SEVEN FOUNDATIONS
OF A SUCCESSFUL DOG BREEDER

The following article by Jonathan Jeffrey Kimes (Pluperfect Kennels, Kansas City, Missouri)
first appeared in the 1996 Cardigan Welsh Corgi handbook. (Thoughts For the Dog Breeder)

1. ENJOY YOUR DOGS
The primary reason anyone becomes involved with dog breeding and showing is a fundamental love of dogs. We treasure the companionship, the never failing loyalty, the delight they exude. We love to have them on our beds. Their eagerness to face the new day, even when we wake them up at dreadful hours, provides us a wonderment that brings back the exuberance of childhood. They forgive us when we lose our temper, when we are impatient, when we are far less than they are. They bring out the best of ourselves, they nurture the "big" us. Unfortunately, dog breeding and exhibiting can tempt our "little" selves. It can feed a fragile ego until it becomes a raging ego.
Often, this need to feel we are better than our fellow man is expressed in our possessions.
We need to have the biggest winner, the producer of the most champions, the most champion puppies. We buy, we CO-own, we collect. Soon we have no time for dog pleasures, no time to play or rub a grateful belly, no time to stroke a patient brow. Soon we have no room for more dogs; we stack them and crate them and store them as though they were baubles that have no meaning but to make us feel important. We lose our ability to love.
Dog showing and breeding is a great vocation. It is creative and challenging and very rewarding. But we must never expect our hobby to take the place of a psychologist's work. We must never expect an unhealthy mental state to be cured by self-indulgence. Far too many people take to showing and breeding for the wrong reasons. Their houses go to ruin, their bank accounts evaporate, their credit hits the skids, their spouses and children are left to survive on their own as the breeder pursues their own manifestation of what they perceive to prove their self worth.
Being a dog breeder is a huge commitment. It means we should assign ourselves the role of lifetime student. It means we will be humbled in countless ways and in countless circumstances. It means our lessons will be of the hard knock variety if we are to truly learn them. It means frustration, long hours, late nights and early mornings. It means never getting to sleep-in again. It means finding friendships - some of which will last for a lifetime and some of which will founder, being built on social advantage. It means being quoted and misquoted and having words put in your mouth. It means being given ample opportunity to be as "small" as a human being can be. But, hopefully, it can provide an opportunity to learn to be "big", to be generous, inquisitive, and adventurous.
We should never ask ourselves if we are envied or important or successful. Those questions, are meaningless. At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves, "Am I proud of the person I've become?" What we must always be are dog lovers. We must be their advocates. We must ensure the life of every dog we breed and every dog we own is fulfilled and an illustration of humanity at its finest hour. Our vanity must not be stroked by having our pictures in a magazine or seeing our name on some ranking system. Our self-worth must come from knowing we provide for our dogs a life of love, of pleasure, and of happiness. 

2. BREED FOR IMPROVEMENT, NOT WINNERS
It is easy to become lost in the purpose of breeding quality dogs. For some, the attraction of the bright lights, the glamour and the glitz cause them to stray from the path.
Developing a bloodline that is well considered and that is a positive influence for the breed takes considerable discipline. Too often, the seemingly slow and carefully orchestrated effort to improve a breed is crossed up with the immediate desire to breed that one big winner and become famous.
The breeder's pledge must be to harbor and safeguard the breed. No breed is in perfect shape when the breeder happens upon it, and none shall be perfect when they lave. But to leave a breed in better shape than it was when you came upon it is the greatest compliment. To improve type, movement, temperament and health must be the bottom line for every committed breeder. Such accomplishment takes a long-range plan that is carefully thought through. It requires dedication and purpose. All too often, we are sidetracked by our desires to breed to the latest big winner, and then to the next and the next. Before long the pedigree is a long list of "who's who" that have no relationship to each other, other than they found success in the ring.
What is key to learn (and to believe) is success in the ring is not an automatic indication of the dog's true quality. We all wish one indicated the other but that is too easy. It would require the removal of human fallacy to be accomplished! Dogs do not excel for all the same reasons. Consequently, you can't simply breed one big winner to another and produce more big winners. Every feature and their nature of inheritance must be studied and understood before you can "manage" the inheritance variables. Once you gain this skill, you are on the road to producing a line of winners.

3. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
The breeding of fine purebred dogs should be considered the pursuit of perfection - it is not the maintenance of it. All dogs have faults, all dogs are less than ideal in some ways and areas. If not, the "ideal" has not been well enough conceived. It is very easy to fall into the trap of being defensive about one's own dogs. This usually happens because what we assume to be correct is challenged by another as being less so. This disharmony causes confusion in our mind and ultimately unhappiness. To right ourselves, we often become defensive and try to rid ourselves of that which is causing us the discomfort -namely the opinion that does not compliment our own.

We must realize that "truth" is the ultimate standard by which our decisions should be made. In most cases, a roached back is a roached back, whether we choose to recognize it as such or not. Consequently, the best way for us to not be put into a position of being unhappily surprised is to pursue knowledge relentlessly to ensure our opinion is as accurate and close to the "truth" as possible. This knowledge is gained in many ways, one of which is learning from fellow breeders. We must fight the urge to make up our minds about something and refuse to consider another viewpoint. Indeed, we do not make decisions based on facts when we are first learning, we are depending upon what we perceive to be the expertise of others to provide that for us. If that so-called expertise is, in fact, faulty, our whole knowledge base is called into question. And that causes us great anxiety. The best place to sit is in the seat of the knowledge seeker. Whenever provided with an opinion that is different than the one you currently hold, always seek to understand the viewpoint of the other. Why does the person perceive something differently than you." Understanding another's point of view can be the road to greater knowledge, if you shut that door and do not entertain the prospect of learning something different than what you think is truth you will never actually recognize the truth and you will not succeed in your goal. Quite honestly, you should be more critical of your dogs than anyone else could possibly be. That is not to say you should attribute faults to your dogs they do not possess, but your evaluation must be as detailed as possible and you must strive to see clearly their true faults and virtues. From this comes the map to success.

4. DEAL WITH OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DEAL WITH YOU
Sounds a bit like the golden rule that we learn in childhood. Yet it is amazing how many people forget this very important axiom. In dealing with others, regardless of the matter, think always of the other person's position. I have heard repeatedly, people state how they were burned in a CO-ownership agreement. All too often the agreement is geared toward benefiting one part (often the seller) over another. Written agreements somehow are tainted as being only needed in a contentious situation. This is the first misconception.
Not having a written agreement should be the very rare exception, not the reverse. Too often, should a worthwhile puppy be produced from one of these undefined arrangements, the fight is on for possession. Before contemplating selling a dog on a CO-ownership or leasing it or offering stud service for a puppy back, you should think through what exactly you expect and desire from such an arrangement. Too often, these business dealings occur in the spur of the moment during a telephone conversation, and the deal is struck before either party has really had an opportunity to think it through. For some reason, rather than rethinking the situation, we tend to try to follow through on such an ill-conceived arrangement only to end up bitter enemies in the end.
If people would stop and think about the likely end result, they would realize the best possible thing to protect the friendship is to have a written understanding. It is very rare a litter is going to have more than one star if any at all. 
Consequently, it is important to understand who is going to own that super puppy, should it appear. People are too willing to tear apart relationships should one person seem to benefit a bit more than another. This is too sad and is reflective of the self-benefit motivation that all too many find as the driving force for their actions. When pressed, it is far better to give than to receive. It is far better to let the other seemingly benefit than to destroy a relationship and acquire the reputation of being disreputable and self centred, if for no other reason than it makes you grow as a human being, which is probably a fair trade off in the long run. 

5. BY GIVING YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE
Another pitfall breeders often experience is the inability to celebrate other's successes. While certainly we feel the route we are taking is the best way to approach that utopian plateau of breed perfection, there are actually many routes to that same goal. It takes nothing at all away from our own accomplishments to recognize the accomplished efforts of other breeders. This inability and unwillingness to appreciate other's efforts usually comes from having made a decision not to breed to certain bloodlines or deal with certain persons. When such a kennel then produces a success, it is difficult for us to acknowledge such an achievement for we tend to find that inconsistent with our opinion of that particular person or family of dogs. It takes quite an honest and secure person to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others. While it is probably good advice to hold our criticisms closer to our chest, recognizing another's achievement only brings good things. By being someone who can see the virtues in breeding lines other than your own, you gain a reputation of fairness and objectivity that is a very rare pearl in dogdom.
You may find, over time, your point of view and your philosophies are taken with much greater weight when others do not perceive them to have originated in a mind consumed with self-aggrandizement. Thus, by doing so you lose nothing and yet you gain so very much. 

