Dogs guide

Buying & equipment

Sophisticated pureblood or cheeky mongrel? Every dog has its own character. The type of dog you decide upon is therefore primarily a matter of personal taste. And the breed is not always important – sometimes it is simply "love at first sight".

Tips for buying a dog

There are various different ways to find a dog. If you're looking for a pedigree pooch, for example, you could visit a responsible breeder. You can find their addresses from local dog breeding associations. However, animal rescue centres are always full of dogs looking for a loving new home.

Signs of a healthy dog:

  • Lively and animated behaviour
  • A thick coat 
  • Light coloured gums (red patches may be a sign of inflammation)
  • Wet, cold nose (but free of discharge or mucous)
  • Clear eyes
  • Clean ears

Checklist for initial equipment

To really feel at home, a dog needs certain accessories in addition to food:

  • A cosy place that is reserved for the dog alone, with a sleeping basket or blanket
  • Food bowls (e.g. stainless steel) and a drinking bowl
  • Toys to keep your dog occupied, e.g. a ball or play rope
  • Collar and leash for walks
  • Comb and brush for grooming 
  • Chews to keep your dog occupied and clean its teeth and gums
  • Main food for daily nutritional requirements
  • Snacks for use as rewards, e.g. Beef Stick® or Treaties Bits®

Caring for your pet

Owing a dog brings with it great responsibility. Since dogs are pack animals that have not evolved to live alone, they view their owners as a substitute pack. Some breeds have special abilities or particular requirements that need to be catered for. However, many of the points to remember when keeping a dog apply to all breeds equally, such as providing sufficient exercise and regular health checks.

Grooming 

Short-haired dogs should be brushed once a week; long-haired dogs require intensive grooming on a daily basis. 
Dogs want to smell like dogs and sometimes roll around in things that we humans find disgusting. When bathing or showering a grubby dog, it is best to use a mild shampoo designed specially for dogs, e.g. Bello® Shampoo with vitamins and proteins.

Paws and claws 

Dogs' claws can become too long if they do not run around on hard ground very often. If this is the case, they will need to be clipped from time to time. Your vet will be happy to help. The pads on dogs' paws are sensitive to snow, ice and road salt. You should therefore check them regularly during winter and rinse them if necessary.

Teeth 

Chew bones are a good way to help keep your dog's teeth healthy. We also recommend tooth care sticks with special ingredients such as Dental 3in1

Ears 

Carefully use a dry cloth to clean your dog's ears on a weekly basis. This is particularly important for long-haired dogs.

A clean place to eat and sleep

Use hot water to wash food and water bowls after each meal or at least once each day. You should also shake out your dog's sleeping blanket or basket on a daily basis and wash it at regular intervals.

Diet

The perfect diet

Providing a diet designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of dogs is important for ensuring a happy and healthy life. The ingredients used in Vitakraft products are therefore selected based on scientific research and take into account the natural nutritional requirements observed in wolves and wild dogs.

As descendents of wolves, our domesticated dogs still exhibit many wolf-like characteristics: they are hunters and meat eaters. It would, however, be more correct to label them as "primarily carnivorous" as both wolves and wild dogs will also eat plant material. In some cases, they eat it directly in the form of berries, grass etc. However, they also ingest some plant material via the stomach contents of their prey.

Food types

Main food:
A main food covers your dog's basic nutritional requirements

Snacks: 
These tasty treats are best used as a reward and are a useful aid when training your dog. However, they must still be healthy and suitable for your pet. Some snacks even perform an additional function, such as Dental 3in1. Whether hypoallergenicgrain-free or low-fat: the Vitakraft range also contains numerous treats for special needs.

Chews: 
Chews are ideal for occupying your dog while also caring for its teeth. In addition to natural chews, for example, the tasty DELI CHEWS are also highly recommended.

Nutritional supplements: 
Dietary supplements help to strengthen your dog and promote well-being. They meet the specific nutritional needs that can arise during certain stages of life, e.g. during periods of growth, after illness or during pregnancy. They may also be beneficial for particularly active animals.

