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Dwarf hamsters may be kept in same-sex pairs if they are raised together. Otherwise, keep adult hamsters housed separately due to their solitary nature. And don't house different species of small animals together. A well-balanced dwarf hamster diet consists of high-quality lab blocks, which contain the complete nutrients and vitamins a hamster needs. You can also provide limited amounts of grain, vegetables, fruit, and Timothy hay. Supplemental food should not exceed 10 percent of your hamster's total daily diet to assure it is getting the correct nutrition it needs to stay healthy.

In addition to fresh food, make sure to supply your hamster with filtered, chlorine-free water daily.

Any vegetables and fruit not eaten within 24 hours should be discarded. And do not feed your dwarf hamster chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol, as these food items can cause serious medical conditions. Also, avoid sugar and high fat treats.

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Dwarf hamsters can succumb to a variety of health problems. These include abnormal hair loss, skin lesions, digestive problems complete with diarrhea or a dirty bottom, teeth problems, and diabetes, to name just a few. Hair loss and skin lesions can result from several different issues. The most common is the appearance of bald spots from rubbing up against things or from getting picked on by cage mates. Abscesses or any unknown condition should be inspected by your vet. A round of antibiotics or another medicine will likely be prescribed to resolve the issue.

Digestive upset usually goes along with some type of infection of the digestive tract. Wet tail —a bacterial infection—sometimes results from stressful living conditions or improper care and is highly contagious. Hamsters with wet tail should be treated immediately by a veterinarian, as this condition can lead to death within 48 to 72 hours. Dwarf hamsters, especially Campbell's hamsters and Chinese hamsters, are prone to diabetes.

However, this can easily be prevented by assuring your pet's diet is low in sugar and providing plenty of opportunity for exercise. A hamster's teeth must be worn down by chewing to prevent tooth overgrowth which can affect its eating habits. Providing high-quality chewable materials prevents both overgrowth and decay. If you notice your hamster's long teeth becoming a problem, have them trimmed by the vet, and then assure proper care following the procedure.

Generally speaking, a healthy hamster is active, alert, and social and eats and drinks regularly. If you notice the appearance or behavior of your hamster is a little "off," don't hesitate to contact your vet. If your children are begging to get a dwarf hamster as an introduction to pet caretaking, it's best to buy your pet from a reputable breeder. Search the web or contact local pet stores to find one near you.

If you plan to purchase a hamster at a pet store, observe the litter first. Choose one that looks healthy, happy, and alert.

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Do note, however, that due to a hamster's nocturnal nature, the selection may seem shy and docile in the store. If you have any concerns about the hamsters you're visiting, don't hesitate to look elsewhere and report the vendor to your local chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ASPCA.

Pasterns are short, thick and strong, but still flexible, showing a slight angle when viewed from the side. Dewclaws are generally removed. Feet are small, round and tight. Nails are short, strong and black.

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The coat is short on the face, ears, front of the forelegs and on the hocks; it is medium length on the body, and longer in the ruff, cape, jabot and culottes. The ruff begins in back of the ears and extends completely around the neck; the cape forms an additional distinct layer extending beyond the ruff; the jabot extends across the chest and down between the front legs. The hair down the middle of the back, starting just behind the cape and continuing over the rump, lies flat. It is slightly shorter than the cape but longer than the hair on the sides of the body and sides of the legs.

The coat on the rear of the thighs forms culottes, which should be as long as the ruff. Lack of differentiation in coat lengths should be heavily penalized, as it is an essential breed characteristic. The hocks are well let down and the stifles are well bent.

Extreme angulation is to be penalized. From the rear, the legs extend straight down from the hip through the hock to the feet.

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Dewclaws must be removed. Standing no higher than 13 inches, Schipperkes are small dogs built for hard work. Schips were created as ratters and watchdogs. Their powerful jaws, necks, and forequarters—coupled with a stealthy, catlike hunting style—make them ideal rat-catching machines. The black coat is profuse around the neck, shoulders, and legs, giving the breed a silhouette that accentuates a thick, substantial body.

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The foxy face completes the unique look of a unique breed. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Clean, fresh water should always be available. During these periods, more frequent brushing will help to keep the amount of shed hair under control. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort.

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Schipperkes are very active, energetic, and busy little dogs. A brisk daily walk or a romp in a fenced yard will provide needed exercise. They love playing and exploring, and they thrive in households that have the time and patience to properly train them and appreciate their playful personalities. Schips can also let off steam racing around the house or apartment. Due to their watchdog tendencies, Schipperkes can turn into barkers if not taught otherwise. Equally happy in an apartment or a home with a large yard, they should be kept on leash when not in a fenced area and should be taken to obedience classes.

Schips absolutely need to be trained to come when called as early as possible, due to their instinctive urge to go exploring. They have an independent nature and can be a challenge to train. With persistent and patient owners, they can learn almost anything and can excel in sports such as obedience and agility. Some also do quite well at herding. Breeders can also test for MPS IIIB, a newly recognized and fatal disease that usually shows up by years of age as balance problems, and avoid producing the disease by identifying carriers and breeding them appropriately.

Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog has a long, healthy life. The breed earned its fame as shipboard exterminators on the canals that crisscrossed the Low Countries. The little black avenger of the Belgian dockyards was also a fearless watchdog on barges and in city shops. Compare Breeds Compare up to 5 different breeds side by side.

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Find out the best and worst foods for your dog and which to avoid. Additional Resources AKC. Get Started in Dog Training. Clubs Offering: Training Classes.