One of the first questions I get when I’m fostering puppies is, “What kind of puppies are they?” “Hellifi know,” is what I should say most of the time. Unfortunately, to list dogs and puppies on Petfinder, we are required to select a breed. So we do our best to come up with something. When the mother is available, we make an educated guess based on appearance and temperament. If we notice different features in the puppies we choose a secondary breed.
Unfortunately the only information we have about our ten puppies’ mother is a picture.
(The dog circled in blue is the mother. The other dog looks similar. Her sister, brother perhaps? )
Homeward Trails volunteers thought the mother looked like a retriever mix so we listed that as the first breed.
One clue to the puppies’ breed is their varied tail lengths. Two puppies have long tails, two have stub tails, and the rest have bobbed or short tails. Only a limited number of breeds have genes for a bobtail. The two puppies with stub tails are the smallest, with little ears that are upright, or likely to become upright.
They’re also feisty, almost fearless. Despite being nearly half the size of the long tailed puppies, they have no problem holding their own when wrestling with them.
The long tailed puppies are the biggest and have the largest ears.
The other six with short, but not stubbed – tails fall somewhere in the middle.
Another notable personality trait is the puppies go berserk for squeaky toys. One squeak and all their heads whip around in the direction of the noise. A second squeak and they’re off in pursuit. Cecilia, pictured above, will begin scratching at the ground, instinctively digging for a varmint. I’ve never had a litter respond so passionately to the sound of a squeak before. Given the puppies’ behavior – confident, fearless even, strong response to squeaks – good chance they’re part terrier. And their appearance fits several terrier breeds from the list of naturally bobbed tailed breeds Miniature Fox Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier and Rat Terrier.
Without a DNA test, it’s difficult to know which terrier breed. I settled on Miniature (Toy) Fox Terrier because many of the short tailed puppies (i.e. the ones who likely have the most terrier genes) really enjoy being picked up and carried which is a feature of Toy breeds. Granted, they are puppies and most puppies like being carried and held. But over and over I’ve noticed it’s the smallest, shortest tailed pups who are at my ankles begging to be scooped up. And once I pick them up they never seem to tire of being held.
Our backyard neighbors have a puppy too. A golden retriever, Maddox, who’s now seven months old and seventy five pounds. He’s often out in the backyard looking over the fence hoping the puppies will be outside and come closer.
Despite their different sizes, Cecilia and he have become buddies: