FAUNA – WORKING DOGS
STANDARD POODLE – assistance dog
The Standard Poodle is an old breed that has been known in Europe for around 400 years. It was originally used to retrieve game from water – and as a circus dog. Today they are usually companion dogs. They also do well in dog sports and are gaining increasing recognition as assistance dogs.
An assistance dog is specially trained to aid or assist an individual with a disability. They can often be identified by the words “assistance dog” or “service dog” on their harness or vest. A dog trained as a guide dog for the blind acts as an ever-present companion and faithful friend that contributes significantly to improving a blind person’s quality of life.
The Standard Poodle is highly intelligent, teachable, active, energetic, helpful, obedient, resilient, skilful, loyal, talented, elegant, friendly, cheerful and adaptable. Negative characteristics can include excessive barking and destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture or personal items, although this can be avoided through appropriate and timely socialisation. Poodles are very devoted to their owner and family members and love to play with children. They enjoy walks, games and swimming. They can live in a flat or a house, but their owner must be active and able to spend enough time with them. They respond well to a firm upbringing with plenty of positive stimulation.
Željko Gajić, Cynological Association of Slovenia
JAPANESE SPITZ – therapy dog
Breeding of the Japanese Spitz (Nihon Supittsu) began at the end of the nineteenth century at the behest of the Japanese imperial government. Experts believe that the Japanese Spitz is the result of crossing various Spitz breeds: the German White Spitz, the Samoyed, the Russian Spitz and the American Eskimo Dog. In view of the breed’s excellent character, the Japanese government actively encouraged its breeding in the years following the First World War. Its attractiveness and friendliness provided consolation and eased the depression of many who had lost family and property in the war. This is how the Japanese Spitz began its career as a therapy dog.
A therapy dog is a specially trained dog that must be able to follow the commands of its handler or user during therapy sessions. Such dogs must be able to hold themselves in the position commanded – standing, sitting, lying down, walking alongside a wheelchair, crutches or a walking frame, sitting in someone’s lap, on a table, and so on. They are very good at bringing objects to their user. They must also tolerate being touched on all parts of their body and allow themselves to be stroked, combed, etc. The Japanese Spitz has a pure white coat of long, thick, soft fur which creates a powerful contrast with its dark brown, almost black eyes. It has a pointed muzzle and triangular-shaped ears, standing erect. Its curling, well-plumed tail is carried proudly over the back. It weighs between 6 and 8 kg and its height at the withers ranges from 30 to 38 cm. It has a lifespan of 12 to 16 years. Owing to the expressiveness of its muzzle, it is sometimes known as the “laughing dog”, which corresponds well to the intelligence and wonderful character of this breed.
GERMAN SHEPHERD – working dog
The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds of working dogs. The breed has been known in Germany since the seventeenth century and deliberate breeding began some time after 1880. The breed standard was defined in 1899. The German Shepherd was originally intended to be used to protect livestock and property. During the First World War, German Shepherds proved their versatility and began to be used throughout Europe as police dogs and rescue dogs. The breed’s main advantage is that it is exceptionally receptive to training.
The German Shepherd has a powerful, muscular appearance and according to the breed standard should have a rectangular conformation – meaning that the length of the body must be greater than the height at the withers. The relatively narrow head is broader between the ears. The muzzle is elongated and the eyes are almond-shaped. The ears are carried erect and are broad at the base. The coat is medium-length and compact, with a thick undercoat. The back is straight, the belly drawn up and the tail is low set and bushy-haired.
The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent dog. With proper upbringing, it develops into a well-balanced and reliable friend and a loyal and obedient companion for life. It is a very active dog, both mentally and physically, and needs a lot of exercise and attention from its owner. It is one of the world’s most popular dogs.
Maja Sušec, Cynological Association of Slovenia