Sunning Dogs


Kavi & Katya Sunning

Outdoors: 54°F/20°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 60°F/57°F

Daily Spark: Reading advice columns makes me thinks some people have too much time to complain about too little.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Sunning Dogs

  1. Julia says:

    Hmmm, do you find that your dogs’ colors are “regressing to the mean” of a coyote gray as the generations pile up?

    Reading about your dogs reminds me of my own mystery mutt, Java the doggy primeval. She wasn’t gray, actually a deep coffee brown, but in the summer she’d fade to tan on her sides, with a broad dark band down her back that extended down each shoulder. Do any of your dogs have this sort of “buckskin” pattern?

    The only dogs I’ve seen with her same color pattern (she also had white feet and a white teeny tip to her big bushy dark tail) where their parentage was known had a high percentage wolf hybrid mother and a rascally pit bull for a father (he climbed in through the little back window of a pickup truck to get to the mom). Neither of them had the dense double coat of Java, or your dogs, and both had drop ears, but they had the exact same color pattern.

    Dog genetics are fascinating. I overheard someone pointing out my dog as she ran in a dog park and say “See that dog? That’s what you get if you randomly cross breed dogs for fifty generations.”

    • They tri-color you see there on Kavi and Katya is one of the color sets in our pack. There is also nearly all red, nearly all black and nearly all white. Lili, Tika, Hagrid, Margarita (a.k.a. Rose) are examples of the white. Coy, Cinnamon, Baloo and Napoleon are examples of the red. All black is uncommon but the twins Hanno and Sirius are close to that. The marking pattern you mention we call the cape and epaulet – we see it in all of them no matter what the base color pattern.

      They do look a bit like their wolf ancestors. All of our dogs have the same basic body morphology with the upright ears, long pointy faces, large chests and paws, narrow waists, double coat with guard hairs, bushy tails. Occasionally we see a more blocky jaw show up like in Hagrid, Baloo and Remus. With their fur they are more comfortable outdoors than indoors. Their long legs make them runners. We once clocked Coy at 65 mph over a distance of one half mile. Their speed, intelligence and hunting instints, subverted to guarding and herding, makes them invaluable on the farm.

      Interestingly, scientists have recently determined that dogs and wolves are the same species, just a variety of breeds. I haven’t read it but suspect that coyotes are also the same species but another breed variant since they so easily interbreed with both dogs and wolves. Our pack has no coyote in it that we’re aware of.

      • DrFood says:

        Good thing you’re regularly producing carnivore food–how many dogs are in your pack these days? You might want to start up rabbit production, just for dog food. You could serve saddles to the family and the rest goes to the hounds!

        I suppose the cape and epaulet pattern is just there in the dog genome, although not often seen in the AKC breed book. A sable German Shepherd might have it. What I don’t see often is dogs that change color with the seasons like Java did. The funny thing is that she stopped doing it when we moved from California to Wisconsin–I don’t know if it was a function of climate or age.

        • Lili and Tika both show small amounts of color change. I don’t notice it in the others who are all darker. Our ferrets also change color with the seasons.

          We raised rabbits for years. They’re an excellent easy to raise and easy to process small package of meat. At the time I did not find much market for them so they were not able to pay the mortgage. But now with the pigs bringing home the bacon our pack eats well, supplementing their diet of mice and other small pests with pork left over from slaughter. Occasionally they supplement that with a coyote or other predator who foolishly ignores the posted warning signs to stay out of our fields.

  2. LGDlover says:

    Walter,
    First, thank you for your informational posts. I have been a follower for several years. Secondly, thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge. I have a question that I can’t find an answer to anywhere online, and I’m hoping you can offer a bit of advice. We have an amazing, 19 month old, spayed female LGD who guards are herd, and have decided to get a second. Long story, which I will save in the interest of brevity, but we are bringing home a 12 month old, in tact, full sister (from a later litter, obviously) to ours today. By the sounds of it, the newbie has been raised very similiarly to the way we raised ours–somewhat socialized, living with the herd full time, exposed to the family children, etc. My girl knows that we are alpha, and never challenges that. The new girl will learn that very quickly. The question is, how will they go about establishing a pecking order between themselves? I would love to make this work, however, I am concerned about the fight-to-the death issues I’ve read so much about. I was reading on your post how Kita had come and gone several times, but couldn’t find any info on how you re-introduced her each time. Can you briefly explain what you do to prevent the conflicts that could so easily arise? Should I expect major trouble since the girls aren’t totally mature and since one is spayed? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

    • They’re going to need to sort this out. As Alphas you make sure that the sorting out does not become too bloody but you can’t easily force a decision on them as to who is higher ranking. A lot of this depends on personalities.

      I would bring them together on separate leads held by separate Alphas. Introduce them. I kept Kita on lead for a long time before she was able to be off lead with the other dogs and then the livestock in small controlled situations. They might even be fine. The current dog will likely be concerned that the new one not hurt her livestock or pack. Feed them together and make sure there is lots of food. Use two dishes >4′ apart. Later they can learn to share – an important skill.

      Under normal circumstances I have voice control over our pack but if two get into a serious fight then voice control will not pull them apart and quite reasonably. At that point a sorting board between them works – beware of wading in yourself, I do but you risk getting a serious bite.

      The biggest thing is to work them together gradually so they become a team. They must determine rank order but you should be able to encourage that to happen with out too much fang and claw. The existing dog needs to know her charges are safe and that she is not being replaced but rather augmented. This can take some time or it can happen quickly. No two situations will be the same.

      Lastly, I train our dogs every day. It is part of being, part of working together. A new dog would need a lot of training to come up to par. The existing dogs know this. They can help but they’re also wary of the outsider not getting things right. Training shapes the instincts and maximizes abilities in livestock guarding and herding dogs. Much of training is simply doing, working.

      The issue of spaying I don’t anticipate being a problem. The only dog we have had who was spayed was one of our s that had gone to another place, they spayed her and then when they moved she returned here. That was Kita. Kita was essentially a male in behavior and in size since she lacked ovaries and the resulting hormones. The adrenal glands produce testosterone so this may have been the issue. In time she became reaccepted by the pack and trained up to become an excellent guardian and herder.

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