All About The Show Dog
Multi-Group AKC Judge-Club on how to build a bloodline that will be recognized and awarded in the 2011 show ring where inconsistency often rules.
BUILDING WINNING PEDIGREES
Once upon a time, exhibitors could “get a handle” on what judges liked by the dogs awarded in the ring. They would then take a similar dog to that judge in the future.
Today, handlers, exhibitors, and breeders see little consistency in many judges’ selections. Why do we see so many types in the same breed ring? Perhaps breeding to the breed standard is the “road less traveled."
A breeding program must be built block by block. There is no fast track if one wants to consistently produce winners. A winning bloodline moves forward through carefully chosen individuals having a particular virtue. Once “socked in”, those virtues surface with uniformity in the offspring. These dogs will have the ability to reproduce such traits even if bred to an outcross bitch.
Sadly, too many breeders get lost in a pretty face, eye, and coat. By giving priority to a specific preference, one easily snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. Keeping an unsound dog solely for a pretty head is NOT smart. Heads can be improved in one generation but trailing along are the undesirables. If they don’t appear immediately, rest assured the genes are lurking in the pedigree and will strike with venom.
Building pedigrees of sound individuals is difficult at best. Some faults plague a breeding program for generations. Virtues may be so prevalent, they surface with regularity but with every bloodline comes the “good, the bad and the ugly.” Why issue it a personal invitation? Ignoring and accepting pieces and parts evolves as kennel blindness and often sets type within a kennel. Unfortunately, many breeders can’t recognize a type in their own kennel, but can certainly comment regarding a competitors’ kennel.
The same blindness is seen in judges who unintentionally take the knowledge of their own breed into the ring and apply it to a different breed. Careful judges attempt to analyze and prioritize each breed to its own standard. If they don’t, the breed suffers. Body shape, top line, proper size, and breed specific movement must be considered in all breeds. There is an undeniable “look” that distinguishes one breed from another. Some refer to it s a “look of eagles” and others call it nobility but it is a blending of outline and symmetry. Great Danes, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Boxers have that undeniable look! The good ones reek of breed type. A knowledgeable judge can see it from a mile away. A sound dog lacks correct type if it doesn’t have this particular look. On the other hand, having the look is no excuse for unsoundness.
If breeders pick puppies on a single virtue, soundness may fall by the wayside. IF one picks the puppy that reflects such virtues and still is sound, these virtues will become part of the bloodline and the faults will not tag along in the breeding program. Every breeder has his or her idea regarding breeding practices, but one thing is sure. If one loses the front or a powerful rear, they may NEVER get it back.
It does take time for desired genes to “click” in a breeding program. The “wrong turn” makes the blue ribbons few and far between. If one is lucky enough to win with a virtue, eventually other issues will need to be addressed in that bloodline or wins will become harder to get. Some blame this on poor judging rather than accepting the responsibility for a breeding program “gone south”.
For a reality check, compare your dog to the competition while sitting ringside. How does it stack up to the class winners? If your dog is different, don’t change your breeding program to fit what wins that day. This may be fleeting at best. This IS a sport of diverse opinions and it is only one judge’s opinion. When a judge of distinction and good reputation gives your dog a blue ribbon, it confirms the direction of your breeding program, so hang in there.
Kennel blindness slips in under the fog of good intentions. It’s difficult to identify and harder to “weed out”. The bright side is a litter of puppies gives us choices. Pets recoup some of the expenses. As horse breeders, we know there is ONE foal. Research of pedigree and genetic problems as well as viewing offspring is mandatory. Being past rabbit breeders, we ate our mistakes. The bottom line is this. Dogs and horses are for the long run. Therefore, proper selection of both studs, bitch, and puppies must be taken seriously if a bloodline is to become a successful breeding program.
Don’t try to second guess a judge. Do your homework and be selective when entering. The best thing about dogs is the variety. We have choice of color, temperament, type, and our dogs have the ability to compete in many venues. Canine education and involvement is unending. The AKC continuously adds new breeds. The breeder is then challenged to breed to a particular standard or blueprint. This is exciting in itself. The responsibility of a true dog judge is to find that dog representing the standard and to reward it accordingly.
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