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FAQ's

 

Click on a question or scroll down the page to find the answers.

 
"I'm just looking for a pet.  I don't need a fancy, expensive show dog.
"These other puppies have a champion in their pedigree, so they're just as good as yours, right?"
"A puppy with 10 champions in a 4 generation pedigree must be a good dog, right?"
"My dog has a great pedigree, so it's show and breeding quality, right?"

"I'm just looking for a pet.  I don't need a fancy, expensive show dog.

When looking for a puppy, whether it be for showing, breeding or pet purposes, EVERY buyer should consider the pedigree (or lack thereof) to be one of the first indications of whether or not a particular puppy is a candidate for purchase.    A pedigree is a listing of a particular dog's family tree.  It identifies each individual, in each generation and should include (at a minimum) each dog's name and any titles each dog may have earned.   Titles can include conformation, obedience, agility, field trial or any number of other titles from The American Kennel Club or any other organization that sponsors dog competitions, tests or trials.  Many pedigrees will also include each dog's color and the results of genetic or health testing of each individual.

When evaluating a dog's pedigree, the presence of "Champion" dogs is an indication that these particular dog's ancestors (the champions) were considered a reasonable representation of that particular breed (when compared to others of the same breed) and that they were considered to be suitable for breeding.   If there are performance title holders in the pedigree, then these ancestors were considered to possess the necessary hunting, tracking or other skills for the specific titles earned and such titled dogs were considered reasonable examples of the breed as regards performing that particular function.

A puppy whose ancestors have not proven themselves in the show ring, may or may not exhibit correct breed characteristics, but how will you know?  (Even an expert at judging dogs cannot make an absolute determination of the quality of a small puppy since the animal can and will change significantly as it matures.)   Evaluating young dogs is done by taking into consideration the physical structure of the puppy itself AND the known quality of its immediate ancestors.   If you, as a buyer, have no working knowledge of the breed standard and cannot make a reasonable evaluation of the physical structure of the puppy in question (and its parents), AND if there is no pedigree showing a reasonable number of Champion ancestors, how can you make a meaningful determination of a puppy's quality or potential?  

While there are no guarantees that a champion pedigreed puppy will grow up to be an outstanding example of its breed, the presence of titled dogs in a prospective puppy's pedigree can be an indication that the puppy you are considering has the potential to exhibit the breed characteristics and traits that are supposed to be the foundation of that breed.   These breed characteristics (coat, structure, temperament, etc.) are the REASON you are looking for a purebred pet of a specific breed, so it should be imperative that the puppy you buy be a reasonable representation of that breed.  Buying a puppy with a championship pedigree is one way you can "stack the deck" in your favor.   A puppy whose pedigree contains a number of champions will usually be more likely to have the physical and mental characteristics of a specific breed than a dog that does not have champions in its pedigree.  So, even if you are only looking for a pet, choosing a puppy with a championship pedigree can help assure that you get a puppy that will exhibit the characteristics and temperament that you are looking for.  

"These other puppies have a champion in their pedigree, so they're just as good as yours, right?"

Having champions in a pedigree is important in assuring that you are getting a quality puppy that exhibits the correct physical and mental characteristics of the breed you are interested in purchasing.  But just having champions in a pedigree does not guarantee that a particular puppy will be healthy or perfectly structured.  It CAN improve the chances of a puppy having that particular breed's desired characteristics and it CAN help indicate to a novice breed owner that at least some of that particular dog's ancestors were judged to be good examples of the breed standard.   However, to ensure that the puppy you buy is a quality dog, it's also imperative that you purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder.  

Good dogs are more than a product of their respective pedigrees.  They are a product of their pedigree and their breeder's knowledge, experience and breeding practices.  To ensure you get the best quality puppy you can, the first thing you will look at is the pedigree.  You will want to see multiple Champion ancestors when evaluating a dog's pedigree.  This will improve the chances that a particular dog will be a reasonable example of the breed.  This is because each Champion dog has proven that it exhibits the correct characteristics and traits as described in the breed standard.  Therefore, the more Champions in a pedigree, the better the chances that a puppy will inherit  correct structure, temperament, etc. 

