First, I want to thank all of you who read this blog regularly. You rock. I want to tell you that I’m going to be making some changes in the near future. This is mainly to do with the fact that I have several blogs and can’t keep up with everything, so I’m moving everything here. The only downside is you might receive notices of posts that don’t interest you. I hope you’ll be patient with that inconvenience.
Beginning in September, I will be making posts regarding my Ketogenic Transformation, Dogs, Money Management, Farming, Gardening, and the Bible. I will also be posting occasionally about my books, including my adventures in fiction. I’ve written two Novellas, Isitoq’s Hound, and Night of the Rougarou. I have a couple more that I’m writing and will be updating readers here.
I am hoping that all my readers, where non fiction, or fiction lovers will be able to become one big family. I know this is a risk, but here’s hoping.
There are only a few things in life I consider myself especially knowledgeable about: The Bible, Food (growing it and eating it!), small farming, and dogs. That’s it. That’s the list. Sure, I’m fairly educated, and can talk, I hope intelligently, on a variety of subjects, but the list above pretty much covers the limits of my expertise.
With that in mind, I follow a lot of groups and individuals related to these areas on Facebook and Instagram. I love reading other people’s insights and opinions. A recent matter came up in a German Shepherd group on Facebook. I responded to it, as did many other people. But reading the responses made me decide to write this piece as an extended answer. I might even link to in on the group in FB.
The original question was, in essence, “I want to become a breeder, what advice do you have?” The answers came pouring in, for days. Some of them were funny. Some were helpful. Many were written to discourage him from his dream. And several went as far as to say, “There are too many dogs in rescue already, don’t breed anymore!”
I have experience in several breeds, and have a history in both breeding, and in rescue, so I’d like to address the gentleman’s question, AND, perhaps offer some thoughts to the skeptics out there.
First, I believe every single person had the best interest of German Shepherds in mind, regardless of how aggressive some of them sounded. I believe the gentleman who asked the original question was sincere, and asked with only pure motives.
For 32 years I operated a racing, and show, Siberian Husky kennel. I qualified three dogs for Crufts Dog Show in England, and bred show champions. I am very proud of that. I raced competitively for. many of those years. And I trained sleddogs even longer than I raced them. I have a much better eye for dogs than I have for competing with them myself. I have owned dogs that have run the Iditarod, and I have trained dogs that have run the race, as well. I raised many of my race dogs, and I bought many of them. I rescued even more than I raised or bought.
Additionally, after my racing was done, my wife and I got very involved with Mastiff, Smooth Collie, and Belgian Sheepdog rescue. We have adopted, and fostered, many dogs over the years. We also owned a well bred, and brilliant, Cardigan Corgi, that would have won many obedience crowns for me, had she not had problems with dysplasia. That’s a sad story, and one I may come back to another day.
Oh, one final thing. I’ve been a member of many breed and general kennel clubs around the U.S. And the United Kingdom. I have been a judges steward in more shows and for more breeds than I can name. I’ve talked to many judges and observed many breeds. I’ve also worked at many premier sleddog races in the U.S. And the U.K.
I only mention my ‘qualifications’ to show that I’m not a a quack who wants to mouth off about dogs. I love them, and genuinely care for their well being.
For someone to desire to become a breeder, that is a noble venture. That’s a million miles away from someone just trying to make a buck or two by getting a male and female together to sell pups. I think that kind of behavior needs to be discouraged. It takes a long time to do the research to want to improve your chosen dog breed. But a desire to improve, or maintain, a dog breed is a noble effort that should be encouraged. And I will heartily do so. I will offer advice to any novice breeder. I will assume the best of intentions.
There are a lot of dogs in rescue. Some of them are because of loss of a job, a divorce, a death, or one of any number of tragic events. We’ve had several dogs come to us as re homes or fosters from situations like that. Stuff happens. When I was a breeder, I had a policy to take back any dog from my breeding that needed to be re-homed. I thinks that’s responsible.
I’ve seen a lot of poorly bred dogs coming through rescue. Dogs that didn’t meet even a shadow of their breed standard. Most often bred by back yard breeders who wanted to make a quick buck. We’ve had some brilliant dogs come out of that kind of situation.
It doesn’t compute, that people should avoid becoming breeders simply because there are so many irresponsible breeders. But it should make us think very carefully about whether or not our dogs are worthy contributors to a breed’s future. In the 32 years I was in Siberian Huskies, I had 3 litters. A breeder once told me, “As long as you can improve your team by buying over breeding, buy. It’s always cheaper.”
Go to working competitions. Go to shows. Look at dogs. What are the things that make a dog great? Take notes. Study hard. Then buy the best dogs you can afford that fit into the criteria you’re looking for.
Ask to look at the buyers contract from a number of breeders. Explain that you want to create a good buyers contract yourself. Most will be happy to help, because most good breeders want to maintain and improve the breed.
