Category Archives: Breeding

Before you get your puppy

Published on Dog Star Daily and written by Dr. Ian Dunbar, this free, puppy training booklet is filled with excellent advice and training guidelines for the new puppy owner. It can be easily downloaded from the  site so breeders can share the link with their new puppy owners to prepare them to properly manage the puppy, even before they take that new baby home. All breeders want to give their puppies the best opportunity to develop into the perfect family pet, and this booklet will give you, the breeder, a foundation for helping those new owners create a home and environment to start those pups off on the right foot.

Shared by:  Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

BEFORE YOU GET YOUR PUPPY

This book is simply a MUST READ for anyone thinking of getting a puppy. Puppies should be raised in an errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training set-up.  This is very easy to do and everything you need to know is described in this little book.  Otherwise, if puppies are allowed to eliminate anywhere and chew anything in their kennel, that’s what they’ll continue to do when you bring them home.  Most important, puppies must be socialized before they are three months old.  Preventing fearfulness and aggression is easy and fun whereas trying to resolve adult problems is difficult, time-consuming and not always successful.

Please download and email this book to every prospective and new puppy owner that you know in order to help spread the word that Puppyhood is the Time to Rescue Adult Shelter Dogs.

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/you-get-your-puppy

 

AKC Code of Sportsmanship

AKC CODE OF SPORTSMANSHIP

PREFACE: The sport of purebred dog competitive events dates prior to 1884, the year of AKC’s birth. Shared values of those involved in the sport include principles of sportsmanship. They are practiced in all sectors of our sport: conformation, performance and companion. Many believe that these principles of sportsmanship are the prime reason why our sport has thrived for over one hundred years. With the belief that it is useful to periodically articulate the fundamentals of our sport, this code is presented.

  • Sportsmen respect the history, traditions and integrity of the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Sportsmen commit themselves to values of fair play, honesty, courtesy, and vigorous competition, as well as winning and losing with grace.
  • Sportsmen refuse to compromise their commitment and obligation to the sport of purebred dogs by injecting personal advantage or consideration into their decisions or behavior.
  • The sportsman judge judges only on the merits of the dogs and considers no other factors.
  • The sportsman judge or exhibitor accepts constructive criticism.
  • The sportsman exhibitor declines to enter or exhibit under a judge where it might reasonably appear that the judge’s placements could be based on something other than the merits of the dogs.
  • The sportsman exhibitor refuses to compromise the impartiality of a judge.
  • The sportsman respects the AKC bylaws, rules, regulations and policies governing the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Sportsmen find that vigorous competition and civility are not inconsistent and are able to appreciate the merit of their competition and the effort of competitors.
  • Sportsmen welcome, encourage and support newcomers to the sport.
  • Sportsmen will deal fairly with all those who trade with them.
  • Sportsmen are willing to share honest and open appraisals of both the strengths and weaknesses of their breeding stock.
  • Sportsmen spurn any opportunity to take personal advantage of positions offered or bestowed upon them.
  • Sportsmen always consider as paramount the welfare of their dog.
  • Sportsmen refuse to embarrass the sport, the American Kennel Club, or themselves while taking part in the sport.

Feature photo by Dustin Hartje

Furnishings and the Three Genes That Account for Them

Thank you Silvia Timmermann for the various photographs used here to show the differences in the Gordon Setter furnishings.

From: National Purebred Dog Day

NPPD published this interesting article that explains how the furnishings on our Gordon Setter are inherited.

Furnishings, and Three Genes That Account for Them

“Furnishings” doesn’t refer just to furniture. The word itself is quite old and can be traced to back the 16th century and the Middle French word, “fournir,” which morphed into “fourniture”  to mean “a supply,” or the act of furnishing. In the dog world, “furnishings” refers to long hair on the extremities of certain breeds. In some wire-haired breeds, it can refer to a longer mustache, beard and eyebrows, while in setters, furnishings refers to the flowing hair coming off the dog’s body.

coat0Interestingly, variants in only three genes govern coat length, curl and furnishings. It was something discovered in 2009 by Edouard Cadieu and Elaine A. Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute who looked at some 900 dogs representing 80 breeds. They were able to identify mutations at specific points, or loci, on three genes linked to fur length, curliness and growth pattern (what we call “furnishings”).  When they looked at the three loci on the genes of another 662 dogs representing 108 breeds — from Old English Sheepdogs to Pugs – they found that the presence of the mutations or not, in various combinations, accounted for the variation in coat in 95 percent of the breeds. Only a few breeds, including Afghan hounds, have coats that can’t be explained by these genes.

Here is the link to the study itself:

Coat Variation in the Domestic Dog Is Governed by Variants in Three Genes

Abstract

coat11Coat color and type are essential characteristics of domestic dog breeds. Although the genetic basis of coat color has been well characterized, relatively little is known about the genes influencing coat growth pattern, length, and curl. We performed genome-wide association studies of more than 1000 dogs from 80 domestic breeds to identify genes associated with canine fur phenotypes. Taking advantage of both inter- and intrabreed variability, we identified distinct mutations in three genes, RSPO2, FGF5, and KRT71 (encoding R-spondin–2, fibroblast growth factor–5, and keratin-71, respectively), that together account for most coat phenotypes in purebred dogs in the United States. Thus, an array of varied and seemingly complex phenotypes can be reduced to the combinatorial effects of only a few genes.

The tremendous phenotypic diversity of modern dog breeds represents the end point of a >15,000-year experiment in artificial and natural selection (1, 2). As has been demonstrated for traits such as body size (3) and coat color (4), marker-based associations with phenotypic traits can be explored within single breeds to initially identify regions of genetic association, and then expanded to multiple breeds for fine-mapping and mutation scanning (5, 6). Coat (pelage) phenotypes are particularly amenable to this strategy as they show a huge amount of variation across breeds but still allow for simple variation within single breeds (7). This offers a unique strategy for advancing the genetic understanding of a complex phenotype.

coat8We used the structured pattern of fur variation in dogs to localize the genetic basis of three characteristics of the canine coat: (i) the presence or absence of “furnishings,” the growth pattern marked by a moustache and eyebrows typically observed in wire-haired dogs; (ii) hair length; and (iii) the presence or absence of curl. To accomplish this, we generated three genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data sets using the Affymetrix version 2.0 canine SNP chip (8, 9). The first data set consisted of 96 dachshunds segregating three coat varieties: wire-haired with furnishings, smooth, and long-haired without furnishings. The second data set comprised 76 Portuguese water dogs (PWDs), segregating the curl phenotype. The final data set, termed CanMap, included 903 dogs from 80 breeds representing a wide variety of phenotypes. An additional data set used to map furnishings included a panel of microsatellite markers (10), genotyped on a 96-dachshund pedigree segregating all three coat varieties.

coat5The same strategy was used to map all three traits. First, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) within a breed segregating the phenotype was conducted to determine the most strongly associated locus. To rule out false-positives caused by population structure within the breeds (11), we did a second GWAS that used the CanMap data set divided into cases and controls based on the presence or absence of the phenotype in question. Fine-mapping of significant, concordant peaks was used to define the smallest shared haplotype, followed by sequencing to identify the putative causative mutations. Each mutation was validated in a large panel of at least 661 dogs from 108 breeds, including cases and controls for all phenotypes (table S1).

