Tag Archives: Gordon Setter

Feeding Newborn Puppies

Sometimes tube feeding is the only way to save newborn puppies, however there are other options that can be tried first, and this article offers advice on that topic. By clicking on the title below”To Tube or Not to Tube” you will be taken to Mary Wakeman’s website where many other useful articles scan be found.  Enjoy!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

To Tube or Not To Tube

by Mary C. Wakeman, D.V.M Canine Fertility

March 16th, 117    The Best of Breed of Online Show Dog Magazines

The answer to this depends entirely upon whether you want your puppies to live or not. What! You say, tubing is the ONLY way to save puppies. And besides, it’s fast. Fast, yes, and deadly. It’s one of those things that sounds too good (easy) to be true; and if it sounds too good to be true it is; we know that it is in our most private thoughts.

Fast and deadly isn’t doing your part by the bitch or the puppies. You may be certain that you are getting the tube in the esophagus (which leads to the stomach) and not the trachea (which leads to the lungs). But, this isn’t the problem I’m referring to. Consider this: when we eat, the process of eating stimulates waves of contraction throughout our entire GI tract. You know very well that as puppies nurse they defecate. That reaction is due to these waves of contraction, which are called peristalsis.

OK. So, we have a sluggish or weak puppy. We put it on the bitch and it won’t nurse. What to do! TUBE. NO! If the puppy does not have a good sucking reflex, it will not have any peristalsis. This means the milk we force in through the tube will just sit there. When the tube is removed, it forces itself back up the esophagus, into the trachea, and ends up in the lungs. It does not travel down through the stomach into the intestine.

Now, how big is the stomach of a newborn puppy in your breed? 1/2 cc? Less? As much as 1cc? Probably not much more. That stomach is just a slightly wide spot on a narrow tube.

So; let’s stick 2 1/2 cc into it . Fast and Deadly. The stomach and esophagus will stretch a bit, then return to it’s original shape and size after the milk runs into the lungs. Not going to raise many puppies that way.

Well then, what do we do? Easy. We give them sub-cutaneous dextrose and saline. Sugar in salt water. The solution which is used for IV therapy. All puppies need 3 things. Warmth. Water. Sugar. That’ all they need right away and for an additional few days if necessary.  So, we take the weak puppy out of the whelping box. We drop a few drops of colostrum onto its tongue several times in the first few hours. Got that immunity taken care of. We keep it in a confined box with a heat source – a heating pad or light bulb, and we give subQ dextrose in saline to supply the sugar and water. We gently stimulate it to urinate and defecate. We’ve met all the puppies needs.

How much fluid do we give? We give enough to satisfy any current dehydration debt and to provide a cushion for an hour or two in the future. How much is that? It is enough so that when we refill the syringe with dextrose and saline, the last 10 cc injection we gave hasn’t already disappeared. And it will disappear, just that fast, if the puppy is already dehydrated.

So first, we need to satisfy the back log, and then we put in some more. We want to raise a good sized lump – say the size of a golf ball on a 12-16 oz puppy. We want that golf ball to stay there a while. If it does, we can safely leave the puppy for a couple of hours. As time goes by, the fluids in this reservoir will be absorbed and the lump will disappear. Also, gravity will take a hand in removing the lump, shifting any spare fluids down around the neck. We can keep this puppy going in this way for 2 to 4 days easily. There no danger here, if the area is clean when and where we inject, and as long as the needle is parallel to the body – not pointed down at the body. We don’t want to pith the puppy (look it up). With the needle parallel to the body, the worst we can do is squirt the wall. The wall can take it.

Fluids given intravenously, by contrast, would run the risk of drowning the puppy – excess fluids in the veins will force their way out through the lungs. This result is essentially the same as that of tubing. Not good. SubQ fluids are essentially outside the circulatory system – just in a repository under the skin. If a fluid defecit exists, they can be instantly drawn into the blood stream. Until then, they have no other effect on the body.

While we are satisfying the puppy’s needs in this way, we will also repeatedly present a nipple to the puppy, several minutes after we have placed a drop of Karo syrup on its tongue. The Karo give the puppy an energy boost, so that when we place it on the bitch, it will make as strong an attempt to nurse as it can muster. We will also present the puppy with a bottle, as it will be easier for it to get milk from the bottle’s nipple than from the bitch, most of the time, during the first couple of days.

One of the greatest deterrents to getting puppies started, after tubing, is the ‘Pet Nurser’ which is widely available. Few if any breeds will nurse off of this thing – maybe a couple of toy breeds I’ve never encountered. Rather, puppies from 4.5 oz to 2# and up will readily take a Playtex preemie, or Playtex 0-3 months nipple (slow flow), one which has a flat, button-like shape. ANY puppy which does want to suck, but is unable to get enough from the bitch, should be asked to take the Playtex nurser. And if they don’t learn to nurse from it within the first few minutes, as soon as an hour or two after birth, it’s your fault, because they like this nipple just fine.

Of course, you have to put the right stuff in it. The concept of using a formulated synthetic milk replacer seems a bit bizarre. Cow’s milk is good, it’s complete, it contains the same things as dog milk. It’s not quite as good as dog’s milk, however, because it’s too dilute. Cow’s milk is 1/2 as concentrated as dog milk. So, all we have to do is go to the store and buy evaporated milk. Nothing could be simpler; comes in a can, easy to store and have on hand, useful for other purposes. We use the evaporated cow’s milk, in the slow flow nipple (no modifications to the nipple, we want it to go in slowly, and to require some exercise from the puppy to make it work). We add a dollop of Karo syrup for energy and palatability, warm slightly, and that’s it; it’s perfect.

