Breed spotlight: Belgian sheep herding dogs

Belgium is a small country in Western Europe that  shares borders with France, Germany, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands. There are quite a few Belgian dog breeds, several of which are often used as guard dogs and police dogs.

The Belgian Shepherd Dogs are amongst famous breeds from the area. This group is divided into the Groenendael, the Laekenois, Malinois, and the Tervuren. The breeds have similarities in looks and temperament, but they are distinct breeds.

The Belgian Sheep Herding Dogs


The Groenendael is an elegant, strong, and intelligent breed. They were originally used as herders, watchdogs, and companions, but their smarts and versatility quickly made them popular outside of Belgium. Groenendaels soon served as police dogs in Paris and New York City, and were famous for catching smugglers.

Many work in search and rescue, as guide dogs, and as therapy dogs. They also do very well in dog sports such as obedience, tracking, and agility.One of the Belgian Sheep herding dogs is the black, long haired Groenendael shepherd


The Malinois is an alert breed often mistaken for German Shepherds, and the confusion becomes bigger from the Malinois being popular for police and military work. While there are physical similarities, this is a completely different breed than the German Shepherd.

An average Malinois is intelligent, confident, and loves to work. They are also popular in obedience trials, herding, sledding, and tracking. Malinois shepherd dog from Belgium


The Laekenois is clever and alert, and can be quite protective of family and property. This breed was originally developed to tend to flocks and guard, and these properties remain in the breed. Laekenois shepherd dog from Belgium


The Tervuren is an elegant and devoted dog that often excels in obedience and agility competitions. Many who see these dogs believe they’re German Shepherds with long hair, but the Tervuren is a different breed. They’re outstanding herders that also do great jobs as therapy dogs and guide dogs.

Tervuren shepherd dog from Belgium

AKC recognizes four more breeds

The American Kennel Club – AKC – sent out a press release just before New Years telling that it recognizes four breeds new to the club. This brings the number of breeds able to participate in AKC events up to 184.

The new breeds are the Bergamasco, Boerboel, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Spanish Water Dog. AKC adds new breeds when they fill the club’s standards, which include a breed club and a minimum number of individuals in the country.

The Bergamasco is a sheep dog from Italy with a history that goes back around 7,000 years. As most sheep dogs, these are highly intelligent and love to work.

The AKC recognizes four breeds new this year and the Bergamasco sheep dog is one of them.

The Boerboel is a hardy farm dog from South Africa. This breed is known for being intelligent, protective, and willing to please their family. Through history these dogs have been used for everything from babysitting to protecting against predators.

The Boerboel is a hardy farm dog from South Africa.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an Italian hunting dog known for its resistance to heat and tough conditions. In the past, it was often used for hunting together with a ferret.

The Cirneco dell'Etna is an Italian hunting dog

The Spanish Water Dog is another lively and hard working herding dog. This versatile breed herds, hunts, and helps fishermen.

The Spanish Water Dog has thick curly fur that falls in a mop in its eyes.

Five of the world’s largest dog breeds

Large dogs are often gentle giants with as much love to give as they are huge. Here are five of the world’s largest dog breeds. 

The Great Dane

This large breed is easy to recognize, and they are known for being friendly, strong, and elegant. They normally get along well with people, other types of pets, and other dogs.

The Dane has roots in ancient history. The earliest known drawings that resemble the breed have been dated to around 3,000 BC, and the oldest written mention to 1,121 BC.

As one of the largest dog breeds, this black and white Great Dane, standing in a field of white flowers, needs an extra large PlexiDor Dog Door

The Irish Wolfhound

On a breed average these are the world’s tallest dogs. When standing on the back legs many Irish Wolfhounds reach seven feet!

This breed is known to be patient, intelligent, and reliable. They love people in general, and do well with children. Many Wolfhounds thrive in the city, but they need a lot of exercise.

These two Irish Wolfhounds, needing an extra large PlexiDor Dog Door, are standing in a harvested field with green trees in the background

The English Mastiff

On a breed average, this is the heaviest dog breed with individuals weighing over 250 pounds. It is also considered England’s oldest breed.