Feeding tips 

  • Feed adult dogs twice each day; puppies three times
  • Feed at fixed times 
  • Serve food at room temperature 
  • Do not disturb your dog while it is eating 
  • Remove perishable food leftovers 
  • Thoroughly rinse out bowls after each meal 
  • Provide fresh water at all times 
  • Provide tooth care snacks, such as Dental 3in1, after each meal

Behaviour & upbringing

Understanding your dog's behaviour is essential for forming a close bond.

You should bear the following basic rules in mind when rearing your dog:

  • A young dog will not yet be aware of acceptable limits. If it tests and exceeds these limits, it is important that this results in consequences.
  • The dog needs to learn to accept its owner as the alpha male or female in its "pack".
  • Your commands must be short and clear: "sit", "come" and "drop".
  • Since dogs do not have long concentration spans, it is best to keep your training sessions short.
  • Praise and reward your dog when it does something right.
  • Training should be fun for your dog and it is a good idea to end each session with an exercise that your dog has already mastered or a game.

How to toilet train a puppy

After each meal, sleep or play session, you should quickly take your puppy outside and show him where he is allowed to do his "business". You will need to hurry if your dog appears unsettled or starts turning in circles. Showering your dog with praise and providing a reward (e.g. Vitakraft Beef Stick®) will speed along the toilet training process. 

Introducing a collar and leash

Before venturing out on your first walk outside, you should familiarise your dog with its collar and leash inside the house. Start by placing the collar on your dog for a short period of time while under your supervision. Praise and rewards will also help with this.

A patient and loving upbringing

Dogs are particularly willing to learn if they can see that their owner is pleased with their behaviour. It is therefore essential to praise your dog as soon as it does something right and provide a reward. With this in mind, Vitakraft has developed a varied range of snacks for dogs in handy packaging sizes. These snacks provide valuable nutrients and taste grea

Dogs portraits

Jack Russel Terrier

Alternative Title

Easily confused with the Parson Russell Terrier. Today, there are two different breeds of Russell Terrier: the Jack Russell Terrier, which refers to the smaller breed and the Parson Russell Terrier, which has longer legs.

Appearance

Size: 25-30 cm Weight: 5-6 kg Colours: white with black or tan markings Coat: smooth, rough or broken

Origin

Jack Russell Terriers were originally bred in England from a variety of old terrier breeds, primarily the Fox Terrier. Its name originates from the Reverend John Russell, a parson and hunting enthusiast known for his breeding of such terriers. The Jack Russell was originally developed to accompany fox hunts, its job being to bolt foxes from their dens.

Behavior

Jack Russell Terriers are lively dogs that are ideal for people with an active, sporty lifestyle. Since fox hunts were always accompanied by riders on horseback, this breed typically has no fear of horses and is very relaxed and friendly towards them. For this reason, Jack Russells make excellent riding companions.

Afghan Hound

Alternative Title

Kuchi Hound, Tāzī, Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barutzy Hound, Shalgar Hound, Kabul Hound, Galanday Hound

Appearance

Size: 63 – 74 cm  Weight: 23 – 27 kg  Colours: A wide variety of colours, although lighter colours (such as white and red) are particularly popular

Origin

As the name suggests, this imposing sighthound originates from Afghanistan, where similar dogs have been living for more than 4,000 years. However, dogs resembling the Afghan were also depicted in drawings dating back to Ancient Egyptian times, indicating that the breed is even older than this. In Europe, these dogs have been bred since the end of the nineteenth century. Ancestors of the modern Afghan were originally used as sheepdogs and hunting dogs. Today, however, they are used more as racing dogs and have also become a popular family pet and companion dog.

Behavior

The Afghan's temperament suits its exotic appearance, as it can be particularly aloof and stand-offish with strangers. At the same time, it does have a very gentle, sensitive nature. It can be quite headstrong and requires patient, insightful training.

Special features

Despite its luxuriant, high-maintenance coat, the Afghan is not particularly heat sensitive Like all sighthounds, Afghans require plenty of daily exercise.

Poodle

Alternative Title

The various sizes of poodle, which include Standard (Grande), Medium (Moyen), Miniature (Dwarf/Nain) and Toy, are actually each breeds in their own rights.

