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Breeding Question - different aspect.


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#41 kelpiegirl

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 06:10 AM

Hi everyone:
DANG, I put it in the wrong place, so here is the post now: I wanted to show you what I think of when I talk good shoulder layback and sloping croup= well built working dog, and dog who can go easily. On page 2 of "I want to see your dogs" in the gallery page: on page two, Julie Poudrier's dog Jill is a great example.
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#42 Denise Wall

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 06:34 AM

Julie,

By outside I mean the non-livestock non-working border collie people who strive to define proper structure and soundness in the working border collie. Are you a livestock producer and breeder of working border collies?

I'm not talking about overt lameness either. As I said, I've learned that horses are not a good model to use for determining what structures will work for a working border collie. IMO, in horses, there is greater need for skeletal structure to be at optimal angles, lengths, etc., simply because of their weight, form and the types of things they do. In dogs the size of border collies, muscle development, and tendon and ligament integrity play a greater role in maintaining soundness in the work these dogs do than in horses and their "work." Therefore, there can be more variability in bone structure, and because you can't really see things like joint integrity, function is more important as an evaluator.

I have a dog who has by your standards absolutely horrible structure. Yet to watch her move, it looks as if her joints are made of rubber bands. She at nearly eleven years old is the soundest, most athletic dog I've ever known, still more than capable of a hard day's work.

Rachael,

I was beginning to think that relying too much on science, as Denise was saying, may take away from the overall big picture. Yet, makes you wonder if what Laura S. was saying about the dog with no hip socket is worth a look at before breeding?

I did say, "Short of striking problems such as severe HD, much of whether a certain structure works for a dog is connected directly to the dog's working style."

The debate I'm mainly engaging in here is defining certain aspects such as shoulder angle as being automatically accepted as good structure for a working dog.
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#43 kelpiegirl

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 06:57 AM

Hi Denise:
I do agree that many dogs put together (apparently that is) by committee, can and do work well. Form follows function, and there has got to be a reason why some many BC's seem to have what I have described, regardless of breeding. And I know that working stockdog breeders do NOT breed for conformation

I don't breed livestock and/or BC's. Just have good observational skills and an atuned interest in anatomy and physiology. I will acquiesce to those who breed the aforementioned.


Julie
(who's main interest is in seeing healthy dogs work at what they were bred to)
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#44 Howdyjabo

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 07:38 AM

There are going to be NO PERFECT breeding programs.

I tend to trust natural selection based on work over anything that humans think of "ie correct structure" or create "ie tests" to TAKE its place.

And back to horses--- I have seen humans(cronically doomed to short sightedness and misconceptions) in the conformation classes create a horse that is incapable of doing well in anything but standing around looking pretty.
Those being bred based on ability don't look anything like a conformation animal.

#45 juliepoudrier

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 11:43 AM

OMG, too many Julies. I keep seeing my name and then realizing that y'all are responding to the other Julie.

I just posted a nice long reply but my ISP disconnected and I lost the whole thing. I'll just reply to a few random comments (I don't feel like scrolling back to figure out who said what).

First, as someone already pointed out, just because a person has a border collie and is at a sheepdog trial doesn't mean the person knows squat about working dogs or livestock or the breeding on either.

But, to the person who hypothesized "what if the 10-month-old bitch was from a dam bred at a year old?" I would say that you wouldn't have to go near that breeding with a 10-foot-pole. But as someone else said (Denise maybe) if the person breeding those young dogs was someone like Tommy Wilson then I would take a different view, since he has more dog and stock experience than many of us will ever have. Again it comes down to research: If you know who the breeder is and what that breeder's experience is with working dogs and livestock, including what kind of dogs he/she has produced in the past, then you could (and should) factor that in when considering a breeding.

Oh, and just because the dam may have been bred young doesn't mean that every other relative out there is young and unproven. Research and homework, you can't do without them.

