Description & Information

Puppy Basics

Usually, people in USA who are acquiring a gampr pup are in one of two categories:

  • Have a farm and need a guardian
  • Want a pet

In either case, some basic health & management guidelines apply. Specifics for training a livestock guardian are on the next page.

Starting your pup off correctly can make ownership successful; not taking care of basic manners and health can cause a disaster, and impact the dog for the rest of its life.

A Gampr will grow from the size of a loaf of bread to 100 pounds within a year, and is a 'teenager' for longer - so starting off correctly is very important.

Photo at right: Gerda's eyes, by Ekaterina Kharitonova

Before your puppy arrives:

Make sure your pup has had at least one set of vaccinations - this includes, most importantly, parvo vaccine. If your pup has not had any vaccines, get one as soon as possible. These can be purchased at various stores and given at home, or, given by a veterinarian.

If your pup came from a breeder in USA associated with our club, you should have received a medical history document. This paper will tell you which vaccinations and de-worming have been given.

When bringing your pup home, do not go to any public places, do not take the puppy ANYWHERE that other dogs have been:

Your pup will be vulnerable to parvo for a few weeks, which can cause death. To keep your pup safe, do not let it be on the ground in any area where another dog has been in the last six months, unless you KNOW that the only other dog that has been there did not have parvo in the last 8 months. A dog who previously had parvo can still shed the virus for several months. Any public place may have traces of parvo virus from someone else's dog - just take your pup home and keep it there until it has had at least two vaccinations.

Medical Supplies (Vaccinations, de-wormer etc):

If you are in the Los Angeles area, most things needed can be purchased at Henco. Outside of Los Angeles, you can go to a local livestock/farm store, such as Tractor Supply, or, order online from various suppliers such as Valley Vet or Jeffers.

Growth & Development

Pups grow rapidly the first year, then slow down. They seem to continue to grow slowly for several more years. Usually, they reach their adult weight at 2-3 years.

During the first ten months, they will usually be within ten pounds of their month in age. For example, at 6 months, they will be within 10 pounds of 60: so, as low as ten less than 60 pounds, up to ten more than 60 pounds, at 6 months (50-70 pounds.

Some pups will grow more slowly, and some more quickly. Rate of growth does not always predict adult size. However, rate of growth can affect how durable the structure is throughout life: slower is better!

When pups are born, the bones are not connected. Between the ends of the bones, which are soft and pliable, are growth plates and cartilage. This is all soft tissue. The soft tissue can be stressed, strained by too much weight for each stage of development.

The first x-ray below is of a pup at 2 weeks; the second, at 10 weeks; and the third x-ray is of an adult dog with normal hips.

You can see in the first that the bones have a lot of growing to do before they can connect, and all the space between is very flexible. In the second x-ray, the beginning of the hip socket is forming, and the two pelvic plates will fuse within the following two weeks. In the third photo, sometime after two years, the pelvic plate is mature, the hip sockets have formed, and the structure is durable.

To help your pup have a long and happy life, take care of his structural growth.

Weight: your pup will grow, but keep him/her lean.

The weight of the body puts pressure on the joints, which have not yet formed, so actually the pressure is leverage on cartilage and ligaments. The less weight acting as leverage, the less strain on the connective tissue. Scientifically proven, the most effective strategy for prevention of hip dysplasia is to keep your dog lean. For more about hip dysplasia, the Institute of Canine Biology has some interesting blog posts - see also Managing the risks of hip dysplasia.

The pup at right is 6 months, and very lean. She is quite large for her age, growth is faster than average. Her structural integrity is excellent. A little too excellent - she jumps over 5 foot tall fences.

Exercise: Normal exercise for pups includes wresting and running on rough terrain. This develops the muscles, which are like rubber bands holding the bones, ligaments and cartilage together in the correct places. If the muscular strength cannot hold all parts together well, your pup is more likely to pull or tear some connective tissue. This then can cause improper wear on the soft edges of new bone, which then causes the body to add more calcium to the abraded bone surface, the beginning of a destructive cycle.

Hiking on trails, wrestling with other dogs, playing in water are all good exercise for a growing pup. Never force a puppy to do more than she is comfortable with. Playing is often in short bursts with naps in between. The most active times are in early mornings and late afternoon/just after dark. Puppies often sleep most of the day.

Food

In Armenia, gamprs do not have kibble food. Kibble is basically a meat & starch cookie. Theoretically, it is designed to be a complete diet on its own. However, your gampr will really appreciate raw or cooked meat, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, and other things.

Puppies should have kibble (dry) food available at all times for a few reasons.

  • They are hungry often, and it is best that they eat frequently in small amounts rather than eating a lot at once.
  • If they do not wait too long to eat, they will not gorge quickly on dry kibble, then need a lot of water suddenly which causes all that kibble to swell up and stretch the stomach, producing gas and discomfort.
  • There is a more relaxed attitude about food and feeding. They will be less likely to develop strong 'resource guarding' habits, and less likely to be anxious about the food dish and when they will get fed.
  • It's easier for you to just make sure the dish is full, and not worry about it.

If you'd like to feed raw or cooked meat, your pup will be happy. If it's good enough for humans, its fine for the pup. Preferably, no raw pork. But other meats can be given safely. Too much raw meat without bones will cause diarrhea. Too much small, soft bones that can be chewed and eaten will cause constipation. Too many raw eggs will cause diarrhea. Canned evaporated milk and canned pumpkin can help if there is diarrhea from an unbalanced meal.

Treats

There are a lot of good options for treats. Do not give so many treats that their regular meal is compromised. But, treats are a very good training aid.

Some unconventional but effective treats are pork rinds, bits of cheese, slices of hot dog or sausage, or jerky.

Bones

Bones are very important. Give large real bones. Do not give rawhide. Rawhide is not digestible. A gampr in Oregon recently had stomach surgery to remove a large impaction of rawhide. If your gampr has good bones to chew on, your furniture, landscape and shoes will probably last longer. Chewing on bones also occupies your pup, keeps him more peaceful and cleans his teeth.