Tuesday, 25 December 2007

>>Bark (dog)

Bark (dog)

Barking is a noise most commonly produced by dogs. Woof is the most common representation in the English language for this sound (especially for large dogs), other than "bark" itself. Other transliterations include the onomatopeic ruff, arf, yip (for small dogs), and bow-wow.

Why dogs bark

Although dogs are a subspecies of the wolf, Canis lupus, their barking constitutes a significant difference from their parent species. Although wolves do bark (or more accurately, howl or bay), they do so only in specific situations. According to Coppinger and Feinstein, dogs bark in long, rhythmic stanzas but adult wolf barks tend to be brief and isolated. Compared to wolves, dogs bark frequently and in many different situations.

It has been suggested that the reason for the difference lies in the dog's domestication by humans. Dogs present a striking example of neoteny, the retention of juvenile characteristics in the adults. They are similar to young wolves in many of their mannerisms and physical features, such as large heads, flat faces, large eyes, submissiveness and vocalizing – all of which are exhibited in wolf puppies.

Some believe that these characteristics were deliberately selected soon after domestication. There may have been a number of reasons for this. For instance, an overgrown puppy would very likely have been seen as a more engaging companion than a more mature but less amusing pet, as well as being less aggressive. More prosaically, an increased tendency to bark could have been useful to humans to provide an early warning system. Dogs may have been used to alert their owners that another unfamiliar band of humans or a predatory animal was in the area.

Individual dogs bark for a variety of reasons. They may bark to attract attention, to communicate a message, or to express excitement. Dog barks do not constitute an information-rich message in the same fashion as human speech, but they do nonetheless constitute more than mere noise. Statistical analysis has revealed that barks can be divided into different subtypes based on context and that individual dogs can be identified by their barks. Disturbance barks tend to be harsh, low frequency, and unmodulated, whereas isolation and play barks tend to be tonal, higher frequency, and modulated. Barks are often accompanied by body movements as part of a broader package of dog communication.

Types of barking

Warning bark

A warning will usually start out as a low, quiet, but ferociously noticeable growl before escalating into something of a howling bark. This type of reaction is most typically seen in domesticated animals in response to a perceived territorial intrusion. The dog may also bare its teeth if it feels immediately threatened.

Alarm barking

Labradors often give a warning bark in response to an unusual event that they feel needs your attention, such as "Hey, a car pulled into the driveway!"

This kind of barking is known as 'alarm barking', and is common within a variety of breeds. It is a dog's attempt to be alert, attentive, and informative to his human "pack", as regarding unusual events. It does not signify aggression, and (although often associated with unusual noises intruding on the dog's 'territory') is not the same as territoriality type barking. It may take the form of just one or a few barks, or it may give rise to sustained barking until the dog sees that some action has been taken.

Alarm barking is more likely to arise when a dog can hear, but not see the source of, some noise. Examples of sounds which commonly cause alarm barking include doorbells, cars, noises from adjacent dwellings, and the like. It is a behavior that tends to develop with age and maturity, and also can be related to whether there are others around who might need to be informed of such events - often an alarm barker will remain quiet if alone and there is nobody to 'tell'.

Barking at the dog owner's request

A dog barks when its owner gives a command, such as "Speak", or "Bark".

Barking as nuisance

Bark control

Canine barking can be a nuisance to neighbors, and is a common problem dog owners or their neighbors may face. It is important to realize that a dog which barks is attempting to communicate something, be it anxiety, discomfort, friendliness, assertiveness, loneliness, warning, alarm, deterrent, or other meanings. Different kinds of barking often require different kinds of approach to reduction.

