|Topic Review (Newest First)|
|03-31-2020 10:08 AM|
Artemis, depending on the state of the world, this free webinar may be helpful to you, and your new puppy owners. It's from a poodle breeder, who is also a trainer. She gave permission to share it. |
Socializing puppies in a pandemic: https://www.bigmarker.com/dog-parkou...NBER5rcFTvc4HY
|03-30-2020 12:13 PM|
Chapter 4: Fides in adversis |
If your latin is a little rusty, "faith in adversity". This update is done with great delight and some apprehension, but steeled resolve.
Nadia is pregnant. Which means all the testing, the planning and prep is one step closer to fruition. Nadia is pregnant! I didn't even have to get an ultra sound to confirm, a month after she's been bred it's glaringly obvious in how her body is changing. Her belly is growing, her nipples are huge, and she is producing clear (normal) mucosa from her vulva. She's also acting like she's never been fed her entire life.
I had increased a tiny bit her food portion when she went into heat in order to stimulate the ovum production, but ideally after that you aren't meant to increase the portion much until the last three weeks. From right before she was bred she was also given a boost of folic acid and Omega supplements, both for her own health and that of the puppies. Studies show that dams who've been supplemented with DHA in particular produce puppies that are 20% smarter and quicker learners than dams who haven't. We're trying to breed super dobes, or at least total dobes, and genetics aren't the only thing that matter!
Aside from that she hasn't had any morning sickness, and though she's sleeping more she's as sprightly as ever. Living in the city means our opportunities with the COVID-19 crisis to go out and do our usual type of exercise has been limited, but she still gets excited to go out when possible. Which is frustrating as I had originally planned to keep her training and exercising for most of her pregnancy - the better shape she's in, the easier the whelp will be.
And speaking of the COVID-19 crisis, not my ideal scenario for my first time breeding, but one thing for sure I won't soon forget. Of the people I've had lined up for a puppy, none have backed out because of the crisis at this point. One said she's on hold as she was expecting a colonoscopy but that had to be cancelled to an undetermined date because of the crisis, and that will determine some of her health for the future. I told her to read my contract and keep it with her and that we will see. A lot can happen in the next 3 months.
Where the crisis gets a little complicated is at a different level. I had lined up a place to rent in the country side since the Montreal bylaws as of this year no longer allow breeding within the city limits. That being said I don't think the city will take umbrage given the extraordinary circumstances that we are under. No matter, I'll adapt.
Then there's the notion that movement is being restricted within the country and of course, across the border. This concerns me for tails and ears because under normal circumstances we would go to Ontario to get it down. The cropping vets were as of now stopping all cropping and only focusing on urgent care or infant puppy/kitten care. Luckily for me I don't have to worry about cropping yet. Pups would be 8 weeks on June 20th so I could possibly wait until July to crop. Given how well the country is handling the crisis so far, I have hope.
It's also concerning for prospective buyers. One of the buyers I have lined up is in the states. She is honestly an ideal home in an ideal situation, and so I hope come what may we will be able to get her a pup. My other buyers are in QC, but QC is being so thorough, 8 of our regions are on total lockdown to avoid the spread. (These are areas with low or no cases thus far).
I'm also having to adapt - for instance I had an order of liquid calcium that was gonna be picked up at a show in the US. All the shows were cancelled weeks ago of course. So I will have to make my own form using calcium tablets. I'm thinking of crushing them and mixing them with a bit of sheep's yogurt and broth and freezing them into small individual treats. The challenge with tablets of course is that they're harder to administer between each pup, since bitches understandably don't feel like eating while they're whelping.
I'm nervous as I was waiting on some supplies from amazon and the delivery keeps being rescheduled. I might be able to get some supplies from the pharmacy but not all. But then I think of the breeders during WWI and WWII who managed and found a way. It might not be what I had envisioned, but I will find a way.
Luckily the pet food stores and producers are considered an essential service so this is not a concern in terms of feeding mama and pups to be. And I confirmed with several vet clinics and hospitals that they are at this point still offering pre-whelp x-rays as considered to be essential care, so at least I won't be left out in the dark to my own devices if things don't go as smoothly as one might hope.
