Originally published in the AKC GAZETTE – February 2019
The Welsh WAG - May 2019

Responsible dog breeders, no matter what breed they have, should always have the good of the breed as their top priority. Yes, those of us who own and breed Welsh Terriers should have as our goal breeding dogs that can win in the breed ring and are correct according to the Welsh Terrier standard.

However, concerns about temperament, overall health, intelligence, and trainability should never take a back corner to dogs who can win in the breed ring, or we will be in danger of losing not only the true reason for breeding purebred dog but also the qualities that make the Welsh Terrier special, and the reasons that people choose the Welsh as their family companion and friend.

Selecting for show-ring temperament can often encourage a tougher attitude toward other dogs than is proper for a pack terrier.

The overly aggressive dog may show well in the ring but may be impossible to live with, and useless as a working terrier. Of course any dog who is aggressive toward people should never make it into the breed ring, let alone into the breeding program. The Welsh was bred to be able to hunt in packs, yet the sane, steady temperaments needed to hunt, not fight with other pack members may not look as impressive in the ring as the dog up on his toes, ready to take on any other dog or anything that moves. There must be a balanced temperament, and breeders should always select for that trait, breeding the tougher ones only to those dogs who are quite tractable, unless we want to lose the good, trainable, and manageable dogs that also make good pets and obedience dogs.

The Welsh Terrier has always had a reputation for being an easy keeper, and not a dog who requires frequent trips to the veterinarian for one ailment after another. What is the advantage of keeping a dog as breeding material if he is sickly, routinely has to be hand fed, or has chronic ear infections no matter how much good care he receives?

Breeding stock should be strong, thriving, and rugged, requiring only normal good care to remain full of energy, adaptable, and always ready to go—in other words, be a typical terrier, bred to thrive and not require pampering. Breeding stock should also be able to breed, whelp, and care for puppies without the breeder having to do all the work. Yes, complications do occur that require your assistance, but if you find that generation after generation you are doing artificial breedings because the dogs cannot do it naturally, or having C-sections as the norm, not the exception, or having to take over the cleaning and feeding that the dam should be doing, then it is time to reevaluate Newsletter May 2019 your breeding program and selection of breeding stock.

Recently I have noticed a trend toward always using artificial insemination, rather than encouraging the animal to breed naturally.

While this may be more convenient for the breeder, and often necessary when the animals are on opposite sides of the country and chilled or frozen semen is the only choice, under other circumstances, it should not be always the f irst choice. Encouraging animals to breed only that way does not permit selection of dogs capable of doing as they were designed to do. Sooner or later you may find that your line has few natural breeding stock left. Always choosing AI may produce dogs with no sex drive and instinct. That is something to think about when planning your breeding program.

Something else to think about is the bitch’s ability to whelp and care for a litter. My favorite bitches have always been those who whelp, clean up the puppies, and get the puppies nursing without much assistance from the breeder. It is nice to just be there watching, ready to assist if necessary, but not to do the whole job for her. In some breeds, C-sections are the norm due to the head structure of the puppies or some other abnormality that has been selectively bred for, but Welsh are not one of those breeds, nor should they ever be.

Selecting mentally or physically unfit animals for your breeding program is seriously detrimental to the breed.

Always ask yourself if what you are doing is really for the good of the breed. You owe the breed that much. Enjoy your dogs, and always do right by them.

Diane Orange

Welsh Terrier Club of America

AKC Gazette – February 2019
Welsh Terrier Column
Reprinted with permission from the AKC Gazette