English Mastiffs are known for being on the lazy side and need to be activated to make sure they get the exercise they need to stay healthy. They’re devoted to their family, good with children, and accept other dogs.

An English Mastiff requires an extra large PlexiDor Dog Door

The Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound resembles an extremely friendly rough-coated greyhound. They are known for being gentle, loving, and easy to please.

It’s important to know that these Deerhounds require lots of exercise and gets bored easily – if they have too little to do they might take upon themselves to reorganize the home or redesign furniture. They love to have company of another Deerhound.

The Scottish Deerhound laying in a field with yellow flowers requires an extra large PlexiDor dog door

The Leonberger

The Leonberger gets its name from the coat resembling a lion’s mane. Young Leonbergers can be very energetic and don’t settle down until around three years of age, but after that, nothing fazes them.

They’re surprisingly agile for their size, and require lots of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

This Leonberger,dog sitting on grass in a forest requires an extra large PlexiDor dog door.

Dog doors for giant dogs

If you want a dog door for the large breeds, the extra large PlexiDor dog door accommodates dogs up to 220 pounds. It is constructed to take the impact of a big and powerful dog running through at full speed.

The Bengal – a big cat in small format

Bengal catMany people are attracted to big cats, and their beauty, strength, and independence holds an irresistible allure. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, and bobcats don’t make good pets, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying, and the Bengal was developed to create a cat with the wild look in a safe and domestic package. The first Bengals were bred in the 1960s, and come from small Asian Leopard Cats and domestic shorthairs. 

The typical Bengal is extremely intelligent, active, and curious, and these cats want a lot of interaction and attention. Translated to dog people, a Bengal cat is like a Border Collie in cat shape – if not properly stimulated the Bengal will get bored, and they’re quite able to open drawers and cabinets to see what’s inside, or dismantle things to see how they work.

Bengals love to climb – the higher the better – and they love playing with water. Don’t be surprised if your Bengal wants to join you in the shower. Unlike many other cat breeds, Bengals like to learn tricks and games, and enjoy puzzle games.

Each cat is an individual, but the average Bengal gets along fine with dogs. They are affectionate, energetic, and overall healthy.

Will you celebrate cat day?

Cats have personalities just like peopleToday is cat day – a day dedicated to the celebration, worship, and adoration of cats. If you have a cat, today is a great day to spend some extra time with your feline friends. If you don’t have a cat, there are many waiting for adoption in shelters and rescues around the country, and cat day might be a good excuse to welcome a kitty home.

The Cat Fancier’s Association has made a list of most popular cat breeds. The number one spot has been held by the Persian cat for over 30 years! Here is the top five:

1. Persian

This breed is named after its home country – Persia. (Today’s Iran.) They are known for being friendly and calm, and make great indoor cats.

2. Exotic Shorthair

These cats almost look like teddy bears. They are easy-going, affectionate, and generally get along well with other pets.

3. Maine Coon

This is one of the oldest breeds from the USA and it is known for its fantastic hunting abilities. It was bred as a working cat able to withstand harsh wether. Main Coons are generally friendly, love children, and love water.

4. Ragdoll

The Ragdoll was developed to be a companion, and these cats love being near their humans. They are large, sturdy, and have bright blue eyes.

5. British Shorthair

The British Shorthair are calm and affectionate. They generally go along well with other pets, but they dislike being carried.

Five energetic dog breeds

When choosing a dog it’s wise to get a breed whose needs fit with the family’s habits. A family that values sofa time above everything else will likely run into trouble with a high energy dog that needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, and an active family that’s always on the go might be disappointed if the dog isn’t up to hiking, bike riding, or whatever it might be.

As a rule of thumb, working breeds are energetic, need a lot of activity, and are happiest when they have a job to do. This is particularly true when it comes to the herding breeds, because they’re bred to act individually, to make decisions, and to run non stop day after day.

