Monday, March 17, 2008

Proper Feeding and Exercise For Your Mastiff Puppy

This is the content of a handout I give all my Puppy buyers. There is some very good general information listed here.

Picking out your Mastiff puppy is only the first step towards owning a truly outstanding dog. Proper care and feeding are especially important the first 18 to 20 months of your pup’s life. Mastiffs grow rapidly the first 18 months in height and continue to grow in overall size (weight) until 3 to 3 1/2 years of age. Any loss suffered during this critical time can not be made up later. This fact alone is why we stress proper puppy care and feeding.

Mastiffs have been shown to grow and maintain proper growth on a 100% meat based diet. At no time should a Mastiff be fed a dog food with soybean meal. Soybean meal has been shown to contribute to the occurrence of canine bloat in large breeds. Experience has shown that while other dogs may thrive on a certain dog food, a Mastiff will do poorly or marginally.

Several large breed puppy foods are now available. Your puppy has been fed a combination of Black Gold Premium Adult Dog Food and canned Pedigree Puppy Lamb and Rice. A pure meat based feed is recommended with at least 25-27% protein and a 12-15% fat content as a puppy feed. After 12 months of age, an adult dog food with a 21-25% protein and 8-10% fat is recommended. Please note that high protein diets (>21%) in older (>5 years) large breed dogs has led to the development of renal and hepatic failure.

Your puppy has been fed a combination of moistened and dry feedings. For your convenience, advance the pup to dry feed by the age of 16 weeks. Your pup will need to be fed separately from other dogs and/or pups: Mastiffs are often so meek that they will allow other dogs to take their food (especially older dogs). Try to feed 3 to 4 times a day until your pup reaches 3-4 months of age, and then advance him to twice a day.

Let your puppy be the guide for the amount you feed it. Use the guideline below, but if your puppy eats the recommended amount of feed within a reasonable time (30-45 minutes), then increase the feeding 1-cup at a time. A pup that cleans his bowl at all its feedings needs to be fed a larger feeding portion.

Age of Pup Daily Amount Type Frequency
4-8 weeks 3-4 cups Moistened & Dry 3-4 times/day

8-12 weeks 4-6 cups Moistened & Dry 3-4 times/day

12-16 weeks 5-7 cups Dry 3-4 times/day

16-24 weeks 6-8 cups Dry 2-3 times/day
(4 to 6 months)

6-18 months 8-12 cups Dry 2 times/day

Some people oppose “free feeding”—placing out a daily quantity of feed out and leaving it so that the puppy can eat at any time. I have used the free feeding method to raise all my Mastiff puppies once they are weaned, and have never experience any problems. I find that my puppies as adult dogs do not “gulp” their food, eat moderate amounts without overeating, place themselves on an individualized schedule, and I have never had a case of bloat.

I place out fresh clean water 2-3 times a day; keep dry food available at all times, but place out moistened feed 1-2 times a day until the pups reach 12 weeks of age. I do not use feeders; puppies need daily contact and socialization. As I feed and water, I monitor my puppies for health problems, make observations about temperament and interactions, and work on socialization.

Always keep plenty of fresh water available and provide a shaded area for your puppy/dog when it is outside. Mastiffs are especially prone to heat exhaustion and can die in less than one (1) hour. An adult Mastiff will consume up to 2 ½ gallons of water a day and more during hot weather. A good rule of thumb is to leave a 5-Gallon bucket per adult dog. Automatic livestock waters work well (but can provide entertainment if the Mastiffs take it apart!); I use kiddie wading pools as cool down areas for my dogs. Mastiffs love to swim and play in water.

Studies have shown daily supplements of Vitamin C will decrease the incidence and/or severity of hip dysplasia. Your puppy has been receiving 1000 mg of vitamin C each day and this should be increase at 16 weeks of age to 2000mg per day. This is the only dietary supplement recommended and is required for you to meet your sales health agreement. It is your responsibility to keep sales receipts/records showing your purchases of Vitamin C to document proof of its’ usage. Although most Vets will disagree with this policy—a study done at Cornell School of Vet Medicine supports this practice.

