AKC GAZETTE MARCH 2011
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column
The popularity of a given sire can have a range of consequences. It can introduce a leap forward in breed quality, yield decent puppies, or Introduce defects in health, mutations, and temperament that are carried through resulting generations. People in every breed can name a single specific stud dog or brood bitch who has significantly altered the breed—possibly even in a bad way.
Males can sire many more litters than several outstanding brood bitches can produce. Therefore the onus is always on breeders to weigh multiple potentials when selecting a dog. Unfortunately it requires many generations to see exactly what a specific dog is regularly producing. In that time, certain elements can become fixed in lines whose bitches were bred to this dog.
In Cardigans, the gene pool is much smaller than that of many other breeds. The breed was first recognized by the AKC in the 1930s, but there were few examples in this country, particularly as Cardigans were already nearly extinct in the British Isles. When working with such a significantly small gene pool, it is to be expected that breeders will flock to a dog who is believed to be genetically robust enough to keep the breed alive.
Nowadays, the gene pool is larger and considerably healthier. However, show breeders are always looking for the multiple group winners and BIS prospects, so breeding often comes to revolve around one specific sire. He may be a major winner on the show scene, or he may just be very typey and of a color suitable for a greater number of bitches.
If it’s the former, an unfortunate thing occurs; newer breeders who have not yet learned enough about a difficult breed flock to that top winner. They can’t evaluate what their bitch needs, and they don’t understand pedigrees, phenotpe, or genotype, but if a dog is winning big in the show ring, they presume, he ought to produce outstanding puppies – right?
Then there is the dog who may not be particularly active in the show ring, but is extremely typey and sound, and experienced breeders who know pedigrees, genotype, phenotype, and what their particular bitch needs discover him. This is certainly healthier than running to Mr. Top Winner with every bitch. Subsequently, however, inexperienced breeders tend to flock to that dog because so man of the “big names” are breeding to him – regardless of what their bitches might need.
Unfortunately, people new to Cardigans are breeding as soon as their bitch turns 2. No one can learn—and no one has learned—the Cardigan Welsh Corgi in two years.
Of the two possibilities—breeding to the number one dog because he’s number one, or breeding to the dog knowledgeable breeders are sending bitches to – the latter likely bears more promise. But again, it depends on pedigree, phenotype, genotype, and the luck of the draw.
Some stud dogs may prove to be prepotent with some bitches for elements of good breed type, but they will not necessarily be so with every bitch. And it’s “binge breeding” that can create genetic bottlenecks.
Slow down. Learn the breed. If you don’t understand it, judges won’t.
—Jennifer Roberson, Flagstaff, Ariz.;
First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, March 2011.
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