To the person who made the comment about there being so many good tested (structurally) dogs out there that no one should need to breed to an untested dog, I say again, research and homework. If you know the breeder, know his/her dogs, know how and how much they are worked, and have a hitorical perspective to look from, then I see nothing wrong with choosing to breed to an untested (structurally) dog. For me, I'd rather know the dog inside and out workwise and history wise and *know* that this is truly a dog that will complement my dog than exclude such a dog solely in favor of a dog who has a list of structural tests available. Again, if there were two dogs available who were equal in all ways to do with work and one had a list of tests done and the other did not, then I might want to choose the tested dog. But I would never exclude the untested dog on the basis of lack of tests alone.

Re: using the trot to evaluate a dog's potential ability as a sound worker, ISTM that many border collies follow two tracks when trotting. I don't know that I've ever heard a proven reason for why this is so, but one leading theory is that tracking in such a way conserves energy. However, if I had a horse that trotted in two tracks (unless being asked to do so by a rider) I would consider it a problem. I do like to look at the trot to be able to pick up subtle signs of lameness, but I wouldn't rely on how a dog trots to tell me anything about its soundness for work. I agree with Denise: comparing horses to dogs with respect to the trot as a gait to evaluate is comparing apples and oranges.

I also think that taking a dog and evaluating it piece by piece and then using that piecemeal evalution to determine if the dog will be structurally sound is a huge mistake. As Denise said, you miss the big picture (how the parts work in concert for *that particular* dog), and it' the whole package that gets the job done, not the shoulder or the hock or the ribcage.

Kelpiegirl Julie, it's unfortunate that you chose my Jill to be an example of a dog with great structure because Jill has terrible hips. She has not been unsound as a result of those bad hips (her unsoundnesses have been due to physical trauma, not breaking down as a result of structural problems), and she's 9 this month. But she was also spayed years ago and is now basically retired.

Folks would probably look at my Kat and say ohmygod look at that funny looking little dog! But she's a dog who goes 200% when she works, and at 5 1/2 has had no soundness issues. Should I discard her as a working dog or breeding prospect just because she's not pretty in the classic structural sense? So far all structural tests I have had done are fine. Structurally she's quite different from my Twist, who also has good hips. But should I say Twist is a better dog because she's prettier (strucurally speaking)?

I'll find one of the threads in the gallery with a bunch of working dog pictures and bump it up to the top. Then we can all look at different working dogs and make whatever structural comparisons we want....

J.

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Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
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#46 Kelliwic Border Collies

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 01:27 PM

Originally posted by juliepoudrier:
And don't call me fishbreath! :rolleyes:

J.

Now just admit it Julie, you have baited breath because you are secretly working on getting continous eye contact from your dogs, so you can compete in obedience!

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#47 kelpiegirl

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 01:27 PM

hi julie
YOu know, I figured, once I pointed out a dog, it would probably have something wrong! Oh well. I don't think that there is a correlation though.
Too bad about her hips. I would love to see the different dogs- even the ones everyone says are horribly put together
Julie
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#48 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:31 PM

Those pictures were breathtaking from an artistic point of view - but I also felt them to be magnificently enlightening. To wit, I think I saw two dogs that were captured in a moment when they were standing foresquare or moving in a straight line. The rest were shown in acrobatic feats that would be labeled "Do Not Attempt This At Home" here in the US. Interesting.

I thought it was really interesting in light of Denise's statement that the integrity of connective tissue was of primary importance for the work pictured in these images. I was thinking you could see why - words like twist, weave, torque, and pivot, are what spring to my mind first, looking at almost all those dogs. Even the ones poised quietly at pens - is there a single shot of one standing four square?

I really respect the professional and expert contribution people like Denise, Eileen, and Sally Lacy, and others have made to the breed in terms of their service to the members of the ABCA and particularly work on the Health and Genetics Committee. I think it's important for people to know that the breed isn't entirely shaped by a bunch of no-nothing, selfish, shortsighted farmers (actually, I don't know any those myself).

Right from the beginning there has been in some circles a concerted and concious effort to balance known challenges to producing healthy dogs with maintaining the highest possible standard of working.

