The Siberian Husky has been around for a long time. In sports and pop culture, most people are familiar with this dog that bears a resemblance to a wolf. If you have ever seen the movie or read the novel Call of the Wild by Jack London, you have indeed been introduced to a Husky.
They, along with their larger cousin, the Alaskan Malamute have become widely known as ultimate sled dogs.
Siberian Huskies Sybil and Shelby
The Siberian Husky is a very old breed. According the American Kennel Club, the nomadic Chukchi Tribe of Northeast Asia used the Husky for centuries to do various tasks. They used them to herd, hunt, and most importantly, pull. When the Chukchi found themselves searching for new hunting ground further and further from their permanent camps, the Siberian Husky was used to take them on these long journeys. They were also used when the time came to abandon their homes and relocate to a more fertile hunting destination.
Edward and Shelby
Up until the early 1900s, the Chukchi were the only breeders of the Siberian Husky. Around this same time they made their first appearance in what is known as the All Alaskan Sweepstakes, where mushers pushed their dog teams to make the 408-mile run from Nome to Candie. The first all-Husky team won the event in 1908, but they really soared to popularity and legend when they were used to deliver medicines to the outposts of Alaska during a diphtheria outbreak. They became the go-to dog of the north. This is the origin of the famous Iditarod Dog Sled Race held each year.
Huskies are still used in northern regions for sled pulling, but further south they can be found in many homes across the lower hemispheres as they have evolved into great pets.
Standing about 23 inches at the shoulder, the Siberian Husky is a medium-sized dog, weighing in from 45 to 60 pounds. Their thick double coats come in a variety of colors: brown, black, red, white, silver, grey, and combinations of all these colors. They have wolf-shaped heads and are known for often having mismatched eyes: they can have a brown eye and blue eye, or they can have eyes that are half brown and blue.
Siberian Husky with Mis-Matched Eyes
Take note: Huskies do shed! During the spring and fall they need a daily brushing. Huskies are a healthy breed although they do face ailments common to most medium to large dogs like hip dysplasia. The racing Husky can develop gastric as well as bronchial problems.
That aside, everyone I know who has a Husky is deeply in love with the breed. Here’s what my friends, Al Silverstein and Edward Yaeger, have to say about their Huskies, Shelby and Sybil:
Shelby, 6, is the darker gray Husky. After visiting four rescue centers in Connecticut — all of which would not allow us to see a single dog, much less adopt one, until we filled out lengthy paperwork and made an appointment to return at a later date — we stopped by a local pet shop just to become acquainted with some of the breeds (we were planning to adopt a German Shepherd to join our pack, which included at the time a Pug and a Toy Fox Terrier). However, upon seeing Shelby, I instantly knew that she was my spirit animal and that no amount of pet shop-shaming would keep us apart.
Sybil, 3, has a much more interesting background, as she was adopted via The Today Show. That’s right, Sybil, formerly called Sky, was featured in a pet adoption segment of the nationally televised program that aired on January 31, 2013. She was one of three dogs and a cat that the NYCACC was looking to place into new homes. Sybil was surrendered at 8 months by a family in Manhattan. Al viewed the segment on TV and sent in an application for adoption, thinking it would get lost among the hundreds that the NYCACC received but, for some reason, his application was chosen. I knew nothing of this until Al was notified that his application was selected. It was difficult to be mad at Al for not telling me sooner, and it was even more difficult to not embrace Sybil into our pack, as she’s a sweet and tender, if a tad needy, soul. Sybil’s namesake, by the way, is of Lady Sybil of the PBS program, Downton Abbey, who died in that week’s episode. Corny, we know. 😉
Al and Shelby
They are smart, sweet clowns. They are great with kids and really take the idea of being part of a pack (family) to heart. They don’t fare well if left alone too long and have been known to howl when missing their family members.
Not known for barking, they make terrible watchdogs because they are more likely to play with an intruder than protect you from it.
If you are considering the Siberian for an Urban Dog, think carefully. Make sure your lifestyle is one that is active enough to keep this energetic dog busy. A lonely, bored Husky can wreck havoc on a house or an apartment.
Here is what Animal Planet’s showDogs 101 has to say about the Siberian Husky.
If you are like me then you have noticed the Australian Shepherd or Aussie. At the dog park, walking down the street I would see this striking dog and think, “Wow, that is such a cool looking Border Collie!” Finally, some years ago day I stopped an Aussie and its human as they were walking down the street and I learned that it was not a Border but an Aussie.
