A number of years ago, I was lucky enough to have gained the trust and friendship of a breeder who became my mentor. She trusted me enough to give me a Scottish Terrier retired champion, Nadine, so that I could begin to learn about conformation shows. She agreed to let me breed Nadine.
I started learning how to hand strip a terrier coat and how to show. My mentor allowed me to choose the stud dog I wanted to breed to Nadine, and we produced a lovely litter of three girls. One went to Canada and became a Canadian champion. One went to my mentor (as I used her stud), and she became an AKC champion. The third went to California to become a sofa champion.
Over the next few years, I began to notice an issue with her movement. We eventually gained a diagnosis of cerebellar abiotrophy, or CA. Two daughters produced offspring that were also affected with this hereditary condition. Both parents must carry the gene in order to produce affected offspring.
Careful and informed breeding can ensure not only that disease is not passed onto puppies, but can also lead to eradicating that disease across entire lines or breeds. That’s why open communication and transparency is crucial amongst breeders. I was brought up to always be honest and upfront with people, and this health issue in my own dog brought that home like never before.
If you ask any responsible breeder why they breed, their answer will always include that they love their breed and would do anything to help promote it. That’s why they want to bring healthy, happy puppies into the lives of other people who love the breed as much as they do. While we may not all agree on every aspect of our breeds, the one thing we should never disagree on is that it takes honesty and integrity to be a responsible breeder. We breed for the betterment of our beloved breed, not for our own egos.
Julie Hill is an AKC Breeder of Merit from Arkansas and is active in dog sporting. She has bred Scottish Terriers for the last 14 years.