6. MAKE USE OF OTHER'S ACHIEVEMENTS
One of the worst situations a breeder can find her/himself in is to partition themselves off from another kennel or bloodline. It is highly unlikely that all improvements toward the perfection of a breed are going to come from one single kennel or bloodline. Like flowers in the field, they will spring up in various places. The clever breeder is the one who knows how to pick from all the field those who will make the ultimate, sublime bouquet. And to do this, you must be able to use the strengths of other kennels and bloodlines.
Breeders will tend to have certain biases; and quite honestly, there are certain strengths and weaknesses in most bloodlines. While you may feel you have achieved the highest ground in certain areas, there will doubtless be other areas in which your dogs and bloodlines are less strong than others. Not to recognize this fact is to ensure you will plateau quite early in your breeding career. And by that I mean you will stabilize and go no further. You must always keep a watchful eye for that very special bloom that will enhance your bouquet. It is his sophisticated combining of families without losing the good points of your own bloodline that strengthen a kennel and move it forward in breed importance. It takes careful consideration, orchestration and pruning to come to fruition. 

7. YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR MORALS
My last axiom addresses the whole truth of morality. It has many facets and many ways of expressing itself. Spreading rumours, the accuracy of which might be doubtful, is one very good example. Selling dogs on Co-ownerships as a means to control other breeders is certainly another. Accusing other lines of genetic problems while being less than entirely honest about your own is yet another. In all, it goes to the very core of who we are. Do we know right from wrong? Do we practice right in all circumstances? 
Dog breeding is not about that one great win or that one great winner, it is about breed improvement over time, it is about protecting a breed.
Too many people are in search of some kind of sign of their self worth and they think they will obtain some special level of respect and honour if they have a big winner. Dog breeding is a lifetime's work. It is a continuum which no matter how quickly you want to "put yourself on the map", you will ultimately be a reflection of your true character. 
To wit, you can't fool all of the people all of the time. There is no honour in "adjusting" reality to give you the appearance of achieving something you do not have.
Politicking for wins will not make your dogs any better than they are. Faking your dogs will not make them any better than they are. You may think you can fool the world, but you will ultimately pay the price. No one wants to be a pretender. And yet, some of the worst pretenders are people who seem to be infatuated with spreading rumours about other people and dogs. These people live in glass houses and invariably they know it. 
The breeding of dogs is not about how you impress the neighbours, your peers or anyone else. It is the expression of your love of dogs and your personal pursuit in creating an art. 
You cannot lie about the art you create; you cannot lie to yourself. While this list, I am quite sure, sounds like a sermon from the mount, it encompasses the many pitfalls that we dog breeders face every day. Some of us are equipped to navigate them. We are all tested from time to time, even the most educated, psychologically 
balanced, intelligent and honest amongst us. 
There are times when it feels much better to zing someone who has been hurtful, to control those whom we feel do not have the proper motivation, to become the ones who attract the adulation. Only through careful thought and well-considered action can we hope to become better people and therefore better dog breeders.

PREFERRED BREED TYPE

Why The Stand-Out Best Dog Can Be A Loser Katie Gammill- E. K. (Katie) Gammill

The Best of the Best or one that looks like the rest? Lets be honest. Something called preferred type is flooding the rings today and in many breeds, it has little to do with the Breed Standard. When current type does not equal correctness, the best dog can lose because in many rings, the fatal flaw is being a stand-out.

The best dog youll ever breed may be the hardest dog you ever finish! A dog show friend, absent from the sport for several years, attended some local shows with me.

Welcoming the opportunity to view dogs in general after her sabbatical, she became visually distressed. Her despair increased when a less than average class dog received BOB. The waning quality in her beautiful breed breaks her heart. She stated it would be wasted effort to show a dog correct to the standard today, as some judges feel compelled to award dogs conforming to the majority of the entries.

