Picking That Special Puppy

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When we did a breeding we always tried to keep two questions in mind : what did we expect the pups to look like even before they were born and, who would we breed those pups to when they matured? As the old saying goes, if you don't know where you want to go then any road will take you there! We developed the "2 by 4 Rule" to help us make the right choices. We evaluated the dogs at 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, and finally, 2 years. The pup above clearly has the look of quality. Heavy leg bone. Beautiful coloring. Pronounced stop. Fat short muzzle. Good back skull. She's a beauty.

If a litter really impressed us, we would often keep two or more of the pups; often the two best females. That way we had some insurance against disaster hitting one of the dogs. Every breeder has bad luck. It goes with the territory. The trick is to avoid dead ends. On the other hand, if the litter was not up to our expectations, we tended not to keep even the pick of the litter. 

We have observed that far too many breeders, especially those who are just starting out, tend to keep male puppies of dubious quality. They just can't resist keeping a boy with their kennel name on it because they dream dreams of showing him big time. In most cases, these dogs fail to live up to their hopes. They would be better off if they kept the best female and then bred it to the best stud of the line they wish to emulate. 

Some people do get lucky right off the bat and breed a fabulous "sport" who goes on to win Best In Shows and specialties. The trouble is most of these "sports" never reproduce themselves and five years on these breeders are right back to square one. It takes generations to build the genetic base for consistent success. Sadly some never learn this.