DO NOT GIVE CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS! The use of calcium supplements can lead to bone and joint deformities and electrolyte imbalances. Your pup’s food will supply the proper balance of minerals for its growth.

I do give a multi-Vitamin—I use a GNC product --- Preventron. I give 2 tablets a day along with the Vitamin C. I use a pill crusher—it can be bought at any drugstore—crush the pills and add the powder into the food once a day. I feel that this supplement assists in proper growth of joints and bones. I have practiced this policy with my dogs for over 15 years and I have never had a case of hip dysplasia.

Due to the rapid growth of these pups, under no condition should extensive road work (running) type exercises be done until after the age of 18 months. Joints and growing bones are too prone to injury. Do not allow the pup to jump off elevated areas (i.e. porches, decks, and pick-up truck beds) or walk up more than 3 steps. I have seen a 10 week old large breed puppy break both front legs jumping off a 2-3 foot high deck. They could also damage their shoulder joints. Likewise, puppies should not be allowed to play or spend significant time on slippery surfaces (i.e. tile or linoleum floors) in order to prevent joint injuries.

Do not allow the Mastiff puppy to become overweight as this places stress on the growth plates of its bones. Likewise, do not keep your puppy crated for long, extended periods of time. Lack of exercise is just as bad as too much exercise. Your puppy will need to exercise to develop proper muscle tone and bone structure to carry its adult weight and be a strong healthy, active dog.

Although your puppy may look big, do not allow children to pull on the legs, jump on, or lie on your puppy. Long term permanent injury could result. Always supervise your children (both the very young and the older) and teach them proper interactions with your puppy. Teasing, hitting at, and causing harm can cause your puppy to have a permanent antisocial temperament. A puppy should receive love and positive reinforcement from all members of its family.

Because Mastiffs are large, fast growing dogs and their joint development is slow; the dog’s level of exercise must be monitored closely until the age of 18 months to prevent injuries. You must monitor activity level to avoid over-exertion while insuring that the dog receives sufficient exercise. This can normally be accomplished by such means as walks or play sessions with toys. Be careful to stop when the dog shows signs of fatigue; don’t take young puppies on long walks unless you can carry them home! Particular care must be taken to insure that a puppy is not injured or over-tired by play with a mature dog. Never leave a puppy under the age of 6 months alone with adult dogs. Always supervise interaction to prevent injury to the puppy.

Remember, the time, expense, and care you provide these first few months determines a great deal of the overall size, health, soundness, and longevity of your puppy. Proper loving care will produce a most devoted companion. As Mastiff breeders and owners, we want the Mastiff to be as we call them “gentle giants” and loyal guardians with loving temperaments and proud demeanors.

At Kiokee Mastiffs, we have developed a proven track record. Our dogs are sound in body and mind. Our practices and advice is based on documented scientific facts, practical experience, and our own successes and failures. By informing you, the buyer, we hope to allow you the chance to avoid some of our errors. It is your choice whether to listen and consider.

We are always available as an information resource for you and your “new” family member. Please keep in touch.

Cathy (Catie) Arney

"How Much Should my Mastiff Puppy/Dog Weigh?"

As a breeder, I am often asked,” What is the average weight for a Mastiff Puppy/Dog?” My answer is that it depends on a couple of factors—the sex of the puppy, the overall bone size of a puppy, and the overall condition of the puppy.

In our breed, Mastiffs do often have a “size” difference between the males and females. Males do tend to be bigger, have larger heads, and have larger bone. Thus, as a general rule, on the average a male is going to weigh more than a female. However, there are girls who are every bit as large as the boys.

You will hear Mastiff breeders talk about “bone size”. Generally, what they are referring to is the overall circumference of the leg bones. One can see Mastiff with thin spindly reed--like legs to dogs with huge, fence post sized legs. Of course a dog with larger bone is going to weigh more—bone weight is heavier.

