Puppy Selection - Part 1
|By Mike Stewart - Wildrose Kennels - Home
of Drake the DU Dog
Among the most frequent questions I receive
pertain to how to select the best pup from a litter.
doubt, selection of the right pup to meet one's particular expectations
is extremely important. Making a correct choice can improve the odds of
producing an excellent retriever with the least amount of frustration
and perhaps even avoid disappointment.
The first and most
important point to consider is that one must approach puppy acquisition
as a genetic selection process rather than trying to utilize methods to
select a promising prospect from a particular litter. Focus not so much
on picking a pup, rather pick litters.
The way to pick
potentially successful liters is to pick a breeder who has proven brood
stock and a credible reputation for producing healthy pups genetically
predisposed to perform in a manner you desire. Carefully consider your
expectations for your future gundog. What are the desirable traits?
What will the dog's primary functions include? What breeds interest you
and why? Once you decide on a breed and the desired traits are defined
based upon your intended uses, then seek a reputable breeder who has
experience producing pups which exemplify the traits that best suit
Genes determine the reaction of the dog to its
environment, as well as, confirmation and soundness. Genes are the
building blocks of heredity and are passed from parents to offspring in
a predictable manner. The topic of genetics can quickly progress into a
lengthy discussion unsuitable for this article but one can count on
knowing this--like begets like. Total outcrosses, matings of unrelated
genetics, may produce the occasionally exceptional offspring, but this
is an unpredictable undertaking.
The only way to gain
predictability of traits is to seek an experienced breeder with proven
bloodlines which produce successful progeny. This will usually involve
some form of line breeding. The mating of similar genetic relationships
(line breeding) is conducted to intensify qualities within the line and
to improve upon the predictable traits within litters. Line breeding is
successfully practiced in all forms of livestock. Line breeding itself
produces nothing, good or bad, it merely intensifies what is
genetically there in the bloodline.
Most professional breeders
use some form of line breeding as soon as they find a successful
combination. In other words, outcrosses, random matings, despite the
parents' apparent abilities and or titles, will not assure that the
traits of the parents will be passed to the offspring. Only line
breeding can offer this possibility. Consider, too, there is often as
much difference between litter mates in ability, temperament, and
tractability as one might find between separate litters within a breed.
The chance factor remains, but the odds improve if the buyer:
1. Buys from established, reputable
breeders who know their business.
2. Buys pups from breeders who specialize in
producing the type retriever they desire.
3. Buys pups produced by excellent gundog
parents who have produced proven progeny from previous matings.
- Select breeders that maintain high standards for
appropriate hip/eye/elbow certifications and who offer reasonable
guarantees against health defects.
- Select litters with strong mother lines. Dams should
trained hunting dogs and she should possess the qualities you desire in
your dog, not just in the sire. Dams project more influence on the
litter than the sire. Genetic inheritance is of course 50/50 from both
parents, but mom has the pups with her 6 weeks and her influence is
paramount. Good bitches are seldom mated to poor dogs, yet the opposite
frequently occurs. A poor bitch is unlikely to produce good pups
despite the virtues of the sire. Look closely for desirable traits and
strength in the trailing bottom line of the pedigree That is the dam,
granddam, great granddam, etc. Excellent mothers are important.
- Don't pick litters based solely on the number of
titles in the
pedigree. These are impressive achievements to be sure, but they are
not indicators of natural tractability, temperament, and gamefinding
ability. Nor do titles indicate whether the traits may be passed
successfully to the offspring. Evaluate parents of pups based upon
gundog standards important to your needs and their demonstrated ability
to produce good pups.
- Seek out sires, dams and grandparents that project
genetic traits that can be passed through to their offspring. Research
has indicated grandsires and granddams prove to have more genetic
influence upon the litter than the sire and dam.
Genetics can influence natural gifts such as:
|| soft mouth
| love of water
delivery to hand
Avoid negative heredity traits such as:
call, man, etc.
| hard mouth
genetic traits, accompanied by soundness and health, should be the goal
of your purchase, not just confirmation, color, titles or size.
Inherited gundog traits are what you really should be paying for in a
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habitats for North America's
waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. Visit
web site at www.ducks.org
to learn more, support their mission or to find more info.