Keep in mind however, that many kennels do not show all of their breeding stock, and there is nothing wrong with having a number of untitled dogs in a pedigree.......AS LONG AS these non-titled dogs are of a similar quality to champion dogs and as long as they have had the same health and genetic testing.   Unfortunately, unless you are an expert in the breed you are looking to buy, it's unlikely that you, or any novice buyer, will be able to determine for yourself the quality of any untitled dogs in a pedigree.   This is why it's important that you work with a knowledgeable, honest and experienced breeder that is active in promoting your chosen breed and who has the ability to differentiate between breeding stock and non-breeding stock dogs. 

By promoting the breed, I mean someone that is actively trying to improve the breed.  This does not mean they just breed puppies or just show their dogs!  You want to work with a breeder that actively promotes, encourages and is willing to help new owners to become involved in showing, hunting, tracking or some other type of activity which showcases the talent, intelligence and/or beauty of the breed.  (Hopefully your breeder will have had dogs that have proven themselves in several of these venues!)  You will also want to work with a breeder who is willing to educate and work with you and other prospective owners and breed enthusiasts to learn the normal care and upkeep of the breed.  This shows a commitment to the welfare of the breed and to their dogs in particular.  You should always avoid breeders that don't have time to answer your questions or explain things to you that you don't understand.  If they don't have time for you now, they will most likely be completely unavailable after the sale!

The type of breeders actively involved in showing and/or training their dogs are also more apt to consistently test their breeding dogs for genetic defects, to keep all breeding animals on a comprehensive preventive health maintenance program and to stay on top of breed issues.  Consequently, these breeder's puppies tend to be healthier and can be less likely to suffer from common health issues and defects.   The caution here is that no matter how good the breeder or pedigree, there are NO guarantees as to how healthy or structurally sound any puppy will be as an adult.   Puppies are living, breathing beings, and as such are subject to the laws of nature.  You must bear in mind that no dog is PERFECT and "bad" genes can hide in any pedigree.  So, if you chose to purchase a dog, you should look for a reputable breeder with extensive knowledge of the breed in the hope that the chance of health defects and problems will be minimized in the dog you purchase.

So, to answer the question above, "No, it's extremely unlikely that a dog with one champion would be of comparable quality to one of my puppies."  All of my dogs have championship pedigrees, with many having champion sires and/or dams.  Many of my dogs are also champions themselves.  This combination of proven, quality breeding stock combined with health and genetic testing, exceptional care and years of experience working with this breed, allows me to say without reservation, that my puppies are exceptional.  

"A puppy with 10 champions in a 4 generation pedigree must be a good dog, right?"   

While 10 champions certainly sounds impressive, lets take a closer look at the real numbers involved in pedigrees and see if this is as good as it sounds.  A 4 generation pedigree will list 30 ancestors of the dog in question.  So 10 champions in a 4 generation pedigree means that only one third of the dog's ancestors have proven themselves to be reasonable examples of the breed.  That's not great, but it's certainly better than 1 champion out of 30, right?  Well, maybe.  To see if it really is any better, we need to look at where these 10 champions fall in the pedigree.  The placement of each champion will determine whether the number of champions in this particular dog's pedigree is significantly better than the dog with 1 champion ancestor.    

The closer to the puppy any champions are (parent, grandparent, etc.), the better the chances that the puppy will inherit at least some of the genes for correct structure, temperament, etc.  Additionally, the chances of your puppy being a reasonable example of the breed are increased when the champion dogs in the pedigree are evenly distributed through all of the bloodlines.  In other words, it's better for a dog to have champions behind the mother AND the father (even if they are several generations back), than it is to have one champion grandfather and no champions on the other 3/4's of the pedigree. 

In the imaginary pedigree above (10 champions out of 30 dogs), let's say the first champion is the sire's father.  This means our imaginary puppy has one champion grandparent.  OK, now let's say that this champion grandparent is from a really nice bloodline and all of his ancestors that are shown on this pedigree are champions too.  If this were the case, we have suddenly accounted for 7 of our 10 champion ancestors!   To finish placing our champions in this pedigree, let's say the puppy's maternal great-grandsire and both of his parents are champions too.  This places all 10 of our champion ancestors.  To illustrate this "pedigree", I've included the chart below.  This is the pedigree for Dog "A".  I've shown "champion" dogs in red and non-titled dogs in black.  This pedigree is shown on the far left.

Looking at the chart below, you can see that the champion ancestors for Dog "A" are bunched together instead of being evenly distributed through the pedigree.  This means that the dogs of proven "quality" have consistently been bred to dogs that are probably of much poorer quality.  The result of this will most likely be that the good genes become diluted and the resulting offspring do not inherit the correct structure, coat, temperament, etc.

A "better" imaginary pedigree with the same 10 champions, for Dog "B", is illustrated in the middle of the chart below.  While the champions are further back in this pedigree, the quality dogs are more evenly distributed.  In this pedigree, EVERY dog in the third generation has the potential to have inherited some portion of "championship" genes.  Because of this, the quality of these dogs, and the subsequent generations, is likely to be higher and more consistent.   Additionally, I would argue that the quality of the untitled dogs in the 4th generation of the pedigree in the middle, is likely to be better than that of the non-titled dogs in the 4th generation of the pedigree on the left.  The reason I would say this is that, in my years of studying pedigrees, it is more common to see quality dogs being bred to quality dogs.  Therefore, if I was evaluating the pedigree in the middle, I would feel safe in assuming that at least some of the non-titled dogs that had been bred to champions, were of reasonably high quality themselves.  I would not be comfortable making that assumption about the non-titled dogs in the pedigree for Dog "A". 

Dog "A" has a POOR pedigree. Dog "B" has a BETTER pedigree. Dog "C" has the BEST pedigree.
* Red = champion dog   * Black= non-titled dog
Dog "A" Sire Sire Sire Sire   Dog "B" Sire Sire Sire Sire   Dog "C" Sire Sire Sire Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Dam Sire Dam Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Sire Dam Sire Sire Dam Sire Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Dam Sire Dam Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Sire Sire Dam Sire Sire Sire Dam Sire Sire Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Dam Sire Dam Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Sire Dam Sire Sire Dam Sire Sire
Dam Dam Dam
Dam Sire Dam Sire Dam Sire
Dam Dam Dam

The final pedigree example, for Dog "C", is on the far right of the chart above and is the best example of a pedigree with 10 champions.  The champions are distributed evenly throughout this pedigree, there are champions in every generation and it is possible that a puppy with this pedigree would exhibit most, if not all, of the correct characteristics for the breed.  While it would be preferable to see more champions in this pedigree, it is obvious from looking at the pedigree that at least some of the untitled dogs are of good quality.  The reason you can make this assumption is that these untitled dogs have produced champion offspring or are otherwise in the pedigree of a champion dog.    

The answer to the question above is "No, a dog with 10 champions is not necessarily a good dog."  It's possible that it may be a reasonable representation of the breed, but it could also be a very poor specimen of the breed.  If you are not an expert in the breed you are looking to purchase, remember that it is important to consider the number AND placement of champions when evaluating a pedigree.  Again, the breed characteristics are why you are looking for a puppy of this breed, so you should be concerned about the quality of a prospective puppy if a majority of that puppy's ancestors cannot be proven to have exhibited proper breed characteristics.

"My dog has a great pedigree, so it's show and breeding quality, right?"

This is the biggest pedigree myth of all.  The fact that a dog has a good pedigree does not automatically mean that it is a candidate for the show ring or that it should be bred.  A good pedigree is not a guarantee that any or every puppy in a litter will be a great dog.  A good pedigree can increase the chances that a puppy will be a conformationally correct, structurally sound dog, but it is not a guarantee that this will be so.   In fact, 2 champion dogs can be bred to each other and the resulting puppies may all be poor examples of the breed with NONE being breeding or show quality. 

How is it possible that a good dog could produce poor quality puppies?  Well, the simple fact is that every dog carries some hidden "bad" genes (genes that produce defects, faults or undesirable characteristics that are not apparent in the dog being bred).   If 2 champion dogs are bred to each other and these dogs contribute some or all of their "bad" genes, then the resulting puppies may be poor examples of the breed and/or the puppies may be defective.  Mutations, nutritional deficiencies and environmental factors can also influence fetal development and these factors can influence the quality and health of a litter.  

If you are looking for a show and/or a breeding quality dog, you cannot assume that a puppy is of superior quality just because it has a pretty pedigree.

If you have any questions or would like more information about our Cocker Spaniels,
please
E-MAIL ME.    Thanks,

Cindy

 

Copyright Sandcastle Kennels 2004

Last revised: January 01, 2006