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First Steps in Dog Breeding

  Do not think I am overestimating the importance of your first step in dog breeding. I am not telling you to do as I did. For my first bitch I went to a breeder from whom I had already purchased a house pet, and bought the only bitch she had for sale. The whole transaction took some fifteen minutes, and I did not even see the pedigree! That was years ago, but I have never had cause to regret my purchase. With this bitch I was able to establish a blood line which has gone out and won. When I hear men speak of the dog game as being crooked, I always think of the exceptionally fair treatment I received when I was starting out, and my thanks go to that gracious lady who lived up to the traditions of the true dog breeder and gave an utter novice a helping hand. However, you might not be so lucky, and it is important to take your time and make your choice as carefully as possible.

  Now let us suppose that you have gone over the pedigrees of the bitches which appealed to you most, and have learned all you can from them. The next thing is to make sure that the bitches are healthy. Good health is just as important as good breeding, so make certain that the one which you are probably calling "my bitch" by now, is in good condition.

  If she is a healthy dog, her eyes will be bright and clear, and her skin will be clean, with no signs of eczema. Her skin should be loose enough for you to gather it in your hand, and the coat should be shiny and luxuriant. I would advise against a dog or bitch with a tight skin or a dull, lifeless coat.

  Look inside her ears to see whether there are any ear cankers, and outside to see if she has been habitually scratching in this vicinity. This is another indication of ear cankers, or it might indicate the presence of lice. A bad odor coming from the ear is another symptom of canker.

  Look in her mouth and examine her teeth. In most breeds they should be white and even, but they are sometimes discolored as an aftermath of distemper. If she shows this discoloration, make sure that she has no other after-effects of this disease such as chorea, which is a convulsive twitching of the muscles. Be sure that there is no deposit of calculus or tartar on the teeth, and that none of them are decayed. In breeds where a good bite is necessary, such as hunting dogs, be sure that the lower teeth fit closely inside the uppers when the jaws are closed. Never purchase a dog badly under- or over-shot except in the case of breeds where this is allowed, as for instance, the bulldog.
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