What Is A Breeder?

What Is A Breeder?

Webster’s gives us some interesting definitions: “To nourish, cherish…to generate, engender… to bring up, to nurse and foster,” but more to the point, “to produce by special selection of parents or progenitors.”

“Anyone who puts two animals together for the purpose of producing young does most or all of that but here’s the rub: Only a handful of persons involved in the production of companion animals can be said to “produce by special selection of parents
or progenitors.”

“A Breeder with a capital ‘B’ is one who thirsts for knowledge but never knows it all, one who wrestles with decisions of conscience, convenience, and commitment.

“A Breeder sacrifices personal interests, finances, time, friendships, fancy furniture, and deep pile carpeting! A Breeder gives up the dream of a long, luxurious cruise in favor of turning that all-important specialty show into this year’s vacation. The Breeder goes without sleep (but never without coffee) while watching anxiously over the birth process, and afterwards, every little sneeze, wiggle, or cry.

“The Breeder skips dinner parties because a litter is due or the puppies have to be fed at eight. He or she disregards birth fluids and puts mouth to mouth to save a gasping newborn, literally blowing life into a tiny, helpless creature that may be the culmination of a lifetime of dreams.

“A Breeder’s lap is a marvelous place where generations of proud and noble champions once snoozed. A Breeder’s hands are strong and firm and often soiled but ever so gentle and sensitive to the thrust of a puppy’s nose. A Breeder’s knees are usually arthritic from bending and lifting puppies but are strong enough to enable the Breeder to show the ‘keeper’
in Sweeps!

“A Breeder’s shoulders are stooped and often heaped with abuse from competitors but they’re wide enough to support the weight of a thousand defeats and frustrations. A breeder’s arms are always able to wield a mop, support an armful of puppies, or lend a helping hand to
a newcomer.

“A Breeder’s ears are wondrous things, strangely shaped (from being pressed against a phone receiver), deaf to criticism yet always fine-tuned to the whimper of a sick pup. A Breeder’s eyes are blurred from pedigree research and sometimes blind to his own dog’s shortcomings, but they are ever so keen to the competition’s faults and are always, always searching for the perfect specimen.

“A Breeder’s brain is foggy on faces but recalls pedigrees faster than an IBM. It’s so full of knowledge that sometimes it blows a fuse. It catalogs thousands of good fronts, hocky rears, and perfect heads… and buries in the soul the failures and the ones that didn’t
turn out.

“The Breeder’s heart is often broken but it beats strongly with hope everlasting—and it’s always in the right place!

“Oh yes, there are breeders, and then, there
are Breeders.”

Excerpt from World of The Akita, Chapter Eight—Breeding The Best. Copyright © 1995 – 2019 Barbara J. Andrews. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations with source provided, no portions thereof may be stored or reprinted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written consent of Barbara J. Andrews. BJ@ToyFoxTerriersOBJ.com or BJA@NetPlacesNetwork.com

There’s only one path to success as a breeder and it’s mostly uphill, winding across the rocky terrain of commitment in such as way as to get a lot of people lost.

We can set goals by the dozens, be blessed with good looks, good dogs and a huge bank account. We may hire the best handlers, read all the right books, and travel in the best circles. We can soak up knowledge like a sponge and spew out platitudes by the hour. While this may bring short term satisfaction, there’s only one thing that earns respect from one’s peers and lasting success as a breeder. It’s not elusive, it’s not a mystery. It’s the foundation of every worthwhile seminar, every book on genetics, and it’s in my
opening sentence.

A breeder must commit to ethics and excellence. To omit it from a “breeding program” explains why so many would-be breeders wander aimlessly from one dead-end to another. AKC records reveal that it takes about five years before most people give up. Only a handful spurn the short cuts, and making a personal resolution to arrive at their destination, begin the climb to
high ground.

Make no mistake—walking the lofty path of commitment is the exact opposite of having one’s head in the clouds!

It means being grounded in unwavering obligation to the breed, to the sport, and most of all, to personal standards of integrity. It means sacrifice to achieve excellence. Believe me, it’s not always convenient. That thing called commitment can get in the way just when you think you’ve arrived.

Back in the early 90s I wrote a piece for Kennel Review, America’s premier dog magazine. It was reprinted in many other publications and then forgotten but I’ve been asked to share it with this generation of breeders. So for all aspiring breeders in today’s ultra-competitive world, I’m happy to “do it for the dogs.”

  • Barbara “BJ” Andrews is the breeder of over 300 AKC Champions including over a dozen All-Time record holders. She is the author of 8 breed books and founder of 3 AKC Breed Clubs. In 1998 she launched the world’s first public website (TheDogPlace.org) followed by TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com which, as part of the NetPlaces Network, serves all facets of dog ownership and exhibition. She and husband Bill pioneered the Akita, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier to AKC recognition and BJ served on the board of each Parent Club. She has judged in England and AKC Specialty Sweeps. She was awarded UKC All Breeds approval but has never applied for an AKC judges license because it could interfere with objective reporting on the sport.

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