Category Archives: Breeding

The Code of Ethics in Us

Being devoted to the breed of Australian Cattle Dog means to protect every specimen ,who improves
the development by skilful breeding. Who  supports the talent for sport activities according to the standard and last not least is up-to-date in health matters and takes severe care in keeping the ACD healthy.

Everyone, who is concerned about the ACD, has an inner code of ethics and responsibility towards the breed. Every breeder of his time is footing on the  honest basis of earlier breeder generations. And so it will go on. Every breeder must be able to rely on the breeding facts of earlier breeders, while he is honest in his own breeding. This honesty in breeding makes the improvement of our breed.

Compared to earlier breeders we are in the lucky position to have a data base, which is a very helpful tool to pass on breeding facts to our own kennel and make good use out of  it.

Improving the breed of ACD must rely on honest breeders. The truth in breeding is the most important basis on which future generations will continue improving the breed.Only one  dog with a WRONG title, which promises good nerves, will spoil his offspring. And these faulty genes go random  like a red thread through an endless row of generations, because mental health is recessively passed on.

Our love to the breed and its responsibility must care for clean breeding.Help to keep our gene pool clean!



What to Do With Floppy Ears

cardiganwelshcorgi_pazoltIt seldom happens, but sometimes  Corgi ears do not stand upright by itself. The so called floppy ears must be taped. The longer a floppy ear is not taped, the  bigger the danger, that the so called  ear develops half way-up a fold, Do not wait too long.

This is my technique to tape ears in order to get them up. If this is consequently followed, both puppy ears will be correctly up.

Buy 3 cm broad leucoplast from Bayer. Cut a ca. 25 cm long piece and place it, until you need it. Start with the left ear. Consider the ear as a triangle and start from the right bottom. Stick the plaster stripe about 1.5 cm in the INSIDE of the ear.Then turn the plaster outside to the other side by pulling it gently. Go on till you reach the beginning. Now the ear should look like a triangle bag.
Now you do the same with the other ear. Start again on the inside of the right ear, lead the plaster around the outside under slight pulling and end up in front on the inside. Both ears must look with the opening side correctly in front.
Now you prepare again two leucoplast stripes about the length from ear to ear plus 1.5 cm. Stick one stripe at the bottom of the one ear to the bottom of the next ear. Do the same from the outside and press these stripes together. Now it looks, as if the dog has a crown.
Leave it some days, ca. 4 days, if it is not too warm and smelly. Then takes it off. That is not nice for the dog, I know, but cannot be avoided. Do not take fat, because the next plaster will not stay. Immediately after removing make the whole procedure again. After you have done it about 3 times, leave the standing ear for a day, but after that it must be plastered again.Now you must develop a bit of a feeling for the ears.
Find out, how long the ears are standing upright. As soon as they start to flop, tape them again for three/four days. Sometimes you have to repeat it more often, but usually the ears are now strong enough to stay upright.

Legacies: How to Ensure Your Bloodline Goes Forward

Whether just starting out on your path of breeding or looking to pass on your bloodline to the next generation, none of it can happen without a good plan for the future.

By Jonathan Jeffrey Kimes | March 20, 2013

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Oppenheimer Bull Terriers

Bull Terrier authority Raymond Oppenheimer mentored a worldwide network of students through his letters. Just like Oppenheimer, breeders of today should pass along their knowledge and bloodlines to the next generation.

For the true dog breeder, one who has devoted decades to developing a bloodline, the greatest concern must be the assurance that all the effort, all the learning, all the eventual mastery of the art does not dissolve into thin air upon your retirement. Nothing can be more satisfying and enriching than to believe you have made a lasting positive impact on your dog breed of choice, one that will continue onward long after you have stopped making the breeding decisions yourself.

The term “bloodline” is often subject to misuse by those in the dog fancy. Only a very small percentage of breeders have the right to call their efforts “a bloodline,” and yet we hear the term bandied about by almost everyone. I must assume that many, when speaking of “my bloodline,” are not referring to the decades of careful breeding and development of a family of dogs. Instead they are referring to the dogs they currently own. However, to rightly refer to your breeding efforts as a “bloodline,” you must have developed a unique, identifiable and consistent family of dogs that are interrelated through many generations. A bloodline must be physically identifiable, which is to say it must have distinguishable family characteristics. In essence, a bloodline is the manifestation of a breeder’s vision of their concept of ideal breed type. Although there are useful and useless bloodlines, with regard to the perpetuity of such we need only consider those that have proven themselves to be valued as a virtuous family.


Healthy Bloodlines

Although I do not subscribe to any actual rule regarding what constitutes a bloodline, I will put forward that it must be a genetically related, phenotypically consistent family of dogs that are of a viable population to maintain basic consistency even as relatively unrelated dogs are added into the gene pool. It has become the current fashion by many in the dog fancy to refer to the “danger” of inbreeding coefficients as an argument against close breeding. Although we cannot make generalizations about all dog breeds, as each breed is unique with regard to phenotypic variation and genetic health, there are many bloodlines with generations of closely bred ancestors that have excellent health. Indeed, while sloppy inbreeding is guaranteed to produce defective dogs, an intelligently managed bloodline can boast exceptional health not in spite of but due to close breeding. By carefully weeding out unwanted characteristics, including diseases, a skilled breeder can absolutely create a healthy family of dogs. The attempt at wholesale regulation of the inbreeding coefficient should be critically questioned upon the veracity of applicable scientific data. In other words, there are breeds in which close breeding is inadvisable and breeds in which it can be very beneficial. I know of no controlled scientific study using experienced breeders that can prove otherwise, and I have extensive personal experience to support the concept of a bloodline. The canine genome is the most expansive of any living species, and most broad generalizations are invariably refutable.

So let us describe what a bloodline worth perpetuating would be. Through decades of dedication, it must be one in which breed type virtues are exploited to a very high degree. In essence we want breed examples that are verging on perfection in many ways; they will not be perfected in all ways, but they will be considered “the source” for many breed type features. The breeder creed is to produce ever stronger and ever more breed virtues in one’s stock. Do not misinterpret “stronger” to mean “exaggerated,” as unwanted exaggerations are just as unwelcome as deficiencies. Yes, many breeds are the subject of exaggeration of the original desired characteristics, and they must be brought back to balance through the skills of true breed connoisseurs. A good example is the Pekingese coat. Traditionally, the coat has been an enhancement to the breed, but over the last few decades, the breed began to look for all the world like a moving tumbleweed, attractive to no one but restless hairdressers. Today we see a strong swing back to a manageable and proper-fitting coat that enhances this proud lionesque dog. Likewise, the athletic and square Afghan Hound went through a phase where the appeal to exhibitors and judges was more focused on yards of hair than the amazing hunter under the coat. Today I wonder just how much taller Poodle and Shih Tzu topknots must be before their breed intelligentsia tire of the infantile silliness. It is never the followers who force these corrections; it is always just a handful of knowing breeders who lead breeds out of their dark corners.

Every legacy breeder must feature breed health as a top criterion. And by that I mean, the breeder must aggressively work to identify animals with unhealthy genes and remove them from the gene pool. This, of course, must be countered with maintaining appropriate genetic variability within the breed, a sometimes difficult and complex balancing act. The dog world today must realize the “purebredishness” of most of our dog breeds is a relatively recent invention. Some breeds that are plagued with disease may have gotten there through misfortune, but refusing to find solutions is tantamount to mismanagement. Falconi in the Basenji breed has been addressed through the importation of native African dogs to good effect. Development of genetic testing for Lens Luxation has pulled the Miniature Bull Terrier back from the brink of inevitable extinction. Aggressive programs to wait until full maturity is helping the Pomeranian combat Black Skin Disease. A broad spectrum of strategies must be used to right seriously compromised breeds that today face real risk of becoming extinct in the next human generation. The option to introduce healthy genes through cross-breeding to phenotypically and/or genetically related breeds if intra-breed options are not viable must be included in that arsenal.

