|Breeding for Improvement|
|So you are thinking about breeding? It is not difficult to become a "breeder" - there are no tests to pass, qualifications to earn or licenses required. All you need is a bitch and a dog to put her to. But let's say you want to be a good breeder - maybe even a great breeder. What does it take? Well, alot more than a bitch and a dog.
Anyone who is enthusiastic about the Rottweiler is so because of the unique and captivating qualities of this breed. Their appearance, multi-functionality and especially their temperament are what draws us to the breed. A good breeder therefore seeks to closely emulate what is the ideal Rottweiler. Our breed standard gives us a great deal of guidance as to what is ideal, however, it doesn't tell us all we need to know. Ultimately a breed standard is just a collection of words - a good breeder must have the mental pictures to go with the words. These unfortunately don't come pre-packaged. Observation over some time is needed to really know what is ideal.
So to begin with, you have to spend some time with the breed. A good way to begin the learning process is to attend several Specialty Rottweiler shows. Mostly the dogs will be critiqued, sometimes even over a microphone. Get yourself a ringside seat and a show catalogue and listen to all that is being said. Don't just attend one show, go to several. Remember, all judges are human with their own set of ideas and opinions. Some have very strong ideas about characteristics they will not tolerate in the breed or features they are particularly looking for. Just because one judge, albeit a Specialist, might be "hot" for something, it doesn't necessarily mean that this is gospel and must be set in stone. Specialist judges are Rottweiler breeders themselves. Some of their "fetishes" stem from their own experience as a breeder. Often weaknesses they have had in their own breeding lines are things that they will be lenient with, or indeed, sometimes the exact opposite. This should not be the case, the best judges will find the dogs that most closely fit the standard and not let their own fetishes enter into it, however, there is a wide variety of talent in the judging domain!!
If you have a bitch, enter her in these shows and pay attention to her critique. Ask questions of other breeders where you aren't sure about certain comments. Gather a few of these critiques, study the standard, study the critiques of other dogs and you should be getting a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your bitch.
Now you need to seriously evaluate if she is breedworthy. Is she a better than average specimen. Does she have a good (correct STABLE) temperament? Are her hips, elbows and eyes compliant with relevant breed club requirements? If the answer to anyone of these questions is no, then it is almost certainly better not to breed from this bitch. Instead perhaps consider purchasing another puppy who may be a better prospect. If you proceed and start your kennel by breeding a bitch of poorer quality, it is likely that most of your endeavours will disappoint. Not to mention if there are temperment and soundness issues, the resultant puppies will become a problem for somebody else and may even bring the breed name into disrepute.
Whatever your decision is, the next stage is to have a good look around at other breeder's animals. You would need to do this if you are deciding to buy another puppy or if you are breeding your bitch. Lets presume you are breeding your bitch:
You have a clear idea now what her strengths and weaknesses are. Before you start looking at potential mates, try to revisit her own ancestory. Can you, with your new-found knowledge, have another look at her parents, siblings and any other direct relatives? Are her faults and virtues representative of her ancestory? This information is helpful in choosing a dog. As a simple example, say your bitch has a strong head. You might be thinking that you don't need to look for head strength in a male. However, if your bitch was the only puppy in her litter to have such head strength, and comes from weaker headed parents, then there is a good chance she will not reproduce her head strength uniformly. This is just one example of the many qualities you need to evaluate in a "big-picture" way.
Now it is time to have a look for potential mates. You should be armed with your list (albeit a mental list) of the attributes you are seeking to improve in your bitch. Firstly, make a short list of dogs that have the qualities you are looking for. Then check that they are representative of their ancestory - so that you can reasonably expect them to throw what you are looking for. Even better if some of the dogs on your list are proven sires - look at their progeny, and the bitches that the progeny come from, and see if the stud dog is producing the qualities you are seeking.
Now your list can be refined - along the way, discard the dogs that you cannot verify soundness and temperaments.
By now, your list will probably be a very small one - or it should be! Finding the suitable mate for your bitch is a difficult task. There are many good dogs around, but few who will truly suit your bitch. If you have gone through this process, you will find that quite probably, the dogs left on your list may not be the latest imports (more difficult to verify traits of their lineage, particularly if you are a novice), and may also not be the top winning show dog - Many great stud dogs are not great show dogs and many great show dogs are not great stud dogs. In fact, there are very few that meet both criteria perfectly. The key is in finding consistent high quality, and not a dog that is a show stopper, but a one-off. These dogs seldom breed on well.
Once you have decided on the male, you will need to approach the stud dog owner and see if they are willing to allow a mating to your bitch. It is at this point, once you are quite serious about the choice that you have made, that you can and should ask the stud-dog owner, and/or breeder, what problems might potentially surface in the puppies. If you are told there will be none, and the line has never produced problems, then be very wary. Either these people are ignorant, or they are not telling you something. There is no dog on this earth than can rock solid be expected never to potentially produce some kind of flaw. All lines have some propensity for imperfection, be it hips, elbows, eyes, mouths, white, monorchids, faulty temperaments etc etc. This information is important in cementing the choice. You need to ensure that you are not condensing risk factors - i.e. if your bitch does not have a low hip score and the sire has produced some puppies with poor hip conformation from bitches with good hip backgrounds, then he may not after all be the best choice for your bitch.
Anyway, if you have got this far and have done the mating, you will be waiting on the puppies. In fact, the whole business is a bit of a waiting game - waiting for the bitch to come into season, waiting to do the mating, waiting for the puppies to be born, waiting for them to open their eyes, get up and start running, make your choice of the better puppies, waiting for them to mature, be hip scored etc and then a couple of years later the whole process again! Try to stop and smell the daisies! Enjoy the process and the puppies as puppies, not just as "prospects". These dogs are the most wonderful companions and that should always be foremost.
