Purebred Chihuahua | Breeding For The Show Ring

Chihuahua standing in three quarter view

Purebred Chihuahua | Breeding For The Show Ring – “People are creators. But I doubt that many realize this. We are not meant to go out into the world and find flawless things, we are not meant to sit down and have flawless things fall in our laps. But we are creators. We can create a beautiful thing out of what we have. The problem with idealistic people is that they see themselves as receivers and instead of creators they end up hunting for the flaw in everything in order to measure it up to their ideals. Now when you see yourself as a creator, you can look at a chunk of marble and see an angel in it. Then you carve until you have set that angel free.”
—C. JoyBell C.

Purebred Chihuahua | Breeding For The Show Ring – IDEALISM VS. REALISM
We all know that statement, “There is no perfect dog.” If we believe this, why do we expect to breed our perfect dog? Idealism is the behavior or thought based on a conception of things as they should be, or as one wishes them to be, with a tendency to be imaginary or visionary. Whereas, realism is the behavior or thought based on a conception of things as they are, regardless of how one wants them to be, with the tendency to be practical or pragmatic.

Purebred Chihuahua
Photo of WynJyn Isadora, aka ‘IZZY the Iron Dog’

Many new to the breeding process suffer from idealism. Although this is not a bad thing, one must have some realistic expectations when dealing with possibilities beyond our control. The genetics of dogs can be a huge handicap. Humans have 46 chromosomes (23 pairs), versus a dog’s 78 (39 pairs). The arrangement or sequence of the genes of chromosomes is astounding. So, when dealing with living beings, we are at the mercy of genetics.

Awareness of the intricate patters of heredity is a good way to begin to realize why traits don’t always fall into predictable patterns. The varying degree of dominant and recessive genes, as well as environment, will affect the outcome of your planned breeding. Just ask those who have been successfully breeding for years and they will tell you of their early idealism and the puppy or puppies they wish they had kept. Their idealism got in the way and set their breeding program back another year or more. To accomplish one’s goal in one generation is unrealistic.

We also need to realize that there is an element of art to dog breeding. Successful breeders have honed their skills by experience, study, and observations. A little intuition doesn’t hurt either. The best genetics in the world can’t predict what will happen when two dogs are mated, no matter how hard we strive for genetic reliability and consistency. Every generation is different. There truly is no set formula for success, so sprinkle your idealism with a little realism and carve until you set your angel free.

Purebred Chihuahua | Breeding For The Show Ring – NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GOOD BREEDING
We all start at the same level, but soon we think we know everything we need to produce our perfect dog. Eventually we have to admit to ourselves that this probably is not the case and begin again. This is the point when we really begin to learn.

It is natural to learn only our immediate interests. As breeders, we need to broaden our boundaries. A championship title does not guarantee perfection. We must know and understand our Breed Standard, along with the anatomy of the dog, animal husbandry, and genetics. Once we feel comfortable with these aspects, we can begin our breeding program.

It is always good to make it a habit to look at “virtues” first and “faults” last. Fault finders will override the total perspective of their dog, which leaves a lingering impression. Compare the faults to the virtues. Do the virtues outweigh the faults? A true breeder must be willing to take a gamble with Mother Nature and take the worst along with the best.

We must realize that each puppy is actually two different beings. We all understand there is no perfect dog, so don’t be in a hurry for that great one. It is far better for a breeder to move slowly toward their goal by collecting virtues and discarding faults, and tackling one problem at a time. The “overall” dog must be kept in mind. The best package has the best chance in the show ring.

Most of us know that faults are about the construction of the dog and failings are more about cosmetics. A dog’s construction or “conformation” is the most important part of any animal. If a dog is not constructed properly, it isn’t moving properly and, therefore, cannot do the job it was created for. When you hear of a judge who likes “good movement,” it means they like a well-constructed dog. They go hand in hand.

We rarely see a fault such as a poor front or unleveled topline on a top breeder’s dog, but we might see a failing such as less coat than desired or ears that are smaller than we’d like. While one breeder selects a fabulously constructed dog with a moderate head and longer muzzle for their breeding program, another might select a dog with a weak rear and low tail set that has an overdone head and beautiful coat. The breeder selecting the coat and head has just made the decision to continue structural faults in their breeding program. The old saying, “A dogs doesn’t walk on its head,” is something to keep in mind. The whole package of balance, beauty, quality, soundness, and temperament is what all top breeders strive for. When you see the “total package” in the ring, you can be sure the breeder has done their homework and made structure selection a top priority.

Developing an eye for a good dog takes time. Every new breeder should be at the Group ring, watching each and every group of dogs so that their eyes can adjust to seeing how great dogs move. Once you have developed your “eye” for movement and balance, the selection of your breeding dogs will improve in record time.

Virtues differ from person to person, but good conformation, type, substance, balance, and soundness are essential. Temperament is of great concern for the Chihuahua breeder, since developing the “saucy” personality isn’t the easiest task. There is nothing more beautiful to the eye than to see a gorgeous Chihuahua strutting around the show ring while enjoying every minute. Since temperament is an inherited trait, it should be highly considered during the
selection process.

Purebred Chihuahua | Breeding For The Show Ring – SELECTION: THE FUTURE OF OUR BREED
Our Parent Club, The Chihuahua Club of America, and The American Kennel Club are guardians of the Chihuahua Breed Standard. The Breed Standard is a blueprint of specific physical qualities such as appearance, movement, and temperament. It is our “word picture” of the appearance and behavior of an idealized Chihuahua.

The basis of judging in conformation dog shows is breed type, which describes the characteristics that are typical of a particular breed. The judge looks at the entered dogs that most perfectly resemble their ideal breed type. The goal of the conformation show is to identify breeding stock for the future of our breed.

If we are doing our job as breeders with the best intentions for the future of our breed, some very good dogs will be neutered or spayed, while those that are even better will be retained for future breeding. It behooves all breeders to work in the best interest of the breed. Selection is what it is all about and it is the key to breeding success. An inability to look at your dogs objectively can wreck your dreams for the future and derail years of hard work. Successful breeders who produce quality dogs year after year are consistent with their selection process. They maintain a picture of the type they are trying to produce and know the ingredients that make up that type.

Your ability to select wisely will depend on both your in-depth knowledge of dogs in general and on your breed-specific knowledge. Read your Standard until you know it forward and backward and understand what you are reading. Above all, think of the future of our breed when selecting your next show dog. Probably one rule stands above others and that is, “Breed only the best to the best and don’t be satisfied with anything less.”

To be successful, we must truly be objective as to what we choose to reproduce or put in the show ring. We must strive to improve the next generation, and once a problem is discovered in a breeding program, we much be prepared even to the point of starting over with new foundation stock. What sacrifices are you ready to make on your road to happiness? Dreams do find direction and you can make yours come true.