Common approaches are as follows:

  1. Attempt to understand the cause. Know what triggers the barking. Treat any causes which can be treated.
  2. Use positive training methods to correct the behavior. Dogs are more likely to bark from anxiety or stress, than otherwise, so punishment can often cause problems by reinforcing a cycle of bad behavior. Instead consider:
    • Repeated exposure - to strangers or telephone rings (the "stimulus"), whilst you calm the dog and persuade it to remain quiet
    • Distraction - as the stimulus happens, offer treats, give praise, do something to take the dog's mind off it or an alternate preferred behavior.
    • Correct other dominant behavior - dogs often bark if they believe they are responsible for the pack. Make clear that you are responsible for the matter, and that he/she should hold back.
    • Reshaping - use clicker training (a form of operant conditioning) or other means to obtain barking behavior on command, and then shape that control to give you control over silence too.
  3. Seek professional advice. For example this advice on barking from the UK Department for the Environment (DEFRA), or a dog trainer, or vet.
  4. Use a mechanical device such as a bark collar. There are several types, all of which use a collar device that produces a response to barking that the dog notices:
    • Citrus spray ("citronella") - dogs as a rule do not like citrus. At the least, it is very noticeable and disrupts the pattern through surprise. These collars spray citrus around the dog's muzzle when he/she barks. (Sometimes these devices make a "hissing" noise before spraying, as an additional deterrent - see "escalation devices")
    • Sonic/ultrasonic (including vibration) - these collars produce a tone which humans may or may not be able to hear, in response to barking. Over time, the sound becomes annoying or distracting enough to deter barking.
    • Electrical - these collars produce a mild stinging or tingling sensation in response to a bark. It is important that such devices have a failsafe mechanism and shut off after a certain time, to prevent ongoing operation.
    • Combination and escalation devices - many sound and/or electrical collars have combination or escalation systems. A combination system is one that (for example) uses both sound and spray together. An escalation device is one that uses quiet sounds, or low levels of output, rising gradually until barking ceases. Escalation devices are effective since they "reward" the dog for stopping sooner by not having "all-or-nothing" action, so the dog can learn to react by stopping before much happens.


  • Different bark collars have been both praised, and criticised, and some are considered inhumane by various people and groups. Electrical devices especially come under criticism by people who consider them torturous and akin to electrocution. However most SPCAs agree that in a last resort even an electric collar is better than euthanasia if it comes to an ultimatum, for a stubborn dog that will not stop any other way. It is generally agreed that understanding the communication and retraining by reward is the most effective and most humane way.
  • The use of self-contained ultrasonic bark deterrent devices is one of the few means a person may have to deter barking by another person's dog which they do not have control over. (In such circumstances though it is always best to speak directly with the dog's owner first)


The controversial surgical procedure known as 'debarking' is a veterinary procedure for modifying the voice box so that a barking dog will make a significantly reduced noise. It is considered a last resort by some owners, on the basis that it is better than euthanasia, seizure, or legal problems if the matter has proven incapable of being reliably corrected any other way.

Debarking is illegal in the UK and opposed by many animal welfare bodies.



The Puli's corded coat requires a large amount of patient grooming to keep it attractive.
The Puli's corded coat requires a large amount of patient grooming to keep it attractive.

In animal grooming, cording is a technique in which dog coats are teased patiently into dreadlocks for coat care or presentation purposes. Some dog breeds that are often corded are the Puli and the Komondor. The Havanese is also occasionally corded for showing.

Although considered attractive and desirable for show dogs, a corded coat acts very much like a dust mop as the dog moves through its environment. Dust, dirt, twigs, leaves, burs, and everything else quickly become tangled in the coat. To keep the coat attractive, the owner must put in considerable time and effort in cleaning it and in entertaining and exercising the dog in a way that minimizes the accumulation of litter. Such dogs often have their cords tied up or covered with assorted dog clothing when they are not in a clean environment.

>>Coat (dog)

Coat (dog)

A dog's coat is its fur. A dog can be double coated—that is, having both a soft undercoat and a coarser topcoat. Some dog breeds are single-coated—having only one type of coat or the other, more often only the topcoat. The state of the coat is considered an indication of the animal's breeding and health.

Newfoundland lying next to its combed-out seasonal undercoat.
Newfoundland lying next to its combed-out seasonal undercoat.

