Showsight Presents The Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Q& A

CATHERINE O’BRIEN

rename “Fair” to “Normal”. When you have a mammogram and you are over 50, “normal” is the best word ever. I think breeders that have such a strict view are narrowing the gene pool unnecessarily. However, I look at the whole dog – the entire picture. The use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) for inherited traits is a tool that I use with every breeding. I research relatives and the offspring (if any) of the subject dog in order to have an idea of what that dog may produce genetically. An established breeder will have their own personal data from breedings they have done and can do research to help fill in the gaps on more distant relatives. EBVs can be used for a variety of traits and improves breeder selection. I also use the co-efficient of inbreeding (COI) calculation in the planning stages of pairings. I value diversity. Yes, it may mean the pups don’t look like carbon copies of each other, but you take exceptional individuals and you bring them into your established lines in the future. There is risk in every breeding decision you make, but if breeders keep breeding from the same dogs, generation after generation, the end result is breeding depression and loss of genetic diversity. To me, a successful breeder plans with a vision in mind, recognizes dogs for what they are, and assesses risk and then breeds accordingly. Is the breed’s ranking a blessing, a curse, or immaterial in your breeding decisions? The ranking of the Anatolian at #90 out of 192, is immaterial to my breeding decisions, but overall very good for the breed to be mid-range. I cannot control what other breeders do. I carefully vet my homes to the best of my ability and I try to encour- age others to breed and show. A little bit of “popularity” is a good thing—without it the number of viable breeding dogs dwindles and breeds become extinct. Having a healthy breed population ensures the health of the breed and provides choices to a breeder. A breeder’s puppy people are the future of the breed. They become the face of the breed going forward. I think it is also important to keep in mind “popular pure bred” doesn’t mean the same thing it did 20 years ago. People with regis- tered dogs are not the majority or common anymore. For example, where I work, there is only three other people with registered dogs. When asked if there is sufficient information available to the general public about this breed, I would have to say yes and no. There is so much inaccurate information on social media that it is frightening. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can become an expert overnight. I literally cringe when I read some of the posts and comments on Facebook. Anatolians have been bred for thousands of years to guard livestock. They are bred to be intel- ligent and independent thinkers, which translates to stubborn and extremely smart. They can easily outsmart an owner. They also don’t mature until two years or much later, which means diligence on the part of the owner to raise the puppy for the dog they want, whether that be a family companion, estate guardian, or a guardian in the field with stock. They are protective and they view situations and think differently than the high-prey drive dog breeds that most people are familiar with. There are just a few good books out there including Anatolian Shepherd Dog: A Comprehensive Owner’s Guide by Richard Beau- champ, which is now available again for purchase.

I live near Richmond, Virginia and I am an accoun- tant by day. My husband and I are weekend warriors when it comes to dog showing, because we both have to work on Monday morning. My kennel name is Sky- view Anatolians and I have been showing Anatolians since 2006 and had my first litter in 2008. Anatolians keep things interesting. Their personali- ties are varied and they are so

smart – you learn something all the time. There are no cookie cutter dogs in this breed—each one takes a different approach to training etc. What works for one, will not work for all. You have to listen to, and learn from, each one of your dogs. I think a successful breeder does three things: recognizes poten- tial and views the whole dog , takes risks, has a plan with goals and a vision A successful breeder recognizes when a dog isn’t going to work out for their program, regardless of whether they purchased it or bred it, which can be heartbreaking. On the flip side, they also rec- ognize a good dog when they see one and they are willing to take a chance on keeping that dog if they bred it, or purchasing that dog if it has tremendous potential. I also think it is important to remem- ber a bitch that nicks well with one stud, may not produce the same quality with another. A good breeder will keep track of dogs pro- duced and note any health issues that crop up and longevity. There is a lot of financial risk to breeding and decisions have to be carefully weighed, but ultimately decisions have to be made in order to move forward. In other words, don’t get stuck in a place where you are afraid to make decisions. An excellent opportunity won’t wait—sometimes you have to go against convenience. I do a lot of planning, and often breedings are thought about years in advance and generations away. Do my plans work out? Sometimes, but a lot of times they don’t and I have to keep my goal in focus. Without planning I don’t have anything to base future decisions on – that’s why planning is important. Planning provides you with a framework for reference and allows you to make deci- sions quickly when necessary. A wise person once said keep two bitch lines going forward. Bitches provide the foundation for a breeding program. Get/keep the best you can. Health testing is important in any breed and provides decision points for the breeder. The results are tools to use in your program. However, the whole dog should be viewed not just the test results. A bitch with OFA excellent hips and skin issues is not going to com- pare to a male with OFA fair hips and is lovely in every other way. I see too many breeders get hung up on OFA “Fair” and won’t breed a dog with Fair hips. Fair means nice, normal. The dog has normal hips. Forty years ago when someone said a lady was fair, it meant they were beautiful. OFA hasn’t changed, but the societal meanings or interpretations placed on a word has. I wish that OFA would

“There is a lot of financial risk to breeding and decisions have to be carefully weighed, but ultimately decisions have to be made in order to move forward.”

278 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2019

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