As a relatively new breeder and in general newbie to the dog world (less than 8 years), I always find the Nationals to be such an educational time.
Not only do we get to see each others' dogs and how they are growing on, but we can get our hands on the dogs we have seen photos of, read about in the bulletin and heard about.
My first year I was so overwhelmed. I thought the specials being shown were all amazing and how would I ever choose a stud dog.
As the years have gone by and the 'vision' in my head has narrowed to a specific type of Cardigan, and the things I will not give up when doing a breeding, the list of prospective stud dogs narrows greatly.
To say I was thrilled with how well Ava and Ballantyne represented Ebonwald is an understatement. I do however feel that just going and seeing who else is in the ring, is more important that who won, or who didn't.
I over heard several people numerous times comment on how much they loved such and such about a certain dog, only to look at the same dog and shudder at the thought that those people thought that dog had a lovely side gait (when it really didn't) or huge bend of stifle (when it was straight in the rear)
It also amazed me that although there was a generous attendance at the breeder's ed seminar, it seemed that those who truly could benefit from such a seminar, weren't there. I'm not slighting anyone, but feel that there is always room to learn, always room for improvement and always should attend breeder seminars, and ringside shadowing, whenever possible. Especially at Nationals and especially when given by long time breeders.
You don't have to agree, like or do anything these seminars tell you, but its nice to hear other opinions and perhaps bring away something that you didn't know or think about from these seminars.
This year was one of the first I was able to go over numerous other dogs, more so than have people critique my own. While I still had people go over my dogs, I really wanted to see what dogs were out there (stud dogs) that I could get my hands on, and see if they truly had what my bitches needed. I also liked the ability to watch their get in the ring, and see promising puppies that I made note of for future evaluations.
The bitches I have in my home are truly different from one another. Consistency isn't really here yet, aside from a few things like long upper arms, side movement, ability to free whelp, and herding instinct to name a few. There is a long way to go in other areas, but also overall pleased with the improvement that I've seen in my first generation of breeding.
I also like MANY of the stud dogs out there, but most seem to have the same faults my bitches do, and I don't want to double up on that. I'm also a huge fan of moderation. The dogs I went over were on the small/medium scale as far as overall size and weight. Its something that appeals to me and something I don't want to lose.
Things I immediately need to work on: more bone. I don't want them overdone, but bitches like Campbell and Ballantyne need more bone. I also need shorter hocks. Not more, but shorter than what Campbell and bolin have, that is for sure. I also would like more shoulder lay back. I think our breed overall needs more lay back. Finding dogs that have that PLUS other virtues I'm looking for is harder than it looks.
I would like stronger rears in a few of my bitches (Ava, bolin) and tail sets to be lower on them. Obviously each bitch needs different things to improve on, and using the same dog on all of them, would be counterproductive.
I also don't want to just breed to my own dogs just because they are mine. I also don't want to breed to today's 'flavor of the month', or breed solely on pedigree.
After talking to several longtime, well respected breeders last week and it was reaffirmed that you must breed on phenotype as well as genotype, regardless of color, and use health tests as tools to get to a healthier, more sound dog. pedigrees are good to get a grasp on how the pups/dogs will grow, but shouldn't be an end all be all.
When i first started with dogs everything was very black and white. It happened or it didn't. It passed or it didn't. It was a show dog or it wasn't. It was healthy or it didn't. It became a champion or it should be shown. Shades of Grey are now filtering in on all levels and in every area of the dogs...showing, breeding, testing, placing, etc. And as a person who is in it for the long haul, I feel that my shades of grey will be different than everyone else, and we must respect each other for these decisions and yet, still support and encourage one another and hope we all get to the same end result.
Did this make any sense....