Every Championship Breeder is a purebred dog owner, but very few purebred dog owners are Championship Breeders.
We all start as owners and remain so for the life of our dogs. We are responsible for our dog’s health, providing a safe and loving environment, basic training and socialization. We love our dogs and are passionate about our purebred breeds. Their individual quirks, traits, stunning beauty, and personalities are all captured on our cell phones and we are quick to share them on Facebook.
We may want to do more with our dogs, strengthen the bond… and have more fun. Dogs are happy “to be” and “to do” with us, and doing with our dogs is healthy for heart and mind. Dogs bring out our inner child, can teach us to play, which is a neurological necessity, and can even lead to longer lives.
Ready to Play and Win with your Purebred Puppy?
Play can be as simple as time together on the beach or running in the park. But there are so many more ways to play that engage our minds, competitive spirits and physical energies. If you like to travel, learn, volunteer, or compete? Here are some sports available to you.
Dog Shows (Conformation and Junior Showmanship) – Evaluates dogs for structure, movement and breed type. Improves breed quality and assures breed preservation. Develop relationships and learn about your breed with other breed mentors and owners. Offers competitions for youth and amateurs. Dogs awarded Championships at dog shows are the future of our breeds and breeding programs and are the select dogs that should be bred.
Obedience or Rally – Dogs have an amazing ability to learn. Improve dog behavior, establish emotional structure and bonding through learning basic and advanced commands. Learn to communicate with your dog, improve their vocabulary, and work as a team. Foundation for other sports.
Agility – Obstacle course competition with jumps, tunnels, climbing obstacles and more. Athletic sport for all ages and dogs. Fun, challenging and competitive.
Barn Hunt, Herding, Field Trials, Tracking, Earth Dog, Lure Coursing – Test your dogs natural breed traits and skills. Fun to see if they have what it takes. Good social time.
Frisbee, Flyball, Dock Diving – Athletic team sports that take athleticism to the max.
Therapy Dog/Search and Rescue – Serve the community and feel good too. Requires well-behaved dogs with good temperaments. Great for older dogs. Be a regular Pet Therapy program volunteer in hospitals and senior care homes, help children to read to your dog at the library, or teach pet care in schools to young children. Search and Rescue requires advanced training and dedication for both dog and handler.
Here is some help to keep it fun and ensure success as an Owner Handler, Exhibitor, or Competitor.
- Where to Start – Puppy socialization and puppy obedience. Agility or obedience and rally clubs are usually the best place to start. Learn how to communicate and work as a team first. Check with your breeder or local breed club about evaluating your puppy for show.
- Set Big and Small Goals – Do you just want a better behaved dog or do you think your dog should win Best in Show at Westminster Dog Show? Are you ready to put on your running shoes or learn dog tricks? Do you want children to read to your dog at the library, visit hospitals and senior centers, or be prepared to serve in emergency or disaster? Do you want to see your dog herd sheep like he was born to do? Dream big and start with small achievable steps. You may have 10-16 years of doing with your dog. Do dog shows and active sports while young and therapy dog as an older dog. Plan a lifetime of learning.
- Time? – Daily practice session, evening class once or twice a week, every weekend or just occasional weekends for competition? What is your level of commitment? Keep it on a consistent schedule and reward the small steps.
- Travel? – Most sports can be found close to home but if you dream about travel…show your dog and see the National Parks too!
- Right Breed, Right Sport, Right Structure? – Step back and take a look at your dog. Evaluate the health, age and temperament or ask a Championship Breeder or experienced trainer in the sport to help you evaluate your dog’s abilities and fitness.
As Owner Handler/Exhibitor/Competitor it is also time to learn some ABC’s.
Basic Conformation, Structure and Movement – May sound boring, but understanding basic anatomy and how it works will help keep your dog safe and help you to recognize if your dog is prone to future injury. A dog may refuse to jump because it hurts, not because he doesn’t want to. A dog may not be sound enough, or have the correct shoulders structure, and lack the flexibility to physically increase jump heights. You are now the athletic trainer and responsible for collaboration with a good vet and trainer. For dog show success, learning Conformation, Structure and Movement is an absolute necessity.
Breed Standard, History, Traits and Temperament – Do you have a Ferrari or Prius? What is your dog’s natural ability or limitations? Is he a trotter or sprinter? How does he handle cold, heat or water? What should the temperament be? What faults carry genetic abnormalities and deficiencies? Your breed standard published by AKC and your AKC National or Parent Breed Club spells out what you should know about your dog. If you have a Siberian Husky, guess what? They like to run! It’s a sledding dog! Recall training (COME) is a challenge and you will most likely need some experienced help.