We initially mapped furnishings in the dachshund using smooth-coated and long-haired dogs as controls and wire-haired dogs as cases (Fig. 1A). Single-marker analysis of the dachshund GWAS data set and concurrent linkage analysis of the dachshund pedigree identified the same locus on canine chromosome 13 (CFA13) surrounding nucleotide 11,095,120 [P = 3.4 × 10−27, lod score (logarithm of the odds ratio for linkage) = 5.6; Fig. 1B]. We confirmed the association on CFA13 in the CanMap data set at nucleotide 11,659,792 (P = 10−241; Fig. 1C and table S2). A 718-kb homozygous haplotype in all dogs fixed with furnishings was located within both the original 3.4-Mb haplotype observed in the dachshund-only GWAS, and a 2.8-Mb haplotype identified in crossover analysis within the dachshund pedigree (Fig. 1D).

Fig. 1

GWAS and fine-mapping identify RSPO2 as the associated gene for moustache and eyebrow growth pattern (furnishings). (A) Three types of coat segregate in dachshunds: (from left to right) smooth-coated, long-haired, and wire-haired with furnishings. (B

Fine-mapping allowed us to reduce the homozygous region to 238 kb spanning only the R-spondin–2 (RSPO2) gene, excluding the 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR) and the first exon (Fig. 1D, fig. S1, and table S3). RSPO2 is an excellent candidate for a hair-growth phenotype as it synergizes with Wnt to activate β-catenin (12), and Wnt signaling is required for the establishment of the hair follicles (13, 14). Moreover, the Wnt-catenin pathway is involved in the development of hair-follicle tumors, or pilo-matricomas (15), which occur most frequently in breeds that have furnishings (16). Recent studies have shown that a mutation in the EDAR gene, also involved in the Wnt pathway, is responsible for a coarse East-Asian hair type found in humans (17), with some similarity to canine wirehair.

All exons and conserved regions of RSPO2 were sequenced in dogs from seven breeds (table S4). Only an insertion of 167 base pairs (bp) within the 3′UTR at position 11,634,766 was perfectly associated with the furnishings trait in dogs from both the case/control study and the extended pedigree (table S5). The result was further confirmed in a set of 704 dogs of varying phenotypes. In total, 297 of 298 dogs with furnishings were either homozygous (268) or heterozygous (29) for the insertion, and all 406 dogs lacking the trait were homozygous for the ancestral state, as is consistent with a dominant mode of inheritance (table S1).

This mutation does not affect the protein-coding region of the RSPO2 gene. However, because the 3′UTR frequently encodes elements that influence mRNA stability [reviewed in (18)], we examined whether the insertion was associated with a change in the expression level of the RSPO2 gene. We found a threefold increase in RSPO2 transcripts in muzzle skin biopsies of dogs with furnishings, consistent with a transcript effect (fig. S2).

We applied the same mapping strategy to hair length. Previously, mutations in the FGF5 gene were identified in Welsh corgis segregating an atypical “fluffy” or long-haired phenotype (19) and associated with excess hair growth in mice and cats (2022). Our study replicates these findings in an extended breed set. Indeed, association analyses in both the dachshund and CanMap data sets highlight the region on CFA32 containing FGF5 with P values of 3 × 10−27 and 9 × 10−44, respectively. After fine-mapping, a 67-kb homozygous region highlighted the FGF5 gene (Fig. 2A, fig. S3, and table S6). The strongest association was observed at position 7,473,337 (P = 1 × 10−157), in which a highly conserved Cys is changed to Phe (Cys95→Phe) in exon 1 of FGF5, consistent with the previous study (19). Sequencing within the homozygous haplotype revealed no SNPs with stronger association (table S7).

Fig. 2

Regions of homozygosity identify genes for pelage length and curl. (A) Homozygous region found on CFA32 defining the length locus. The red bar indicates the 520-kb associated haplotype from 29 long-haired dachshunds; the blue bar spans the 125-kb homozygous

This diagnostic SNP was typed in several hundred additional dogs of varying hair length. Within the dachshunds, all long-haired dogs had the TT genotype, whereas all short or wire-haired dogs had either the GT or GG genotypes, suggesting a recessive mode of inheritance, as predicted previously (23). Across all breeds, the T allele was found in 91% of the long-haired dogs, in only 3.9% of the short-haired dogs, and accounts for ~30% of genotypes found in medium-haired dogs. Three breeds with very long hair, including the Afghan hound, neither carry the Cys95→Phe variant nor show an association with CFA32, suggesting that additional loci exist that contribute to hair length in dogs (table S1).

To identify the gene that causes curly coat, we conducted a GWAS using PWDs (Fig. 2B) and identified a single associated SNP at position 5,444,030 on CFA27 (P = 4.5 × 10−7). A SNP in close proximity (5,466,995; P = 6.9 × 10−28) was associated with curly coat in the CanMap data set. Fine-mapping revealed a shared homozygous haplotype that included two keratin genes (Fig. 2C, fig. S4, and table S8). Sequence data covering 87% of the homozygous region identified one SNP at position 5,542,806 that segregated with the trait. Non–curly haired dogs carried the CC genotype; curly coated dogs had the TT genotype. In breeds where the trait segregates, such as PWDs, all three genotypes were observed. The relevant SNP is located in the KRT71 gene (previously called K6irs1, Kb34, and K71) and causes a nonsynonymous Arg151→Trp alteration (table S9). Genotyping an additional 661 samples at this SNP validated the association (P = 3 × 10−92) (table S1).

Keratins are obvious candidates for hair growth [reviewed in (24)], and mutations in KRT71 have been described in curly coated mice (25). The mutation described in our study is within the second exon of the gene and may affect either or both of two protein domains: a coiled-coil and a prefoldin domain (www.ensembl.org/Canis_familiaris/). Conceivably, sequence alterations in these domains could affect cellular targeting, receptor binding, or proper folding of the protein after translation [reviewed in (26)].

Notably, these three mutations in various combinations explain the observed pelage phenotype of 95% of dogs sampled, which include 108 of the ~160 American Kennel Club (AKC)–recognized breeds. A total of 622 dogs representing all identifiable coat phenotypes were genotyped at all three loci (table S10). By analyzing each of the three major traits both within and across multiple breeds, we show that combinations of these genotypes give rise to at least seven different coat types, encompassing most coat variation in modern domestic dogs (Fig. 3). Specifically, short-haired breeds display the ancestral state in all three genes. Wire-haired breeds, all of which have furnishings, carry the RSPO2 insertion. Dogs that carry both the RSPO2 and KRT71 mutations display “curly-wire” hair that is similar in texture to wire-hair but longer and curled or kinked rather than straight. Long-haired breeds carry the variant form of FGF5. Dogs carrying the FGF5 mutation, along with the RSPO2 insertion, have furnishings and long soft coats, rather than wiry ones. When dogs carry variants in both FGF5 and KRT71, the pelage is long and curly. Not surprisingly, coats must be of sufficient length to curl, and all curly haired dogs in our study were homozygous for the FGF5 mutation. Finally, if all three mutations are present, the phenotype is long and curly with furnishings.