And on the bright side with being not working at the moment, I have plenty of time to spend with Nadia, which makes her very happy, and I can focus on preparing and when the time comes will be able to focus on the puppies.
One thing is for sure, I won't soon forget my first litter. Breeding in the time of COVID-19 might just be the name of my memoir someday
|02-28-2020 01:08 PM|
Originally Posted by Kansadobe View Post
Originally Posted by Kalecho View Post
|02-28-2020 11:44 AM|
|Kalecho||Best Of Luck to you! I bred to Tank, his puppies are now five years old, I think I was the first to breed to him.|
|02-28-2020 11:12 AM|
|02-28-2020 08:11 AM|
Originally Posted by dobebug View Post
I cannot fathom all the work and time and love and sweat and money that would go into having my own litter, hoping I'd picked good homes, and suffering through the losses eventually. It makes me queasy when people ask about using Zyan as a stud. This endeavor sure isn't for the faint of heart.
My best wishes go out to Artemis and everyone out there trying to better this breed I love so much.
|02-27-2020 03:06 PM|
Originally Posted by Fitzmar Dobermans View Post
How neat that both your girls share that birthday as well-a very good date for a doberman to be born indeed
Funnily enough they all share their birthday with one very famous doberman: Nello's Lex Luthor.
|02-27-2020 02:31 PM|
|Fitzmar Dobermans||Hope it all goes well and she shows signs of pregnancy quickly! So funny that yesterday was her birthday - both of my girls have the same birthday as Nadia! They are 6 years apart in age and the same birthday was one of many signs that Mabel was meant to be mine.|
|02-27-2020 02:02 PM|
|Artemis|| Chapter 3: Ready? Set... Go! |
The longest two weeks of my life! But these underlined the importance of progesterone testing, especially for a maiden bitch.
It is important to know your bitch's cycle to increase the success of breeding. The stud owner of the male I chose also had it outlined in their stud contract that the bitch's progesterone levels should be tested at 5.0 ng or higher before even bothering to show up and attempt mating. So I was contractually obligated - but I also personally wanted to do it. Partly to time the breeding, and partly because I was looking for the LH surge, not just ovulation.
Why the LH surge? The LH surge allows for predicting the exact due date. Regardless of when she is bred, a bitch will always whelp 65 days from the LH surge, give or take a day.
In Nadia's case this proved a costly affair as she was extremely slow to progress in her progesterone... and then suddenly shot up!
She was at a 0.3 when I tested her on the morning of Day 6 of her cycle, which was Thursday the 13th of February. Then I tried again on Tuesday the 18th. She was a 0.9 at that point. We returned on Thursday the 20th whereupon 1.9 in the morning meaning she was surging. That was a very quick jump. And since on Friday morning she was a 3.1 it's easy to presume she hit her surge sometime during Thursday. This sets her due date at April 25th! But the stud owner said wait... do another test on Saturday. She suddenly accelerated - and was at 8.7 Saturday morning. At this point that means she was in the midst of her ovulation.
I would later find out from one of her former breeders that her dam was exactly the same. She'd stand between day 14 and 17. This would have been useful information to know before I did all those tests but now I do. And this is also a good thing to be aware of when breeding - knowing your female's dam and close relative's fertility and cycle.
I suspected she would be ovulating by the weekend given how quickly she was rising, and based on her behaviour. Friday she was following around Vanya, sniffing her vulva and chattering her teeth and drooling. And flagging at her. Saturday she would flag at me when I gave her chest scratches. Oh and she was flagging at the parrot in the vet office. Nonetheless it felt very sudden - on my drive back from the vet I got the call. I immediately wrote to the stud owner and said I could be in MA in 5 hours.
I ran to the bank to get money for the stud fee, then ran back home, shoved a few clothes and essentials in a backpack, grabbed some of Nadia's food. The rest of my dog stuff was already packed. I had one last thing to do - grab a little birthday present for my mother, as it was her birthday that day. Off we went! Fair skies, fluid border entry.
At around 6:00pm we headed to the breeder's house. The co-owner was already there with Tank and so I was told to bring Nadia in right away.