Observing other breeds, she remarks on the lack of neck, restricted front movement and the lack of rear follow through; we discuss gay tails and breed type variances. We watch faulty movement and see coats dragging the ground. Weak pasterns and sickle hocks complete the picture. She wonders what causes this to happen to functional dogs in such a short time. It seems the correct dogs have fallen victim to what one may refer to as the Perfection of Mediocrity.

Today, many breeders and owners turn to performance, choosing not to participate in a crap shoot where such variety in type confuses both judges and ringside. I make this statement at the expense of being tarred and feathered but increasingly, the best dog youll ever breed may be the hardest dog you will ever finish. It will be the odd man out and look different from the majority of dogs represented in the ring. Why? Some judges, insecure in a breed and therefore lacking courage, choose to walk different dogs rather than stick their neck out. Understandable, but should those lacking confidence be passing judgment on anothers dog?

My old mentor said, The pendulum of type swings to and fro, but those remaining true to the standard triumph in the end. Those dedicated breeders have the knowledge to restore a breed to its initial form once it hits bottom. Should a judge reward a dog to suggest it could possibly assist in correcting breed faults? NO! It is a breeders responsibility to incorporate such animals into their programs, regardless of success in the show ring. Judges are to judge to the written standard to the best of their ability, fairly and efficiently.

They avoid awarding drags of a breed when possible but judges have little insight into the Pandoras Box of breeding. A respected dog person of long standing approached me with this statement while at a seminar.

A judge CAN NOT GO WRONG by putting up winners conforming to the majority of the type of dogs in the ring on a given day. My response was Surely not! Well, I believe it now! After observing an all breed judge from ringside, I watched two outstanding individuals walk because they looked different from the rest of the short neck, sickle hock, smaller than average dogs lacking side gait that toddled around the ring like fuzzy little caricatures of the breed.

This strange look alike perspective takes over in many breed rings and not just among judges. Asking a breeder what their standard said about head planes, the response was: What are parallel planes? We discussed the occipital bone, short and medium muzzles, balanced heads, etc. Reading a standard and applying it can be two different things. Judges should have the ability to articulate why one dog wins over another. So is that why they make terminology common among standards - to make it easier for judges? If anyone can describe a bulldog and an afghan using the same language, please step forward.

Removing the point system from the old standards has had a negative affect. In a final decision between two comparable individuals, one has an idea where to hang their hat regarding prioritizing. Should we just BREED TO WIN or should we BREED TO THE STANDARD and expect judges to judge to the Standard? It is a "Judas Kiss" to any breed when a judge puts up a dog simply because it looks like the majority in the ring. It encourages people to breed to winners rather than to a breed standard. In judges education, they address soundness but type takes priority. Educators assume that new applicants understand structure and corresponding movement.

Type without soundness is as detrimental to a breed as soundness without type. A bad front and bad rear working in sequence produces balance. Do two wrongs make a right? The goal is a balance between type and soundness. A breed must be able to walk to the water bowl without falling over its own feet! This brings us to the next question. Are not judges protectors of the breed standards? Judges education is NOT at fault. Perhaps the problem is what some judging applicants do NOT bring to the table! It is a privilege to pass judgment on a breed but one has the responsibility of understanding Basic Dog 101. The AKCs required anatomy test neither assures someones knowledge nor is it any guarantee a judge has the ability to analyze structure and movement.

Some breeder judges today send dogs with a handler giving little thought as to their quality or future effect on a breed. Shouldnt breeder judges be especially careful to send correct dogs for public observation? Breeders have a responsibility to put out the best of the best rather than a dog that wins simply because it looks like the rest. By so doing, they are sending false signals to both ringside and new judges. When judges say, This must be what the breeders want as the ring is flooded with this type it is detrimental to any breed. It IS NOT about what breeders want.

Breeders and judges have a responsibility to breed and judge to standard. Should handlers show dogs for clients when they KNOW the dog or bitch is not a good representative of the breed? Breeders and exhibitors have a responsibility to promote only dogs that DO represent their breed standard and to sell as pets those who do not! A good handler should make every effort to finish a dog but they too are responsible and should be more selective regarding client dogs. Handlers who read the standard and who have the courage to turn down an inferior dog are to be admired.

