Why do you care where my dog comes from?

Ever since I can remember there have been people out to make a quick buck off their dogs.   As a child, back in the very early 60′s,  I can remember my neighbour getting a “Cock-a-poo” and being told that it would be a recognized breed soon.   Here we are 55  years later – and there is still no CKC or AKC recognition.

blazduchI’ve been accused of being a “dog snob” many times and having Nazi-like tendencies, only believing that the purest blood should be carried on.   These people don’t realize that these were my first two dogs – 5 breeds in two bodies.    I don’t hate mixed breeds dogs – I hate the irresponsible breeding practices that create them, and the sellers who bilk unsuspecting buyers out of thousands of dollars by giving them cute names.

In 1985 I got my first purebred dog, and so began my life with purebreds.  I did not ‘get rid of” my girls – they both stayed with me until I lost them 3 months apart at 17 and 14.

After that I had my Irish Wolfhounds and Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and at that point my deep involvement began, as I stepped into the pool of exhibitors and later breeders.   I was fortunate to have in my life people who wanted to do it “right” and taught me how to do it the same way.

Free-Online-Chatting-Websites-With-Strangers

Around 1995 I joined the on-line world – and that is when I realized just how much poor breeding goes on in North America.  Whereas these substandard breeding practices had previously been limited to selling their “products” through pet stores, they now had full access to the pet buying public, and Search Engine Optimization to push their listings to the top of Google searches.

Horrified breeders have watched the proliferation of Doodles – everything being bred to poodles and given “cutesy” names to make them more marketable.   And then came the corgi crosses – yes everything in the world being crossed with Corgis and marketed.  No one gave a care to the possible health issues that would be faced by these new dwarfs – “Aren’t they CUTE?!?!” was the response from the Millenials.  And as their narcissistic desires to own these Frankensteins increased, so did the number of greedy puppy producers who felt they could profit from their “I want it and I want it now!” mentality. Corgis were bred with anything and everything – in fact Buzzfeed did a page of the Top 25 Corgi Hybrids.

Purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppies - Billie and Heather

Purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppies – Billie and Heather

The other way that puppy producers profit is to come up with “unique” and “rare” colours, and sell them for even more money!   Again the puppy producers came up with a way to make even more money – they began to cross Pembrokes with Blue Merle cardigans and to market “Blue Merle Pembrokes”.   And as the craze for these off coloured dogs spread, the price of them went through the roof – sellers getting $3,000 for a blue merle puppy and $1,800 for their tri-coloured siblings.  

Last year I set up the Facebook page and Website for “The Truth About Blue Merle Pembroke Welsh Corgis”.    The Website has had about 18,000 views from approximately 8,500 unique visitors since its launch in July, and received many thank you emails from people who were totally unaware of the fraud that was being perpetuated.  

BMP Views

As a result of this page, and the education imparted, not only have we managed to somewhat slow down the production of these puppies, but the Continental Kennel Club has also started to cancel the registrations on the dogs that were previously registered as Blue Merle Pems.

As National Purebred Dog Day is tomorrow, I am reflecting on why I am continuing to try and fight this battle.   I try and steer people to the educational site whenever possible to prevent them from getting sucked in by the “cute” factor of the Blue Merle coloured Pembroke crosses, and to try to make people understand not only are they being taken advantage of, and paying unreasonable prices, but they are contributing to a growing  health issue by creating a market for these producers to continue to fill.

So after being attacked again for trying to help, I was asked today why do I care where people’s dogs come from and why don’t I just stop.   This made me think and take a closer look at my own motivations.

magnifying glass

Those who attack me for trying to educate say that I must be worried about my own puppy sales.   That could not be further from the truth.  I have a waiting list for puppies that will take me quite a while to fill.

The reason I care is that since I got on the internet, first on Corgi-L and Irish Wolfhound-L, then on IRC Corgi & Wolfhound chat forums, and now onto Facebook, is that the responsible and ethical breeders are the ones who must provide the “clean up service” for the puppies produced by these back yard breeders.