Some of us seem to have a need to make life more complicated than it has to be. If you think your puppies suffer from the rare human problem where the size of the cow butterfat globule is too large for comfort, you can search out a source for evaporated, canned goat’smilk. And you might wish to do that because it will make it seem as though your puppies have a special problem, not a routine, ordinary problem. However, goat’s milk has no special benefit for dogs. It also must be fed undiluted from the can, with some Karo.

Note: The only puppies I have ever seen which were nutritionally stunted – and didn’t recoup their early deficits when put on solid food – were 2 giant breed siblings which were fed fresh goat’s milk. To this day these two are ‘minis’. Fresh ruminant milk has 50% too much water in it. Evaporated ruminant milk is just fine as long as you don’t screw it up by adding water. If you are faced with total milk replacement due to the death of a bitch, you will eventually have to add an egg yolk (without the white) to a can of evaporated milk with Karo, in order to raise the protein level even more. But, there is no need for this when we’re simply supplementing.

These puppies which are eager to nurse, but just can’t get anything from the bitch’s nipples, will have good peristalsis. They will work at the nipple and develop their lungs and their body muscles, though only a fraction as well as they would if they were working on the bitch’s nipples. One caution when supplementing the large litter to lessen the stress on the bitch. You must be careful not to OVER feed. The idea is to take some load off her, so you should keep her out of the box for some time every day. We don’t want to supplement and then let them drink their fill from their mother as well, then we’ll only have fat and colicy puppies, not a mother in better shape.

The next question is, will their mother lick them and stimulate the urination and defecation reflexes? If she’s not yet into that, we also have to wash their tummies with a warm wet tissue. This will stimulate the elimination reflexes. We can’t skip this part either. If we do, they’ll all colic. Some bitches, even though they have milk and the puppies nurse with no problem, just don’t like to clean their puppies. If so, then it’s our job. We caused these puppies to be born, the buck stops with us; if they need to be cleaned we have to do the job. We have to be gentle, but we have to be just as certain that we’re successful in stimulating defecation and urination as we are that the puppies are getting enough to eat. What goes in must come out!

One good way to help you be certain you’re getting each one fed and cleaned is to place colorful yarn collars around their necks. This way we can identify each puppy at a glance, no waking them or dislodging them from a nipple in order to check markings. And later, when one puppy is repeatedly striking a pose we can see from a distance which one it is. Helps us identify that BIS Puppy.

Mary C. Wakeman, D.V.M Canine Fertility

Article
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

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2. Savolainen P, Zhang YP, Luo J, Lundeberg J, Leitner T. Science. 2002;298:1610. [PubMed]
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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]
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27. Ash EC. Dogs: Their History and Development. Benn; London: 1927.

Treating Dog Anxiety – AKC.Org

Thanks to Barbara Manson for sharing this article from the AKC website. Gordon Setters are not normally an anxiety ridden breed, however they can have their anxious moments just like every other dog, cat, pig, sheep or goat  – not that we’re talking about cats, pigs, sheep or goats here, I just get to rambling sometimes.

As owners and breeders though, we do need to know how to read a dog’s body language, and we especially need to understand when we are seeing signs of anxiety so we can help to stabilize our dogs emotionally. We don’t want to be adding fuel to this fire!

We thought this article was a good starting place, but we also need you to share your advice, comments and suggestions to round it out, especially where your insight pertains to our Gordon Setters. Let’s give new and inexperienced Gordon owners a resource to guide them in building a calm, well behaved and socially adjusted dog. Thanks so much for contributing advice or stories in the comment section below.

Meanwhile you can read this article about anxiety below or follow the link embedded in the title to the AKC website for access to this and many other excellent articles.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature Photo by Susan Roy Nelson, Casper, WY (This boy looks cool as a cucumber, obviously anything but anxious.)

Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety

If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, then you know how difficult it can be to get through the day. What you might not know is that some dogs also suffer from anxiety.

Dog anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious behavioral problems if left untreated. Luckily, there are steps owners can take to help their dogs live with canine anxiety. Here are the symptoms, treatment options, and prevention techniques owners need to know about.

What Causes Dog Anxiety?

Dog anxiety can have several causes, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. The most common are:

  • Fear
  • Separation
  • Aging

Fear-related anxiety can be caused by loud noises, strange people or animals, visual stimuli like hats or umbrellas, new or strange environments, specific situations like the vet’s office or car rides, or surfaces like grass or wood floors. These fears may seem inconsequential to us, but they create a lot of anxiety for dogs.

Separation anxiety is estimated to affect around 14 percent of dogs. Dogs with separation anxiety are unable to find comfort when they are left alone or separated from their family members. This anxiety often manifests itself in undesirable behaviors, such as urinating and defecating in the house, destroying furniture and furnishings, and barking.

Age-related anxiety affects older dogs and can be associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). In dogs with CDS, memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline, similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This understandably leads to anxiety in senior dogs.

SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY

So how can you tell if your dog has anxiety? There are several important symptoms to look out for:

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors

By far the most dangerous symptom of dog anxiety is aggression. This aggression can be targeted directly or indirectly, depending on the situation. Direct aggression occurs when a dog acts aggressively toward people or other animals. Indirect aggression can be equally dangerous, and often happens when a person comes between the dog and the source of the dog’s aggression, such as another dog. Even if a dog is prevented from harming others, aggressive behaviors such as growling or barking can lead to dangerous situations for humans and dogs, alike.