Fig. 3

Combinations of alleles at three genes create seven different coat phenotypes. Plus (+) and minus signs (−) indicate the presence or absence of variant (nonancestral) genotype. A characteristic breed is represented for each of the seven combinations

None of the mutations we observed were found in three gray wolves or the short-haired dogs, indicating that short-haired dogs carry the ancestral alleles (table S1). Our finding of identical haplotypes surrounding the variants in all dogs displaying the same coat type suggests that a single mutation occurred for each trait and was transferred multiple times to different breeds through hybridization. Because most breeds likely originated within the past 200 years (27), our results demonstrate how a remarkable diversity of phenotypes can quickly be generated from simple genetic underpinnings. Consequently, in domesticated species, the appearance of phenotypic complexity can be created through combinations of genes of major effect, providing a pathway for rapid evolution that is unparalleled in natural systems. We propose that in the wake of artificial selection, other complex phenotypes in the domestic dog will have similar tractable architectures that will provide a window through which we can view the evolution of mammalian form and function.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary Data

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge support from NSF grants 0733033 (R.K.W.) and 516310 (C.D.B.), NIH grants 1RO1GM83606 (C.D.B.) and GM063056 (K.G.L. and K.C.), the Nestlé Purina company, the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the University of California–Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, and the Intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute. We thank L. Warren and S. Stafford for providing pictures. Finally, we thank the many dog owners who generously provided us with samples from their pets.

Footnotes

Supporting Online Material

www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1177808/DC1

Materials

Materials and Methods

Figs. S1 to S5

Tables S1 to S10

References

References and Notes

1. Vila C, et al. Science. 1997;276:1687. [PubMed]
2. Savolainen P, Zhang YP, Luo J, Lundeberg J, Leitner T. Science. 2002;298:1610. [PubMed]
3. Sutter NB, et al. Science. 2007;316:112. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
4. Karlsson EK, et al. Nat Genet. 2007;39:1321. [PubMed]
5. Lindblad-Toh K, et al. Nature. 2005;438:803. [PubMed]
6. Wayne RK, Ostrander EA. Trends Genet. 2007;23:557. [PubMed]
7. American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. 19. Howell Book House; New York, NY: 1998.
8. Drogemuller C, et al. Science. 2008;321:1462. [PubMed]
9. Materials and methods can be found at Science Online.
10. Wong AK, Neff MW. Anim Genet. 2009;40:569. [PubMed]
11. Lander ES, Schork NJ. Science. 1994;265:2037. [PubMed]
12. Kazanskaya O, et al. Dev Cell. 2004;7:525. [PubMed]
13. Andl T, Reddy ST, Gaddapara T, Millar SE. Dev Cell. 2002;2:643. [PubMed]
14. Clevers H. Cell. 2006;127:469. [PubMed]
15. Chan EF, Gat U, McNiff JM, Fuchs E. Nat Genet. 1999;21:410. [PubMed]
16. Meuten DJ, editor. Tumors in Domestic Animals. 4. Blackwell; Ames, Iowa: 2002.
17. Mou C, et al. Hum Mutat. 2008;29:1405. [PubMed]
18. Chatterjee S, Pal JK. Biol Cell. 2009;101:251. [PubMed]
19. Housley DJ, Venta PJ. Anim Genet. 2006;37:309. [PubMed]
20. Sundberg JP, et al. Vet Pathol. 1997;34:171. [PubMed]
21. Drogemuller C, Rufenacht S, Wichert B, Leeb T. Anim Genet. 2007;38:218. [PubMed]
22. Hebert JM, Rosenquist T, Gotz J, Martin GR. Cell. 1994;78:1017. [PubMed]
23. Stockard CR. The Genetic and Endocrinic Basis for Differences in Form and Behavior. The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology; Philadelphia: 1941.
24. Langbein L, Schweizer J. Int Rev Cytol. 2005;243:1. [PubMed]
25. Runkel F, et al. Mamm Genome. 2006;17:1172. [PubMed]
26. Martin J, Gruber M, Lupas AN. Trends Biochem Sci. 2004;29:455. [PubMed]
27. Ash EC. Dogs: Their History and Development. Benn; London: 1927.

Let’s Talk Linebreeding

“One of the most bandied about terms among breeders today seems to be linebreeding. Despite it’s widespread use, however, linebreeding is frequently misunderstood and miscommunicated; in fact, it is not altogether uncommon for an outcrossed pedigree to be mistakenly viewed as linebreeding by the novice. The present discussion defines linebreeding and how we can more accurately define our linebred litters.”

From – “Let’s Talk Linebreeding” written by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D. published in ‘Tally Ho’ the Basset Club of America Newsletter (July-August ’97). The online article may be found by clicking here.

(While this article was written with the Basset Hound breeder in mind, one can change the name to  Gordon Setter, or any breed for that matter, as the material is “one size fits all” when it comes to the topic of breeding.)

Linebreeding and Inbreeding: A Family Affair

Inbreeding and Linebreeding involve the mating of animals within the same family. Breeding relatives is used to cement traits, the goal being to make the offspring homozygous (pure) for desirable characteristics. Homozygous dogs tend to be prepotent and produce offspring that look like themselves (Walkowicz & Wilcox 1994)

Willis (1989) defines Inbreeding as the mating of animals “more closely related to one another than the average relationship within the breed.” Inbred pairings would include brother/sister (the closest form) father/daughter, mother/son, and half-brother/half-sister.  Linebreeding involves breeding relatives other than the individual parents or brother and sisters. Typical linebred matings are grandfather/granddaughter, grandmother/grandson, grandson/granddaughter, great-grandmother/great-grandson, uncle/niece, aunt/nephew and cousin crosses. Linebreeding is a less intense form of inbreeding. Because of their focus on a dog’s potential genetic contribution, inbreeding and line breeding are termed genetic breeding systems.

figure-1-genetic-breeding-systems Definition:  For a dog to be linebred there must be an ancestor in the pedigree that is common to both the sire and the dam.  Figure 2 illustrates this concept. Kelly is linebred because the dog, Brahms, appears twice in the sire’s side and once in the dam’s side of the pedigree.figure-2-linebreedingCommon Misconception:  A pedigree may show either the sire and/or the dam to be linebred but no ancestor common to both the sire and dam. This is outcrossing, not linebreeding (see figure 3).  Similarly, because the same kennel prefixes (Windy, Hill, Castle) are common to both the sire’s and dam’s ancestors, the newcomer may mistakenly view the pedigree as linebreeding.figure-3-outcrossingWhere to draw the “Line”?

