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2010 Specialty Lecture, Marianne Schlüter

Marianne Schlutter gave us a copy of her lecture on Saturday Night. She said it is translated from Danish by Google. So please enjoy this is what we heard as the lecture. The drawings were really helpful to show the ideal dog. look at 1 and 2. 3 and 4 are in response to correct tail placement, the added tail shows too high. --  Brita Denmark d.8.11.2010

Dear Dog Friends,

I am very honored to replace Ole Staunskjær as judge and very happy for your concern for my trip and that my husband got the opportunity to participate in this journey together with me.

That said, I’m thinking, what you need me for. It’s not for fun that you spend money on getting me right from Scandinavia to California. So I will talk about my breeding principles and how I think and then maybe you can understand my judgments better when put in context with my thoughts here.

Our race, the Danish-Swedish farm dog is one of the national races in my home country. In example, it is a type of dog that I have known, and even had as a child, at a time when they were “everywhere’. As living conditions improved up through the 60 and 70’s. It became more and more common with “real breed dogs” and the little farm dog mostly called “old fox terrier”, lived a parallel life along with all the other dogs “without papers” until persistent dog people in the Danish Canine Club became aware of this glorious cultural/natural treasure, that walked across Denmark and southern Sweden. At that time my husband and I had a Collie-kennel, but we thought we would have 1 small dog and it was “an old fox terrier, which was subsequently approved as a Danish-Swedish farm dog and as it turned out, largely lived up to standard and all the good farm dog characteristics. Since then, meaning the last 24 years, we have worked with this breed and pedigree more than 300 puppies.

This of course, provides experience and knowledge you gradually develop your ability to see the puppies as potential future breeding stock/show. Year by year with generations of breeding work and ups and downs. One thing is what we can see at a particular time, but a guarantee that it lasts all the way, does not exist. It’s a task of great responsibility to work with life, but also very joyous and affirmative. The biggest challenge is to work with yourselves. It’s like when we go to dog training, who makes mistakes, we do so in reality it is us who go to dog training.

Danish/Swedish Farmdog standardOnce the ups and downs appear, we must be able to handle both and keep the broad ideas and common sense. If a disease or defect in your breeding show up, do not panic and trash a lot of dogs. Learn about succession and the severity of the disorder. Get the sick puppy/dog out of breeding.  Give your club or people who want to use the father of the breeding the information that your dog is the father of 1 or x number of puppies with this or that disorder. Likewise with the bitch. And do not repeat the combination of these 2 dogs. If it happens again with either male or female, there will be 1 or more pups with this disorder, I’d set a stop to this dog’s breeding career. Or to put it in other words, if the error rate gets too high… In this way you have handled the problem seriously, and you’ve taken the consequences. But you have not overreacted and deprived the breed a lot of nice, pretty, healthy, functioning farm dogs, because you immediately took the parents out of breeding. And it is very important that we don’t remove the parents and siblings every time a defect/disease occurs removing the parents and their siblings we would end up with much too few dogs to engage in breeding and everything would grind to a halt.

As medical science can discover/investigate more and more things in humans as well as our pets, then it’s tempting immediately to suggest investigations of everything. It may be necessary to use such methods if a serious problem occur, but so far our breed is healthy by virtue of its broad gene pool and we see only a few cases of a wide range of diseases. Fortunately it is so, and therefore we, in Denmark, have chosen, so far, not to make HD x-rays. As a general requirement for x-ray photography does not connect with the very few dogs with clinical symptoms of HD. We do not want to call the breed unhealthy. But if there will be problems, we will probably handle it using an HD-index system.

I distinguish between errors compared to standard and errors compared to the dog’s ability to function.

An underhung jaw is wrong for the standard, but in most cases, the dog function just as well, the jaw being correct or not. About how the ears are placed; ears work Ok if they stand straight up or are closed down, but here, according to the standard, it is the “expression” that completely change “Angles” = the way the legs bones are joined in continuation of each other. Good angles = the way, that enables the animal maximum movement with the least possible effort. It is essential for an animal that must move quickly and catch rats and mice it is therefore important both in relation to standard and in relation to functional ability.

