From the May 2019 Issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.
When Greencastle High School student Jesse Lewis was assigned to write a paper for his English class, he chose the "preservation of dog breeds" as his topic. Having grown up in a "dog show household", Jesse saw all the hard work that makes the breeds we all love possible. Jesse, and his mom (dog breeder & exhibitor Nicole Lewis) were kind enough to share his wonderfully written paper with us.
Dog have been around for centuries. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, hair type, and personalities. Many people do not understand the importance of the purebred dog, how they came to be, and why even today they are still important. Preservation dog breeders are important to our history and have paved the way to the breeds that many of us have come to love today. It is because of them that we get to enjoy things as Westminster, agility, dock diving, and so much more.
The purebred dog is a purposefully bred dog. Which means this dog was initially bred to do a certain job. For example, flush and retrieve the game for the hunter. This allowed the hunter to save energy. Other dogs were bred to protect livestock and protect personal items of importance. Other dogs were bred for scent and sight. These dogs are excellent at hunting game, and search and rescue. There are many numerous reasons to own a purebred dog. They may not do what they were bred to do, but the instinct is still there should the need arise. A purebred dog comes bred from a reputable breeder, that has much knowledge on the breed. These breeders have studied the dog for many years, knows the inner depths of the pedigree and history of the breed. Breeders follow a breed standard that AKC and the National club have mutually agreed upon. These dogs also come genetically tested. As the National club supports breed research and makes sure the breeders uphold the code of ethics and follow the protocol to have the dogs tested for genetic disorders. Now onto the problem’s preservation breeders face. We all know that there are many dogs in shelters. It is a real problem. However, many of these dogs in shelters are not the cause of the preservation breeders. It is from puppy mills, backyard breeders, and those wonderful “designer dogs”. A designer dog is when two breeds are bred purposefully together. For example, the golden doodle, labradoodle, chewenie, dorkie, puggle, cockapoo’s, just to name a few. These are two very separate breeds that have their own set of health problems. When you combine the two you are making a genetic disaster. Because then both parents give the young the bad genes. Now I will go into these topics and cover them more specifically.
The AKC stands for the American Kennel Club. AKC was founded in 1884. AKC was founded by a group of twelve dedicated sportsmen. They were from all over the USA. They decided to have a meeting and discuss the possibility of forming one big club of multiple breeds instead of breed specific. Originally these meeting were not set in a specific place. They met all over the east coast. The men gathered in October of 1884 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. During this time they came up with the constitution and by-laws regarding purebred dogs. At the time they did not have a headquarters. So they rented a small apartment in New York in 1887. It was then that James Taylor became AKC’s first president. During this time others were making stud books. These contained the dog’s pedigree of certain species for each breed.
Now I am going to cover seven specific groups. I have selected one or two dogs and describe what they were intended to do, and why they still are important even today. The hound group is divided into two different categories. You have sight and scent hounds. The Otterhound in today’s era is the most endangered dog to becoming extinct. It is currently estimated that there is 800 or less in the world today. The Otterhound is a scent hound which means it uses its nose to find an otter over great distance, even while under water. Known for its dense, waterproof coat, webbed feet and a broad chest with powerful shoulders allows the Otterhound to swim all day without tiring. The Otterhound is an old British breed that dates back to the 1100’s with Bloodhounds and several rough coated dogs in the background. The Otterhound is able to hunt on both land and water. Originally bred to save fish ponds. These dogs were used to hunt in packs to hunt river otters. Today these dogs are excellent due to their keen sense of smell to be a search and rescue dog.
The Whippet, also known as “the poor man’s race horse” is also a hound dog, but this breed is a sight hound. Which means they see something from afar and chase it. The early breed was meant for tracking a scent and bring chase to it, mainly things such as hares. The Whippet dates back to the middle ages but they were not called the Whippet until the mid-1800s. They are very closely related to the Greyhound. The Whippet is known for its fast speed in a small package. These dogs have been clocked with modern technology attaining speeds up to 35 MPH! They are the fastest accelerating dog known today.