Urinating and defecating in the house is a common symptom of separation anxiety. Anxious dogs often work themselves up to the point that they pee or poop in the house, even if they are housebroken. This is frustrating for owners and can cause damage to property, not to mention the unpleasantness of the cleanup.

Destructive behavior is also common with separation anxiety. The damage is usually located around entry and exit points, like doorways and windows, but dogs in a state of heightened anxiety are also at risk of harming themselves. Attempts to break out of dog crates, windows, and even doors can result in painful injuries and expensive veterinary treatments.

Treating Dog Anxiety

The best way to treat anxiety is to talk with a veterinarian. She can help you identify the type of anxiety your dog suffers from and the possible causes and triggers. Veterinarians can also rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog’s symptoms.

Your vet will help you come up with a treatment plan. Since anxiety is often caused by a variety of factors, the best way to treat it is usually through a combination of training, preventative strategies, and in some cases, medications.

TRAINING AND COUNTERCONDITIONING:

There are several training strategies dog owners can use to treat anxiety. One way is counterconditioning. The purpose of counterconditioning is to change your dog’s response to the stimuli responsible for anxiety, usually by replacing the anxious or aggressive behavior with a more desirable behavior, like sitting or focusing on the owner.

Another training strategy is desensitization. The owner slowly introduces the dog to the source of anxiety, preferably in small doses and at a decreased intensity. Repeated exposure and rewarding positive behavior can go a long way toward managing anxiety.

You might want to contact a professional dog trainer to help you choose the best approach for your dog, as training an anxious dog is not always easy.

ANXIETY MEDICATIONS FOR DOGS:

Some cases of anxiety are so severe that your veterinarian may recommend medications or natural therapies. SSRIs and antidepressants are occasionally prescribed for dogs with anxiety, including fluoxetine and clomipramine. For predictable anxiety-producing events like thunderstorms, fireworks, or car rides, your vet might prescribe a medication such as benzodiazepine in conjunction with an antidepressant to help your dog cope with the stress.

Senior dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome may benefit from the drug selegiline, which can help reduce some of the symptoms of CDS. Selegiline is also used for treating chronic anxiety in Europe.

The Merck Veterinary Manual also states that natural therapies and products can help dogs with anxiety. Some products work best in conjunction with other medications, while others can be used alone, depending on your dog’s case. Natural products use pheromones and aromatherapy to reduce anxiety. Talk to your vet about the natural products best suited for your dog.

Preventing Dog Anxiety

It is hard to predict if a pet will develop anxiety, but there are ways to help a new dog or puppy avoid anxiety-related problems.

Body Language

One of the best things you can do is learn to read dog body language. Knowing when your dog is uncomfortable or scared can help you avoid negative experiences or use them as a positive training moment. Body language can also tell you when a dog is getting anxious, which is especially useful if your dog has a history of aggression-related anxiety.

Socialization

Proper socialization can prevent the development of anxiety. Introducing your dog to new people, dogs, animals, places, and experiences can help them avoid an exaggerated response down the road, and also helps them become well-adjusted canine citizens.

Obedience

Obedience training is an essential tool for preventing and managing anxiety. It lays the foundation of a healthy relationship and establishes trust. A well-trained dog is easier to socialize than a dog without training, and obedience classes are a great place for dogs to meet other dogs in a controlled environment.

Exercise and Nutrition

Regular exercise and stimulation are crucial for a dog’s development, physical, and mental well-being. A stimulated dog is less likely to pick up destructive behaviors, and good nutrition is equally important for your dog’s health. Making sure you take care of your dog’s physical and mental needs can help you prevent any behavior problems that don’t stem from anxiety, letting you know the areas where your dog needs the most help.

Situation Avoidance

If your dog has been diagnosed with anxiety, you can also try to avoid or prevent situations that trigger your dog’s anxiety. For example, if you know that your dog grows anxious around large groups of dogs, you should avoid dog parks. Avoidance does not mean that you need to put your life on hold, but it can reduce some of the stress on you and your dog.

If the source of the anxiety cannot be avoided, preventative measures like leashes, body harnesses, and, in some cases, basket muzzles can prevent dangerous situations. Once you know your dog’s triggers, you can prepare for these situations ahead of time.

Take Action Now

Don’t let your dog’s anxiety take control of your life. With the right treatment strategy, you can help your dog overcome his anxiety and prevent dangerous and destructive situations from happening in the first place. If you think your dog might have anxiety, talk to your veterinarian today about a treatment plan that best fits your dog and your lifestyle.

Survey Results – Future of the National Specialty

Purpose of this survey was to begin to take a measure, the pulse of the GSCA membership so to speak, pertaining to our regional committees and independent specialty clubs, who by virtue of the GSCA’s current policies and procedures are the organizations upon whom we depend first, to host the annual GSCA National Specialty.

We asked respondents to  project their opinion out to encompass the next 5 years after 2018 so we could begin to evaluate if there are enough regional committees or independent clubs with interest or plans to cover hosting the National Specialty for the next 5 years. The thought being, that if regional committees and independent clubs have no intention of bidding, perhaps we need to rethink current policies and procedures to better accommodate the future of the event.

67 individuals completed the survey that was posted on Facebook and sent via email to the 400 GSCA members follow the blog, Gordon Setter Expert. Respondents expressed opinions as to their own individual interest about working on a National Specialty, and also their own opinion as to whether the club or committee to which they belonged would be hosting a National Specialty in the future. NOTE: these were not club/committee responses, these are responses from some of the members of those clubs or committees. Polling the club or committee for a direct answer would be a Board decision and action.

