Another "What the mutt?" question...
June 20, 2008 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Yet another "What's my mutt?" question if you'll bear with me. He's a cutie, but what breeds is he likely to be?

We've had our dog, Ringo, since August, and the entire time, we've wondered what breeds he might be. (But not enough to pay for genetic testing; that's silly.) Dear dog lovers of AskMeFi, I was hoping you might be able to offer your expert opinions (I'm looking for you, biscotti!). Some pictures are here: Ringo's Picasa pictures. We don't have more pictures since it's hard to get him to stand still long enough to snap something. (I need to get out my SLR and take some pics/get them developed, but I hope these might help in the mean time.)

When we adopted Ringo (he was a rescue from a high-kill-shelter in Georgia), we were told he's a "lab/spaniel mix," but when we boarded him at a farm that breeds retrievers, they said he looks like a flat-coated retriever mix. Looking at the wikipedia page, it looks dead-on (and is a perfect description of his personality), but flat-coated retrievers are pretty rare, so that seems like a zebra*. Others have said part border collie...

Anyone have any ideas? He's about 14 months old now, weighs ~55 lbs, is super friendly, extraordinarily high-energy (he gets a lot of exercise but always wants more), excitable, reasonably well-behaved (at least sometimes; he's still very puppyish), LOVES the water, definitely loves to retrieve, and isn't scared of much.

As a secondary question (which is probably more important), anyone have suggestions for a dog who HATES having his toenails trimmed? This is bad enough that the vet couldn't do it with 3 techs. After giving him a sedative, they still couldn't do it. (He's a strong little bugger.) We're pretty sure he's never been quicked, and most of his claws aren't too bad (we walk him on pavement quite a bit to wear them down), but his dewclaws are especially bad. The vet said to give him 2 sedatives and try again ourselves, but I'm open to other suggestions. The Dremel technique didn't seem to work.

Thanks, and sorry for the absurdly long question.

* If you hear hooves beating, it's probably a horse, not a zebra.
posted by JMOZ to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looked at the pics before reading the rest of the question and immediately thought Lab/Spaniel mix. The high energy is, of course, gonna appear in any puppy but labs more than others.

Completely uneducated guess so take it as you will.
posted by doppleradar at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2008

From the pictures, before reading the whole of your question and the replies, I thought lab/spaniel mix, too.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 3:21 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

No idea what breed he is, but I have a suggestion as to nail clipping. I think you will need to start slow and work up to nail clipping. I would first try and do some doggie massage. You need to get to the point where he is very calm and relaxed. One way to do this is to sit behind him and hold him under his chin. They stroke and pet him, and when he gets calm, gently massage the tips of the ears. You will be able to tell he is relaxed when he rests his head in your hand. After he gets used to that, have him lay down on his side. Work down his legs to the point you can hold his feet and work with his toes. Do this for a while until he gets used to having his feet handled. This might take trying once a day for a month. Once you get to the point where he is comfortable having his feet handled, try a doggie nail file. Try it very gently at first, and for short periods only. Work up to longer and harder filing. Eventually, bring out the nail clippers. And good luck. It takes time and patience.
posted by procrastination at 3:30 PM on June 20, 2008

Along the same lines, does anyone know the breed at the 2 minute mark here?

My apologies if it is bad form to ask a similar question in someone else's thread. I thought I had made this post a few minutes ago and am not sure if it was deleted for that reason or if I just didn't hit the Post button.
posted by travis08 at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2008

As Dave mentions, it's a Frenchie. Super cute, full of juice.
posted by The Bellman at 3:44 PM on June 20, 2008

Ahh great Bellman I thought he said french wool referring to the wig.
posted by travis08 at 3:59 PM on June 20, 2008

Both boyfriend and I immediately thought "spaniel." The ears, the slightly shaggy legs/paws, the snout...
posted by limeonaire at 5:17 PM on June 20, 2008

I'm thinking Border Collie / Lab mix.
posted by little miss s at 6:55 PM on June 20, 2008

Ringo could easily be my sister's dog Bella, as a puppy. I wish I had a better picture to show you, but Bella is indeed a Flat-Coated Retriever.
posted by mewithoutyou at 8:28 PM on June 20, 2008

Oh! To address the second question, my mom works at a grooming salon. She said that when they have dogs in who are afraid of having their nails cut, they actually have one person pat the dog on its head (and sometimes hindquarters) firmly to distract it. Apparently, it works pretty well.

