Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Joy of Purebred Dogs

I used to be one of those people who scoffed at the idea of raising purebred dogs. It never seemed to me to be the kind of thing that I really wanted to do - the kind of people I wanted to associate with, or the kind of job that I thought I would be good at. There is a stigma in raising purebred dogs - the idea of the haughty dog breeder using inbred dogs to promote rich people having a hobby. How many times have you seen a famous person with their purebred dog - carrying around a tiny toy poodle in an expensive designer bag just for the purpose of being seen and having the dog be seen? It happens all the time, and this is what comes to a lot of people's minds when they think purebred dogs.

However, there are many reasons to breed dogs, and many people who do this for reasons other than to be seen or have the dog seen. The world of dog shows is a world that I am not even the slightest bit familiar with, even though I raise purebred dogs. It opens a whole new set of doors, when you start to talk about purebred dogs.

I totally used to feel the same way. But yeh, they are worth that, at least right now. Mostly because there are only about 1200 of them in the entire world. The breed was only created in the 70s, and so far all the breeders are really protective of it - you have to fill out an adoption application and be approved before you can buy one, and most contracts come with clauses - like, our contract states that each dog sold will be spayed/neutered and not bred with anything else, and that the new owners will send monthly updates for the first year of the dogs life - I think that so far the breeders as a group have only heard about one or two accidental klee kai/other dog breedings. Its part of the high price, the fact that there aren't many of them and when someone pays that much for a dog they are going to protect it and protect the breed and lines, and what not. Never thought I'd be a proponent of purebreds or anything, but I really am. Mostly because they come from sled dogs, and I love the loyalty you get with sled dogs. These little ones will just pick a person and follow them around all the time. It's great. You'd love them. but they are really demanding at the same time. They NEED attention, not like some of the bigger breed dogs who are fine to just be on their own in the house.

And, when it comes to inbreeding, that kind of thing isn't present in the breed that I am a part of. The klee kai population is about 8 generations old, maybe 10. At the start, of course, there had to be inbreeding. Now, when breeders breed their dogs, they look at the pedigrees, which can go all the way back 10 generations. If they find the same dog in both pedigrees anything earlier than 6 generations back, they don't breed them. That's part of what keeps the numbers low, and the price high.

When it comes to a purebred dog registry, especially one like our dogs have, getting a dog correctly registered is one of the most important things. Many times, a breeder will make sure that the owners who plan on breeding the dogs that they have purchased from them fill out examination forms before the dog can be registered with the UKC or AKC. This is what we had to do, and what we require those who purchase our puppies to do.

With this breed, it is SO new that they are taking every precaution to insure the quality of the breed. For instance, I have the UKC numbers on all of the dogs, because the pups are registered when they are born, but they won't be transferred into my name for ownership rights and breeding rights until the original owner has received the forms we have to send. Before a dog can be transferred to another person, there is a comprehensive exam that must be given by a vet, and let me tell you those were not just ordinary exams! The normal height and weight and what not had to be recorded, along with many questions about their temperament, exact markings, blood work analysis, and all kinds of other things we had to do! From the looks of it, all of our dogs should "pass" this exam, so they can be transferred to me with breeding rights included. If they don't pass, I will be able to become the official only if I sign and follow through with a neuter/spay contract. This is to insure that only the exact perfect qualities of the Klee Kai are transferred into the lineage. For instance, Wicket although he is absolutely pure bred and passed all of the tests, will be transferred to me but he has already been neutered because his sire was in question there were a couple dogs it could have been, and none of the DNA tests are conclusive. so we bought him knowing that he can't be a breeder. Willie and Rx however we are hoping will be able to breed. We have all the paperwork on their ancestors to insure that none of them are related, and we have signed documents stating that our purpose is to fulfill the best interest of the breed - this means being responsible breeders yes, but also following through with each of the pups we produce - for instance if Willie has a puppy that doesn't have symmetrical markings, its my responsibility to insure that that puppy doesn't go to a home until it is neutered or spade, or with a contract that states the new owners will do that. The dogs are EXTREMELY rare, and very pricey. We got wicket for 400 because he was neutered and couldn't be shown or bred. But will cost 1900 and Rx cost about 1800. I really think that this insures, actually, a better breed standard. I wasn't going to spend more than 4000 on dogs if I wasn't serious about the breed, and serious about helping the breed reach its potential. At the same token, I know that people aren't going to spend that much on MY puppies unless they are serious about it. These dogs won\'t get advertised in the paper! We are actually already working on a website, because every breeder in the country usually has a waiting list for their pups - some of them can be over a year long. And there are questionnaires galore! We had to fill out three just to GET the dogs, and there was more to do after we had gotten them, during this period of applying for breeding rights. I am working on the rough draft of MY question are, to make sure that I can evaluate each of the people who requests a dog from me, and chose the best matches with dogs and people. And Tony and I are hell-bent on refusing to ship dogs anywhere. If someone wants one of our puppies, they can come here and get it, or we can drive to them and get it, because I won't give a puppy to someone, no matter how much they pay me, if I can't meet them in person and feel them out.

I think that the most important question to keep in mind when talking about breeding is WHY someone wants to breed the dogs. We want to breed the klee kai because we have fallen in love with the breed - because we know what kind of wonderful, adorable and perfect companions they can make - and also because of how new the breed is. Me, as a breeder, I can produce quality dogs and make sure they go to the right people so that this wonderful breed can continue. It's more than just continuing the breed though, because no one wants the klee kai to get interbred with anything else or become common. It's intended as a rare, beautiful breed. I want to help insure that that continues, by making sure that my pups only are bred with klee kai and only are allowed to be given to owners who will respect the breed as much as we do and make sure that the breed can continue down its path.

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