If you’re considering an energetic breed, think about the following two questions:

  1. Can you handle a dog with endless energy that’s rarely tired or interested in a nap? Many intelligent dogs are also “teenagers” longer than other breeds, which can mean puppy energy in an adult body for years.
  2. Do you want an independent thinker that can draw conclusions – and gets bored quickly?

Here are five of the most energetic dog breeds. They’re all beautiful and make great family friends, but without ample exercise and mental stimulation they will all invent something to do – like remodeling all your furniture or checking what’s behind the wall paper.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

You might not think such a little and charming dog can get into much trouble, but Jack Russells were bred to work and can be very intelligent and active. If left with too much time on his paws, the Jack Russell is likely to find a stimulating task. Like, excavating the garden – these dogs love to dig.

Jack Russell Terrier

4. Dalmatian 

These are wonderful dogs for the right family: loyal, friendly, intelligent, playful, and energetic. The breed originally guarded stables and fire houses, and ran with coaches and horses all day. This required a lot of energy and stamina. Dalmatians require a lot of exercise and continuous mental stimulation.


3. Australian Cattle Dog

These dogs are also known as red heelers or blue heelers, and they’re known for impressive stamina and endurance. They’re amazing if you’re looking for a running buddy, or plan to work or compete with your dog. If you only have time for a short walk each day and the rest of the time will be spent in an apartment, this might not be the best choice.

Australian Cattle Dog

2. Australian Shepherd

While the Australian Cattle Dog is a breed from Australia, the Australian Shepherd comes from the USA and got its name from herding Australian sheep. This is a devoted breed who loves the family, but they’re also really smart and energetic. Like the other dogs in the list, the Aussie does best when there’s plenty to keep him occupied.

Australian Shepherd

1. Border Collie

The Border Collie constantly tops lists with smartest dogs, and this isn’t just because they’re easy to train – they are masters of independent thinking. Match that with explosive energy, and the Border Collie can be a handful for the wrong family. While exercise is great, just running won’t make the Border Collie tired – mental stimulation is required.

Border Collie

Research dog breeds before choosing your furry friend

Many people believe that dog breeds mostly have an impact on the outside of the dog, but picking a dog just depending on looks can be a mistake. Different breeds are created through selection of certain properties, and it is important to pick a breed that fits with the family’s lifestyle.

The breed’s size and grooming needs play a role, of course, but the breed’s temper can be even more important.

The American Eskimo is a great example. This cute bundle of fur looks pretty much like a Samoyed or Japanese Spitz, but is bred to be a guard dog. The average Eskie has a completely different personality than the average Samoyed, even though they look a lot alike.

American Eskimo
American Eskimo

Naturally, personalities between individuals vary as well. If you have children, make sure you find a dog that loves them. If the dog just tolerates them you might run into trouble if the kids get rambunctious or do something to the dog it doesn’t like. Dogs and children can be the best combination ever, or the worst.

This problem is often emphasized when a breed becomes popular in media. The Border Collie is a great example – this breed is extremely smart and often used in TV shows, movies, and commercials. The dogs are cute and do tricks on TV, and they are fantastic companions for the right family. Unfortunately, many people get a Border Collie unprepared for dealing with an explosion of energy that wants to herd everything that moves and is smart enough to open doors and cupboards just to see what’s on the other side. A Border Collie needs a job to do. It doesn’t have to be herding, but if these dogs don’t get a task they’re likely to invent one.

Border Collie
Border Collies often herd everything that moves – including children and cars.

Dalmatians are another great example. They’re beautiful, and countless families have fallen for their children’s pleas after watching Pongo on TV, unaware that the average Dalmatian has an abundance of energy and needs something to do.

If you want a certain breed but doesn’t think the personality is right for your family, consider a mixed breed. They’re often much more laid back than their purebred relatives.

Also consider if you want to get a puppy or an adult dog. Puppies are adorable. They’re cute, small, are ready to spend their life with you. They also need a lot of attention, time, and training. Many are surrendered once they get out of the puppy stage and into adolescence, because they require more time and training than the family is prepared for, or able to give.

The breeds mentioned here are just examples. In order to research dog breeds, you can find some information on our site. Also take a look on the AKC website – they have a lot of breed information including average life span, known health issues, and grooming requirements.