Breeders do not always agree on what constitutes linebreeding, with some feeling that common ancestors within the first five or six generations is linebreeding. Willis (1989) indicates that the farther back linebreeding is in a pedigree the less intensive it will be, pointing out that a dog appearing 12 times (out of a possible 32) in the 6th generation of a pedigree would have a Coefficient of Inbreeding (CI) of only 1.8% (by comparison, a sire to a granddaughter cross has a CI of 12.5%). The CI tell us the proportion of genes for which the inbred ancestor is likely to be homozygous, that is carrying the same genes from each parent. (Remember that homozygous animals have a higher potential for reproducing themselves.) In Willis’s (1992) view, a common ancestor farther back than the 2nd or 3rd generation will have little influence on the litter. Linebreeding beyond the fourth generation has even less genetic impact.

How much bang will we get for our buck (or Basset!)

Several modern writers (Walkowitz & Wilcox 1994; Willis 1992, 1989; Onstott 1962) view linebreeding and inbreeding as essentially the same  and differing only in degree of intensity. Whether one considers inbreeding and linebreeding to be the same or feels they are two distinct breeding systems, quantifying the degree to which an animal is linebred (or inbred) provides important information regarding its potential genetic contribution. As Willis (1989) states: “When describing inbreeding [or linebreeding] breeders often say their dog is inbred or linebred without further qualification. This is a very inadequate description. We need to know which dog the animal is inbred [linebred] to and the degree of inbreeding [linebreeding].” Put another way, how much “bang” will we get from our linebreeding?

Describing your Basset’s linebred pedigree: reading, writing and a little arithmetic!

Willis (1992) suggests that a concise yet meaningful way to express the extent of linebreeding (inbreeding) is to number the generations of the animal in question. The common ancestor(s) is assigned the generation number as he/she appears in the pedigree. The parents are the first generation (1), the grandparents are the second (2), great grandparents are the third (3), great-great-grandparents are the fourth (4) and so on.

As previously stated, Kelly’s pedigree (Figure 2) is an example of  linebreeding, with Brahms appearing on both the sire’s and dam’s side. On the sire’s side Brahms appears twice in the third generation (3). We can write this as 3.3. On the dam’s side, Brahms appears once in the second generation (2) and this is written simply as 2. Willis has suggested the following written and verbal formats for expressing the extent of line breeding in a pedigree:

Written Format

We would write: “Kelly is linebred on Brahms 3.3/2”

Verbal Format

We would say: “Kelly is linebred on  Brahms three, three TO two.”

In the Written Format notice we separate the sire’s and dam’s side of the pedigree by using a slash mark (think of a pencil making a slash mark); in the Verbal Format the word “TO” is used to separate the sire’s and dam’s side (think of talking “to” someone). This verbal and written format tells us the dog on which Kelly is linebred and the extent of the linebreeding. Smaller numbers indicate that a dog is more closely linebred; larger numbers of 4 and above (Willis 1989) indicate a lesser extent.

Linebreeding and pedigrees: a final caveat

Linebreeding and inbreeding are essentially the same, differing only in the degree of intensity. (In Willis’s view, the common ancestors beyond the 2nd and 3rd generations will not greatly influence the resulting litter.) We have described the ease with which an animal’s extent of linebreeding may be expressed by means of written and verbal models. Perhaps this format will be “adopted” by those Basset Hound breeders whose interest lies in linebreeding. In addition to facilitating the description of a linebred pedigree over the phone, it certainly provides important information regarding the potential outcome of a breeding. In this regard, two things bear repeating: (1) linebreeding (and inbreeding) are only as viable as a breeder’s knowledge of basic genetics (a topic which will be addressed in future columns) and (2) a linebred pedigree is only as valuable as a person’s ability to determine the virtues and faults of the dogs it contains. When we add the final ingredient of rigorous selection hopefully we are on the way to producing better Basset Hounds!

References

Onstott, K. 1980. The New Art of Breeding Better Dogs. Howell, New York.

Walkowicz, C. and Wilcox, B. 1994 Successful Dog Breeding. Howell, New York.

Will, M.B. 1968 A simple method for calculating Wright’s coefficient of inbreeding. Rev. Cubana Cienc.Agric. (Eng.Ed.) 2: 171-4

Willis, M.B. 1989 Genetics of the Dog. Howell, New York

Willis, M.B. 1992. Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders. Howell, New York

For more articles about breeding by Claudia follow the link below.

These articles were written by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D. All have been published in ‘Tally Ho’, the official newsletter of the Basset Hound Club of America

Thank you to Barbara Manson, WI for sharing this link with us.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photography by Susan Roy Nelson

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AKC Chairman’s Report September 2016

Please join me in thanking Nance Skoglund,  AKC Delegate – GSCA for providing us with the AKC Chairman’s report from the September 12, 2016 Delegate’s  Meeting.

We’ve published articles in the past referring to the declining number of purebred dog registrations, the declining number of breeders, and subsequently the declining number of dog show entries. A quick look at the drop in entries at our flagship events, the GSCA National Specialty or the GSCA National Fieldtrial will easily provide evidence that participation is at an all time low at these events.

This Chairman’s report outlines the programs that AKC has put in place to address those pressing issues. But AKC alone cannot effect all of the changes required without the support and assistance of breeder/exhibitors like you and me.

While I’ve included the entire report I’m starting with a few key notes from the report for your quick review:

  • Why is this happening?
    • …factors certainly include cultural pressures and…canine legislation.
    • …the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now.
    • Zoning laws …
    • The Internet age …host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.
  • None of us, including the clubs we represent, should be passive observers.
  • …use of digital tools to communicate on different levels with a variety of audiences
  • …we have to begin with education and sharing our knowledge with newcomers to our sport.

It’s up to all of us to widen the circle. Let’s each make an effort to mentor one person in the coming show season – a new club member, an unfamiliar face at a dog show, a new puppy owner. Tell them your story, and one day they will tell their own.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

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Since we last met as a Body, the American conversation has become saturated with dialogue about the presidential election and the excitement of US athletes on the Olympic world stage. Both events are inspiring people all over America to think about what is important to us – to act for the greater good, to show pride in our nation, and to keep our traditions alive. For all of us, our dog sports are the traditions that have kept us by the whelping box, inside a ring or in the field, and on the road so many weekends a year. It is our sports — and more importantly our dogs — that motivate us to serve in this Body and make positive changes that will benefit everyone who shares our love of purebred dogs.

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The sport of Conformation is the flagship AKC event, and is the sport that is at the very foundation of our Registry. The pursuit of Championship points, records and rankings is only a set of mileposts along a journey that is at its core about the evaluation of breeding stock. We have held true to this purpose for the last hundred and forty-two years, when the first documented all-breed dog show in the United States took place back in 1874. Yet, the trends over the past ten years show us that Conformation is in a tenuous position. “The graying of the Sport” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, but we know that the issue is far more complex than the simple fact of an aging population. As a community, we need to take a close look at what is happening within Conformation, and work together to find solutions. I would like to take this opportunity to show you where things stand today and describe the work that is being done to address the matter head on. And, just as importantly, I would like to ask you to think about how you can help as well.