You mentioned that the vet couldn't do it, but you may want to talk to Ringo's groomer. They have lots of little ways of getting the job done.
posted by mewithoutyou at 8:32 PM on June 20, 2008

Thanks for the answers so far. I certainly welcome any others!

mewithoutyou: yeah, he looks A LOT like a flat-coated mix. (He couldn't be a pure flat-coated since he has white on his chest, paws, nose). But they're rare, so I really don't know.

As for the nails, the groomers just didn't do them. The vet had 2 techs trying to calm him, and that did nothing. I really don't understand it; he's pretty good about everything else.

procrastination: we can handle his feet for minutes at a time with no problem, but as soon as he sees ANY object anywhere near them, he freaks out.
posted by JMOZ at 6:53 AM on June 21, 2008

He looks very similar to my youngest mutt, who is 1/2 flat coat. Personally, I think he definitely is part spaniel. His ears are more spaniel in shape/drape than flat coat retriever. He's a cutie!

If you want to see more/better examples of flat coat retrievers than the wikipedia page, flickr has a really awesome flat coat group. I posted a pic of my youngest to that group to see what the experts there thought about her possibly being flat coat and got really gracious responses.

Interestingly, she is also rabidly averse to nail trimmings. She is a very nice dog normally but try to trim her nails and she goes berserk in a way that I am afraid she is going to bite me. So here is what I did:
1. I learned to do it really freaking fast.
2. I wait until she is full on, dead asleep. Not tired and awake. ASLEEP. I do it as quietly and as quickly as possible. It helps if she's asleep on the couch with her feet dangling over the edge. It also helps if she has just gone on a really, really long walk/run just before she fell asleep so she is very, very asleep.
posted by hecho de la basura at 8:31 AM on June 21, 2008

If he freaks out when objects are anywhere near his feet, then you are going to have start with objects not-quite-near his feet and work you way in. Or try the groomer tricks suggested.

or you could do something diabolical like just happen to run the dremel for a minute or two before he's that for a week or two and he wouldn't mind the sound. You'd still have to train him to let you use it on his toes, but he's a youngster so you have plenty of time.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2008

Ringo looks like a Lab Spaniel mix to me (likely English Springer Spaniel) or Lab Border Collie, possibly all of them. He doesn't look like a Flat Coat to me at all (aside from the zebras, Flat Coats have a different head and body shape, and have a much lower ear set).

With regard to the nail clipping, the suggestion to take it slowly is the right approach. I would do it with a clicker (because I clicker train). The only rule with clicker training is that if you click, you treat, even if you clicked in error. Get a big supply of tiny (pea sized or smaller), yummy treats, start by just moving your hand toward his foot, click and treat for him allowing you to move your hand toward his foot without pulling his foot away, after a day or week or month or two, ONLY when he is comfortable with this, move to touching his foot, proceed SLOWLY and always be prepared to go backwards if he gets worried. It is normal and natural for dogs to fear having their feet handled: feet are survival to a dog. If a dog has not had a gentle and appropriate introduction to having its feet handled, and this is coupled with feet handling/nail clipping being a manhandling stress-filled wrestlemania, as is the case with Ringo, you have a LOT of work to do to fix this - Ringo started off not liking his feet being handled, and has now been manhandled and forced, which further reinforced his idea that having his feet touched is Bad. I actually would use a Dremel at home to retrain him (using this method (click on "how to dremel dog nails"), but taken at a snail's pace, expect this to take months or longer, you will not solve this in a week), and just have his dew claws clipped at the vet's when it's needed for health reasons (so as to separate home foot handling, which you are going to try and make a Good Thing, from vet clinic foot handling, which is scary and bad). Good luck!
posted by biscotti at 3:43 PM on June 28, 2008

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