The dog fancy has done itself no favors by setting up benchmarks that do more harm than good for a dog breed. I have always spurned top producer rankings as little more than devices to spread unhealthy genes throughout a breed. And so there are instances in a number of breeds in which once rare health conditions are now on the list of required disease testing because of popular and overly used stud dogs that transmitted disease to a large population of dogs. These situations didn’t occur without the cooperation of participating breeders. For a bloodline to carry on, for it to be worthy of continued propagation, it must be genetically healthy. And while you may have learned to “manage” existing health problems in your dogs, you are kidding yourself if you think there are others in the next generation who will do the same, regardless of what else you have achieved with your breeding program. Health is absolutely critical to the continuance of a bloodline.

In a similar vein, the over-importance of show ring success can also have deleterious effects on the continuation of a viable bloodline. For instance, surgically correcting tail carriage in many of the long-legged terriers is as common as having dewclaws removed. Yes, you may have produced generation after generation of top-winning show dogs, but if every one of them requires cosmetic surgery, coloring or some other falsification to allow them to win in the ring, the chances of finding someone else equally committed to doing the same with your bloodline in the future is going to have a very low probability at best. Your dogs must be honest. They must thrive on normal diets, their temperaments must be typical of the breed, and they must be sane and healthy animals.


Creating and Passing on the Legacy

As a teenager, I saw a series on television with a line that has ultimately directed my whole life. It was uttered by a woman who had worked her way up from the bottom to ultimately owning a fine London hotel. She opened the doors of her new establishment eager for customers. When an unpleasant gentleman entered, she decisively refused his business. To her astounded staff she said, “I am starting out as I mean to go on.” To do this you must examine your own morals, your values and firmly draw the line in the sand. You must decide what you will and will not tolerate in your bloodline right from the start because once you give yourself permission to include sires and dams with significant health problems or dogs needing fakery or some other inappropriate allowance, you will allow it a second time and a third — and before long you will have infected your bloodline so completely a legacy of your work will be out of the question. Start out as you mean to go on.

Equally important, and ultimately more critical to the survival of your bloodline, is instilling in others the “vision” that is manifested by your breeding efforts. Indeed, it could be argued that your legacy through mentorship could prove to have more impact than the survival of your bloodline. The development of the “look” of your bloodline is driven largely by your perception. Because of your “eye,” you will make breeding decisions and resulting puppy selections that are unique to your perspective. The transference of this “eye” is dependent upon your ability to mentor.

It is wise to realize that your accomplishment in developing your bloodline is based on your own unique talent. Let’s be quite clear on the meaning of “talent” versus “skill.” Talent is an aptitude, a natural ability to do something. Talent is therefore something innate; it cannot be instilled. Skill is a learned capacity to do something. Obviously, the more talent one has, the greater the skill that can be achieved. With a lack of talent, the skill cannot be perfected. When choosing one or more individuals to mentor, those who hopefully will continue your legacy, you must be very aware that they must have the talent to do so. I have seen many bloodlines over the years become a sad shadow of the original developer because the individual assuming the bloodline did not possess the talent to do so or was not properly schooled in the founder’s “eye.”

Once the “who” to mentor has been identified, the challenge is “how” to mentor. Obviously, taking on an individual who is physically co-located, who can participate in every daily activity and is present for every decision-making opportunity is the ideal. Many happy situations have occurred when the original owner brings in a new partner who is as eager and as talented as the founder of the bloodline. The new partner can assist with the physical demands, often allowing the founder to remain active with his or her bloodline much longer than would ordinarily have been the case. If the individual has financial resources, such as employment, additional benefit can be achieved with appropriate sharing of expenses.

My mantra in working with another individual is “contract, contract, contract.” Regardless of whether you enter into a co-ownership agreement on a single dog or a sharing agreement on an establishment, ensure a proper contract is drawn up by a qualified lawyer and that both parties are appropriately covered. Although both parties will assure themselves there will never be a need for a contract, I can only say if people knew at the onset exactly if and how long-term relationships might change, there wouldn’t ever be a divorce! It is exceptionally bad judgment not to very clearly delineate how a partnership will be dissolved should the occasion ever occur.

If such a close relationship is not possible, the next choice may be to at least have someone who can travel to dog shows or who is at dog shows with you. Staying in contact with them through the week will keep them interested and fully invested in the ups and downs of managing the kennel.

Even if a close physical relationship is not possible, effective mentoring can occur across distant countries. Today with easy access to the Internet and with social media such as Facebook, an ever-present communication construct is easily devised. I recently tested this theory by setting up a private group on Facebook where topics can be discussed and pictures and videos shared. The participation can be limited to two individuals or can include multiple participants. Another “free” communication medium is Google Chat where you can have free video chats with one or more individuals. So for the cost of a computer and an Internet connection, you have a number of technologically advanced, basically cost-free solutions for communicating frequently.

One of the best examples of mentorship I have ever seen was demonstrated by Raymond Oppenheimer of the world-famous Ormandy Bull Terrier kennel in England. As revealed in W.E. Mackay-Smith’s book, Letters from Raymond, during the 1960s and ’70s, he maintained a worldwide network of students he mentored with endless passion. His letters not only shared his views on current circumstances of the Bull Terrier in England, he requested mercilessly of his students to share their observations of the outcome of every significant specialty. He wanted catalog markings, descriptions of the dogs and perceptions of the judging. Through his questioning he forced his students to really look at the dogs in the ring, to evaluate them and to compare their perspectives to what the judge did. He provided suggestions on breeding their bitches and wanted to know what choices they made, why and the eventual outcome of the resulting litters. Through this tireless interest in his students, he effectively shaped world opinion of Bull Terriers. Although his kennel was the leading producer of top-quality stock, his development of intellectual capital across the planet was in every way as important and lasting.

If you think about it, it is the whole mix of your husbandry that makes your bloodline successful. To mentor the next generation effectively thorough communication and understanding will be your never-ending task. In terms of breed type, your view of outline, head type, proportion, structure, movement and temperament is vital. What are your views on size variation? What are the key elements which must always be considered for exceptional type? What are the things you don’t like, can’t tolerate and why? How are your dogs kept, exercised, groomed, socialized, trained? Think about every task and decision you make through the day and relate this to your pupil. Share and share and share. As a teenager, I greatly treasured the two-hour conversations I had on a weekly basis with my mentor Norma Chandler. She brought the past alive in my mind, shared what she used to believe and what she believed now. I was allowed to share her past, her present and her thoughts on the future. I shared my thoughts, and she helped me to greater insight.

And finally, you must consider what will happen to your dogs when you pass into the great dog show on the other side. Make decisions about who should get your dogs, what you want done with them and ensure the intended recipients are fully aware of your wishes. An unexpected demise without your proper preparation may well ensure the end of your line.

Whether just starting out on your path of breeding or looking to pass on your bloodline to the next generation, none of it can happen without a good plan for the future. Every day affords us the opportunity to direct the rest of our lives; if your bloodline is the stepping stone to future breed improvement, do all that is necessary to ensure that is the legacy you leave behind.


Once upon a time…

When the honarable Lady  Worldchampion “Pavesi Miss Aussie” noticed, that her first child pressed its way out, she gave birth on an Empire fauteuil, jumped clumsily down and laid down in the whelping box. There in short distance five more puppies were born.
She left the  silent puppy on the chair without any view back. For her, he was obviously dead and his squeaking siblings needed her care. She was a pragmatical bitch.
In a short glimpse I realiazed how perfect he was;  so harmonious, he was a great gift thanks to his breeder’s creativity.
I shook the newly born boy in order the get the eventually swallowed fluid out of his lungs. Carefully I took his little muzzle into my mouth, and sucked the last amniotic fluid out. Simultaneously I rubbed his floppy body without noticing at any moment, that he wanted to honour my efforts with at least the weakest sign  of will to live.
Meanwhile I pressed him to my naked upper body, covered with a thick  sweater of pure wool where the lifeless boy could at least feel my heart beat. Meanwhile I hurried from room to room, hoping my movement would induce him to own movement. But in vain. Minute after minute  passed by, while my thoughts told me again and again:” give up, he is dead. You will not make it”., while I was desperately rubbing his little body.
There were still some last drops of “Respirot”, who should help to breath. I wondered, if they might be too old. I did not use it since years. I even did not remember how many drops can I give to a newborn puppy. Anyhow I dropped some Respirot on his muzzle. Repeating again and again my words, that a wonderful life was waiting to him, I gave him already his name “Heinmueck”, because as a child I thought that this fairy tail figure must be very strong.
More and more time passed by, while I whispered my promises and was rubbing him. Up and down I walked through these two rooms, I did not know  how often I did it. Even, if he could neither hear or understand me, he should feel, that it was now time to live. 45 Minutes had passed since he was born, when suddenly out of the depth of his body came a dark tone and little cough. In my hand I felt a very weak, light tension of his breast, nearly unnoticeable.
We managed it after all “Heinmueck” decided to live. While happy feelings overwhelmed me and I exhausted cried I felt a miracle had happened.

