Is it important to understand pedigrees and your dog origins? ....... ....... chapter 1
As I approach the opening of my own small dog related business after many years working in a variety of industries and coming full circle, I contemplate since my earlier days in the dog world 40 years ago how the approach to dog exhibiting and breeding has changed. Attitudes have certainly changed since I started out in the world of pedigree dog breeding and exhibiting but I am not sure if it is all for the best.
When I was learning about dog breeding and understanding the importance of Kennel Club breed standards it was imperative to have a full understanding of each breeds construction, character, behaviour and what were the most important and typical features of the breeds. This was something that I took on board with relish when I specialised in Dachshunds and the 6 varieties, studying as many books as I could read and learning the basics from the top breeders and exhibitors in the country at that time, looking at confirmations of the best dogs and studying the skeletal make up of the different breed varieties trying to best understand what made a Champion a Champion. This considerable information gained in my opinion is still most essential to have as foundation knowledge before contemplating breeding and exhibiting dogs otherwise how do you know if you are going in the right direction in your own breeding plans!
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One thing I found which was both fascinating and a fundamental was understanding the make up of the dogs in pedigrees behind those that were winning and trying to understand why the mating of certain dogs to each other created top winners or not. Also understanding the merits of each breeders dogs and what were the best features they had 'locked' into their own breeding programmes as standard and which could be used positively in future breeding programmes. It was a case of comparing the structures of good dogs and comparing them to my own interpretation of the breed standard.
I spent many years building up a vast 'deluxe match a pedigree' book with photographs of each dog where I could put together the two 5 generation pedigrees to compare and understand the relationships and get a feel for what might happen with the theoretical mating and by learning the merits of each dog and how it was bred what traits might present in a resultant litter of puppies. This I found fascinating and watched with interest what others did and what was produced and made either physical or mental notes of the resultant offspring. Once I felt confident in understanding the whole process and only then did I start on my own programme of breeding for healthy, top quality puppies of a type that I felt I could predict. Needless to say it wasn't anywhere as simple as that and lots of other factors became evident such as the mating of two lines producing a fault or faults where the parents did not show this. At that time we did not have the benefit of the DNA testing available today for a variety of inherited faults so it was down to again learning by what you were doing and improving your knowledge and hopefully preventing this occurrence in future litters.
My question to my readers for this first chapter is do the new owners, exhibitors and breeders follow the same process that I did? Are the established and longstanding breeders prepared to help and give advice to those new into the breeds to help them better understand what to do when preparing a breeding programme? Or do the beginners/newcomers just use the most popular and top winning dogs at stud regardless of their breeding lines because they do not understand how to select the best dog for their bitches?
In our current 'disposable world' and in a world of 'quick fix' am I a dinosaur and behind the times - or is our sport losing its ability to maintain knowledge within its future breeders?? Is anyone really interested in breeding lines or do they just want to own a dog that will win?????
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