Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Champion" pedigrees

One of the more frequent questions I am asked by puppy buyers is , "What is a 'champion Pedigree'?" Good question. We can find this phrase used in many a puppy ads to advocate the value of the puppies being offered for sale.

First, ask to see the pedigree of the litter (the puppies being sold)--look to see where and how many of the dogs within that pedigree are AKC Champions. One champion 5-6 generations back can be called a "champion pedigree" by a seller.

IMO-- not all dogs that are champions should be bred--I have seen a few that I feel are not breeding quality. Just as there are some non-champions who are wonderful, sound dogs that are breeding quality. A championship is not always a guarantee of quality. It is a fact--that If you put enough money into a dog, put the right professional handler on it, and show it long enough--you can finish it and get a championship. It happens.

When you see dogs shown and finished from the BBE class (Bred By Exhibitor)--that means the owner/breeder showed the dog and all wins were obtained with the breeder/owner showing the dog. I respect a championship more that is won in this manner.

So, why value an AKC Championship? When a dog receives his Championship that means he has been evaluated by different judges at different times, awarded wins (points), has been judged and measured up to the breed standard, and found to meet said standard--i.e. the dog has been assess to be of "breeding" quality. It's a way that we breeders evaluate our breeding stock.

So, when you have one champion 4-6 generations back--does that insure quality? No. It simply means there was once a champion bred behind that particular line.

I tell puppy buyers looks for litter pedigrees where one or both parents are champions--That tells me the breeder at least has had one of the parent evaluated as to quality. Parent with champion parents (the litter grand-parents) often means that someone went out and bought dogs from a breeder--and is now breeding them. Yes, they could be very nice dogs--or they may not be of "breeding" quality. They could just be pets.

Not all great athletes sire children who become great athletes--some do and some don't. Same with dogs. Each generation needs to be evaluated as to quality BEFORE breeding. A breeder should strive to breed the best possible bitches to the best possible studs.

BTW-- Just because you love a dog is not a reason to breed it. If you have a true "pet" quality dog--don't breed it. Spay or neuter it--and love it. Don't justify breeding dogs with health issues, temperament problems, and conformational faults because you want a puppy from it!

A dog that had hip dysplasia is going to pass that health issue on to it's puppies--a dog with a temperament problem ("Oh, she is just shy--she only bites if someone startles her")--is going to pass those traits on to it's puppies. No breeder should pass on health and temperament issues to another generation of dogs!

I have also seen where Mastiff ads voice the quality of the puppies based on the number of "Hall of Fame" dogs within the pedigree. Once again, if neither parent is a "Hall of Fame" dog--it's just a statement of the dogs behind in the pedigree.

FYI--What is a "Hall of Fame" dog? The Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) Hall of Fame (HOF) is a award that is only given to members. For a Female to win this award she must produce 5 AKC Champion puppies--they do not need to be all from the same litter , thus can be sired by different studs. For a Male to win this award, he must produce 10 champion puppies; males are required more champion get because males can be bred more frequently.

The HOF award is a wonderful achievement for any breeder and is highly coveted by MCOA members. A HOF award is a testimony to the ongoing quality of a breeder's program and is a true measure of the overall quality of puppies produced by the dog who has won it. It says nothing about a dog that is 3 generations removed.

"Let the Buyer beware"--ask for explanation of the pedigree. Don't be taken in by the "pedigree shell Game"--throwing around a few titles and big names does not insure quality. Look to see that a breeder is actively evaluating their breeding dogs( do they show?); do they actively test and clear all dogs of health issues before breeding?; can they answer questions and provide accurate information about the dogs they are breeding?; and most importantly--how long have they been breeding?

You don't become an expert within a breed by going out buying a few dogs and breeding them. To become a good breeder you need to educate your self about pedigrees, current health issues, and have an ongoing evaluation of the dogs produced and used with the breeding program. One must apply themself to the ongoing study and improvement of this "craft". It don't just happen overnight.

Read those puppy ads carefully. Ask questions. Be an informed buyer.

I welcome any comments or questions. I can be contacted at Thank you.

Catie Arney Kiokee Mastiffs Hickory, North Carolina