All posts in Canine Breeds

Canine Breed Spotlight: West Highland White Terrier (Westie)

A look at the West Highland White Terrier (Westie)

Dog breed group: Terriers

Average life span: 12-17 years


The Westie shares a lot of history with many of the terriers from the same region, including the Dandie Dinmont, Skye and Carin Terriers. This breed was originally bred for hunting fox, badger, otter and rats. One story of this breed’s origin states that one day while hunting fox with his sandy colored terrier, the hunter accidentally shot his dog when he mistook him for a fox due to his coat colour. After that the hunter began to breed only white dogs so that they would not be confused with foxes. These dogs were called Poltalloch Terriers and as years progressed they may have have been interbred with Pittenweem Terriers, resulting in what we know today as the West Highland White Terrier.



Canine Breed Spotlight: Great Dane

The Great Dane!

Dog breed group: Working dogs

Average life span: 7-9 years


The ancestry of the Great Dane dates back to long, long ago.  Drawings of giant dogs somewhat resembling Great Danes can be seen on Egyptian artifacts. These dogs spread through trade where they were eventually developed in Germany into a working dog called a Boarhound, as they were bred to hunt boars. Throughout the years the breed name changed a few times- German Boarhound, English Dogge, German Mastiff, then the Great Dane. The look of the dog also changed to a more slimmer version, as we know them today.


Great Danes are considered a gentle giant, but they can be protective when the time calls for it. They are good family dogs and are good around other pets and children. Children, especially small kids should be watched around Danes, as it takes nothing for this big dog to accidentally knock one over or hit them with their tail unknowingly. As puppies they are an active breed, but to tend to mellow out and become more laid back as they enter adulthood. Usually they are easy to train, however some can have a stubborn streak.

Is this breed right for you?


  • Is your space large enough? Great Danes make great house dogs, but they do need space to move around and space to sleep. Table and counter tops are always with in reach for these dogs, so making sure nothing potentially toxic is left out around the house is important.
  • Everything is bigger with a giant breed dog. Bigger beds, collars, feeding requirements, and of course more poop to scoop.
  • Due to their large size, they take longer to grow to their full size. Caution must be taken when they are young that they don’t jump of rough house too much to avoid unnecessary stress on the growing bones.

Health concerns

Both pure-bred and mixed-breed dogs have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors. Here are some health concerns that more commonly affect the Great Dane.

Hip and elbow dysplasia is a congenital disorder where these joint sockets are abnormally loose. Dogs inherit the condition from their parents. Dysplasia will cause your dog to experience joint pain or laxity.

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV)/ Bloat/ Torsion is when your dog’s stomach twists on itself, trapping air inside. Great Danes are more prone to this medical condition than any other giant breed dog. This situation is a medical emergency and your dog needs to go to surgery immediately to relieve the torsion and save their life.

A common health problem in older giant breeds is cardiomyopathy. This is a situation where the heart becomes enlarged and is unable to function properly. This ultimately leads to chronic heart failure as the heart becomes overloaded and overworked.



Canine Breed Spotlight: Newfoundland

Canada’s own! The Newfoundland!

Dog breed group: Working Dog

Average life expectancy: 8-10 years


The Newfoundland originated right here in Newfoundland, Canada! This breed came about from breeding the working dogs already in Newfoundland with Portuguese Mastiffs brought over by Portuguese fishermen in the 1600s. There were two main breeds developed that worked with the fishermen, the lesser Newfoundland and the greater Newfoundland. The lesser Newfoundland (also known as the St. John’s dog) is now extinct, but was the basis for breeding today’s modern retrievers. The greater Newfoundland persisted and is the ancestor of the Newfie as we know it today. They are a hard working dog, known for carrying heavy loads, pulling tow lines from ships to land, and rescuing the drowning.



Canine Breed Spotlight: Havanese

The Havanese!

Dog breed group: Companion Dog

Average life expectancy: 12-15 years


The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba. The breed is descended from the now extinct Blanquito de la Habana (“little white dog of Havana”) The Blanquito de la Habana was cross bred with other Bichon type dogs to create the Havanese of today. Historically, the  Havanese were a popular breed for many aristocratic families in Cuba. European travelers brought these dogs back to Europe, where they became trendy and popular. Later, their popularity waned and the breed almost became extinct, even in Cuba. During the Cuban Revolution, some Havanese dogs came to the US with their owners, where the breed was saved by starting a breeding program with this handful of dogs.