The Tragical Loss of Bloodlines and Mentoring

by Carol D. Hawke, e-mail

These tremulous topics are subjects I have been carefully contemplating for better than a decade after we first began to hear rumors from British friends about the unsettling disappearance of renowned bloodlines and having personally witnessed the decline of individual mentoring here in America. The disconcerted whispers have evolved into various public outcries as numbers of longtime breeders, handlers and judges worldwide have united in mutual concern.
In all recorded decades past in America and over much of the centuries written of dog breeding, serious dog breeders have always worked diligently to produce “bloodlines.” Americans are still inclined to fondly refer in slang to their breeding programs as their ” lines.” These were typically direct canine lineages that traced back to one or more foundation stock of note. These “lines” remained consecutive as the decades pushed steadily onward, with breeders adding and removing characteristics in the same fashion as an artist adds and removes detail from a masterpiece in progress. Sometimes that forward momentum came at a crawl and other times in leaps and bounds, yet serious fanciers rarely abandoned their “lines.” In actual practice, bloodlines were only rejected when a deadly defect or perilous plague allowed no other option. For a few breeders, such disaster spelled the end of a life’s work. The venture was over insofar as they were concerned. Others found opportunities to begin again with some related stock shared by a former pupil or two. The point remains; dedicated breeders remained intensely loyal to their original programs.

Each major bloodline presented a differing view of the standard while all of them offered some presentable version. Every kennel or “line” did its’ own share of winning and staked-out a firm place in the annals of canine history. Large or small, each one made a contribution, of that there can never be any question or doubt. One could count on those “lines” inasmuch as they were identifiable types, to produce dogs that would in turn, produce more dogs that bore the distinct resemblance of “the line.” There was a notable, positive measure of consistency both phenotypically and genetically. A common practice was for the next generation of dog breeders (the mentored) to take up foundation stock from two popular “lines” and create, much to their own and everyone else’s great delight, a “new line.” Wisely mentored, talented individuals found ways to bring out the very best of differing “lines.” Such efforts frequently made fast friends of longtime show opponents. After all, both lines contributed to a reawakened success in much the same fashion proud grandparents are spontaneously united. In a few cases where the “lines” clashed and the new efforts failed, each side could blame the other for the unhappy results. Regardless, a mutually satisfying proposition resulted however the tossed genetic coin may have landed. If one cross failed, another was attempted until success was eventually obtained. The entire process was accomplished under the watchful eyes of scrupulous mentors. A successful breeding program of one’s own marked the rite of passage for the past two centuries of dog breeding in America until the most recent decades. Tendencies and trends in dog breeding have suddenly taken a series of sharp turns. Times have changed, yes, but times always do change while dog breeding as a hobby is manifesting an entirely new face.

What shall we entitle this fallacious facade? Nobody I have the pleasure of knowing at length in dogs is able to fully grasp this anomaly and accurately identify it. Is this a transitional phase in dog breeding or is it the wave of the future rendering many of us the tail end of an ancient entity that will cease before our very eyes? The visible characteristics of this incomprehensibly unorthodox approach to dog breeding reveals first and foremost the loss of distinct “lines” as we knew them. Subsequently and secondarily we note the rapid decline of clearly identifiable variations within breeds owing to an apparent lack of resolve to preserve known lines or even develop new ones for that matter. Evidently, many of today’s trendy fanciers may view dog breeding as a sort of genetic ‘smorgasbord’ wherein it really does not matter what one starts with or ends up with as long as it produces a winner instantly. What we are witnessing is the rejection of the proven practice of long term breeding from a particular line or lines in order to manifest some version of the breed standard along with the essential fine-tuning that it has always necessitated. I have personally noted (along with many who have arisen from the traditional role of dog breeding) that no apparent mental concept of the breed standard seems to be required by this new generation of dog breeders. In its’ place resides the quaint desire to refrain from producing a show specimen with any disqualifying faults or other serious refractions that might prevent winning. If every critter produced by such breeders and their typical, entangling alliances is entirely different in type, temperament and structure from the next, this is apparently incidental if not amusingly quirky – rather than appropriately humiliating. This recent phenomena poses a genuine dilemma for the mentors currently addressing dog breeders and doubtless, to our reigning judges.Much of the murmuring amongst longtime breeders and judges reflects the rarity of locating two dogs with remotely equivalent virtues in any given breed, much less in any class at a dog show today. There appears neither rhyme nor reason to the breeding techniques being implemented. One might surmise from the evidence presented that today’s dog breeder expects to win at each outing with every show prospect entered. Infinitely worse, far too many are wont to sell as show prospects all remotely saleable individuals from each litter produced without regard to consistency of quality or future prepotency. Perplexingly overlooked is the simple fact that a great deal of time has always been expended at home by serious, ethical dog breeders planning, growing out and placing the majority of litters who are not and never will be, show or breeding quality dogs. That’s just the way dog breeding pans out. Only the best were brought forth for public exhibition. Every pup a conscientious individual produces doesn’t rate ‘show prospect’ nor should they all be considered as breeding stock by virtue of the obvious fact that they share the same illustrious pedigree. This lack of common sense (or excessive greed, if the truth be revealed) is one of the primary factors that engenders severe anxiety for longtime mentors who are valiantly risking their own reputations to educate and represent novice breeders, just as their illustrious predecessors once did.