The Herding group is known for keeping guard over a flock or having the ability to control the movement of a flock. These breeds were bred to gather, herd, and protect. Fun fact the instinct of the herding dog is so strong that they are even known to herd their family, especially the children. The Puli is a breed that cannot be mistaken. This is a breed that is covered from head to toe with natural occurring cords that look like dreadlocks. These dreadlocks are wooly, dense, and weather proof. The Puli is very light on their feet and agile. The Puli is originally from Hungary. Records show that they worked the plains of Puszta as early as the 9th century, some believe they were working as early as 4500 BC. Nomadic shepherds valued their dog so much they would pay a year’s salary to get one. The Puli must be mentally sound, capable, agile, and willing to work. A working Puli is an amazing sight to watch with his amazing foot work and dazzling coat.
The Beauceron, developed in France, is known as the “red stocking dog”. The Beauceron is the largest French dog with no known foreign crosses. The Beauceron dates back to a manuscript dating 1587; however, in 1809 an article was written regarding the working dogs of France via noting long and short hair. In the early part of the 19th century the Beaucerons were indispensable to the shepherds of France. Only two dogs were sufficient enough to tend to flock of up to 200-300 head of sheep. When the sheep production declined in the 19th century the Beauceron became almost obsolete. In an effort to save the breed the French breed club promoted the breed in other fields. For example, in the area of protection of home and family. The breed served very valiantly during both world wars as a messenger and mine detection dog. Since then the breed has increased in police work and guard dogs post World War ll.
Onto the Non-sporting group, this is made up of a diverse group of breeds and varying sizes, coat type, and personality. This group comes from a wide variety of backgrounds which makes it hard to generalize. The Xoloitzcuintli is the ancient Aztec dog of the gods. The Xoloitzcuintli is a true hairless dog or can be coated. A fun fact about this breed the forehead wrinkles when in deep thought. The Xoloitzcuintli is known to be one of the oldest and rarest breeds. There are statues of the hairless variety dating back over 3,000 years. There are ceramics and effigies that have been found in tombs of the Mayan, Colima, and Aztec Indians. The Aztecs deeply revered this dog and believed that it had mystical healing abilities. In 1954 there was a publicized expedition into raise awareness and to save the breed from going extinct. The Xoloitzcuintli is very well known in the lower part of the US and Mexico. In 1956 this dog became the official dog of Mexico.
The Standard Poodle, its origin is widely disputed. There are valid points that lead to both Germany or France. When the breed was finally accepted, Germany took a step away and said the Poodle originated from France and may have the Hungarian Puli behind it. AKC however states the dog is originally from Germany. The Poodle comes in three varieties standard, miniature, and toy. The Poodle is known for being incredibly smart. They are considered the second smartest dog in the world. Originally the Poodle was a water retriever. Mainly used for duck hunting and upland bird hunting. Poodles have webbed feet which make them perfect for water retrieving. Their dense and thick coat allows them to be in the water even in less than perfect conditions. The Poodle’s ability to work declined in the later part of the 19th century. Towards that time they were more known as a high end social status. If you had a Poodle, you were considered wealthy. Poodles are actually great hunting dogs, because they are smart, easily trained, and love to work.
The Working group consists of dogs that are smart, intelligent, bred to assist man, and excel at jobs that require work. The Tibetan Mastiff is a very powerful and light-footed dog. This breed though it’s size is massive is very agile and will surprise you if you are unaware of its presence. From Tibet, they are considered the large guardian dog from the high Himalayan mountains and the plains of central Asia. There are no accurate records of this breed, however there is proof that this breed could date back the Stone Age. Even though there are no known records, it is believed that this breed is the original stock that many modern working breeds have developed from. Gaining their popularity because they were shipped to England, since no one was allowed into Tibet. The Tibetan Mastiff was sent to England in 1847 by Lord Hardinge Viceroy of India. Prince of Whales who became King Edward the Vll brought two more into England, the breed started gaining popularity. This dog breed is believed to have been with Genghis Kahan and Atilla the Hun.
