Cocker Spaniel Q & A
“Genes are a funny thing, they can come back and bite you many generations later.”
It’s important to have a good foundation bitch and this is not always easy as no one really likes to sell their very best. I was very lucky, one of my dear friends gave me a beautiful bitch and she has tuned out to be not only a good bitch but also no matter who I breed her to, she gives me herself or better. I have surround myself with wonderful mentors, and have friends that are happy to talk pedigrees and dogs, all this helps me make the best decisions for my breeding program. Do I have a favored color? I really don’t have a favorite color, but there are a few colors I don’t care for. Is the breed’s popularity good or bad for breeders, and for the breed? I would like to think its good for the breed but unfortunately not always the case It can result in greed and many just breeding to sell with no health testing or with the betterment of the breed in mind. My favorite dog show memory? I have so many but my very favorite is when a dog that I bred and raised went BISS, I am not ashamed to say I cried. JEFF WRIGHT I live in Topeka Kansas. I was born and have lived there all my life. I have devoted my life to breeding showing and I’m a profes- sional dog handler. I feel that the overall quality in dogs has changed primarily due to the fact that most all of the big kennels and breeders are no longer here. We have fewer lines to mix our gene pool with which makes creating more quality much harder. American Cockers are also affected by this. Everyone breeds to the same stud dog which limits our diversity in our gene pool. My biggest concern about Cockers is the lack of balance between front and rear assemblies and the lack of correct movement. Breed type is my most important thing, for without breed type, you have just a dog. The biggest problem facing breeders, or new judges is the lack of knowing basic structure and correct movement. Perfect balance between front and rear assemblies and effortless movement. Correct reach is not lifting and a pounding front. A good dog is one that possesses a good head dark eyes and soulful expression. Proper proportions, from the head mussel and skull, width and length, to length of neck to the back, and height of leg. All parts must fit together and in harmony. It’s the sum of all the parts that make up a good dog. The perfect balance in front and rear will be evident in the effortless movement and ground covering few- er steps to get around the ring. A dog will appear to be moving in slow motion, rather than the quick jerking steps working hard to move forward. I feel that this is what appeals people to love a Cocker Spaniel. The most common fault I see is the lack of breed type and bal- ance. Balance is key, but understanding breed type is my biggest concern. dog for each breed. The standard is a written description of a perfect dog for each breed. Studying the standard, and learning the basic structure and bone placements are crucial to know how to breed better dogs that conform to the standard. Knowing the func- tion of the Cocker is also helpful in evaluating the breed. It’s a flush- ing Spaniel that can work all day in a field so balance is important to the stamina for this task.
Over the years I have had the privilege of owning, breeding and loving BIS, BISS, National Variety winners and numerous top ten Cockers in the black and ASCOB variety in both the USA and Asia. I reside in north central Florida, beautiful Ocala, the horse capi- tal of the U.S. Is there an “outside” of dogs? They do, by choice, mandate the majority of my time. That being said ,I enjoy spending time with my children, grandchildren and friends most of which are “dog people” as we are a special bred of folks. I also love traveling espe- cially cruising. I’ve had Cockers for 46 years as loving companions, Been show- ing actively since 1987, bred my first litter in 1974, I’ve come a long way baby. I am seriously considering going for my judging license , but I am struggling with the ethical issue of should a judge exhibit. I’ve seen way too much that irk me with judges campaigning dogs and then having those same handlers have their “ string” presented to them by others. It’s a personal ethic matter for me The secret to a successful breeding program is not being kennel blind! No one dog/bitch can fix everything. Recognize the strong points and work with them. Learn your pedigrees, and for Pete’s sake learn the difference between phenotype and genotype. Dedica- tion and passion are imperative. Do I have a favored color? I truly ADORE the black and black and tans, but there’s nothing wrong with a good buff. Is the breed’s popularity good or bad for breeders? When any breed becomes popular it is the downfall of it. It happened to the Cockers in the 50s and 60s as they became a top commodity for every puppymill, breeding farm and back yard breeder as a cash crop. This created horrific health and temperament problems which some (health-wise) still plague us today. Genes are a funny thing, they can come back and bite you many generations later. I commend the group of us and the AMERICAN SPANIEL CLUB for the diligent effort put forth in health testing and only breeding CLEAR DOGS. My favorite dog show memory? There are soo many, the BIS at Trap Falls KC under breeder judge LaMar Mathis, being there for my friend Arvind DeBraganca when he broke the BIS record for smooth dachshund bitches with his breeder, owner, handled girl JANA, but I guess my personal favorite was winning BOV at our winter national. I have had many breeds along with Cockers over 46 years and nothing comes close to the loyalty, devotion, intuitive instinct and general all round fun of a Cocker. They have no idea how small they areas they face the world with confidence and a “never met a stranger” attitude. A true sporting dog that willingly does competi- tion, performance, field and “couch potato” to appease the people that they love. JUDITH WEBB We live in the quiet Corner of Connecticut and when Im not taking care or grooming my dogs I like to paint. I have been in the breed over ten years, first in the agility ring then bred our first litter ten years ago. The secret to a successful breeding program? I really don’t feel I have been in it long enough to really comment on what the secret is, but if I was to comment on me and my breeding program, I do feel I have grown.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2019 • 287
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