Ethical Code of a Good Dog Breeder
- Strive to learn as much as possible about the breed you are breeding.
- Reproduce dogs not under the influence of fashion but always for a specific breeding purpose aimed at improving the breed.
- Raise, feed, and socialize dogs properly so that they can adapt well to home conditions and grow up to be good human companions.
- Pay attention to hereditary defects and diseases and try to limit their occurrence.
- Puppies should be placed in homes where the buyers can provide them with proper care. Breeders should always provide advice and assistance to new puppy buyers.
- When puppy buyers can no longer care for their dogs, breeders should take them back and deal with their future.
- Foster friendly and cooperative relationships with other dog breeders.
To even think about breeding, one must first define their vision and expectations.
Without meeting this condition, you cannot talk about breeding but only about dog reproduction, which, in itself, is not reprehensible, as even from such “random” pairings, beautiful and healthy dogs are born. However, it’s hard to call it breeding.
In my opinion, a breeder deserving the title is someone who consistently, using all their knowledge and the help of other authorities they recognize, strives to achieve their “vision.” Often, their vision may significantly differ from mine, but they do it with full conviction, consciously, consistently, and in harmony with themselves.
My criteria for good breeding are straightforward:
The breeder treats dogs as friends and prioritizes their well-being.
The breeder conducts thorough examinations of their breeding dogs and does not hesitate to exclude them from breeding if they do not meet all expectations (temperament, health, conformation). In other words, they can look at breeding more “prospectively and long-term.”
The breeder maintains ongoing documentation of their litters and their “future history.” They maintain regular contact with the owners of their dogs and provide them with assistance.
The breeder only uses proven dogs for breeding after a careful evaluation.
The breeder has their clear and concise breeding vision and consistently follows it.
Selection is an eternal struggle between humans and genetics. Humans establish a breed standard and try to breed dogs that fit that standard. If it were as simple as some people think, that from two beautiful Golden Retrievers, whose ancestors were also beautiful Golden Retrievers, only beautiful Golden Retrievers can be born, there would be no need for selection. However, genetics can play various tricks.
A pedigree guarantees that the ancestors conformed to the standard, but it does not guarantee that a specific dog will become a champion. If a dog deviates from the standard in structure or temperament, it should not be used for breeding, as there is a high probability that it will pass on unfavorable traits to its offspring. To improve the breed, such dogs must be excluded from breeding, which means their potential offspring will not receive pedigrees.
The main purpose of dog shows is precisely this kind of selection. In a nutshell, breeding rights are granted to dogs appropriately evaluated at three shows by three different judges.
Testing methods increasingly used these days allow identifying carrier status for unfavorable recessive genes. For instance, if a litter is born with GPRA, it means that both parents are carriers of the gene causing this defect, signaling the need to stop using them in breeding. If a litter is born with hemophilia type A or B, the bitch is the carrier, while the sire is “free from suspicion.”
In gradually improving the breed, cooperation plays a tremendous role. Hence the significant role of breed clubs and the exchange of complete information among breeders associated with them.
In general, the principles guiding breeding are (according to Kaleta, Fiszdon):
A good male is half the success. A dog can leave behind more offspring than a bitch.
Only dogs with excellent phenotypes, good pedigrees, free from defects, and coming from a good litter should be qualified for breeding.
Every planned mating should be undertaken only for the good of the breed and its improvement. Animals with severe defects should not be used for breeding.
When planning a litter, the breeder should weigh appearance, health, and character equally.
An outstanding male should be used for breeding as long as possible, at least until a better one comes along.
When choosing between an outstanding father of many beautiful puppies and his equally outstanding young son, it’s safer to choose the father.
When evaluating dogs based on their offspring, it’s best to assess 30-40 descendants from unrelated mothers.
Consider the entire litter, not just outstanding specimens, also paying attention to stillborn and pre-weaning puppies.
It’s crucial to understand which specific traits truly impair a dog.
Character should have a fundamental role in every breed, not just working dogs. Living with a noisy and aggressive small dog will be genuinely unpleasant for its future owners and their neighbors, even if it’s exceptionally beautiful.
In fact, negative character traits have put an end to the popularity of many breeds.
Diversity and Purebred Dogs – John Armstrong
“Among the genes responsible for the unique character of the breed, diversity will be significantly less within the breed than among all Canis familiaris. The trick is to limit the diversity of these genes without sacrificing the diversity of others, which is necessary for good health and the long-term survival of the breed. In many cases, this has not been achieved, and today we are paying the price in the form of frequent genetic diseases, a high susceptibility to other diseases, reduced litter size, shorter life spans, infertility, etc.
Why did this happen?
Many breeds began with too few founders, or the founders were too closely related to each other.
Pedigree books are closed for most breeds; you cannot introduce diversity from outside the existing population.
Selective breeding often leads to further reductions in diversity. Moreover, the wrong traits are often selected.
Even if the founders were sufficiently genetically diverse, almost no one knows how their genetic contribution is distributed in the current population. As a result, breeding is carried out without considering the preservation of this original contribution, which can affect the general health and survival of the breed.
Do we have to accept these inevitable consequences of breed creation? I don’t think so.
Tasks for Breed Clubs
Every breed needs a database listing animals approved for breeding, along with all their ancestors, right up to the founders. This should be the main task of breed clubs. But does anyone implement it (except for a few rare breeds)?
Such a database should allow breeders to identify which individual most likely carries genes from which of the founders. For individual breeders, this would be an opportunity to make intelligent and informed choices when selecting breeding pairs. Such studies could balance the genetic resources of the breed so that it does not risk losing its remaining diversity.”
Outcross, Linebreeding, or Inbreeding – Adding to the Discussion
Shaping the breed standard
Of course, every young breed is destined for “inbreeding.”
Creating the third generation of a new breed inevitably involves crossbreeding: sire x dam, dam x son, daughter x sire, sister x brother.
This is evident, and it’s understandable since there are no other options. It’s the most powerful form of inbreeding, but it doesn’t mean that a breed is immediately doomed to extinction.
Inbreeding is the simplest method of breeding a specific breed standard, and my opinion is that every breeder should strive for as low COI as possible because it aligns with my conviction. Even if dogs with higher COIs would perform much better in terms of phenotype, I would choose the one with lower COI. When faced with two dogs of equal quality in terms of phenotype, I would choose the one with the lower COI.