To Breed or Not To Breed.....That is the Question

 Next week I travel to Ohio for my husband's high school reunion.  While there we'll take Jitterbug (yes, that's her name) to a breeder for evaluation.  Assuming she passes muster we'll head down that slippery slope of dog breeding.


 Choosing to have a rare breed of dog (or of any living thing) carries responsibilities with it.   Do we just let it do down into extinction and memories in a book or try to save it?  I own an Otterhound.  You will be forgiven for never having heard of them before.  There are 14 in Canada last count, 350 in North America, about 1,000 in the world.  Otterhound Club of America

Otterhounds were developed in the late 1100's and King John had 2 of the first packs.  Over the years Bloodhound has been added plus a few other things to give them the look they have now.  When Airedales were created Otterhounds were used to get the size.  Otterhounds are the only water hounds there are and have fully webbed feet, plus bay like a bloodhound.  Because of their size, sloppiness and houndiness, they are not popular with families as pets.  Because of their houndiness, though, the family becomes their pack so they are, in reality, great family dogs.  Just don't let them off leash....

  My adventure with Otterhounds started 9 years ago when our half Irish Wolfhound was dying of cancer.  I wanted something with the same look, but not a full size Wolfhound, and it had to be purebred.  I wanted to get back in the show ring.  We bought our first one from Calgary, using the pretense of a birthday present to get him in the house.  My ex loved him and Nanuu is still doing well at age 8.  Even though he did fairly well in the show ring, I discovered he wasn't a great example of the breed, plus there was epilepsy in his siblings.  Because the gene pool is getting so thin over here, I decided to try old stock from England and imported Jitterbug 3 years ago.  She arrived in Montreal at age 10 weeks weighing 20 pounds.  

  She is, to put it bluntly, built like a brick shit-house.  This girl is line-backer material.  She weighs a hefty 106 pounds and helped break my foot last year when I fell over her.  She likes to stop right in front of you when you're moving and is the original immovable object.  She is also extremely clumsy which is a breed trait.  And, unfortunately, her hips are not great, which leads me to my present dilemma.  To breed or not to breed.  Do we lose her genes or add them to the pool?  I doubt if any of her siblings will be bred.

  So, after consulting with her dad's owner, I will take this step of having her evaluated by someone who "knows".    I don't want to be kennel blind, but I think she's fabulous, but that could just be Mom talking. 

  Now that my foot is basically healed I even have her entered in a show next month.  My regular handler's brother will have to take her around, that is a whole other story, but he'll be good to her.  I can't run fast enough in the ring to do it myself, so therefore must pay someone else. 

I so love people coming up to me asking what in the world she is.  On one road trip we stopped to get gas just over the border into New York state.  A fellow customer saw my "Got Otterhound" sticker on the back of my car and rushed over asking if I had one.  Since JB was travelling with us I was able to produce her.  This fellow was so very happy to finally see one in the flesh.  And he exclaimed happily when she got back into the car "Look she's moved the car too!".  That's my fat-bottomed girl, great baby-bearing hips.  She's an Otterhound and I love her for all her Otterhound ways.     


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Comment by Cranky Cuss on July 1, 2011 at 1:12am
You're right, I never heard of Otterhounds.  But she's a cutie!
Comment by Peggy Powell on June 30, 2011 at 1:11pm
I'm afraid I'm getting tired of people thinking she's a doodle dog.  I'm also really tired of people paying good money for mutts thinking they are some kind of designer dog that won't shed, won't whatever.  Even JB with her wire coat sheds somewhat, but no where like my son's long haired Weimaraner or the bloody cats.
Comment by Geezerchick on June 30, 2011 at 12:47pm
Beautiful dog.  JB looks like a large version of my wonderful 20 lb Buff-Wuff poodle-mutt.  If you join Toastmasters, you might want to talk about having a dog in your family. It's great that you are enjoying JB.
Comment by Peggy Powell on June 30, 2011 at 11:01am
Thank you Steve for your thoughtful comments.  Having been down this road before with Keeshonden, I know exactly what you are saying.  I'm one of those - if you don't want the dog, I want it back, people.
Comment by Steve S on June 30, 2011 at 10:50am

No need to worry about extinction. Species go extinct, breeds do not.

Lost breeds can be recreated over a few generations by careful breeders. Every gene that defines a breed is carried on in the greater community of mutts. The resurgence of the once lost Maine Coon cat breed is one example of this (note- the exact story of the breed's rediscovery is not universally agreed upon).

You probably have heard more radical anti-breeding sentiments (i.e., breeding is awful because there are too many unwanted dogs around,&c.) so I won't get into that. The ASPCA has a guide as to what you need to do to be a responsible breeder. If that describes you, you're in.


If you can find good homes for the puppies (even if the come into our world imperfect), I say "what the hay?". However, I see dogs and cats dumped by breeders all the time. Often the pups do not have the "breed standards" and are of no interest to purebread lovers. These puppies end up with all the pains of any unwanted dog. This can happen even if both parent dogs have all the right papers.


So I guess what I am saying is please do not breed the dog unless you are willing to take care of all the puppies for life. Even if they do not show those beautiful breed standards I see in your dog's photos.


Good Luck, and if you breed, please post puppy pictures.



Comment by Linda Seccaspina on June 30, 2011 at 10:47am

Peggy so many people can relate to this..

post it on the FB zoomers page


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