Breeder Notes and Recordkeeping

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

With advent of modern technology, keeping records is easier now than ever before. However, just what kind of records should one keep in order to improve the future
of our favorite breed?

The first thing that comes to mind is pedigrees. The word pedigree, when referring to the canine influence, is defined as “the record of descent of an animal, showing it to be purebred,” and purebred is defined as “bred from parents of the same breed or variety.” Relatively speaking, it seems pretty straightforward.

There are some wonderful products on the market today that make this recording process very simple. Anymore there appears to be a computer app for just about everything under the sun. You can even do a fictitious breeding and see what the proposed pedigree would look like with a few simple clicks. There are people in our breed who have maintained some rather in-depth pedigrees in electronic versions and would most likely share them with you if you asked. Uniquely, though, pedigrees really only provide you with a name and sometimes the color of an ancestor. Some will brag that they studied the pedigree of such-and-such dog and feel confident in his history and how well it will match up with that of the dog they have chosen to breed to. Sounds very professional of them from the outside looking in, but in reality knowing the names of famous dogs is all well and good, but there is far more to the research than that.

A well-known breeder from New Zealand was fastidious about maintaining a large, scrapbook-style history of not only her dogs, but also all those that interested her for one reason or another. It included photos and newspaper clippings, with detailed notes under each entry. She made comments about what she saw and what she learned about the dogs—for example, if the dog produced well, or if a particular feature appeared to be coming down the breeding line. The dog may have deceased early on or developed a disease, perhaps the bite went off at age 2, and comments on temperament were paramount. Some observations included seeing wonderful examples of movement with a great headpiece or preferred tail carriage. Compound this dedication to recordkeeping over a period of several decades, and suddenly you have a valuable historical tool that will outshine most any fancy pedigree database that is commonly used today.

The drawback to having such a tool in your breeding program arsenal is the possibility of your brutal honesty being appraised by others in the fancy. Most breeders do not want someone else other than a judge analyzing their stock. Keep in mind, however, that if you truly want to better your own breeding program, it is of absolute importance that you not only listen to what others have to say about dog A and B, but also improve your own powers of observation and decide what it is that you see. Remember to include good, great, and not so favorable in your assessments. You’ll be surprised how quickly your own research database increases in size.

A trip to a regional specialty—or better yet, the national specialty—will allow for outstanding observation time with top dogs to seriously study with an open mind. A little notebook for you to scratch down your comments and perhaps a photo or two from your cell phone to include with your records will provide some great information when you navigate your future puppy undertakings.

Keeping your own record of dogs is a great tool. How do I know this? Well, I am the proud owner of that 50-year-old New Zealand scrapbook, and I wouldn’t trade it for any pedigree!

-David L. Anthony

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, September 2018.

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