Advertisement does not always mean a dog represents breed excellence. Handlers do not always present good dogs. Advertising carries some influence and if a judge selects winners on advertising alone, they do a disservice to the breed and it reflects on their ability as a judge. Priority judging can be detrimental to breeds as Judges become caught up in selecting for individual virtues be it eye, ear set, feet, or coat color. That is why some specialty judges put up pieces rather than the whole package. Virtues are important, but a dog should fill the eye.

A single virtue cannot take precedence over a plethora of faults! Priority judging explains why many judges take so long to judge a class. Dismayed exhibitors approach me with serious concerns regarding the direction of our sport. Time and effort is required to understand what makes a breed breed specific, and what constitutes breed excellence. There is no short cut. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. However, it should be a knowledgeable opinion. Personal preference only enters in when two dogs are equal according to the breed standard. Another issue is spot entering. Granted, today people enter under specific judges where they feel there is a chance of winning. However, why on a four-day weekend, do we see one point on Thursday, a major on Friday, one point on Saturday, and a major on Sunday? Should not one support the person who supports them by entering all four days? If there is a major, dont break it by not attending. Dont bump up a bitch or dog to BOB without first asking the other exhibitors their preference.

Many people drive miles only to find someone failed to show up ringside or bumped up a new champion and broke the major. This co-operation is something we used to be able to count on. Today it is iffy at best. This is sportsmanship! Watch dogs go around the ring. Some are structurally inefficient. Some shoulders do not open up, the dog reaches from the elbow. Ask yourself why one dog out-moves another. Go analyze short coated dogs. Take this knowledge to your own breed ring and look beneath the coat. Understand top lines, body shape, breed specific movement and toy/moderate/ giant. Do some study and then some soul searching.

Ringside observers and breed enthusiasts look on in dismay today, wondering where the functional dogs of the past have gone. Sadly, some faults are so prevalent today they are viewed as virtues. "Winning because of an exceptional breeding program takes the breed and breeders toward breed excellence. That should be the goal yesterday, and today." Requested to address this issue, I decided to take time to sit back and see the big picture. The big picture is upon us, folks, and it is not pretty! My reason to become a judge was the challenge to select the best of the best according to a written standard. I love dogs!

I love SOUND dogs with BREED TYPE! Both virtues, believe it or not, can be present in the same animal! Through combined efforts and a willingness to call a spade a spade, our breeds WILL survive. Breeding for the sake of winning is a downhill slide. This alone assures the future of our breeds. Turning things around will take dedicated breeders and judges, critical handler selection, and educated exhibitors.

Our sport deserves nothing less than the best of our intentions.

ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS.

1. Why do breeder judges put dogs with handlers when they know the animal does not represent breed excellence?

2. Why do handlers accept such dogs knowing once they finish, they will be petted out?

3. Are you kennel blind and do you breed to standard?

4. Should breeders and newcomers read the standard prior to stud and bitch selection?

5. When will more mentors open up to newcomers?

6. And lastly, are gas money and filler dogs destroying our sport?

Putting a breed back on track requires ETHICAL HANDLERS, DEDICATED BREEDERS, AN UNDERSTANDING OF BREED STANDARDS and KNOWLEDGEABLE JUDGES WITH THE COURAGE TO MAKE RESPONSIBLE SELECTIONS.

Being a judge is not for the faint of heart. Sending the best dog to the next level and being a part of its journey to the pinnacle of success is a thrill of a lifetime.

There is but ONE standard. Preferred breed type is like a flavor of the month, very fleeting!

BREEDERS, JUDGES AND EXHIBITORS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT THEIR BREED STANDARDS. CURRENT FADS AND PERSONAL OPINIONS ARE FLEETING AND DESTRUCTIVE.

- E. K. (Katie) Gammill

Small Population Breeds and Issues of Genetic Diversity

Jerold S Bell DVM, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine 

(This article was originally published in the March 2007 AKC Perspectives Delegates Newsletter.) 

Issues of genetic diversity are a concern to dog breeders, and this can especially be so for breeds with small populations. The concern is whether there is enough genetic variation within a breeds gene pool to maintain health and vitality. Breeders should be concerned about genetic diversity, because there are examples where damage has been done to a breed due to breeding practices. Restriction of genetic diversity can also occur in large population breeds. 

