How to Choose the Pick of the Litter

Prediction is not a Mystery
© Doris Duewel
(photos by Karin Saenger, Kennel WindDrover)
It is difficult, but as the same time awesome to choose the best puppy out of a promising litter. We are looking for a healthy bundle of joy for a future show dog with as many characteristics as we can recognize in a new born pup.The litter out of promising parents as a long time planned before hand.
If we are not breeders we contact the breeder of our choice. There might not be plenty of them, who are breeding on this high level. It is worth to travel – even to the end of the world for a lifelong friend! Always remember, once a long journey is better than taking a long time care for an ill and untypical dog.

Both photos by the courtesy of Karin Saeger, Germany
Once you found the right breeder of your confiance, you let him decide which puppy to choose. Every good breeder welcomes an engaged newcomer who is going to promote his kennelname and gives the pup an excellent home.
For the breeder it has already started with the choice of the stud.He knows his own successful line, being consolidated over generations in skilful linebreeding. This shows him what he can expect from the inheritance of the bitch and which characteristics the stud of a related line should ad. He should be of same high quality, but with features, which the breeder wants to improve in the planned litter.There is no sense in repeating faults which might occur in his own line. It is nearly a guarantee to double these faults in the coming puppies.Over and above he will stabilize this fault in his on line, which will make further breeding on this basis more than difficult.
Finally the day of birth has come. The puppies are born.
The bitch had an easy birth. Never use a bitch who is tedious in labor, as this sort of difficulty is inherited and will go on, besides other birth incidents.
The new born puppies give an important first impression of the quality of the individual pup aswell as of the whole litter. In this early stage they have not gained weight, which means fat milk did not change their outlines so far.
First we look at the head: the headform is typical; the sharp edged stop in a newborn pup will later on flatten. The muzzle shall be as short as possible. While growing the muzzle will anyhow get longer. A muzzle which is already longer at birth, will lead to a long, unharmonious foreface, that will not be filled satifactorily under the eyes. It is of utmost importance to watch the depth of the muzzle from the side. If too slender the muzzle will look in the adult ACD snipy.
Now we turn the pup upside down and look at the small ears, which drop back by this procedure. It helps to see if the ears are wide enough set apart and well set according to the standard. Also the slight bow between the ears can already be seen.
Generally it can be said: the more overtyped the head of a newborn pup is, the better it will develop later. Nevertheless the proportions of the head give the impression of perfect harmony.
The length of neck is rather difficult to judge because of the short dimensions of a newborn pup. What in no way can be seen is, if the pup will have in the future an unwanted dewlap. In this case the breeder must know his and the stud’s line and sometimes he can only hope that not two recessive genes of the past will meet in this litter.

The size and position of a new born pup’s shoulderblades show clearly how the frontangulation in the adult dog will look like. The shoulderblade must be long and reach far behind and the gap between both is small like a fingernail. It is guaranteeing the adult ACD its mobility while working on the cattle. It ends in the visible withers.
Legs are round and strong like pillars. The chest reaches down till the elbows. Too little depth makes the dog aery looking.
When we judge the hindquarters of the newborn pup, we register an impressively broad upper thigh with strong bones. The hocks must be as short as possible. Long hocks lead inviteably to straight hindlegs. The distance between the end of hind pad and the end of hocks is shorter than the distance between end of hocks and knee.
The moderate long tail is rather low set on and reaches from pelvis to the upper end of the hocks.
It is most difficult to judge the final height at withers of an adult dog. If the pup will be later small or tall, will he fit into the standard measurements, cannot be foreseen at any time of growing. Some puppies grow gradually over the months, while others are growing in episodes. Between two episodes they are not growing at all, which worries mostly the new owner more than the breeder.
Only the exact knowledgement of the dog’s family gives a certain hint.
After this first examination of the anatomy of the puppy, will be plenty of time to enjoy its development and watch, how the newborn pup with clear proportions will change to a ballike, white puppy with trembling tip of tail, when the warm and fat milk is swelling out of mum’s tits.
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Our puppy is now five weeks old and eats his first meat meals. Time to build him up in show position and look, how our pick of the litter developed during these last week.
We want to see if he meets our expectations and watch him carefully while he is trotting. There is a slow trot and a quicker way of trotting. Every dog has his special speed to look good. He should neither be cowfeeted nor too powerless. The gait must look effortless. The movement is somehow flowing.
A good movement is the result of a correct conformation, a harmony between front- and rear angulation. The anatomy of both pairs of legs must always be seen together. If they do not move equally, the dog will suffer of the damage caused by the attempt to balance the upright angulation of either front or rear.
First condition for a flowing, elastic movement are well sprung toes. Splayed toes result in a flat-footed gait and need unessential power.
The drive from a correctly angulated hindquarter let the foot step into the footprint where the front foot just left. The front leg is reaching far ahead and thus gives the impression of power. An upright hindquarter is not reaching widely under the body and shows a stilted trot. If the front is upright , the individual steps get too short. Again it results in an inharmonious movement with a hindquarter which is powerlessly pulled behind.

Temperament

The temperament in the whole litter gets very obvious when the siblings are playing with each other. With five weeks of age, the pup will be „dressed“ with collar and leach.

In principal it is true: to be a social companion as a grown-up ACD, the puppy has to learn from his born instincts and attitudes combined with what he was taught by his breeder and/or owner.He is keen on learning. In this early age he starts to make activ experiences in all kind of environments. Note, that he will neither be too much asked nor too little.Especially for a Cattle Dog it is necessary to learn to know other people, who like to cuddle or just touch him. From nature the ACD is not the cuddling type but he must later in the show ring allow the judge to touch him. He should not only see his own home and life circumstances but also experience the whole row of environment. This also tightens the connection to his master.

An experienced breeder recognizes in the litter, the introvert one, the show girl, the joky buddy or he more serious lad. Trust your breeder, that he will choose the right lifelong friend for you

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