It has historically been stressed that no individual can successfully breed a line of dogs without a very specific breed template in mind. Similarly, ethical breeders have always been taught to conscientiously remove from the breeding program all stock that failed to meet those criteria. This is the foundational motivation behind judging dogs and the primary protocol for assessing them in a show ring. Today’s version of novice unfortunately tends to reveal the stereotypical know-it-all who eagerly acquires a dozen differing bitches from equally as many breeders (often worldwide) and pack them right off to the top winning stud dogs in their breeds. Such blatantly shortsighted behavior is still preferable to nauseating scenario B. Consider the latter case wherein those same bitches are bred to the most local and convenient stud dog(s) the breeder can find or pick up inexpensively. The fact that these naïve newcomers are frequently financially raped by what should be ‘reputable’ dog breeders (especially overseas) is another issue entirely. Owing to a considerable lack of deep thinking or just glaring ignorance, countless modern breeders are more interested in health clearances than pedigrees and show records than prepotency. Health clearances are marvelous (we’ve promoted them for years ourselves) but they can never substitute for the intimate knowledge that will reveal exactly which lines tend to produce which defects. A series of health clearances achieved by a dog from a line that has consistently produced those defects is like a rubber sword. It’s not going to protect your breeding program in the end run. You may be inclined to disagree with this; but I would rather breed to a dog from a line I know rarely produces a certain defect even though my choice may have failed that test, than the previous candidate. Equally vitally, an experienced analysis of pedigree quality and depth is vital to the success of any breeding program. The inability to wisely apprehend each of these invaluable tools and utilize them from the standpoint of experience will render a pedigree little more than a fancy piece of paper and health statistics and show records no better than an interesting collection of facts. Widely available are wonderful books and new programs designed to help instruct the breeders of this era but again, I reiterate and strongly advocate; personal, individual mentorship has absolutely no substitute. Only a mentor can personally impart every detail of an intimate knowledge while role modeling ethical and conscientious conduct. Successful breedership is taught not bought!
Herein lies my second key point today. Until a wannabe breeder develops a specific breed photograph (hopefully, based upon the breed standard) internally and makes the choice to honor proven, worthwhile mentors who will devote themselves to their pupils success, he will fail to create any long term impact on his chosen breed. Today’s candidates seem to compose a burgeoning group of rootless competitors that buy dogs left and right in each breed and hop right into the ring with them longing desperately for winnersŠor, at least wins. Every year they sport new dogs, new lines and a new look. It causes one to ponder precisely what happened to last year’s models! These people don’t have the groundwork to breed dogs of the merit they desire. Compare any such individual to another who is championed by successful mentors and is blessed with the wisdom and patience to actually heed their advice. Both individuals will output similar amounts of time and effort but the former, self-appointed orphan will nearly always struggle vainly and likely abandon the effort. Others just switch from breed to breed, hoping for better “luck.” Worse yet, many become bitter renegades determined to regain their initial investment one way or another. Perhaps the impact being sought currently is a different one than that so admired in previous decades. If the motivation is simply to “win, win, win!” and subsequently, “any dog will do you,” then our nation’s mentors really ought to step back, take a deep breath, uncurl their toes and fingers and let come what may. My assertion has long been, “Big winds blow over,” but perhaps in this case; “Big wins blow over,” would be more apropos. The end result of each individual’s efforts will eventually become visible in conformation and performance circles and in the annals of canine history, as it always has. However, the likelihood of this fast-food mentality (as applied to dog breeding) ever producing consistency in type, temperament or soundness is well beyond the realm of a slim chance and if it were to gain foothold, we would be forced to concede that the days of bloodlines and prepotent producers may be nigh over. These strangely inspired opportunists will still manage to produce winning dogs hither and yon but never two and three in the same litter. Moreover, such dogs will seldom pass on the characteristics that caused them to win in the first place. Flash-in-the-pan winners may even produce healthier pups in the short term owing to the blessing of outcross vigor but in the long run, the progress will not be sustained. It takes generations of working through genetic defects to breed them out to a very safe distance, if you know “the line” and what it tends to produce consistently that is. It also requires generations to breed in virtues that will reproduce faithfully.
Allow me to relate an incident at this point. It’s a true story so I hope all prospective dog breeders will sit up and pay attention. When I was a teenager I worked very hard for a lady who raised German Shorthairs. One day she informed me we were going to clean a large kennel owned by a wealthy fancier of the breed. My mentor warned me to be wary of the dogs and not speak openly regardless of what I saw. The elderly fellow who owned the place was no longer able to manage the operation properly but she also insisted that he had been “an eccentric” all his life. In fact, that is what everyone in our area called this man, “eccentric.” Over a period of decades the patron had built a beautiful, full-fledged kennel with indoor/outdoor runs on a lovely parcel of acreage. Inside this brick facility were special rooms designated to breed, whelp and rear pups and even space for displaying show and field trophies. A small home on the property had been provided for live in kennel help. Large yards to exercise the dogs were overgrown while previously well-keept flowerbeds had withered away. In previous years they must have supplied a lovely grandeur to the exterior. Once inside the kennel, all lofty expectations fell desperately short. The dogs were as many types as one could ever dread coming across in any given breed. There were tall ones; short-legged ones, coarse headed and snipey dogs and not one that looked remotely like the next. There were friendly, tail-wagging dogs kenneled next to neurotic, circle-spinning, crazy dogs that would as soon bite you as look at you. To tell you the truth, it was rather nauseating. I had to seriously rethink the prospect of breeding dogs as a hobby for some time after we finished cleaning the kennel and departed. That chaos was the end result of decades of breeding based upon the incredibly mistaken premise that “winning is the only thing,” and little else mattered. What cemented the dismal failure in my young mind was the realization that the rewards (ribbons and trophies) accumulated over those decades were rendered utterly trivial and meaningless by the lack of consistent virtue in those dogs. This ‘breeder’s’ efforts provided nothing of value and in some ways, served to set the breed back locally. He had accumulated a few, tarnished trophies and wrinkled ribbons but nothing consequential was accomplished. If one can be satisfied with so little then I will admit that this fast-track mindset regarding dog breeding may be of an extremely limited value.
Here is another case in point for those who feel personal mentoring should remain a lost art. An individual whom had migrated from another breed decided to focus an effort at linebreeding on the most prepotent stud dog of the past century. Although himself a dog of many grand virtues, he possessed equal and grievous faults that he managed to set into his offspring. His main fault was a weak, round headpiece featuring a narrow, triangular shaped muzzle (instead of the broad muzzle required) with its’ accompanying narrow, wry jaw. To a lesser degree, he was also straight stifled. Without the meticulous, personal mentoring that should have been provided in order to point out to this newcomer those serious deficits, they became quickly overlooked. As time passed, this confused individual concluded that the miserable headpiece that came to characterize that breeding program should be promoted as a correct feature for the entire breed. These dogs were widely advertised throughout the canine world until many judges began to accept this outlandish conglomeration of faults as an acceptable version of standard breed type. This tragedy may not have occurred if just one particularly prodigious breeder had been properly schooled individually regarding the correct utilization of the breed standard and modern bloodlines. A qualified mentor could have steered this novice around the immobilizing point of blind ignorance. Those judges who fail to read and apply breed standards and who judge by advertisement (familiar faces) alone do purebred dogs an equal disservice. Very often, a simple lack of proper tutoring is all it takes to instill a negative trend into any given breed.
There are invaluable concepts becoming lost to our recent generation of dog breeders. Either that or the wrong shaped pegs are being pounded against their will into the incorrect holes by the stubbornly ignorant for lack of other suitable explanation. I cannot personally conclude that the dog world is so lacking in serious, experienced mentors as it is deplorably void of dedicated, loyal students who are determined to ‘mind their mentors’ and invest more than their silly, petty funds. Rather, let them invest something into the Sport of lasting value such as their time, talent and devotion. I would cheerfully trade ten thousand of these ridiculous, “Top-Ten-Syndrome” devotees with fistfuls of dollars for one modest, respectful and loyal breed student. Moreover I would prefer one without a spare penny. Such a prodigy will be far less wasteful with my precious bloodlines than some exasperating, bill-folding biped that deliriously suspects she can magically create a breeding program from thin air by waving a few bucks in the right direction. Deluded individuals are further inclined to believe that currency can induce lost bloodlines to reappear intact at a moment’s notice. I suppose that our longtime handlers feel equally plagued standing knee-deep in so many upstart “instant agents” who collect dogs to exhibit at sundry fees like garbage men do waste from our sidewalks on a weekly basis. This miserable misconduct readily explains what we end up with in our rings each weekend! Am I suggesting that all modern dog breeders are hopelessly sidetracked? By no means, only that peculiar faction that fit neatly into the trappings of the disclosed package. What if you wish to succeed as a novice breeder but dread falling into this pattern? How can you identify the wrong track if you are on it? Take the following rudimentary quiz to challenge yourself:

1. How many bitches does it take to produce a quality line of dogs?

a. Five (one from each of the top names in your breed)
b. Ten (the above group plus one from each of the top breeders in Europe)
c. Thirteen (one can never go wrong with a baker’s dozen!)
d. As many as you can accumulate with the funds you have or can finance
e. One good one from a reputable line

2. How many puppies in each litter are show prospects if you have produced a typical litter of four well-bred pups?

a. Four (they all came from the same parents and the same pedigree)
b. Three (one is bound to be a pet and you have one pet home waiting as it turns out)
c. Two (keep the best bitch and the best dog or the best two pups regardless of consistency)
d. None of them until your mentor has helped you evaluate which to grow out.

3. What actually constitutes pet quality?

a. A serious genetic defect
b. A breed disqualification
c. A & B combined
d. Bad temperament
e. A, B & D combined
f. A mediocre specimen regardless of pedigree
g. Pet home waiting

4. What actually constitutes a show prospect?

a. No genetic defects
b. No breed disqualifications
c. Showy, outgoing attitude
d. Loud color
e. Good legs ­ this baby can really move out!
f. Pretty face and fabulous coat
g. An outgoing, outstanding breed representative with a solid pedigree to back it up.
h. Show home waiting

5. What is the difference between a “breeding quality dog” and a show quality dog?

a. Breed disqualification(s)
b. Good quality, poor temperament
c. Ugly head, sound legs
d. Pretty head, can’t move
e. Great dog, lousy pedigree
f. None of the above. There should be no difference.

6. How many pups per litter do you need to keep to maintain a bloodline?

a. Half the litter
b. One dog, one bitch…just in case one is sterile or does not turn out.
c. The two best bitches
d. The whole litter, in case some don’t turn out or are sterile.
e. The one pup that is better than it’s quality parents.
f. How many bloodlines do you intend to work with at one time???

7. How many litters per year do you need to produce to maintain your bloodline?
a. Two if it’s an easy breed or five if it’s a hard breed to raise live litters out of.
b. Three, in case the first two didn’t cut the mustard
c. As many as possible without sending a red flag up at AKC
d. Enough to cover all doggy expenses
e. One, if it’s well thought out and carefully evaluated
f. How many bloodlines do you intend to work with at one time???

8. Why do you need a mentor and why should he or she help you evaluate your litters initially?

a. You don’t, really. Take their good advice or leave it since it’s basically just another opinion.
b. You only require a mentor long enough to obtain that quality dog.
c. Anyone who will trust you with his or her life’s work will gratefully help you manage it properly. An ethical mentor will never intentionally steer you wrong and will work hard to see you succeed. Translation: your success is their success!
d. ‘Mentor schmentor!’ Anything she can do, I can do better already.
e. This is my third litter and I’m tired of growing out puppies. I want something that will WIN and I mean, NOW!
f. Which mentors do you intend to work with now that you have all those bloodlines???

9. What is the correct definition of a top quality litter of pups?

a. None have breed disqualifications
b. None have serious genetic defects
c. None have poor temperaments
d. All are ideally marked
e. Half of the litter finished
f. One pup became a Top Ten ranking show dog (gotta’ repeat this one right away!)
g. The quality of the pups was equally distributed; the majority finished, the pedigree was solid, and they created a permanent, positive impact on the breed
h. Both parents are champions
i. Show homes waiting impatiently with money in hand.

The correct answer is available in each category. Moreover, they are overt answers. Did you quickly arrive at them? If you were regularly drawn to multiple choices in each category and are confused at this point you definitely need a good mentor. If you aren’t sure whom to approach in your breed, ask around at dog shows. (Forget the Internet, you will merely come out showered with arrows!) Collect sufficient expert opinions to obtain a consensus. A quality mentor can document considerably more than a decade in their breed; will have produced many champions and one or more notable producers of that breed. Conscientious mentors carefully monitor the genetic defects within their lines throughout each generation and can prove it. Such individuals will desire to mentor only serious students, so please do not waste their time and break their hearts if you do not happen to be one of them. If you aren’t in this hobby for the long haul, please get out now while the getting is good. Successful dog breeding is about quality relationships, long-term investments, a dauntless love for dogs and conscientious determination. If your ideal hobby is all about winning and making a big name for yourself as quickly as possible, you are harboring an incognito loser mentality and what you really need is counseling. That’s a strong opinion. If you decide to stay, you will discover many more where that one came from. However, if you really love a certain breed of dog and your heart’s desire is to be intimately involved, produce a line of healthy, happy, sound dogs from proven bloodlines, then by all means find a good mentor or two and super glue yourself to them. If you are willing to become a lifelong student, can take advice humbly and gratefully from those who are willing to share their doggy endeavor, you deserve a good mentor. If respect ranks high in your personal vocabulary and you weren’t born knowing it all, you have the potential to contribute as a valuable member of doggy society. Honestly, I cannot recall even one top breeder I have known that succeeded entirely alone. One day you may discover that you are a dog breeder of renown and qualified to mentor students yourself! You will become absorbed in a worldwide community of dedicated, ethical, compassionate people who have embraced you slowly but surely.
One word in admonition; if you are in the process of being mentored and choose to intentionally thwart prominent mentors who have taken you under their wings, the doggy world can become a very cold and lonely place all of a bloody sudden! (This is by no means a reference to honest mistakes which all of us can and do make regularly.) I remember one of the first individuals who ever mentored my husband and I. At a club meeting held in our home he hung back after everyone departed and confided in my ear, “These new people come in and they want you to help them get started. You help them and they turn around and put a knife in your back so you can never trust them again!” I cringed internally wondering if our club leader was on drugs or just an overly dramatic sort of fellow. At the time I thought it was a rather amusing incident. Years later I came to appreciate the full impact of his presumably paranoid statement. Anyone who has been in dogs for a decade is already mentoring newbies. It just happens naturally for most of us. At that early stage the process is rather akin to a teenager mentoring a toddler. A decade later there is a further transformation and we become adults leading teenagers. In each mentoring relationship there is mutual growth from differing aspects. That is how this mentoring relationship should progress. It is at the initial checkpoint that we are noting a bizarre glitch in the system, if you will. Around the five-year mark those students who should depart since they are unwilling to learn anyway, for various, insidious reasons – don’t. Instead, they tack up their own signs and go into business thumbing their noses openly at or even more commonly, behind the backs of their previous mentors. A few actually resort to destroying the reputations of their former mentors as a boorishly pathetic hobby.
Reading every dog breeding and genetics manual ever manufactured won’t cut the mustard when such independent students actually try to breed litters from various bloodlines (especially those ridiculous, tossed-salad combinations thereof.) Half the time, these mentoring dropouts retain the wrong pups and let the outstanding prospects go, thus insuring their own failure. Without proper mentoring, they are literally lost amidst a world of pedigrees, canine husbandry and exhibition. Still, the foolishly proud would rather struggle alone than face the music and apologize to the honorable instructors they have grieved. I’ve watched such individuals attach strings to every pup they sell in mortal terror of repeating these dread foibles. A team of veterinarians will be less successful at diagnosing the various stages and odd quirks of those lines than one longtime breed mentor. In stubborn rebellion, these folks will rely upon any opinion other than that of a qualified expert. The number of lives of dogs saved by good mentoring is impossible to calculate but I would suspect at least a dozen for each successful mentor. Which is why it irks me to no end that some veterinarians treat all dog breeders like dirt bags. Technically, we are on the same team and it is beyond certain that we’ve saved lives their professional education and training could not. Whether veterinarian and dog breeder or mentor and student ­ it’s all about functional relationships. Lacking respect, no relationship will function. Yet daily we witness supposedly serious students of dog breeding or handling backstabbing their dedicated mentors!