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 45 – 60 cm (Standard), 35 – 45 cm (Medium), 28 – 35 cm (Miniature) and up to 28 cm (Toy)  Average weight: 27 kg (Standard), 12 kg (Medium), 7 kg (Miniature) and 3.5 kg (Toy)  Colours: white, apricot, silver, brown and black, black and tan, black and white.

Origin

The exact origins of the poodle are unknown, although it is believed to be descended from old French water dogs and was originally bred and used for hunting waterfowl.

Behavior

Poodles are intelligent and easily trained. They are affectionate with a friendly personality which, for a time, made them one of the most popular family pets and companion dogs. Poodles enjoy performing tricks, but also like receiving praise for this.

Special features

Poodles require daily grooming and regular clipping. Many breed registries allow only certain clips (clipped hair styles) for poodles shown in competition.

Pug

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 30 – 35 cm Weight: 6 – 8 kg Colours: Their smooth, glossy coats can be fawn, silver fawn, often with a dark mask, or black

Origin

Dogs resembling the pug have been popular lap dogs for European royalty for hundreds of years Although thought to originate from China, the distinctive appearance of the modern breed is the result of selective breeding in the UK.

Behavior

The pug’s ancestry is apparent in its temperament. Never anything other than a companion dog, the pug has a lively, playful character and makes a very affectionate friend. It can be very wary of strangers, however.

Mongrels

Appearance

Mongrels come in all sizes, colours and coats.

Origin

Although mongrels do not belong to any specific breed, they deserve to be included in this portrait section since they form a very large proportion of our pet dogs. A mongrel or mixed-breed dog is a dog that belongs to no single officially recognised breed and is not the result of intentional breeding. It includes both dogs whose heritage is a complete mystery as well as those with pure-bred ancestors. In the latter case, it is often possible to guess the breeds of the parents just by looking.

Behavior

As with their outward appearance, mongrels can have a wide range of personalities. They are a very diverse group: mongrels can be lively or calm, affectionate or timid, wary or trusting.

Special features

Mongrels are considered to be particularly vigorous, healthy and long living, perhaps because they are not predisposed to the genetic defects typical of selectively bred animals. They rarely have extreme physical traits and their associated health problems.

Labrador Retriever

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 54 – 60 cm  Weight: 25 – 30 kg  Colours: yellow, chocolate and black, always one solid colour

Origin

Although first bred selectively in the UK, the modern Labrador’s ancestors originated in Newfoundland.

Behavior

The Labrador is a very friendly, affectionate dog. Originally a hunting dog, it loves swimming and will not even shy away from cold water. As a result, it has long been used extensively in waterfowl hunting (to retrieve the fowl). In the past, it was even used by fishermen. Today, Labradors are used for many more purposes; as guide dogs for the blind, for instance, as search and rescue dogs and, of course, as a popular family pet.

Golden Retriever

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 51 – 61 cm  Weight: 32 – 35 kg  Colours: any shade of gold or cream

Origin

The Golden Retriever is a breed that was originally developed from various other hunting dogs, including the Irish Setter and Bloodhound. 

Behavior

Golden Retrievers were historically used as gundogs to retrieve game birds. Because of their instinctive love of water, they are often used to retrieve shot waterfowl. Today, however, they are much more than good hunting dogs. Their highly sociable attitude towards people, their gentle, eager-to-please demeanour and their willingness to learn make them the perfect companion. Because of this, they are commonly used as guide dogs or rescue dogs.

Shepherd

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 55 – 65 cm  Weight: 34 – 43 kg  Colours: all-black and all-white are possible although the most common are tan/black and red/black.

Origin

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a Prussian ex-cavalry captain was looking for the perfect dog. He found it in the form of a young working dog that had been bred for herding sheep. This dog then became the centre-point of the breeding programme for the newly created Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog). Despite its herding origins, from which its name clearly derives, the success of this breed lies to a great extent in the characteristics that make it an excellent working dog.

Behavior

German Shepherds are self-assured dogs with an even temperament. They have a loyal nature and bond well with people they know. The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. Training is therefore very important for German Shepherds. Their keen sense of smell and hearing means that they are often trained as guard and police dogs and can also make excellent guide or rescue dogs.

