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Selection of breeding stock among Australian purebred dog breeders with particular emphasis on the dam
journal contributionposted on 12.07.2018, 00:00 by V Czerwinski, M McArthur, Bradley Smith, P Hynd, S Hazel
Every year, thousands of purebred domestic dogs are bred by registered dog breeders. Yet, little is known about the rearing environment of these dogs, or the attitudes and priorities surrounding breeding practices of these dog breeders. The objective of this study was to explore some of the factors that dog breeders consider important for stock selection, with a particular emphasis on issues relating to the dam. Two-hundred and seventy-four Australian purebred dog breeders, covering 91 breeds across all Australian National Kennel Club breed groups, completed an online survey relating to breeding practices. Most breeders surveyed (76%) reported specialising in one breed of dog, the median number of dogs and bitches per breeder was two and three respectively, and most breeders bred two litters or less a year. We identified four components, relating to the dam, that were considered important to breeders. These were defined as Maternal Care, Offspring Potential, Dam Temperament, and Dam Genetics and Health. Overall, differences were observed in attitudes and beliefs across these components, showing that there is variation according to breed/breed groups. In particular, the importance of Maternal Care varied according to dog breed group. Breeders of brachycephalic breeds tended to differ the most in relation to Offspring Potential and Dam Genetics and Health. The number of breeding dogs/bitches influenced breeding priority, especially in relation to Dam Temperament, however no effect was found relating to the number of puppies bred each year. Only 24% of breeders used their own sire for breeding. The finding that some breeders did not test for diseases relevant to their breed, such as hip dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, provides important information on the need to educate some breeders, and also buyers of purebred puppies, that screening for significant diseases should occur. Further research into the selection of breeding dams and sires will inform future strategies to improve the health and behaviour of our best friend.