All genes come in pairs: one from the sire and one from the dam. Each gene in the pair is called an allele. If both alleles in a pair are of the same type, the gene pair is homozygous. If the two alleles are different, the gene pair is heterozygous. While each dog can have a maximum of two different alleles at a gene pair, many different alleles are potentially available to be part of the gene pair. The greater the number of alleles that are available at each gene pair (called genetic polymorphism), the greater the genetic diversity of the breed. 

If there is no breed diversity in a gene pair, but the particular homozygous gene that is present is not detrimental, there is no negative effect on breed health. The characteristics that make a breed reproduce true to its standard are, in fact, based on nonvariable (that is, homozygous) gene pairs. 

The origins of breeds have a lot to do with genetic diversity. A breed established with a working phenotype tends to have diverse founder origins, and significant diversity. Even with substantial population bottlenecks, the breed can maintain considerable amounts of genetic diversity. This was shown in a molecular genetic study of the Chinook breed, which was reduced to 11 modern founders in 1981. Breeds established by inbreeding on a limited number of related founder individuals could have reduced diversity. Many breeds have also gone through diversity reducing bottlenecks; such as occurred during World War II. For most of these breeds, their gene pools have expanded through breeding for many generations, resulting in a stable population of healthy dogs. 

There are two factors that must be considered when evaluating genetic diversity and health issues in a breed; the average level of inbreeding, and detrimental recessive genes. With a small population, there is a tendency to find higher average inbreeding coefficients due to the relatedness between dogs from common ancestors. There is, however, no specific level or percentage of inbreeding that causes impaired health or vigor. The problems that inbreeding depression cause in purebred populations stem from the effects of deleterious recessive genes. If the founding population of a breed produces a high frequency of a deleterious recessive gene, then the breed will have issues with that disorder. This can be seen as smaller litter size, increased neonatal death, high frequency genetic disease, or impaired immunity. If these issues are present then the breed needs to seriously consider limited genetic diversity. 

The issue of high average inbreeding coefficients is one that all breeds go through during their foundation. As the population increases and the average relatedness of dogs goes down (based on a fixed number of generations), the average inbreeding coefficient for the breed will go down. The effect of initially higher inbreeding coefficients in small population breeds will depend on the presence of deleterious recessive genes that will be expressed when homozygous. 

Some breeders discourage linebreeding and promote outbreeding in an attempt to protect genetic diversity in their breed. It is not the type of matings utilized (linebreeding or outbreeding) that causes the loss of genes from a breed gene pool. Rather, loss of genes occurs through selection: the use and non-use of offspring. If a breed starts narrowing their focus to breeding stock from a limited number of lines, then a loss of genetic diversity will occur. 

The process of maintaining healthy lines, with many breeders crossing between lines and breeding back as they see fit, maintains diversity in the gene pool. If some breeders outbreed, and some linebreed to certain dogs that they favor while others linebreed to other dogs that they favor, then breedwide genetic diversity is maintained. It is the varied opinion of breeders as to what constitutes the ideal dog, and their selection of breeding stock based on their opinions, that maintains breed diversity. 

The most important factor for diminished genetic diversity in dog breeds is the popular sire syndrome. The overuse of a popular sire beyond a reasonable contribution through frequent breedings significantly skews the gene pool in his direction, and reduces the diversity of the gene pool. Any genes that he possesses - whether positive or negative - will increase in frequency. Through this founders effect, breed-related genetic disease can occur. Another insidious effect of the popular sire syndrome is the loss of genetic contribution from quality, unrelated males who are not used for breeding. There is a finite number of quality bitches bred each year. If one male is used in an inordinate amount of matings, there will be fewer females left for these quality males that should be contributing to the gene pool. The popular sire syndrome is a significant factor in both populous breeds and breeds with small populations. 

The best methods for ensuring the health and diversity of any breeds gene pool are to: 1) Avoid the popular sire syndrome. 2) Utilize quality dogs from the breadth of your population to expand the gene pool. 3) Monitor genetic health issues through regular health surveys. 4) Do genetic testing for breed-related disorders. 5) Participate in open health registries, such as CHIC (www.caninehealthinfo.org  ) to manage genetic disorders

 

 










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