Call for help

My puppy buyers are told to call me – day or night – when they are worried about their dog.  After 45 years with dogs I have seen a lot.   I can advise them whether they are likely to be okay, or if they should be rushing to an emergency vet.  I can give  input on treatment options, and if they need me to be there, I will go along for that final vet visit.

However, those who purchase from BYB don’t have that option.   Once their payment has cleared the seller is no longer interested in knowing about the puppy.   So when they have a worry, a concern or a question, they go to public forums to ask questions.   Some are simple questions that anyone can answer.   But I can’t begin to total up the hours I have spent on email and chat and the telephone with people I don’t know and who I will most likely never meet, discussing problems from growth issues, to housebreaking, from food to diarrhea. 

As  a breeder I feel a moral obligation to help dogs in need whether I produce them or not.  I just can’t turn my back on someone who is frantically looking for information or advice.

possumAnother reason I care is because of dogs like “Possum”.   On the website I created a page called “Why is it a Dangerous Practice”.  On it I explained how breeding merle irresponsibly could result in double merle puppies with the resulting deafness and blindness issues.   A short time ago Possum came into rescue – the product of breeding a blue merle cardigan with a Pembroke that “appeared” to be sable but carried a cryptic merle gene – and he fulfilled that prophecy being totally deaf and minimally sighted.   You can read read about Possum’s journey on his Facebook page Possum – the double merle Corgi.  

Another issue is the lack of rescue.  Because the people producing these crossbreds don’t take back what they produce, when they don’t work out they get dumped in shelters.  And then the rescues need to go and pull them out, get them vetted, rehabilitated and rehomed.  The people running these rescue programs are once again usually volunteers from the purebred dog clubs, and the rescues are funded in part by purebred dog clubs.

hurt feelings

I was told today that I could hurt people’s feelings by saying there are possible problems with their dogs if they aren’t purchased from reputable breeders.   To me the issue is not about the buyers – they should have done their research – the issue is about saving dogs produced by disreputable breeders, and preventing more “Possums” from being brought into the world.

So that is why I care about where you got your dog from.  I want you to buy a dog from a breeder who will give you support when you need it, and who cares about the quality of the puppies that they bring into the world.  A preservationist breeder who cares about the history, and the reason that your breed was created, and who does their very best to honour and enhance the work of those who went before.  A breeder who takes the time to educate themselves and to mentor others to do the same.  A breeder who, through their membership in a breed specific club has helped to develop testing for genetic markers to eradicate possible genetic diseases.   When a breeders motivation is solely to produce puppies for sale, without a care to producing quality, they are obviously going to be cutting corners on health testing, and on puppy care.

If you want to find good breeders, contact me!  I would rather help you to find the right dog in the first place, then to be trying to help you in the middle of the night because your dog is suffering from some genetic malady.   Not only will you most likely save money since some of these people charge ridiculous prices, but the money you save in vet bills over the life of the dog will be be even more savings.   Doing the right thing benefits everyone, especially the dogs!

The back of the bus

There has been a lot of discussion on correct fronts – so I thought I would do a post about rear assemblies.   Having started with awful rears in both my breeds it is something I have worked very hard on correcting, and something I am very critical of.  I will need to watch, if I ever take up judging, that I don’t become the “butt fairy” 

No matter what breed we look at the number of bones and their layout is the same.   Here is a picture of the “ideal” Irish Wolfhound rear end from “The Irish Wolfhound” by Alfred DeQuoy, and the rear assembly from the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Illustrated Standard produced by the CWCCA .   They, of course, are not in correct proportion, or the corgi size would be about 1/3 of the size of the IW, but I got them as close as possible in sie to show that the structure is basically the same.   At the top of the assembly both breed have an ideal slope of about 30° for the pelvis.  From there the femur goes down to the patella (knee) and there meets the fibula/tibula (second thigh) at an ideal 90° angle.   In both breeds again, the ideal is to have the two sets of bones (femur and fib/tib) be of equal length.   At the end is the hocks which we want to be as short, and then down to the bones of the hind paw.