The numbers show a pretty clear picture.

All-breed and conformation entries have been falling over the past ten years.

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Fewer conformation championships have been earned.

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Every year, fewer dogs are exhibited in conformation.

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Why is this happening?

chair-rpt6Yes, we’re getting older. At least some of us are! Our constituents have told us about other reasons too. Concerns about judging, perceptions of professionalization of the sport and busier lives with more choices are some of the challenges we face.

Other factors certainly include cultural pressures and their resulting canine legislation. We all know that the animal rights movement has waged a war against breeding and purebred dogs for decades now. Zoning laws keep some of us from owning as many dogs as we would like to maintain our breeding programs. The Internet age has created a proliferation of platforms that play host to “keyboard warriors” engaged in all manner of debate, often anonymous and not constructive.

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Fundamentally, the American public’s understanding of conformation is limited to what they see on television two or three times a year. Recent focus groups revealed that we have a long way to go when it comes to educating the average dog owner.

What are we doing about it? None of us, including the clubs we represent, should be passive observers. There is too much at stake; we cannot risk the loss of our heritage in the coming generations. That is why we have taken strides in the past year and with our additional staff leadership, to create programs that will retain, if not attract, people in and to the sport. chair-rpt8

If a new prospect isn’t waiting in the wings or in the cards, a compelling reason to stay in the game is crucial for retention. To fill that gap, we created the Grand Championship title, which has given thousands of exhibitors a reason to keep showing their Champions and remain part of the community that they built through the quest for those first fifteen points. And it is working. Since we introduced the Grand Champion and its subsequent levels of competition, over 45,000 dogs and exhibitors have experienced the joy of earning these titles instead of perhaps hanging up their leads.

chair-rpt9On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also those who are just starting out. The 4-6 puppy class is another place where seeds of hope have been planted. We have been able to follow the trajectory of those who have entered this class with their young prospects, and we have seen that these exhibitors have continued in the sport with subsequent entries in other events.

We have broadened opportunities for devotees of Miscellaneous and FSS breeds with Open Shows, and we have seen these enhance entries as well.

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We heard many of you and your constituents express frustration about the challenges of competing against professionals. The National Owner-Handled Series has become a forum to celebrate and reward the dedication and contributions of show-dog owners. Our data show that the availability of owner-handled classes does drive entries to some degree. In some cases, the need for bigger rings is proof enough that NOHS is at the very least helping to slow the decline of entries overall.

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Casting our gaze on the future would be a fruitless exercise if we did not put special emphasis on our Juniors program. Juniors is where passion for dogs is sparked, skills are honed and young talent is encouraged. We must recognize that if fewer parents participate in conformation, the Junior classes will not grow. Juniors who are active today face compelling choices for all types of entertainment and ever-dwindling free time. We must engage with our Juniors to keep them involved – to help them keep dogs and canine sports a central part of their lives. To do that, we want to expand opportunities for these young competitors. Significant changes are being considered for our Juniors ranking program. There will be stronger outreach to community organizations such as 4H. To prevent falloff among the “aging out,” we aim to reach the 18 to 25 age group with more ways to be involved and more targeted communications to maintain and build continuing relationships with this important segment. Cultivating our youth is key to preserving our future.

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The health of our clubs is an important area of focus for all of us. Running on the sheer dedication and efforts of volunteers like you, our clubs are the fuel and the backbone of our sport. Dog shows owe their success to the careful planning and seamless execution by their event-hosting clubs. But, as it is said, “it takes a village.” That’s why AKC has created the All Breed Advisory Group, which began last July offering clubs the opportunity to work with a panel of experienced peers to pinpoint areas for improvement and to help put changes in place. After all, enhancing the dog show experience benefits not only our clubs, but exhibitors and spectators as well. If your club would like to learn more about working with the All Breed Advisory Group, contact Doug Ljungren in the Raleigh office.

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One of AKC’s greatest strengths is our use of digital tools to communicate on different levels with a variety of audiences, all linked by a common passion for dogs. Thousands of new dog owners are added to the Registry every month, but in the course of that same month, the people who visit AKC online number well over four million! We need to harness that potential for the benefit of our sport.

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Marketing strategies are being put in place today that will allow us to tell prospective exhibitors and spectators about dog shows, matches, open shows, puppy classes and other events that may be just right for them. The “e-blasts” of old will be replaced by targeted messaging that tells our customers, “we know you, we listen to you, and we think this event may be right for you.” Our new capabilities in trigger campaigns will drive even better response to our communications; the science of data management is already helping us react strategically to our customers’ needs. Years ago, a new owner would register a puppy, and after the certificate came in the mail, AKC became a distant memory. We are changing that. Today, new registrants receive an email inviting them to a match, an open show or a 4-6 month puppy class. After all, as we all know, every Champion started somewhere.

Enhancements to our web site will have prospective exhibitors and the uninitiated in mind. Our Events Calendar should be a destination that serves the seasoned exhibitor as well as the newcomer. With over 4 million unique people coming to AKC.org every single month, there is an excellent opportunity to tell the world about what we have to offer. It has been said, “If you build it, they will come.” We believe, “If we build it right, they will learn.” To share the joy of showing dogs, we have to begin with education and sharing our knowledge with newcomers to our sport.

All of these efforts to support Conformation are only the beginning of a broader strategy to breathe new life into all Events across the board. We are committed to conducting market research to define our strengths, identify weaknesses, and uncover new opportunities. We want to fully understand the barriers, so we can work towards removing them.

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There is more that we can do together, as a community. Most of us would agree that what keeps us in the fancy is the joy of being with our dogs the camaraderie in sharing a weekend with friends who understand our great passion for this sport. It’s up to all of us to widen the circle. Let’s each make an effort to mentor one person in the coming show season – a new club member, an unfamiliar face at a dog show, a new puppy owner. Tell them your story, and one day they will tell their own.

As a delegate body, let’s allow ourselves to think creatively and keep our minds open to new concepts. Instead of voting ideas away, let’s take a hard look at rule changes and consider sunset clauses for out-of-the box proposals that deserve a try. Let us not fear failure. As any dog show exhibitor or obedience trialer will remind us, even an unsuccessful day brings a learning opportunity and a plan for what to improve upon next time.

It is always a challenge to evolve and adapt in order to preserve tradition. Many of us have spent a lifetime in the sport, inspired by legendary breeders and majestic purebred dogs that live on through pedigrees we revere. For all of us who care to sustain and nurture the magic of the human-canine bond inside our rings, and for generations who will follow to experience that same joy, we must work together constructively. We owe it to the sport that has given us all so much, and to our much loved dogs, who have made it all possible.

 

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Ronald H. Menaker

Video – Internal View of Muscles – Dog in Motion

Thanks to Gary Andersen, Scottsdale AZ for recommending this video link for our blog!

