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Frequently Asked Questions - General questions about dogs

Humans have a certain affinity for the young of any species. We have selected through breeding for dogs who maintain a certain juvenile appearance and behavior. Adult wolves do not lick each other in this way. Domestic dogs do because it is something puppies do. Puppies (including wolf puppies) do it to stimulate an adult to regurgitate food for them. Wee pups are not able to chew meat, so adult dogs/wolves chew and partially digest the food for them, regurgitating it for them when needed. Baby birds do something similar when they hold their mouths straight up and wide open. It stimulates the adult birds to feed them. Human babies cry to be fed.

Obviously there is no need for an adult dog to ask for regurgitated food, but we have inadvertently bred this behavior into them while trying to capture other puppyish behaviors.

A therapy dog is not a service dog. It is one that is tested, registered, and insured to go with its owner to visit facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up patients. Note that like other pets, therapy dogs are only permitted where they are invited. You still have to have permission from the hospital to visit, so it pays to check with the facilities you would like to visit and see what they require. Some will only accept therapy dogs registered with a specific organization.

The top three therapy dog organizations in the U.S. are:
Delta Society
Therapy Dogs International
Therapy Dogs Incorporated

In the UK it's Pets As Therapy (PAT)

Each has it's own test and registration requirements, and each provides liability insurance for its members.

Therapy dog registration is based primarily on temperament. The obedience requirements are minor: walk on a loose leash, sit, down, and come when called are about it. For most well-behaved pets, an eight week course would be sufficient to prepare for a therapy dog test.

German Shepherd Dog Height & Weight Standards
from the F.C.I. Standard

Adult Males:
Height at the wither 60 cm to 65 cm (23.62 inches - 25.59 inches)
Weight 30 kg to 40 kg. (66.14 pounds - 88.18 pounds; Midrange = 77 pounds)

Adult Females:
Height at the wither 55 cm to 60 cm (21.65 inches - 23.62 inches)
Weight 22 kg - 32 kg (48.5 pounds - 70.55 pounds; Midrange = 59.5 pounds)

Average German Shepherd Growth Chart by Weight & Age
Please note: these are averages. Your puppy may grow faster or slower, larger or smaller. Consult your vet for an accurate evaluation of your puppy's development.

 
MALE
 
FEMALE

Age in
Months

Kilogram
(kg.)

Pound
(lb.)

% of
Total

Kilogram
(kg.)

Pound

1
4.2
9.2
12.10
3.3
7.2

2
9.0
19.9
26.18
7.5
16.6

3
14.2
31.3
41.18
12.1
26.7

4
19.0
41.8
55
16.4
36.2

5
22.9
50.6
66.57
20.0
44.0

6
26.1
57.4
75.52
22.7
50.1

7
28.4
62.6
82.36
24.7
54.4

8
30.1
66.4
87.36
26.1
57.5

9
31.5
69.4
91.31
27.1
59.7

10
32.7
72.0
94.73
27.9
61.5

11
33.7
74.3
97.76
28.6
63.1

12
34.5
76.0
100
29.1
64.2

It's a common misconception that dogs age seven years for every year a human ages. This is based on dividing the average dog life expectancy by the average human life expectancy. The problem is that at some points in a dogs life he ages more rapidly than his human counterpart and at other times more slowly.

Dogs typically reach maturity at about 18-24 months. Therefore, it is more accurate to calculate a dog's first two years at 10.5 dog years per year. Eighteen months would be nearly 16 and 24 months would be 21. In adulthood, dogs age more slowly. On average, large dogs age more rapidly than smaller dogs. Dogs even age different rates depending on what breed they are.

Pedigree Dog Age Calculator


For the arithmatically inclined, here are a set of equations for calculating a human equivalent for your dog's age.

These formulas are based on comparing the average life expectancy of an American (80) with the average life expectancy of a dog based on breed. They start with the assumption that a dog of 2 years (24 months) is the equivalent of a 21-year-old human.

for up to age 2: 10.5*Age
Age 2 and above: 21+ [58/(BreedLifeExpectancy-2)]*(Age-2)
Use this chart to get the BreedLifeExpectancy for the calculation above.

These formulas appear to be the same ones used by the Pedigree calculator above. These formulas are included because the Pedigree calculator does have it's limits. According to the formulas, a 14 year old German Shepherd is equivalent to a 103 year old person. While few humans live to 100 and few German Shepherds live to 14, it is possible. Pedigree's calculator choked on that one in testing.

A [b]service dog[/b] is individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the disability of his owner. Training typically takes 18-24 months. Because of his advanced training, a service dog is considered medical equipment and is permitted to accompany his disabled owner to many places where pets are not permitted.

An [b]emotional support animal[/b] belongs to a person who is disabled. The person's doctor has determined that the presence of the animal is necessary for the disabled person's mental health and written a prescription stating the pet is necessary in the person's home, despite any "no pets" regulation of the landlord, for the person's health. Little or no training is required. The owner of an emotional support animal has no more right than any other pet owner to take their emotional support animal with them other to keep one in a home where pets are not permitted or to fly with one in a cabin when pets are not permitted.