Great Dane

Alternative Title

Also known as the German Mastiff (German: Deutsche Dogge) or Danish Hound (German: Dänischer Hund).

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 70 – 90 cm  Weight: up to 60 kg  Colours: fawn, blue, black, brindle and harlequin

Origin

The breed originated in Germany, from crosses between similarly large-sized dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound, the greyhound and the giant English mastiff. The Great Dane was bred specifically for use in bear and wild boar hunting, and was particularly popular with royalty.

Behavior

Despite its impressive size and its origins as a hunting dog for large game, the Great Dane has a very calm, gentle nature and an even temperament. Great Danes are very sensitive and require a loving environment with proper care and training from an early age to ensure that they become a good companion.

Dachshund

Alternative Title

Also known as the Dackel or Teckel in Germany. Dachshunds come in three sizes: standard, miniature, and kaninchen (German for "rabbit") and three coat variants: short-haired (‘smooth’), long-haired and wire-haired.

Appearance

Size/weight: 5 – 10 kg (standard), 3 – 4 kg (miniature), up to 3.5 kg (kaninchen). Colours: Colours vary depending on coat. In short and long-haired Dachshunds, the most common colours are brown, red (ranging from copper to deep rust) or black. The wire-haired Dachshund comes in a variety of colours, with ‘wild-boar’ the most common.

Origin

Germany. The name "dachshund" is of German origin and literally means "badger dog", from Dachs ("badger") and Hund ("dog"). They were originally bred for hunting animals in burrows, such as foxes and badgers, by trailing scent.

Behavior

Dachshunds are quite rightly known to be very wilful and stubborn, and therefore require consistent training. This can be quite difficult, however, when they look at you with their big, innocent puppy dog eyes – especially when they have done something wrong. This little dog is also very courageous, affectionate, alert, lively and eager to learn.

Special features

Unfortunately, Dachshunds can often suffer from back problems. Prevention is better than cure: A good diet is particularly important as it will strengthen the back and keep the dog’s weight down (obesity should be avoided). Back strengthening exercises are also important for the muscles of the back. Activities such as climbing stairs place the back under extreme stress and should therefore be avoided. In addition to their regular grooming, wire-haired Dachshunds also need the occasional trim.

Rough Collie

Alternative Title

Scottish Collie

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 51 – 61 cm Weight: 18 – 32 kg Colours: sable and white, blue merle and tri-coloured.

Origin

Rough Collies, which are occasionally referred to as Lassie dogs (on account of the fictional storybook character of the same name), were originally bred in Scotland for sheep herding.

Behavior

The Rough Collie is an intelligent, even-tempered dog. It is especially loyal and relishes human company, although it can be wary of strangers. A sensitive breed, it should be trained with consistency and understanding.

Cocker Spaniel

Alternative Title

English Cocker Spaniel

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 38 – 41 cm  Weight: 13 – 15 kg  Colours: many are possible, although red/golden and black are the most common

Origin

This breed originates from the UK, where it was used as a gundog for driving game towards the guns.

Behavior

Cocker Spaniels are known to be good-natured, gentle and affectionate. With the proper training, they are obedient and willing to learn. However, because this is a sensitive breed, training must be consistent and very gentle. A popular family pet, Cocker Spaniels are also known to tolerate other dogs well.

Fox Terrier

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: to 40 cm Weight: up to 8.5 kg Colour: Mostly white with black or tan markings 

Origin

As its name suggests, the Fox Terrier is a hunting dog that was originally bred for its ability to drive foxes out of their dens. It first became a recognised breed in England in 1876.

Behavior

The Fox Terrier is a typical terrier; lively and friendly with a marked stubborn streak. For this reason, this affectionate dog requires consistent, insightful training.

Special features

Fox Terrier in fact refers to two different breeds of the terrier dog type: the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier. The Smooth Fox Terrier is the older of the two breeds although the wire-haired has become more common in recent times.

Bulldog

Alternative Title

English Bulldog

Appearance

Size/shoulder height: 30 – 36 cm  Weight: 22 – 36 kg  Colours: red and white or brindle (mixed colours, often in waves or irregular stripes)

Origin

Great Britain. As its name suggests, this dog was originally bred as a fighting dog, and was specifically used in the sport of bull baiting. 

