The breeding of high-class dogs is an education in itself, for it involves a study of the laws of heredity and the breeding out of bad points and the inbreeding of good. An education which will broaden anyone may be derived from watching characteristics carried over from parent to puppy, from studying the various types of
feeding, and from learning how to train dogs. In other words, the one who studies his dogs and gives them the best scientific care, will not only get the most from them but will improve his general knowledge to a marked degree. Combining this with the reading of books, particularly those on his own special breed, will complete for him an education which no school can teach. The farther one goes into the complicated laws of nature—the birth of new life—the nearer he comes to a true concept of the laws governing our own existence. A dog will teach the meaning of real faithfulness as no human instructor can do, for devotion to his master is the breath of life to him.
The war has caused a lot of serious thinking among breeders. The labor and food shortage, together with the rising cost of everything required about a kennel, has made expansion impossible in a good many cases. Yet I am sure that out of all this will emerge better breeders, for more thought and more hard work always produce better results. The way I have met the challenge of reduced rations and shortage of materials has been to go through my kennels and cull out all but my best bitches. The others were placed in good homes. Of the studs I kept only two, being careful to retain ones of entirely different blood lines. For a time at least, experimenting in new matings must cease, and for the duration I shall content myself with improving on the knowledge I already have.
Any beginning breeder will do well to remember that it costs just as much to produce puppies of low standard as it does to raise good ones. Therefore, when starting out, do not experiment. Do not take a little advice from this breeder and a little from that, until the whole becomes such an unintelligible hodge-podge of facts and fiction as to be worse than useless. If possible, seek the advice of a breeder with the same breed as your own. Listen to him with an open mind and follow with him the matings which he is carrying on. Later, as your own knowledge increases, you will be able to go over what you have learned from him, selecting what will be useful in your own kennels and discarding the rest.
No matter how many volumes are written on dog breeding, it must be admitted that it is impossible to give more than general guidance to the beginning breeder. As in everything else, he has to learn for himself in the hard school of experience. He has to learn everything he can about his own particular breed, and only trial and error will tell him what he can produce with the particular stock in his possession. His first step should be to subscribe to a national dog magazine. Here is to be found a wealth of information on the most recent scientific advances. All health notes and information concerning his own breed should be clipped and filed away for reference.