Pet Tales: Mixed breeds most popular

Labrador retrievers are the most popular breed on the American Kennel Club list for the 23rd consecutive year, but guess which dogs top a list released by a pet vet insurance company?

That would be mixed breed dogs. They made up nearly 30 percent of all canines enrolled with Pets Best Insurance Services in 2013. "Mixed" includes so-called "designer breeds," including Labradoodles and goldendoodles. Its No. 2 dog was the Labrador retriever. Pit bulls were seventh, and on its list that includes American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers.

Am Staffs were 76th on the AKC list.

The last place AKC breed is English foxhounds, 177th.

Top cat breeds on the insurance list were domestic shorthair, mixed breed and American shorthair.

Here are the top AKC breeds in 2013:

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd dog

3. golden retriever

4. beagle

5. bulldog

6. Yorkshire terrier

7. boxer

8. poodle

9. Rottweiler

10. dachshund

The top AKC breeds in Pittsburgh were slightly different:

1. Labrador retriever

2. golden retriever

3. German shepherd dog

4. Yorkshire terrier

5. boxer

6. bulldog

7. French bulldog

8. beagle

9. poodle

10. Rottweiler

French bulldogs were 11th on the AKC's national list.

Here're the top Pets Best dogs:

1. mixed breed

2. Labrador retriever

3. Yorkshire terrier

4. golden retriever

5. Chihuahua

6. Shih Tzu

7. pit bull

8. dachshund

9. German shepherd dog

10. Maltese and English bulldog (tie)

The top cats from Pets Best:

1. domestic shorthair

2. mixed breed

3. American shorthair

4. domestic longhair

5. domestic medium hair

6. Siamese

7. Maine coon

9. ragdoll

10. Persian

These lists come with my own personal disclaimer: Just because a breed is on a Top Ten list doesn't mean it's the right dog or cat for you and your family. Do your research.

For instance, the uber-popular Labrador retriever is pretty big and quite boisterous, and they need a lot of exercise and activity. Labs love people, including children, but they often show their affection by jumping up on people and they can knock toddlers and older adults off their feet. They are also world-class pullers when walked on leash. Labs should be enrolled in obedience training classes, where the good news is they tend to enjoy that and do really well because they are smart, they like to learn and are eager to please owners who combine a firm hand with lavish praise.

Of course all dogs benefit from a round of classes taught by a good trainer.

Call this the column of lists, and here's another one. Petplan Pet Insurance compiled the top 10 reasons their canine and feline clients visited a veterinarian in 2013. They included the average cost "per incident":

1. Vomiting and diarrhea, $533.

2. Cancer, $1,316.

3. Lameness, $565.

4. Skin infections, $257.

5. Allergies, $501.

6. Peridontal disease, $494.

7. Ear infections, $181.

8. Cruciate (knee) injuries, $2,435.

9. Urinary tract infections, $317.

10. Foreign body ingestion, $1,394.

Number 8 is interesting and timely. As if this extremely cold, snowy winter isn't unpleasant enough, orthopedic injuries in pets occur more often in February, according to Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan.

Broken legs, lameness and ligament tears in February show a 26.5 percent increase compared to October, Dr. Benson said in a news release. Treatment of a cruciate ligament tear (similar to ACL injuries in people) averages $2,435 but can soar as high as $14,000. Veterinary bills for broken legs are $1,000 to $10,000. A paw cut by ice can result in an average vet bill of $315.

So be careful out there.

Westminster Award

Josey, the Rottweiler therapy dog featured in Pet Tales last week, won an "Award of Merit" last Tuesday at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York City. Thirty-two Rotties competed at the big show, and only six won special recognition.

Her official name is Champion Beach's Summer Lovin', and she is owned by Hollee Russell, a UPMC flight nurse who lives in Harrison City, Westmoreland County. Josey's litter mate, Champion Big Beach's Rhumba Man, also won an Award of Merit, which is a copper-colored boxed medallion. Josey and her brother, born Nov. 21, 2011, were the youngest Rottweilers competing at Wesminster.

Manhattan is very dog-friendly during the show, and Josey visited an art gallery show, Macy's and Barneys.

Ask the trainer

Get free tips and advice at the Ask The Trainer event from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 23 at Petagogy natural pet supply store, 5880 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside.

Dog trainer Nicole Garritano will be available to help people "manage their dogs' specific behavioral issues." You're welcome to bring your dog with you, but you don't have to.

Ms. Garritano has been "a bully breed trainer," rescuer and advocate for more than seven years. She's been instructing classes at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Petco in Greensburg and Aunt Penny's. Her own pets are pit bulls, Nash and Nala.

Go to or call 412-362-7387 for further information.