rearend2 corgi rear

 While we can’t “deconstuct” a live dog to actually measure bone lengths. we can do a reasonable approximation of the bone lengths and angles.  The best way to do this, is of course on a live dog by using a marker such as a sticky dot to mark the point of the hip, knee, and hock, and then using calipers to measure bone lengths, and a protractor to measure the angles.   However many times we are working with photos and trying to determine what our eyes are seeing.   I am going to use a variety of photos to try and illustrate desirable and undesirable rear assemblies, and then compare rears of puppies and adults.

pennyrear

As as I said, I did not start with good rears!   On this girl you can see the ratio of bone lengths (femur:fib/tib) is about 1.5:1 instead of the desirable 1:1, and the angle is 110° instead of the desirable 90°.   The way this affected her, along with all her conformation faults, was that she had very restricted rear movement, and no drive in the rear.   She was strong and muscular, after all she grew up with a wolfhound sister, but as the years passed this structure took a toll on her movement and her hips.

darrenrear

Here  is a much better rear example, the F:FT ratio is just about a perfect 1:1 (of course estimatng based on the photo, but the angle is actually very slighty less than desirable at 85°.

So now to look at how this develops in puppies.   As I said in my prior blog post on how puppies grow BONE LENGTH PROPORTIONS DO NOT CHANGE.  If a dog has a short second thigh when evaluated as a puppy, it is going to have that as an adult also.   If it has long hocks, it again will as an adult.

I unfortunately do not have “bad angulation pictures” of puppies and adults.  Back when I did have a lot of bad rears, I didn’t do the evaluation pictures I do now.  Puppies that were not as good in the rear were not kept as show/breeding dogs, and therefore I don’t have stacked photos of them.   What I can show is how puppies keep their angulation into adulthood.

Dolly
 

7 weeks

BDIC dolly

3 years

 

 

Jack
DSC01902

7 weeks

10 months

10 months

These picture are only the profile view, and I don’t really have a lot of rear views of puppies other than some recent at 7 weeks.   Here is a shot of Jack’s rear, vs a puppy I did not keep.  You can see Jack’s hocks are straight up and down and not tilted vs. the other puppy who is slightly cow-hocked (tops of the hocks pointing at each other.  You want the hocks as straight as possible and just balancing the width of the puppy

DSC01906  DSC02176sm

One final comment about evaluating rears, and actually about evaluating puppies in general.   You can “force” a puppy into almost any position, and you can hold its feet in exactly the right spot.    But if the puppy is truly balanced, and its structure is actually correct it will NATURALLY fall into the correct postion.   I much prefer the pictures I get with the yogurt in front of the puppies as to those with “hands on” holding puppies in place.  I can see what it is actually there, and what the puppy is doing naturally vs. what is being manufactured for the purposes of the photo.

I hope this is helpful to those who were looking for the information.

 

How much does maturity change a dog?

 

7 weeks BDIC dolly
Same dog at 7 weeks and 3 years

 

 

 
As an owner//breeder of Cardigans for 26 years,  I think I have reached the point where I have a little bit of experience to share. As the owner of a 7 week old litter that just went through evaluation by a group of people who I would say have a combined total of about 250 years of dog experience and ended up confirming EXACTLY my opinions I think I have enough of an eye to have an opinion on how puppies grow.
 
When my puppies are born, and still wet, I make a quick critical mental evaluation of them before fat has a chance to cover their bones and before they develop the cuteness and personalities that work to sway opinions.
 