Most dogs shed their undercoat each spring and regrow it again as colder weather comes in; this is also referred to as blowing the coat. Many domesticated breeds shed their coat twice a year. In many climates, the topcoat and undercoat might shed continuously in greater and smaller quantities all year.

Some dog breeds' coat is more like human hair than like other animals' fur; for example, the Poodle's coat grows continuously, getting longer and longer, and requires frequent trimming.

Show dogs

The nature and quality of a show dog's coat is an important conformation point in the hobby of dog fancy.

Some considerations in judging the quality of a dog's coat:

  • Colour (coat colour other than those allowed in the breed standard results in disqualification)
  • Markings (distribution of colour, spots, and patches; for example the spotted coat of a Dalmatian is distinctive, the markings of a terrier vary.)
  • Pattern (specific, predictable markings; brindle, for example, is a common pattern.
  • Texture of hair (smooth, rough, curly, straight, broken, silky)
  • Length of hair

Colours and patterns

Dogs' coats come in a tremendous variety of colours and patterns. Some breeds come in only one or two specific colors, while other breeds can have a wide range of colors, patterns, and shades. Breeds bred strictly for their working ability tend to have more variations than breeds bred primarily for their appearance over a longer time, although some very old breeds also have more limited coat colors.

Words used for coat colours can vary from breed to breed, so a colour that is called red in one breed might be called brown in other breeds.

Colour names

Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Brown and its variants, including mahogany, midtone brown, gray-brown, blackish brown; the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, whose color "must be as nearly that of its working surroundings as possible", also uses the terms sedge and deadgrass. (Weimaraners are often described as "steel-grey" but they are in fact light brown, the colour of the powder for instant hot chocolate.)

Red Irish Setter

Dark chocolate Australian Kelpie
Red—reminiscent of reddish woods such as cherry or mahogany—and its variants, including chestnut, , tawny, orange, roan, rust, red-gold, reddish brown, bronze, cinnamon, tan, ruby; also includes liver, a reddish brown somewhat the color of cinnamon or bronze; the breed often determines whether "liver", "chocolate", "brown", or "red" is used to describe the color, as in a liver German Shorthaired Pointer or a chocolate Labrador Retriever.

Apricot Poodle

Dark Golden Retriever
Gold Rich reddish-yellow (orangeish), as in a Golden Retriever, and its variants, including yellow-gold, lion-colored, fawn, apricot, wheaten (pale yellow or fawn, like the color of ripe wheat), tawny, straw, yellow-red, mustard, sandy, honey.

Yellow is a common color for mixed-breed dogs

Yellow Labrador Retriever
Yellow—yellowish-gold tan, as in a yellow Labrador Retriever—and its variants, including blond and lemon. Lemon is a very pale yellow or wheaten color which is not present at birth (the puppies are born white) but gradually becomes apparent, usually during the first six months of life.

Cream French Bulldog

Cream: Sometimes it's hard to define the line between pale yellow and cream. Depending on the breed and individual, cream ranges from white through ivory and blond, often occurring with or beneath lemon, yellow, and sable.

Dark orange sable Pomeranian

Lighter sable Shetland Sheepdogs
Sable: Black-tipped hairs; the background color can be gold to yellow, silver, gray, or tan. The darkness of the coat depends on how much of each hair is black versus the lighter color.

Black Newfoundland

Black Labrador Retriever
Black: Usually pure black but sometimes grizzled, particularly as dogs age and develop white hairs, usually around the muzzle.

Kerry Blue Terriers

Blue merle Australian Shepherd
Blue: Not the rainbow's blue but rather a dark metallic gray, often as a blue merle or speckled (with black). Kerry Blue Terriers, Australian Silky Terriers, Bearded Collies, and Australian Shepherds are among many breeds that come in blue.

Silver gray Weimaraner

Salt and pepper (?) gray Miniature Schnauzer
Gray—sometimes also called blue—and its variants, including pale to dark gray, silver, pepper, grizzle, slate, blue-black gray, black and silver, steel, silver-fawn.

White American Eskimo Dog

White Bichon Frisé
White: Pure white, but distinct from albino dogs.


