April 2016
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Pet Circkles.

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." ~ Abe Lincoln

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This Little Piggy...May Not Be so Little After All.

The Truth About Micro (Tea Cup) Pigs.

By Circkles.com.

Those cute little micro pot-bellied pigs (tea cup pigs) that you see may grow up to not be so little after all. There have been recent concerns and complaints from pig owners that they have purchased what they thought was a miniature pot-belly pig only to find out in a few months that it grew to be a full-sized pig. Imagine trying to fit that into your house when you only planned to make accommodations for a micro pig about the size of a Jack Russell Terrier.

Zoe Davies from the National Pig Association had this to say about this recent dilemma: “Some individuals have been selling commercial weaners or rare breed mixes as micros. There are also throwbacks in any breeding program. Meaning, a micro pig’s great grandparents may have been average-sized pigs, and so there’s no guarantee that a supposed micro pig won’t grow to normal size.”

Full-sized pigs can be quite destructive and difficult to handle. While pigs are very smart, and can be litter box trained and some say trained easier than a dog or cat, this very keenness of the pig also can make them quite a challenging handful. Now imagine that little handful becoming a 200-800 pound porker.

Also commonly called “tea cup pigs” when they first became popular because people saw photos advertising that these pigs could actually fit in a tea cup, these little porkers can break down the entire dining room table if they become regular farm sized pigs.

Pigs are very social, highly intelligent, and for these very reasons, make  good, trainable household pets just as a dog or cat - with a few distinct differences. Over the years, various breeders have tried to create pigs that retain all of the adorable qualities of a piglet without reaching the potential half ton mass of a full grown adult hog. Among the most popular “miniature” is the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, a delightfully spry porcine that tops the scales at a manageable 300 pounds. When legitimate breeders talk about miniature pigs, they’re talking about this 300-lb variety. Pot-bellied pigs are surprisingly diverse, and, although extremely rare, adults have been reported as small as 20 pounds (most pig breeders would say an adult pig that size is extremely malnourished). This huge size range prompted many breeders to attempt to create even smaller pig breeds, selecting from only the smallest stock. Enter the teacup pig.
A teacup pig (or a micro pig, nano pig, or any of a half dozen variations of “small”) is supposedly a tiny pig breed. Some breeders claim that their pigs only reach up to 30 pounds in weight. Combined with the intelligence and sociability that pigs possess, it would seem that teacup pigs should make a perfect pet. There is only one problem: there’s no such thing as a teacup pig as a breed.
To be clear, there are pigs that are unusually small and it is possible to selectively breed smaller and smaller pigs. There can be adult pigs that are truly tiny. Even so there is no currently recognized breed of teacup pigs. The “teacup” classification refers to size, not to a particular breed. Because there is no established “pure” teacup breed, the size of the parent is not a good predictor of the size of the offspring. That size rage of 20 to 300 pounds is a pretty unpredictable range.

There is now quite a lot of discussion, confusion and concern putting the micro or pot-belly pig industry in an uproar. There are many people questioning the very proof of miniature pigs stating that they do not really exist. We tried to get to the bottom of this confusion and went right to the most authoritative sources we could find on the matter and asked: " Is there such a thing as a miniature pot-bellied pig?" The answer below is directly from the North American Potbellied Pig Association and offers the best explanation as to the confusion regarding this increasingly popular exotic pet.

micro pigs in a hat

"MICRO, MICRO-MINI, TEACUP, POCKET PIG, DESIGNER, APARTMENT PIG... These are all marketing terms people use to describe pigs. And that is ALL they are. There are several breeds of pigs which will be discussed in greater detail, but micro mini teacup pigs do NOT exist. All pigs grow, all pigs grow at different rates, so some will grow faster than others. Scientists haven’t been able to produce pigs smaller than 60lbs in extremely restricted conditions, a breeder won’t be able to do any better than that with any consistency. There are smaller pigs out there and we realize that, however, they are the exception, not the rule. (Not to mention, their overall health and well-being is a matter of debate amongst the pig community) Please don’t be fooled by a fancy name, most pigs you see in homes are derived from a potbellied pig. Their lineage has evolved into other claimed breeds, but even that doesn’t make it a real breed. A registry doesn’t make a breed. Someone from the scientific community must do independent research and establish a breeding stock to qualify a new breed and until that is done, an actual breed will NOT be recognized by NAPPA as anything other than a cross-breed. Much like the pigs we see today, most are a crossbreed of pigs,  because most people do not have the ancestry of their specific pig to link them to the original potbellies imported to the US. And that’s okay. We just wanted to make it a point to discuss smaller pigs and how people who have those type of pigs glamorize them and others run out to get a pig only to be disappointed that their pig reaches weights in excess of 100lbs. We do not want to see anymore pigs needing to be re-homed because someone told them the pig would be 20lbs fully grown. This is NOT going to happen 98% of the time.

But how about those who do have smaller pigs? There is no one that can produce healthy pigs under 60lbs with consistency that we are aware of. There are piglets or baby pigs that others may be pass off as older pigs. That is despicable practices and blatant lies. There may be smaller pigs, but are they healthy? We do not know. Because it is so uncommon, we have our doubts, but since we are not privy to their medical history or their overall well-being/health, we can only hope they are. Having a pig that stays on the smaller side doesn’t make your pig better. These smaller pigs typically have health issues and do not live to be 15-20 years old like healthy pigs do. Obesity is the other side of the equation and can produce an equally unhealthy pig. There is a HUGE grey area in between though. Starving a pig will NOT make it the size of a chihuahua, and if you starve enough to stunt the growth, you will not be graced with your pigs presence for the normal lifespan of a pig. That we DO know. If you overfeed and do not balance activity with appropriate feed portions, your pig will also lead a miserably obese and unhealthy life with the arthritis that is sure to plaque your pig with achy joints and even poorer eyesight. Don’t do either of these things to your pig. Have a happy, healthy pig. We can help you do that here at NAPPA.
These are just a few of the examples of “MINI” pigs circulating through the internet. Dedicate some time to really research what having a pig is like if you are considering adding a pig to your family. Because that is what they are…family. If you can’t treat them as such, do not get a pig. ~ NORTH AMERICAN POTBELLIED PIG ASSOCIATION.

Although commercial pigs are known for their fast growth and good feed conversion ratio, they don’t reach full adult size until six years. Most production pigs are slaughtered long before then (the best size for a barbecue pig is about 100-lbs), so people rarely see just how big a pig can get. Pot-bellied pigs can become sexually mature after 3 months. At this point, they are relatively small. A new pig enthusiast, attracted to pet pigs from images of teacup pigs frolicking around a living room, could be fooled if they thought the size of the parents was a decent predictor of the size of their new pet. The most unscrupulous breeders mislead their customers further by advising them to underfeed their pigs, stunting their growth and leaving them permanently malnourished.

full grown micro pigThese pets can and do get big. Take a look at the growth of Paris Hilton’s teacup pig, Princess Pigelette in less than a year. What started as probably a few week old piglet for her is still years away from being fully grown, and is clearly a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. I’d hate to see the teacup that little hog fits in.

So what happens to a teacup pig once it reaches full size? Most owners are expecting a pet roughly equivalent to a small dog, not a highly-intelligent, very social, 300 pound pig. The cost of care is often prohibitive, finding vets can be challenging, and many properties are not zoned for livestock, which still includes specialty pig breeds. Responsible, misguided owners return them to the breeder, but many pet pigs end up abandoned or dumped at local animal shelters, spawning several teacup pig rescue programs to emerge in the last few years to deal with the abandoned teacup pig problem.

