Before you can even consider picking a stud dog, you have to do a tremendous amount of background work on the bitch you plan on breeding. You should have already ascertained that she is of breeding quality, with an ideal Corgi temperament and is free of health endangering defects. You must research her pedigree, not just her sire and dam, but every dog that appears in at least the first three generations. If you can gather information on their littermates, too, so much the better. The study of a pedigree in and of itself yields nothing, unless you study the individuals that make up the pedigree. This often reduces itself to a study of faults, but it should also be a study of virtues. Before you can go any further, you must ascertain exactly what it is you value about your chosen breed and have a picture of the ideal of the breed firmly planted in your mind. If you have no idea of what the completed puzzle should look like, it is a thousand times more difficult to piece it together.
There are several ways to gather the needed information. You can subscribe to the PWCCA Newsletter and the Corgi Quarterly. You should try to obtain as many handbooks (Corgis in America, published yearly by the PWCCA) as possible, as these contain photos and pedigrees of Pembrokes that have become titled in the previous year (conformation, obedience, agility, herding titles). You can learn quite a bit from a photo, if you know how to look at it - but that's an article in and of itself. Write to the owners of the dogs that appear in your dog's pedigree and ask them about the particular dog in which you are interested. Ask what they look(ed) like and what they produced. Most breeders will discuss the dog with you, if you approach them in the proper way. Don't commit any of this to memory - write it down.
Of course, the absolute best way to gather information on dogs and bloodlines is by the first hand knowledge of putting your hands on the dogs. For most of us, this is best accomplished at specialties. It is at specialties that pedigrees come to life! You often get to see the famous and near-famous either in the Specials class or the Veterans class. You definitely get to see the best that the top dogs are producing. If you particularly want to produce a top quality male, you should pay particular attention to the males that the stud dogs you are considering are producing and to what the males are like behind the dog - you want strong male lines, and vice versa for producing a top female.
You should then go to the breeder of your female and ask who they think she should be bred to and why. If you are new to breeding, and have liked what the breeder from whom you obtained your bitch produced, you should rely upon their insights. The best bet is to linebreed on the dog in her pedigree that you like the most - whether it be a dog or a bitch. Yes, you'll double up on the faults produced in that line, but you'll also double up on the virtues - and that's the name of the game. If you don't particularly like any of the dogs behind your bitch, get another bitch! Without good females to mate with good males no real and permanent advance can ever be made.
Look at your female's virtues and decide what you want to keep, and be aware of her faults and try to overcome them. When looking at the prospective stud dogs, keep in mind that these dogs should have something "outstanding" about them. Hopefully, *everything* will be outstanding (when you find that one, let me know!), but they should at least have some terrific features - a superior head, a fantastic shoulder, an iron back or terrific rear drive. You want to have *some* outstanding reason to breed your bitch to this dog. If he is just average - no outstanding faults, but no outstanding virtues either, then what do you expect to produce from this breeding other than more average Corgis?
You should contact the owners of the stud dogs you are interested in using well in advance. Initially ask for a pedigree, proof of all health checks (including brucellosis for him), stud fee and a copy of the stud contract. If a video is available, offer to pay for a copy and for shipping. Do this for each dog you are considering. You should make an initial "wish list" of about ten dogs. Write down any and all dogs you like - there will be time to pare the list down later.
The male you choose should have passed all of his health checks, most especially eyes, hips and VWD. Above all, he should be of sound temperament, which you should check out yourself, outside of the show ring. See how he reacts to strangers and strange situations. If he doesn't have a rock-steady Corgi temperament, don't use him no matter how structurally perfect he is. You should ask to go over the dog and should check everything, from bite to butt. Feel his coat, his bone, his muscles. Check his shoulder layback and feel for his brisket and characteristic "keel" underneath his chest between his front legs. Check for spring of rib. Check to see how far back his ribcage goes and how long his loin is. Check his feet and pads. Then ask to see him move, from all sides: coming, going and sidegait. Look at the pigmentation around his eyes and inside his mouth. Then go home and do the same thing to your bitch - yet again!
Now, you've got to research *his* pedigree. (And you thought you were through with homework once you got out of school!) He should be the result of an inbred or linebred pedigree, on a great individual. This great individual should also appear in your bitch's pedigree so that you will be linebreeding once again. Next, write down everything you've found out about both dogs (male and female) from your own observations. Then write down everything you've found out about the stud dog from other sources. Then write down everything you've found out about the dogs in their pedigrees. If the virtues that you have ascertained you must have are repeated in your listings, you know you are heading in the right direction.
In his book, Carmen Battaglia has come up with an excellent system to code pedigrees so you can see fault/virtue trends at a glance. He suggests that for each dog in the pedigree you construct a "stick dog." This would consist of a head, neck, front assembly, topline/body and rear assembly.
This gives you a very rough idea of the components of a stick dog - one anyone could draw out. (You might want to add the ears a little higher up - I couldn't get it to look right on the computer!) You would then assign a color to each "part" of the dog. Blue is excellent; red, average or good; green, fair; black, poor. More than one stick dog under a particular dog's name could denote littermates. When you have your stick dogs drawn on the pedigree with the information you have gathered you can tell at a glance if there is a particular virtue or fault that appears throughout the line. In all of the studying and theories and practices of breeding, probably the safest and best route for a novice breeder is what is called the "Brackett Breeding" (for Lloyd Brackett of German Shepherd fame in the 50's): Where the male selected is himself an outstanding specimen, nearly faultless, and has such progenitors: "Let the sire of the sire be the grandsire of the dam, on the dam's side." Thus in dog X, the sire's father (X's paternal grandsire), is also the dam's maternal grandsire.
The owner of the stud dog should want to see your bitch before agreeing to breed the two. Ideally they should see her in person if possible, or on video, at least. Should the owner of the dog you have picked politely refuse to breed to your bitch, don't take it personally. The stud owner knows what he is capable of producing and should refuse a breeding if they know certain faults are sure to be compounded by the mating. All you need do now is get out your pocketbook and get ready to spend about $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 (stud fee, $500-600.00, health checks and target testing for the bitch, shipping both ways, telephone calls, etc.) You breed your bitch and wait to see what your outcome will be - and how well you've guessed!Stephanie Hedgepath