Preservation Breeding

Preserving the Past... Protecting the Future

We hear the term Preservation breeding being used over and over again. But what does it really mean? What are preservation breeders? Most importantly, what is it truly about?

Preservation breeding is all about Heritage, Culture if you like. It is about preserving the past and protecting the future. Each breed has its own history and characteristics. Each breed of dog was developed to serve a purpose, be it to hunt game, to herd livestock or simply to be a companion. Each breed is a walking piece of history.

The Breed

When I look at an Australian shepherd, I do not simply see a herding dog. I see a timepiece. I see a dog that has its origins in Spain. A breed of dog the Basque sheepherders thought so highly of they took it with them to the States when they emigrated and further developed it there.  I look at this dog and I know that in spite of its name it was mainly developed and flourished into the beautiful breed it is today in the United States. I look at this breed and I know that it is what it is today thanks to the efforts of numerous key people many years ago. When I look at my dogs I am thankful to all the breeders behind them. Generations of breeders who over the years have protected and preserved the breed so that I, tens of years later and several generations later can still enjoy the breed today. I am thankful because thanks to these breeders I know what to expect when breeding two dogs together. I know that the offspring of those two dogs will look like Australian shepherds. They will grow a certain height, have a certain look and they will act in a certain way. 

A few years ago, I was in Italy for a dog show. After the show, my husband and I went for a walk in the nearby fields with the bitch I was showing. Now let me tell you something, Australian Shepherds have a very good recall and they are generally very obedient, more so if you have actually put time in them and trained them. Whilst on our walk we saw some cows in the distance. I didn’t think much of it at that point, until my show groomed 9 month old puppy decided to run off and round them up! I never screamed so much in my life. This was a puppy who had never been around livestock before, never trained to herd and generally very obedient. I was terrified to say the least. Watching her rounding them up, I was scared she was going to get hurt but it was also very beautiful to see. It was beautiful because in spite of never being around any sort of live stock, the instinct was still there. She was still able to do what the breed was bred to do.

Preserving looks, temperament and HEALTH

Preservation breeding is about preserving the breeds in looks and temperament but also health-wise. Preservation breeders do  not simply put two random dogs together. They ensure those dogs are healthy dogs. By healthy, I do not mean just a random health check at the vet. Most breeds have x-rays they need to take before being bred and DNA test that breeders have to carry out. Others have eye tests carried out by specialized vets whilst some breeds need to have their hearts checked by means of echos. To make matters even more complicated, there are some hereditary conditions for which there are no health tests. In these cases, breeders have to study pedigrees and make educated decisions about which dog suits which bitch, not only based on how they look but also based on health issues. 

Pride and Preservation

As you can see, preservation breeders go to extreme lengths to protect their chosen breeds. They do so because they are proud of these breeds and the breeders before them who have kept them alive. There should be no shame in breeding the right way. In spite of what some may say, the world still needs breeders. Yes, we need purposefully bred dogs that go on to become guide dogs and service dogs. Yes, we still need purposefully bred dogs that go on to become Bomb detection and sniffer dogs…. And yes, we still need dogs like Bull Terriers even though we know longer fight dogs and bear bait and whose purpose today is that of being family pets and couch potatoes. Why? Because they are part of our heritage, part of our history. We do not destroy prehistoric temples because we no longer use them, instead we cherish them and protect them and it should be no different for dog breeds. We have dog breeds in the world that have fewer numbers than Pandas and other animals on the verge of extinction. The breeds are breeds that have lived alongside humans for hundreds of years and who have helped us to survive as a species or somehow made our lives easier. We owe it to them and to future human generations to protect them and preserve them  and tell the tales of how man and dogs have served each other over thousands of years.

bitch and puppy in the whelping box