Purebred dogs are history and art. They are beauty and brains. They are living, breathing conduits to our past and to our future. They are our heart and our soul…and they are so much more.
by Laura Reeves - Good Dog Breeder Advisor
At Good Dog, we recognize the importance and value of preservation breeding and are honored to support our preservation breeders. Preservation breeders provide certainty when it comes to the physical and behavioral traits of their purebred dogs and predictability regarding hereditary issues and health conditions. Without preservation breeders’ dedication and hard work, we wouldn’t have the breeds we know and love today. We are awed and inspired by preservation breeders’ contribution to their breeds, the dog world and to society.
We are honored to partner with Laura Reeves, a preservation breeder and professional handler of champion show dogs, with decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to preservation breeding. We are so excited to share this article written by Laura as part of our efforts to promote preservation breeding and help people understand why this is such a critical topic in the dog world.
By Laura Reeves, AKC Breeder of Merit, AKC Judge, Host, Pure Dog Talk Podcast and The Good Dog Pod, and Good Dog Breeder Advisor
All of us who are breeders, exhibitors, handlers and judges are curators of the purebred dog. At Pure Dog Talk, we support preservation breeders and the rights of each individual to own the dog of their choice, and responsibly ensure the future of their breeds.
Within the world of purebred dog breeders, the idea of “preserving” our breeds for the future has grown out of an awareness that many breeds are vulnerable to extinction. For context, there are a number of dog breeds, such as the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, with fewer individual dogs alive in the world than there are Giant Pandas. These worrisome statistics highlight why we must act to protect and preserve our purebred dogs.
Each of the more than 200 dog breeds recognized world-wide developed in a specific time and place to serve a specific need of mankind. Whether people needed a dog to help them move their flocks, capture game for food, guard their property or simply provide companionship, dogs were selectively bred for those purposes. In many cases for millennia.
Preservation breeding encompasses the concept of “preserving” these dog breeds as living history. Some of these breeds no longer fulfill the specific job they were developed to do. Great Danes no longer hunt wild boar. Bulldogs no longer bait bulls as a spectator sport. Society changes and our association with dogs morphs along with us. But history is ingrained in the genetic code of these dogs.
Due to the generations of selection, each purebred dog is endowed with instincts and genetic makeup that tell us what the dog will likely be and do. Dogs developed over centuries to move sheep from one place to another, quite predictably, will move your children, your cats, yourself, you name it. And they might even nip a bit when they do it. This is part of who and what that dog is at its very core. While its behavior can be shaped and directed, expecting the dog NOT to have those instincts is akin to asking the dog not to breathe.
Knowing the history of a breed’s purpose and function, and the ability to rely on those traits, helps new dog owners select a breed that will be the best fit for their family. Purebred dogs with generations of health testing, conformation testing, temperament testing and instinct testing are reliably the size, color, demeanor and coat type they are expected to be. Acquiring such a dog from a preservation breeder who guarantees the dog a home for LIFE if the new owner is unable to keep it in their home for ANY reason is one of the best ways to reduce owner surrenders to animal shelters and rescues.
The pedigree of a purebred dog tracks inexorably to a place and time shrouded now in the mists and myths of history. That smiling face, that sleek or tousled expression, that elegant or robust or diminutive stature is our link to the past. And the mission of a preservation breeder is to never allow that distant genetic memory to disappear forever.