" As the director of a 100-acre pig preserve (sanctuary) we have a number of “miniature” pigs here who started life as a teacup pig pet. The vast majority of these so-called teacup pigs are now adults and range anywhere from 120 to well over 300 pounds. Compared to our fully mature farm pigs, who range from 600 to over 1200 pounds, they are truly “miniature: pigs. But potential buyers should not confuse the term “miniature pig” with a small pig. The term “miniature” is relative and is normally used to contrast a smaller breed of pig with a typical commercial pig.
Pig sanctuaries across the US are being inundated with these “teacup pigs” as they quickly outgrow the weight advertised by the unscrupulous breeders. We also are seeing a huge increase in the number and types of birth defects and genetic abnormalities in adult miniature pigs as breeders turn to in-breeding these pigs in an attempt to breed the perfect teacup or micro pig. Sadly, many of these inbred tiny pigs die well before reaching maturity…either from chronic malnutrition from trying to keep them “tiny” to inherited birth defects from inbreeding." ~The Pig Preserve.



Paw Print CastingA Great Way to Memorialize Your Pet.

When our beloved mascot Elsie recently passed away, we were fortunate that her last day on earth was a muddy one and she left us a perfect paw print in the mud that we turned into a plaster cast to forever memorialize her. It's a constant memento that she did indeed walk freely on this earth and feel the mud and grass beneath her feet after spending the first 4 years of her life a prisoner in a 6x9 puppy mill cage. Never able to roll in the grass, squish her toes in the mud and be free to roam, her lasting imprint on this world will forever remind us that we were able to give her a better life in which she was free to live and be happy.

To make your own plaster casting, please don't wait until your pet passes away, the conditions may not be right. We got lucky with Elsie. Whenever you see a perfect, deep paw print of your pet in your yard, gently, and very carefully dig it up when the dirt is firm either because it is somewhat dry or frozen is even better. Wrap it in aluminum foil or put it in a container to protect it and then put it in the freezer.

Once your paw print is frozen, mix and pour a liquid plaster casting material that you can find in most hobby stores into the frozen dirt print. Make sure to get a plaster that sets up quickly, in a matter of 30 minutes or so, because once your dirt paw print starts to thaw, it may not hold it's shape well enough to use as a mold for the plaster.

When the plaster has set and is thoroughly dry (you can tell when you touch the plaster if it feels cool and damp, it is not dry yet) only then can you begin to clean the dirt away with a small paint brush and toothpicks to the desired cleanliness you want. We elected to keep some of the dirt on our Elsie paw cast to always remind us that we gave her the opportunity and life she always longed for and felt the dirt under her paws in the end.



puppy biting puppy

Puppy Training 101: Part Two.

Since training our new Pet Circkles Mascot Maya from 8 weeks old, we thought this would be a good way to walk people step by step through the process, techniques and tips for successful puppyhood for dog and owner. Maya is currently an 8 week old English Mastiff, and because mastiffs are known for their stubbornness and difficulty in training, she makes a good example of the right and wrong way to train a willful pup, because mastiffs are nothing if not willful. Incidentally, the mastiff breed is not recommended for just anyone, because of their nature, they must be trained properly from the puppy stage or they can become too difficult to handle as adults.

Stopping Bad Habits Like Biting, Aggressive Play Etc.

Many pups will bite at your legs, heels, hands to entice you to play. However, once those little puppy teeth start coming in they are like Parana teeth and can be quite painful when they catch the skin. Puppies don't know this though, because they are used to sparring and biting and wrestling with their litter mates who have much toucher skin then humans and fur. So when you start to complain or yell when they get too rough, some pups see this as a challenge to play even harder. They don't know they are doing real damage so easily to our fragile, furless skin.