Therefore, errors are not just errors; it’s about what the error is. If it is both a major malfunction and an undesirable error in the standard, then it is an error that counts much in the “accounts”

Some errors are therefore worse than other errors. Some errors alter the expression or appearance so radically that the type disappears. And something that is more important than adding and enumeration of errors is what we call “type”; a dog of the right type is more important for the breed than a dog of incorrect type, even though it has fewer errors. (That means some types of errors, not all kinds).

If we forget the type, then the breed look disappear, so we end up with a collection of small spotted dogs with papers that will be the only thing they have in common.

Then you can ask: “what would you do if you had a round and delicious farm dog bitch, but hind-angles are not too good and another dog with really good angles, but slightly taller and more narrow?” Yes, I would hope that the other dog was a male and then I’d pair them with each other and find the puppies in the litter that had the maternal type and at the same time the father’s better angles. But we have to have the type, preferably in every litter, because that is where we see the farm dog.

Danish/Swedish Framdog StandardUs humans, we really want to have something we can weigh and measure and put upshot lists, but life is more complicated than that. And we’ll never get everything. If your dog is healthy and well and well functioning and has minimum approved for breeding and you want to try getting a litter of puppies, then read the breed’s standard and compare with your dog. Read the show critics and write down the things that should be better on your bitch. Then find the male, who meets the most essential requirements and do not double faults, as much as possible, then you’re in the right direction…….

You can not make impeccable breeding, nature is not flawless either, but we can endeavor to keep the error rate as low as possible over time.

New breeders are often very nervous about doing anything wrong, and many experienced breeders will not share their knowledge without making other loyalty hostages, so everything becomes a matter of who you “side with” and share knowledge with. Kennels become small kingdoms with buyers as vassal states. It is fine that breeders support their buyers and that buyers are loyal to the breeder of the puppy as long as objectivity and reason do not suffer from it. Some breeders highlight themselves at the expense of others or make specific systems and theories that are presented as truths, presented as “truths” for that particular responsible…..and therefore “the others” who do not do the same is not so “serious”. All these are man-made systems that each of you must consider whether to use or become entangled in.

Back to “type”, a Danish-Swedish farm dog is a ignoble/common dog, with a round body, it is called “barrel shaped chest”, good muscle development and chest and a heavy lower line also belongs to the description of the body, a rather short powerful neck with a little small triangular head with alert eyes and nimble small ears, a tail that appears above level and some legs, which are a bit flimsy, all this combined creates this little farm dog-type-creature that charms us all. These building features are also mentioned in the “standard”, but they probably should be more highlighted, as necessary to produce the right type, that what separates the farm-dog from all other breeds.

Danish/Swedish Framdog StandardAdd to this the right farm-dog temperament, that is friendly, searching your company but who can easily deal with useful tasks on its own. The farm-dog can function well in all sorts of housing types, as long as it has its owner or pack and is allowed to be dog together with other dogs. The farm-dog is very fast to learn tricks and rules, but it make up solutions by itself unless you direct what happens. I usually say that the farmdog, in my opinion, is the easiest dog, you can choose, the breed is healthy, it is easy to train, no grooming and do not take up much of the couch.... or under the quilt.... or ... if it is pretty, yes we think it is in its own way, but it is primarily the mental characteristics, the way the farm dog is functioning, that makes us have the farm dogs. Not all farm dogs have all the good qualities, I have dogs who chase cats or geese, it is not desirable in my world, I also have a bitch who is too timid, afraid of strangers but not aggressive and therefore I still let her have puppies. I have no dogs with an urge to “hunt” that is running after hares and pheasants, etc, which is my limit. A farm dog must stay on its territory and not rush about. We must as breeders be objective when we look at our dogs and how they behave, if they are too strange or hunting enthusiasts, we should perhaps not use them for breeding or we must find a partner who does not have the same undesirable properties, so we are trying to breed us out of it. We see it when we do “mental description of young dogs”, which is an exercise in which there is a cloth that via a string is pulled forward at a zigzag path, most of our farm dog looks at it and look at us as though they say “Yawn, can’t you see it is a cloth”, but, if I see a farm dog who hurtles off the cloth, then I think it is “terrier temperament,” which sticks its nose up and it is not surprising, because behind all our registered dogs is a good deal terrier genes, that I, as a breeder, over the years quietly grower away. Yes, they do not disappear into thin air, but when I choose my breeding, I preferably go on the other side of an eagerly-heatedly-temper. It may be the puppy that can not tolerate eating together with other puppies without chasing them away or will not share your company with others without growling etc.

