THE BREEDING PLAN
THE MISSION STATEMENT
Soundness, temperament and conformation are the top priority
After considerable research we decided that the best way to carry quality forward was to identify the optimal producers (both male and female) of quality in their offspring in later generations. A pattern appeared - the same cadre of top producers were present in many (if not all) the pedigrees of the dogs we most admired in the present. A list of top producers was compiled, and a pattern in their dates of birth emerged. Most of them were born in the UK and the US between 1985 and 1995.
We noticed that when even lesser quality dogs and bitches were bred with others that had the top producers in their pedigrees (even up to seven generations behind), the quality in successive generations was markedly improved. This suggested that top quality producers, even if they were a long way back, would still be beneficial. On that basis we began actively seeking out best possible quality genetics (live dogs, bitches and frozen semen) which carried top producer genetics, up to five generations behind. If we were able to purchase, we did. If we weren't able to purchase, we kept looking.
Once the live dogs, bitches and frozen semen were in our hands, we began carefully breeding them, taking careful note of what worked and what didn't. Not all of our imports and litters were successful but most confirmed the theory that once their antecedent's quality was concentrated, a particular level of excellence would emerge. Any significant deviations in soundness and temperament were judiciously removed from the breeding program. Some minor conformational compromises were tolerated on the assumption that they could be corrected readily enough in two or three generations with careful breeding.
Horizontal integration has been achieved because we now have a strong cohort of males and females here at the same time and at the optimal age for reproduction. Vertical integration has been achieved because our current stock (dogs, bitches, frozen semen) have the top quality producers no further back in the pedigrees than nine generations, often less. We are now aiming for diagonal integration, simultaneous with the vertical and horizontal axes. This involves line breeding in the diagonal direction to set genotype and phenotype. Our girls have a reproductive span of approximately three years as our girls are not bred past five years of age.
CONSERVATION BREEDING AND RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP
Responsible breeders should be aiming to conserve genetic diversity in their chosen breed. Conservation breeding requires the maintenance of sufficient numbers of dogs from different genetic strains in order to minimise genetic drift which can make a breed vulnerable to the adverse impact of a rare virus, a non-visible physical abnormality (eg immune disorders), or a random but inheritable physical change (eg liver shunt). A conservation breeding program requires an adequate number of dogs to control the loss of genetics, and has appropriate strategies to maintain a healthy population over time. Unfortunately due to the irresponsible behaviour of a very small number of breeders who have failed to provide adequate care for their dogs, and the disruptive actions of some animal welfare activists, conservation breeding programs have come under enormous pressure in recent years. These programs which have been carefully stewarded by diligent breeders, often for decades at significant personal expense, are now routinely classified as puppy farms or puppy factories. This notion is false, misleading, dangerous and will eventually lead to the loss of pedigree breeds and the proliferation of cross breed mongrels.
We are very excited about the future, now that all the puzzle pieces are in place!