Video provided by Veterinary Medicine – Facebook.

For those who are visual learners like me, this video specifically highlights the various muscles in sequence as the dog moves. Watch as the next muscle to do a job turns red as it’s function comes into play. Understanding how the muscles work together to create the forward drive of the dog enables breeders to establish a clear picture of how and why the angulation and structure described in the standard are important to proper proper movement and breed type.

 

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature photo by Bob Segal, IL

Communicating the Truth About Purebred Dogs

For some time now I’ve stated that I believed that the activity of Animal Rights groups to promote the adoption of shelter dogs has been a leading cause in the decline of the purebred dog. This month the AKC has published a report and introduced action that we, as purebred lovers and breeders need to be aware of. If the purebred dog is to survive, if pet ownership is to survive, support for this AKC effort, from us as individuals and as well as our parent clubs will be needed.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

The following article appears in the Chanine Chronicle and can be access by clicking here.

September Chairman’s Report

 

New York, NY – Last Thursday we posted a charming photograph of three Golden Retriever puppies on the American Kennel Club Facebook page. The caption was “I love my breeder” with a request to “share your love for your dog’s breeder.”  The image was shared 2,500 times, received 11,000 likes and almost 500 comments. We posted this because we love responsible breeders, but also because we wanted to see the reaction it would elicit.

The post sparked a lengthy conversation about the merits of finding your new dog at a breeder vs. adopting a dog. That passionate debate proved two important issues. There are ardent, articulate, and knowledgeable supporters of responsible breeding who possess facts and are capable of persuasively educating the public about the truth of responsible breeding. However, it also proved that there is a great deal of misinformation about responsible breeding that result in significant prejudice against breeders. There is no doubt that prejudice against breeders has impacted our breeders, our sport, and the public’s ability to enjoy the unique experience of a purebred dog in their lives.

Just 20 years ago, a purebred dog was the dog to have in your life. Twenty years ago, a responsible breeder was viewed as a respected resource. Twenty years ago there were virtually no important legislative efforts aimed at eradicating all dog breeding.

What changed in those 20 years? The noble quest to give every dog a “forever” home was co-opted by the animal rights organizations as a method to raise funds for their mission to completely eliminate pet ownership. Under the guise of supporting adoption, they have been raising a significant war chest – over $200 million last year alone – to fuel a campaign aimed squarely at destroying our ability to preserve breeds for future generations.

As told by AR groups, responsible breeders have been dishonestly accused of being the sole cause of dogs in shelters – not irresponsible owners.

As told by AR groups, purebred dog breeders have been maliciously portrayed as evil people only interested in money and winning at events, at the expense of their dogs’ health and well-being.

As told by AR groups, purebred dogs have been wrongly defined as being plagued with genetic health and temperament problems caused by breeders.

After 20 years of this propaganda – mostly unchallenged by those who know better – a portion of the public has accepted this fiction as reality.

No more.

AKC Staff led by Chris Walker along with Bob Amen and I have been working with Edelman, our new public outreach partner, on the plan that will change the current conversation, as demonstrated in that Facebook post, by confronting the prejudice and telling the truth about purebred dogs and their responsible breeders.

We will focus our efforts on two key audiences – families with kids 8-12 and empty nesters. These groups represent the critical inflection points for dog ownership and hold our best opportunities to correctly educate the public about purebred dogs and responsible dog breeding.

An additional audience will be federal and local legislators. Our experience makes it clear that once legislators know the truth, the legislative outcome is positive.

We will expand our voice to include breeders, dog owners, AKC thought leaders, veterinarians, and AKC’s over 700,000 grassroots followers.

We will relentlessly focus on these foundational story themes: the unique qualities of purebred dogs, the desirability of purebred dogs as family pets, the truth about the health of purebred dogs, and the truth about responsible breeders.

We will use every outreach channel to relentlessly tell our story in a shareable and searchable way, including national and local media, hybrid media, AKC’s own media, and social media.

By focusing on these key audiences with expanded, credible voices centered on our core narratives we will get better stories in the media, more often.

In addition, we will immediately and aggressively respond to any attack utilizing our partners, our supporters, and our full media assets.

There are three things you can do to help regain control of our destiny.

Tell us what you are hearing from your community, what the toughest questions are that you face. We’ll compile the answers and get you a toolkit to respond from a position of knowledge, strength, and pride.

Tell us your story – how you picked your breed, why you became a breeder and what has changed about the health of your breed due to the efforts of your Parent Club.

Tell us who you know who can help tell the truth – supportive officials in parent, children’s, or seniors’ organizations either locally or nationally; a veterinarian who is actively involved in a professional organization either locally or nationally; or an informed and outspoken government official.

You can share all of this information with Chris Walker at cxw2@akc.org or 212-696-8232.

As an avid Bullmastiff breeder, I am reminded of the description of that great protector of the family and property – fearless and confident, yet docile. I believe the AKC is a great protector of our rights to responsibly breed dogs. We too are fearless and confident, but it is time to stop being docile regarding the lies and propaganda that defile purebred dogs and responsible breeders.

We will communicate the truth about purebred dogs and their responsible breeders, emotionally and memorably.

We will increase the desire to own a purebred dog.

We will de-stigmatize responsible breeders.

We will change the conversation.

We will change the future.

As always, your comments are most welcome at atk@akc.org.

Sincerely,

Alan Kalter

Chairman

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=32967

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Legislative updates August

Charles KushellWritten by Chuck Kushell
“With the summer upon us and, mercifully, many local and state legislatures in recess (you know, like we had in grade school), not a great deal of action to report.
However, worthy of note include:
MA:  Continuing issues remain with SB2390, which has now been cleverly renamed SB2370 (no doubt to cover its odious trail) and has been passed and referred to the Ways and Means Committee for further action.  As residents will recall, this bill, actively opposed by the AKC and local Club associations, seeks to severely and unnecessarily restrict legitimate breeders.  Contact your local reps and register your opposition to this bill.
MD:  In Baltimore Cty, the effects of the rabid animal rights crew are on display in bill 42-16 which in a massive overreach seeks to overturn the long-standing law that permits use of county lands by those training dogs for hunting.  Meaning, if this bill passes, planting a pigeon for your JH in training dog would earn you a fine and citation.  Needless to say, anyone who pays taxes and has the right to use these lands and is concerned about the never ending march of animal rights nutcases should get on the horn to their county board members and tell them to stuff this bill at countycouncil@baltimorecountymd.gov
NJ:  Again and continually, SB63 is coming to a vote and represents the worst of what the animal rights loons bring to the table.  Draconian indictments in the form of a screed against all dog breeders as well as unconstitutional restrictions (see 4th Amendment) are in the offing if NJ breeders don’t support the AKC’s efforts to get this bill crushed.  There’s always hope Christie won’t sign it, although given his issues of late, faint hope that this will come to his attention, should it pass the Senate.  Follow this link to see what you can do:  http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/nj-senate-bill-63-june-30/
That’s it for now.  May your future be legislation-free (fat chance) and the rest of your summer productive in the ring, field or whelping box.  And as H. L. reminds us, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
c”
Featured image by Susan Roy Nelson