Puppies who are raised with not enough to eat and/or who are feed inferior food; puppies who are not wormed and stay infested with internal parasites; puppies that are kept in unclean surroundings under stressful conditions, will all have less growth and overall size at adulthood. Puppies that are sickly will be smaller as adults. This is especially true if this occurs during a rapid growth period—4-8 weeks, 10-16 weeks, and 18-30 weeks. Good care is essential for a proper start and necessary for continued proper growth and overall size.

We stress to all puppy buyers the importance of feeding good dog food. Any puppy picked up here at our home goes home with a 50# bag of Black Gold Dog Food. I have fed it for over 15 years and find it to be a great feed for my dogs. Look for the Black Gold Dog Food links the information and website to the right.

I also send each puppy buyer a copy of “Proper Feeding and Exercise for your Mastiff Puppy”—a general guideline for the new owner. It covers a lot of useful information and assists new owners in the care of their puppy. It also covers some “Dos & Don’ts” relating to activities and exercise. I have placed this information in a Blog entry—look for it.

I have put together this weight chart for Mastiffs—it is based on information from several sources. Please remember it is not written in stone, but is a general guideline. This numbers are averages and different lines develop at different rates.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Tribute to CH. Clas Myrrdin's Morrigan HOF


Any Mastiff owner can tell you multiple reasons why their dog is special. Mastiffs have a way of worming into your heart and filling it. Once there, you are amazed that you never knew what you had been missing and you can't imagine life without them. The love and pride you feel will lead you don't roads you never would have trod.

Take the story of Morrigan. Jim & Laura bought her as a "pet" and as she grew into adulthood realized what a wonderful dog she had become. Jim felt so strongly about Morrigan's worth, that he began looking and educating himself about the breed in general. He also began a search for a Stud dog to breed to Morrigan.

Alone the way, he realized the important of health testing--which he did and Morrigan passed all her OFAs with flying colors--she also was tested for PRA. She had "cleared" all her pre-breeding screens. Now, he just needed to find the right stud dog.

Jim located Susie Farber of Caledonia Mastiffs and found her stud dog Ford, Ch. Caledonia Built to Last, and fell in love with him. He resolved to breed Morrigan to Ford and began an earnest campaign to convince Susie his Morrigan was worthy enough to breed to Ford. After some time, Susie agreed and the breeding was done.

From that first breeding, an amazing group of dogs were whelped. Most of these dogs were placed as companion dogs in family homes, but those who were placed in show homes completed their championships easily. Susie was so pleased with what had been produced that she encouraged Jim to show Morrigan and to consider breeding her back to Ford. So a few months later, Morrigan began to show and took a 4-point major. She was then bred for her second litter.

Although all had not gone smoothly with the delivery of her first litter, both Jim and Susie were agreeable to repeating the breeding. Morrigan was slated to be bred on her next heat, because she had developed Pyrometria after her first litter and it was the advice of the vet to bred her back to back. Eight months later, Morrigan's second litter was whelped and it was at this point I met Jim, Laura, and Family.
I had found this second litter advertised on the Devine Farm site and I was estatistic about it for Morrigan is a grand-daughter of my foundation bitch, Ch. Matic's Lady Madolin of Kiokee. For several years, I had unsuccessfully searched to find a puppy from this line and had failed. It was with great delight that I contacted Jim about his litter and he agreed to place with me a beautiful brindle girl, my Boudi.

From this second litter , we took four of these special puppies to the MCOA National Speciality in French Lick Indiana in 2006. We had a great trip, met some wonderful folks and received lots of praise for our dogs. We also had the pleasure of witnessing Morrigan completing her AKC Championship in 2005. Wonderful days for us all.