The Siberian Husky originally from Chukchie tribe of northeast Asia also known as Siberia. The Siberian Husky was bred to be an endurance sled dog. In 1909 a large number of Huskies were brought to Alaska to compete in the All-Alaskan Sweepstakes race. Which is now known as the Iditarod. The Iditarod dog sled race is a 1,112 to 1,131 mile race through the rough terrain of Alaska. This sled dog race tests the endurance of not only the dogs but also the mushers. Mushers are those that lead the sled dogs. In 1925 there was a diphtheria outbreak, a Siberian Husky named Balto became very famous. As Balto lead the team that took the medication to the town that was having the epidemic. Siberian Huskies are swift and cunning hunters. So they can survive on their own in the wild. Several movies such as Balto and Iron Will have been made to show the dedication and hard work of the breed.
The Sporting group is dedicated to those that are pointers, retrievers, setters, and spaniels. These are working dogs in the field and water. The Boykin Spaniel is a rich brown colored spaniel. The breed is known for working in lakes and swamps. Boykin Spaniels are web-toed and can swim like a seal. For many years Boykins were known only to hunters of carolina, water fowl, and wild turkey. The Boykin is the state dog of South Carolina. The Boykins’ history is one no other dog can claim. They were originally bred by South Carolina hunters, developed initially to hunt wild turkey in watery river swamp in the 1900’s. Now they are just as happy hunting the dove fields and duck marshes. Boykin Spaniels have a special enthusiastic field ability that no other can match. Legends have it, that the brown coat was the camouflage while the dog laid in wait for the master to call in the wild game. The tail is to be docked so not to disturb the surrounding vegetation and scare off the wild game. The Boykin Spaniel is also known as the dog that “wouldn’t rock the boat”.
The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is an ancient breed that almost went extinct during World War ll. The Kooiker is originally from the Netherlands. It is a duck retriever. It uses its tail to lure ducks into enclosures called eendenkoois. These were built along the canals in the Netherlands. The Kooiker worked very closely with the hunter via hand signals and silent cues to lure the ducks into a net covered trap. Keeping this ancient way of hunting preserves the Dutch wetlands which also helps nature out. Even though this hunting is outdated the Kooiker is also a very good dog at search and rescue because of its abilities to hunt.
The Toy group is a group of dogs that are considered small, these are dogs that were bred down to the size they are now, this group of dogs is basically a companion animal. The Japanese Chin is a charming companion with an unmistakable silky coat. The Chin is an unrivaled nobleman of Japanese breeds. They have a look of astonishment when looking at them. This breed comes in black and white or tri-colored (black, white and tan). The origin of the breed is clouded in mystery of far eastern ancient rites. The trade route known as “the silk road” is what led these dogs into the Imperial Palace. The Japanese Chin was owned by Buddhist monks who nurtured various specimens in the monasteries that eventually became gifts to traveling dignitaries. Mere peasants were not allowed to own this breed, because the dogs became more valuable than gold.
The Chinese Crested comes in two varieties: powderpuff and hairless. Powderpuff has a full body of hair, whereas the hairless variety has hair on head, feet, and tail with an appearance of looking like a small pony. The powderpuff and the hairless variety can be born in the same litter. Origins of the dog are believed to have come from Africa there has been several 19th century texts covering it. There is genetic evidence that there is a link to the Xoloitxcuintli. Their name Chinese Crested comes from their use as rat dogs in Chinese trading ships. Later through the years the breed was bred for companionship.