The ultimate goal is to train your puppy to stop mouthing and biting people altogether. However, the first and most important objective is to teach him that people have very sensitive skin, so he must be very gentle when using his mouth. Every now and then, a pup will bite his playmate too hard. The victim of the painful bite yelps and usually stops playing. The offender is often taken aback by the yelp and also stops playing for a moment. However, pretty soon, both playmates are back in the game. Through this kind of interaction, puppies learn to control the intensity of their bites so that no one gets hurt and the play can continue without interruption. Puppies can learn how to be gentle from each other and their mother, we have to teach them the rules with people-play because they don't know them yet.

puppy grabbing shirtAs long as a puppy is mouthing you gently, act relaxed, but usually this won't last once they get bigger and play for them becomes more intense. Whenever they bite too hard, give out a yelp (or yell OW!) very loudly and suddenly to startle them so they stop immediately. Tell them "No biting" and once they calm down, you can resume play. They will forget however, and will bite too hard again. Keep being persistent about not allowing them to bite too hard and if yelling does not do it, stop playing with them immediately, get up and walk away but stay within their eyesight. Tell them in a stern voice, "no biting." Make sure they are looking at you, watching your reaction and unwillingness to play with them while you reprimand them. This is how they will make the association that if they bite you too hard, you will quit playing - which is the last thing a puppy wants- and he will learn that if he wants to keep playing with you, he will have to modify his behavior. Once he calms down, and especially if he sits, play can continue in a more relaxed, calm manner. Repeat as needed, which will probably be often because pups engaged in play are usually too excited to really pay attention and remember what you just told them 2 minutes ago. As they get older, if you continue to discipline them this way, they will eventually grow up and understand it as their attention span gets better and they get to know what you consider acceptable behavior and what you don't. They have to learn everything about how to interact within a human world and you have to be their teacher.

NEVER, punch, slap or hit a puppy for biting too hard. This does not register in their minds as a reprimand and with some breeds, this can make them even more aggressive; like a mastiff. They see hitting as biting and a signal to ramp up their aggressive game, which is the last thing you want. It is best to remain calm, alpha dogs (or lead dogs) are always calm educators and discipliners which is how they earn the respect of the rest of the pack. Never lose your cool with your dog or they will lose respect for you. Be firm, talk in a controlled but stern, distinct voice with short commands and be consistent. It may take a few times, but your furry playmate should catch on quickly and as they mature.

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Allen M. Shoen, a veterinarian and author of "Kindred Spirit" wrote, "Although science has no definite answers, why not assume that sharing a home with a dog, cat or bird - or sharing our lives with a horse or other large animal - has therapeutic benefits that are deeper than simple stimulation of the opiate receptors in the skin through touch? Perhaps, through our connection with animals, we are stimulating some deeply buried aspect of nature within us, rekindling a lost connection that allows us to be more than solitary creatures, but part of something greater - and therefor, more healthy, more whole."

Much scientific and psychological research has proven just that. And also that the human animal bond is mutually beneficial under humane circumstances. Many great philosophers, such as Albert Einstein, recognized that we have a great deal of useful information to learn from animals.
In fact, animals are the great teachers, not us, for they have roamed the earth far longer than we and express genuine thought and expression true to their nature, which humans typically do not. We have a great deal to learn from them. Pet Circkles helps us stay more in touch with their health, diet and social needs so we can give back to those who give us so much in return.

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doberman clippedFeatured DOG BREED:
Doberman Pinscher.

The Doberman is derived from a mixture of breeds that include the Great Dane, the Greyhound, the German Shorthaired Pointer and the Rottweiler. They are powerful in the hindquarters and can sometimes be top-heavy because of their deep chest. The Doberman is traditionally a very athletic breed and many excel in agility and obedience trials. The muzzle is long, and so affords the leverage for an extremely strong bite. The Doberman stands on its toes (not the pads) and is not usually heavy-footed.
Doberman Pinschers are well known as intelligent, alert, and tenaciously loyal companions and guard dogs. Personality varies a great deal between each Doberman, but if taken care of and trained properly they tend to be loving and devoted companions. The Doberman is driven, strong, and sometimes stubborn. Owning one requires commitment and care, but if trained well, they can be wonderful family dogs. Unlike some breeds (such as the German Shepherd), Dobermans are eager to please only after their place is established in their pack and that place is not as an alpha. With a consistent approach they can be easy to train and will learn very quickly. As with all dogs, if properly trained, they can be excellent with children. Dobermans adapt quickly, though they take their cue from their leader and value attention.

