This tip is by Dr. Al Grossman, a
psychologist, dog show judge, and shower/handler of several
champion dogs, including the former number one dog in the
U.S. He has been involved with dogs for more than thirty
From The Skeptic Tank
Getting Down To Basics
Dr. Al Grossman
The evolution of a breeder is marked by various stages of development.
There is the first stage where interest and desire are born;
stage is where this interest and desire are implemented by the
acquisition of quality breeding stock; the third stage takes place when
breeding plans are formulated to improve upon the original stock; and
fourth stage is launched when the breeder can first exercise his own
selection in evaluating the results of his breeding program. For a more
detailed explanation of the stages of becoming a top notch breeder the
reader should consult REACHING FOR THE STARS by Mary Roslin Williams
(Doral Publishing, 2000)
We will deal with the last stage along with some highlights of the more
important though often overlooked, general principles of breeding.
Most beginning breeders feel twinges of self-doubt when it
choosing the best puppy or puppies from their early litters.
articles have been written telling how to select the best puppy
litter but most are merely a re-phrasing or re-working of the
Standard. In other words, one is told to pick the puppy with
the best of
this and the best of that, but saying or reading it and actually
are two different things. The beginning breeder usually makes
effort to learn about each and every little trait so that his
will be the correct ones.
Many owners dismiss the possibility of using their dogs for
for which they were originally bred. Primarily, such owners
are just not
interested, but even if they were. They would undoubtedly say,
" Look at
what it would do to his coat!" and not give the matter
However, in order to appreciate your breed you need to know
breed came into being to fill a specific purpose. This is what
authors of the breed Standards had in mind when writing the
While breeders may not wish to follow through in this direction,
should, nevertheless, keep in mind the basic purpose for which
was created, else what is the point?
There are various reasons for the many existing breeding programs
today which run the gamut from an idealistic "improvement
of the breed"
to blatant desire to "breed a winner." Be that as
it may, even those
interested in breeding nothing more than dogs that can win
in the show
ring would find that they would be able to breed a better quality
they were able to understand some of the implications behind
Standard. Memorizing the Standard will not help in breeding
a better dog,
but understanding what it is attempting to convey will. All
would do well to view the dog in terms of what it was originally
it was expected to do. By keeping these very basic principles
in mind, it
becomes quite clear why certain traits are emphasized more
It is definitely not meant to say that the glamour should be
even overlooked, on the contrary, the glamour is a part of
any breed, but
it should be superimposed upon a sound, well-balanced dog.
Far too many breeders seem overly concerned with the individual
the dog. Many breeders subconsciously feel that when they know,
own satisfaction, what a good head is, what constitutes good
shoulders, what a well- angulated rear looks like, etc., that
nothing more for them to learn. Their learning all but stops
continually evaluate their dogs and those belonging to others
assemblage of the various "parts." The concept of
relating the various
parts of the dog to each other and viewing this in relationship
whole, rather than a series of individual good and bad traits,
is the key
that so many breeders never grasp. It is not possible to overemphasize
the necessity of understanding this point, for this is the
balance and is so very basic, and so very necessary, to successful
Understanding the concept of balance makes it easy to understand
balance is the fundamental principle on which selection and
plans should be based. Any one part of the dog¹s anatomy
proportion to any other part of the dog¹s anatomy is the
clue to the
concept of balance. The result is THE DOG AS A WHOLE IS MORE
THAN ANY ONE OF ITS INDIVIDUAL PARTS.
It is balance that breed Standards are all about. Yet there
who inadvertently perpetuate faulty breeding programs because
not able to understand or accept this. If they are told their
steep shouldered and its excellent rear quarters are therefore
ineffective, they will argue that most dogs have steep shoulders,
to a point, is true. However, they do not take into account
that it is
the degree that is important. When dealing with a dog¹s
placement, one needs to be aware of the small but major difference
between "excessively" steep and "acceptably"
steep. What would have been
an excellent rear on a balanced dog with the proper shoulder
becomes an over-angulated rear for the steep shouldered dog
and as a
result must eventually cause serious problems. What these breeders
not seem to appreciate is the fact that they have created an
and extremely faulty dog. In its own way, a dog such as this
is just as
faulty as the dog with a very bad head, a very long back, a
front, a very weak rear, etc. The inherent danger in such a
dog is that
it does not look faulty rather, it often looks quite
spectacular. When shown under incompetent judges, a dog such
as this CAN and often DOES
win, thus making it even more of a menace to the breed as a
especially should it be a male promoted at stud.
