What does a breeder mean when he says that he’s breeding “for the betterment of the breed”? Is he referring to eliminating overt problems, such as hip/elbow dysplasia, deafness, blindness? Is it to preserve the current form and angulation–the breed standard–of the particular breed? What if the breed standard is the reason for the health issues?
A few years ago the BBC released a documentary about the realities of breeding purebred dogs. There was not one breed registered by the Kennel Club that escaped health issues. The documentary stirred up quite a hornets nest among breeders, and was painful for some lay people to watch. Particularly horrifying was the fate of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, whose small domed head and long ears endears them to dog show judges. Sometimes in breeding for this type of head, the dog’s cranium is too small to accommodate the its brain. They ultimately suffer a painful death.
The recent statement issued by the Kennel Club asserting the unsoundness of the back end, notably the hindquarters, including the hocks of German Shepherds apparently has made some German Shepherd breeders quite unhappy. That’s one thing, but the Club does not state precisely what is meant by unsoundness, although they state that such unsoundness should be penalized in the ring.
The show lines of this once magnificent utility dog features a roach back and sloping back end; that is the preferred look. Anyone who has ever watched Crufts or Westminster has seen these dogs trotting around the ring wtih backends almost trailing the ground, as though the dogs have cinder blocks tied to their testicles, and when the dogs stand unstacked their hocks jut out, or inwards.
Is the Kennel Club referring to incidences of hip dysplasia or other crippling effects in the German Shepherd? The Code of Ethics breeders in various countries are doing a great deal to eliminate hip dysplasia from the breed. The disease, however, continues to plague these dogs.
My question to you is this, is it possible to breed generations of German Shepherds with sound hindquarters while preserving the current angulation required of the breed standard? Aside from the absence of hip dysplasia, what constitutes “soundness” in the German Shepherd? I’d love to hear from some breeders, show-ers, pet owners and people who just love the breed.
Photo Credits: German Shepherd Dog from http://theworlddogs.blogspot.com/2008/09/german-shepherd.html
This documentary aired last year in the UK and stirred quite a controversy. It was posted on youtube for a few weeks, but promptly pulled. It will air in the US shortly. Will it have the same impact? Click here to watch the documentary. BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Little Darlin tries to stand while Mom cleans him. The Screamer sleeps in Mom’s arms.
The Three Muskateers now follow their mother on wobbly legs with a half walk-half crawl. This morning The Screamer wagged her tail while Cody cleaned her up. Turbo Puppy, whose eyes are now fully opened, came up to the side of the whelping box when I entered the room this evening.
I brought home a bunch of toys ostensibly for the the puppies’ play room. My male pomeranian Snuggles, however, commandeered the green frog with the loud squeak, ran into his crate with it, and I haven’t seen it since. Cody tried to make off with the hand puppet with the crinkly paper in its ears. When I said no and took it away, she gave me that look that always melts my heart. I pulled out one of her own toys from her toy chest and played a few rounds of fetch with her. She was happy. I’ve stashed the remaining toys in my bedroom closet.
Tonight while I was cuddling Turbo Puppy, Little Darlin was too impatient to wait his turn, so he promptly climbed out of the whelping box! We now have to watch the puppies vigilantly because they may be able to get out, but there’s no guarantee that they will be able to climb back in.
Cody spends less time in the whelping box now, only going in to clean them up, and nurse them, but I find that I have to lead her to the box and put her in a down/stay sometimes so that her babies can nurse.
Little Darlin explores life outside the whelping box.
Mom’s legs are in the way.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Screamer is able to pull herself up on all fours very briefly before collapsing like a cartoon car when all of its wheels fall off. Little Darlin launched himself into the side of the whelping box when he attempted to walk. By this evening all of the puppies tried walking, but they soon tumbled into a pile on their mat
Turbo Puppy had a bit of diarrhea today. I planned on giving her some plain, unsweetened yogurt, but wanted to see if it would clear up by itself. Tomorrow I’ll pick up a tub of that tart stuff. The diarrhea is not a big deal. It seems as though something must have upsetted the pup’s stomach. She is otherwise fine.
Although the smallest puppy of the litter, Little Darlin is growing rapidly and is catching up to his siblings.
Before too long this litter will be walking.
Little Darlin asleep in my hands. Notice the nose leather and pads of paws are beginning to darken. Before long black will replace the pink areas.
Cody’s confidence as a mother increases daily. She no longer does the head tilt when her babies cry, but attends to their needs, and if they persist in crying, she simply ignores them.
She’s spending more time away from the puppies, but checks in on them frequently, sometimes just to lick each puppy briefly before leaving the box to sit in the living room with her human family.
Today was the first time since their birth that the puppies didn’t engage in their mid-morning to mid-afternoon screaming. The day was slightly cooler and I had three fans running in my room. Of course they had their damp towel to lie on. I would not recommend anyone leave newborn puppies to sleep on damp towels unless you live in a very hot country. I live in the tropics and my house can get quite hot. The kennels outside are built of concrete and they are considerably cooler. If I moved them out there, I would surely need to supply a heating lamp.
Because they were so comfortable, the puppies nursed long and vigorously throughout the day, and they slept well, too. Cody ate quite well today.
Today was a good day. I can only trust that tomorrow will be, too.
Mom takes a break
Turbo Puppy doing an Early Neurological Stimulation exercise–holding the puppy upright.
For the first time today I got accurate readings on the puppies’ weights. It’s always been a struggle keeping the little squirmers in the basket on the scale. The needle keeps jumping up and down and only stops when they settle briefly with a body part, usually their heads, hanging over the side. I’m using a kitchen scale that’s been used to measure sugar and flour since before I was born!
It’s incredibly hot, and I worry about the puppies. I think they will be more comfortable in the kennels outside: those are concrete and cooler. My bedroom is way too hot, even with the fans going. We tried taking pictures of them today, but they were just so miserable. Once their eyes open and their are mobile, I’ll move them to the kennels during the day so they’ll stay cool.
I noticed today that The Screamer’s ears are beginning to flop down while her siblings retain the tiny baby vulcan-like ears that they had at birth. I know at some point the ears will stand up like a regular German Shepherd’s.
Getting ready to invert Turbo Puppy–another of the Early Neurological Stimulation. In this exercise the puppy is grasped firmly with both hands and held upside down. Don’t worry, they are very well supported and held in that position for no more than three-five seconds.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The Three Muskateers pile onto their cooling towel for their afternoon nap. The extremely hot temperatures causes the puppies great discomfort in the middle of the day.
I started Early Neurological Stimulation (sometimes called Bio Sensor Stimulation) with the puppies today on this, their fourth day of life. Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) consists of five exercises performed on each puppy once per day, everyday from about age 3-16 days when their nervous systems are rapidly developing. The idea is to jumpstart the nervous, adrenal and pituitary systems.
Results? Puppies who receive this stimulation have stronger heart beats, greater resistance to infectious disease and some cancers, and are more tolerant of stress. They tend to be more confident, curious and excel in competitive situations.
German Shepherds are working dogs, so it’s logical for me to follow this program with my puppies. I’m expecting that I will produce dogs that are confident, quick learners, who will do well as protection dogs, family pets, and obedience dogs.
It is my intention to give these pups the best start to life, and their new owners will enjoy having them around and interacting with them.
The houseboy came to work today for the first time since the puppies were born. Cody doesn’t like this man. Cody doesn’t like anyone outside of her immediate family, come to think of it. So, we had to trick her. He had to enter our premises very quietly and work in the yard building the kennels.
It worked. He was able to get on with his work, and Cody being non the wiser, settled down to the business of taking care of her puppies.