Stuyvesant Town Aussie, Mia
Oddly, the Australian Shepherd is not from Australia at all. Like many working breeds it went by many names: “Pastor Shepherd,” “Blue Healer,” and probably most accurate “New Mexican Shepherd.” It’s a breed developed in the American Southwest to help livestock farmers herd. Nonetheless it is now known as the Australian Shepherd. The leading theory as to why is because it’s thought they were used to herd sheep brought to the States from Australia. That’s a pretty lame theory if you ask me!
These dogs were born to work. They rank amongst some of the best herders in the world. You can also see them working along side rodeo clowns and cowboys helping keep unruly livestock in line.
The first thing I noticed about this beautiful dog is its amazing coat. Its hair can be straight or wavy and is medium in length except on its head where the hair is short. They come in a multitude of colors: blue merle, red merle, red and white, red and black, and red and tan. And, in case you were unfamiliar with the term “merle,” it refers to a coat that has a splattering of dark patches against a light background (like Mia in the picture above.) Upon closer examination, you’ll notice their eyes. Their eyes are come in almost as many colors and combinations of colors as their coats. Brown, blue, and amber are the most common colors.
I think the most famous Aussie eyes belong to the most focused dog of all: Stains!
Check out these hilarious videos featuring Stains from one of my favorite shows: It’s Me or the Dog!
and this one…
All these coat and eye colors come together to create what I think is one of the most beautiful breeds out there.
Despite the longish hair they don’t require too much grooming according to Dog Breed Info. A weekly brushing should suffice to keep the coat from matting and to keep shedding down.
When you watch them, you also notice how much this dog loves to smile and play. Perhaps this is why they are often in the ring with rodeo clowns. They are breed to have a lot of energy and enjoy a good run. They need a lot of daily exercise. If your Aussie doesn’t get enough exercise, this smart, lovable, entertaining dog could turn into a chewing destructive machine as is the case with most smart breeds who don’t get enough exercise. Despite the fact that it is high energy and a worker, it also makes a great family pet. They are excellent with children and make wonderful baby sitters or watchdogs.
I say this with every breed post but I can’t stress it enough. Take the time to seek out a trusted reputable breeder if you are considering an Aussie. They are subject to a few Aussie-specific illnesses. For example, merle colored Aussies are prone to deafness and blindness. Breeding to induce a natural bobtail can cause spinal trouble. So again, do your homework. Seek out at breeder from the AKC or the Aussie rescue organization.
You can learn more about the Aussie in the episode of Dogs 101 from Animal Planet below
Check out Natalie Siebers’ website for more photos.
I have to admit I have a soft spot for this breed: the first dog I was responsible for was a 90-pound German Shepherd Dog named Snoopy. He was my confident-protector-from-the-monsters-hiding-under-the-bed and my best friend.
The German Shepherd’s origins date back to the late 1800s. They are a full service breed, developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz to be intelligent working dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, the first German Shepherds arrived in the United States in 1907.
German Shepherd Dog
Many people won’t remember this, but long before Lassie, there was Rin Tin Tin, America’s first dog star. Rin was a male German Shepherd who was rescued from the battlefield by American soldier Lee Duncan. He named the dog Rinty. Duncan trained Rinty and was able to find him work starting in the silent film industry. Like Lassie, several other dogs played Rin Tin Tin, but the original Rinty made 27 films and was certainly responsible for making the German Shepherd one of America’s most popular dog breeds.
Joining the ranks of notable German Shepherd Dogs is Rumor, who won Best in Show at the 2017 edition of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Rumor (Courtesy: REUTERS / Stephanie Keith)
It’s a loyal family pet, good with children, a great baby sitter, and a brave working dog serving police forces across America, as well as our nation’s military. This dog can truly do it all.
German Shepherd Dog
If you are thinking of buying a German Shepherd Dog make sure you find a reputable breeder. Many of the ailments Shepherds can suffer from — bloat, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrands’ disease (a disease where the dog bleeds excessively) — occur because of inbreeding. They are majestic intelligent dogs and require exercise. Males weigh anywhere from 70-90 pounds, with females being just a bit smaller. It’s also a good idea, especially if you are a city dweller, to buy “smart” toys to keep your Shepherd entertained. A bored German Shepherd can result in a destroyed apartment. Having one of the strongest bite forces of any dog, your sofa is no match for a bored shepherd. Training is highly recommended.
Here’s a link to Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 profile of the German Shepherd.
My favorite dog at the 2015 edition of the Westminster dog show — my Weimeraner bias aside — was the Bloodhound. This big, wrinkly hound has a face that you fall for. Big brown eyes set on a massive head, this dog has a way about him that says “Hug me!”
