Get to know Tamaskan Dogs

Have you heard of the tamaskan dog breed

We spoke with talented photographer Michelle Fernandes Fox about her adorable Tamaskan dogs, Phoenix and Pepper, and about their unique role in fostering cats to help them find their forever home. (Stay tuned for our upcoming Dogs of the Day post all about this unique relationship!) We had no idea though that these gorgeous puppies that caught our eye on Instagram weren’t huskies, and in fact are a breed of dog that isn’t yet even recognized by major kennel clubs. Michelle was happy to provide us with some great information for those of you who might be interested in learning more about the Tamaskan breed.

Michelle and Dan Fox with Phoenix and Pepper

Pepper, Dan, Phoenix and Michelle. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

About Tamaskans

Tamaskans are a fairly rare dog breed. They have been used in film and television to play wolves (like in The Hunstman  with Chris Hemsworth). The breed apparently originated in Europe (Michelle and her partner Dan are from the UK so she first heard about them when they lived there).
Pepper. Photo Courtesy of Fox Photography

Pepper. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

Michelle explained that Tamaskans are currently not recognized by any major kennel clubs but are recognized by ARBA (American Rare Breed Association). She also warned that there is a lot of misinformation out there about the breed and steered us clear of the Wikipedia page which is currently incorrect.
Phoenix. Photo Courtesy of Fox Photography

Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

“I researched this breed for 7 years before I got one… I was drawn to the breed partly because of the breeding practices. The aim of the original breeders was to breed a healthy dog over looks.”
Pepper and Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

Pepper and Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

Unique breeding practices

Some of the breeding practices that attracted Michelle to Tamaskans are as follows:
  • A female Tamaskan can only be bred once she is 2 years old, and then once a year for a maximum of 3 times in her life. Michelle says that most breeders do less (Pepper’s mother was bred only once and Phoenix’s mother only twice).
  • Before you breed, you need to submit your combination to the Tamaskan dog register board to approve the pairing
  • All potential breeding dogs, before approved, have to pass health tests (hips, elbows, DM testing, CAER, etc)
  • Dogs must pass a certain COI (coefficient of inbreeding) % test to ensure they are not related before breeding. This is to avoid the inbreeding and associated issues that are sometimes seen with irresponsible breeders. It meant that Pepper’s breeder had to drive to the US to find a suitable stud dog and so did Phoenix’s breeder. Breeders are also having to import dogs to make sure the bloodline is diversified. Pepper’s mum is imported from England and her dad was in the US, imported from Scotland. Phoenix’s mum was from Canada and her dad was in the US, imported from Germany.

The Process To Get A Puppy- Worth the wait

The other thing Michelle and Dan really liked was the ‘getting a puppy’ process.
Pepper and Phoenix play fighting. Photo Courtesy of Fox Photography

Pepper and Phoenix play fighting. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

– They had to register their interest with the breeders. There was a 2 year waiting list for Pepper and 1 year waiting list for Phoenix
– They had to submit an application form with questions including their financials to ensure they could take care of the dogs. Once approved, they went on the wait list.
– The puppies go through a temperament test so they are matched to each family according to personality (so an emphasis is put on temperament over looks).
– All puppies are microchipped and the second person on the microchip is the breeder

Registering to be a responsible pet owner

Look at those tongues! Photo Courtesy of Fox Photography

Look at those tongues! Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

Most importantly though, Michelle and Dan say, you have to sign a contract. It states that if you cannot look after the dog, you have to return it to the breeder.  This is why there are no Tamaskans in rescues that we know of. That’s not to say that there aren’t any that need rescuing, but they go back to the breeder who finds a new home. Michelle and Dan also have a pet only contract which means they cannot breed.

They are currently working on a Tamaskan database which shows the family tree of the registered Tamaskans (going back a few generations).  It lists the health information for the breeding dogs (so for example are there any who are carriers of any diseases).  Although Michelle and Dan’s dogs are listed on the database, they have spayed both their dogs haven’t health tested them as they won’t be breeding.  However should she choose to health test them in the future, they would note the results down on the database.
Pepper and Phoenix in the snow. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

Pepper and Phoenix in the snow. Photo courtesy of Fox Photography

Check out more amazing photos taken by Michelle and Dan on their website!

Have you heard of the Tamaskan Breed? Is your dog a unique breed? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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