At zooplus we like to think we know our dogs but at Crufts 2013 the Discover Dogs section, featuring nearly 200 breeds, was a chance for me to get up close with some breeds I’ve only read about and never had a chance to meet up close.
The Bernese Mountain Dog, Bracco Italiano and Otterhound were all revelations to me and are now definitely on my radar as potential future companions – although all three are definitely country dogs needing wide open spaces, explaining why I have never seen them in my local park.
With around 37 Otterhounds registered over the last year, they are unsurprisingly an endangered breed but still, there is a waiting list for Otterhound puppies. Not enough are being bred it seems, the limited gene pool meaning that matches must be made carefully. The Otterhound Club of the UK are however doing a good job of this as the health issues for the breed are low considering how few of these hounds there are: although hip and elbow dysplasia and epilepsy are known health problems in some Otterhounds.
Before meeting one I was unsure how big an Otterhound would be but they are certainly not small dogs. Strongly built and with big paws supporting sturdy legs, their conformation is ideal for moving through water or running over rough ground.
These dogs are very rarely known to be aggressive and, like many hounds, are even-tempered. They can be energetic but are certainly not hyperactive and like other hounds like to sleep a lot. The Otterhounds I met at Crufts were certainly friendly and inquisitive, which I’m told is typical of the breed.
The Otterhound’s coat is one of its best features but hard work for the owner and potentially very messy around the home. The Jappland Maxi Groomer set could help as it attaches to your vacuum cleaner to quickly remove shedding hair while grooming. Otterhounds are large dogs, weighing up to 50kg, and as such need to eat a suitable food. zooplus stock a wide range of large breed specific foods with James Wellbeloved Large Breed Adult Turkey and Rice and Large Breed Adult Lamb and Rice being amongst our best sellers while being suitable for sensitive dogs too.
The Bracco Italiano
Though Bracco Italianos are in the Kennel Club’s gundog group they have some hound like features and have been bred to hunt, point and retrieve. In appearance they look like a cross between a German short-haired pointer and a bloodhound. The breed dates back to the 4th of 5th century, unsurprisingly in Italy, and may have been bred from Egyptian Hounds and Piedmontese Pointers among others.
As well as looking like hounds Bracco Italianos act like them too, being docile dogs with a good temperament: easy to train and keen to please, they also have a fantastic sense of smell. Bracco Italianos enjoy working and being out in the field so if you want one as a companion or a family pet you will have to allow for this and come up with games and challenges (try our prey dummy hunting toy) that will keep your Bracco Italiano, and their high level of intelligence, engaged; this also means that they are country dogs and not suited to city life.
So what do zooplus have that might be of interest if you do get a Bracco Italiano? Well as this is an Italian dog how about doggy salami treats?!
If I had the time, the money and the space I’d go and get a Bernese Mountain Dog, or two, tomorrow. These are big dogs that eat a lot, need plenty of exercise and a big garden with open spaces nearby.
With their thick coats you also need to consider their temperature. Whatever you do and wherever you go in summer, air conditioning in your car isn’t optional with Bernese Mountain Dogs and they’d probably appreciate having it installed at home as well; yes even a British summer can trouble them.
What do you get in return for all your efforts though? Bernese Mountain Dogs are a sociable breed, they love being around each other and people and those I met at Crufts seemed to love attention: even when I saw them late in the day, following them being petted constantly for 7 hours, they wanted more attention.
With such a fantastically soft coat they are a great dog to pet but you probably wouldn’t want one as a lap dog. Bernese Mountain Dogs were traditionally used as an all-purpose farm dog used for guarding, herding cattle and even pulling carts and in all weathers, which explains the need for their extraordinary coat.
As the name suggests, these dogs originate from the mountainous Canton of Bern in the Swiss Alps. Their development and origin also means they are agile in a way that belies their size and they appear most at home in hilly or mountainous landscapes, again not a city dog.
Bernese Mountain Dogs not only need to eat a lot but need a diet designed for larger dogs such as Royal’s Canin’s range of food for Giant sized dogs at each lifestage.
You will also need a sturdy lead which can also be used with an anti-pulling device or a high quality large dog harness: recommended to ensure you can keep control of one of these excitable 40kg+ balls of fluff. zooplus also offer the Big Boy Gift Set including an extra-large Kong toy and other goodies to keep XXL dogs busy.
Please note: As with all products, your pet should be supervised when playing. Please check toys, such as a Kong, regularly for damage and replace if damaged or if parts are missing, as there may be a possibility of injury to your pet.