Another popular misconception about what is good and what is
pertains to neck and shoulders. Many breeders feel that "outstanding
and shoulders" are only those that blend so smoothly and
it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.
are concerned with this trait will not settle for anything
result is by having lost sight of the "whole dog,"
the invariably end up
with light boned, shelly specimens which are "poor doers."
It is true
they usually obtain the very smoothest shoulder possible, but
wonder why their dogs lack bone, substance and size, These
be ever so much further ahead if they would allow themselves
to think in
terms of the WHOLE DOG and LEARN that it is the angle of the
that is vitally important and that smoothness is "secondary."
While it is absolutely necessary to know about the various
your breed and appreciate them for what they are, it is more
put them all together first and view the results as a whole.
don¹t add up, they are basically worthless regardless
of how outstanding any one of them may be by itself. In addition,
it is just not possible to
set down a list of the various characteristics to take heed
of, and have
them apply to every individual in the same way. There are differences
among many of the bloodlines in a breed with respect to the
puppies , and the consequent development of their many traits.
be considered as vital in one line need not be of great importance
another. For example, " heavy shoulders" in a puppy
of one line need not
be cause for great concern in lines where this is known as
a stage of
development. The same hods true for "low-on-leg puppies"
"plain-headed" , to name a few specifics. When these
traits occur, and
they are the rule rather than the exception, they do not and
loom as formidable threats. However, should these same developmental
characteristics appear spontaneously in lines not noted for
appearance, they must then be regarded in an entirely different
Just about every trait a puppy possesses is subject to change.
plush heads can turn into plain , poor adult heads- a long
smooth shoulders can turn into a short neck with heavy shoulders-
backed puppy can become a long backed adult- a well angulated
straighten, etc. While these developmental changes are not
rare, it is extremely rare that characteristics which are originally
faulty and undesirable correct themselves and become desirable.
It is for
this reason that the outstanding young puppy has a far greater
achieving maturity as a good specimen than the so-so puppy
maturing into an outstanding adult. Breeders who keep a mediocre
the hope that maturity will bring about desired changes are
It is because knowledge of the various developmental changes
to acquire that the experienced breeder has a big edge over
Through experience a breeder learns many of the idiosyncrasies
pertain to the line in which he is breeding. If he has been
with one line over a period of time, it becomes quite easy
for him to
exercise his own selection with assurance and self-confidence
choices. He knows what developmental changes to expect in his
at what times to expect them. It is fairly easy for him to
future of his young stock as it is for him select them originally.
faced with a puppy from an entirely different line, a breeder¹s
evaluation must be concerned only with the puppy as it presently
rather than its future potential. What pertains to one bloodline
respect to growth and development often does not apply to another.
When evaluating a litter of puppies, it is only natural and
pick each one up and attempt to stand it in a show stance so
puppy¹s various traits can be admired, faulted and compared. This is
also done to acquaint the puppy with the ritual of "stacking"
afford the opportunity of giving the puppy necessary handling
individual attention. While all these practices are necessary
worthwhile, it is a common mistake not to go beyond them. The
position is not natural to the dog when carried to the extreme,
many breeders carry it to the extreme. A dog that is built
stack almost naturally. However, a dog that is not constructed
can be made to create the desired effect by pulling it off
stand by its tail, swinging its front legs out from under it,
on its tail so it will crouch and lean forward. By starting
early with a
young puppy and applying enough force and repetition any dog
manipulated so as to assume the desired look in the stack position
therefore satisfy the image in the breeders mind. It really
change the dog¹s conformation, but it does tend to create
false conception of the dog not only on the part of the viewer
ringside but all too often on the part of the breeder and /or
well. Thus the breeder may come to believe he has something
what he really does have. Obviously, such self-deception does
toward creating a better specimen. When a dog such as this
owner-shown, the owner never does have the opportunity to view
out of the stacked position and in motion. Sometimes they really
idea that his dog, which has been cranked to beautifully into
artificial pose, loses every bit of its manufactured outline
as soon as
it is left to its own devices.