The case was made long ago, and has been supported by many generations of healthy working dogs, that breeding for a conformational ideal and breeding for the highest standard of function are mutually exclusive goals. I think it's responsible to use the tools of science that we have available to identify or diagnose disease - but beyond that I feel comfortable restricting my guesses about how well a certain dog might hold together performing a function over time, to actually observing it perform that function over time.
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#49 Rave

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 02:23 AM

Interesting that "tissue" has been brought up. One of the things a "structure expert" checks for is joint stability. For example, slipped hocks is a tissue problem, not an orthopedic one. Barrel hocks is due to over-development of muscle on the outside of the leg. Balance of muscle should be considered ideal by anyone (ask Dr. Regina for those who go to her!).

Yes, we should look at the whole picture, and all the moving parts together. However, the whole dog is only as good as it's parts. Would you pick a dog who is weak in an area, and therefore misbalanced by overcompensating, over one who is perfectly balanced (all else being equal)? If a dog is over-stressing the good joints to compensate for the weak ones, the dog will eventually break down over time if worked hard enough.

#50 Eileen Stein

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 03:17 AM

Long ago I was heavily involved for awhile in issues of employment testing. I saw then how easy it is for people to assume that factors like a high school diploma or a high score on a standardized test are good in themselves, without any real evidence that they are a predictor of superior job performance. It was next to impossible to get people to test job candidates using actual tasks they would have to do on the job (content validation) or to hire/promote people with and without the selection factors and see if there was any difference in their actual job performance (criterion-related validation). They KNEW that those factors showed who would be good in the job, and often clung to that belief even after actual validation studies had shown that they were NOT good predictors -- that people without the diploma or the high test scores performed on the job just as well as those who had them.

Maybe it's because of that experience, or because I have no background in horses or in dog conformation, that I put more faith in how the dog does the work than in whether the dog has the theoretically best structure to do the work. Or maybe it's because my dog who best meets the physical demands of working livestock, and is by far the fastest, also has the funniest-looking structure.

BTW, elsewhere on this site (at http://www.bordercol...rg/scotnat.html ) is an account by Sally Lacy of the first time she went to the Scottish Nationals, which includes the following:

We had ample opportunity to see many of the dogs close at hand; and we frequently scratched notes in the margin besides numbers pertaining to those dogs which particularly struck us as promising or unpromising due to particulars of their construction: sway backs, flat backs, lean hindquarters, apparently muscular hindquarters, east-west front feet and very close `wrists,' straight forward front feet moderately spaced apart, cow hocks or no cow hocks. I say, we did these notes; in fact, it was Jamie who first made these observations; and they had nothing to do with aesthetics, as far as he or we were concerned; it just seemed logical that the better constructed, better balanced dogs should have been best suited to the stamina and speed required to carry out the challenge set for all.

As the dogs we'd particularly noted ran, we compared our notes with the efficiency of the performance. There appeared to be no correlation.

Jamie reminded me of this, thirteen years later, when we watched a Cheetah arrange himself on a hillside for an attack on a Wildebeest crossing the valley below. The Cheetah was profoundly sway-backed, his shoulders, far from being laid back, were set almost forward of his chest, his `wrists' were virtually glued together, and his big front paws pointed east and west. And, of course, away he went at better than seventy miles an hour! Admittedly, a prowess that cannot be sustained, but extraordinary all the same!


#51 Pipedream Farm

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 03:28 AM

Okay, here's a different twist on things. My now retired Moss is rated an OFA good. In fact, at 12 1/2 years of age he's completely sound and doesn't even have the slightest touch of arthritis anywhere. When I trialed him, he always had this slow, weird loping gait on his outrun. He didn't look smooth at all to me, kind of reminded me of a rocking horse. Also, he has quite a large chest compared to his back end. I'm just not sure visually speaking, he would be the picture of perfection in terms of structure.
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#52 juliepoudrier

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 06:11 AM

With respect to structure "experts" I would have to seriously consider what credentials that expert has before accepting any pronouncements made by him/her. For example if Dr. Robert Gillette, who is the director of the Sports Medicine Program at the vet school at Auburn U., looked at my dog and announced it to be a structural mess and likely to break down at a young age, then I would probably heed him and maybe even change what I did with that dog. If Regina Schwabe looked at my dog and shook her head sadly, I would accept that my dog's problems were likely the result of its structure. BUT, even so, I think both of the people I have mentioned here would then be able to advise me on how to best use my dog within the limitations they see, or even how to minimize the effects of those limitations to use the dog to its fullest potential. They might even be able to make an educated guess about whether that structure is heritable (since this is a breeding discussion...) to the point that the dog is unbreedable.

