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What To Look For In A Brood Bitch

by Stephanie S. Hedgepath
Presented to the Corgi List 1-19-98

Before you can even begin to define what you want in a brood bitch, you must first determine what "style" or "line" of Corgi to which you are most attracted. Because standards are somewhat subject to individual interpretation (standards are somewhat akin to blueprints - they cannot define every little thing, but give you a basis from which to work) there are usually several styles within every breed and each one is still correct within the dictates of the standard. This is not to be confused with type, as there is only one correct type within a breed. Determining what appeals to you is done through research - looking at books, magazines and newsletters, gathering old PWCCA Corgis in America or CWCCA Handbooks and even handbooks from the respective corresponding clubs in the UK.

Photographs are a good starting point, but research is best done at dog shows - preferably specialties, sitting at ringside and watching every class possible. I usually tell someone to purchase a show catalog, but to also take a spiral notebook and make a note of the armband numbers of the dogs that most appeal to you *before* you even look at the catalog to see who they are. This way, you can check to see if a particular sire or dam or kennel name keeps popping up. Then you can follow up by contacting the owner of that particular dog or that particular kennel. If you are at a specialty, you can probably find the people you need to talk with there and request more information on them and their dogs (pedigrees, photos, etc.) This should be done over a period of several months.

If you already have a bitch, you need to determine whether she is of sufficient quality to be bred - not an easy task. A first, and essential step, is to do a complete health screening of the bitch - hips, eyes, VWD, DM, etc. If she cannot pass on hips or eyes, she shouldnít be bred. If sheís a VWD carrier, you must breed her only to a dog free of VWD. If she doesnít have a rock steady temperament, she shouldnít be bred. (No shy, nervous, or snappy Corgi should be bred for any reason!) As a novice breeder, you cannot take chances with your reputation or the breedís future by breeding a dog that is physically or mentally unsound.

Ideally, we should all start with a tightly linebred bitch from a prepotent line, who is already a champion and a specialty winner. Sigh....... alas, this isnít usually the case, because if there is such a one, there isnít enough money in the world to make the breeder part with her. (If you know of one for sale, contact me!) So, you must take a hard look at your bitch and her pedigree and decide if she is of sufficient quality to provide an improved next generation. The best way to test this out is in the show ring. If you can compete with others of your breed and can at least point your bitch and preferably finish her championship, perhaps she can add to the future of the breed. Another method for evaluation is to approach the owner of the stud dog who most appeals to you and would be a suitable linebreeding for your female and ask them to evaluate her as to faults and virtues. If they are PWCCA/CWCCA members, or members of a regional Pembroke or Cardigan club that is affiliated with the national club, then you know they are adherents to the code of ethics and will not breed to a bitch that is not suitable for their stud dog or of sufficient quality to be bred. If all they tell you about is the virtues of their male, and will not talk about his shortcomings, go somewhere else! If you are refused a breeding, please, donít take it personally. We donít like to hurt peopleís feelings, but a true breeder has the welfare of the breed at heart, and if we donít take the responsibility of the future of the breed seriously, then the breed characteristics we so love will disappear forever.

Having said all of the above, you must have a brood bitch that:

1) Is of sound temperament

2) Is sound physically - no heart murmurs, hip or elbow problems, no hereditary eye disorders, skin disorders, immune problems, etc.

3) Is in good condition - not fat, not thin, good muscle tone (not flabby)

4) Is of sufficient size to carry and whelp a litter

5) Is known to come from a free whelping line (though that would have eliminated *me* from the gene pool, as both of my children were C-sections!)

She should have her breedís characteristics:

Pems should be of medium size and have the proper outline (long and low - think rectangular, never square) with good reach of neck (not short so that the head seems to sit barely above the topline) and a level topline, triangular wedge-shaped head with properly placed medium sized ears, oval bone carried down into oval shaped feet and no tail. An important characteristic is found in slightly turned in forearm which makes the wrists closer than the shoulders. A double coat that is weather resistant in red, black and tan or sable with or without white trim finishes the picture. Cardigans should also have great emphasis placed upon the proper long and low outline (nearly twice as long as tall) finished off with a fox brush of a tail. The head should be beautiful and expressive (not clunky or blocky!), though not as refined as a Pem with a somewhat fuller muzzle and larger, slightly more offset ears. The Cardi should have round bone over round feet, characteristic wrap-around forearm with feet only slightly pointed outward to balance the wrap around arm. Same double coat plus the same colors as a Pembroke with a little more latitude on the white markings and the added frosting of brindle and blue merle.

You should be able to recognize either breed from a distance by itís outline!

Either breed should move freely and easily from all angles. They should not struggle to get from one place to another, but should move with as much efficiency as possible. All dogs have faults. What you must decide is which are the faults you can live with in order to keep those characteristics that are essential to breed type. It would be better to breed a bitch with one glaring fault and many virtues than to breed one with no major faults and yet no outstanding qualities, either. It is up to you to familiarize yourself with the standard for your breed. You should be able to recite it by heart when you look at that "part" of the dog. You should know the breed characteristics which make your breed distinct from all of the other breeds and you should know which faults are considered the most serious. A bitch with disqualifying faults shouldnít be bred. Dog breeding is an art. You cannot see the genotype on your dog, only the phenotype. Until she is bred you will have no idea of what is lurking in her recessive genes, you can only make an educated guess.

Stephanie S. Hedgepath

Jimanie