Question 1

First we asked folks to tell us which regional committee or independent specialty club they belonged to:

  • 12     Did not belong to a club or committee but have worked on a NS committee
  • 9     Tartan GSC
  • 7     Nodrog GSC of MI
  • 5     High Plains
  • 5     Midwest
  • 4     Mid Atlantic
  • 4     Missouri Valley
  • 4     Sunbelt GSC
  • 3     Badgerland GSC
  • 3     Golden Gate GSC
  • 3     GSC of Greater Atlanta
  • 3     North Country GSC of MN
  • 2     New Mexico Gordonites
  • 2     Pacific Northwest GSC
  • 1     Southern CA GSC

Question 2

In the past year or so, has your group/club discussed hosting a future National Specialty or is there an intent to discuss this in the near future?

NO 57% or 38 people

YES 43% or 29 people

Question 3

How likely is it that YOU, as an INDIVIDUAL, would vote in favor of your group/club hosting the GSCA national Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

44 Yes or likely       13 No or unlikely

  • 38   Somewhat likely
  • 6     Yes we will submit a bid
  • 11     No, not at all likely
  • 2     Somewhat unlikely
  • 8     Other (these are responses are primarily from people who may not have a vote, as they do not belong to a club or committee)

Comments:

I live in a region without an area committee. I have twice chaired events at previous National Specialties.

I try to support nationals with donations, raffle purchases, etc. I am not a member of a regional club.

I do not have a local club.

I live in QC/Canada

As we are hosting 2017 I can’t answer this question.

not involved in local often volunteer

Not sure as I have not been to a meeting recently

Being discussed but no consensus

Question 4

Speaking as a member of the group/club, what is your best guess as to whether your group will be submitting a bid to host the National Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

36 No or unlikely     13 Yes or likely

  • 22     Not at all likely
  • 14     Somewhat unlikely
  • 11     Somewhat likely
  • 2     Yes we will submit a bid
  • 16     Other

Comments:

Don’t know, but they know I won’t be there to help

I live in a region not covered by an event/are committee and has few active GSCA members.

Not sure

Involved with a group considering 2019

I do not have a local club.

not sure

Unsure — too many variables

not a member of any other club in the USA

unknown

volunteer

Not sure

not sure

Not a clue.

Not a clue

No idea

Question 5

Use this section to give the name of any other clubs to which you belong as listed above, as well as the answers to the two questions above.

Badgerland GSC

I am also a member of the Standing National Specialty Committee

I belong to Fredricksburg Virginia Kennel Club and the GSCA. I used to belong to the Blue Ridge Gordon Setter Club.

GSCA National

I’ve been to the Rhode island National, it’s close to QC so I would go if possible again.

Badgerland is an Event Committee so has no actual membership and can’t charge any dues. About 5 years ago Badgerland was approached by Highlanders to have a specialty show in connection of the ones they used to have. This was brought to a meeting by a couple of our members (we were still a club at that time and not an Event Committee). When asked about the costs involved nobody could provide us with any information so we floored the discussion until more information was provided which  never happened.

2019

GSCA GRCA

New Mexico Gordonites

Think I’m in Midwest (Ohio) by default, ie no action on my part, but get questionnaires referring to judges and specialty show timing.

TarTan GSC

WVESF, Willamette English Setters Fanciers

Badgerland although it is not an active club anymore

Question 6

Use this space to provide any additional information regarding the obstacles or reasons why your group/club might be unable or perhaps unwilling to host the National Specialty?

The “new” committee rules which eliminated our ability to organize as a local club to retain interest and attract new members locally.

I love in a region without an organized area committee. Gordon owners in my region are primarily pet owners or hunters with little interest or experience in hosting a dog show.

Not enough folks in our area.

They didn’t even have a fall specialty this year.

Cant see any reason, they are highly capable.

Not enough people to do the work. Also the membership is older.

We do not have enough active members to even begin to host a national.

Enough reliable people. Need a person to coordinate.

lack of workers. Many are overworked from the past decades and feel that newer, younger members should work. There are many exhibitors that have never helped with a regional or National Specialty and many older members no longer exhibit and feel it is their turn it sit back and enjoy without spending so much time and out of pocket expenses for the benefit of others and often feel like they are unappreciated.

I don’t speak with other members very much lately.

Our independent club has hosted successful multiple national specialties and field trials. Quite frandly, our club is ‘aging’ out and we do not feel that we would be able to filed the bodies or time in order to host a national of the caliber we have become used to producing.

Hosting a National Specialty is a lot of work. The work falls on the shoulder of  fewer and fewer volunteers as clubs become smaller.

DISBANDED

I live at a distance from both these clubs so I am not involved in day to day decisions. However, I am able to help with online things which I did with the last TarTan NS.

Club members inability to participate. Money it costs. time constraints for those that might consider it.

TarTan has hosted the National Specialty in 1989, 1997, 2004, and 2012. It’s a lot of work and our membership is aging out and some who have headed up past events have stated they are no longer willing.

Cost and lack of members willing to help, like most clubs, it gets harder to find volunteers and those  that do are aging.

Not enough people, not enough financial support from the GSCA

Manpower

Once of the big factors in hosting a national specialty (especially in clubs which do not have large number of members) is the cost. In my opinion the national club need to commit to providing significant financial assistance with covering those costs that cannot be completely covered by entry fees, specialty “social” event fees, etc.