In Denmark we have 2 sets of ethical recommendations for dog breeding, Danish Kennel Club and the Club has its own set of recommendations, which overlap and complement each other, which particularly new breeders can seek answers and support in.  Some times we see breeders are making their own even more restrictive ethical rules, here again we are playing “1 am better than the others,” and it does not benefit the breed. Because the ethical rules that are already there, they cover the need, they are thoroughly discussed and carefully adjusted so that not too many dogs are taken out of breeding for the wrong reasons.  The principle of doing things “twice as good” does not apply in breeding work, if you exclude twice as many dogs from breeding, so you end up with the “half” breeding material and forced into other compromises that gives other problems with “bottlenecks” and “inbreeding syndromes”. In breeding work, it is important to have a good broad gene pool to draw on, so inbreeding-rate generally does not become too high.

If all the qualified bitches get a single litter and the highest bitches get up to 5 litters, then you have both for gene banks and for keeping of the type. It is very important to have many males “working”.... just one litter with a good puppy and the future is assured. And now don’t neutralize these dogs, because then the battle is lost no matter how good the dog is.

Do not double errors. If the bitch has light ears then the male should have correct ears. I will always breed through the correct individual. Not with the “opposite” such as large heavy ears. Always use a dog with the desired accuracy as to rectify an error.

The litter you create should preferably be better than the parents, if you have a young bitch use a male, where the breeding value is known. That is, you have seen offspring (and preferably more) of good quality as proof that his good building passed to his offspring.

Phenotype and genotype are 2 different things. A dog can win all shows and look gorgeous, still his offspring do not get the same amount of proper build, “looks” is not enough, the male shall have the right dominant genes to break through in his offspring... it is here “line breeding” enters.

You can breed close (how close can be debated ad infinitum) 1 to 2 times to cement its impact, but like you can cement the desired properties, one can also cement the unwanted, so be very aware of what the experiment generates and then make a outcross (pair with an unrelated) to wipe the slate clean of unwanted patterns and afterwards the entire breeding project together would have moved closer to “standard’.

I speak of principles, not numbers. I have tried to speak in ordinary words so you get the meaning. But I think it is an advantage to work for principles, as simple as safely possible. If everything is so intricate and control like that nobody can be bothered to try as dog breeders, then everything stops, and there will be too few dogs left to continue the breed. Therefore it is sensible having ethical recommendations, but as few rules as possible. And what good is it all, if too few puppies are being born to continue the breed.

Therefore, make sure you understand the Standard and choose the male who contributes with that, your bitch is missing, and make your puppies, and assume the responsibility that comes along and enjoy the whole process and support one another when a problem occur, so the future holds the Danish/Swedish farm dog too.

All dogs are lovely, but we are here, have chosen to concentrate our work on the Danish-Swedish farm dog and therefore the “standard” is the most important paper, which we measure our breeding results up against. It says how the farm dog should look like and how it should be. That our small breed dog is a very versatile dog that can obedience and agility and rescue dog and walking trails and do circus tricks and dog dancing etc it just shows how wonderful and versatile a small dog we have and love to have. So even if the dog is not a show star, it can always be a star in the family with all its good qualities.

I hope this paper can give you something to reflect on. It is my contribution to “Farm Dog debate, but also the sum of 24 years of breeding and my years in Danish / Swedish farm dog club vice-president and chairman of the Breeding Committee.

Sincerely, Marianne Schlüter