Small dogs can- have BIG jobs!
|Barked: Sat May 16, '09 2:29pm PST |
|All three are EXTREMELY different in temperment, behavior and special handling.
I'll speak mainly about IGs, as that is what I have.
For additional info, I highly recommend looking at the following websites:
IGs are wonderful little dogs: beautiful, affectionate and goofy. They are small, but not too small. They have large voices, not the yip yip of other toy breeds. They are fast and athletic. They are true velcro dogs and prefer to be with you 24/7. They make admirable bedwarmers, as they claim every right to your furniture and are convinced the bed is for them and they share it with you. They sleep under the covers. They don't have a strong doggy smell. Due to their short single coat, they tend not to shed as noticably (they still shed) as other dogs and some people with dog allergies can live comfortably with them (but not all). Many compare them to cats, as they have unique qualities that are very different from your average dog: they like to soak up the sun from the backs of couches etc. They are independent thinkers. They keep themselves clean and will groom themselves like a cat.
However, there is a dark side to IGs. People often extoll the best qualities of the breeds they recommend on Dogster, but I'm not like that. The good... you can get that anywhere. But the bad... well, those bad things tend to be deal breakers that land a dog in rescue.
So here goes: IGs can be EVIL little dogs.
POTTY TRAINING! EEEK! IGs can be notoriously hard to potty train reliably. Some never quite figure it out. Most hate the cold and getting wet, so if it is cold, rainy or windy outside, many refuse to potty outside. Then promply leave you a deposit on your rugs... which many view as really plush high class potty pads. Because of this, many people choose to pad train or litter train their igs. Some do well with this. Whatever the case, potty training takes consistancy and patience.
IGs can NEVER EVER EVER EVER (and I mean NEVER) be off leash in an unenclosed area. It doesn't matter how well trained the dog is or how great the recall is. Just NO... wait wait... NO! Really and truly NO! That means no walking to the car without the leash. No romps at the unfenced park. No beach romps without the leash. No walks in the woods with no leash. No romping in a yard enclosed on three side. No going out in the front yard for a quick potty with no leash. No invisible electric fence etc. (By the way, this goes for ALL sighthounds, including greyhounds and whippets). Most rescues and responsible breeders have leash clauses in their contracts, meaning that the dog can be immediately seized if allowed to recreate off leash in an unenclosed area. So just don't do it!
Let's talk a little about that lovely IG physique. Because of thier thin skin and low body fat, IGs are NEVER OUTDOOR dogs. They are indoor dogs that like to visit the outdoors to play while supervised... then come back inside. Also, they often require sweaters, jammies or t shirts to keep warm while it is cold and to shield them from sunburn. Because they are sighthounds and thier heads are smaller than their necks, IGs require properly fitted martingale style collars (or the equivalent). Martingale collars tighten when a dog backs up. Buckle collars are NEVER appropriate for walking an IG. They are too easy to slip out of. This is the same with all sighthounds (including whippets and greyts). Because of their deep chest, harnesses never fit quite right. Many an IG has slipped a harness and run off to the horror of their owners.
IGs think they can fly... but they can't. They will bravely (and stupidly) jump off of high counters, desks etc that they somehow manage to clamber up onto if you do not IGGY PROOF your home. This can lead to one of the biggest problem for poorly bred igs (and occassionally some well bred ones too): LEG BREAKS. Part of thier beauty lies in those elegant gams that go all the way up. However, those chopstick legs can break. And when they do, it is never an easy process. Good Ig owners keep an extra bankroll of cash set aside with the number of the best orthopedic vet surgeon near them... just in case. Most vets (even ortho vets) do not have the experience needed to properly set and care for iggy breaks. They will tell you they do... but that is mute when your dog requires an amputation because improper sized fixation was used or it wasn't set quite right. I know people who have travelled several hours to find the appropriate vet... and such treatment is expensive. We like to say leg breaks will set you back $1000... but that number can go up and down. One friend of mine had a dog with a leg break and she is now at $6000!
This fragility also means that play with larger dogs or children is usually out. Both can accidentally injure an IG. IGs are not rough and tumble dogs.
Another health problem: SIEZURES. They are especially common in poorly bred igs, but can also happen to better bred IGs too. IGs are also susceptable to PRA, low thryroid, luxating patellas, vWB, and juvenile cataracts. All the more reason to go to a RESPONSIBLE breeder or rescue.
You will NEVER be ALONE again! Some people have an issue with this. That means no more alone time in the bathroom or with a special friend in the bedroom or when you are on the computer (guess who is laying next to me right now) etc.
IGs are sighthounds, so that means that they are INDEPENDENT THINKERS. That means, they will never react to training like a lab. They are not subservient. They need positive, up beat, fun training. Harsh corrections and physical punishment are NEVER appropriate for an IG. They are soft dogs and will wilt or shut down. All sighthounds are touch sensitive and harsh correction can be very scary for them. No ecollars (they will scream), no hitting or tapping (they will never trust you again), and no loud voices or harsh tones (they will cower). Now that is not to be said that IGs are not smart. They are highly intelligent. But like cats, they are always thinking "what is in this for me?" You just have to be creative enough to design a training program that peaks thier interest. Food is often a plus, as is play. Byron is very highly trained. It took creativity, positive reinforcement and patience. Lots and lots of patience. By the way, don't expect a sighthound to sit or down on a cold hard floor. That's what mats are for. Many IGs will actually stare at you and quickly back up until they run into a rug etc to sit on if you ask them to sit on tile etc.
IGs need committed dental care. That means daily teeth brushing... unless of course, you want a toothless dog.
IGs and all sighthounds are sensitive to chemicals; that includes anesthesia and flea meds. I prefer not to use flea meds on my dog. Instead I do visual inspection and remove fleas by hand.
IG puppies are VERY active and bounce off of the walls... literally. Be prepared for the zoomies. As they get older, most IGs settle down a bit (usually around 3 years). However, they still need regular exercise and will still play quite activly in your home.
Since IGs can be touch and noise sensitive, some can be very timid in public. I imagine that is the trouble with the IG at your vet's office. Therefore, they need to be well socialized from a young age. However, some will never be outgoing. This also means that thier home must be free of loud noises and angry voices. If you live in a very boisterous home, an IG may not be for you.
Finally, there are a lot of puppy mills and backyard breeders out there that breed IGs. So be careful. If you want to purchase an IG, go to the IGCA and request a breeder referral. Then CAREFULLY review the breeder to ensure that s/he is responsible. If you have a breeder in mind, I'd be happy to review the breeder for you. PM me privately. A good IG breeder will never let a dog go at 8 weeks, as is commonly done with other breeds. IGs need extra time with thier litter. A good age for going to a new home is between 10-14 weeks. Some even keep them longer. This will not affect the bonding expereince you will have with your dog. If a breeder tries to send you home with a dog under 8 weeks... RUN! No responsible IG breeders ship to new members of the fancy. They also do not make transactions over the internet or by credit card. Most require cash. This is not a blanket statement. I know the responsible breeders in the IG fancy and none of them do the above things. Finally, NEVER buy from a puppy mill... unless you want a dog with poor socialization, separation anxiety, pra, poor bone density, lp, and seizures.
IG rescue is also a wonderful way to get an IG. There are so many in rescue right now. I'm an IGCA rescue volunteer in Florida. So if you are in Florida, please feel free to pm me. Or you can ask for the contact in your state.
That being said, I love the breed and would not trade my IG for the world.
One last thing, IGs should generally not be kept with greyhounds. It is dangerous. Some people are able to do it successfully, but those people have a heck of a lot of sighthound experience and practice segregation in thier home and in the yard.
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