the eyes for signs of infection or injury.
  • Healthy ears. Your vet will look into your dog’s ears to check for parasites, infection or other issues.
  • Your dog’s records will indicate if he is in need of vaccines. Puppies require several vaccines during their first six months of life to help protect them against serious illness. Adult dogs need regular boosters to help them stay healthy.
Veterinarian Checks a Dog's Eyes

Regular vet visits—at least once a year—are as important as giving your dog good food, daily exercise and a warm place to sleep.

If your dog is a senior—6 years old or older, in most breeds—your vet might suggest blood work to evaluate the function of your dog’s kidney, liver and other body systems.

At the time you set up your dog’s exam, the veterinarian’s office might request that you bring in a fresh stool sample from your dog. Tests will be run on the sample to look for parasites such as roundworms and pinworms, which could be occupying your dog’s digestive system.

When taking your dog to your vet for an exam, be prepared to answer some questions. Your vet will ask you about your dog’s behavior, appetite and bowel movements. She will want to know what you are feeding your dog, and might want to discuss nutrition and exercise with you.

Depending on what your veterinarian finds during the exam, she might recommend changes in your dog’s lifestyle. If any serious issues are discovered, your vet will discuss options with you and provide your dog with treatment, or referral to a specialist.

If your vet finds any health issues with your dog, you’ll be glad you caught them early. The chances of your dog making a complete recovery will be much greater.

About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit


January – Grooming Instruction Program Student Of The Month – 2015


ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month
January 2015

Kenneth Moss Jr.

Kenneth Moss Jr.

Ken Moss has spent his life serving his local community of Dayton, Ohio. In his chosen career field, he serves as a chaplain for prisons and community leadership boards. He was given the opportunity to work with an organization that provides opportunities for underprivileged individuals. He joined the Grooming Instruction Program with the hope of being able to provide job opportunities to those in his community who share his love for animals.

  • How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?

One of my co-workers owns multiple animal resorts in Florida and has helped us provide our clients with opportunities. He had worked with ABC in the past and thought your program would be a great opportunity for me and my clients. I researched it and saw how valuable it would be for me to become certified.

  • What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge has been learning how to work with cats. I have had to learn to work with each cat’s temperament and identify where he is uncomfortable.

  • What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

We had a pet owner bring in a blind Shih Tzu. It was matted with really bad fleas. It was so rewarding to be able to completely clean this dog and make that dog and its owner so much happier in the end.

  • What one thing stands out for you in terms of knowledge and/or skills acquired from the program?

The biggest thing I have learned is to adapt to each dog’s temperament. I thought it would be so much harder to cut each dog’s hair, but I have learned how to work with the dogs and see that it is not as hard as I thought it would be.

This program has been absolutely phenomenal. In my externship now, the mentor is so knowledgeable and helpful. I am learning so much.

January – Veterinary Assistant Program Student Of The Month – 2015


ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
January 2015

Seidie Martinez

Seidie Martinez

Seidie Martinez lives in Richmond, Texas, and was recently hired at the animal hospital where she completed her externship. Seidie has seven pets; she has four cats, a Chihuahua and two ferrets. Growing up, Seidie always knew she wanted a career in which she could improve the lives of animals. Originally, Seidie wanted to be an animal control officer. Later on, she realized that although she still wanted to help animals in need, she wanted to do so as a veterinary assistant.

  • Describe a humorous moment you witnessed or took part in while working at your externship location.

We did a neuter on a cat. When the kitten woke up from the anesthesia, he was first lying on his side. When he tried to get up, he would clumsily go in circles, and then he would fall back down. He started to do circles again and again. It was the funniest and cutest thing I’ve ever seen a cat do.

I liked the program. It taught me a lot. When I did my externship, it showed me how to apply my skills hands-on. I also met new people and their awesome pets.

  • What skills do you want to master during the next 12 months?

I want to keep working in the veterinary field. I also want to learn how to be a dog trainer, a groomer and also a radiologist.

  • If you could work with any exotic animal, what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to work with a panda. This is because they are so cute and I love their personalities. I would be the happiest girl in the world.

  • What was the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was to hold down a dog that needed X-rays and he didn’t want to stay still. However, after some practice I got the hang of holding not only dogs, but also all animals [during] X-rays.