Dog breeds perfect for apartment life

With recent dips in the economy, more Americans than ever live in multi-family units. While it’s possible to make almost any dog happy in an apartment, choosing a breed well-adapted to the lifestyle when getting a new family member can make things easier. Here are some examples of breeds particularly well suited to apartment life. 

Scottish Terrier

This is a family friendly breed that quickly grows devoted to the family. The dogs often come across as serious and can be aloof when meeting strangers, but they’re very loyal and loving towards “their” humans. Daily walks and fun toys generally satisfy their need for activity.


The average Bulldog loves a good nap on the couch. These dogs are good-natured and loving, and not interested in excessive exercise. They love to snuggle, watch TV, and keep an eye on what might be happening in the kitchen. Be aware that Bulldogs are sensitive to heat, and that they can’t swim.

Lhasa Apso

These dogs have a convenient apartment-friendly size, are affectionate towards the family, suspicious towards strangers, and independent enough to not be needy. A Lhasa Apso tends to adapt their level of activity to that of the family. A daily walk and some play time keeps the dogs happy. Downside? The elegant coat requires a lot of grooming.


The Pug is a charming, playful, and affectionate bundle of love. These dogs can adapt to most environments and lifestyles – as long a they get to be a part of the family. As long as your Pug gets to be with you, he or she will likely be happy to chill in the sofa, go for a walk, visit family, or dress up in a costume.


The Greyhound is often called the 45-mph couch potato, and that describes them very well. An average Greyhound likes to mosey around the block with you, or run all he can for five minutes. When that’s done, they like to snuggle up somewhere soft and comfortable. As a bonus, they rarely bark and are easy to groom.

Five vocal dog breeds

While there are many dog breeds known for being quiet, such as the Newfoundland, Great Dane, Italian Greyhound, and the Whippet, others have a lot to say. Here are five talkative dog breeds. 


The average Beagle loves to sing along with sirens and bark at real or imagined strangers. Fans of the Beagle singing voice say it’s quite musical, but if your neighbors don’t appreciate being serenaded around the clock you’ll want to make sure your Beagle is active and occupied.


These little cuties are the smallest of the Spitz breeds, but they don’t know they’re small. Pomeranians are active dogs that require attention, exercise, and something to do. They’re too small to bark loudly, but the average Pomeranian barks a lot.


These small, sassy dogs can be quite protective. Many neglect to train them because they’re so small – what harm could they possibly do – but all dog breeds require training and socialization. Lack of training often leads to never-ending barking and bad behavior. Spend some time training and playing with your Chihuahua from a tender age and you’ll get a great dog.

Basset Hound

The average Basset Hound is good natured and friendly. Most Basset Hounds aren’t as active as other hounds, but they’re still quite good at howling. It’s usually not a problem if the dogs are allowed to be with the family, but a Basset Hound abandoned in the back yard is likely to share his feelings with the rest of the neighborhood.

Alaskan Malamute

These dogs are cheerful, friendly, large, and strong. If you’re considering adding a Malamute to the family, be aware that these dogs are bred for hauling heavy loads long distances in the most inhospitable climate imaginable. In other words, the average Malamute needs something to do. They’re experts at climbing and digging.

Few Alaskan Malamutes bark excessively, but they often howl along with sirens and like to talk to you with a “woo-woo,” sometimes imitating the intonation of human words.


Alaskan Malamute

The beautiful Alaskan Malamute has been known to sing along with sirens

Endurance in the dog world

Vizsla, a Hungarian dog breedDogs have many wonderful traits and enrich human life in many ways. While many breeds prefer to lounge on the sofa, some are workaholics and possess extraordinary endurance.

Many breeds love sports. Here are three breeds that might not immediately come to mind, but could be perfect if you seek a partner that will keep up with you all day.

Border Collie

The Border Collie is not an easy breed, or well suited for a first-time dog owner living in an apartment. However, if you’re looking for a smart and agile partner that can keep up with running, swimming, and jumping through the day every day, the Border Collie might be perfect.

