Saturday, March 27, 2010

Meet the Bichon Frise

The Bichon is descended from the Barbet which was a water spaniel and the name Barbichon was later shortened to Bichon and so he developed in the Mediterranean originally in four categories: the Maltais, Bolognais, Havanais and Teneriffe. They were active in antiquity often as barter as the sailors carried them between the continents. It was the Spanish sailors that introduced the breed to the Canary Island of Teneriffe. By the 1300's they had become the favorites of Italian nobility and as were other dogs of the era, they were kept in the lion cut style. The breed came to France under Francis I during the Renaissance but its greatest fame was as the pampered pet in the court of Henry III and in paintings Goya. However, after a brief life in the court of Napoleon III, the breed became the common dog which would perform in circuses and fairs. Following WWI, the breed was introduced to a breeding program and by 1934, the stud book was approved and the breed was recognized for competition by the French Kennel Club. In 1956 the Bichon came to the  were approved for the AKC Miscellaneous class and as part of the Non-Sporting Group in 1973. One of the most famous Bichon Frise was "JR" who won BIS at both Westminster and the very first AKC Eukanuba National Competition. These are often valued as pets not only for their cheerful dispositions but because they seem to be less allergenic than most breeds.

If you would like to knit the Bichon Frise design, you may order the pattern from:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Meet the Borzoi

The Borzoi, better known as the Russian Wolfhound prior to 1936, is a gaze hound that is noted for its speed, courage, agility and the ability to outrun and then hold its prey. They boast a very calm temperament that has traditionally made them as much at home in the house as in the field. Borzoi have been bred by the Russian aristocracy for hundreds of years and can be traced back to the Mongol rulers including Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Their use in hunting as a sport grew to national importance by the mid-eighteen hundreds. These dogs were bred on a such a grand scale that their owners would sometimes, to give a festive appearance to these grand hunts, use a hundred dogs, often colored to match his horses and with bridle and leashes all coordinated. The dogs were taken to an area where there were known wolves. They would then chase and hold the wolf with the dogs in a circle. When the hunters arrived, they would grab and bind the wolf which was not killed, but rather taken to another area and released far from the area where they could cause damage to farms. Tolstoy described this in War and Peace. They got a foothold in America at the beginning of the 20th century and have continued to have a faithful following.

If you'd like to knit the Borzoi design, you may order the pattern by going to

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Meet the Newfoundland

Though there is not an exact ancestor for the Newfoundland but all agree that he did come from its namesake through the St Johns dog. It doesn't really matter where the Newf is from but only that he is ideally suited for the work he has chosen to do down through the years. That work would be water rescue and they are very, very good at it. They rescue boats, oars, people in fact anything that is lost overboard, the Newf will happily go and get. This often gets translated in the modern day version of the breed who will retrieve swimmers and bring them to shore even if they don't want it. This is a very large dog whose size and strength made this work relatively easy. He has a very gentle temperament, a thick double coat that can come in black, bronze, and white with black markings better known as Landseer. This name came from the famous English artist who often painted the dogs. A number of famous people have loved these dogs including J.M.Barrie who placed the dog in his famous story Peter Pan in the character of the children's nursemaid, Nana and the poet Lord Byron whose elegy to his Newfoundland "Boatswain" written in 1808, remains today in Newstead Abbey in England. The Newfoundland is as at home on land and water. On land, his talent pulling carts and carrying packs make them their owner's helping hand. The Newfoundland makes an excellent pet for a family with owners that can deal with a dog that weighs as much as an adult man. Luckily their temperament is gentle and they will be excellent companions for children.

If you would like to knit this Newfoundland design, you may order it by going to

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meet the Miniature Schnauzer

The Schnauzer dates back possibly to the 15th century in Germany but the Miniature Schnauzer was recognized as a distinct breed in exhibition in 1899. While the breed resembles other terriers, it has a naturally happy temperament that may be influenced by the fact that they were developed by crossing the Standard Schnauzer with the Affenpinscher and possibly the Poodle. In any case, the youngest variety of Schnauzer behind the Giant and Standard, was immediately taken up into the show world due to its dapper appearance. This has also led to it being one of the most popular breeds since it was first registered. In order to hold their distinctive appearance, the breed's salt and pepper coat must be stripped and not trimmed. Though their ancestors worked as everything from herders to guard dogs, the Miniature is primarily a companion dog. His small size, about 14" and devotion to his family along with good health means that the Miniature Schnauzer is an excellent choice when choosing a new canine family member.

If you would like to knit the charted design above, you may order it from

Monday, March 8, 2010

Meet the Chow Chow

We don't know how old the Chinese Chow Chow is but it appears in a bas-relief dating back to the Han dynasty, about 150 B.C. This means that this Chinese hunting breed is more than 2000 years old and might be older. The dogs behind the breed are the old Mastiff of Tibet and the Samoyed though experts do not all agree. During the T'ang dynasty, the 7th century emperor built the world's largest kennel which is reputed to house 2500 pairs of Chow like "hounds" to be used by his 10,000 huntsmen. The origin of the Chow is the far north, though it later became very popular in the Canton district in southern China. Its name is not from the Chinese but probably from the pidgin-English name given to items imported from China. They arrived in England in the late 18th century and since 1901 they were firmly settled in the U.S. The Chow is in the non-sporting group and with good training they make excellent pets.

If you wish to knit the Chow Chow design, you may order the pattern by going to

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meet the Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever isn't from Labrador but rather from Newfoundland. Plus, the dog we know today was really developed in England. This smaller water dog, descended from the St. John dog, was brought to England when it showed a remarkable talent for retrieving. The Earl of Malmesbury, in the early 19th century, imported the dogs and in a letter he wrote in 1887, he said, "We always call my Labrador dogs, and I have kept the breed as pure as I could from the first I had from Poole, at that time carrying on a brisk trade with Newfoundland. The real breed may be known by its close coat which turns the water off like oil and above all, a tale like an otter." They are so respected in England that the breed champions are expected to have working certificates and in the U.S. as well, they are the backbone of field trial work. Because of their wonderful temperaments and dependability, they have become outstanding as guide dogs. They are the most popular breed in the U.S. by far and are the most popular pet.

If you would like to knit the Labrador Retriever design, to get the pattern simply go to

You may also order an entire collection of Labrador designs in a book that also contains a variety of patterns in which to work them as well as the stories that inspired them by going to

Friday, March 5, 2010

Meet the Old English Sheepdog

Established in the west of England in the 18th century, the Old English's ancestry is not well known. It was used by farmers as a drover's dog, moving the sheep from town to town rather than as a herding dog. It is said that the tails were docked as a sign of their profession because "drover's dogs" were exempt from taxation. Their nickname "bobtail" is felt to come from this practice. It has a profuse coat, an agile body and a tender affectionate temperament. It can be trained to do anything from retrieve to pull a sled and is not inclined to wander from home and therefore would be an excellent pet. The Old English has a distinctive rolling gait that separates it from other herding breeds.

If you wish to knit the charted design of the Old English Sheepdog, you can order the pattern by going to