Mike and I have mentored newcomers to the world of purebred dogs for the entire duration of our marriage. I can recall few instances I have been as emotionally wounded by our own family members as I have by doggy individuals we chose to mentor. Perhaps it is human nature to become too controlling over those we mentor on occasion. We may overprotect them out of concern that others will misuse them. At the same time we strive to help them avoid making terrible mistakes. However, mentoring at this initially intense level should never extend beyond the point at which the pupil has actually advanced into a successful breeding program of his or her own. There must be a clear distinction between manipulation and guidance. Yet, release from quality mentoring can only be unwisely sought with the first champion produced or in the first five years of breeding for that matter. The use of poor judgment by the mentored is never as hard to swallow as utter disrespect without provocation. Foolish as it will undoubtedly seem to most of this reading audience, I sold many outstanding, young show prospects to complete novices. I remembered how difficult it was to obtain a quality dog. Equally importantly, I did not want my dogs in large operations or breeding kennels, stacked in crates in people’s basements or garages. So I stuck my neck out and took a chance on novices who kept their dogs at home, primarily as pets. Each of them made verbal and written promises. Only a handful lived up to their contractual agreements. Some of our mentored were extremely successful (the patient minority) while others ruined perfectly good dogs. One newbie we sold a quality pup to continually despaired that the dog would never reach its’ full potential. However, maturity occurred precisely when I insisted it would and the dog finished with a flourish. In fact, this dog continued to collect honors regularly until it began to win on a national level. This apparently happy conclusion was completely spoiled a short time later when I inquired to purchase a pup from the individual hoping to regain the bloodline that I had disbursed in order to more freely judge dogs. To my old fashioned way of thinking I believed my request would be received as an honor by the grateful novice, only to be quoted a price nearly twice that of the original stock with potential strings attached! In shock over this scandalous misbehavior, I was then formally advised, “It’s only business and that is the current pricing.”
Whoahoahoaaa there, little doggeez! Let’s pause for a moment and analyze the statement that selling dogs is ‘strictly business.’ It wasn’t ‘way back’ when your mentor entrusted you with their foundation stock! Moreover, if you claim to bear any love for them whatsoever, dogs are never ‘strictly business.’ If they are, you are not a hobbyist – you are a profiteer and had better change your “buy from a breeder” motto to reflect your grasping mentality. Secondly, no student of a breed in the initial process of learning should ever charge top dollar for any puppy because he possesses neither the experience nor the credibility to back up that price tag. After you have endured a decade or two and have produced noteworthy, prepotent dogs that actually had some influence on your breed and when you are able to scrupulously manage and predict the general development of a bloodline as your mentor did, then and ONLY THEN charge a reflective price. You did not breed the dogs of note in those pedigrees that you are basing the outrageous prices upon, nor do you even remotely grasp the full impact of the innate faults and virtues harbored within those bloodlines. No photographs or second-hand rumors will ever reveal that information to you. Only a trusting, experienced mentor can offer those breeding shortcuts and such information will never intentionally be shared with a fool. Following in the wise footsteps of my own mentors, I failed to charge full price for a show prospect until I had fifteen years under my belt as a breeder. We rarely placed strings on any dog and only requested approximately five puppies back in all those years. We did not ask pick puppy for a stud service in those days nor ever required litters back on bitches sold. Our stud dogs, when at public stud, were offered at fees reflecting the PROVEN value of their get. There is a point that seems to have been reached in our modern dog world where hard-nosed business principles have completely overshadowed good sense and propriety. There are sufficient dog profiteers outside the legitimate Fancy; we certainly don’t desire any on the inside. Many dog breeders are visibly infected with a self-serving greed that has eroded their essential respect for mentors and minimized the true value of purebred dogs to such a degree that it is reducing an otherwise fine Sport to a paltry game. The reality is that the hearts of this generation must change for gracious, sensible conduct to reemerge in our world.

In another frustrating case, a sympathetic, longtime mentor tucked under her wing what could only be described as an “iffy” candidate for mentoring. This student came from a most precarious position having purchased breeding stock from disreputable sources and selling it over a puppy miller’s network. However, the student seemed bent upon a course of integrity and cleared up the negative ties as requested. The candidate further insisted all mediocre stock was disbursed and began health-testing the few quality dogs on the premises. The mentorship ensued and the pupil was able to finish a high quality dog of superior pedigree with the guidance of the breed expert. Naturally, the mentor was contacted again in order to help select the appropriate mate. The mentor pored over pedigrees of available dogs at the request of the student until an excellent choice emerged. At the pupil’s further request, the mentor offered herself as a reference since the stud owner was quite discriminating. Suddenly in midcourse, the pupil jumped ship and decided instead to breed to an untitled dog with an incompatible pedigree. The motivations were supposedly financial and for the sake of simplification. A very old, mediocre quality dog was provided the pupil without charge from a calculating source that only requested “a puppy back in return.” The clever, second-rate breeder was thereby able to seduce the naive student and acquire stock from a bloodline that was previously unavailable without investing a penny. Moreover, an unwanted dog at retirement age was conveniently disposed of at the same time from a sizeable kennel operation. When the mentor was informed of this treachery, she replied calmly and candidly, “If it were possible to breed high quality dogs conveniently and cheaply, every dog breeder in America would be equally successful.” Consequently, in both cases the mentors severed all ties with these (sic) ‘serious students’ of their breed.
What other course can ensue when mentors apply full effort and skill toward the success of individuals who later proffer the proverbial “knife-in the-back” treatment? One could wish to label these pupils’ sophomoric actions “poor judgment,” but the greedy motivations behind them would swiftly nullify those otherwise inert descriptions. These are but two examples plucked from among dozens of graceless incidences mentors around the country are reporting regularly, obviously increasing the number of abandoned or dropout students each year. The only reward any mentor is ever granted for his or her personal investment is the satisfaction of shaping a successful and ethical patron for their breed. After several such devastating experiences in the lives of longtime mentors, it is little wonder so few will extend their time and talent to the continually inquiring newbies vying for their attention. It is seldom true that the dog world’s finest canine mentors are, as so commonly characterized, “stuck up,” but rather that they have simply been burned emotionally one too many times. If you are a student of a breed; please don’t confuse emotional distancing with arrogance since they aren’t remotely alike. If you would be mentored by one of America’s renowned Doggites, you may find it necessary to prove your loyalty to them and their dogs first.
“Bloodlines,” as we once acknowledged them, are fast disappearing. The remnants of those precious, former hardwoods are being sold as a commodity to the highest bidders both here and abroad. In the place of the elaborate effort that once hallmarked a lifelong craft one discovers pressed board covered over with cheap laminates. Is it possible that the invocation of genetic charting in some fashion has ended America’s reverence for bloodlines? Or is it merely the saturation of equal amounts of greed and egomania on the part of today’s foundationally disengaged crew of incoming dog breeders that is to blame? The principles that have long sustained dog breeding, as applied both intellectually and instinctively are clearly on the wane. In direct repercussion, mentoring has become a most precarious proposition for all who compose the framework of the Sport of Dogs. Will educating breeders with the intact blanket approach resolve these issues? We will be most fortunate if this program can manage a nip at their fast wilting buds. If public education could instill ethics and character this program could be deemed feasible, however, individual mentoring (like the parenting role that it has always evoked) remains the only practical, proven and effective means by which to tackle such perplexing problems and that process is entirely dependent upon willing and worthy students. It occurs to me that in order for a breeder education program to succeed, there must be a valid mentorship program firmly in residence. Recruitment for qualified, mentoring volunteers to act as “big brothers” to novice breeders will prove absolutely essential. No family is functional without diligent parents nor will any breeder educational system flourish minus experienced, conscientious mentors. If those prerequisites could be met, it still remains to be seen whether or not there exists a sufficient headcount enrolling in breeder education to salvage the future of an entire nation’s purebred dog Fancy.


Color Chart

I have attempted a color chart like
this before.  It confused even me.  I’m going to try again, listing
the main colors and modifiers.  This chart is listed with only
genotypes.  You may not necessarily know the genotype of your dog. 
However, if the listed results match what you have in a litter of puppies,
hopefully this list will help you guess!

Color of Parents Color of Puppies
Tan point tri to Tan point
Tan Point Tri
Red (carrying tri) to Tan
point tri
Red and Tan point tri 
Red (not carrying tri) to
Tan point tri
Red  — all puppies
will carry tri
Red to Red (both parents
carry tri)
Red and Tan point tri
Red to Red (only one parent
carries tri)
Red (some puppies will carry
Red to Red (neither parent
carries tri)
Red (no puppies will carry