This breed constantly tops lists of dog intelligence. This isn’t just because they’re trainable and eager to please; they are quite independent and able to make their own decisions. They are designed to move quickly, can turn on a pinhead, and keep a pace of around 30 mph. A herding Border Collie can run 50 miles every day and still have energy left to protect the herd.

Downsides? Border Collies get bored easily and need something to do. If they don’t have a task they tend to invent one.


The Siberian Husky, Alaskan Husky, and similar breeds are able to travel long distances while pulling or carrying a burden. They can be goofy and funny, and are bred for speed and endurance. An Alaskan Husky can, for instance, run around 28 mph. In teams they pull sleighs for hours with an average speed of 10 mph. Think marathon runners created to deliver goods and supplies to remote areas.

The Alaskan Malamute isn’t exactly a Husky, but they possess many of the same qualities – they were bred to haul heavy loads over distance.

All these breeds are intelligent, independent, and can be stubborn.


This is a powerful and versatile Hungarian hunting dog. They are easy to train, affectionate, fantastic runners, and amazing swimmers. Vizslas excel at all sports. If you want a companion for hiking, running, playing ball, or agility, this might be the perfect dog.

A Vizsla thrives as part of an active family – they’re not happy left alone. They have a can-do attitude, as long as whatever they’re asked to do involves their human. These dogs require large amounts of exercise, but are also known for being gentle and tightly bonded with their family.


Five of the world’s largest dog breeds

Many like small dog breeds, because they are convenient. A small dog doesn’t require as much space as a big dog, smaller dogs eat less than big ones, and so on. But, there is something special about the gigantic dogs, like Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Mastiffs. Here is a list with five of the world’s largest dog breeds.

The Irish Wolfhound

An Irish Wolfhound requires an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThis is a friendly giant. The breed is not currently record holder for world’s tallest dog, but if one were to take an average of individuals in a breed they would be the tallest. They are excessively friendly towards people and don’t do good jobs as guard dogs. If a burglar were to enter the house and carry off some things the Irish Wolfhound would probably consider the intruder a new best friend. However, if the family is physically attacked, an Irish Wolfhound will defend its people.

They are patient and generally good with children. While they take to urban living pretty well, they require a lot of exercise.

The Great Dane

A Great Dane needs an extra large dog door
A Great Dane currently holds the position of world’s tallest dog. They are generally very friendly and get along with people, other dogs, and other types of pets. Great Danes are strong, elegant, friendly, and energetic. The earliest drawings resembling the breed stem back to around 3,000 BC, and the oldest written description of them can be found in literature of 1121 BC.

The English Mastiff

An English Mastiff requires an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThe Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound might compete about being the tallest dogs on the planet, but the English Mastiff is definitely the heaviest. A male can weigh up to 250 lbs, and the breed is considered the oldest in the UK.

English Mastiffs make wonderful and devoted pets. They are generally very good with children and other dogs, but they tend to be lazy and needs to be activated in order to get enough exercise.

The Leonberger

A Leonberger requires an extra large PlexiDor dog door.The Leonberger is extremely popular in Europe, maybe a bit less so in the USA. They are even-tempered, unfazed by most things, and become deeply attached to their humans. They are also very agile for their size, and require lots of exercise.

Leonbergers can be very energetic when they grow up, but generally settle down around the age of three and becomes gentle giants.

The Scottish Deerhound

A Scottish Deerhound requires an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThis is the least commonly known breed on the list, and looks somewhat like a long-haired greyhound. The history of the breed has been traced back to pre-Roman times, and they are very popular in their home country.

A Scottish Deerhound is about the friendliest animal on the planet. They are eager to please, gentle, and loving. However, they get bored easily and require plenty of exercise and something to do. They are happiest in pairs, and keeping two together can alleviate many of the boredom problems.


Can a giant dog have a dog door?

Absolutely. There is a PlexiDor dog door for even very big dogs.