Too few volunteers, too big of a need for fundraising. It’s ususally the same people doing all of the work with little help from other club members who still will sit back and complain about things.

Lack of membership & opposing ideas on what would make a national a great event. members who want to do everything on the cheap vs putting your heart and sound into an event.

Our members do not show they hunt and are mainly pet people.

We just had one in Ohio so it wools dall in the latter part of that range.

Badgerland hasn’t even managed to put on a Hunt Test or Field Trial in the past couple years. We also don’t have am actual membership anymore because in order to do that we would need to form separate club. We don’t have meetings either. The majority of the male’s in our club don’t want to participate in any “show” events so they would not be willing to help with a national which also limits the number of people we would have to help.

Age of members, number of workers, amount of work involved.

Older people in group. Most are not willing to do the work involved. Same few do most of the work.

This is a bit lengthy to try and explain but pretty much ever since we became an area committee and not be considered a club, hold meetings, collect dues etc. we  ahve lost interest. We have no reason to get together. Last several field events have been cancelled due to lack of entries. Since no reason to get together (hence the club feel) hard to get members (that is a whole other topic) to commit or gain new members. People want to belong to a club. Not just put on events for the parent club. We always had the same group doing the same thing. Personally I’m burned out and without you being a GSCA member you can’t be on the committee to begin with.

Fundraising is arduous and difficult. People now have health limitations and lifting restrictions that making setting up and long days of work difficult.

Hosting 2017

Not enough volunteers. And money.

We’re aging to the point where the physical work load is simply too much to handle. Carting around items to sell  to raise fund to host the event is exhausting and we’re past the point where we want to do that.

Fewer people involved in the club makes it hard to spread the work load. We’re burned out and exhausted but at the same time do not want the event to go away.

We are hosting next year so I doubt we would be willing to do it so soon again.

I think age is taking it’s toll. Age of the people, not the dogs.

We hosted the National in 2013. At that time we had about 25-30 members. Now we have only about 5 members.

apathy

Question 7

Feel free to share any additional thoughts or comments here that may be of value regarding this topic.

I have attended most of the National Specialties in the past 5 years and have shown dogs in Conformation. I prefer that the National Specialty be held in different parts of the country, not only so that I have the chance to travel, but also so that Gordon owners across the nation can have the opportunity to have the specialty located near them. I do not believe that a single permanent location is a good idea for the club membership as a whole. However, a standardization of the time of year or length of time between Nationals might assist members with seasonal obs, like teachers, attend the show and eliminate long tretches of time between shows, i.e. more than 12 months.

It seems that even having to come up with the volunteers and organization to hold a national specialty every few years is overwhelming for regional clubs. We all know that 10% of volunteers do 90% of the work in ANY volunteer organization, so no wonder we wear them out. I would support having a standing committee at the national level who would do the majority of the work to organize a national specialty with a local club providing a much more minor amount of support (since I have never been around a club doing a national I don’t know how that division of work would be decided but someone would!) much closer to dhow time. As a club we may want to think about a national every two years instead of every year or 18months, perhaps that would spread the work out as well. (This has likely been suggested in the past, not sure) Thanks!

 

Left the club because i was not made to feel welcome or like I belonged.

Fundraising is one of the biggest obstacles in putting this event on.

Having it spread out for 4-5 days in the middle of the week prevents a lot of working members from attending.

I think we need to get back to the basics of the national. Focus more on the ring experiences instead of too many extra fundraising activities. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the social interactions but I think we have jam packed too many in one day and it forces people to choose what they can afford or have time to do.

I am not a member of any dog club, but have participated in National Specialties in the past.  As nice as it is to visit other parts of the country, the number of folks participating at this time seem to indicate that the Midwest is drawing the most participants. I know it is not fair to the coastal folks, but it is what it is. We need to think of the needs/wants of the many and not just a few. Also, perhaps looking into a certain time of the year instead f any time during the year might make it easier for people to plan. For instance the coastal people might be more inclined to drive through the mountains in early summer to early fall.

Since jobs and/or weather are factors in traveling long distances, Nationals should be held June through August every other year. Let’s not marginalize younger club members who are not retired. We are a club with an aged membership and need to solicit younger members and juniors.

We hosted extremely successful (in entries and financial outcome) events, yet we had the feeling that the GSCA board and the Club in general was not supportive of our efforts and some non working members were extremely critical and demanding of the hosting members. Did not leave a good feeling with some of our hard working members.

I do like the National moving around the country so everyone has a chance of attending, although I do know other breeds that have been happy to have all their Nationals at Purina Farms. I’ve never been able to attend one west of Ohio primarily because of the time of year—if the National is during the academic year, I can’t attend. For that reason I will be unable to attend the AZ National.

like I said I would be happy to participate in the east part of the USA near the border but I am not a member of any other club in the USA.

Badgerland “hosted” the NFT back in 2005 and we were treated like shit by the National Field Trial Committee so that has also left a very bad taste in our mouths about National event. We did take care of the silent auction at the Minnesota National and the Hunt Test at both of the Nationals put on by the Highlanders but we still had a difficult time finding enough people in our club (at that time we were still a club and not an Event Committee) to man the events.

Would love to attend a national…never have.

I find it hard to find people that want to even get involved anymore. You get a few people here and there. But if you look at the majority of who organizes these things. These people have been around for years. Haven’t had anyone interested in joining for quite some time. Tell me what they are joining?