If you are of a certain age, there are some famous Bloodhounds you might be familiar with: Duke, Jed Clampet’s loyal companion from the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies; McGruff The Crime Dog; and in one of his very first appearances, Pluto of Disney fame, was a Bloodhound.
Duke and the Beverly Hillbillies
The Bloodhound is a very old breed. They date back more than one thousand years. According to the American Kennel Club: “In the 3rd century A.D., Claudius Aelianus noted the Bloodhound in his Historia Animalium describing a dog that was unrivaled for its scenting powers and determination to stay on the trail until the quarry was located.”
Like its distant cousin, the Mastiff, Bloodhounds are considered “grandfather” to many breeds. Dogs like Boxers, Coon Hounds, Weimaraners, and even Bassett Hounds can trace their lineage back to the Bloodhound. Any dog that is a tracker is most likely related to the Bloodhound.
The Bloodhound was designed to track. Its wrinkled face, extra long ears and massive olfactory gland make this dog such a superb tracker that the results of its tracking efforts can be used as evidence in court. The Bloodhound can follow a scent more than 300 hours old. When it goes into scent mode it may be very hard to regain its attention, so training is a must.
The modern Bloodhound is a large dog. Males can weigh up to 110 pounds and 27 inches at the shoulder. Females are just a tad smaller. They are loyal, loving and very good with children. If you are considering a Bloodhound, remember they are known for two other attributes besides tracking: drooling and their infamous baying. The sound a bloodhound makes can be heard a mile away. They also need a lot of exercise, this dog can walk for hours; one Bloodhound tracked a scent more than 100 miles. They require very little grooming, although their ears are so long you may need to check them daily to make sure they haven’t been getting into their food. They are also susceptible to many of the ailments that effect other large breed dogs such as bloat and hip dysplasia.
I remember many years ago sitting in the movie theater with my sisters watching the Disney movie, One Hundred and One Dalmatians. We were riveted to the screen. Watching the dastardly Cruella DeVille plot and scheme to acquire the 15 Dalmatian puppies in order to make them into the most exquisite fur coat ever worn. Like most kids of that era, we wanted a Dalmatian. Cooler heads prevailed and our parents shut the door on this idea. But, many many parents across America did not and the Dalmatian almost over night became a hugely popular dog breed.
Arguably one of the most recognizable dog breeds on the planet, these handsome white dogs with black spots have a very long history as a working companion for man. No one knows exactly when the breed first appeared but they are known to have traveled what his now Europe with gypsies. Named for the Croatian coast along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatians spread throughout Europe and then to America. The father of our country George Washington was a Dalmatian lover and breeder.
The AKC classifies the Dalmatian as a working dog. They were bred to run alongside horse and carriage to keep away strays, alert coachmen of approaching riders, and keep a clear pathway so coaches could pass. These playful, eager dogs were bred to run. Dals had to be able to run for miles to keep up with their coaches. As fire coaches became popular, the dog became a favorite of firefighters, doing the same job they did for coaches. Even after the advent of motorcars, they stayed on as the mascot to fireman and can still be found in man fire stations across the U.S.
Dalmatian Meets NYC Fire Department Mascot
Dalmatians are not only great working dogs, they are intelligent too. They score “Above Average” when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first commands about 70% of the time or better according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes about 15 to 25 repetitions for them to learn new commands. As with many intelligent high-energy dogs this combination can prove to be problematic for owners who don’t provide enough exercise and mental stimulation for their dog. Remember, this is a dog that was bred to run for miles alongside a carriage.
Dalmatian in the Benches at Westminster
The male Dalmatian stands about two feet tall at the shoulder and weighs about 55 pounds. The females are slightly smaller. The parents give birth to an average of 5 or 6 pups (not 101!)
Disney Movie “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”
Dalmatians are born completely white and as they age, the velvety smooth coat develops black or sometimes liver- colored spots.
On occasion you might come across a pup that has patches rather than spots. This means the dogs are born with large patches of black hair with no white rather than the spots.
There are a few genetic issues to be aware of when looking for a Dal puppy. According to dog breed info, eight percent of all Dalmatian pups are born either completely deaf or have hearing in only one ear. There are some other health concerns to be aware of. The urine of Dalmatians contains uric acid rather than urea making them prone to Urolithiasis, or stones in their urinary tract. Dalmatian owners should make sure their dogs always have plenty of water and keep an eye out to make sure their pet is urinating frequently. Dalmatians also can also be subject to allergies, which for the most part can be treated by your veterinarian.
So, would the Dalmatian make a good Urban Dog? If you keep a busy schedule and your Dal will find herself at home alone a lot then this breed is not for you.
