Breeders really need to consider a probably ever growing list of things, as whatever they tolerate in their chosen parents will affect what genetic/phenotypic issues they produce in their pups.
If any fault or issue is handed on to future generations of dogs then their owners will also have to contend with it.
A breeder cannot reasonably expect to eliminate all issues by themselves, or we’d end up with no pups and no future generations. Besides nature’s magnificent DNA does throw the odd wobbly and produce a new issue or rekindles a disease or syndrome we all thought long buried if not ‘dead’.
But each breeder can nag away in each litter a little at many problems and so improve the lot and life quality and viability of each new generation.
So amongst the little list of things Clumber breeders need to consider, is the Caesarean rate … yes I have had to resort to Caesareans for the health of the bitch, and perhaps the pups, and yes sometimes I have bred from the next generation. Overall, I loath having to do Caesareans, and when selecting a new member for my breeding team it is a serious, but not deal breaking, consideration. Sometimes, Caesareans ARE necessary, and sometimes you will have to work on a couple of generations to turn it around, but it can be done, I have proven the point.
So how can we REDUCE the rate of Caesareans in our breed?
- Generally the helpful experts (those who advise but not go through the trauma and cost of actually breeding dogs) the scientists and the veterinarians suggest conformation is the main issue.
So I think breeders could consider
- looking for less extremes in head width,
- (some reports also suggest nose/muzzle length),
- better (more) lay of shoulder (usually also gives a longer neck and a less pronounced withers),
- perhaps a longer and better returned upper arm allowing the forelegs to lie closer to the body in delivery,
- maybe more attention to rib cage shape,
- certainly better width of pelvis and angle of pelvis for a wider and better delivery path;
- and enough muscle mass on the pup to hold its form while it is born.
- but never select or search to one point in the extreme form!
- Sometimes, too, we may be guilty of not keeping our girls fit enough to deliver comfortably, a fit mum generally (barring wayward pups or her own poor conformation) will deliver better and quicker and with less stress on her own body so she is in a better place to care for her young. We need to keep her muscle quality and tone up and resist the temptation to let her get too fat … fat, although squishy in a living body, still takes up space and reduces canal size throughout the body, not least that bony canal the puppy passes through in natural delivery: the pelvis.
- If the dog you would like to breed has any history of the list below in the immediate ancestors, then the only reason to try to breed this dog most be some exceptional, and scarce but breed defining attribute, in fact make that attributes, I am not sure one exceptional point should outweigh the known existence of any of
- unwillingness to naturally mate
- incapability to naturally mate
- ill health or infection
- poor onset of labour (such as uterine inertia)
- lack of labout
- long labours
- any need for an ’emergency’ Caesarean
(some folk opt for elective Caesars, that is their choice but it masks any natural delivery capabilities)
- ill thrift of mother and or babes
- poor or bad milk production
- poor or bad mothering
Caesareans are not part of the early history of this breed, those that couldn’t whelp or raise pups died out from the population … veterinary science couldn’t offer safe Caesareans until … (who knows when, you try to find out this information, but not until the 20th century!) … so the high rate of Caesareans reported in Clumbers is a modern problem which may have had its advantages in keeping this breed ‘alive’ at various stages but we must not let it become the norm or we have lost the historic foundations of the breed and created another one.
If each and every breeder, or even just the responsible and knowledgeable ones (you and me, and I hope MANY others) takes these things into consideration then we can take the Clumber from a vet’s bank manager’s delight to a breed that is look upon with even greater respect and remove one trauma from our lives (Caesareans) and we’ll enjoy the world of dogs that little bit more too.
This has benefits for us.
It certainly has BENEFITS for the breed, and this is our number one priority as breeders or lovers of the breed.