Fund raising by National Specialty volunteers needs to stop or be made optional. Too much work and pressure are being placed on those who volunteer to put on the show. the same people volunteer over and over. Many, including board members, have never taken a leadership role in putting on a National and they have no idea what’s involved.

We need to develop a plan to streamline the work involved in hosting the event and that might mean using a single location where most of the set up, clean up, equipment etc. is handled by the site management such as that provided by locations such as Purina or Eukanuba. We must streamline fundraising, and we must find another means to finance the GSCA’s  overall operations as the folks supporting the national Specialty should not be the only members who’s donations and generosity are being used to cover the GSCA’s bottom line expenses – proceeds from the national Specialty would all ideally be funneled back into the National Specialty and not disbursed to cover any and all other outstanding GSCA expenses such as the Newsletter, board expenses, printing, pictorial, etc. This would put less of a financial burden on the National’s  committee, exhibitors and participants and alleviates much of the fundraising pressure.

Not sure why AZ should be an issue. Was RI an issue several years ago? Would be curious to know what entry counts at various Nationals has been compared to registered Gordons.

I really hope that the NS continues to move around the country. I know the general membership feels most of the exhibitors live in the mid-west or further east and the Purina Farms would be ideal. It is a lovely place but quite cost prohibitive to drive from western Canada.flying continues to be difficult. I have also flown to eastern Canada and then rented a vehicle to drive south to the NS again cost is a factor as to how many dogs I can bring and if I can find someone to share expenses. I do my best to get to most of the NS and I enjoy seeing the US.

Thoughts of course chairing between 2 clubs. Compromise is always difficult but would be less cost to each individual club. GSCA make a larger contribution maybe.

While it is fun to visit other areas, it would be nice to have a “central” location and especially nice to have the same week every year. It makes planning the trip much easier.

I feel the standing National Specialty Committee  needs to plan to host the National yearly. There are a lot of parent clubs that host their National every year. I feel there are a good number of GSCA members who would be willing to help out if asked. You cannot always count on just asking who would like to volunteer but must specifically ask someone – can you do this ___? I would like to see at least 1 day of our event held on a weekend. I do not think we should overlook holding our National with an all breed show, our embers are dropping to a point that could be done.

Personally, I don’t think member input is valued by the GSCA. Decisions are made by the board in our name, but there is little discussion or request for input. It might have been nice to see an email blast about the 2018 national before a decision was made. It’s great that we had two bids, but a November national can be iffy with weather and holiday issues.

We are falling apart as a club. People make suggestions but nothing is changed. We need to have nationals over a weekend where people can go.

Published by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature photo by Ben Gordon Setter Perez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Gordon Setters get Spooked (and it ain’t Halloween)!

I call it the Gordon Setter’s “Teenage Angst”  phase. You’ve spent all that time, trotting all over the globe with your new puppy, properly socializing him by slowly and constantly exposing him to new settings, crowded hallways and wide open spaces, strangers in all shapes and sizes, flapping awnings and billowing tents, ringing bells and blaring loudspeakers, kids on bicycles,trikes and skateboards, the dog next door and the neighborhood cat. You’ve covered all bases and your pup takes it all in stride with a wag of his tail.

Then one typical, normal, everyday day, your teenage pup spies an out of place toy, one he’s played with since the beginning of time, all tangled and humped up, a dark mass of unknown origin, a terrifying creature surely waiting to pounce from behind that table leg to maim and destroy said puppy. Pup skids to a halt, tucks tail between legs, issues a frightened bark and slowly, ever so slowly, creeps backward with eyes frozen on that monster, while in his teenage heart muttering a little puppy prayer that he’ll survive this day unscathed!

costumes2
Photo by Bill Dargay

What I’ve (not so) affectionately called teenage angst, is actually known as Secondary Fear Phase in the very informative article written by Laura McAuliffe, Dog Communication 2016 that I’m sharing here. I do want to add that while she mentions this phase arriving anywhere from 6 to 18 months of age, you may find, that in the Gordon Setter, who matures quite slowly, this stage may arrive later, say up to age two.

There are some excellent suggestions in Laura’s article on how to help your young one through this stage, enjoy and don’t forget to share with your “new” puppy owners so they can be prepared for the day…when the spooks come out!

To read Laura’s article on the DogCom site follow the link in the title below…

Suddenly spooked- Secondary fear phase in adolescent dogs

If you have a puppy anywhere from around 6 months old to 18 months (and more!) and they suddenly spook at anything at all you will often be told by your doggy friends, with a knowing nod, ‘oh, that’ll be the secondary fear phase’.
 
Your teenage puppy may suddenly show fear, backing away or perhaps even barking at things they coped well with before- people with hats, flapping carrier bags, people on ladders, bikes and scooters, black or flat faced dogs etc are all top ten triggers.

But what is ‘secondary fear’ and what should we do about this sudden spookiness?

Secondary fear isn’t very well defined in the scientific research and there’s some debate about when it occurs (which is likely to influenced by breed and genetics) and if it actually occurs. It’s well reported though that dogs may suddenly (and hopefully temporarily) become more fearful about certain things.