The extra large PlexiDor is constructed to stand up to these large and powerful dogs, even if they go through the door at a full run. The dog door handles dogs approximately up to 220 lbs. If you’re in doubt, contact customer service and they will be happy to help you pick the right solution for your needs

Brazilian multi-tasker protects gold and hunts jaguars

A Fila Brasileiro would require an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThe Fila Brasileiro is a very large dog breed from Brazil. These dogs are intelligent, sturdy, and strong, and the Brazilian army uses them for work in the jungle under conditions no other dogs can stand up to.

These versatile working dogs have an interesting history; they have been used for everything from guarding gold mines to hunting Jaguars. A Jaguar can run 40 miles per hour, and few dogs can keep up. The breed is also often used as trackers, hunters, or herders.

This breed is loving and loyal to a fault towards their family and will put up with a lot from children and other pets, but they are inherently suspicious against strangers. This is a natural guardian who lives to protect their loved ones.

Puppies should get to meet many different people in positive situations, and since the dogs become very large – up to 180 lbs – and are very strong, it is extra important to train them well.


Finnish dog breed yodels and wins barking competitions

Finnish Spitz stampThe Finnish Spitz – or Suomenpystykorva – is the national dog of Finland, hailed in many patriotic songs. These small and hardy dogs are perhaps most known for their barking abilities. They can bark up to 160 times a minute!

The Finnish Spitz was originally bred for hunting, with a focus on birds and small game, but they are also used for moose and bear. The breed stems back some 6,000 years, with the first representatives arriving to Europe around 2,000 years ago.

A typical Finnish Spitz loves children, wants to spend time with the family, and gets along well with other dogs. They are intelligent, independent, lively, quick, and friendly.

So, what’s with the barking? It has several functions; it tells the hunter the dog has found something, it distracts the prey, and to some point it masks the noise of the hunter approaching.

In their home land of Finland, there are barking competitions for the Finnish Spitz. They are also one of the few dogs who can yodel.


World’s rarest breed sings

The New Guinea Singing Dog has been called a living, breathing, furry, and four-legged fossil. This breed is believed to be the rarest in the world and was local to New Guinea until 1957 when the first dogs left the island.

Besides being rare, the dogs are also primitive in the sense that they were separated from all other dog breeds thousands – maybe even tens of thousands – years ago, and have developed virtually undisturbed.

The dogs have adapted well to living as pets. They are agile, active, graceful, and alert. They are known to be affectionate with people they know, and they are both curious and clever. Being so close to the wild, they also have a strong hunting instinct, and they require a lot of exercise. They can climb trees, jump, and dig, so any yard must be very well secured.

So, what’s with the singing?

The name comes from their melodious and distinctive howl. These dogs have a dramatic ability to vary the pitch. If they howl in a group, all the dogs will strike a different pitch. It sounds like a choir! They don’t bark a lot, but are still quite vocal.

7 fun facts about the Pekingese

Pekingese - the Lion DogThe Pekingese is a very old breed, traditionally associated with Chinese emperors. Here are seven fun facts about the breed.

1. Visually, the little Pekingese with its soft coat and short nose doesn’t resemble a wolf. They are still one of the breeds closest to wolves genetically.

2. The breed has been traced back two thousand years, to the Han dynasty.

3. Today’s China doesn’t have lions, but the Pekingese, the Lhasa Apso, and the Tibetan Mastiff were all bred to resemble stylized Chinese lion images. The Pekingese is also called the lion dog.

4. Emperor Lingdi of Han ruled from 168 to 189. He loved his dogs so much he made his favorite Pekingese a member of the nobel cast, making it outrank most  people in the country.

5. During the Tang Dynasty, years 618 to 907, no one outside the Imperial Palace was allowed to breed or own a Pekingese. This was a good period of time for the little dogs; if an ordinary person met one of the dogs they had to bow and show respect.

6. The Pekingese are sometimes called “The Sleeve Dog.” This stems from being bred down in size so their owners could carry them in their sleeves. Allegedly a Pekingese in the Emperor’s sleeve was his last line of defense should enemies get into the palace.

7. It sometimes pays off to be small. Three dogs escaped the Titanic: one Pekingese and two Pomeranians.