Monday, October 25, 2010

Puppy time?

I bred Fina to Tom Forrester's Pete in VA. Pete works both cattle and sheep on the farm and at trials. He won the cattledog Nursery Finals in 2006, and was 3rd in the cattledog Open Finals in 2007. He made it to the final round at the National Sheepdog Finals in 2010. We'll see if we get some pups. I had 2 girls in season and Fina peaked before I expected her to so I'm not sure I caught the timing right. I'll be keeping a pup from this litter. They are due somewhere around December 21st.

I met Pete and he is utterly charming. Friendly, relaxed, no fuss kind of dog. Not much seems to bother him.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Myth of the Almighty Prepotent Stud

I never cease to be amazed how seemingly educated and intelligent people seem to forget how genetics works. Half the genes in a pup come from the bitch. Remember that folks.

So many folks seem to regard the bitch as a uterus, a simple vessel to carry the pups. People see a dog they like and immediately enquire as to the sire. This comes to mind today based on a new enquiry to me, interested in a possible breeding of a bitch of mine. This bitch was sired by the same dog as sired another litter I bred several years ago. One of those pups went on to be a fabulous agility dog. The mother of that litter was my Rhyme. This dog that so many folks admire is very much like his mother. In particular the traits that the agility folks find most attractive are entirely from his mother. No one has even asked who his mother is!

I had a conversation with someone talking about spooky temperament in some lines. A breeding was discussed in which a stable male from lines that seem to be consistently stable produced some spooky pups. The proposition was that there is spooky temperament in the male as he produced the spooky pups. I met the mother of those pups. She is fearful to the point of not being able to live a normal life. You certainly cannot condemn that male based on not being able to overcome the genetics of a bitch so desperately afraid of the world.

Yes, some males seem to be quite prepotent for certain traits, but nothing is infallible. Even if you have met pups from several litters off a male I’d want to know something about the bitches that he was bred to. In any litter a bitch may have put far more of a stamp on her pups than the sire. You may think you are smitten with a male as a stud dog, when actually his greatest contribution is to be fairly recessive and bred to good bitches. Don’t fall in love with a stud based on one offspring or even one litter until you have met the stud and the bitch to get a sense of which parent likely contributed the attributes that attracted you.

Breeding is such a gamble. The one thing we do know is that half the genes come from each parent, and we hope the dominant gene in each pair brings out the traits we want. Forgetting the genetic contribution of the bitch takes breeding from being an educated guess in an unpredictable world to just plain wishful thinking. So if your beloved Bessie has nothing to recommend her other than being in your kennel, go buy yourself a pup. Certainly she has faults. All dogs have faults. If she has some strengths worth capturing then be honest about the good and the bad, choose a stud to complement her as best as possible, and understand that Bessie will be responsible for half the genes in the pups for better or for worse.