Tank is not one for romancing the ladies. Luckily I knew this, knew what to expect with him. The big question would be Nadia, although I suspected with all her prior flagging that she would be more than receptive.
She immediately tried to flirt with him, and within a second he was attempting to mount her. Nadia was a bit tall for him so he couldn't seem to quite get her at first. She stood very well for him, until he would dismount... trying to lick her sent her hips wiggling right and left and spinning like crazy trying to flirt with him some more for a few seconds, until she stood for him and presented for him again. She was flagging very well so now it was a matter of him quite simply getting the right angle.
When he finally did, Nadia stood very well. She started drooling like crazy which the breeder remarked was a very good sign. There are two things you want to see from the bitch - drooling, and contractions. Which she was also doing - frequent, major abdominal contractions. The whole time, I was petting her, reassuring her, praising her and telling her what a good girl she was and she relaxed resting her chin on my shoulder. When Tank dismounted during the tie she at first tried to move away but a gentle reminder was enough to get her to stand still again. She tried turning around and gently nudged Tank's ear. I already knew she must have decided she liked him or she would not have let him mount. At no point did she show any signs of discomfort, fear or aggression towards him. This made me happy. For a first time breeding, she was stellar!
After this it was important to immediately crate her and not let her pee for at least an hour. Sharon and I agreed to meet at a restaurant to finalize the paperwork. I gave her photocopies of all of Nadia's health certs, results and title certs with the exception of her IBAR - I had no certificate for it and her CSAU - also no certificate (and I didn't want the head ache of having to photocopy her scorebook) but I told Sharon this and it was all good. We talked breeding, talked dogs and it was great to see we had similar ideas and mindsets about breeding. She told me she was looking forward to this litter precisely because I was doing so much with Nadia outside of conformation. She told me about some interesting upcoming litters she was planning herself meant to bring in diversity from bloodlines overseas. She also offered some good tips for the pregnancy and raising of the litter and said she was available for me any time if there was anything I needed to ask. It is really awesome when the stud owner is this supportive!
Next day, Nadia was still very much disposed. I was talking to her in the hotel room, playfully imitating her doberwhine, when she started flagging without me touching her. We met around 1:30 pm with Tank, and the second breeding went just as smoothly as the first, although this time the pair showed even more affection and mutual ear licking. Given how quickly she was rising in her progesterone and that we were now on day 15, both matings went so well - we decided a third would not be necessary. We drove off that night.
Yesterday, Feb 26th was Nadia's birthday and so I figured today would be the perfect day to announce the breeding on my kennel page.
Now, the important part will be keeping her well fed and stress free, and cross some fingers for a successful, uneventful, and safe pregnancy and whelp! I'll be watching for the signs like a hawk in the coming weeks!
|02-10-2020 02:49 PM|
Thank you all! |
G_R ah how exciting! crossing my fingers she doesn't make you wait too much! Feel free to add to this thread with your own experiences as well. Gonna message you on FB too!
|02-10-2020 11:58 AM|
|Gretchen_Red||Good luck! We are going to be having puppies around the same time! Hopefully. I'm also waiting for Kya's heat.|
|02-10-2020 09:47 AM|
|ECIN||Good luck ! AND Happy Birthday !|
|02-09-2020 05:47 PM|
|Fitzmar Dobermans||Good luck!|
|02-09-2020 09:14 AM|
|Artemis|| Chapter 2: The 37 year wait is over! (actually it was more like a few weeks) |
Normally, for those of us who own intact bitches we might often hope their heat was pushed back for xyz reason. I certainly hoped Nadia would wait a bit when we left for Hungary, so that she wouldn't have to deal with it while being on the plane. I hoped last winter she would delay it because I was doing her OFA hip x-rays, which people were telling me can get messed up by being in heat. (A quick search online told me the sole study on this found differences so negligible they wouldn't be visible to most evaluators... and even if it did, her hips still came back Excellent, in spite of starting her heat a few days before our appointment).