The Terrier group is a group comprised of vermin or large rodents, foxes, and guard homes. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a loyal, trustworthy friend to the end. The Am Staff is a mix of a Bulldog and an unknown terrier. This breed was originally called Bull and Terrier dog, half and half, and at times pit dog. In England the name was established Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This breed came America as early as the 1870’s. In 1963 they were accepted into the AKC breed book as the Staffordshire Terrier, the name was revised January 1, 1972 to the American Staffordshire Terrier because breeders in the USA bred a style that was heavier in weight, than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England. This breed falls under the category of a type of dog which is also considered the Pitbull due to a miscommunication between the actual breed and the dog type. This is mainly because only UKC (United Kennel Club) will allow registry of the American Pit Bull Terrier, AKC will not allow this type of style to be registered. The American Staffordshire Terrier’s height ranges for males 18"-19" and females 17"-18".
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s height is 14"-16" for the entire breed. Their nickname is “staffies”. The origins of this breed can be traced back to the Bulldog crossed with the British terriers. Books that were published in the early 1800’s confirm this dog existed at the time. In 1939 the first Staffordshire Bull Terriers were brought to the USA and lived their lives simply as companions. In 1975 AKC recognized the breed. Still to this day this little dog in a mighty package is still a well-known secret. It is often mistaken for its cousin the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Now that we have covered a few breeds in each group, we will now discuss what a preservation breeder does, why, and what they expect, and what you should expect from the breeder as well. The definition of a preservation breeder is: an attempt by many animal breeders to preserve bloodlines, rare breeds, rare pedigrees within a breed. It also can mean the breeding of animals to populate or re-populate an area or a species that previously existed. In talking to many preservation breeders, I have learned that their chosen breed is very dear to their heart. It is not only something they truly enjoy, its their passion, and lifestyle. The breeder is very deeply connected to their breed. They spend waking hours doing research on their breed and the pedigrees associated with it. When they have a litter of puppies it is because they chose to make that litter happen. They wanted that breeding for themselves first. The breeding took place because the breeder needed to improve a specific part of their dog, or the pedigree of their breed. A reputable breeder is a person who follows the AKC and National clubs’ laws and by-laws. They are not involved in the “puppy business”. The reputable preservation breeder makes you fill out questionnaires, sign legal binding contracts, do home checks if desired, make sure at the designated age the dog is made sterile. The breeder also registers the puppy on “limited registration” which means if the owners did not follow the contract the dog cannot have its pups registered. The breeder spends countless hours making sure their dogs are well cared for and loved. These breeders also act as their own humane society.(For any reason throughout the dog’s life, the dog, if necessary, should be returned to the breeder). The breeder is very purposeful when choosing a home for any puppy that the breeder is not needing. The breeder makes sure the personality of the dog and the family will match. The breeder wants what’s best for the dog and the new owner. Each puppy should be micro-chipped, well socialized, obedient in a bath tub or on a grooming table, and walk on a leash. A reputable breeder will not allow a puppy to leave until at least ten weeks of age. The puppy will also be up to date on shots and worming regimen for that time period. A health guarantee is often given for each puppy sold also.
Each breed of dog has a National club. This club is focused completely on that specific breed. Whereas the AKC is an organization responsible for all breeds. Each National club has their own set of laws, by-laws, and rules to adhere too. For example, what genetic tests are required before a breeding occurs, or donations to aide in animals research of their specific breed. The club also maintains breed rescue for the dogs that sadly do fall through the cracks, or breeds that have been in a bad situation due to puppy mills, etc. Each club has different standards that each breeder must abide by. The club maintains each member and decides if the breeder had/has met the qualifications or not. If the qualifications are not met, then the club decides what punishment you as the breeder should face.
AKC is a registry that allows the breeder to add their dogs into the history books. It simply keeps track of the breeds and dogs being registered. AKC does have the grounds however to go after a breeder and punish them if necessary.
