Ruby and I enjoyed a walk with my friend and dog breeding mentor, Caren of Tidewalker Australian Terriers and her 5 month old Aussie, Gracie. We talked about the challenges breeders face, finding and accessing good quality mates while being mindful of inbreeding coefficients.
Pat Boggs and Kathy Lytle, from whom I purchased my inimitable Ruby, had a model that worked for them. Pat preferred living and working with males, and Kathy kept the females. They built relationships with local Schipperke breeders and in this way, expanded their gene pool. Many dog breeders collaborate like this, sharing experiences and background knowledge of pedigrees and dogs, reducing or waiving stud fees, handling or training each others’ dogs. These kinds of efforts allow breeders to access larger numbers of Schipperkes for breeding than they could keep on their own. It helps them manage their COI levels and reduce costs. It works best when there are several breeders within a reasonably close geographical area.
Caren has built strong relationships with other Australian Terrier breeders both in Canada and the USA, but she still travels quite long distances to mate her dogs. Travelling with an in season bitch on a time sensitive mission is both stressful and costly. Importing frozen semen is equally stressful and costly. Without appearing to condone the practice, it becomes easier to understand why people are tempted to breed to the nearest dog or the one they own and just hope for the best.
Ruby loves her Aussie playmate Eddie. I’ve told Caren I’m sure there’s a market out there for Schipozzies, but so far, she remains unenthusiastic.
Considering the threat that inbreeding poses to the Schipperke and many other breeds, it seems like a natural place for breed clubs to focus their financial and educational resources. Perhaps in the future, they will turn their attentions to that.