Are You a Dog Breeder?

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

Remember your college days, when the professors pontificated on and on that if you did not understand the definition of a word, you should venture on over to the Webster dictionary and look it up? It’s a good habit to have. Therefore, as we think about the definition of a dog breeder, it is apparently time to open the book or at least do some theoretical research on the subject. With the world practically at our fingertips these days, let us see just what the definition of breeder is.

Noun: breeder; plural noun: breeders; a person who breeds livestock, racehorses, other animals, or plants.

To be more specific, let us search for “dog breeder”: A dog breeder is a person involved in the breeding of dogs. In reference to a specific litter, the breeder is the owner of the dam (female) at the time she is bred (mated with a male).

Further research revealed this additional refinement. A responsible breeder: Breeds to improve the breed, and has no more litters than necessary to do so. Hmm, interesting comment that last section—perhaps take note of that!

It is a known fact that Daniel Webster, the dictionary man, had purebred Gordon Setters and was very instrumental in their development here in the United States. Had he been asked to expound upon the responsible dog breeder definition, it may have been a little more akin to the following. “A responsible breeder is one who went to a great expenditure of time and money to plan for a specific breeding with an anticipated outcome, spent long sleepless nights whelping the puppies, and endured days and then weeks watching the puppies, training the puppies, and making sure the puppies were ready when the time came to join their carefully chosen forever homes—all in hope that at least one will be the specimen that they had in mind when conjuring up the perfect illustration of the breed.”

Successful breeders study closely various pedigrees and produce possible combinations of stud dog and brood bitches in an effort to anticipate what the outcome will be. Yes, sometimes it works—and many times, it does not. Mother Nature has a great talent for throwing us a curveball that we just did not see coming. A well-known elderly Cardigan breeder once said that you couldn’t judge the quality of a litter by the number of champions that it produces. If out of the litter one pup becomes a magnificent example of breed and grows up to make a lasting impression, wouldn’t that have been a very successful breeding?

Interestingly enough, if you own the bitch and have it bred, you are listed as the breeder. In fact, there are a lot of so called “breeders” out there who would not have the foggiest notion on how to accomplish the task at hand, other than putting dog and bitch together in the yard and hoping for the best. The knowledgeable person who knows the signs of when to breed and is skilled at getting the job done gets absolutely no documented credit for the end result. This poses the question, who is really the dog breeder—the person who calls up and asks if your stud dog is available for use and drops off the bitch and has no idea where she is in her heat cycle, or the old-timer who knows the classic signs and is well versed in the techniques of breeding?

Perhaps it’s time to update the definition!

—David L. Anthony

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, December, 2017.

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