I hate to bring up another horse example, but let's look at the racing industry. Lots of money involved in choosing a youngster that is going to be a winner, and those choices are made largely on structure/movement (once the foal is on the ground anyway). But then you hear about the odd little horse like Seabiscuit, poorly built but still a winner, even over his better-made contemporaries. A rhetorical question: Was Seabiscuit truly an anamoly or is it just that most horses built that way are discarded because of their build, when in fact they might actually be great runners? And the flip side to that coin is that even with great structure being selected for racehorse break down, quite a lot. Do people go back and look at those horses and say, "Well, now in retrospect, maybe her front legs were a little too light in the bone" or "You know, now that I think about it, perhaps his hocks are a bit sickled..."?

What I think it all boils down to is that people are looking for magic bullets when it comes to competing and winning (no matter what the venue). And they are willing to buy advice from people who will tell them if their dog adds up in the structure department (the most extreme example being the conformation shows). But I still think that if an animal has been bred for generations to do a job and in general most of the dogs from that population (at least before the increase in popularity led to indiscriminate breeding) are capable of doing that job, then the dog ain't broke and don't need fixin'.

I wish I had some good working pics of Kat. I was watching both her and Twist yesterday. Kat is a bit high in the rear (dear doG, are her back legs too long?!?!?) and appears pigeon-toed in front. I guess structure aficianados would discount her with one glance, but as Eileen said about one of her dogs, Kat is a damn good worker and is quite sound to boot! And I don't look at her and worry about how she'll fare out there in the pasture, the pens, or on the trial field considering how she's built--I simply use her for what she was meant to do, and gee, despite her funny structure, she does what she's meant to do quite well, and she's faster than a speeding bullet!

So, while I won't outright pooh pooh biomechanical experts, I also wouldn't take them as the ONLY source of input as to whether a dog is a keeper for the job at hand. There's a reason the cliche states: "the proof of the pudding is in the tasting" rather than "...is in how the pudding looks."

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

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#53 juliepoudrier

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 06:20 AM

Oh, and since Rachel asked about temperament, I think that it's a classic nature vs. nurture thing, as in how do you know which has a greater influence? I have a sample of only one, Twist, because she is the only dog I've raised from puppyhood, and I know both her sire and dam (and one littermate) well. Interestingly, a lot of personality traits that Twist has are extremely reminiscent of her dam. If I visit Twist's breeder and Twist's mother is in the house, I see a lot of behaviors, expressions, etc., that are just like Twist. But Twist's littermate brother has quite a different personality. In the sweetness factor, he is a lot like his sire. But he has earned the label of "Eddie Haskell" dog because behind that sweet exterior hides an evil critter.... Anyway, some of his character traits don't seem to be attributable to *either* parent.

This is a very small sample, of course, but I think some traits do carry through from parent to offspring, but I also believe that the environment in which a dog is raised plays a pretty big role too. The advantage to knowing the parents is you can perhaps expect some temperament similarities and then if there's something undesirable in the parent (nature), you can work to mitigate it in the offspring through the way you raise and train (nurture).

But as I said, my experience is limited in this area. I think you can take temperament into account when breeding, but like many things, there's no guarantee you'll get what you expect, even with the most careful consideration.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh



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Julie Poudrier
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Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#54 Annette Carter & the Borderbratz

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 06:31 AM

Julie, I agree with you and I still believe that there is a fairly wide range of structure possibilites that work but there are some that just don't too which is why we don't see BCs as a breed moving like poodles of any variety but since BCs are bred for function, outside of ruling out disease (as you stated earlier) I don't think structure and its science needs much more thought. If it was deemed by some expert that your dog had wierd structural problem (Say was built like a GSD or a hyena sp?), but your dog was great otherwise and she was the only means you had to get the dogs you need to work your farm they could probably tell you how to breed that out. (boy what a "if grasshoppers had machine guns?" scenario :rolleyes: )

Or with some good common sense about what doesn't work in your dog and what works better in others, given that the others are just as keen to work as your dog, you could choose the sire of the your litter on your own.

