Archive for category breeding

Breeders need to consider lots of things

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?

  1. 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

    1. looking for less extremes in head width,
    2. (some reports also suggest nose/muzzle length),
    3. better (more) lay of shoulder (usually also gives a longer neck and a less pronounced withers),
    4. perhaps a longer and better returned upper arm allowing the forelegs to lie closer to the body in delivery,
    5. maybe more attention to rib cage shape,
    6. certainly better width of pelvis and angle of pelvis for a wider and better delivery path;
    7. and enough muscle mass on the pup to hold its form while it is born.
    8. but never select or search to one point in the extreme form!
  2. 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.
  3. 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
    1. unwillingness to naturally mate
    2. incapability to naturally mate
    3. ill health or infection
    4. poor onset of labour (such as uterine inertia)
    5. lack of labout
    6. long labours
    7. any need for an ’emergency’ Caesarean
      (some folk opt for elective Caesars, that is their choice but it masks any natural delivery capabilities)
    8. ill thrift of mother and or babes
    9. mastitis
    10. poor or bad milk production
    11. 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.


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Just a thought

“But never allow what you read or what you know to blind you to your own vision, and never allow what you have read or heard shape what you see or experience.” which apparently comes from Advice to Young Artists in a Postmodern Era by Williams Dunning.

This thought is so true for most of our endeavours in life: for the breeder, and for the judge, for the trainer, and for the owner; so I want to record it here!

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update: Let’s help the Clumber breed survive … let’s do it!

27 April 2017 update: well lack of action and support, the original volunteers soon got committed to other things in their lives, and I never had time, has seen this go into abeyance.
May be breeders and owners aren’t ready for this type of analysis and discovery of the state of health in the breed. Anyway the structure is there, it may inspire another generation.


So, information is being collated elsewhere which only proves WE need to take the opportunity nice and early to establish benchmarks for genetic diversity within the Clumber breed BEFORE we inadvertently lose MORE genetic diversity.—lowest-genetic-diversity.html

Now you have read this link and accepted the Clumber is in a genetic heap on the ground, potentially, I refer to to our immediate option, and point out I am not going to be available to implement this but an happy to stay as a supporter. I raised this topic in November 2015, and we’ve achieved SO little that obviously I am not the one to encourage breeders across the world to co-ordinate themselves, we need someone, or some group, to get this running … time waits for no one!

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Breeding software – part one – my background

I am frustrated … again … the available pedigree/breeding programs/applications just don’t do enough for me.

In 2000 Australia introduced GST, and part of the sweeteners was to allow tax payers a subsidiary on a new accounting system, I was fortunate that the government allowed me to use this on Access 2000 as at the time even accounting packages weren’t meeting my needs, you would have thought they could offer receipts! So part of the accounting system I set up, well beside it, was a database for dogs, which worked well and the only reason I left it was because I had to manually upload the webpages to my website. So once, from the experience of working with ‘complex’ relational databases in Access 2000, I had developed the PHP code and mySQL databases online, I rarely used my Access 2000 dog database.

Then came the ‘era’ of Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding, developed in 1922, it had never achieved much general popularity until computers took over the counting and summing. The concept frazzled my own mind, so I investigate software available in 2010, which I think was basically Breedmate and Tenset’s products, and I opted for Breedmate mainly because I knew a few people who had it, and anyway the developer is an Australian, and it is quite often used to crunch pedigree data in scientific studies. I was tempted by Zooeasy but it really only looked like pedigrees and kennel business records, I need more than that and will explain later.

Breedmate has done what it does since then … keep pedigrees and quickly gives me a Co-efficient of Inbreeding; but TRYING to use the relational database as such and getting reports to work with that, even to formatting reports is even more frustrating than Access 2000 when you can’t recall the script language required!

So 2014, I looked about again, nothing much new, I did purchase and play with The Breeder’s Standard, and I did so without trialling it (my fault) and I chose to do that because I asked some in-depth questions pre-sale and had an excellent response. Whereas at the same time I asked Tenset a similar set of questions and still haven’t had a reply. However, when I sought after sales support from Pedfast … resounding silence. The advantages to my eye of The Breeder’s Standard over Breedmate were

  • ability to change the colour scheme (skins), it shipped with vibrant royal purple
  • an awesome array of options on the supplied MegaPed
  • an excellent quick fill in pedigree form, but you needed to trip the save before leaving the screen or lose your data

So there really weren’t a great deal of advantages to The Breeders Standard over Breedmate, perhaps a more user friendly interface, but I never even converted my data to TBS … which is a HUGE disadvantage in that you can’t just import CSV files.

