Vizsladogs, Ltd.

The Value of the Brood Bitch
By Marion Coffman

The success of every dog breeder centers primarily on the selection of the proper brood bitch. A single producing bitch may be, and has been, more often than not, the cornerstone of a successful line for any breeder, regardless of how many big-name stud dogs they may own or use. Let me say emphatically, when I use the word "breeder" I mean a person who is interested in improving the breed – not someone who "breeds" dogs while seeking a short cut to the blue ribbons.

Why do I think the brood bitch is so important to breeders, and why do I think that more careful research should be given in selecting your brood bitch than the stud dog? The bitch is the fixture on the strain. She contributes one of the two chromosomes that determine each zygote, or embryo, and at this point she (genetically speaking) contributes exactly one half. But while the stud dog is through with the puppies at the break of the "tie" the bitch is not. Her over-all health and skin condition can affect the puppies. Her diet will affect the puppies – so will her parasites, her general care, but most of all, her type and temperament. While temperament is genetic as well as an environmental problem, the temperament of the puppies is more dependent upon the bitch than the stud dog. The temperament of the bitch while she is carrying the puppies affect the puppies. Her temperament while she nurses them, while she cleans and cares for them just about fixes them for life. Any temperament problem can be reduced more than one half if we recognize it for what it is – a brood bitch problem.

Selecting a really good brood bitch is much more difficult than selecting a good producing stud dog. The main reason being that the bitch is only capable of producing a small amount of offspring in comparison to the stud dog. Realizing that absolute perfection is hard to find, and a brood bitch MUST come close to it, her whole conformation must be without one serious fault. Her eyes should have proper color, and so must her coat. Her bite must be perfect, and her head and breed-type must be excellent. And, of course, her temperament must be perfect. She need not be a top winner, but it is best if she has proven herself by finishing her Championship title. She MUST have good x-rayed hips, and be everything that you would want to also see in her offspring. Then, when you have this individual that impresses you so much, look "under the hood" at the pedigree.

The ability to read and interpret a pedigree from a breeder’s viewpoint is absolutely essential. The word "pedigree" comes from a word that means literally "crane’s foot". This is due to the resemblance of the long, spreading toes of the crane. The word "family tree" expresses the idea somewhat better. By analyzing the family tree, do not count the number of big-name stud dogs. Instead, study the genetic gene bank. In a five-generation pedigree you will find 32 individual dog of which 16 are dogs and 16 are bitches. Those 16 bitches, genetically speaking, are one-half of the gene bank but they could possibly constitute too many bad genes in making up their mathematically one-half. This study is more difficult than the research on the stud goes because the bitches do not have the number of offspring, as does the stud dog. And so her pedigree must show that she comes from great producing families, not just a scattering of known kennel names and Champions. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who know personally almost all of the dogs on your bitches pedigree. In that way you would know exactly which ones are poor whelpers, poor eaters, whether you liked their size or not, and which ones had little idiosyncrasies, or mannerisms. The condition of all things must be strong and free from any faults or the structure upon which one builds will crumble. The same is true of the foundation brood bitch, and each one that follows.

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