Sunday May 22, 2011

Often writing ideas come to me when I'm out on my walks; especially when it is early, the sun just peeking over the trees and air is still. With my walking buddy charging in all directions my thoughts are almost always on dogs and these were my reflections from yesterday. Breeding dogs; I know a lot of breeders and each and every one has their own agenda; why they breed, what they breed, how they breed and their ultimate goal. Unfortunately many do it for the money; some to produce their own line of a breed with the physical and temperamental traits which they desire and then there are the people who are breeding for a better dog for the average family.

 So what about structure; is it important or is it all about vanity? Structure is extremely important; first let's look at the definition of biological structure - mode of organization; construction and arrangement of tissues, parts, or organs. So structure is the important stuff; it does factor in with how they look and move and it can also be what makes or breaks a dog physically. All of my dogs over the years have been structurally sound but one; Clyde. He was a poorly bred dog and was forever injured because of his structure deficits.

Being that I am a dog trainer and photographer I meet alot of dogs. One of the things that I hear on a regular basis is "I think we are going to breed him/her." Many people just love their dog so much that they want a little clone; "oh to have a puppy from Fido would be so great wouldn't it?" As they tell me this; brimming with pride for their pooch they don't expect what is coming next. Out comes my soap box; I climb up, give them all the facts and climb down. My job done; they are left to ponder the whole breeding thing.

Being that our dogs all came from this: the gray wolf, the structure of our dogs should somewhat resemble the same, correct? Our dogs should possess a square structure; moderate chest, straight and strong front and back legs neither turning in nor out, good strong tight feet, a level topline and nice length of muzzle. Hold on a second; that doesn't sound like many of the breeds we have today does it? We humans have taken to manipulating canine structure to suit our fancy and in the process destroyed many a dog.

We now have dogs that are much longer than they are tall, dogs who literally have no muzzle, pocket pooches that break if you look at them sideways and monster dogs who live a fraction of their intended life expectancy. Yes we have reeked havoc with many a dog; can we undo it? I have my doubts. People who have these structurally altered breeds love them; and I'm pretty sure they would not be willing to add length of muzzle or legs to improve the life of the dogs. These dogs who lack structural balance have a rough time of it. This breeds are literally handicapped because of their structural faults. There are lists of ailments with these breeds from back problems, breathing problems and joint problems.

My beef is not just with the breeds who are miles away structurally from once they came. No; there are many dogs being bred who are not sound in the anatomy department but they take a mean photo and perhaps their flaw is only one on an otherwise structurally sound specimen. Should this dog be bred? Well; there is structure and there is workability structure. Is there tail lower than the standard? Perhaps their chest is not quite as deep as the standard calls for; these are minor structural flaws and let's face it dogs are not meant to be little cookie cutter clones. On the other hand sway back, cow hocked, east/west, hip displaysia are all working faults with regards to structure and these dogs should not be bred. A structural fault which interferes with proper movement is a breeding no no in my books.

If a dog has structural faults don't breed it; bottom line. I don't care if it is a mixed breed or purebred; if you breed it there is a good chance it's going to pop up again somewhere down the road. Taking a dog who has structural faults and breeding it to a structurally sound dog is not the way to go. Breed good with good and you will better the chance of creating great. Breeding good with poor can create a crack; which may end up being the one that breaks the foundation of your otherwise structurally sound lines.