Genetic health testing is a key element to preservation breeders and reputable breeders. Genetic health tests can confirm or eliminate certain genetic types that are detrimental to the specific breed. For example: PRA/PRCD (progressive retina atrophy/progressive rod cone degeneration). This is a genetic disorder that is inherited and can cause premature blindness, due to genetic research the markers or alleles have been found to find the disease in each specific breed. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease. There is also a disease called FN (familial nephropathy) it is referred in several ways. This is kidney failure, renal disease, juvenile nephropathy, renal cortical hypoplasia, hereditary nephritis, autosomal hereditary recessive neuropathy. These are genetic disorders in specific breeds of dogs. There is also AON (adult onset nephropathy), a hereditary disease that affects the neurological aspect of the dog’s limbs. Which eventually can progress to the extent of difficulty swallowing and being crippled. All dogs that are considered breeding stock should have hips, patellas, elbows, heart, and other specific areas tested. However, these tests are breed specific! So, one must know the breed well in order to know which tests are required to be completed. You also need to register these dogs through the correct registry’s in order to prove the test was completed.
Now I am going to discuss “designer dogs”, puppy mills, and backyard breeders. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) monitors and inspects these facilities to insure they cohere with the guidelines and regulations set by the government. Puppy mills sell to anyone including pet stores, they breed the dogs until they can no longer have or produce pups, or have stopped producing puppies like they did in their prime. The Amish are notorious for these types of
breeding establishments. These types of breeder’s care nothing of the dogs that are having/making puppies, or of the puppies themselves.
They see nothing more than dollar signs. These puppies are taken from their mothers too quickly so the “cute factor” will help the impulse buyer purchase the puppy without any knowledge of its background. These puppies are very sick most times because of the
environment that they grew up in. In New York in September of 2010, an Amish man was cited by the USDA for having a positive reading of Brucellosis in his facility. This incurable disease led him to make a homemade carbon monoxide gas chamber to euthanize almost 100 dogs, including puppies. A backyard breeder is a better version of a puppy mill; however, they too are in it for the money instead of the betterment of the breed. These types of people breed dogs at every ample opportunity to make an extra buck.
Some dogs are lucky and get to live in the house, others are left to fend for themselves in the yard, garage, or dog house. Then we hit the newest fad of breeding dogs. The well known “designer dogs”. This is where two separate breeds are mated on purpose to make a mutt and charge the new uneducated owners thousands of dollars. These breeding’s are nothing more than a scam. When mating the two breeds you are making a genetic disaster. Even if the parents are genetically tested they are breed specific, so there is no way to guarantee anything besides the new buyer was a sucker. There is no dog that is 100% hypoallergenic. Each dog has its own form of dander. So, when they advertise this statement, it’s a scam. Due to the different breeds you also have no idea what coat type the dog will get when mated together. It’s like playing Russian roulette. This is a lethal mating. Two different personalities, two different sets of health problems, two different coat types, there is no way to know size, shape, color, or personality. Basically, with these breeders you have opened Pandora’s Box.
In conclusion, the preservation of purebred dogs is vital to humanity and even nature. Saving not only the species and its history, but the culture and legacy as well. Protecting these pedigrees ensures the future of the preservation breeder’s history and why these dogs came to be. It also allows future generations to enjoy the dogs as they were meant to be. The purebred dog was initially made to help mankind in almost every aspects of survival, and should be appreciated for many generations
About the Author: Written by the author's mother, Nicole Lewis.
Jesse is a junior in high school. The youngest of three boys. My children are 3rd generation dog enthusiasts. They were born into the dog world as was I.
In his spare time he enjoys spending time with the dogs, video games, movies, and friends. He tried juniors, but found his place is more behind the scenes.
This was Jesse’s English research paper. He contacted me from school about his chosen topic. I asked if he was certain he really wanted to use this idea. I was told, “Mom this is my life, your life, yes I want to do this.” I just told him it’s going to take a lot of work and effort, I hope you’re ready to put the time into this. I did tell him to choose breeds he really knew nothing about. That way he too would learn more about his chosen topic. I just didn’t want him writing what he knows.
The end result is this beautiful paper that speaks the inner depths of why breeders maintain the purebred dog.
I am proud of all my boys and the love they share for all animals, but most importantly the passion for the purebred dog. I am thrilled that Jesse chose this topic on his own and is willing to share it with the world.