Well this time, I knew the approximate date should be January 27th, and knowing her like I do, I could possibly except them as early as a mid January. So I was expecting her to come in sometime between January 15th and and 31st, give or take an extra week. When I told you I felt a little psycho since the 27th lately, checking her vulva every morning before I left for work and every evening before I came back, trying to determine if I was imagining some swelling because I wanted there to be. I also for whatever reason a few days before a bitch comes in I pick up her scent, just that one day a few days before it actually starts. I don't know why. Maybe I was a dog in a past life
Well, finally on Friday the 7th I noticed she seemed to definitely be a little more swollen and I knew she had to be coming in sometime this weekend.
It so happens February 8th is my birthday - and the morning of I let her out, she was extremely swollen, I noticed. Right after she peed I took a tissue and gently wiped, and I about leaped for joy yelling "WE'VE GOT BLOOD! ATTA GIRL, WE'VE GOT BLOOD" which, Nadia probably had no idea why I was so excited but she definitely bounced and danced along with me. I told her this was the best birthday present she could give me.
Now the countdown begins... Thursday or Friday I will take her in for Progesterone testing. Aside from the fact that it is outlined in my stud contract that I shall not bring or send the bitch before her levels reach 5.0, it's just common sense not to do it too early. A bitch can interrupt her heat, and levels can drop back down easily. As I do not have the luxury to be using stored semen or a stud that's within a 2-3 hour radius, I cannot simply go for multiple visits over the course of her cycle. I have to drive through the Vermont mountains in the middle of winter, in the dead of February to get to Western MA so I ought to time it right! I will likely not be driving down until she is ovulating.
The stud owner was the first to know, and a couple of other friends were also notified, but I am holding out on an official announcement until the mating actually occurs. Guess I better wrap up the final details of my sales agreement, huh?
|01-31-2020 07:22 PM|
Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
I bred a bitch to a young male who had qualities that either matched her or improved on her not so good qualities and whose pedigrees made it a loose and fairly distant line breeding on Delegate. I was hoping for a nice bitch--the litter was three puppies, two male and a bitch who was stillborn.
So both males were up for sale--and I was so incredibly picky that no one was good enough for these puppies. After meeting and interview lots of people I sold one of the puppies to a nice couple with two kids (9 and 11). Set them up with a payment plan so they didn't have to pay the whole price in a lump sum. Puppy was cropped (and dew claw removed and docked)--friendly, well socialized and his ears were even standing at just under 4 months. And everything was fine for several weeks. Then they didn't make a payment. And a neighbor called me asked if I knew what was happening with my puppy (no, so the neighbor told me--the puppy was now living outdoors with a dog house, no blankets in a 10 x 10 chicken wire pen.)
I called and called and called--left messages but got no return call. Finally I went over--horrible day, pouring rain and found my puppy who was a gawky 11 months old in this stupid pen. Knocked on the door--knew someone was in there but they weren't coming to the door. I climbed over an 8 foot wood fence and hoisted 70 pounds of squirmey puppy over it and took him home.
Later the breeders of his sire found a Canadian couple who wanted an older puppy--they put a CD on him and bred him once and the litter did well in the show ring--it included a really nice Am/Can Ch bitch who was everything I had hoped to get out that breeding.
And the other puppy--I reluctantly arrange to sell him to an Alaskan bush pilot who had lost his old Doberman and wanted another--he'd be going with the pilot where ever the pilot went. I wasn't real sure about this deal but he sent me the money and arrange for a friend to fly into SeaTac and pick the puppy up and bring him to Alaska. So I delivered the puppy to the friend who had a strong resemblance to Popeye but the puppy liked him so they went back to Alaska. My dubious placement sent me a post card on the puppies birthday every year and always said he was the best dog ever--he sent me a last postcard on what would have been his dogs 10th Birthday and said his dog was gone--and thanks for letting him have such a great dog.
So much for my ability to pick owners. It was then I figured that I could meet owners whose dogs I liked and buy dogs and not have to deal with selling puppies who were like my own flesh and blood by the time they were whelped and raised and ready to go.
|01-31-2020 06:32 PM|
All this is very fresh on my mind. Oh the trials, oh the money, oh the second guessing. My daughter and I felt our bitch is most definitely worth breeding from a pedigree with proven lines. |
So after finishing several titles on her and doing all testing, learning all we could about her pedigree and siblings etc, we started the search for suitable stud dog.