January 2015 – ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA


ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA – January 2015

Nancy McAfee

Nancy McAfeeABC graduate Nancy McAfee has always been interested in dogs. She started with adopting retired sled dogs in her hometown of Tobermory, Ontario, Canada, which then introduced her to skijoring (a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse or a dog). Nancy quickly became hooked. When she got a puppy, Nancy enrolled in puppy classes and has been working toward becoming a trainer ever since. When she decided to get her dog trainer certification, Nancy wanted to do so for two reasons. First, she wanted to help people address or prevent problem behaviors in their dogs. Second, since Nancy plans to have a boarding kennel in the near future, she wanted to know more about handling dogs so they can have a more enjoyable experience. Nancy did some extensive research on different programs and enrolled with Animal Behavior College shortly thereafter.

  • Was dog training your first career choice? If not, what was it?

Originally, I went through school to be a secondary science teacher. I taught for a few years, and then took time off to be a stay-at-home mom, which is when I completed the ABC course.

  • What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

Trying to change the way people think and act with their dogs was the biggest challenge for me. It takes time and patience, but most times, there’s eventually a “click.”

  • Describe one pet story that touched you the most during your volunteer hours. Do you plan on continuing your volunteer work? If yes, how/where?

I worked with a little Jack Russell Terrier for most of the time I was volunteering. He had been returned to the shelter multiple times for problem behaviors, but finally found his forever home with a man who owned a farm and had limited mobility. They were a great fit. Unfortunately, I live too far away from an animal shelter to continue volunteering on a regular basis, but I do hold an annual fundraiser in support of our local shelter.

  • What are your plans for dog training? Do you want to specialize in a particular type of training or in training a particular breed of dog?

With my boarding kennel, I plan to run group classes for obedience as well as basic agility skills. I would love to introduce people to skijoring and dog sledding. In addition, I would like to run fitness classes for humans and their dogs. Basically, my goal is to get people and their dogs active together. I’d love to get kids out as well. In this area, there are not a lot of extracurricular activities and I think spending time with your canine companion is a great one.

  • Which dog breed best describes you and why?

Probably a Border Collie, because I like to learn, teach others and be active.

Talk With A Veterinary Technician


Animal Behavior College interviews Jennifer Woodward and Penny Derbyshire-Baldyga. Jennifer has been a veterinary technician for over 10 years and Penny for over 30 years. Animal Behavior College’s Veterinary Assistant Program offers students the education and experience required to work in a hospital along with hands-on training in animal care facilities. Jennifer and Penny discuss what it takes to become a veterinary assistant, what veterinary offices look for, and the benefits of Animal Behavior College’s Veterinary Assistant Program.

For more information on the Veterinary Assistant Program, please click here.

Holiday Gift List For Every Four-Legged Family Member


Pet Holiday Gift List

What to give your favorite four-legged friends.

By Stacy Mantle


When it comes to the holidays, we all want the best for our pets. I spend the year looking for well-designed gifts that will last—and are from companies that participate in programs to benefit nonprofit organizations. If you’re looking for a gift for your dogs or cats, these are a few of my holiday picks for 2014.

For the Dogs on Your Holiday List

Ruffwear K9 Overcoat

Ruffwear-K-9-OvercoatOnce again, Ruffwear proves it is the king of outdoor wear for dogs. The redesigned K9 Overcoat is great for any climate and the durable material allows it to stand up to even the most active dog. Wind- and water-resistant outer fabric keeps the elements out, while interior fleece layer keeps body heat in. Ruffwear’s Donation Program provides product donations to organizations and events that support outdoor spaces where wildlife thrives and people and dogs recreate

Pricing begins at $65


Clear Conscience Pets Sliders

Sliders® are formulated with meat content and ultra-low carbohydrates and are free of all chemical preservatives, including glycerins and glycols. These treats make the perfect stocking stuffer for any sized dog. Clear Conscience Pet actively supports The Potcake Foundation and the Turks and Caicos SPCA (TCSPCA) and a variety of local animal shelters.

UpCountryHolidayCollarsUpCountry Collars

Perfect for a night walking with carolers. UpCountry collars come in more than 100 beautiful designs and the company offers matching leads and harnesses to complete the look. Made in the USA THE holiday collection features everything from sweaters to treats. Each year during the holiday season at Up Country, employees collect money for donation to a nonprofit organization. Up Country generously matches the total raised and the company actively participates in fundraisers for a variety of organizations.

Prices vary, but most collars begin at $20

Pogo-PlushPetSafePetSafe Pogo Plush Toys

Looking for a toy that will hold up to the heaviest chewer? PetSafe offers PogoPlush toys that come complete with a migrating squeaker and an inner cage under the plush covering dogs love. Great for any size, this toy can last much longer than your standard plush toys. PetSafe plays a lead role in helping pets become respected citizens and actively participates in community initiatives to create dog parks, as well as offering tuition assistance and supporting pet-friendly communities.