Modified Colors —

Brindle (carries tri) to Tan
point tri
Brindle, red, tan point tri,
brindle point tri
Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
to Tan point tri
Brindle, red
Brindle (carries tri) to Red
(carries tri)
Brindle, red, tan point tri,
brindle point tri
Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
to Red (carries tri)
Brindle, red (some puppies
will carry tri)
Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
to Red (doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle, red (no puppies
will carry tri)
Brindle (carries tri) to
Brindle (carries tri)
Brindle, red, tan point tri,
brindle point tri (some of these puppies will be homozygous brindle)
Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
to Brindle (carries tri)
Brindle, red (some puppies
will carry tri)
Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
to Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle, red
Brindle (homozygous) to
Brindle (carries tri)
Brindle (some puppies will
carry tri)
Brindle (homozygous) to
Brindle (homozygous)
Brindle (homozygous)
Brindle point tri to Tan
point tri
Brindle point tri (carries
for tan points), Tan point tri
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Tan point tri
Brindle point tri (all carry
for tan points)
Brindle point tri to Red
(carries tri)
Brindle point tri, Tan point
tri, Red (carry tri), Brindle (carry tri)
Brindle point tri to Red
(doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle, red (all carry tri)
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Red (carries tri)
Brindle point tri (carries
red points), Brindle (carries for tri)
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Red (doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle (all carry tri)
Brindle point tri to Brindle
(carries tri)
Brindle (carries tri), red
(carries tri), brindle point tri, tan point tri (some of the brindles and
brindle point tris can be homozygous for brindle)
Brindle point tri to Brindle
(doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle, red (all carry tri
— some brindles can be homozygous for brindle)
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Brindle (carries tri)
Brindle point tri, Brindle
(some will be homozygous)
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle (some will be
Brindle point tri to Brindle
point tri 
Brindle point tri (some can
be homozygous for brindle), Tan point tri
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Brindle point tri (carries for red points)
Brindle point tri (some
carry for red points, and some are homozygous brindle)
Brindle point tri
(homozygous) to Brindle point tri (homozygous)
Brindle point tri
Brindle point tri to Brindle
(homozygous brindle, carries tri)
Brindle (some will be
homozygous, all will carry tri), Brindle point tri (some will be
Brindle point tri to Brindle
(homozygous brindle, doesn’t carry tri)
Brindle (all will carry tri,
some will be homozygous)
Modified Colors — Sable

Although I believe a sable must
carry tri to express its color, this chart covers the possibility
that sable is a completely separate modifier.

Sable (carry tri) to Tan
point tri
Sable, Red, tan point tri
(reds and sables carry tri)
Sable (doesn’t carry tri) to
Tan point tri
Sable, Red (all carry tri)
Sable to Red (both carry
Sable, Red, Tan point tri
(Reds and sables carry tri)
Sable (doesn’t carry tri) to
Red (carries tri)
Sable, Red (some carry tri)
Sable (doesn’t carry tri) to
Red (doesn’t carry tri)
Sable, Red (none carry tri)
Sable (carries tri) to
Brindle (carries tri)
Sable, Red, Tan point tri,
Brindle point tri, Brindle (solid colors carry tri)
Sable (doen’t carry tri) to
Brindle (carries tri)
Sable, Red, Brindle (some
carry tri)
Sable (doesn’t carry tri) to
Brindle (doesn’t carry tri)
Sable, Red, Brindle (none
carry tri)
Sable to Brindle
Sable (carries tri) to
Brindle point tri
Sable, Red, Tan point tri,
Brindle point tri, Brindle (solid colors carry tri)
Sable (doesn’t carry tri) to
Brindle point tri
Brindle, Red, Sable
Sable (carries tri) to
Brindle point tri (homozygous)
Brindle, Brindle point tri
Sable (doesn’t carry tri) to
Brindle point tri (homozygous)
Brindle (all carry tri)
Modified Colors — Merle

I’m only going to cover
conventional merle breedings

Blue merle (tan points) to
Tan point tri
Blue merle (tan points), Tan
point tri
Blue merle (tan points) to
Brindle point tri (carries tan points)
Blue merle (tan points), Tan
point tri, blue merle (brindle points), Brindle point tri
Blue merle (tan points) to
Brindle point tri (homozygous)
Blue merle (brindle points),
Brindle point tri (all carry tan points)
Blue merle (brindle points,
carries tan points) to Tan point tri
Blue merle (tan points), Tan
point tri, blue merle (brindle points), Brindle point tri (some may carry
tan points)
Blue merle (brindle points,
homozygous) to Tan point tri
Blue merle (brindle points),
Brindle point tri (all carry tan points)
Blue merle (brindle points,
carries tan points) to Brindle point tri (carries tan points)
Blue merle (tan points), Tan
point tri, blue merle (brindle points), Brindle point tri (some may carry
tan points)
Blue merle (brindle points
carries tan points) to Brindle point tri (homozygous)
Blue merle (brindle points),
Brindle point tri (some may carry tan points)
Blue merle (brindle points,
homozygous) to Brindle point tri (homozygous)
Blue merle (brindle points,
homozygous), Brindle point tri (homozygous) 
Modified Colors — Chinchilla

I’m only going to give a couple
of examples.  As a recessive modifier, both parents have to
carry chinchilla to produce a chinchilla puppy.  

Red (carries chinchilla) to
Red (carries chinchilla)
Red (some may carry
chinchilla), Red Chinchilla 
Red (carries chinchilla) to
Brindle (carries chinchilla)
Red, Brindle (some may carry
chinchilla), Red Chinchilla, Brindle chinchilla
Dilute Factors — Brown and

Again, I’m only going to give a
few examples, since both of these factors are recessive.  If a
puppy is produced that is a brown or gray dilute, both parents carry
the gene.  

Tan point tri (carries brown
dilute) to Red (carries brown dilute)
Tan point tri (may carry
brown dilute), Red (may carry brown dilute), Brown dilute tri, Brown
dilute red
Blue merle (tan points,
carries gray dilute) to Brindle point tri (homozygous, carries gray
Blue merles with brindle
points (may carry gray dilute), Brindle point tri (may carry gray dilute),
Gray dilute merle with brindle points, Gray dilute tri with brindle points




Guessing your dog’s genotype is the one of the
oldest games in the book.  A brindle can carry any number of other
colors.  We know a brindle carries at least one red gene, but do they carry
both red and tri?  Does he carry sable, or chinchilla, or one of the
dilutes?   Look carefully at the chart.  Sometimes certainly
color combinations give you a better chance at identifying your dog’s underlying
genetic makeup.

My stud dog is a bright red brindle.  His
sire was a sable, his dam another red brindle.  Looking back one more
generation (grandparents) didn’t help me much — they were all brindles. 
Knowing that his sire is sable helps me with one clue — he couldn’t be
homozygous brindle because one parent is a solid color.  In his first
breeding he was bred to a red and white bitch.  It was the first breeding
for both dogs, so we waited to see if the puppies would give us any clues as to
the recessives each parent might carry.  The first puppy born was a
tri-color.  Eureka!  We now know that the sire and dam both carry
tri.  With the appearance of one puppy we knew the color genotype of both
parents.  It usually isn’t that easy.

In Cardigan we have mostly dominant
modifiers.  Dominants genes are easy — you must have a parent that color
to get a puppy that color (with the exception of sable, because brindle masks
sable).  The recessives are more difficult because they can remain hidden
for countless generations.  Chinchilla is that way, as well as both dilute

I hope this helps new breeders understand
Cardigan colors a little better.


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Cardigan Colors

by Cathy Ochs-Cline, “Phi-Vestavia”

This is a very complex subject, but I am going to attempt
to explain this in as simple a way as possible.  I will use pictures and
some genetic information.  Some of this information is accepted as fact, and some is genetic
conjecture from my breeding experience.  The mode of inheritance is not
known on some color combinations, so I have attempted to make a “best
guess.”  I hope everyone is able to find this information useful.

This article is graphic-intensive, so I have divided it
into several pages.  Some pages still take a long time to load, so please
be patient.

Step 1 — Colors

Cardigans come in two basic colors:  Red
and Black.  Red is dominant over black.  Cardigans do not have the
DOMINANT form of black which causes bi-colors, or pure black and whites. 

All black Cardigans are tri-color, having either tan or brindle points.
Pictured above are the two basic cardigans, one red and one black (tan-point
tri-color).  These dogs do not have any modifier or dilution factors

2 – Modifiers

Cardigan Colors

Step 2 —

The Cardigan breed has four
modifiers.  Modifiers affect coat color, but do not affect pigmentation, so
all pigmentation will be the normal black color.  Modifiers are inherited
independently of color, and independently of each other.  Any Cardigan can
have no modifiers (a red or tan-point tri-color); one or more modifiers
(brindle, merle, chinchilla, sable) or, theoretically, one dog can carry all
modifiers (and no, I don’t know what it would look like).


