Interview with Dyane Baldwin | Pond Hollow Chesapeake – AKC 2021 Breeder of the Year Sporting Group Honoree.
1. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a genuine American original. What is it about the breed that has sustained your interest for so long?
From our very first Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the breed’s devotion, intelligence, good sense, and their all-around abilities appealed to me. They are a breed very American in character—no nonsense, brave, loyal, smart, tough, but with a gentle side. I find them a very “honest” breed. They still do what they were developed to do and their appearance has stayed very consistent to their beginnings. I wanted to do my share to keep the breed true to its foundation, to be a part of its history.
2. Breeding dogs requires the vision of an artist, the curiosity of a scientist, and the commitment of a philosopher. As a breeder, do you view yourself as an artist, a scientist or a philosopher? Maybe you’re a combination of all three?
To be a good breeder, you need to have a bit of all three. You need to know genetics, health issues, and have a philosophic commitment to staying true to what is right for a breed. Then, to me, the artist side distinguishes breeders. This is what makes the difference—having a picture and a goal of what makes a good specimen; recognition of “balance” and “medium” and the ability to find and see in dogs those traits that are useful, even when there are obvious flaws.
3. In dogs, selection is key. How do you select your sire and dam combinations? How do you select which puppies will make their debut in the show ring?
For me, the quality of the bitches in a pedigree is extremely important. In a stud dog, I must like his dam—does she have the quality traits I want to start with? It is even better if she comes from a family of good-to-outstanding dams that have produced themselves. Then I will not give up shoulders, short loin, overall conformation, and balance. Coat can be “put back in” relatively easy. With puppies, I like to watch them move, play (for their character) and stand on their own. The best ones you can pick up and put down, and they are “all set.”
4. The Breed Standard is the preservation breeder’s most essential tool. What are your thoughts on the importance of breeding to the standard and presenting the breed in the ring accordingly?
A standard reflects the thoughts of a breed’s developers—the traits that make them their breed. For the Chesapeake, it is the qualities most important to their function as a working gun dog in cold water and harsh conditions. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever Standard is a practical one and not given to cosmetic traits at all. The breed is a workman-like dog, and is admired (and should be) for this. A great one is balanced all-around and has a stature that commands attention. Fortunately, the breed has been able to avoid the extremes that have plagued others. The Chesapeake should never be described or thought of as “fancy” but instead as powerful for its size and balanced while full of positive virtues of conformation. No overdoing of rear angulation, bone or even coat. To be a good judge of this breed, you cannot have any preference for color or size. (The Standard has a large range of 21 to 26 inches.) You need to recognize good structure and movement, even if the dogs vary in style.
5. Today’s breeders have found themselves on the defensive from public criticism and from legislative proposals that would restrict breeding practices. In your opinion, what can preservation breeders do to counter the anti purebred rhetoric that has taken hold in this country?
We can breed for dogs that are healthy, and have breed purpose and sound temperaments. We can promote the breeds for the consistency a purebred dog that is bred with ideals to a standard creates. We can treat potential buyers as we would like to be treated ourselves. And we can be honest and have the good of the breed—not ribbons or dollars—mean the most.
Pond Hollow Chesapeake | Dyane Baldwin AKC 2021 Breeder of the Year Sporting Group Honoree – Featured image from https://www.pondhollowchesapeakes.com/