Originally published in the AKC GAZETTE – November 2018
The Welsh WAG - February 2019

Our decision on which dog to choose to breed your bitch to is one of the most important decisions you have as a dog breeder. Whether you have one bitch or 10, each breeding is important toward your goal of producing better dogs. There is so much work involved in properly raising a litter that every litter must count. A litter in which there is nothing worth showing or breeding from is not only a disappointment, but a waste of a breeding cycle.

Remember that any bitch has a limited time to produce puppies, and every litter counts. Most breeders choose to breed a bitch a very limited number of times in her lifetime, so the effort must be worth it. Before deciding which male she will be bred to, it is imperative to fully and honestly evaluate your bitch’s good and bad points as well as the qualities of her parents and grandparents, and even her great-grandparents.

If these dogs were not of your breeding and you are not familiar with them and what they produced, then you should make an effort to talk to those who are familiar with the animals in question. You should also find out what health clearances those dogs had, and what kind of problems the dogs had, such as soft coats, missing teeth, or severe allergies. Dogs who were seriously over- or undersize or were skittish or on the aggressive side should also be noted as you try to find the most desirable dog for your bitch.

Of course, the breeders of the dogs behind your bitch and the dogs behind the stud dogs under consideration may not be totally forthcoming about faults. We all seem happy to discuss the qualities of our dogs, but more reluctant to admit the faults a dog had or the health problems he produced. And remember, no dog is perfect, no dog out there has never produced a genetic fault or inherited health problem, so you will have to balance out the virtues and faults of each dog you are considering. Don’t assume that just because a dog has his championship, he is an exceptional specimen. Some of the best never went in the ring, and some rather common or incorrect-type dogs have superior show records.

Dogs with obedience and rally titles are a plus, as are those with performance titles. Those Welsh Wag titles are good indications of the temperament and trainability of the dog. That is very important for those who will go into pet homes, but equally necessary for show dogs. Of course, many breeders do not have the time to do obedience, rally, or performance training, but littermates of their dogs may have such titles, and that helps with your decision.

I also like to know how long the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of the stud dog lived and what they died from. A family history of dogs that died at 7 or 8 would be of concern, since most Welsh live to be 12 to 14, and ones that lived to 18 are not that uncommon.

Of course, if most of the animals behind the bitch in question are your breeding, you already have the answers. It is wise to make notes of that data, not only for the ancestors, but their littermates. As you look at the dogs at shows, make notes on what you like and don’t like about them. If a dog and his two sisters are at the same show, ask to go over all three of them after the judging is finished for the day. What the littermates look like will tell you a lot about what the dog is likely to produce. Remember that our standard calls for a level or scissors bite and 42 teeth. If the dog is missing a number of teeth, think very carefully before breeding to him. That genetic fault is very hard to breed out. Again, littermates and parents are a vital part of the picture.

When you have narrowed down the choice to three or four, have the owners of the dogs go over your bitch and look at her pedigree. On several occasions, I have had someone ask about my dogs, but when I evaluated their bitch, I told them that both my dog and their bitch had the same fault, and I suggested instead a dog that didn’t have the fault in common.

While evaluating the potential stud dogs, think ahead. Where would you go to breed a bitch out of the breeding you are planning, in order to intensify the good features from both sides of the family? If the grandsire of the dog you are considering is still fertile, perhaps you should consider using the grandsire, and use the grandson for the resulting daughter from that breeding.

Planning ahead is necessary, unless of course you are only planning to breed one or two litters of Welsh Terriers before moving on to another breed. I am surprised at how many people do that very thing—breed one or two litters in a breed, and then breed one or two litters in another breed, but never really get an understanding of any of the breeds they have bred. That might make it easier to get a judge’s license in several breeds but it will not make you an expert in any breed at all.

Remember the old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”?

Welsh Terrier Club of America

AKC Gazette – November 2018
Welsh Terrier Column
Reprinted with permission from the AKC Gazette

Post Script

Ch. Felstead True Form

Many of our current members may not be aware of the importance of Ch. Felstead True Form to our breed. In 1992, the WTCA was asked by the AKC to select one stud dog that had made the most significant contribution to the breed. Ch. Felstead True Form was selected to represent the breed in a Special AKC Gazette stud dog issue. He was bred in the UK by W F Stagg in 1963 and was owned by Harold Snow. His photo appeared in the 1970 WTCA Yearbook by which time, he was owned by Mrs Alker of Twin Ponds. A Terrier Type Welsh Terrier Special Edition, published in 1979 and dedicated to Mrs Alker who died in 1970, stated the Ch Felstead True Form and his son, Ch Twin Ponds Plaid Cymru were the last two great Welsh Terriers exhibited by the Twin Ponds kennel. Ch. Felstead True Form was a sire that was able to pass on his attributes to his progeny. He sired 23 champions.