LITTER SIZE AND THE SINGLETON PUPPY
that there are measurable differences between breeds that are both physical and behavioral. They found that although there is a great deal of overlap between breeds, the individual capacities they will have are likely to be highly variable. They also found that most pups that become great performers, and the ones that are able to perform extraordinary tasks, seem to have different capacities. In short, they “probably have special combinations of certain capacities, which are largely the result of accidental selection.” For more information about breeding, pedigree analysis, pedigree software, and the selection of sires, go to: www.breedingbetterdogs.com . Purchase your copy of Dr. Battaglia’s book “Breeding Better Dogs”, or his DVD on “Choosing the Best Puppy” in the Showsight Magazine Shop at: showsightmagazine.com/shop. References: Goldbecker, W. and Hart, E., This is the German Shepherd , T.F.H. Publications Inc., Jersey City, NJ 1964, p.125. Kelley, Russ, Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition, Vol. III , 2000 Iams Nutrition symposium proceedings; “Canine reproduction: What should we Expect?” Orange Frazer Press, Wilmington, OH 2000, p. 225-239. Severzov, Adrian and Owen, Ray, General Genetics , W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 1957, p 503. Scott, J.P. and Fuller, J. L., Dog Behavior, the Genetic Basis . University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill.1965, p.366-367. Trumler, Eberhard, Understanding Your Dog, Faber and Faber, 3 Queens Square, London. 1973, P. 56 Willis, Malcom, The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic History , Howell Book House, New York, NY 1995, p. 289-293.
Veterinarians, on the other hand, reported a wide range of different experiences that did not necessarily agree with those indicated by the breeders. Most veteri- narians said that a singleton was not larger, stronger or smarter than others of the same breed when they compared them with pups from larger litters. They also noted that the singleton did not necessarily make a better companion when they were adults. Only a few of the respondents reported that they noticed adult behavior problems, even though many singletons lacked interaction with littermates. Based on the experiences of these two groups, the recommendations that can be offered suggest a number of approaches. Apart from having no litter- mates to interact with, the lack of companionship could be compensated for if the dam is encouraged to provide daily stimulation and attention. Puppies learn to be a dog by being part of their “pack” in the nest. Keeping the single- ton occupied was found to be important, and most recommended handling by different individuals to keep them from becoming bored. While most dams naturally encourage their pups to play, they also teach them good manners. As soon as a singleton is old enough, they should either go to their new home (eight weeks is early enough) or have them introduced to owners with other dogs. Three breeders who had a singleton pup produced by frozen semen were also contacted. All reported that the pups were of normal size for their breed (Afghan Hound, Whippet, and German Shepherd Dog). The dams of these singleton puppies had produced average litters before and after the singleton. The cause for the singleton litter, according to these breeders, was the use of frozen semen. All of the sires had previously produced average size litters. The breeders of these frozen semen litters indicated that it was just bad luck that only one pup occurred. All of these singletons were born naturally, except the one produced from 16-year-old semen. Most of the dams had had a previous litter naturally. The classic reason for singletons being born by Caesarian does not seem to be related to the use of frozen semen. It is more likely to be issues with the semen, its handling or bad timing for the breeding. The conclusion that one can draw from this material is that breeders of a singleton should take extra care to be sure that they are occupied and do not become bored. Since most dams can only provide a limited amount of playtime, these pups should be given more opportunities to play with others (Malcolm Willis). Playgroups were suggested as excellent ways for singletons to learn the social rules of the canine species. All agreed that supervision by humans should not be ignored, because the singleton can be injured during unintentionally rough play. The group was asked about the singleton when it had become an adult. While this study was limited to several breeders and veterinarians, the respon- dents all agreed that the bitches involved in this limited study were considered to be good mothers and had plentiful supplies of milk. Most seemed to pay attention to their one pup, and none were overprotective or lacking in maternal interest. Some of the singletons were raised in a home environment as opposed to a kennel. Most of the pups studied received adequate amounts of supervi- sion and were given early human socialization, perhaps more than what would normally have been provided while in the nest with a litter. In order to fill the gap involving the lack of stimulation, some were placed with other lit- ters. All grew to be normal and healthy. Most, but not all, were considered well-adjusted adults. It is not hard to see why swimmers and runts have several things in common with the singleton. During the first few weeks after birth, they all tend to be hand-raised. They are given so much physical attention and handling that they can be categorized as being treated as a singleton. The differences between them are that most swimmers and runts do not grow up to look like their littermates, and few ever become good show or good working dogs. Because they are given so much attention and handling, the human bond generally is very good and most make wonderful pets. Based on a review of this complex subject, and the answers gathered, it seems fair to use a conclusion reached by Scott and Fuller in the 1950s. While they did not study singletons and litter size, per se, they did study differences between breeds and individuals within a breed. One of their conclusions was
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Carmen L. Battaglia holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree from Florida State University. As an AKC judge, researcher, and writer, he has been a leader in the promotion of breeding better dogs and has written more than 70 articles and several books. Dr. Battaglia is also a popular TV and radio talk show speaker. His seminars on breeding dogs, selecting sires, and choosing puppies have been well-received by breed clubs all over the country. Those interested in learning more about his seminars should contact him directly. Visit his website at http://www. breedingbetterdogs.com .
100 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2021
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