Brindle is a dominant modifier.Only one gene is necessary to express the brindle color — in other words,you have to have a brindle parent to get a brindle puppy. All brindles carry at least one red gene.  A black and white Cardigan with the brindle points is a black and white with the brindle modifier.
A Cardigan who carries two brindle genes is called homozygous brindle or pre-potent brindle.Brindles are interesting because no two are the
same. Brindles can be any shade from almost completely red with a
few darker markings, to almost black with a few lighter markings.

Most brindles appear striped, although some only have different shades of brown that seem more patchy.

All shades of brindle are acceptable. Some examples are below.
chattierungen aufweisen.
Alle brindle Schattierungen sind erlaubt. Dafuer hier einige Beispiele:

These are brown brindles.  This is the most prevalent shade of brindle.  Their base coat is reddish to chocolate brown with light and dark shadings.  This category is hard to predict for genotype.  All of the above dogs carry black, but some brindles the exact same shade do not carry black. Also notice the second dog does not have discernable stripes.  He is a shaded” brindle.

These are black
brindles.  Their base coat is dark brown to black-brown with lighter shadings.

Black brindles are unusual in the United States, but there
have been a good number of them in England.  Both of the above dogs
carry for black, and I suspect most brindles in this category will carry
for black.

These are brindle point tris.
Genetically they are black and whites with one or more brindle
modifiers.  Shown above are two dogs showing the difference in point
areas.  The dog at left has very little brindle in his point areas,
the dog at right has very large extension of her brindle points.
These dogs are mother and son.  Note:  Brindle point tris can be
homozygous for brindle, just like other brindles.


Merle is a dominant modifier gene.This gene modifies the black hairs to turn all affected areas shades of mottled gray. The gray can be light silver to dark gun-metal.Patches of black appear in the coat in varying degrees.Pigmentation is normal black, although areas affected by the merle gene will appear to lack pigmentation. These areas include the nose, lips, and eyes.
Breeding two merles together may result in a homozygous merle.These dogs are usually predominantly white.A large majority of homozygous merles are born deaf, but the occurrence of the other health problems are rare.All shades of blue merles are acceptable.Merles other than blues (brindle merle, sable merle, red merle, homozygous merle) are a breed disqualification.
Here are three
different shades of blue merles.  The first dog is a light
silvery-gray, the middle a medium gray, and the end dog a dark
gun-metal.  All of these shades of blue are acceptable and one shade
is not preferred over another.  Just for information’s sake, these
three dogs are siblings.

These two illustrate the difference in
black patching that is acceptable.  The dog on the left has mostly
black patching with very little blue showing (called a cryptic blue) and
the dog on the right has very little black patching.


Sable is one of those genes that is controversial, and therefore all the following information is NOT fact.  The sable gene’s behavior in other breeds is clearly understood, but its relationship to brindle and other modifiers in this breed make its behavior a little more difficult.Sable is a dominant modifier gene.  Sabling causes a pattern of black-tipped red hair on the body.  The
pigmentation is normal black.  The sable pattern typically forms a black cap on the forehead and may include a black shoulder shawl and saddle on the back.<Most red Cardigans express some amount of
random black hairs in their coat.  A true sable may have some random black hairs also, but unless the red hair is black tipped and forms a pattern, this is not a true sable.

It is theorized that a sable must carry the black gene in order to express its color.  I have found this to be true in my breeding program.  Since sable is only
expressed on red hair, a brindle or black may carry the sable modifier without expressing it.

Clear Red or (Recessive Red)
Clear Red is a RECESSIVE modifier
gene.  In order to get a clear red, both parents may be normal
colors, but both must carry the clear red gene.  The recessive red
gene causes the expression of black hair to be suppressed.Originally I wrote about this color as chinchilla,
but it was discovered in late 2005 to be a form of recessive red. 
This gene causes all offspring to be yellow, orange or red in their
pigmented coat regardless of their genotype.  In other words, reds,
brindles, blacks and merles will all appear as some shade of red.

The term “clear red” or “pink”
was attached to this color because there is NEVER any black in the
coat.  Since all “normal” red Cardigan puppies have a camouflaging
black overlay on their coats as newborns, this makes the clear reds easy
to spot as babies.  As the clear reds get older they can often darken
to a normal red color, so their identification in the whelping box is

Pigmentation appears to be affected by this
gene.  Although some puppies have normal black pigmentation, as
adults their noses, lips and eye rims often fade to dark grey-black or a

Clear reds  are shown as a shade of red and at this
time it is an acceptable color, as long as their noses appear black.

Two mature clear reds.  The dog at left is lighter than the bitch at right, but both were born almost white.  Both these dogs were proven to be
brindles by breeding.A clear red puppy (in back) at less than a week of age among normal red (in front) and brindle puppies.

This is a clear red puppy
who is genetically a tri-color.  Notice that he is about the same
shade of red as the normal red puppy at right.  But, he doesn’t have
one black hair on him.A normal (or dominant) red
puppy at the same age.  Notice how much black hair this puppy still

Puppy #1 at maturity — he appears to be a normal red, but look at his nose color.  Even in this picture you can see it is not black. Puppy #2 at 7 months.  The black hair is all gone, but his nose is a dark, shiny black

Melanistic Masking

Melanistic or Black Masking is a DOMINANT modifier gene. Masking
appears as a solid area of individual black hairs on the front of the face, around the eyes,up into the eyebrows, and inside the ears.  Full extension of the
black mask can cause a “faux saddle” on the dog’s back. This saddle usually remains as a dorsal stripe and is  different from the sable saddle that extends down the sides of the dog and is actually caused by black-tipped red hairs.Masks appear on reds, sables and brindles, but any color can have a black mask.  The black masking gene may be partially responsible for the varying amounts of point area showing on blacks.
Black dogs who have small or reduced point areas might actually be masked
dogs.  Clear red dogs can carry black masking, but it will not show
because the gene suppresses the expression of black.

Masked dogs of otherwise acceptable colors are also an acceptable color.
Varying degrees of black masking on brindles.  Although black masks are possible on any shade of brindle, it is easier to see them on red brindles, so I have used this color to illustrate brindle masks.

Light to heavy masking on reds.  Notice the increasing amount of black on the backs.  The dog on the right has a heavy saddle.

The Cardigan breed has two dilute factors — brown dilute
and gray dilute.  Dilutes affect both coat color and pigmentation.&nbsp
Dilutes are inherited independently from color, and independently of each
other.  Any Cardigan can have no dilutes (normal red, black, brindle,
etc.); one dilute (brown merle); or both dilutes (fawn).


The brown dilute is a recessive gene.  In order to have a brown dilute, both parents may be normal colors, but both must carry the brown dilute gene.The brown dilute is also called “dudley.It affects all black on the dog turning it chocolate brown.  This includes coat and pigmentation.  A brown dilute will have a brown nose, lips and paw pads.  Since this gene does not affect red or tan, the point color will be normal.  
Brindles and reds with the brown dilute are usually identified by nose color. 
A dilute can be inherited along with any of the Cardigan colors and/or modifiers.  Although the blue merle pattern is left intact in brown dilutes, a brindle will not have a normal pattern — it will either be absent or very faint.
All brown dilutes are breed disqualifications because of their brown noses. 

Left:a brown dilute merle and normal blue merle.  This is an excellent picture to illustrate how the dilute washes out the normal black, both in coat color and pigmentation color.

Right:a brown dilute tri-color.  Note
the overall chocolate brown, with normal point color.


The gray dilute has all the same
characteristics as the brown dilute, but instead of turning black into
brown, this gene turns black into gray.

The gray dilute is a more uncommon factor than the
brown dilute, and after many years of not hearing of one, they started
surfacing again.  Gray dilutes are more common in Pembrokes, where
they are called “bluies.”

Pictured is a tri-color gray dilute puppy.
These puppies are born with what looks like normal coat color and
pigmentation, but they quickly fade to gray, while the rest of the litter
remains normal.

The gray dilutes are a breed disqualification
because of their off-color noses.


Color Chart

Cardigan Colors