Secondary fear is thought to occur anywhere between around 6 and 18 months old, during the period of social maturation where dogs change from puppyhood into adults. There are complex hormonal and neural changes that also occur around this time and sudden fear may well be linked to these physiological changes within the body. The primary fear center in the brain, the amygdala, is enlarged at this time meaning that it reacts more sensitively to the environment and stress hormones are at their highest levels in adolescents.

costumes1
Photo by Bill Dargay

In evolutionary terms, secondary fear also often corresponds with the time (around 8-9 months old) when older puppies of wild and semi feral dogs would have left their family group and ventured off alone into the big wide world. It is thought that a scared period at this time would protect puppies from venturing too close to things that could present a danger to them. Perhaps we still see throwback behavior to this time.

Not all dogs will have a secondary fear phase and some dogs may have more than one (if you are unlucky!) It typically lasts between 1 and 3 weeks and needs careful handling as there is a risk that dogs may become permanently fearful of certain thing if they are exposed to a very traumatic experience at this sensitive time.

What should we do about it?

Don’t force them to face their fears or immediately embark on a heavy duty program of socialization. For example, if they  showed fear towards tall men with hats, don’t expose them to lots of very tall men in hats in close proximity. Space and time are what you need right now- let them see the things they are worried about but from a distance they can cope with and ideally give them several days after a ‘scary incident’ before you expose them to the same thing again.

We give them space from the things that scare them (perhaps on the other side of a road for example) so that your dog stays ‘under threshold’- by this we mean they are in an emotional and physiological state where they can cope aren’t so stressed that they are can’t learn. Doing this gently and without stress is key so that we make good associations.

costume3
Photo by Bill Dargay

We give them time (at least a few days)  so that they have chance to ‘de-stress’ and get back to normal before exposing them the stimulus again. Allowing time to recover avoids the effect of trigger stacking (where scary things add up together to result in a very stressed dog) and gives your dog a recovery period.

We always ensure that we don’t make a big deal about the ‘scary thing’ – we never force our dog to approach the flapping bag/scary plant/person in high visibility, we give the dog the choice if they’d like to approach and we watch their body language carefully to judge how they are feeling.  We also counter condition around the ‘scary thing’ from a distance so we pair exposure to it with things the dog likes (normally food!). Counter conditioning takes practice to get right so consult a trainer or behaviorist if you need help.

Be careful not to lure towards trouble– as humans we are always tempted to get out dogs (and our children!) to face their fears but this isn’t helpful. If we lure (with food in the hand) a dog towards a ‘scary’ bin/person/dog then the dog will follow the food towards the scary thing and may then suddenly become very worried when they realize how close they are. Luring then towards scary things also removes the dogs free choice, which is something that we believe is very important- to give our dogs choices.

Avoid making it worse– if you expose a fearful dog to something they are scared of in the wrong way, or too close, or for too long, or to a too scary version of the thing, then you risk making the dog MORE fearful rather than less scared.

Do lots of low arousing, feel good activities to help get through a spooky phase. Loads of scent work and touch ground work is best and being around people and dogs that they know and like.

Don’t pick this time to start something new and potentially stressful. I delayed starting Sylvi’s hydrotherapy as she was in a fearful phase at 6 months old and showed sudden spookiness towards novel objects and people. So going to a new place, being handled by a new person, wearing a floating vest, being showered and dried etc would have been too much for her at that time. Two weeks later when she was back to normal we started hydro and she thrived.

Think back to early socialization- are there any gaps or things you didn’t cover? In winter puppies it’s common to forget to expose them to sunglasses and summer hats and in summer puppies we can forget to get them used to big bulky coats and winter hats for example. Did you miss out mobility scooters and are they an issue now? If you’ve identified a gap then remedial socialization is a great idea- don’t be afraid to ask for help from a reward-based trainer or behaviorist to help you with this.

A fear of certain breeds of dogs can often overcome by remedial socialization (Sylvi has no fear of flat-faced friends!)

Check they are feeling okay- consult your vet is they are behaving out of character or if you see a sudden change. Adolescence can mark the onset of some medical conditions so always rule out any medical cause (including pain) for behavioral changes. Fear and pain are strongly linked and can exacerbate each other. Don’t assume that it’s ‘just’ behavioral as they are young, it’s crucial to rule our medical causes.

If the fearful phase persists or gets worse then don’t delay in getting help, all behavioral issues are easier to ‘fix’ if they have only recently occurred rather than behaviors that have been practiced for months or years. With any luck though your normal (whatever normal is!) adolescent will return pretty quickly.
by Laura McAuliffe, Dog Communication 2016.
Thanks for joining us today – Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Many thanks to Bill Dargay for allowing us to use his Gordon Setters in costume photos for this spooky little article!

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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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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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Tube Feeding Puppies

Over twenty years ago a I co-bred a litter with good friend of mine who handled the whelping of our eight Gordon Setter puppies . Everything went smoothly at the birth and they were all plugging along, doing great and gaining weight when out of the blue, four days after giving birth, the dam became critically ill. An emergency call and wild ride to the vet revealed that Eclampsia had struck, and in addition to being life threatening for our bitch it created the need to completely take over the feeding of those eight newborn puppies, the dam could no longer nurse due to this condition. Without tube feeding, this litter’s chances of surviving and thriving would have been fairly slim. Bottle feeding eight puppies around the clock and all by oneself was not an option. Tube feeding only means by which my dear friend could save those babies.

And that brings us to to thanking Barbara Manson for sharing this excerpt on tube feeding and for bringing this topic to my attention, it’s something I hadn’t thought of in awhile, but it certainly should be given space here, so here we go!

Tube Feeding Puppies

The following is an excerpt from the book, Feeding Dogs and Cats by Mark L. Morris Jr. DVM, Ph D and Lon D. Lewis, DVM, Ph D.  Copyright 1984, Mark Morris Associates, Topeka, Kansas.