We wanted to do a natural breeding, but when you find the dog, either the travel time doesn't coincide with work plans or the stud dog is not available just when she comes in. We tried
breeding her by having the stud dog come here, and I kept him one month, but the breeding didn't take after all. So you have paid your stud fee. But, it is not returnable. Six months later,
this month, we felt we had to try again because of her age. But now we are in winter and snow is hindering road travel.
Frozen is not desirable with a maiden bitch. It can be done, but not with the same success rate. We opted for a TCI and fresh chilled.
Then you add all the progesterone testing with an ICG vet, testing on dog, shipping fresh chilled semen and hoping she isn't ready on a weekend because it has to be over nighted.
And really the journey is just beginning. It would be more fun to take all that money and go to Vegas and gamble with it.
"My goal was to bred better and better stock , same as with dogs . In the summer , I would go on the show tour , showing our own cattle , to some success . Now the biggest problem I ran into , was
after the tour was over , the Heifer would not breed , or it would not take , as some I had AI . The Vet had told me it was from all the shows we attended over the summer , there diet , all the walks we
did to keep them ship shape , they were all a factor."
Yes, all this plays a huge part. I am hearing of difficulties with breeders in the world of show cats, and dogs, other breeds included.
Prior to breeding, my vet mentioned the show circuit/ conformation/agility/obedience can take a toll. Diet most certainly. I was ask if i used any proestrogenic foods, such as soy.
In reading I find the the pea protein used in most kibble has more estrogen ( the right word here escapes me ) than soy. Flax seed also. It is everywhere, in the kibble and dog treats.
We find out with an ultrasound next week if the breeding took. So anxious. If she is pregnant, I hope for a small litter. It will be our first Doberman litter.
I have bred Staffordshire Bull Terriers for 40 yrs, but I know it won't be the same at all.
|01-31-2020 12:36 PM|
Originally Posted by Fitzmar Dobermans View Post
As well as the rest- choosing homes is what stresses me out the most. Especially because you can match the perfect home to the perfect pup, and two years later the perfect home is no longer perfect. Someone can have been doing things right for 15 years and suddenly have a midlife crisis, divorce their partner and move cross country leaving the dog behind. Someone can be great at communicating for 5 years then suddenly vanish. Luckily I'm not really planning on breeding often. I may exceptionally breed Nadia twice, but I think it's more likely I will end up breeding no more often than once every 3-5 years if I keep a female... could be longer if I keep a male. At this point in my life at any rate I have no desire to breed beyond whenever I need my next prospect... who knows, it may differ when I hit my 40s!
I hear you on the stud search. So many of my friends are like "It's so fun looking for stud!" and I'm like... are you kidding me? It's a freaking nightmare! Only fun part is looking at all the gorgeous dogs lol! Then got me wondering if I'm being too picky, or doing it wrong. But I am realistic about the bitch I have vs the goals I want to set so I have to be very particular. Even if I don't necessarily succeed in producing what I was hoping I want to at least be able to say that I did everything in my power to stack the odds in my favour in attempting to do so.
Yeah depending on where you are that's not even an option. The DPCC has it in their code of ethics not to breed a bitch over the age of 7 under any circumstances.
|01-31-2020 10:35 AM|
Originally Posted by melbrod View Post
|01-31-2020 10:17 AM|
|01-31-2020 10:00 AM|
Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
The age issue is why I'm breeding Kya at 2. She's not quite ready to compete for her IGP I or agility so right now is the perfect time. Then she won't be bred again until she's retired. If she only has one litter, so be it. But her aunt was bred until she was 7, the stud dog ended up have 3 different types of bacteria, she didn't take and had to be spayed after.
|01-30-2020 08:40 PM|
I've had just 3 litters so far, and my last litter will turn 8 the end of February. What I've discovered is that no matter what health testing you do and how much research you do, there is still a big element of "it's a crap shoot" to breeding. DCM will crop up no matter how healthy the pedigree looks, and health tests only go so far. That said, I do a lot of health testing on my personal dogs no matter if I breed them or not. I don't do all of the new DNA tests.... and will have to consider whether to do some of them with Mabel. She will turn 2 the end of February - at which point I will do a full blood workup with thyroid panel, hips and elbows..... and then a cardiac ultrasound later in the year ( I like to do it closer to 3 than 2 based on what my cardiologist has said) Her VWD was already done (clear). |
Truly, one of the hardest things about breeding is deciding on a stud dog. If all goes well, Mabel will be bred in about a year. Her breeder and I have to agree on the stud dog for her first breeding. Her second breeding will be to my Harvard's frozen - I specifically got her to breed to my Harvard if all things came together.
