by Pamela Walker, Jezalin, England

Does 'man' keep a sufficient sense of proportion when breeding pedigree dogs?

Do we get our priorities right when planning matings, or is the aim to breed a top winner all consuming.

Do we remember all the time that the future of the breed is in our hands - literally and what we produce and retain for breeding will contribute to either making or marring the breed of the future.

In this I would include all breeds of dogs and not only Cardigans. Study current photographs of other breeds and see how they have altered over the years. Have they changed for better or for worse?

I think that one of the main criteria in deciding this must be how the alterations affect the well being of the dogs themselves so that we avoid exaggeration and over concentration on one particular feature and produce dogs which are both mentally and physically sound enough to live normal active lives of average length without pain or discomfort, able to cope mentally with the stresses and strains of everyday life in our modern society.

What are your first considerations when selecting breeding stock?

Do you think that a particular combination might, just might, produce me one super top winner. Yes, I know one parent is a quivering bundle of nerves which cannot even walk into the showring without trembling and backs away from anyone who tries to make friends with it, and the other parent does it's level best to fight anything on four legs, but both are good looking specimens and have done some nice wining — so lets try and see.

Have you stopped to consider what will happen to the remainder of the litter? The people who will be buying a new member of their family, the excitement of the children, the expense to the parents, their increasing love for the charming bundle of mischief that joins their household, only to find it grow into a nervous wreck or aggressive hooligan, unreliable and a constant worry and problem until it is either put to sleep or changes home to become someone elses headache, as well as the damage that those puppies will be doing to the name of "Corgi".

Surely one of our very first considerations in our breeding plans must be to produce calm, steady, reliable temperaments that will give and get pleasure out of their lives as well as enhance the name of the breed. Make no mistake, temperament is largely inherited and although a poor temperament can possibly be improved by skilled rearing, an experienced owner, or a clever handler, the ideal temperament should be able to cope with less experienced owners without detriment.

Some years ago the Guide dogs for the Blind conducted an interesting experiment. Two bitches, one of excellent temperament and one very nervous, were mated to the same dog. The resulting litters were born close together and the puppies were divided up between the two bitches each raising half her own and half the other bitches puppies. You might have expected that all the puppies raised by the steady bitch would grow up following her example and become calm steady adults — not a bit of it — her own puppies did but the fostered puppies had the temperament of their nervous dam. The puppies raised by the nervous bitch also followed their natural dam in temperament.

Coupled with our aim of breeding for strong temperaments, we must also bear in mind any known inherited problems our breed suffers from. We are comparatively fortunate here in Cardigans compared with other'breeds, but we should take full advantage of any help available to us by way of Official Schemes and knowledgeable Veterinary advice to help us select the best for our breeding stock.

Bear in mind that many habits also seem to be inherited from the appealing and enchanting habits to the frankly irritating ones, and as we want our puppies to be acceptable not only to their new owners, but to Society in general, we should consider this as well in our selection of breeding stock. I am not suggesting that we should try to breed mindless benevolent idiots — we must certainly retain the true Cardigan character, but our puppies must have the temperament to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life as well as have the physical structure to lead a normal healthy life.

Of course we are all trying to breed dogs of the correct type which conform as closely as possible to our interpretation of the Breed Standard and which we can be proud to take into the ring, but a very high percentage of puppies we breed will become family pets, so let us give temperament the importance it deserves and if we can also produce the top show winners in the process — then "GOOD LUCK".


Published in The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association of N.S.W., 1986 Year Book.

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