Is your dog an asset or hindrance to your breeding program?

After talking to some longtime breeders, I have come to realize that there are two ways to look at a dog’s strengths and weaknesses.  You can either look at the dog’s strengths and decide that those strong points are worth preserving despite the dog’s faults or you can decide that the strengths aren’t worth preserving if you are also risking retaining those faults.  I have read many times that you should not discard a dog so easily in a breed with a small gene pool, but it’s also true that you should start with the best specimens you can attain, so the question remains that once you have a dog and see it’s strengths and faults (after it matures), you have to decide whether the strengths are important enough to your overall breeding program and the breed to accept the faults that may also come through to the next generation.

A great example is a “pet” quality golden retriever I met 20+ years ago that was clearly not a show dog, but she had a front that was so structurally correct that it was better than anything that was being shown in the confirmation ring at that time. As a breeder some people may say it was worth incorporating that bitch into their lines to get the front, but with the exceptional front might come a roached topline, narrow head with not enough stop, a serious lack of bone and no health clearances on her parents.   Would you be willing to risk all of the other good qualities you’ve developed to correct the bad fronts in the breed?  In this case because her parents were unknowns, there would be no way to know whether the bitch’s bad traits would be strong enough to destroy years of work developing level toplines, correct heads, bone and clearances for many generations, but it would be part of the risk of this situation.

In your own dogs, what qualifies as a dog you would choose not to breed if you have done all the work of attaining a championship and making sure the dog passed all of its health clearances?  Many people wouldn’t even think twice about breeding that dog after putting in all the time, effort and money they have already put in this far, not to mention that they would not want to place a dog they have bonded with without a very good reason.  Would you breed the dog once or twice and base further breeding decisions on the quality of the offspring?

When you look at your own dogs do you see traits that are so nice that you feel their faults are worth accepting to preserve their strongest points?  I would hope that would be the motivation behind using any dog in our breeding programs.  When I look at each of my welshies, I do see strong traits that I wouldn’t want to loose in the next generation as well as areas of improvement.

I’ve always known that you should never double up on faults and you should find a mate for your dog that improves the areas where they are weak, but are there any faults you consider so unacceptable that you would not breed the dog even though the fault is not a disqualification in your breed?

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