There is an intangible quality possessed by some dogs and not
Some call this intangible quality "heart" others
call it "spirit" and
still others may call it "showmanship." Whatever
it is called, it is that
extra something that makes one dog stand out from another,
they may be of equal conformation. There are dogs that look
when viewed on the table ; put the same dog on the ground and
it is lost
in a group. Then there is another dog, which, when viewed on
could use a bit more of this or a little less of that. This
when on the ground is a standout and calls all sorts of attention
itself. This is the dog who makes the most of what he has,
does great things for itself and has the ability communicate
something to others. This inner core is more than showmanship,
showmanship is something that can be acquired through good
inner glow is almost a form of communication that takes place
dog and the viewer, whether it be the breeder, judge or spectator.
comes through in the form of "look at me; I¹m the
greatest!" It is the
same quality that every top winner of every breed possesses
inner quality, the most perfectly put together dog is "just
Dr. Grossman judges Sporting dogs and is the publisher
of Doral Publishing, a dog book publishing house. Doral books may be
viewed at www.doralpub.com.
Doral Books to read for
(Simply click on the link to view the book listing, then
visit our order page to order it.)
Born to Win: Breed to
Succeed by Patricia Craige. This book is fast
becoming "the bible" for dog owners, breeders, and
showers. Patricia Craige has won the hounds group
TEN times at Westminster. Now, she brings her
secrets to you in this fantastic book that covers
all the essentials of breeding and showing. This
book is a must-have for dog owners.
Best Junior Handler! A
Guide to Showing Successfully in Junior Showmanship
by Anne Olejniczak. Both adults and junior
showman will benefit from this wonderful book on
showing. Anne qualified six times to go to
Westminster, and now she offers some "inside tips"
for juniors. If you're starting out in showing
dogs, or if you're looking for some new advantages,
then this book is for you.
Pure-Bred Dogs by Dr. Al Grossman. Find out how
not to just breed dogs, but how to breed winners!
Anyone can put a dog and a bitch together and come
out with puppies, but how do you get the
best puppies? It takes a plan. Find the help
you need to successfully breed winning puppies,
whether you are looking to show or just looking to
continue your dogs' line.
Would you like to see our other tips
for dog owners? Then send $45.00 cash or money order to . .
. No, just kidding! Simply click on one of the links
#1: Selecting Your First Puppy Who doesn't
want to make sure they pick a good puppy? Find out more information
about how to do so!
Questions or comments? Drop us an e-mail.
We'd love to hear from you!
#2: The Role of the AKC Want to know more
about the American Kennel Club, how to register, addresses, and so on?
Then this is the tip for you.
#3: How Dog Shows Work. Have you ever wondered
what goes on at a dog show? I mean, besides barking. Have you ever wondered
about the different categories of winners, what goes on through a judge's
mind, and so on? Then read this tip!
#4: Evaluating Your Puppies, Part One.
Part one of learning how to evaluate your puppies. When your dog has
puppies, how will you know which ones will make the best prospects?
This tip includes what to look for, notes to take, etc.
#5: Evaluating Your Puppies, Part Two.
More of what to look for on how to evaluate your puppies.
#6: An Introduction to Dog Agility. Learn
about the exciting sport of dog agility. This introduction will give
you all the basics, introduce you to some of the terms, and also give
you an overview of a great sport you can do with your dog, whether it's
in your in backyard or in competition.
#7: Dog's Eye View of Dog Shows. Learn about
how dogs react to the rigors of the dog show game.