Prices begin at $12.99


Orvis Pet Ornaments and Water Trapper Mats

Orvis offers an extensive line of high-quality holiday items that any dog or cat owner will love, including pet-themed ornaments, durable water-trapper tree mats, and much more. Orvis partners with customers to help the PetFinder Foundation in its mission to support rescue shelters. Orvis will match every donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for a total contribution of $60,000.

For the Cats in Your Life

NekoTelescopingRodNekoFlies BirBug Telescoping Rod

NekoFlies brings a unique twist to the wand toy. This gliding toy features a design that will entice even the most unresponsive cat, and its telescoping rod makes it the perfect selection for playtime in the largest of rooms or the tiniest of spaces. NekoFlies regularly donates products to shelters.

Ultimate-BlendFrom the Field Silvervine & Catnip

Silver vine is the new herb for cats who don’t generally respond to catnip. Naturally grown in Malaysia, this natural herb can give your cat a euphoric response even if she doesn’t normally respond to catnip or valerian root. Sprinkle a pinch of From the Field’s Ultimate Blend of silver vine and catnip on your cat’s favorite toy or bed, and watch the magic. Protecting the planet was the inspiration for the From the Field line of products. The company works to protect the earth from deforestation and pollution by using eco-friendly products and supporting key .


Eco Cater Pillar Toy

This all-natural toy is perfect for cats who love to play. Each colorful body part is made of organic wool and sewn together with hemp twine. The natural lanolin aroma appeals to any cat and the toy can be hand-washed. As a bonus, the wool components are handmade by women in Nepal as part of the Fair Trade program, and every purchase helps support families who are involved with Snow Leopard Preservation programs.

Licks4CatsLicks for Cats

The perfect stocking stuffer comes in the form of a supplement. Individually packaged to ensure proper dosage, LICKS® offers an extensive line of products, each formulated to focus on resolving specific health and behavior conditions. (I recommend the ZEN™ formula as a calming aid to keep anxious, stressed-out or aggressive cats calm during the holidays). LICKS Liquid Vitamins contributes 5 percent of revenue to charitable organizations.

About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting or get to know a little more about the author at

Every Day Should Be National Mutts Day


Magical Mutts

Let’s make every day National Mutts Day, not just December 2.

By Audrey Pavia

Magical Mutts

Your mutt is unique since no two mixed breed dogs are exactly alike. Regardless of the cross, it’s nearly impossible to find two that look identical.

Purebred dogs are wonderful creatures. They have been bred for hundreds of years to look and act a certain way. Purebreds are special, and the world would not be the same without them.

That said, dogs of mixed blood are also amazing in a different way. For one thing, more mixed breeds are on the planet than any other type of dog, yet each one is special.There are some good reasons to own a mixed breed dog.


No two mixed breed dogs are exactly alike. Regardless of the cross, it’s nearly impossible to find two that look identical. Even deliberately bred mixes like Schnoodles (Schnauzer x Poodle) or Cockapoos (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle) are not uniform in color, shape and size. If you want a dog that looks like no other dog, a mixed breed is the pet for you.

Good Health

Due to decades of close breeding, many pure breeds suffer from common genetic illnesses. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are prone to a bleeding disorder called Von Willebrands Disease. German Shepherds have a proclivity for hip dysplasia. Standard Poodles can develop an endocrine disorder called Addison’s disease. Mixed breeds, on the other hand, are less susceptible to genetic ailments because their genes are so mixed. This notion is supported by the fact that several pet insurance companies charge lower medical premiums for mixed breed dogs than purebreds.



With a mixed breed, not only do you have the best of several breeds in your dog, you also have a friend who will always be thankful that you love him.

Because most dogs are mixed breeds, shelters are full of them. While purebreds often end up in shelters, the vast majority of dogs picked up as strays or surrendered to animal control facilities are mixes. In fact, 75 percent of shelter dogs are mixed breeds, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Many of these dogs are homeless through no fault of their own. The result of irresponsible pet ownership, these hapless dogs are in desperate need of caring owners.

Some mixed breeds are pretty hard to figure out, most likely because they have been mixed for many generations. If you are curious about your mixed breed’s background, a company called Wisdom Panel offers an inexpensive DNA test where you can have his genes tested to see what breeds went into making him. For more information, visit

Living with a mixed breed can be a fun and joyful experience. Not only do you have the best of several breeds in your dog, you also have a friend who will always be thankful that you love him.

About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit

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