If you have an active lifestyle and enjoy running, skateboarding or any other high energy sport, your Dalmatian can accompany you on and if you have the time to spend with and properly train your pup then, a qualified “yes.”
As always, seek out a reputable breeder when searching for your new puppy. Here is what Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 has to say about the Dalmatian.
Beautiful, sleek, and agile are the words that come to my mind when I think of the Italian Greyhound.
Bentley (Photo: Darren Davis-Kandler)
Italian Greyhounds (IGs) are the smallest of the sight hound group, which also includes breeds like the Saluki, Afghan Hound, and the IG’s larger cousin, the Greyhound. Like most other sight hounds, IGs love to run! They can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and turn on a dime, they’re the Ferraris of the dog world.
Frequent Urban Dog Model, Geoffrey (Photo: Matt Bremer)
Italian Greyhounds are an old breed, dating back some 2,000 years. You will find them in art spanning the ages: you can see them on pots and urns excavated in ancient Turkey and in works by Renaissance artists.
Geoffrey (Photo: Matt Bremer)
They were the preferred breed of nobles like Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Victoria. They are still found in some pretty good company these days with the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Seth Myers, and Uma Thurman all being owners of IGs.
Bentley at the Beach (Photo: Darren Davis-Kandler)
Italian Greyhounds were originally bred to hunt vermin. Their small size, lightning speed, and intelligence made them superb hunters. They are sweet natured, but somewhat needy companions. They not only want to be near their owners, they also have a need to touch them as well. Italian Greyhounds love to lick your face, your hands, eyes, and noses. They become very attached to their owners and will want to spend every moment with them. Darren Davis-Kandler, the owner of Bentley (seen in some of the photos in this article) says: “They are loyal, loving Velcro-like dogs who love cuddling all day if possible and enjoy sleeping under the blankets. They would spend the entire day and night laying with you if you allowed them to.” They live long lives, around 15 years, so they will be around a long time.
Geoffrey at the Office (Photo: Matt Bremer)
They come in several colors, fawn, brown, black, red, white, and also those colors with white patches.
Bentley (Photo: Darren Davis-Kandler)
Just looking at them, you can tell Italian Greyhounds are delicate dogs. Broken bones are common problems. Architect Matt Bremer, the owner of IG Geoffrey, says: “Many potential owners are fearful of the fragility of Iggies, and this is a legitimate concern. They are natural daredevils, prone to potentially break a (very thin) leg over their lifetime. So pet insurance and a vigilant parental eye are both highly recommended.
And they get cold. You will need to buy a wardrobe for them if you live in colder climates. Matt says Geoffrey “… has more and lovelier winter clothes than I do, and in fact needs them. Hairless, and with no body fat to speak of, Italian Greyhounds need fleece and wool for their delicate little frames. And given their rather distinctive profiles they tend to require breed-specific clothing. Luckily, there’s www.houndzinthehood.com and www.iggycouture.com.”
(Editor’s note: Geoffrey, seen in some of the pictures in this post, is probably second to our dog Bodhi, when it comes to being an Urban Dog model. You can see him here, here, here, and here.)
Italian Greyhounds can also be susceptible to ailments like cataracts, hip dysplasia, and more breed-specific issues like epilepsy and patellar luxation. One way to avoid some of these problems is to get your IG from a responsible breeder. Find a breeder who will show you health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and or from Auburn University.
Bentley Snoozing (Photo: Darren Davis-Kandler)
Another difficulty IG owners face is housebreaking. Like many small dogs, housebreaking Italian Greyhounds can be a challenge. It takes lots of time and lots of patience and there still may be the occasional accident. According the Italian Greyhound Club the number one reason IGs are given up is the owner couldn’t housetrain them. They score “Fair” when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first command about 30% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes about 40 to 80 repetitions for them to learn new commands.
“Watch Out Geoffrey!” (Photo: Matt Bremer)
Yet, if you are patient and willing to dedicate the time, the IG can be a wonderful Urban Dog.
They don’t take up much space, weighing in at about 15 pounds and are relatively healthy. Grooming is easy, the occasional bath, brushing, and nail clipping is typically all the grooming an IG needs. Urban Dog reader and IG enthusiast Fran Wickham says you need to make sure to pay attention to their dental care as well.
Top View (Photo: Matt Bremer)
If you are considering getting an IG, make sure you do your homework.
To learn more about Italian Greyhounds, here’s what Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 had to say. And here’s more info from the American Kennel Club. And here’s a link to the Italian Greyhound Club of America.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a breed I know a lot about: I was “godfather” to my friend Jim’s boy, Kobe, and another friend, Sergio, has owned several Ridgebacks: Maverick, Jada, and now baby Mila!