Pay to Play – Fun with Friends – Join a Club – Consider joining both your National and/or Regional Breed Clubs to learn more about your breed, and to participate in their educational and show events (specialties). If you are competing or training in obedience or a sport, join your local dog training club or All-Breed Club. If you show your dog, serving as a ring steward is an invaluable experience. Not only do you make new doggie friends, the learning experience is fun.
Winning Attitude and Sportsmanship – Always remember to play for the love of our dogs. With any group of people, especially in competitive sports, there may be poor attitude and conduct. Winning Attitude and Sportsmanship is in our hearts and minds first. Have fun.
Dog Breeding, Breed Mentors, and Championship Breeders
Owners are NOT BREEDERS. Handlers are NOT BREEDERS. Exhibitors are NOT BREEDERS. Competitors are NOT BREEDERS.
As Owners, we must step back from our enthusiasm and pride, recognize our limitations, and consider our breed, breed future, breed preservation and legacy before our own interests. Do not assume that you have to become a breeder to have fun showing your purebred dog or even win Best in Show. What are your reasons to become a breeder? Not to be a breeder, but BECOME a breeder.
Not every…purebred owner is a breeder, nor should be.
Not every…purebred puppy is good enough to be a Champion.
Not every…dog that earns a Championship title deserves to be bred.
Breeding Pitfalls and Traps
There are no instant Olympians or Pro Football Players. To achieve Olympic success, you first have to learn the game rules, and practice to excel at the basics. Invest the time to learn and grow in the sport, develop your handling skills, and set reasonable, achievable goals so you can enjoy each stage of success.
If you have Champion show dogs, then you are or should be a breeder.
TRAP – If your heart is in the sport of showing dogs, but you have not yet studied to BECOME a breeder, take the Mentor/Breeder route. Purchase the best dog you can from a Championship Breeder. Develop a Mentor relationship with Championship Breeders, professional handlers, judges and great dog people. Rely on your Mentor’s experience and knowledge to see how or whether your Champion fits into a breeding program. Enjoy showing the dog or winning with a professional handler. Take time to learn.
I breed but don’t consistently win with my dogs.
PITFALL – It is very expensive, time consuming and heartbreaking to breed and show average dogs, but a majority of owner handlers do just that. Their dog is now an AKC Champion. Instead of taking the time and work to BECOME a breeder, or consult a Championship Breeder, many just breed to the popular sire, or a dog that is convenient, without truly understanding how to evaluate dogs and select for breed excellence. After a few years, many owners get tired of losing and quit showing. Many blame the professional handlers. Avoid this pitfall by learning to be the best, train to be an Olympian. Great success is earned with hard work and commitment.
What is a Championship Breeder?
Championship Breeders are a true rare breed. They are lifelong students and teachers, with passionate hearts and memories. You can spot them huddled ringside in the rain studying the Doberman ring when mention of an exceptional puppy circulates the show grounds. They endure nights of uncomfortable sleep beside a whelping box waiting for the first puppy to be delivered. Even when they have lost the Breed at 8 a.m., they stay all day to watch the Groups and Best in Show and then drive for hours to get home just to go to work the next morning. Time and money is spent traveling to yet another breed education seminar and free weekends serving as a ring steward.
Championship Breeders are not superstars, nor do they supply the latest designer dog sensation Labradoodles or invent Puggles just for ego, greed and money. They have purity of heart and don’t expect financial support from their dogs.
Championship Breeders breed to the AKC Standard to improve the breed.
Championship Breeders show to evaluate breeding stock and breed excellence to excellence.
Championship Breeders question constantly how to improve, how to be consistent, and listen to opinions of other experts.
Championship Breeders learn. They are lifelong students of dogs. – Pedigrees, Anatomy, Structure, Gait, Movement, Breed Type, Standards of other breeds, Grooming, Health, Genetics, Temperament, and Training are the basics.
To be mentored by a Championship Breeder is to receive the ultimate gift. A gift of knowledge and the responsibility to care for it, respect it, and pass it down to others.
Welcome to the Path of the Championship Breeder.
The breeding of purebred dogs is both an art and a science; thus the true breeder is a very artistic genetic engineer – Patricia V. Trotter “Born to Win”
Books to Read: Patricia V. Trotter’s book Born to Win is a must read. Championship Breeder of Vin-Melca Norwegian Elkhounds, AKC Multiple Group Judge, AKC Breeder of Merit and shows her own dogs.