Assuming that you are interested in the welfare of the breed and in the welfare of every individual puppy that you produce, I will discuss the “Quality” road. This part is a test of your ability to care, your ethics, your perseverance, and your industry. It is also a never-ending learning process. There are no real shortcuts, but there are a few guidelines to mark the trail for you.
The following is a list of principles that will blaze this trail toward becoming a successful breeder. These principles originated with articles I have read, some good advice I have been given, and some bad experiences through which I have had to suffer.
- If you forget all else, remember this one guiding principle: Breed only out of love for your dogs, or for your happiness and pleasure, but never for profit, because if you do, your accounts will never balance.
- It is absolutely essential to have a mental picture of the dog that you want to produce.
- You must develop an appreciation of true type and learn to recognize it at a glance.
- Do not fall into the trap of thinking that type is confined to the head, for type must be embodied in the entire dog.
- Don’t take advice from people who are unsuccessful breeders; opinions worth having are proved by successes, not words.
- Don’t join the ranks of those who worship pedigrees.
- The tools of a breeder are called inbreeding (which the timid refer to linebreeding) and outcrossing. You must learn the dangers and benefits of each before you can master these tools.
- A breeder understands the basic rules of genetic inheritance but does not worship them.
- The use of indiscriminate outcrosses is a shortcut to grief.
- Don’t inbreed just because that is what successful breeders do.
- Don’t try to recreate some dog by inbreeding on it. That dog is gone forever and you should limit yourself to trying to recapture virtues that the dog possessed.
- When planning a breeding, study the potential parents and grandparents in great detail, but do not waste your time with contemplating the great-grandparents and older generations.
- There are two edges to the breeder’s sword! The front edge is called “mating,” and the back edge is called “selection.” It is not sufficient to be skillful at choosing the right stud to be bred to some particular bitch, because the true mark of a breeder is the ability to select. You must remember that you had a particular purpose for the mating, and you need to select from the resulting puppies so that your purpose is realized.
- Do not lose track of the puppies that you have produced.
- Always remember that your future as a breeder is invested in the puppies on the ground, and you must do your best to ensure that they achieve the optimum development of mind and body.
- Don’t try to find a substitute for the animal that has the qualities that you desire.
- Don’t mate animals that have the same serious faults, because if you do, you will have a difficult time trying to undo that bit of mischief.
- Don’t use mediocre animals for breeding.
- Don’t mate non-complimentary types.
- Make your breedings only between animals of complimentary types, and don’t be frightened of breeding from an animal that has obvious faults as long as his mate has the compensating virtues.
- Always remember that you are dealing with the entire dog and not just the part that concerns you at the moment.
- Don’t allow yourself to be kennel blind.
- Don’t allow your feelings of the owner to influence your choice of a stud dog.
- Don’t ever become so enamored with any stud dog that you become blind to his faults.
- It is usually a great mistake to chase after the famous champion or the winner of some prestigious show. Just because a dog has won a particular award means only that he was best in the ring, not that he is best for the breed or, especially, that he is just right for your bitch.
This is a partial excerpt of over 50 tips for the novice breeder taken from Stan Zielinkski’s excellent book, Saint Bernards from the Stoan Perspective. While this does focus specifically on the Saint Bernard, this book is loaded with excellent advice for all breeders of dogs, regardless of the particular breed. While it may look a bit out of place with all of the books on your chosen breed, this is a book that should be in every dog breeders library.