Song Dog Kennels
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The Dog Game

By Nigel Aubrey-Jones

 When some breeders ask why some breeds are losing their 'characteristic temperament" the answer is quite evident before them in the show ring.  Each and every breed should have it's own special characteristic temperament and attitude.  Temperaments and attitudes such as the dignified and aloof Afghan, the reserved and sensitive Bloodhound, the determined and courageous Bull Terrier, with his unique swagger as he moves, the bright and lively, active Smooth Fox Terrier, the loyal and indifferent Chow Chow and the dignified and fearless Pekingese.

 Far too often do we see some of the breeds displaying traits that are the exact opposite of what their true breed temperament should be? 

  Nervous Terriers, lethargic Sporting breeds, humble Hounds, cuddly Chows and petrified Toys are not to be desired. 

 For some reason, and there could be many - such as lack of understanding and care by some exhibitors and handlers - the showing of dogs has developed some means of preventing breeds from following some of their natural instincts.

 Seldom, if ever, do some dogs get the opportunity to run through fields and exercise their sight and scent abilities as well as their bodies and legs.  Can you imagine some of our show Terriers ever getting the chance to employ their natural instinct in digging?  Many dogs are not even allowed to run or play with other dogs, for fear of damage being done to their coats (which in many cases, are of wrong length and texture).

 Others are restricted in their exercise for fear of overdeveloping their shoulders.  As masters of the dog we have also to live up to the obligations we have assumed and allow our breeds the opportunity to preserve and develop their respective and true and typical temperaments and personalities.  The lack of true breed temperament is just as serious as many physical faults and more serious than others.

 "Full of fire" - "Shows like a bomb" - "Moves like a train" - "As sound as a bell."  Those are terms we often hear and understand.  Of course, we realize that the dogs we refer to are never on fire, or look like any kind of a-bomb, train or bell.  It's not easy at times to explain to spectators at dog shows or even to novice exhibitors but we know what such terms mean  - or at least we think we do.

 Good temperament is considered by many to be the ultimate of all the show ring virtues.  To others, good temperament is one of the most important assets of the pet or companion dog.  What some interpret as being good temperament for the show ring can be quite different from the correct temperament for the breed the dog represents.  What is considered a good temperament can be quite foreign to what is typical for the breed in behavior and outlook.

  Individual breed characteristics should be just as important as conformation, size, coat, color, and the many other things that go into making one breed different from another.  The important genuine breed characteristics in temperament quite often go by unrecognized and never get credit for their true value in relation to the breed they represent.

 Quite often untypical and undesirable temperament characteristics are accepted as virtues.  How often do we hear the expression that a dog "lacks fire" being applied to breeds that are naturally required to be anything but firey?

A five-generation pedigree can be regarded as a list of names.  It can mean nothing whatsoever about the names that appear.  To that person, one pedigree is much like another.  To be of value, and correctly appreciated, the names in a pedigree should convey to the reader certain information about the breeding behind the animal.

Without some knowledge of the history of the breed, no one can hope to derive any useful information from reading a pedigree.  Without having seen in the flesh or images such as pictures or paintings, just what kind of dog the name in the pedigree relates to, no one can tell.  But it is possible without such knowledge to judge whether the breeding is the result of a series of haphazard breeding, or done with some planning or purpose in mind. 

 All too often, unfortunately, it is  the pedigree rather than the dog to which it relates that is the pride and joy of the owner.  The influence of the Champion and how many times it appears in a pedigree quite frequently has more credit granted it than is deserved when it comes to comparing the good or important contribution it has made to the breeding of better specimens.

 A champion-studded pedigree often impresses the novice.  But it can hold little appeal to the expert who has actual knowledge of the true merits of the Champions a pedigree contains.  It can also indicate that for generation after generation, breeding have taken place to Champions or well-known winning dogs just for the purpose of decorating the pedigree.

Such breeding systems can produce winners but more often than not they fail.  If such breedings do produce any winners, they can be very "uncertain quantities" when they are bred from.  A good pedigree should follow a pattern and clearly indicate a definite purpose.  To the knowledgeable breeder it should convey that the dog to which it relates is bred from a particular type with definite breed characteristics.  These desired breed characteristics must be known and seem to be fixed or established in a pedigree in order for it to be likely to be reproduced.

It is important to know what virtues as well as faults are present in the family of a pedigree in order for the pedigree to be clearly understood when read.

 It is most desirable that a pedigree has the potential to be able to reproduce to a type.  It is most unlikely that any animal will have the potential to breed to a type unless efforts have been made for many generations to preserve a desired type.  Haphazard breeding can, and do, produce good dogs, but this is more by good luck than good judgment.

 It is more important to know what a dog's name in a pedigree means when it comes to considering what it has produced, rather than what it may have accomplished in the show ring.  What is really needed in a pedigree is information as to whatever may be considered the desirable breed type characteristics are known to have appeared consistently in the progeny of the ancestors.



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