by Sherry Gibson
Your bitch is finished and has all her health clearances. Do you plan to breed her? How do you select the right mate for her? By asking the right questions.
First, what are your bitch’s virtues and where does she fall short? There is no such thing as a “perfect” dog. Recognizing your bitch’s weaknesses can guide you to a male that will complement her. The old time breeders wisely tell us, “Never breed fault to fault.” You might be willing to take a chance on an otherwise spectacular stud in spite of him having a short upper arm, for example, but not if your female also has that same fault.
Maybe you are considering a top ranked dog. What does that particular dog have to offer your female? You should never be so dazzled by a dog’s show record that you cannot honestly evaluate the dog behind the title. If you haven’t had your hands on the dog and examined him thoroughly, how can you be sure he will give you what you need in this mating?
By attempting to correct a fault, be careful you do not introduce another opposing fault. Some seem to think, for example, that breeding an undersized bitch to a large male will somehow result in offspring of correct size. Genetics does not work that way. The offspring are likely to be a mixture of some large and some small puppies. Better to breed to a dog of correct size and select the puppies in the litter that are also correct.
Is this to be your female’s only litter or is she one part of a planned breeding program destined to produce several litters? If you plan to have only one litter from her, then you have to get it right the first time. You would probably do best using a proven stud who has several litters on the ground that you can evaluate. Is he producing similar type with various females? What traits does he seem to be passing on consistently? Do the puppies show the features that you would like to improve in your bitch? On the other hand, if you know you will breed her again, you might want to try that exciting young unproven, unfinished male that impressed you at the National.
Going to your National Specialty with an open mind can afford you the opportunity to see lots of different dogs. Ask to examine dogs of interest and find the perfect match for your girl. Don’t ignore young dogs and dogs not yet finished. Even if they never obtain the coveted “CH” in front of their name, if they give you what you need, it is the right choice for your female.
Once you’ve selected the right dog, there will be more questions. Is he standing to approved bitches? Would your female be acceptable? What is his stud fee and what guarantees are offered? What are his health clearances? Will it be a natural breeding or artificial insemination? Is this a line-breeding or a total outcross for your bitch? If there are common dogs in the pedigrees, how far back are they? How many times do they appear in each pedigree? The more you ask, the better your chance of getting the desired results.
This article first appeared in the December 2010 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. To subscribe, visit American Kennel Club