Behavior

Because of their original ‘purpose’, earlier bulldogs were bred for aggression. However, this is certainly no longer the case today and the modern bulldog has an endearing, equable disposition. Its easy-going nature means that it is rarely nervous or aggressive.

Boxer

Alternative Title

German Boxer, Deutscher Boxer

Appearance

Size: 53 – 62 cm  Weight: 25 – 32 kg  Colours: fawn and brindle, frequently with a white underbelly and white on the feet, neck and forehead, as well as a black mask.

Origin

The main ancestor of the modern Boxer, the now extinct Bullenbeisser, was originally bred for hunting. Other breeds such as bulldogs were also crossed in, however. Thus, the first Boxers to resemble the breed in its current form were created in Germany at around the end of the nineteenth century.

Behavior

Boxers are very family-friendly dogs, renowned for their great love and faithfulness to their household. They also tend to be very good with children. Despite its origins as a fighting dog, the modern Boxer has a calm, friendly and gentle temperament, and is quick and eager to learn

Border Collie

Appearance

Size: 43 – 54 cm  Weight: 13 – 22 kg  Colours: white, black, tan, tricoloured; black and white being the most common.

Origin

The Border Collie is originally from the Anglo-Scottish border region, where it was developed for herding.

Behavior

The Border Collie is a very friendly, intelligent dog. They have boundless energy and are always eager to learn. Give them something productive to do and they will be happy. Border Collies are ideally suited to agility training, for example, and have won countless awards in this sport in recent times. Like all intelligent dogs, Border Collies require constant mental stimulation. Provide them with this, and you can be sure to have a happy, enthusiastic, even-tempered dog. 

Special features

The history of the Border Collie is steeped in myth and legend. For instance, its ancestors are thought to have been brought over to Scotland by the Vikings. Due to its excellent shepherding skills, the Border Collie is said to possess hypnotic eyes with which it is able to mesmerise cows.

Old English Sheep Dog

Alternative Title

Obsolete names of the breed include Shepherd's Dog and bob-tailed sheep-dog.

Appearance

Size: 55 – 65 cm  Weight: approx. 30 kg  Colours: any shade of grey, grizzle, blue or blue merle, with optional white markings

Origin

Although this breed originates from England, its roots are more international. It has been speculated that ancestors include the Russian Owtchar, the Briard from France, the Bergamasco Shepherd, the Poodle and the Deerhound. As the name suggests, the Old English Sheepdog was originally bred as a working dog for herding.

Behavior

The Old English Sheepdog is an intelligent, good-natured dog that is eager to learn. Like other intelligent dogs, they need something productive to do, and enjoy being set specific tasks. For ideas and advice, it is worth visiting a dog training school or sports club.

Special features

Its long coat requires daily grooming to prevent tangles. If the coat becomes too tangled, it will require clipping. The Old English Sheepdog is still nicknamed Bob-tail (or Bobtail) because, historically, the tail was traditionally docked in this breed. Nowadays, many Old English Sheepdog are naturally bob-tailed (born without a tail). Although a randomly occurring trait, it became a breed preference, but has nothing to do with the former practice.

Beagle

Alternative Title

English Beagle

Appearance

Size: 33 – 40 cm  Weight: 18 – 27 kg  Colours: many colour variations are possible (apart from one solid colour) although the tricolour (white with large black areas and light brown shading) is the most common. The tail should be tipped with white.

Origin

Great Britain. Beagles were developed primarily for hunting hares in packs, an activity known as beagling. 

Behavior

Beagles have a very friendly nature. They are quiet, but excitable and affectionate, and generally get along well with other dogs. This breed is not for couch potatoes! They like long walks and plenty of opportunities to sniff around outdoors. A pack dog by nature, Beagles develop strong bonds with their family. 

Special features

Beagles tend to have wonderful temperaments, and are relatively easy to care for and adaptable. It is these characteristics that, in addition to making them popular hunting dogs and family pets, have also led to their common use in laboratory testing for medical and cosmetic research. The Beagle is also known for its endearing bark, which includes a unique, distinctive baying sound.