S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
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S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
There are many breeding seminars presented by groups all across the country. If one is available in your area, there is usually a wealth of information shared with everyone attending. The ones I’ve attended have been informational, humorous and interesting.

Many statements hit close to home as my breeding program has developed. It is nice to have some of my choices reinforced and other choices questioned. One can only grow and learn by listening and observing the practices of others more experienced in any field. Experienced breeders can put together a lovely line, breed top quality/top producing dogs that win and set records.

Doesn’t it make sense for us to listen and learn from folks with experience such as this? We may not agree 100% with everything presented, but is there any seminar where we would all totally agree on anything? Not in my lifetime. That is what sets this country apart from all the rest. We can agree to disagree and still strive for the same goals.

One of these seminars began with a discussion of the overall structure of the dog, understanding the breed standard, and trying to produce that “perfect” example of the breed.

It was also stated that one should not close in a breeding program by using the same lines over and over again.
The difference between line-breeding, in-breeding and out-crossing should be understood before attempting any breeding.

There is something to be said for out-crossing as long as specific knowledge is available to the breeder. Look carefully at the pedigree of the out-crossed sire/dam. Is the line something worth developing into your own? GO BACK FURTHER WITH THIS OUTCROSS looking back in your pedigree to see what you might be able to bring forward into your line from your old generations. If there is something that doubles up and you like it, go for it. The other alternative is to purchase a puppy or adult dog with the desired out-crossed lines to use in your breeding program. Choose wisely as either choice is an expensive decision. One of our girls was a tightly line-bred bitch. Her chosen sire was an outcross. Now, taking those puppies back into their own line (we can go with either side) just might produce something wonderful. Some experienced breeders can select the right puppy to keep at an early age. Others prefer to watch growth and development longer before making that difficult choice. I tend more toward the latter.
Line-breeding is supposed to produce the best characteristics in the puppies that are in the background of the parents. I found that a breeder is able to bring forward traits from the “old, great dogs” by doubling up on the pedigrees even as far as four, five and six generations. If you know you like something special in those “old, great dogs” line-breeding on them is advantageous.

Inbreeding is for the really experienced breeders. Years ago, it was done more frequently as our gene pool was extremely small. It can prove or obliterate your breeding program. You can get the best of the best or the worst of the worst. I for one, am not comfortable with inbreeding. It’s really scary!

One of the best books I’ve read on breeding, as long as the reader understands that it was written in 1975 and advances have been made in breeding since then, is the Meisen Breeding Manual by Hilda Meisenzahl. I found this “old” book through Alpine Publishers. It explains how out-crossing, line-breeding, etc can improve a breeding program. Another excellent book is Patricia Trotter’s Born To Win. This book is full of wonderful information on improving a breeding program and how to do it. My very favorite book is Anne Serrane’s The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog. It has become my “breeding bible” as it contains helpful information about breeding, whelping and caring for puppies. I keep checking each book dealer at all the shows just in case one of these “out-of-print” copies is available. According to the last vendor I saw, it is the book in most demand with no copies to be found. If you happen to see it, don’t think twice about grabbing it off the shelf and adding it to your personal library.

Each of these books is an easy read and very informative. They are full of suggestions and anecdotes to help the breeder make educated choices. If you decide to read them, I hope they offer as much information to you as I know they did for me.

Even armed with the above information, nothing can replace the help of a good mentor. A mentor is someone who is willing to share information, someone to talk to when things don’t go as expected, someone in whom to confide your fears and successes, someone to add support and information as you move forward and someone just be there with a cheery “hello” at the other end of the phone. If you are lucky enough to find that “special someone,” you are indeed blessed in this doggie business. My mentor even introduced me to my “best friend” as she thought we’d be good for each other. Both of us were relatively new to this show world. Unfortunately, mentoring has almost become a thing of the past. Folks seem too busy or too competitive or just not interested these days. I know without my first mentor, I’d not be doing what I love best today. My first mentor is still a very good friend and a very special lady. A woman confident enough in herself to give and share without being afraid of a new competitor.

Competition is good for everyone. It makes or breaks those who can’t deal with someone coming up in the ranks. It also improves the breed in the long run since each of us has to keep improving in order to come by those coveted wins at the shows.
As far as I’m concerned, when showing is no longer fun, it’s time to quit. So, for the time being, on to the next show, the next litter and the next new friend.

As always, I am open for suggestions and advice about this and future articles. Help is always welcome.
Better Dogs