I have seriously contemplated Stickdog software developed by Dr Carmen Battaglia of Breeding Better Dogs fame, it looks excellent, is reasonably priced, but the download/install instructions ‘worry’ me even with my experience, and from the online manual I cannot see if you can bulk import the pedigree information … no way am I re-entering even my moderate database and then have to use his fields to make the individual’s assessment notations. I would suggest really looking at this if you are only about to start with computers and pedigrees … and I should think bulk import will appear at some stage too

Tenset have a suite of software, Breeders Assistant and the standalone Pedscope could possibly fulfill my needs, but the lack of response to my pre-sales query makes me a shade wary… the software seems to be under active development, but again isn’t quite all I ‘plan’.

In 2015, I looked again, and there is a bit more activity ‘out there’ in the release of Breederzoo, which is a Filemaker based solution so natively runs straight away on Mac and Windows platforms. I only found this product because I had resorted to considering developing my own desktop database, but this time on Filemaker. The choice of desktop database utilities boils down to the giants of Access and Filemaker and general internet surveying and scrutiny suggests Filemaker is the easier to use and it certainly seems to be actively developed and evolved… to its own disadvantage as the format of the files at version 7 and 12 changed so conversions may need to be done.

There turn out to be two breeder options based on Filemaker: Flockfiler based on Filemaker 11 (so the developer may need to consider file conversion if he upgrades to a newer version of Filemaker) and Breederzoo based on Filemaker 12. Flockfiler is sheep orientated, Breederzoo dog orientated. Neither do much more than  contain the database for pedigrees, have flash pedigree forms, calculate Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding, and keep contacts and financial records … any breeding information of real depth isn’t covered in the samples I have seen. However, they solved one major problem in my mind, the proven ability within Filemaker to calculate Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding. So, I emailed both developers, frankly and honestly asking if they could help me build my own Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding calculation unit, sell me one, or point me to a developer. Neither responded, and so I am not going to recommend either of their products, even a ‘sorry I need to protect my commercial interests’ would have stopped me advising against purchasing their products. I was open with them, they could have had the courtesy to acknowledge and prove they had decent support.

So I am going to whip up my own basic breeder database in Filemaker 14 and add the following, and more, capabilities within it

  1. pedigree (basic level of database skills)
  2. Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding (mmmm … have a few options in mind still and a couple of contacts I can follow through)
  3. breeding records (basic level of database skills but a little complex)
  4. weight records (basic level of database skills)
  5. contacts (basic level of database skills, in fact Filemaker ships with a good solution anyway)
  6. contracts (basic level of database skills thanks to Filemaker features)
  7. relevant breeding record documents (basic level of database skills thanks to Filemaker features)
  8. comprehensive individual information that will be used in ‘trial breedings’ not merely looking at Wright’s Co-efficient of Inbreeding (perhaps a little more advanced as more data is being compiled/compared)
  9. ability to import and export pedigree data as CSV files (durhh, that is so basic it is part of Filemaker’s structure!)
  10. contemplate how someone can bulk import associated but non-pedigree data, eg weights (which won’t be difficult)
  11. PERHAPS individual web bios too and perhaps WordPress friendly (highly plausible) (available solution for uploading from FM to WP US$249 as at 22 Jul 2015)

Some of the features advertised in commercially available packages and that make a database great to use are inherent in Filemaker, which will save me considerable development.

I will let some friends trial it for their own use and we can collaborate and tidy it up

Then it may be offered for sale at a nominal price*, depends on Filemaker’s restrictions etc

So, if you want to stay up to date, subscribe to this website, it isn’t high traffic, so you can ignore posts that don’t interest you.

If you have some

  • database skills, or
  • a wish list of what your pedigree software would do, or
  • use Filemaker, or
  • can offer help or pointers

PLEASE touch base with me!

Just to alleviate any cries of ‘you’re stark starring mad’, while I haven’t found a cure for there only being 24 hours in the day, 7 days in the week, or 52 weeks in a year, I have used databases since my teenage years (which wasn’t yesterday!) and have developed ‘solutions’ of various natures in dBase II, dBase III, dBase IV, Access 2000, PHP & mySQL

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footnote: * Breederzoo seems like a pricey option, but I could have this wrong. It currently retails for US$399 then an annual subscription fee of US$89pa after 12 months … this is a beautifully crafted piece of software with active development, but Filemaker itself costs US$329.00; Flockfiler Pro is US$295.90.

You are of course buying a developed and proven solution and while the developers are about and active you have development options and hopefully great support when you run  into ‘walls’. However if a developer retires without selling on the product there can be no further development/problem solving as the software would be ‘locked’ and inaccessible — same for any commercial product. Commercially independently developed or commissioned a Filemaker solution is probably going to cost a heap, which would be the pricing background to the prices these developers have placed on their product.

