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Thursday, January 10, 2013

So you want to be a Breeder?

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The following Blog entry has been transcribed from our Facebook Fanpage

Well, look at this link.... and absorb it.  Take note of the work involved.  The research required. Then consider it again.

There's so much to consider when you decide on breeding

I have a neighbor who is so stuck on wanting to breed his yellow Labrador bitch because he just thinks its something a dog needs to do because every dog needs to.  HMMMM????  I've spoken to him on several occasions and really try to see his perspective, but just don't get it.  So, I ask him what good reason is there for breeding your gal, because I really don't see a need for adding yet another litter of Labradors into the world when there are so many already?  I get a lot of well, I got some friends that want to have one of her pups or well she's such a good dog I want to see her have puppies.  Ummmm , Okay? What good does her having puppies do for the breed?  Then I often get that blank stare before he hits me with, well, you're doing it, why can't I?  When I explain what our goals are, I always get to a point in the conversation when the talk about the money comes up.  Wow, you guys must be making a killing.  Your dogs sell for how much?  Wow, if I were you I'd breed my dogs all the time.  And there you have it, for him and most others like him its about breeding his bitch because he can and the ultimate return he sees on all the pups that will net him a nice chunk of change.  How far off from the truth this is doesn't compute for him.  The dollar signs have blinded him of what our true goals are.

Well, dear neighbor, for one thing, I don't breed for the sake of wanting to get a DAM
Hybrids when created from healthy
parents have a genetic advantage
to experience having a litter before her life is over.
  A Dam really doesn't give a crap about that, you do.  We, plan our litters and map out the future for the breed we love so much and make as best as possible every effort to make sure we don't contribute to an already existing problem.  So, if you wish to become a breeder then you really need to become an expert on your chosen breed.  To the point where you can defend your endeavors when challenged by others who have their own very strong ideologies about their own dogs.  Most breeders we've encountered tend to think they are producing a unique product rather than just another litter of a chosen breed.  And that's where we contend they are wrong.  Because for us its not about disparaging them, its more about doing the right thing for the breed as a whole.  And trying to address a larger problem one litter at a time. And regardless of what others are doing, we continue to march to the beat of our drum and eventually will find others who like the sound it makes and will not only listen to it, but start beating that drum with us.

Closely line bred for generations Purebreds have associated health problems as a result.

As for my Neighbor, I've learned that you can't change others minds for them, they have to educate themselves and come to these conclusions on their own.  Until then, I feel sorry for what may become of his yellow lab girl.  But, when he see's firsthand that pups don't always come out healthy or alive or that the Dam may require some assistance or that a Veterinary service on call is required just in case there is a problem the reality will hit hard.  And when the pups are born and he learns they need some assistance to thrive or the mother has no interest in this one or that one or all of them, he's now confronted with a lot of long sleepless nights or the choice of letting them die.  Then he has to change the feeding cycles for the mother, then adjust to feedings for the puppies that live to 5 weeks and really start to ask himself, where all these puppies are going?   And does he really care who gets them?  If its about the money, I would suppose he doesn't give a crap who gets one of his pups.  But after all is said and done, and the time spent was an honest effort, there's not much profit left to say, WOW what a big chunk of change.   But you've still got vet bills to vaccinate the litter and examine the mommy. 

Sometimes the best way to help improve a breed of
dog is to go back to basics and cross it with another breed.
What gets me is how many people don't really know the true facts about their own dogs.  People who if you ask them... have you met the parents of your dog?  Do you know the history of those parents?  And they haven't got a clue, and we're only talking about the first generation.  Yet they see a need to breed their dog.    With all the problems in the dog world today I would think they would at least research this decision to the point where they can learn about their own dog.   And once they have this knowledge they can make a better decision on whether it is beneficial to breed it?  And then to start the entire process over again when they choose the mate for their dog.  It's almost a sure thing that when they look at another dog that is from the same demographic region their own dog is from, that they're looking at a relative.  And that's the root of all the problems we see in many pure bred dogs today. 

I've recently had a conversation with a client who owns one of our FCR gals.  Its not
Often times there are otherwise healthy dogs that
are removed from the breeding populations based
 on outdated breed standards.
clear whether they fully understand the reasons to breed that we stand behind, but it is clear they have their hearts set on breeding their girl.  Whether its about the money or just associating human feelings with their gal and thinking she wants to have a litter, is the only thing that has come across to me.  Because in a nutshell I posed the same question to them that I gave my neighbor.  Why do you want to breed her?  And the answers I got were not very encouraging.  And in all honesty, she is too young to consider it right now anyway.  We have our future mapped out with two girls from our first FCR litter and a male We have under a partnership from another breeder working with us from the midwest, and recently our Yellow boy Mozart has studded to two bitches again from the midwest.  We're working with breeders overseas to exchange semen and therefore, from our perspective, there is now enough of his DNA to say we now need to look at introducing another Sire into the equation.  And that with enough litter mates from Our Yellow boy in the equation already its not favorable to say yes right now.  Even for the two gals we have its still early.  Within the next year a hip could go or blindness start to show or some other ailment associated with this breed.  And then we need to reshuffle our genetic deck once again. 