Size: Typically stands between 27 to 28 inches, the female is typically somewhere between 25 to 27 inches.
The male generally weighs between 88–99 lbs and the female between 71–77 lbs.

doberman natural

Life Expectancy: The Doberman's lifespan is about 10–11 years, on average.

Health Concerns: They may suffer from a number of health concerns. Common serious health problems include dilated cardiomyopathy, cervical vertebral instability (CVI), von Willebrand's disease (a bleeding disorder for which genetic testing has been available since 2000; the test enables both parents of a prospective litter to be tested for the carrier gene, thus preventing inheritance of the disease ), and prostatic disease. Less serious common health concerns include hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia. Canine compulsive disorder is also common. Studies have shown that the Doberman Pinscher suffers from prostatic diseases, (such as bacterial prostatiti, prostatic cysts, prostatic adenocarcinoma, and benign hyperplasia) more than any other breed. Neutering can significantly reduce these risks.
In multiple studies, more than half of the Doberman Pinschers studied develop dilated cardiomyopathy. Roughly a quarter of Doberman Pinschers who developed this condition died suddenly from unknown causes, and an additional fifty percent died of congestive heart failure In addition to being more prevalent, this disease is also more serious in Doberman Pinschers. Following diagnosis, the average non-Doberman has an expected survival time of 8 months; for Doberman Pinschers, the expected survival time is less than 2 months. Although the causes for the disease are largely unknown, there is evidence that it is a familial disease inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. Investigation into the genetic causes of canine DCM may lead to therapeutic and breeding practices to limit its impact.

Photos: 1.) Doberman with classic clipped ears.
2.) Doberman natural.

Looking for a Doberman? Use our Pet finder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, go to our Pet Circkles Club Page.


Pet Circkles Back Issues:
For Issues that go back further than 2015, see our Back Issues Index or use the Google Search above to search by topic.

January 2015: The Tao of Equus: One woman's transformation and healing through the horse. 5 Health Indicators You Should Always be Monitoring for Your Pet. Natural remedy for rain rot on horses, Boxers, Big Dogs Huge Paws Rescue and more.

February 2015: Guide horses. Best first pets for kids. Heartland Farm Animal Rescue, Apple Cider Vinegar for pets, Brittany Spaniel and more.

March 2015: Blister Beetles in hay can kill horses. Reasons for poor health in birds, Bull Terriers, Ferret Dreams Rescue, Scrappy's Story: One brave little ferret, and more.

April 2015: Before You Buy Another Flea Collar, You Should Read This. Natural Pet Remedies: Dry skin and irritations.Brachycephalic Syndrome. American Bulldog.

May 2015: Miniature Donkeys as Pets. Natural Pet Remedies: Proper way to clean a pet's ears. The Special Needs of Giant Breeds. Bullmastiff.

June 2015: Is Your Cat Food Killing Your Cat? Natural Pet Remedies: Loss of a friend. Preparing Pets to Fly. Cane Corso Breed.

July 2015: Is New NPDS Pet Dental Procedure Safe? Pet Bee Stings. New Stem Cell Therapy to Treat Canine Joint Disorders and Arthritis.Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

August 2015: Operation Bagdad Pups and The Healing Power of Pets in the Military. Chihuahua breed. Adopting a Barn Cat. Natural pet remedies.

September 2015: How Pets Evolved and How it Affects Their Health. Chinook dog breed. Natural Pet Remedies.

October 2015: Does Your Dog Howl to Music or Singing? Dog Breed: Chow Chow. Don’t Give up on Your Dog Just Because He's Getting old.

November 2015: Pumpkin is Good For Pets. Thanksgiving for Pets? Only if You Truly Give Them a Treat. Rough Collie.

December 2015: The Best Christmas Gift for Pets. Think Twice About This Popular Pet for Kids. Smooth Collie.


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