#55 Rave

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 06:45 AM

I have several examples of littermates growing up in different homes and turning out very differently, even though they showed the same tendencies. For example, Dog A would react a certain way when trained poorly ... Owner of Dog B, whose dog was very similar in temperment/attitude/work ethic/etc.., had no such problems until she did an experiment in poor training. Dog B then started reacting/behaving poorly just like Dog A (ever so briefly, as the experiment was ended quickly!).

#56 laurie etc

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 08:05 AM

OK - another "poor comparison" to Thoroughbred racehorses, a breed that has been bred specifically for "performance" from day one. Look at Secretariat (and I did see him upclose and personal in 1980 while he was at stud in KY). To me, and many others he epitomized Thoroughbred structure, heart and ability - and he attained the highest achievements of any TB in history. Think how many hundreds of mares (of all types, abilities and structures) were bred to him over the years. Did he ever reproduce himself? Nope. Had some decent babies, but never anything as good as himself. Which leads me to think that "breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best" ain't such a bad way to go, but it also is certainly not a guarantee.

#57 Rave

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 08:44 AM

Did a little reading, apparently the enlarged heart that Secretariat possessed is actually inherited. It's because of Secretariat that more research was done on this "large heart" gene. An interesting fact is that the dam passes on the large heart gene, not the sire, which explains why Secretariat's progeny were never as good as he was.

Just until recently it was thought that the sire was the one responsible for his offspring's success. The racing industry has judged a sire by his male offspring for hundreds of years. Great Thoroughbreds were thought to be busts because their sons never produced winners. But the large heart is passed to the foals by the dam. The TB Weekend Surprise is the daughter of Secretariat. Weekend Surprises' dam was Lassie Dear. She produced all winners, including her daughter who produced Horse of the Year A.P.Indy and Summer Squall. The exception to this however was ManO'War, who was fortunate enough to be bred to a mare whos heart was actually larger than his own. The mare was Brushup and she produced War Admiral. Seattle Slew, Cigar, and Silver Charm all have that heart line.Therefore ManO'War was considered a great sire, although it was his dam that passed on the large heart gene.

#58 Pipedream Farm

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 09:49 AM

Originally posted by rtphokie:
I have several examples of littermates growing up in different homes and turning out very differently, even though they showed the same tendencies. For example, Dog A would react a certain way when trained poorly ... Owner of Dog B, whose dog was very similar in temperment/attitude/work ethic/etc.., had no such problems until she did an experiment in poor training. Dog B then started reacting/behaving poorly just like Dog A (ever so briefly, as the experiment was ended quickly!).

We have an example in our house of two littermates that grew up with each other and have different temperaments (outgoing vs. shy and scared). Renee noted a drastic difference at birth (still wet) towards being held.

Mark
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#59 juliepoudrier

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 10:36 AM

Laura,
Interesting about the large heart gene (another reason to mourn the loss of a great mare like Ruffian--it's a shame we will never know if *she* carried a large heart gene), because I think at times we tend to do the same thing with border collies. That is, we think long and hard about what stud to cross our bitch with, but I don't see a whole lot of discussion in the other direction (that is, the owners of sires being really concerned about which bitches their dogs are bred to). Or even owners of bitches really considering the dam's dam's line and the potential sire's dam's line....

I wonder if this is because the dam's owner is the one who actually deals with the results of a breeding (whether horse of dog)? A stud's owner may choose to breed his/her dog to a particular bitch for personal reasons (to get a pup) and so might then really consider which bitch, but in general, it's the dam's owner who chooses a sire and asks to breed to it.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh



mydogs_small2.jpg

Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#60 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 10:55 AM

I think a lot of times if the owner of a sire really wants a pup from a particular cross for his or her stud, the bitch will be bought into his or her kennel. I have this sense that it's declasse for a stud owner to approach a bitch owner unless they are very good friends or partners? I have no idea since I've never owned nor do I aspire at present to own a potential stud. :rolleyes:
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