Patterns, like colours, might be called by different terms for different breeds.

Liver and tan Australian Kelpie

Black and Tan Coonhound
Black and tan, liver and tan: Coat has both colors but in clearly defined and separated areas, usually with the darker color on most of the body and tan (reddish variants) underneath and in highlights such as the eyebrows.

Black and white Border Collie

Blenheim (Red-brown and white) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Two-color (also called bicolor, Irish spotting, or flashy) coats such as gold and white, liver and white, tan and white, black and white: Usually sharply contrasting colors, usually with the darker color on most of the body and lighter color underneath and in highlights such as the eyebrows, although sometimes one color is in patches, ticks, or other types of markings. Some breeds have special names for the color combinations; for example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel uses Blenheim for reddish brown (chestnut) and white. Irish Spotted or flashy pattern is symmetrical and includes a white chest, white band around the neck, white belly, and white feet or "boots." This pattern is commonly seen in herding dogs, and Boxers, among others.

Black tricolor Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Red tricolor Miniature Australian Shepherd
Tricolor: Three clearly defined colors, usually either black or red on the dog's upper parts, white underneath, with a tan border between and tan highlights;

for example, the Smooth Collie or the Sheltie. Tricolor can also refer to a dog whose coat is patched, usually two colors (such as tan and black) on a white background.

Tricolor Beagle

Blue merle tricolor Australian Shepherd

Red merle Catahoula Leopard Dogs
Merle: Marbled coat with darker patches and spots of the specified color. Merle is referred to as "Dapple" with Dachshunds.

Tuxedo lab mixed-breed dog

Tuxedo: Solid (usually black) with a white patch (shirt front) on the chest, and white on some or all of the feet (spats.)

Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin: "Torn" patches of black on white. Only the Great Dane exhibits this coat pattern.

Spotted Dalmatian


Red patched Borzoi

Brown and white patched and speckled English Springer Spaniel

Red-speckled Australian Cattle Dog

Liver-ticked German Shorthaired Pointer
Flecked, ticked, speckled: also called belton in English Setters

Orange belton (orange and white speckled) English Setter

Blue belton (black and white speckled) English Setter

Blue speckled Australian Cattle Dog

Light brindle Great Dane

Darker brindle and white Boston Terrier
Brindle: A mixture of black with brown, tan, or gold; usually in a "tiger stripe" pattern.

Medium brindle Galgo Español

Very dark brindle French Bulldog

Brown and white patched grizzled German Wirehaired Pointer


White Whippet with brindle saddle

Airedale Terrier with large black saddle
Saddle or blanket: A different color, usually darker, over the center of the back.

Particolor: Two-colored coat with the colors appearing in patches in roughly equal quantiles.

Wolf-sable Finnish Lapphund with white and tan markings

Wolf, wolf-sable or wolf-grey: Possessing a color and pattern similar to that of a wild wolf. The undercoat is light but the top-coat is dark. This is fairly common among spitz breeds.



Brindle is a coat coloring in animals, particularly dogs, cats, cattle, and, rarely, horses. It is sometimes described as "tiger striped", although the brindle pattern is more subtle than that of a tiger's coat. The streaks of color are usually darker than the base coat, which is often tawny or grayish, although very dark markings can be seen on a coat that is only slightly lighter.

The brindle pattern may also take the place of tan in tricolor coats of some dog breeds (such as Basenjis). This coloration looks very similar the tricolor, and can only be distinguished at close range. Dogs of this color are often described as "trindle".

In horses, brindle coloring is extremely rare and may be either caused by or somehow linked to chimerism, resulting in an animal with two sets of DNA, with the brindle pattern being an expression of two different sets of equine coat color genes in one horse.


The word brindle comes from brindled, originally brinded, from an old Scandinavian word. See Wiktionary. The concept occurs in the opening of 'Pied Beauty' (1877) by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a poem about dappled, streaky, subtly-varied Nature, where he compares 'skies of couple-colour' to a 'brinded cow'.