Breeders use a number of terms to define show quality
animals. Variations of the words "prospect", "potential", etc. are
seen many times in advertisements - both on the internet and in newspapers. The following
two definitions will help to bring some clarity to this issue.
Show Quality: This term should indicate that an animal is worthy of being
shown in a Conformation ring. Breeders rarely use this term in conjunction with a young
Show Prospect: This term should indicate that a young puppy shows
potential to be shown in a conformation ring.
How does one go about finding a show quality animal?
Principle 1: It is an EXCEPTION rather than a rule that
a good show prospect will be found in a newspaper advertisement. Responsible breeders as a
rule do not advertise show quality animals through this type of advertisments. They do not
need to do so because they already have show homes for the puppies or are keeping the show
prospects for themselves.
Principle 2:. BEWARE...responsible breeders do not advertise
"breeding stock" for sale. Not all show breeders are created equal. Some
breeders may brag about the number of finished Champions they have bred over the years. Do
not take this to automatically infer that these breeders are necessarily responsible. Other
breeders may advertise "show prospects" or "show quality" animals but
do not show themselves... RUN the other way!!!! Also, be
aware that it requires more than ONE Champion in a pedigree to make a star. Champion sire
means nothing if the dam is worth nothing.
How does one become a responsible breeder?
Patience. Anyone who truly wishes to show and become a responsible
breeder needs to know that it will not happen overnight! The following advice is
golden: 1. Start saving money, 2. Take the time to be patient, and 3. Study .
A thorough knowledge of breed standards, canine genetics and general dog information is
invaluable. Subscribe to any breed specific magazines. These are often mines of
information. As these magazines are studied be careful not to become blinded by the many
ads from some individuals advertising the number of Champions they have finished. Instead,
study individual dogs from these and other breeders to determine if they display desirable
form. Attend shows and ask questions about individual breeders. But please note...
most breeders do not like to bad-mouth other breeders. Read between the lines. Sometimes
what is NOT said is worth more than what is!
Find a mentor. It is extremely helpful to find an experienced breeder who
would be willing to help a novice. Locating a good show quality dog is not easy and
experienced help can sometimes make all the difference in the world. A good mentor will
either be willing to provide a good show quality animal from his/her own breeding stock or
actively help in the pursuit of a quality animal. These individuals are willing to work
with a novice, help the novice develop skills and deeper understanding of the breed and
assist with general canine education. Mentor breeders are an invaluable asset. As time
goes on most novices will find themselves having several mentors within the breed.
Commitment. In an order to obtain a high quality animal the novice must
demonstrate a commitment to the showing, breeding, rearing and selling of dogs. No breeder
wants to sell a top quality animal to an individual who in six months decides he doesn't
want to show anymore. Some novices are interested only in obtaining a dog for show
purposes and have no desire to breed. In this case many breeders will still be willing to
sell a dog
that can compete within a ring but not necessarily be the pick of the litter. Occasionally
a breeder may be willing to allow a novice to "wet his feet" in the show ring by
showing one of the breeder-owned dogs. This allows the novice to find out about how the
show world really works and helps in the basic decision of "to show or not to
Show vs. Breeding. Many breeders will attest that obtaining a
Championship on a dog does not always mean that it is breeding quality. In some breeds it
is fairly easy to finish anything on four legs while with other breeds it is much more
difficult. In addition to a Championship title all breeding animals should have been
carefully evaluated by a veterinarian and pass all health clearances possible. Breeding
mediocre animals is
easy. Breeding animals of outstanding quality takes commitment. Breeders MUST be
their own worst critic! Breeders are human and may have their favorite dogs but personal
feelings must be put aside in the decision to breed only the best.
Foundation Bitches. This is perhaps the most difficult part of becoming a
breeder. An individual's first show animal may not provide a suitable foundation for a
future breeding program. Foundation bitches MUST be well-bred, well-formed, and display an
outstanding health history. Anything less than this is unacceptable and the future breeder
will simply be setting himself up for ultimate failure. A term of "breeding up"
is used when lesser quality animals are used as a foundation. It is a time-consuming,
costly process. It also unnecessarily increases the dog population. Patricia Craige
Trotter, noted judge, author and breeder best said it "...Breeders absolutely must
have the following qualifications: knowledge of the general canine physical
structure and breed-specific knowledge of that structure; knoweldge of what
characteristics constitute breed type and thus
allow a dog to perform the original function of its breed; and the objectivity to put that
knowledge to work in choosing wisely." (AKC Gazette, October 1997, page 24)
Reputations. Reputations are made, not born. The novice is in control of
his own destiny. Each breeder sets up a reputation which may be either good or bad. In the
first years most breeders find that people will not be beating down their doors in order
to obtain a dog. It is a RARE case that novice individuals will find
established breeders wanting their dogs. Many novice individuals will also find that they
will have to spend their own money and time in order to obtain Championship titles on the
first few litters. Some also experience the loss of "friends" as their skills
increase, their show wins increase and their reputation as a fine breeder solidifies. Fine
breeders are not in the business of winning popularity contests.
It is generally regarded that the five year mark is crucial. Once past this anniversary
most potential breeders survive and continue on to become established. Many novice
individuals never make it past this first stage. Being polite and professional even in the
face of criticism goes a long way in the establisment of a reputation as a reputable
breeder. Starting out with fine animals is also of prime importance. A program that begins
with the breeding of lesser quality animals is doomed almost from the start. Responsible
breeders do look at pedigrees and if a dog's pedigree reflects petshop dogs or dogs from
irresponsible breeders, they will not want to work with that owner.
Being a novice is no shame. It is perhaps one of the best times as the burden of
responsibility is not as great. As experience is gained so does breed responsibility. (note:
this is not to imply any degree of irresponsibility. Breeders are always responsible for
the dogs they produce, regardless of experience level.). Furthermore,
know right now that learning never stops. Breeders should study other canine breeds
as well as their own.
Breed not for ego. The hallmark of an irresponsibile breeder is one who
breeds strictly for the wins and not for the breed. These two things are not necessarily
the same thing. A dog whose movement is outstanding but lacks type or breed specific
traits should not be added to the breeding pool. A dog that cannot perform its purpose
(i.e. hunting, herding, etc.) is, again, breeding for a win and not for the breed.
Learning the difference takes time.
Know the breed. Learn the history of the breed. Novices should know that
they cannot go forward without knowing the past.
The greatest downfall of potential breeders is their failure to study breed standard. This
should be studied until it is practically memorized. The application of breed standard to
individual dogs is also an indispensable tool in the establishment of a quality breeding
Izat Italian Greyhounds
Member of the Italian Greyhound Club of America