Tube feeding, for most people, is the easiest, cleanest, fastest, safest and most preferred way to feed orphans,  An infant feeding tube (available from many hospitals, pharmacies or pediatricians), number 8-10 French, or a small male urethral catheter can be used.  Once weekly, mark the tube 75% of the distance from the nose to the last rib.  This is the length necessary to just reach the stomach.  If more is inserted, when withdrawn it will frequently come back doubled, possibly damaging the esophagus.  Attach the tube to a syringe, aspirated the amount of formula needed and expel any air aspirated.  Open the mouth slightly, and with the head held in the normal position (not flexed upward or downward) gently pass the tube to the mark.  If an obstruction is felt before you reach the mark the tube is in the trachea.  If this is not the case, slowly administer the formula over a two minute period to allow for gastric dilation.  If resistance is felt, stop.  It probably indicates the stomach is full.  With these precautions, regurgitation rarely occurs.  If it does, withdraw the tube and do not feed any more until the next scheduled feeding.  For the first few weeks of life after each feeding, burp the animal (just like an infant) and swab the genital area with moistened cotton to stimulate deification and urination.

Below you’ll find more resources, including websites with photos to help guide you, simply click the colored links to go to there.  This is also where I ask other breeders if they have techniques or advice about tube feeding that can be shared with others to help round out this information? Please use the comment section to add your thoughts or if you’ve got more detail to add than can be shared in comments feel free to send me your notes or an article at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com and I’ll get it published on here.

Many thanks to talented photographer Susan Roy Nelson for the peek-a-boo photo!

Musings on Color

The following includes many excerpts from the article “Musings on Color” published on the blogspot Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover written by Stephanie.

I’ve added my own thoughts and comments to embellish and round out the information for the Gordon Setter lover and breeder.

Setters 1805 - sydenham-edwards-the-setter-1805
This 1805 depiction of “setters” appears in the Cynographia Britannica. Note the black and tan setter and the red setter with the white face. The white dogs was also considered a Setter and it is speculated that these may all be litter mates.

Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Gordon setter is one of a small number of setter breeds, which also includes the English setter, Irish setter, and Irish red and white setter. Though the Gordon Setter now only comes in one acceptable color, the breed’s history included a number of other colors that are now considered to be mismarks. Part of why these colors are in the breed is due to its relationship with the other setters. So, what are these mismarks?

Dogs with more or less than than required in the standard  

*Based on the current breed standard the Gordon Setters depicted in this artwork from the 1940’s carry too much tan.

Inherited on the Brown locus, a dog must be bb to be liver

Liver Gordon
Liver colored Gordon Setter

 

Inherited on the Extension locus, a dog must be ee to be recessive red

Barn hunt image 2
Red Gordon Setter

 

Inherited on the Spotting locus, a dog with a variety of genotypes can have too much white

Looking at these mismarks, they are all recessively inherited except in dogs that are genetically solid but have too much residual white. All of theses colors were well known when the breed was young. Much like the Irish setter, the predominant color in the early years of the breed is actually not what you think it would be when looking at modern dogs. Gordons were once mostly tricolor with some dogs being solid black and tan, liver, or red, but the white markings and other colors fell out of favor and led to the production of the breed you see today.

The current breed standard for the Gordon only allows for black and tan dogs with specific tan markings. Dogs that are anything other than black and tan are disqualified and anything more than a small bit of white on the chest is not allowed. A dog with more or less than the required tan would be penalized, despite the fact that tan markings can vary greatly on dogs that are all genetically tan pointed. So far, it is known that there are modifiers that control this amount of tan, but it isn’t known where they are or how they are inherited.

This is a case where color standard is based on, basically, fashion. What once was popular was no longer liked by those who wrote the breed standard, and thus those other colors faded into obscurity. However, since the colors are basically all recessively inherited, they continue to pop up on occasion in litters that are born today. These past decisions are really problematic when looking at the breed’s history and what this holds for the future.   Stephanie


Sally says…It is at this point that as a breeder of Gordon setters I would step in to say that I disagree with Stephanie’s call that the Gordon’s color standard (black and tan) is based on fashion and that this preference is problematic for the breed.

The color preference written into the standard was developed well over a century ago by avid bird dog breeders. They didn’t have an eye to fashion when it came to writing their standard, but they did know exactly what kind of dog they wanted to hunt over, as well as why those traits, written into the standard, were important to them. It has been my understanding that the vivid black and tan coloring of the Gordon Setter may have been written into the standard as the preferred color because of it’s contrast to the gold, tan and red foliage of the fall hunting season, the black dog contrasting, standing out against the fall foliage, making it far easier for the hunter to follow the dog while he worked the field. A red or buff dog, even a white and tan dog would more easily blend into the foliage, his coat acting to camouflage him as he worked the field. And, with the deaf link to the white gene it is certainly understandable why white was weeded out as an allowed color.

If there are other history buffs out there who can offer more insight as to the color preference we’d love to hear your thoughts and hope you’ll share those and any references for us in the comment section of this article.

Anita Aronsson, Sweden shared this stunning link to photos of Gordon Setters in many colors and patterns, be sure to check it out by clicking here!

We’d also welcome your photos, if you have some to share, of red, liver, or other mismarked Gordons to be shared here to help others learn.  Please email those to us at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com, we will respect your privacy and photos can be published anonymously.

Charlie Royster was kind enough to share this example of Gordon Setter color photo with usColor example

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

 

 

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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.