At one point in history a "retriever" was a description of a function not a breed.
 Any dog that retrieved was called a retriever.

We carefully interviewed every one of our homes for our puppies and chose our clients.  We can only hope we did the best job possible to put them in the best possible situation for both the puppy and the new families they have.  We have declined many families after having met with them.  We've given them back their deposits knowing in our hearts that one of our pups would not be right for them.  Or that they just weren't good for our pup.  All our dogs were sold with papers but their registrations were limited as our only way of preventing the breeding for "the sake of breeding" that I've detailed here.  We do not enforce a spay/neuter policy because if in the future we see a benefit to using one of these dogs in our breeding plans then the option is still open.  But ultimately if we decide there is no benefit, all we have is the ability to prevent registration of a litter via the AKC.  We do not tell any of our puppy owners what they can or cannot do with their dog as far as breeding or spay/neuter.  But we don't have to release a full AKC registration until we've evaluated the specimen in question, and mapped out just where it would benefit long term to breed it. And if we see no benefit, then there is no reason to breed.  But, this is not to say that as an owner of your own dog you can't prove otherwise to Us that there is a good valid reason.

A healthy dog is so much more than what you see
 in front of you. Its more about what 
went into what you see.
Research on your own and find a stud or Dam from someone else that is clearly not related to your dog.  This is a challenge by itself.  Because, just about every FCR in the USA is related, within 12 generations you may see several common links with common sires or dams or siblings.  So when you do find one that is willing to stud or brood, then call us.  And we'll help you research the intended mate.   Look into that dog's history and see if in fact that dog is not a product of close line breeding itself,  because if it is, there is again no merit in using it unless you want to see dogs die early on from some necrotic cancers or other inherited debilitating diseases.  Even our own offspring don't have all the details back.  Until we start to see how long they live and what disorders turn up, we can't say with certainty what lay ahead nor make any changes in the lineup or exclusions or additions.   With 7 studs and 7 bitches right now... we have choices.  And that's just with the FCR.  We also have other cards to play as far as outcrossing and back crossing in the future.  Perhaps during our lifetime we will see the average lifespan of the FCR go back to where it used to be or even exceed it.  If we can see that happen along with fewer deaths from cancer or suffering from thyroid, kidney, and arthritic joints then we can say all the effort was worth it.  Right now, we're just shuffling the deck and playing our hand. 

On a final note.  Look at other breeders.  Take a long look at their lineup of dogs. 
We owe it to our dogs to provide a long healthy life.
As a Companion and a friend.
Really examine the look of those in their lineup.  You'll probably see something that was pointed out to us by a very meticulous biologist who took an interest in our dogs.  He noticed that the breeders who've been in this long term, for maybe 20 to 30 years.  All of their dogs look similar.  They all have a certain look about them that is specific to the lines they were bred from.  A Phenotype that is exaggerated from close line breeding to keep that distinct look.  All to the detriment of their puppies long term.  Then examine our lineup.  And tell me who looks related to the next one?  Who has a blocky head, a slender head a regal head, short coat, long coat, stocky build, athletic build etc etc.  They're all different looking, have different parents and different lines.  And this alone is an advantage for their puppies more so than any physical testing that can be done.  Even more than DNA testing alone.  And to all the purists that think purebred dogs from champion show and trial lines are superior.  Oh well, it might just be dogs from a long line of healthy pets that saves their asses from infertility and extinction.  How Ironic is that?


  1. This particular blog is very interesting,the so called purists are the ones that you got purchased your original flatcoats from. Your new female puppy is from a long line of purists some of the best overseas. How is it, you are able to state what you do and in an end run purchase a puppy that has has ancestors that have show line-breed on the father side and one of the G.G.G.G. grand-sire's is the same dog. Just curious!