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Developments in Hip Dysplasia assessment

We’ve all been waiting a long time for some positive scientific news on research etc for hip dysplasia. I have even witnessed some scientists review the material from much earlier with regard to environmental influences based on reviewing wolf mothering practices (1).

HD is a persistent and complicated problem. So I am intrigued to see this report published, and hopefully, the results will translate to other breeds, and we can draw blood test samples from dogs under 12 months of age and predict the likely hip score range, which will make ensuring better quality hips can stay within the breeding population as so few can now afford to keep big numbers of dogs and choose which to breed after x-raying post 12 months of age.


(1) see Facebook – ICB Breeding for the Future – post starting “Okay, we have lots of puppy nursing videos!
Let me tell you what I’m thinking about, and maybe we can do some citizen science.” on May 30 2015


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at last DNA is looking like it is going to have real breeding impact

Excited to see the publication of

Bartolomé N, Segarra S, Artieda M, Francino O, Sánchez E, et al. (2015) A Genetic Predictive Model for Canine Hip Dysplasia: Integration of Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) and Candidate Gene Approaches. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122558. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122558

in the author’s words:

“In conclusion, we have developed a logistic model with a good accuracy for CHD prediction in Labrador retrievers based on the combination of 7 SNPs, several of them located near genes involved in extracellular matrix processes or bone metabolism. Our results in Labrador retrievers add evidence to the thought that genomics is the basis towards early detection of CHD. Whether our predictive model is valid or not for other dog breeds needs to be explored.”


Another hip dysplasia study to watch for is Mapping of Genetic Risk Factors for Canine Hip Dysplasia – See more at:


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Books – rearranged, slightly

I have got a long way into the training book, and had a big think on the format of the type book; so here are the reviewed title plans.

  1. TYPE: This is the title I got a little hung up on in 2014, I found I was putting too much into it, so now I hope I have edited that out, and designed a format that will work; I think it will be the title to be released after the training one, but the showing book (which I think will be easier) may beat it to the printers.
  2. TRAINING: not a how to but thoughts and reflections on reading and my own experiences, this will be a referred to title for the showing book
  3. SHOWING: will cover more specialist show training, show ring presentation, grooming, colours to wear, how to get that sizzle in your dog in the minutes that matter, ‘nerve’ control, travelling with your dog, spotting issues and thinking about quick fixes and longterm overhaul
  4. FAULTS: a review book of common conformational faults in dogs, which you will be able to cross reference with The FIVE Cs and the Type book, and the showing and breeding books for that matter
  5. BREEDING: will discuss very briefly the process of breeding (because I have some photos I want to share), the choice of dogs to mate, how to choose these dogs, a breeder’s responsibility to their lines and to the breed, raising the pup to best advantage, choosing an appropriate buyer … well no, but some tips for detecting people who may not be ready to undertake Clumber ownership, the consequences of breeding but the necessity to breed, why we may need to respect other’s right to breed dogs that we may not (genetic diversity), things like COI and how and why we need to take this on board, how to detect bad (BAD) hips with no score, bad eyes without a vet cert. There is a whole forest of topics for this book, so it will be a long time coming!
  6. Maybe a smallish one on GROOMING, but grooming in the meantime can be read about in the Showing book
  7. ART: hmmmm, let’s see, but I would still like to put together something to show you how to create your own art and craft of the Clumber, and celebrate some of the breed’s most dedicated artists and outstanding pieces of recent times

see the first story on these titles


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The Five Cs is released

I have managed to find time to finalize the release of this exceptional book by my mother Dr Barbara Irving, it took me awhile but only because I have been writing, fencing, rebuilding sheds, training dogs, on turnouts with the local volunteer fire brigade, etc!

The Five Cs gives you an incredible insight into anatomy and conformation and how these combine to form the great variety of dog breeds we all know, love, and easily recognize.

With some investigation into conformational faults this seemingly basic book is rich with information and eye opening encounters with breed type, form and function.


A long series of comprehensive articles now reviewed and revised in book format.
Barbara Irving has successfully bred dogs for over 50 years. This experience and her knowledge as a Veterinary Surgeon are combined here to give an informative view of the dog. Dr Irving is the author of THE PUPPY BOOK, DOG BREEDING ITS REALITY & PRACTICALITY,

These articles first appeared in TOP DOG JOURNAL commencing August 1992, they were also featured in Clumbers magazine

All references to any breed standard refers to the breed standard in use in Australia at the time of writing (circa 1992)


more details here:


This book will be a resource for my pending titles.

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