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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The Cesky (pronounced ches-kee) is a small dog characterized by a long, blunt, wedge-shaped head with a bearded face, drop ears, a long body, and a long, silky, gray coat.
The Cesky Terrier is one of those breeds developed to work a certain type of terrain: in his case, the forests of Bohemia. The Cesky’s quarry ranges from duck and pheasant to fox, rabbit, and wild boar.
The lively Cesky Terrier is small, but he's never called quiet or low energy. Like any terrier, he loves to dig. He also has a deep, loud bark. Expect him to chase and try to kill small animals and birds. He’ll need a securely fenced yard to keep him safe from traffic or loss. The Cesky needs plenty of daily exercise and enjoys a good game of fetch with a tennis ball.
The Cesky has a body that is longer than it is tall, with his back rising slightly over the loin and rump area. His head is shaped like a long, blunt wedge, and his medium-size ears have a triangular shape and hang down. The Cesky's eyes are almond shaped and usually brown or dark brown with a friendly expression.
He might be the right size for a lap, but that is too boring for the energetic Cesky. He’s not as excitable as some Terrier breeds, but he always wants to be active. Keep food well out of his reach. He will take any opportunity to steal it. Not surprisingly, he is also prone to obesity.
A Cesky loves his family but may be aloof toward strangers. Early socialization is essential with this breed to ensure that he is accepting of guests, people on the street, children, and other animals. He loves being with his family and will be unhappy and destructive if left out in the yard with little interaction.
Be firm, fair, and consistent when training this intelligent and independent-minded dog. He may have a short attention span, so keep training sessions brief and interesting. He responds best to positive reinforcement techniques using praise, play, and food rewards -- never force.
Cesky puppies need daily grooming, and adults must be brushed twice a week. To maintain its appearance, the coat must be trimmed every three to five weeks. You can have it done professionally or learn to do it yourself. You’ll want to clean the beard after the dog eats or drinks. Other grooming needs are regular nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental hygiene
The Cesky is a terror when it comes to toys. He can destroy them in no time flat. Supervise play or resign yourself to frequently purchasing replacements.
In 1949, Scottish Terrier breeder and avid hunter Frantisik Horak of what is now the Czech Republic crossed his Scotties with Sealyham Terriers to create what would become the Cesky (chess-key) Terrier, an elegant, pack-hunting terrier with a long, soft, silky coat.
Horak loved the hunting skills of his Scottish Terriers and the personality of the Sealyham Terrier but not the Sealyham's white coat. He believed that breeding the two would produce a dog that would get along while hunting in packs.
The dogs Horak first crossed were a Scottish Terrier bitch named Donka Lovuzdar, who was both a hunting dog and a conformation show dog, and a Sealyham named Buganier Urquelle, who belonged to a hunting pack of Sealyhams. By selecting for the traits he wanted (a dog that could go hunting on a Friday and be easily washed and brushed out and ready to compete in conformation showing on Saturday and Sunday), his cross produced a dog with excellent scenting abilities and a soft coat of gray. He designed a haircut using clippers and scissors that would show off the Cesky’s muscle and soft coat and give a slim appearance.
Horak’s documentation of the dogs’ pedigrees and the crosses he made make it one of the rare breeds that can be traced all the way back to its founders. Horak died in 1996, probably before American Kennel Club recognition was even a twinkle in his eye, but he did live long enough to see the breed makes its way to the United States in the 1980s. The American Kennel Club recognized the Cesky Terrier in 2011.
As with all breeds, the Cesky is not right for everyone. He might be more laid-back than some Terrier breeds, but he is still very much a Terrier. A Cesky puppy is a handful, with lots of energy. Ceskies like to hunt and dig, and they need daily exercise in a secure yard. He’ll chase a ball and retrieve it, and he enjoys going for walks. Ceskies don’t like being left alone for long periods and may become nuisance barkers if they don’t have regular activity and companionship to channel their energy. The Cesky enjoys and excels at at agility, rally, and tracking.
The Cesky’s alert nature, wariness toward strangers, and deep, loud bark make him an excellent watchdog. He is loyal to his owner, but a lack of socialization during puppyhood can make him more reserved toward or even fearful of strangers. Your new puppy needs daily walks and trips to dog-friendly places so he can meet people and see, smell, and hear new things.
Like most Terriers, the Cesky can be stubborn. That doesn’t mean he’s unintelligent, just that you will have to use patience and cunning to train him. Keep training sessions short and fun. Use lots of praise and rewards such as play and treats when he does something you like. Always be firm and consistent in what you ask of him so that he doesn’t get confused about what you want or think that he can get away with things. He is sensitive, though, so avoid harsh corrections. You should be able to convey your displeasure through expression and tone of voice, never by yelling or hitting.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Cesky Terrier, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit disease. Run from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed has no known problems, or whose puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the frequency with which they occur in her lines.
That said, the Cesky Terrier is a healthy breed. One of its foundation breeds, the Sealyham Terrier, can have an eye condition called lens luxation, so it is recommended that the Cesky’s eyes be tested annually.
The American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association code of ethics calls for breeding dogs to be tested for any inheritable defects for which a test is available, such as progressive retinal atrophy or hip dysplasia, and to have certification of the result from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, or the PennHIP program. Some Cesky Terriers may develop a hereditary condition called Scottie Cramp, which occasionally affects the dog’s gait. It is not generally serious.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a food-loving Cesky at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Cesky is a coated breed, so don’t get one if you’re not willing to put in time for grooming. Cesky puppies need daily grooming, and adults must be brushed once or twice a week. To maintain its appearance, the coat must be trimmed every four to six weeks. You’ll also want to clean your dog's beard after he eats or drinks. You can have him groomed professionally or learn to do it yourself.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the best dog for you and will, without question, have done all the certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She should be more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who tell you only good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and will come back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Find more information about the Cesky Terrier and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the ACTFA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also remember that buying a puppy from one of those “instant pet” websites leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Cesky Terrier puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment and come from parents with health clearances, conformation (show), and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Cesky Terrier might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult dog, you know exactly what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home.
A breeder isn’t the only source for a Cesky Terrier. They can also be found through breed rescue groups and animal shelters. If you like the idea of rescuing a dog and don’t mind getting an adult rather than a puppy, adoption is a great way to go.
That said, the Cesky is a rare breed, and it’s uncommon to find one in a rescue situation. The American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association is a good place to start your search. But don’t overlook your local animal shelter: It’s not impossible for a Cesky Terrier to be found in a shelter after becoming lost or losing his home to an owner’s death, divorce, or changed economic situation. You can also search Petfinder for an adoptable Cesky Terrier in your area.
Here are some tips to help you find and adopt the right dog from a rescue group or shelter:
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com can have you searching for a Cesky Terrier in your area in no time. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (house-training status, for example) or very general (all of the Cesky Terriers available on Petfinder across the country). Animal Shelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Some local newspapers even have a “pets looking for homes” section you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Cesky Terrier. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Cesky Terriers love all Cesky Terriers. That's why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The National Cesky Terrier Club of America's rescue program can help you find a dog that could be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Cesky Terrier rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very up front about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so that with training, you could bring a Cesky Terrier home to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he house-trained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Cesky Terrier, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Whether he's a puppy or adult, take your Cesky Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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