Although there are many things that cannot be evaluated at this age, surprisingly there are some things that don’t change.  Bone proportions and angles tend to stay relatively constant.    When I have seen puppies with equal length bones in the front and rear, those have remained into adulthood.   When I have puppies that have a great second thigh, those have devloped into good rears.   Yes, there have been exceptions to this rule. But for the most part these observations at birth have been fairly accurate.    For those who want to become serious about breeding good dogs, take a few seconds to shoot a picture of each newborn flat on its side in the palm of your hand, and compare those to your adults later in life.

 
So here is a little guy just a couple of hours old. What can we tell about him?    Well he has a nice wide muzzle and backskull, and good heavy bone, as well as a nice full belly.  I unfortunately wasn’t present at his birth so couldn’t make any observations on bone lengths etc.

 

The next photo I have of him is at 10 weeks old.  Unfortunately it isn’t standing so there is not a lot to see except that the head did develop as expected, and he still has good bone and short hocks and big fat feet.

 

Okay, now 10 weeks and pestering Grandpa.  Again unfortunately not a a very telling picture – but at least he’s on his feet!

There is unfortunately not a lot of pictures now until he is 9 months old.

 

Now we are 8.5 months.   Is he mature? No, not by a long shot, e is still very much a puppy.  But from this point you will see the bone lengths, and angles DO NOT CHANGE.  His body will widen, he will develop a crest on his neck, there will even be a change in depth, but his basic structure stays the same.

dragoonbpigsmallStill a puppy – 10 months old.   There is not a great deal of change between this and his previous photo.   The chest had dropped a tiny bit, but still very much a baby.

dragoonnclOkay two months later, and a day or two over a year old.   You can see the crest starting to develop on the back of his neck, and he even has a bit more of a mature look in his eyes.

 

Here is a picture at 17 months.   Now he is going through the teenage period and doesn’t even look as mature as he did a 12 months.

 

Here he is a few months later at 22 months – winning Best of Opposite Sex at the Canadian National Specialty.  He is obviously coming back together again after a bit of a growth spurt.

 

A couple of weeks later – a slightly different view more from the front

And a movement shot from this show – despite the heat and humidity you can see his correct angles allow him to have tremendous reach in the front and drive in the rear moving well beyond the vertical. Now at 2.5 years old he is fully mature – but not all that much has changed from the younger photos. The bone proportions, and angles all remained consistent. There is definitely more maturity in his demeanour, but all of the changes since puppyhood and going forward will be very subtle. Dragoon - Award of Merit Dragoon & Tim in the Megan

 And a couple of shots at 5-1/2 at the Cardigan National Specialty in 2014 – again showing how correct structure leads to correct movement.

DRAGOON GROUP 1 GUELPH 20150419 SMAnd one final pictue – 6-1/2 years old.   Definitely a fully mature dog but really underneath skeleton wise – the exact same dog you see in the 10 month old first photo.

Here another photo collection (this time a bitch)  to show the same.

7 weeks

7 weeks

 

dollyocfbow2008l

13 months

 

2 years

2 years

 

Best in Show – 2 years

 

Dolly Show of Shows

2-1/2 years

 

3 years

 

3 years – Photo by Lisa Croft-Elliott

 

4 years

 

Dolly Runnerup Brindle bitch 2013

6 years

Basically in summary, it is a matter of what you see is what you get.    While maturity will add substance to a dog it will NOT fix incorrect structure faults – unbalance, incorrect bone lengths, bad toplines, light boned, etc.

What it may correct is uneven growth in puppies where puppies grow in the rear, then the front, then the rear, then the front – such as this puppy which at 5 months looks “butt high” – however the topline is level and will be correct when he finishes growing.

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Calling all Cardigan owners – past and present!!

The CWCA is conducting a health study for the cardigan welsh corgi. They want as much data as possible for this study, not only from breeders, but even more importantly from owners who live with the dogs and any health issues that may arise. If you currently have, or have dad a cardigan welsh corgi please take a few minutes to enter the information on your dogs into the health survey. They want information on dogs from all over the world, not only The UK

http://cardiganwelshcorgiassoc.co.uk/HealthSurvey.php