I can honestly say that I don't look forward to having puppies again - it is soooo much work and worry, and picking families is hard too. I also feel that physically it will be a lot harder on me as I will be pushing 60 by the time her first litter is born. It was a lot easier when I was in my mid 40's with my first litter - haha. I hope to keep a boy from her litter with Harvard.... and that might be my last Doberman.... for sure, it will be my last litter.
It is also really expensive to produce a good litter with no guarantee that you will make the money back in puppy sales. Even 12 years ago, I put aside $5000 before even considering breeding a litter. I don't take deposits, ever. I don't ever want someone to feel that they are obligated to buy a puppy just because they put down a deposit.... that to me is how bad homes can happen. I also want the ability to say no after meeting the people when they come for their first visit - and I have done so. I've had people back out for all kinds of stupid reasons, and in every case, a better home came along.
Being a good breeder is hard work and ultimately heartbreaking when each dog eventually dies.... because good breeders care about each dog they produce ..... it is also super rewarding to see puppies grow up to become great dogs in wonderful homes. Some of those homes have become really good friends.
|01-30-2020 01:55 PM|
I should add one of the additional challenges I'm facing is Nadia's age and her being a maiden means I don't feel too confident about trying to use frozen or chilled. I'm fine with side by side. I don't have much of a window to experiment if she doesn't take in the same way as if she were only 3, or even just had just freshly turned 4.
Originally Posted by dobebug View Post
|01-29-2020 11:23 AM|
i don't breed (by choice) I bred one litter many years ago and that convinced me that I was not of the correct temperament for breeding. So basically I've kept only males for most of my life in dogs. But I have friends who are breeders, I've whelped litters for people and lord knows I've spend hours with a variety of people investigating possible sires (and occasionally possible dams) so I want to thank you Artemis for starting this thread and can't wait to see the on going chapters. |
Thanks so much for investing your time and energy in this...
|01-29-2020 10:52 AM|
|Gretchen_Red||I probably went through 20 males before finding one that Sharon approved of and that we both liked for Kya. So I had backups to my backups backups lol. Did I HAVE to have Sharon's approval? No. But as the co-breeder to my foundation bitch (knock on wood) and one of my mentors, I want to continue that relationship and I do rely on her knowledge of the breed and it's ancestry.|
|01-29-2020 07:06 AM|
|Artemis|| Chapter 1: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them |
(in other words, finding your mates)
Alright. So. Assuming you have a bitch. Assuming she is titled or otherwise proven in an objective capacity. Assuming she is health tested (I can't stress this enough. Your bitch should be health tested before You will be taken more seriously if you show your commitment and understanding that way, and you will also spare yourself the heartache and disappointment should an important test come back poorly). Assuming you, have cumulated sufficient knowledge to be capable of recognising her faults and strengths and those in prospective mates, or are guided by someone who does. You understand the standard, the history the purpose of the breed, the current state of the breed and have a well defined vision of the breed. Assuming you, as well as other individuals find she has a contribution to make to preserving the breed or contributing to that vision, and has good qualities that should be kept in the gene pool.
Well, ideally by the time you would have decided you'd probably like to breed your bitch you'd have been researching males. Hell maybe even before you decided to breed your bitch, you'd ideally have been looking at males and bookmarking them just in case.
Now by the time you have decided you will most definitely breed your bitch provided the health testing comes back, and you've reached any titling goals, or had the bitch evaluated by objective third parties, you also should have been able to decide what your long term breeding goals are, what kind of program do you want to create, what are your priorities and how do you fulfill them without sacrificing too much in other areas. And then, more specifically you have to decide what your goals are for your bitch's particular litter(s).
And keep in mind... If breeding were as easy and simple as "breed the best to the best and you'll get the best" then everybody could do it. Some people just throw two nice dogs together but don't actually consider why each one is nice, and if what makes them nice will blend smoothly. The resulting dogs may be "well bred" but were they thoughtfully bred? Were they carefully bred? Do they improve on their parents or at least one of their parents? Were the odds stacked in their favour to achieve whatever goal/vision was outlined for them to be brought into this world?
I've known for a little over a year that I'd like to breed Nadia, provided certain conditions were met. I have spent months digging into pedigrees, siblings, produce records. Mostly for health and longevity but also in a matter of finding out what is consistent in a given line and what is not. For about 9 months I was almost certain I knew which male I wanted to use. That's 9 months of extensive almost daily back and forth with the owner getting to know the dog's temperament through and through, seeing his evolution both physical and mental. I spent hours communicating in a foreign language I had a poor handle on, with the help of translators as I investigated the dog's maternal side and had to reach out to other breeders.
I cheered when he obtained new titles of importance. Watched many videos of him working on different days.
And then... he had his echo in September 2019 which the vet declared normal, but I was concerned by how low his ejection fraction was for such a young dog. The owner was too. I showed the echo to my cardiologist and he said he had some reservations and concerns and that in terms of breeding it would probably not be worth it flying this dog from overseas.
Sh*t. Back to the drawing board. Luckily I was not expecting her next heat before later January, there is some time, but I had to crunch in overtime for pedigree and line research. I spotted a couple of studs and after a quick initial glance at their pedigrees through a database with extensive and immediately visible health and longevity information, I narrowed my list further. Then started digging again.
Keep in mind that this whole time even when I was almost 100% sure of using that particular male, I kept my eyes peeled. Any dog I liked that would get my attention I would look him up, or his sire or his siblings. Any bitch I liked I would look up her breeding as well to see if there'd be any males closely related to her. This included European dogs, American dogs, South American dogs. Why? Because I didn't want to limit myself to one type or the other. I've met, seen and witnessed enough dobermans of various lines by now to know the differences we tend to think of tend to only apply to the extremes. And because the characteristics I was seeking out, could be found in any line, just that certain characteristics might be more frequent in one line over the other, while others less frequent - or 'unproven'. (For instance working ability in US show lines. I am sure it exists at a higher frequency than what we think but few people are working their dogs to find out what is or isn't there. Or correct conformation and breed type in working european lines - because few people bother to try and stack their dogs and/or document their conformation, or dismiss the notion that a pretty dog can work, or that it matters for a working dog). But, because my primary idea was initially that I wanted to outcross on the first couple of generations before I even attempted at linebreeding, I did inherently tend to look at non-American lines more at first. Plus I believe if you're only just linebreeding on pre-existing lines then you're not really giving yourself a chance at building your line. I also believe there is some benefit to diversifying the gene pool and bringing something else to the table. I think lowering COI and increasing diversity could help improve the health and longevity of the breed. Ultimately I got discouraged looking at American and South American males, because... well... it seemed every time I found a male I really liked and that I thought might fit well with Nadia he was too closely related to her to my liking. Or he had one or more of the popular sires that I am trying to avoid. But I never dismissed/ruled them out entirely.
Unfortunately not all eligible studs are tested with the VGL or Embark, it's impossible to verify against Nadia anyway the true level of inbreeding or diversity. Two dogs on paper that can appear totally unrelated have produced offspring with higher COIs than themselves. Best I can do is breed, test the resulting puppies and thereby garner more information for the future. Two seemingly unrelated dogs have produced high COI or low diversity litters while some linebred dogs have produced lower COIs and high diversity litters. This had left me with a shortlist of around 6 studs I seriously looked at and who's owners I actually reached out to, 3 Americans, 3 europeans.
One of the European line studs I was looking at was an elderly 11 year old import who bloated suddenly in November. A Shame as he was a blend of show and working lines, all four grandparents made it beyond age 10, the dam made it to age 13 and the sire just shy of 10. He had a lot to offer in terms of longevity. From what I had seen he had a lot to offer in terms of working ability, and the temperament sounds like it would have been similar to Nadia's for the most part which is great, I think her temperament is one of the best things about her. My main issue is that with her temperament profile and working style is not one that can/should be blended or thrown together with just any other kind. Remember how I mentioned sire/dam complementing each other, knowing strengths and faults? Yeah, this is not just for conformation but for temperament as well. If you’ve got a sharp, edgier dog you want to avoid breeding to a certain kind of temperament and profile, lest you create dangerous dogs. In my estimation, nerve is king, particularly for Nadia.
My top choice amongst the Americans... well he's perfect in almost every regard, even has a daughter training in protection sports. He has the titles, the looks, the health. He was only bred once. He's 8 years old. Problem? No natural breeding, and if AI, condition is to be at minimum side by side TCI. Given Nadia's age, the fact she's a maiden, the stud owner is concerned about this being too cost prohibitive for a potentially small litter.
The other European stud I really liked... well he's never been used. My main issue here is that the owner has very different goals than me for the breed. She wants to appeal to the elite, wants her pups to go to worlds. I'm a bit more moderate, I do not think that the top sport dogs are necessarily endowed with the temperaments of what a doberman "should" be. The doberman is natural a defensive dog, it is a personal protection dog. You don't necessarily need a ton of defensiveness to excel in some of the protection sports. Ring dogs are generally prey driven for instance. They are extraordinary dogs of course but I am interested in preserving the breed as I understand and believe it to be based on the standard and historical data. Also this is my first litter, I have learned a lot, still have more to learn and I am being realistic. I am not expecting to nor am I trying to produce FCI world champions in my first litter. If I produce good dogs and someone does get them to that level I'll be ecstatic but this isn't my primary goal nor would I advertise the litter as such. Second issue is that he sports a white patch on his chest like Nadia, and I believe both are excessive. So I'd be doubling up on a serious (albeit, non-structural) fault. I had shuffled him back to the bottom of my list in the European/working column.
So, I finally settled on a different European dog, with one American dog as my primary backup. Stud A's owner was in agreement. This is an owner who does not usually approve studs to outside bitches, so it was new territory for her and we were figuring things out. All was set. I am expecting Nadia's heat cycle to start on the 27th. With this in mind I went last week to get her brucellosis test done, it came back negative. The stud was set to go this week with a teaser bitch to have a sperm analysis done, as well as his brucellosis. Friday the 24th I get an email from the owner. The stud has some sort of trauma and/or infection to his testicular region that is preventing the production of healthy sperm. Breeding is a no go. My heart sinks, as this would have been a very interesting litter with a unique blend of lines. But on the bright side the Therio said that re-evaluation could be done in a couple of months, so perhaps a future litter might be in the cards.
In the mean time clock is ticking. Luckily, I wrote Saturday morning to the owner of my primary backup stud. She is still on board for breeding him to Nadia. Phew, that's one less thing to worry about. It does take this litter in a slightly different direction, but I had already considered this/factored it in when making my shortlist. It is a little bit more 'traditional' in a type of breeding, but on the other hand I believe will have a bigger chance of improving Nadia's physical type where needed, while preserving her good qualities, in the conformation department. Temperament wise I also think Nadia's strengths could be preserved. No idea if it will improve bitework but this would not be a litter that would be marketable to the usual suspects of IGP doberman handlers anyway. That being said it’s interesting to note that there will be some light line breeding, on one of the only two dogs in Nadia’s pedigree (besides her sire now) to have sired dogs with bite work titles. But even if this doesn’t improve grips, they will probably not be couch potatoes, and based on the pups I've seen by this stud could very well be good dogs for people interested in bite sports but who aren't yet ready to commit to a dog from full fledged, multi-generational working lines. I am thinking these should be fun, versatile puppies for people want to do things and have fun with their dogs, or a fairly active pet.
This is more or less the 4th male I had to fall back on/seriously look at.
Moral of Lesson number 1? Always have a backup stud. Have multiple backup studs. Plan A, B, C... and well you know how the alphabet works. With the amount of thought and research you should be putting into your pairing, it would be wise to create a shortlist with several backups ahead of time, so you aren’t left stranded on the first day of your bitch’s cycle.
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