July Legislation Update

Charles Kushell Written by Charles Kushell
“A short report this month, for reasons too tedious to relate.  But, we press on.
NC:  Beginning with some good news for a change, congrats to the NC voters for electing some not entirely dysfunctional legislators.  Some of the brightest are supporting HB1009 and SB849 which permit the transfer of military service dogs their handlers upon their retirement or to surviving family members of fallen servicemen handlers.  The only effluent in the punchbowl with this is, for inexplicable reasons, this only applies to certain town and counties within the State.  Why this isn’t a State-wide law is beyond me (or better yet, Federal law…maybe our Dear Leader could actually put his Executive Orders to good use for a change and mandate this nationally?).  If you’re a resident of NC, do take a minute to call your Rep or Sen and say thanks, and tell them to get busy doing the right thing State-wide.
NJ:  Continuing, for no good reason, with this month’s effluvia theme, what better place than NJ to visit next, heading up our Bad News Department, in the form of SB63 which, like zombies, Eastern Airlines and socialism, utterly refuse to stay dead.  This floater of a bill is the height of the “pet safety” extremists agenda, who approach the level of “gun safety” nuts with their willful stupidity while celebrating the triumph of their zealotry over any shred of sanity and logic.  This hideous bill, if you haven’t been taking careful notes, seeks to:
—  For utterly no good reason, repeal the existing NJ Pet Safety Act.  A sensible Act that actually conforms to the AKC legislative model when it comes to protecting the rights of puppy purchasers and sellers.
—  Replace the NJPSA by requiring sales of dogs to be conducted only face-to-face, exempts only breeder-breeder sales “necessary” to preserve the breed, and even those require NJ Dept of Health pre-approval.  Are these morons kidding?
—  Limit pet stores to only purchasing their inventory from state shelters or certified rescue organizations (but then fails to compel either type of organization to actually sell to pet stores.
Consider the utter stupidity of this bill; buyers will not be able to purchase anything other than a rescue animal…thus ensuring that basically only mutts will be available for sale…breeders will be unable to sell purebred dogs online or over the phone…and this list of horrors just goes on and on.  It’s supported by pages of junk “science” and claim made by pet safety nuts, all of which are utterly false.
If you live in NJ, click on this link, call your Senator and get this insanity stopped.  http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/nj-repeal-consumer-protection-restrict-breeders-opposition/
OH:  I know we have lots of members in the Buckeye, so heads up.  SB331, in the category of good intentions gone awry, was on-track with AKC support to clarify State overview of breeders, but some lone goofball inserted language that blew up the utterly sensible definition of what a “high volume” breeder is…literally to the point of describing it as anyone having 4 breedable bitches.  Now, while the sponsor of this bill is promising an amendment removing the newly added language will be introduced, but to make sure it does, if you breed in OH, click this link to find the Senator you should call and ask for support in restoring the original language.  http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/ohio-pet-shop-standards-regulate-breeders-may23/.  Maybe some should ask him how he managed to let the rogue language get into a good bill in the first place.  See how governments waste time?  Scary.
 
So with the foregoing in mind and the upcoming elections to consider, as the Master reminded us some 100 years ago:  “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”  Few truer words were ever spoken.
Until next time.

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Keeping Ourselves Honest as Dog Breeders

Many thinks to Jill Pauline for sharing this article with me, so I could in turn, share it with you. There are many pearls of wisdom for all breeders found in this piece written by Kathy Lorentzen, whether new at this game or at it for decades.

Thanks also to Ben Perez for sharing these photos from the 2016 GSCA National Specialty.

Photographs are included here for your viewing pleasure and are not intended to illustrate any material contained in this article.

I smiled as I read Kathy’s words regarding picking puppies, as what she said reminded me of Loree Ragano. I never saw Loree stack a puppy when we evaluated litters together. We always put them down to play, sometimes separating male from female, and occasionally then sorting them down to the 2 or 3 that we liked the most, but I don’t recall ever putting them on a table. Loree always told me she picked them on the ground and believed this to be the best way to do it.This article certainly brought that lesson back to mind as Kathy said “Don’t just put your puppies up on a table, shove them into a stack, look at them in the mirror and convince yourself that you have a keeper. Let others look at them and most importantly watch them on the ground. Have you heard the old adage, “Sell them on the table, pick them on the ground”? Do I believe picking puppies on the ground is sound advice – bet your bottom dollar!  This is good advice that I still follow today.

So, on to Kathy’s article. I hope you enjoy!

Keeping Ourselves Honest as Dog Breeders

The only real road to success as a dog breeder is the one where you force yourself to be honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

By Kathy Lorentzen | Posted: July 1, 2014 10 a.m. PST  DogChannel.com

That old saying, “My momma didn’t raise no fools,” doesn’t necessarily apply to all of us in the sport of purebred dogs. We all get foolish, full of ourselves and kennel-blind at one time or another in our careers as dog breeders. Regardless of someone’s early success as a breeder, I’ve long felt that you have to get at least 15 years down the road in a breeding program in order to have enough wisdom to look back and see just how many mistakes you have made and realize that you are going to make many more.

I had early success with my English Springer Spaniels. Goodness, my first dog, whelped in 1972, was a multiple BIS and Specialty BOB winner, and a top-producing sire. Boy, didn’t I start out with the world by the tail, and wasn’t I just so smart? As I learned later, not so much. I got extremely lucky with that first dog. He was a natural-born show dog, and I just held on to the end of his lead and let him do his thing. And great, he was an outstanding sire, but I didn’t have anything to do with that, either. He had the genes that clicked with a lot of differently bred bitches. Lucky me, again. July3

Getting a Wake-Up Call

When you start with a dog like that, time shows you that you probably have nowhere to go but down. I didn’t have a beginning breeding program at all. I had this dog, one of his full sisters and one of his half-sisters. I bred the sister to a top-producing dog in the breed, and though there was one champion in the litter, there were also a myriad of problems that I didn’t see coming. I didn’t see them because I didn’t know nearly enough about the genetics and the history of the pedigrees I was working with. I hadn’t been honest with myself about admitting that there was so much more I needed to learn before I started having litters. The problems that showed up (and fairly early) in that first litter were the beginning of my wake-up call. Oh and I got more wake-up calls, and shortly.july2

I very stupidly bred the half-sister to a dog on the opposite coast that I had never seen. But his ads were great, and his photos were quite lovely. His pedigree was mostly West Coast dogs that I had virtually no experience with. (I said I was starting to get a wake-up call, but I didn’t say I was totally awake yet.) Those puppies, though healthy and with good temperaments, were pretty poor quality. They didn’t look much like their mom, and they sure didn’t look like the photos of their sire! How could this be? Here’s how. About six months after that litter was born, my then-husband was in California on business and went to visit the sire of the litter. To say he was a bit taken aback by the actual dog might be an understatement. He really didn’t resemble his photographs at all.  Serious dog-breeding lesson number one: Don’t breed to a photograph! Even back then, creative photography existed. This dog had been retouched and photographed at specific angles to make him look much different. When we put all this newly acquired knowledge together, it made perfect sense that the puppies looked as they did. Since that time, I have never bred to a dog that I or my breeding partner (my daughter) have not personally seen, touched and spent time with.

july4Yet over and over again I see people breeding to dogs that they have never seen in person. One dog in my breed a few years ago was used quite extensively and mostly by people who had not only never seen the dog but had never even seen a photo of him! After being finished by a handler, he went home to the kennel and was never seen again until he was of a fairly advanced age and taken to one Specialty as a Veteran. I actually saw a post on a public forum where someone who had bred to the dog was looking for a photo of him because she had never seen him; and shortly after another person chimed in that she had bred to the dog too and would love to see what he looked like. I almost fell off my chair.