Large, powerful, and noble-looking, I have always loved these majestic dogs.
According to the American Kennel Club they are crossed between Great Danes, Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, and Mastiffs. Boer settlers brought these dogs’ ancestors with them from Holland to South Africa in the 1800s. They were crossbred with the dogs of the Hottentots, who were the natives of the region.
In 1922, a group of Rhodesian breeders established the standard for Ridgebacks, which has remained virtually unchanged ever since. They are also known as the African Lion Dog.
I think one of the things that many find fascinating about Ridgebacks is their power and courage, which is a complete contrast to what may be one of their strongest traits, gentleness. Kobe, my part time Ridgeback, is 150 pounds of lap dog. Walking the streets with him people are in awe of his size and beauty. Many stare and others timidly move to the other side. His look totally belays his sweet cuddly personality.
According to the American Kennel Club: “Dandies were made famous when Sir Walter Scott wrote about them in Guy Mannering in 1814. Scott’s farmer character was named Dandie Dinmont, after whom the breed was soon named.”
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Like most terriers, Dandies are smart, feisty and born hunters. They were bred to ground and if given the opportunity will still follow prey into a hole. They can be testy with other dogs but very diplomatic with strangers.
The Dandies’ body is low and long with a curved tail that looks like a sword. They vary in size , they are about 10 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 24 pounds. Their large round eyes may have you eating out of there hands.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
They have very few health problems. Dandies don’t shed much, however they do require daily brushing and clipping a few times a year. They are not common in the United States which can make this breed difficult to find here, however it is a wonderful dog that can thrive in New York City.
For more information visit the American Dandie Dinmont Terrier club’s official website and watch this this episode of Animal Planet’sDogs 101 to see if the Dandie is the right breed for you.
I was recently walking down the street and noticed a very attractive woman with beautiful blond hair cascading around her shoulders. I did a double take and saw a large dog walking along beside her. It was one of those clichéd cases of a dog resembling its owner. A beautiful Afghan Hound accompanied her.
Afghan Hound (Photo: Natalie Siebers)
Afghans are ancient, elegant dogs — The Dog of Kings — dating back thousands of years. They are so old that they are genetically closer to the first domesticated dogs than the vast majority of most modern breeds. There are Egyptian papyrus scrolls dating back 4,000 years describing the Afghan. The breeds’ origin is a bit murky, but the modern Afghan Hound hails from Afghanistan. They made their way to Britain in the 1800s. By the early-to-mid 20th century they were recognized by all the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world.
The Afghan is a product of its environment. They were originally bred as sight hounds to hunt the large prey that inhabited the harsh regions of Central and South Asia. Their long silky coats were designed to protect them during cold nights in the Afghani Mountains. Underneath that coat is a tall, sleek body. Males stand about 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh about 60 pounds.
The Afghan comes in a variety of colors: black, blue, silver, red, and white silver. Some color combinations like silver and black are acceptable American Kennel Club colors as well.
Afghan Hound (Photo: Natalie Siebers)
Afghan Hounds have had some notable owners over the years. Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers was one of the first to bring an Afghan to the United States. Pablo Picasso was the proud owner of an Afghan named Kabul who is featured in his painting Woman with Dog.
Pablo Picasso’s “Woman with Dog”
But possibly the most famous owner of an Afghan Hound was Barbie! Her pet, Afghan Beauty, was introduced to young girls worldwide in the 1970’s. (Click here to see some for sale on Ebay.)
Afghan Hound (Photo: Natalie Siebers)
If you are thinking about getting an Afghan, do your homework, they may not be the best Urban Dog. The AKC describes them as: “A breed of charming contradictions: independent and aloof, but sweet and profoundly loyal.” They are not low maintenance animals. Afghans require plenty of exercise. A jog or brisk daily walk is a minimum requirement. Like a lot of sight hounds, they rely on their keen eyesight for hunting and are prone to chase things that you and I may not see at first. That means they always need to be kept on a leash in urban environments. They require a lot of grooming; their long coats need to be brushed or combed several times a week and should be shampooed regularly. Although they are generally good family pets, they fare better with older, larger children. If Afghans are raised alongside small pets, they will adapt, but because of their strong hunting drive, care needs to be taken around smaller animals they don’t know. One serious consideration is training. They are among the most difficult dogs to train. They score dead last when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first command about 25% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes about 80 repetitions or more for them to learn new commands.
Afghan Hound (Photo: Natalie Siebers)
To learn more about the Afghan Hound follow this link to Animal Planets’ Dogs 101.
And to see more of photographer Natalie Sieber’s work, click here.