A [b]therapy dog[/b] is a pet that has been trained, tested, registered, and insured to accompany his owner to visit patients and residents of facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up the people living there. A well-behaved pet can typically complete training in about 8 weeks. A therapy dog is legally a pet. It is not permitted to go anywhere that pets aren't without permission from the facility owner. The objective of registration is to show facility managers that this dog is well behaved, safe around people, and insured against liability. It is not a license to walk into a hospital or nursing home without permission.

In short: service dog works to help the owner perform tasks he cannot perform on his own because of his disability, an emotional support animal works to improve the health of his owner who is disabled, and the therapy animal works with his owner to improve the health of others.

A dog’s sense of hearing is significantly greater than a human’s. Studies have shown that dogs are capable of perceiving frequencies about twice that of a normal human and can pick up and distinguish sounds roughly four times that of humans. This means that dogs can hear many sounds on frequencies that humans cannot even begin to detect and what a human can hear at 20 feet a dog can hear at roughly 80 feet.

A dog’s sense of smell is said to be approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than a human’s. While humans have 5 million olfactory receptors, dogs have about 220 million, an immense difference. This article goes into detail about the structure and process of the dog’s olfactory system: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/U/UNP-0066/

Field of vision

Dogs' eyes are placed on the sides of the head. Because of this, they have a visual field of 250 degrees compared with the human field of 190 degrees. This means dogs have the advantage of 60 degrees more peripheral vision than humans.

The central or binocular field of vision in dogs is approximately half of that of humans. The binocular field is where the visual field of both eyes intersect. It's where we can focus and judge the distance of an object. In parts of the field where only one eye can see we don't have good focus and can't judge distance, but we can see movement, color, and shapes. Humans accommodate (focus on items at different distances) better than dogs because of the shape of our lenses, and our greater number of color receptors.

Dogs like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds (breeds commonly used as guide dogs) have a binocular overlap of about 75 degrees compared to about 120 degrees in the human. This is because the humans eyes are set on the front of the head, whereas the dog's eyes are set about 20% apart. Snub nosed dogs have a smaller field of vision.

Receptor cells

There are two types of vision receptor cells: rods, which detect light and dark, and cones, which detect color. Humans have more cones but dogs have more rods. Because dogs have no fovea (or area with 100% cones), it is estimated their eye for detail is 6 times poorer than that of a human. On the other hand, because they have so many more rods than humans, dogs can see in light five times dimmer than humans can.

Rods are the vision receptors that detect dark and light. Think of them as receptors that see black and white television. Though they are not able to distinguish color, they are better than cones at distinguising light from dark, and in perceiving light even when it is dim. Dogs have many more rods than humans have, making their night vision superior to ours.

Color vision

It is a common misconception that dogs are color blind. They are not. They simply see color less strongly than we do (because we have more color receptors) and they only have two kinds of color receptors compared to our three.

Humans posess a macula or central retina area that is 100% cones, whereas the central portion of the dog's retina containes only 20% cones. Therefore, humans are five times more receptive to colors than dogs in the area where the eyes focus best.

Human vision is trichromatic which means our cones come in three colors: 'red', 'green', and 'blue-violet.' Dogs have only two types of cones. Their dichromatic (two color) color vision is similar to that of a human with red-green color-blindness. They distinguish best between yellow and blue, which is why agility obstacles are usually painted in those colors.

Acuity

A dog's visual acuity is approximately 20:80, compared to our 20:20. That means that what we can see clearly at 80 feet a dog can only see clearly when it is within 20 feet. However, certain breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers (commonly used as guide dogs) are bred for better vision and may have visual acuity close to a human's acuity.

Night vision

Dogs start with an advantage in having more rods (light receptors) than humans have. They also have a larger pupil than humans have, which lets more light enter the eye.

Dogs posses a tapetum, a mirror-like structure in the back of the eye that reflects light. This structure bounces the light waves back at the retina a second time, increasing the retina's chance to collect the light. It is the tapetum which causes dogs eyes to glow in the dark.

The tapetum, incidentally, is responsible for the blue glow in dogs eyes when they look right at the camera as a flash goes off. Humans produce "red eye" because the flash is reflected off blood vessels in the back of the eye, but dogs produce "blue eye" (or sometimes green or yellow eye) because of the light reflecting off the tapetum. The exact color reflected off the tapetum depends in part on the color of the dog.

Motion detection

Again because of their high number of rods, dogs are superior to humans in detecting motion. They can even see the flicker as the picture reloads on a television. When dogs recognize a person on sight, it is more likely because he recognizes the typical movements of that person than that he actually recognizes a face.

A therapy dog is not a type of service dog.

Therapy dogs are trained, registered, and insured by a therapy dog program. They visit institutions such as hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, only when invited, for the purposes of cheering up or educating people in those institutions.

A person with a therapy dog has no right to demand access to places where pets are not generally permitted, or to have pet fees, such as deposits, waived. They must have permission from the facilities they visit before they can enter.

Some therapy dog programs include:
The Delta Society
Therapy Dogs International (TDI)
Therapy Dogs, Inc.