Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dog Breeding: Yer Doin' It Rite

Scanning the wasteland for the fabled Good Breeder

All right, I rail against puppy mills pretty regularly here. My regular readers are the choir; I really count on the Googles delivering some Easter Christians to hear the message, if only so briefly, else it would be wasted keystrokes.

And I do go on about vanity breeding for the show ring, closed gene pools, and the "dog fancy" in all its would-be-laughable-but-for-the-pain-it-causes naval-gazing excess.

Then there's the calling to task of "rescue" organizations, "humane societies," and advocacy groups that clearly have something else in mind besides the actual welfare of actual animals.

Don't get me started on trainers who can't train, and "behaviorists" who wouldn't know a "behavior" if it bit 'em in the ass. (Not a metaphor when speaking of dogs.)

OMG, I hate everybody.

Help me out of the funk.

Well, not quite true.

At last week's NADOI annual meeting, I found myself in the curious position of advocating for two different young dogs' testicles. Two very different dogs, very different breeds. Nicely put-together animals with temperaments to die for, from breeds where temperaments are rarely what one would wish to see.

Those dogs were not accidents. They were the products of breeding decisions that did not sacrifice soundness or temperament to other values.

I'd like to feature dog breeders who are doing it right. Give the interwebz some examples of the different ways individuals are holding up high standards in a breeding program.

Tell me about breeders you know -- friends, colleagues, your dog's breeder -- who are conscientiously producing sound, healthy dogs with temperaments appropriate to their breed and function. Who uphold high standards of animal welfare, including for animals not their own. Who show their concern for the families and communities where their pups will live. Who have big-picture attitudes towards their breeds' gene pools. Who stand by their dogs.

Any breed, except my breed, English shepherds. Or any crossbreed -- I'd be especially interested in thoughtful "out of the box" crossbreeders. Working dogs, hunting dogs, purely companion dogs.

I'd like to be able to interview the breeder, other breeders who know him or her, and puppy buyers.

And it can't be someone I already know.

Nominations are open! Use the comments section to provide the information that gets me started. Make sure I can contact you privately with followup questions.


  1. I am a full supporter of the plans, goals, and operations at

    I don't think I've ever met a couple more dedicated to both the welfare of an entire breed as well as the welfare of each and every one of their individual dogs. They are fabulous examples of both dog ownership and breeders 'doing it right'.

  2. Oh, I should also add that I found them (yamabushikennel) only after joining, a site that they created and dutifully maintain for people to connect, share and learn from one another in an educational and positive environment to promote the health, care, welfare and preservation of the Japanese spitz type breeds.

  3. Gayle Watkins of Gaylan's Golden Retrievers. She was just interviewed for Everything Golden, which appears to be a small webzine for GR folks, but part 1 of the interview was taken down as soon as part 2 was posted. Don't know if Par 2 is still up yet or not (doubt it).

    Gayle's website:

    If you need an intro, I'll give you one. I was just out there in April to observe her puppy testing the Game Bird litter (simply as a learning experience--my fried got a puppy; I'm not ready for one yet).

  4. I'd like to second Gaylan's! I'm pondering adding a golden down the road and her dogs are spectacular.

    I'm very, very impressed with Rita Hellegars of Cornerstone Cardigans. She bred Beli (the first HCh Cardigan) and was one of the first breeders to routinely hip test all Cardis.

    There's a breeder here in TX in collies that in some ways, fits your descriptions- I like what she does via health testing- but fails miserably in some other respects, so I won't, even if I'd be curious how she answers your questions. I'm annoyed that I can't nominate any collie folk for this, because I *know* good ones exist- but the ones I'm impressed with on paper (working towards CEA clear dogs), I don't know well enough to say they're good beyond that point.

    Carrie Eberhart, at Legasea labradors in Texas, is another breeder that I think very highly of. Her dogs are the chunky low english type, but they can HUNT and they'll retrieve all day (running off all that nice show ring coating of fat that makes the labrador ring resemble an auction of angus weanlings.)

    I want to be the kind of breeder you'd nominate, someday. :P Unfortunately, my plans are currently being stymied by an utter lack of normal-eyed collies that are not from a particular large kennel and line known for weirdo temperaments. I wish we had a project like the Dal backcross project so I could cross back into ES or BC roots - I could get a clean NE bloodline to work with, reduce size, and balance out the biddability and moderate drive I have with a little more energy overall- ideally, I'd like to be producing SDs frequently, show dogs occasionally, and healthy, beautiful, drivey-but-livable dogs always.

  5. I'm not familiar with them personally, but everything I've heard and read about Matrix kennels suggests they are a top-notch American Pit Bull Terrier breeder:

    One of the very few breeders I know of who are breeding old-style pit bulls in athleticism and appearance while also doing health testing, weight pull and conformation showing

  6. I'd like to second for Matrix kennels (since somebody stole my answer!). Good APBT breeders are next to impossible to find, and Matrix is a fine example of the care and intelligent breeding which needs to go into this breed, especially right now.


    A family that loves Siberians. I think they've bred one litter so far, and I made the decision to accept a puppy from a family friend's backyard breeding instead of from Kaos because I knew all the Kaos pups would go to excellent homes. And I was sad I didn't support a great breeder.

    They do all the health testing, their dogs have great Sibe temperaments (check out the picture of Frosty on the counter), and all the dogs do dryland mushing and traditional sledding. Everyone is raised and kept indoors in their lovely home, with a doggy door leading to a backyard landscaped specifically for Sibe needs. Plus, they are fed a whole-prey raw diet, which while controversial, indicates a lot of dedication and devotion to doggy health, I think.

    I've personally visited the Kaos pack, and it was amazing to jump into a pile of a dozen happy huskies.

  8. Thomas Swan (aka Swanny) of the Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs.

    He's only had one litter, but that qualifies him as a breeder, right?

    He's doin' it rite!

  9. I would suggest JP Yousha of Chromadane -

    I've known her for about 10 years. She's a mentor to many, she is active in rescue, she recently retired as the GDCA Health & Welfare committee chair, and she is passionate about the health and the future of our breed. A show breeder yes, but winning championships is not the end goal - producing healthy, athletic dogs with sound temperaments IS the end goal.

  10. Mary Young,

    Yes, I'm biased. She co-owns my dogs. But having just been priviledged enough to watch her spend a day evaluating a litter, well ... she's tops. I learned so much!

    She also has heritage cattle: Irish Dexters

  11. We try hard. Would be interested in your perception thoughts and advise.

  12. Don't know much beyond what is on the web page. I know of a couple of the dogs that are in flyball. Recognize a name or two on the "past pups" page. Eclectic, definately not small, but no Visa/MC/Discover, will air-drop option on the site, at least. And specialized in two subsets of a _type_ of dog.


  13. Going to have to give a 3rd vote for Matrix. Amazing dogs AND someone who lives and breeds by a strict code of eithics.


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