Over the last 4+ years, I have had the opportunity to develop a friendship with the Bennetts. I have also met and know a few of Boudi's "extended family" and their owners. From these associations other friendships have evolved. We all share a love for our beautiful Morrigan babies. I had the pleasure of having her visit and stay with me in our home, and if possible, I love her as much as Jim and Laura do.

Jim had planned on breeding Morrigan one last time, but unfortunately it was not to be. In 2006, Morrigan was lost at age 5 1/2 due to a probable cancer discovered at Auburn University Vet school. We all cried when Jim told us of his loss. Jim had stood by her side as they put her to sleep, he then lovingly brought her home to lay at rest overlooking his home and her family. Jim could console his grief with the knowledge that Morrigan's children and grand children would continue on to other wonderful accomplishments. Each day from the front doorstep of his home, he could look out to see her live on in each one.

In the past year, I have experienced the pleasure of breeding to two of Morrigan's sons--Oscar and Trojan. Each of them have sired beautiful litters out of my girls, Reba and Sara Lee. Each of these boys have sired a daughter who has the "Morrigan Mark" (as I call it) -an hourglass shaped white patch on the lower abdomen between the hind legs. It pleases me to see this in my puppies and to know that Morrigan lives on.

Jim's dream had been to put Morrigan into the MCOA Hall of Fame. An honor bestowed on MCOA members who own a bitch that produces five or more champions. After her passing, those of us who owned her puppies made it our dream, too. In 2005, Heather Boggs of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin had finished her Tug-- Ch. Morrigan's Tug O War. In 2006, Jennifer McKemie of Lithia Springs, Georgia had finished her Oscar--Ch. Morrigan's Cu Mac Shimidh and in 2007 she finished her Chocolate-Ch. Morrigan's Godiva. In 2007, Jim finished Trojan-Ch. Morrigan's Hector. Jim's Lily and Lexus were pointed as was my Boudi. At this point, we just needed one more champion.

On March 9th, 2008, my Boudi, won her second 3-point major completing her AKC Championship making her Ch. Morrigan's Celtic Queen of Kiokee. This is also the day that beautiful Morrigan became eligible for the MCOA Hall of Fame.

I waited until, I left the show site to call Jim and our cell phone connections was terrible. After a few tries, we finally got connected so that he could hear me tell him that I had a "new Champion" in my van. For a few seconds, I heard only silence and I thought I had lost him again. With barely a whisper, Jim thanked me. I could hear the choked backed tears and I cried, too. In his search for a better phone reception, he had wandered over next to Morrigan's grave, and there he stood next to her as he got the news that we had all waited so long to hear. You could almost hear the thump of a satisfied tail. We both knew that where ever she was, she shared in our happiness as any proud Mastiff mother would.

So many events and so many people have evolved from that one single action of taking a Mastiff puppy home. Experiences and events that may have never happened except for that one decision. It's my belief, that all things happen for a reason. Morrigan was the conduit for so many life events for so many different people. Morrigan was meant for Jim, Laura, James, and Sidney.

Who says a dog can't change your life?

Cathy (Catie) Arney Kiokee Mastiffs

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dog Show Success

As owners, we feel pride when our dogs win; as handlers we feel relief, but it is as breeders that we feel satisfaction when our dogs win. We place our faith, beliefs, and hopes on the line every time we walk into the ring to show; the faith and beliefs we have in our breeding program and our dogs that we are doing what needs to be done to improve and breed the best. The belief and the hope that others will see what we see in our dogs. After almost 25 years of showing, I can tell you that anything can happen.

Boudi Winning Winner's Bitch Under Judge Arley Hussin for a 3-point major!

For those who don't know, in order to get an AKC championship a dog must win a minimal of 15 points; and in it's wins two of the wins must be majors. Majors are wins where a dog is awarded a 3, 4 or 5 point win. Often getting those "majors" are all that keeps a dog from becoming a champion. Getting down to the wire and needing those majors has kept many a dog show person on the road in search of a few last wins. It has also made a few quit.

With the economy tighting, folks are being to show less and the dog show entries are down making it difficult to find shows where there are "majors". Combine that with the games some people play--I.E. Some folks enter and never show up--change their mind at the last minute. A few go the first day, get beat and leave. Some will show up, see who is entered and either pull their dog or leave if they don't think they can win.--and the owner/handler has a difficult time finishing a dog. A few of us old timers consider these actions to be "sour grapes" and just a case of poor sportsmanship and manners. It's truly a case of "when the going gets tough--the tough get going." One needs to have a strong sense of faith and belief in themselves and their dog to keep on entering and going to shows.

I have been in that position some time while showing Boudi. She is my big beautiful brindle girl that personifies all that is correct in a Mastiff. As anyone who has ever shown a Brindle will tell you--It often takes much more effort to finish that championship. Some Judges just don't like brindles and there is definitely a "color prejudice" in the Mastiff ring. Only the toughest of Mastiff owners show brindles. At time, It takes a stout heart and a tough hide to survive the dog show ring with a brindle. This past weekend we finally accomplished our goal--we obtained our championship.

We entered the shows in Hilton Head, SC and with the help of a few good friends--we built majors so as some of us could have a shot at finishing our dogs. It takes the cooperation of other breeders, owners, and handlers to show and finish dogs. NO one can finish their dogs by themself. We all must work together. We enter puppies to help make entry numbers often knowing that in most cases--they are not going to win because the older more mature dogs usually win. Each of us know that in time as our puppies and young dogs matured, our fellow exhibitors would be entering their young dogs so as to provide numbers enough for us to finish our dogs. As my grand mother would say" one hand washes the other." Thank you to all my fellow exhibitors for coming, showing and staying with your dogs. I couldn't have done it without you!

Boudi winning Winner's Bitch for her second 3-point Major and completing her new AKC Championship under Judge Robert Shreve

Boudi did go Winners Bitch both days giving her two very coveted 3-point majors and awarding her an AKC championship. By winning her championship, Boudi also help place her Dam, Ch. Clas Myrrdin Morrigan owned by Jim Bennett in Carrolton, Ga into the MCOA Hall of Fame as a top producer. For me, this is a doubly sweet victory for Morrigan is the grand-daughter of my own beloved Maddie. As I gave Jim the good news on Sunday, he was standing by the grave of his beloved Morrigan. Both Jim and I cried as I told him the news. This is a well deserved honor for a wonderful dog and owner and I am so happy that we could be a part of it.
Gidget (Kiokee Against All Odds) winning Best Puppy. She also placed 4th in the Puppy Working Group!
On Saturday, Boudi's daughter, Gidget--Kiokee Against all Odds- won Reserve Winner's bitch from the 6-9 month old class. This was Gidget's first show weekend and she hit it full stride showing the world that she is going to be a wonderful show dog. Gidget also won Best Puppy on Saturday and then won Fourth place in the Working Puppy Group later that day! What a way for a baby to begin their show career. Thank you to Crystal Landreth of Pisgah Forest Mastiffs for showing my little demon in the Winner's class and Best Puppy competition. I couldn't have done it without you! I can't want to see the Photo of the win!

It has been said, that "Joy shared is Joy doubled". For me, the best win is a win that is shared and I do share this win with all those who help make it happened. Crystal & Matthew Lambeth and Sara Elkin for your friendship and support; Jim Bennett for my Boudi and giving Morrigan a wonderful home; Kathy Roberts and Jennifer McKemie for your undying friendship and staunch support; Mitch, Leila, and Amiee--my family who has always supported me and shared my dream. You made this day very special to me. Thank you all.

Last July when Boudi and her puppies were so ill --I didn't know if I would see a day when one of Boudi's puppies would enter the show ring. To have Gidget survive was a miracle and to see the blossoming potential in her gives me hope as a breeder. To know that my win is also the win of a friend is truly sweet. This is why I own, breed and show my dogs. This is my definition of success.

Boudi Chillin' after a hard day at the dog show!