    1. Judy, the outcomes are the focus of our planned pairings not the problems in the present. Living in the now shows there are problems that require fixing. The fact behind the UK line breeding practices is a well known thing living in the now. The outcome our partners in the UK are shooting for is to dilute the known problem and fix it in the long term. Therefore the breeders we're working with in the UK are very aware of the close line breeding in their lines and see the advantages for them in exchanging studs and dams with Chatham Hill Dogs. Likewise, the lines from the UK are far enough removed and outside the circle of our own lines to be beneficial in the long term for us as well. Which, still keeps pace with the outcome we're looking to achieve, which is to increase the diversity in our lineup of dogs. This also goes towards breeders we're working with closer to home. In their own words "we need more diversity in our lines". If it was only about the champion lines and the look and feel of maintaining the phenotype via close line breeding then we would be in as bad a situation as the breeders coming to us. When in fact, we're in a better place with far more diversity than the typical FCR breeder.

      If you back far enough in any FCR lineage you will see several intersects along the lines. This is just par for the course in the FCR world. The out come we seek is to make this a not so common thing with the foundation of dogs we have. Thus the selective process also requires augmenting the program with outcrossing. Something we're not hiding from anyone and the breeders we're working with know this and still see the benefits in working with us.

      Shuffling the deck of genetic cards THAT WE have to deal from is beneficial for us and in turn benefits the FCR we produce and the owners of those puppies we've produced... one litter at a time. Whether the pups are Black, Liver or YELLOW. Diversity is beneficial.

      Knowing all the ingredients we have to work with is key for achieving the outcome we desire.

      Outcomes are what need to be compared in the end. Focusing on the background of the ingredients....holds no merit here.

      Our outcomes thus far.... far better than what the statistics say we should have experienced.

  2. Background of the ingredients, holds no merit, well without the background you have no future outcomes. Over the past few days I have been reading alot of what you have written from other blogs and the only conclusion I can come with is, leave you to your own devices because as a flatcoat owner and past breeder (2 litters, one of which was a singleton in almost 13 years of having flatcoats sharing my life)is that I can't compete with your breeding practices or your philosophy. I am good friends with the families that have my dogs and spent alot of time thinning out what I thought were not good homes,I was open and honest in answering all their questions about the breed and made sure that each puppy went to the right home and fit the dynamics of the families. Your statements of having over 100 puppies since 2004 with no problems, you have been lucky you have ultimately accomplished something that the rest of the flatcoat world has not accomplished, you haven't lost a dog yet. Though not all of the 100 puppies are flatcoats. I love and care for my dogs, which I have and do show in the conformation ring, travelled to National Specialties, not just to show my dogs but to socialize with friends that share the same breed I do. When I take my dogs to conformation shows, you can pet them, give them treats and I never say to anyone, Don't touch my dog. There are alot of us who haven't appreciated be lumped in your pool of Mafia and maybe if you looked beyond, some has good reason to come down on you in the beginning. I am fairly confident that you will continue to slap the purebred world, especially flatcoats but try to remember that the breeders you got your first dogs from have been breeding for a very long time. Line breeding and outcrossing are good for the breed if done properly and adding yellow back in has its possibilities as well, but what genetic diversity are you adding back in, as a yellow flatcoat carries the same genetics as their black and liver littermates. Good luck with your endeavor.

    P.S. Your 2nd and 3rd flatcoat share 1/2 of the same genetic makeup as the dog's in my home.

    1. The ingredients I have to work with were produced by none other than the same people who used to throw stones at us and look down their noses at us. The outcomes based on the choices we make have far more to do with the results we’ve seen than luck. If I break down my ingredients to where they were raised, who raised them and what was tossed into them to create them…. I then see where I need to go to thin out the mess in front of me. I can then determine the outcome I wish to have. And in the process have an opportunity to diversify the mess the rest seem to keep re-mixing. You’re not the first person to harp on the fact that our second and third FCR are half brother and sister that share the same Mother. And I’m honored they share some history with your own dogs. But, I’ll never breed them together in any way shape or form or cross their progeny anywhere down the road I travel on this journey. I can afford to do that since I also have obtained a fourth and a fith and a sixth and a seventh and an eighth and a ninth and a tenth FCR from different demographics and different countries … resulting in several males and females beyond the two half siblings. I have a vested interest in making sure that the ingredients I have are different and provide the right stuff to achieve our outcomes. The numbers of FCR I have produced comprise 50% of the numbers you are quoting….Still far better statistically than the status quo.


      If you’re on point about where your puppies are going then you deserve a pat on the back Judy, because for many it is a quest to produce the champion out of the bunch of puppies whelped and the homes for those remaining are an afterthought. I’m no longer focused about worrying what the rest of the Flat Coat world is saying outside my circle of breeders and friends and families that actually benefit from our results. You shouldn’t either. Focus on what you have in front of you and decide on what you can do to make it better. That’s leaving you to your own devices.

      P.S. We can still compare notes later on once you’ve achieved an outcome that is a positive contribution to the gene pool. Until then I wish you and yours all the best.


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