Choosing a Good Stud Dog

Just because a dog has produced a few offspring that you find attractive does not automatically qualify that dog to be the right one for every bitch out there. And if you think it does, then you are not being honest with yourself about what you are doing. Do you really think that your bitch is so perfect that she can be bred to any dog to give you more just like her? Maybe you should step back and take a long look at your bitch. And be brutally honest with yourself about how she stacks up to the breed standard. Maybe you don’t want more just like her. It might be better if you admitted to yourself that there is room for improvement. If you are so blind to your bitch’s faults and failings (and they all have some!), then go to someone who has a long and successful background in the breed and ask for help and advice. In fact, seek out two or three long-time dog breeders, as each will have a different perspective.

july1People who truly love your breed want to see more good-quality, healthy dogs produced. They know how to think outside the box when breeding. If you run into someone who only wants to talk to you about their own stud dogs, move on. That person doesn’t want to help you do anything but line their own pockets. You do not have to let somebody else tell you what to do, but you should let someone else tell you what they see. They might know far more than you do about the pedigree that you are working with. They may be able to offer up suggestions about what you should be looking to strengthen in your bitch and where you might be able to find the dog or dogs that can do it. If you are just breeding to a dog because some other people bred to it, then you are wearing blinders and not being honest with yourself at all. And guess what, your dogs won’t get better. But you probably won’t realize it. You cannot live on a secluded island in your own mind and be a knowledgeable, successful dog breeder. It takes a village, and there are many people out there who want to help you be part of that community.

Letting Them Go

july5Back to that second litter of puppies of mine sired by the West Coast dog. Not a single one of those puppies ever hit the show ring. Not only was this a lesson learned about not breeding to an unknown dog, it was also a lesson learned in realizing and admitting that the entire litter needed to go to pet homes. This is a mistake that I’ve seen happen over and over again in our sport. People plan a breeding, have a litter and convince themselves that because the puppies exist, there must be some really good ones to keep and show and go on with. Just because you have a litter of puppies doesn’t mean that there will be one or more in the litter that will be useful to you in moving forward as a breeder. We all breed with the hope that there will be something good enough to keep. But we have to recognize if we are going backward instead of forward. It’s difficult to look at a litter that grew up under your feet and admit to yourself that there really isn’t one in there to move you further ahead.

julyBe honest with yourself about the quality of your puppies. And if you can’t be, have a puppy party and invite those same breeders that you talked with before when searching for a stud dog. Invite them to look at and watch your puppies and discuss them with you. Get the right people together and you will have a wonderful learning experience. Don’t just put your puppies up on a table, shove them into a stack, look at them in the mirror and convince yourself that you have a keeper. Let others look at them and most importantly watch them on the ground. Have you heard the old adage, “Sell them on the table, pick them on the ground”? Well, it is so true. You can make almost any puppy look good enough on the table to “sell” it. But the honesty in the situation comes when you put that puppy on the ground and stand back and just watch it. Can it carry a correct profile? Does it move freely and easily at a trot with coordination and balance? Does it maintain its proportion on the ground? Eight-week-old puppies should stand and move correctly for their breed. If they don’t at 8 weeks, please don’t try to convince yourself that they will “grow into it.” You will be in for a disappointment.

If you are dragging a dog to show after show with poor results, take a step back. Perhaps the dog just isn’t good enough. In that case, let it go to a loving pet home.”

I am fortunate because I have a breeding partner who happens to be my daughter. I was raised in the sport by wonderful mentors who taught me to be realistic about my dogs above all. I raised my daughter the same way. We are so lucky that we can bounce ideas off one another, discuss plans, look at puppies, make choices and most importantly disagree with one another! We spend hours and hours driving to dog shows discussing our dogs, where we are in our program, what we need to improve and how to go about getting it. We have a very similar eye but some differing priorities, which makes for lively conversation and more learning for both of us.

july6Realize that even a promising puppy can go wrong at some point during its growth and may not make the grade. Even the best, most well-made puppies can disappoint. Of course, you have to differentiate between a growth spurt and a puppy really losing its early promise. Know the difference and know when to place that dog. Don’t get so invested in it that you convince yourself that it is a great one! I see this again and again too. Bred it, kept it, grew it up, and it has to be a champion even if it goes to 50 dog shows to finish that title. Oh, gosh yes, then by all means breed it because it’s a champion! Any well-trained dog that is in good condition and properly shown that takes more than about 15 to 20 shows to finish is probably not a very good one.

If you are dragging a dog to show after show with poor results, take a step back. Perhaps the dog just isn’t good enough. In that case, let it go to a loving pet home. Try again and keep trying, and keep learning until you have gained the knowledge that will allow you to have confidence in your breeding program and the ability to discuss in breed-specific terms what you are doing and why you are doing it. Recognize that just because a dog has a champion title and its health clearances, it is not necessarily a good breeding prospect. If it took 30 shows to finish a dog in a breed where it only takes six to make a major, and your dog had a very hard time winning those majors, maybe you should step back and honestly assess the quality of the animal that you are considering breeding. Do you want another one that will take so many shows to finish? If not, if you really want to improve the quality of the dogs that you will go forward with, it might be wisest to place that dog with the hard-earned champion title in a pet home and go in a different direction. Disappointing? Yes, but it is absolutely the best thing you could do for yourself and the future of the breed.

We all know that dog breeding is fraught with heartache and setbacks. The only real road to success is the one where you force yourself to be honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Make those difficult decisions as a breeder who truly has the best interests of the breed at heart, not as an owner who loves a dog too much to let it go to a wonderful home. Or keep it and love it but don’t breed it. Long, long ago I told my husband something that he has never forgotten. “It’s just as easy to love the great ones as it is to love the mediocre ones.” What I meant was, love them all, but be aware that many dogs will move through our household and few will stay their entire lives. Enjoy them while they are here, but be willing to let them go to make room for progress and improvement. We have lived by that rule for 36 years, and it has served our breeding program very well.

 

From the July 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.