But, there are stages and an important one for the breeder is making the right selection of show potential puppies. This is probably the hardest part! Hopefully, what you are looking at between 7-8 weeks is a miniature version of what the finished product will be. Try to look for the pup that has the combination of virtues that you have done the mating for, i.e. the strengths from each parent, with as few of the weaknesses as possible. There is likely to be a bit of "tossing up" to be done - do I keep the pup with the darker eye or the one with the better forequarters etc. These decisions can be difficult, depending on what the distribution is amongst the pups. However, for my eye, always the conformation (structural) qualities feature more highly than the cosmetic ones. After all, this is a working breed and Rottweilers do not run on their head, eye or mouth colour!
If you have followed this process, you should have some chance of success! But, there are no guarantees. All you can do is seek to improve the odds by knowledge and research. Still there is always a luck factor! Hopefully, a little good luck comes your way!
|Perhaps your situation is different - your start in Rottweilers began with a male. Well, this makes life a whole lot different! Unless your male is an outstanding specimen and is highly sought after as a stud dog, your foray into breeding, with him as a foundation, is much more difficult. Many people set out by buying a bitch puppy to hopefully mate to him. If you have gone through the above process and seen how difficult it is to find a suitable mate for a "finished product" bitch, then it should become clear that the likelihood of your male just happening to be the ideal dog for your bitch is pretty slim. Sure, you can increase the chances by carefully selecting the line and type of bitch puppy you buy in, but ultimately, when there are literally hundreds or thousands of stud dogs to choose from, chances are your boy will not be the very best choice available. Still, many people carry on regardless - we are human and we get sentimental. But sentimentality doesn't make better puppies!
From a breeding point of view, bitches are the cornerstone of any good kennel - a good bitch is really more valuable to a breeding kennel than one very good dog. This is because an astute breeder can make a careful choice from the huge numbers of Rottweiler dogs available and could potentially breed an excellent litter of puppies. Sorry boys, but really, the girls are way more important!!!
So, if you have a good, but not great dog, enjoy him for what he is. Then choose the best available stud dog for your good bitch. This is the way forward.
|Line-breeding, In breeding and Outcrossing|
|The above are terms you will hear talked about in the dog world. The distinction between Line-Breeding and In-Breeding all depends on who you talk to! Some breeders tend to refer to In-Bred litters as Line-Bred. Given the human taboo's about In-Breeding, there is a tendency to shy away from the term "In-Bred", particularly when talking to those unfamiliar with the topic.
We must remember that human values regarding In-Breeding do not apply universally in the animal kingdom. Our values are based on our own social structures and in family dynamics. In the animal kingdom it is not at all uncommon for father daughter and mother son matings to occur. In a wild dog pack, commonly only the alpha (most dominant) dog will mate the bitches. Sometimes only the alpha bitch will rear puppies - killing off any puppies that might come from a less dominant female. However, if the alpha bitch dies and the alpha dog remains, he will quite naturally mate with females in the pack - most likely many of these are his daughters.
This process has occurred throughout the ages, and yet we still have the canine species! So obviously, it is not a recipe for disaster, but it does have it's risks. The most obvious danger in In-Breeding is the condensation of undesired genes. These may be carried recessively (i.e. in the genetic material or "genotype", but masked by a more dominant gene so the trait is not seen in the animal - or "phenotype"). Clearly, if an animal carries an undesired recessive trait, then there is a chance (mostly around 50%) that a daughter might carry the same trait. Thus any progeny from the two will have a probability (around 25%) of exhibiting the undesired trait. On the surface of it "outcrossing", i.e. breeding two unrelated animals, may seem safer. But, there is still a chance that they may both happen to carry the same undesired trait and so the progeny are similarly affected.
In fact, close breeding within some lines is often much safer than outcrossing. If the lines being In-Bred are relatively free of undesired traits, then this method of breeding keeps them that way. Whenever an outcross mating is done, potentially many undesirable recessive traits can be introduced to the line, and will subsequently surface when the like genes combine. It has been said that 1 in 17 human births are with defect. This is in the most outcrossed population possible! Because the human population is so outbred, the recessive undesired traits are randomly and universally distributed!
The benefits and indeed the downside of In-Breeding is that there is a less chance of introducing something new. It is such a double edged sword as if you are seeking to introduce a quality, then it is unlikely to happen in an In-Breeding if the trait is not a feature of the line. Outcrossing is necessary not only to introduce new, desired qualities, but also for vitality. Continued In-Breeding over many generations can result in loss of size and vitality. Outcrossing results in "hybrid vigour", but also, somewhat of a pot-pourri in type.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both methods of breeding and times when it is approriate to use one method and not another. Obviously, knowledge of the lines you are breeding is essential. This is one of the advantages of buying a puppy from an experienced and knowledgable breeder. This breeder can help guide you in what to expect and in making informed breeding decisions.
Hopefully, the above will have given some food for thought. It is worth noting that the discussion on genetics and recessive traits is much simplified. Many qualities are inherited in a much more complex fashion than simple Mendelian genetics.
|You are listening to
|Of the many wonderful Rotts that we have bred that can be seen in the UBERSEIN DOGS pages, there are nevertheless a number who have stood out for us in their own particular way.
Some are the beginnings of our kennel, some are our first big winners, others exceptional working or producing Rotts. These animals command their own page: