Where Do Pets Come From

by Tina Barber

Where do Pets come from?  I have written several articles related to this subject in past SSDCA Newsletters, but due to popular demand I will try to go over the basics again.

 First of all, each litter produced is nothing more then an attempt (by the individual breeder) to “create” a certain “type” of puppy.  Each breeding is carefully planned with high expectations that it will produce the desired results.  Yet each breeder knows that if he/she is lucky enough to accomplish that goal, even in one puppy, there will still be lots of pets in that litter as well.  How can one tell the difference, when most pups look almost alike?    You must professionally evaluate the entire litter, then make your specific selections. 

 Here is an example of a possible litter evaluation:

Ch. Lovely Lady was bred to Ch. Super Stud with the hopes of producing some great future show/breeding hopefuls!  At 8 weeks, the breeder (along with one or more experts) has done an intense LER.  The (highly condensed) results are as follows;

1.  Blue Boy has huge bone, but he is a bit low stationed.  His head is broad, but he needs a bit more stop, his ear set is a bit low too.  Movement is good, and he is clean coming and going!  His temperament is outstanding!  He is loving, yet confident and playful.  No signs of shyness, yet still extremely intelligent! Although he does not seem to possess much aptitude for Sch or SAR, he will nevertheless make an excellent obedience prospect. 

2.  Green Boy is the biggest and heaviest!  What a tank! He has huge oval bone, with a massive broad rear, usually a sign of strong hips!  Beautiful head with an excellent stop and good ear set!  Yet is slightly East-West, and needs more shoulder angulation!  He also has no wither, and although he has an excellent croup, he is just a bit short coupled.  His temperament is very sweet and soft with no play drive at all, although he was a bit noise sensitive and panicked in the maze! 

3.  Red Boy is a bit smaller then his other brothers, but structurally he is almost perfect!  His side gait is effortless, with front reach and stifle to die for!  Although not extreme he has excellent head measurements, with a pronounced stop and nice high ear set. His front angulation and shoulder lay back are almost perfect! He scored well in all of his temperament tests, was rated as a very confident and outgoing, yet submissive puppy that will be easy to train.  

4.  Black Boy tested out as having a very high pain tolerance, although he too is very submissive yet outgoing.  He earned the best overall score from the maze, as well as the ball, tug, can and other tests. He was then given a special SAR test that he passed with flying colors!  He was not so lucky during the conformation test.  He was rated as having inadequate bone and a “bitchy” head. Although certainly not a “runt” he was probably not going to grow into a giant. 

5.   Purple Boy is the happiest puppy in the group!  He has a “super sweet” personality, always trying to please whoever will pay any attention to him.  He passed all of the intelligence tests, but showed no interest in the can (to investigate strange objects) or the ball (to retrieve) or the tug (prey drive) instead he tried to lick the kitten that invaded the test area!  His structure could not be “faulted’ although there is nothing “spectacular” about his conformation or movement. 

6.  Tan Boy is very burly and square, with a hook tail.  His ears are also set a bit low, and could possibly have a problem standing.  Otherwise he is only 1 lb. lighter then Green boy! His confirmation, other then his tail and faded muzzle is extremely pleasing.   With a perfect front, and excellent rear, his movement is flawless. He will be very soft and submissive, although also very easy to train.  He lacks the confidence to “take charge” of a situation, and will always prefer to follow other pack members instead.  

7.  Orange Boy is the darkest, with the most impressive broad head.  He has a perfect ear set, and ideal stop.  His front is to die for, and he is the only one with an adequate wither!  His topline is ideal, and his movement effortless!  His deep thigh and perfect stifle are a dream come true!  On his submission he only rated a 2, and on the pain tolerance he went all the way to ten indicating that this one will need an alpha handler!  His prey retrieve and drive were very high, although his intelligence (maze, can, etc.) tests ran closer to average. 

 In order to avoid much repetition, I have condensed the female pups' description. 

8.  Pink Girl looks just like green boy, only with a faded muzzle.  Her temperament is very sweet and loving, and she showed no problem with noise sensitivity.

9.   Lavender Girl is almost a carbon copy of Tan Boy, without a hook tail!     Although she does have a faded muzzle along with that huge head!  

10. Aqua Girl takes after her Red Boy brother, only with even smaller bone.   She is structured very nicely, but she has an overly cautious temperament.

Now that the LER has been completed, let’s start the selection process

Obviously this is an awesome litter of puppies!  They are all big and healthy, but as you can note above, there are variations in each one.  The first question the breeder must deal with is simply;  Did I get what I was looking for in these pups?  A more important question is;  What are my future goals for my breeding program, and what part will this litter play in those plans?  After contemplating on the 3 “BIG ones” many breeders will end up with a variety of different answers.

Let’s say this breeder was looking for the “ideal” Shiloh as per the breed standard, with a sound confident temperament that he could use in his future-breeding program.  Since we all know that one male can sire over 1,000 puppies in his lifetime, while a bitch may only produce 30 to 50 at best, we must first concentrate on the males.  Lets look at them again, and with a process of elimination in mind, lets pull out the “pets” first. 

Blue Boy is slightly low stationed and has a low ear set.  He may be a great puppy, but he could produce considerable progeny that will not meet the breed standard.  He will be placed into a nice pet home that can appreciate his other wonderful qualities.

Green Boy is the biggest and most desirable to the average “novice” eye. But his temperament is not suitable for breeding, so he too will go into a great pet home that is prepared to deal with his limitations.

Black Boy the smartest puppy in this entire group will need a good working home.  Due to his size and conformation, he will not be used for breeding, but could become an outstanding SAR prospect, provided that he is placed correctly.

Tan Boy would have been perfect if not for that faded muzzle and hook tail!  He has some outstanding qualities, but unfortunately his faults will prevent him from passing on his genes to future generations, this will have be done by his brothers.  

Upon examining the rest of the litter, Red Boy and Purple Boy were chosen to carry ORANGE papers, so that any breedings done by their owners would have to be approved by an ISSR Breed Warden.  Knowing the entire litter with all of their faults, as well as their virtues will enable the Breeder and Breed Warden to select the most compatible bitches for each of those boys.  

Since this breeder produced this particular litter in order to keep a top winning/breeding male, Orange Boy was retained for that purpose.  He will be given Gold papers, since he will be owned/Co-owned by his breeder.  Hopefully he will develop into the ideal “stud” that will be used many times in the future to improve several generations of progeny for his owners kennel, as well as other kennels where his bloodline will be utilized.

His sisters Pink Girl and Lavender Girl will also receive Gold  C/O papers and be incorporated into this breeder's program. Both will be shown to their championships, and upon completion of their upgrade requirements, will be bred to the most compatible males available, possibly producing a future “Super Stud.”

Aqua Girl will be placed in a loving pet home, where she like her other brothers will only be required to love and protect their new family. 

Out of 10 puppies, only 3 will definitely be used for breeding!  It is very probable that the Orange papered males will not make a large contribution to the Shiloh gene pool, although they may be shown and bred occasionally.   In the event that one of them turns out better then had been expected, and x-rays out with excellent hips, he might even share the responsibilities with his “Gold” papered brother, but this bridge can not be crossed until these boys reach maturity.

As you can see from this analogy, many of the “pet” puppies are outstanding dogs in their own right, but only the ones that come closest to perfection (the Breed Standard) should be used for breeding.  In some rare cases, a specific male could be utilized in order to pass on a specific quality, even if he has other faults, for a particular breeding.  Such circumstances are the exception, not the rule, and in most cases a bitch would be used instead.  Due to the limited gene pool we have within the breed, slightly faulty bitches can still be used for breeding, but their progeny must be tested very carefully. 

Without a proper Litter Evaluation Report, the breeder may look at his/her litter emotionally instead of professionally, and everybody loses in the end.  Especially the breed itself.

Publication History

This article, written by Tina M. Barber in 1999, was first published to the Shiloh Shepherd Learning Center in 1999.