Price your pups appropriately. Working and/or show prospects are worth more. I’m not going to suggest a price. That’s up to you.
For those who don’t want to become breeders, I strongly recommend buying from good breeders. But there are some amazing dogs in Rescue. My wife and I have had many wonderful pets, guardians, and even working dogs, come to us via rescue. I’m thinking of three Alaskan Huskies that had been born in Alaska and were living in less than optimal conditions near us. The owner begged us to take them or she would have to put them down. We loaded them in our truck and took them away. They were absolutely amazing recreational mushing dogs. The two males were as strong as bears, and the female was as loving as a dog could be. They were not pretty, but my heart still pounds when I think of them.
And then there was Lady, our first Smooth Collie. She was living in a puppy mill. She had once been a show dog, but because of poor nutrition and too many litters, that stunning beauty was gone. But she lived with us many years, and she became the queen of our household. Her death, due to cancer, when she was 12, still haunts me. I cannot tell you how much I loved that dog.
Let me tell you about Tuck. Tuck was our first Mastiff. I called him a Canadian Mastiff, because he was half Labrador Retriever. He had spent the first years of his life chained up under a trailer. When we got him, his teeth were all broken from gnawing on concrete. He was covered in scabs, and had to be dragged into a car.
The rescue agent said he’d never been inside a house and wouldn’t know how to deal with it. When we got him home, after he’d had a roam around the yard, we opened the door, he ran inside and leaped straight onto the couch and fell asleep. He is the most special dog. I made him the hero of two of my Novellas, “Isitoq’s Hound”, and “Night of the Rougarou”. I’m working on a third one about him now.
I could go on. I have a hundred or more stories about dogs I’ve bred or rescued, that have changed my life.
The point is, for those of you who like rescue, there are opportunities galore out there. For those of you who want to breed, that is noble too. I know the joy of breeding a dog, raising him, and have him win major prizes in dog shows, and become a top lead dog in a dog team. I could have never bought a dog like him in a million years.
This post has become much longer than I anticipated or intended. I just want to see breeders and rescuers recognize one another as both working toward creating and maintaining a healthy future for
their favorite breed. Thank you to those who want to become responsible breeders. I wish you every success in your endeavors. And to those of you who want to devote your time, and your hearts to the dogs nobody else wants, I tip my hat to you. And I wish you every happiness with your pets.
I’ve wanted to write this article for years. Dogs are one of the few subjects I’m truly literate on, and I’ve given the subject a great deal of thought. I’ve avoided it because I know it’s somewhat subjective. But perhaps it will get you thinking, so here goes.
Dogs can be appropriate to us for many reasons; they are useful as companions, hunters, load bearers, transportation, care for other livestock, and even protection. But our tastes and needs differ, so our personal choices will differ. I get that. I understand.
Do we live in town or in the country? What will things look like if our world melts down? What will our needs be?
My first love in the dog world has always been the Siberian Husky. They are loving companions, and using my dogs to pull sleds was my hobby for many years when I lived in a climate that allowed me to do so. I operated a husky kennel for over 30 years.
If I lived in the north, I would still consider them quite valuable to have for transportation purposes in case of a bug out situation. They are strong, athletic, and can travel for miles pulling a sled or cart loaded with camping gear and people.
When I lived in Iowa and Maine, people had their snowmobiles. They loved them for recreation, and they provided an excellent method of transportation in harsh conditions. The downside is, they require fuel and frequent repairs. I had a snowmobile. I hardly ever used it, because it was always broken down. My dogs, on the other hand, were always ready to go.
When I lived in Georgia, however, it was too hot for most of the year. Huskies were not practical. I gave up riding sleds in 2007. I still miss it. I will never have a hobby I like as much.
But huskies would not be practical for the many tasks expected of a Prepper dog. For that, my first Choice is an English or French Mastiff. First, their size alone makes them ideal protection dogs. And their temperaments are ideal for families. Protection comes naturally to them. They aren’t aggressive and don’t require a great deal of protection training. Secondly, they are naturally watchful over those they care about, and their property. Ours would lie down between my wife and visitors in our home. They would put themselves between strangers and their mistress.
I also knew our property was safe. If strangers pulled in the drive, the dogs would go straight to the gate. They knew the entrance to the property and that’s where they stood their ground.
Mastiffs also don’t require a great deal of exercise or grooming. They can exist happily on acreage , in a subdivision, or even in an apartment.
English, and French (Dogue De Bordeaux) Mastiffs are also excellent choices for backpacking and carting, because of their size and strength.
If you have livestock that needs guarding, Anatolian Shepherds and Great Pyrenees are excellent choices. They are not town dogs though. They bark pretty much at everything, especially at night. Out in the Country, though, they could be excellent choices. For me, the Pyrenees, have too much coat. I have never owned an Anatolian, but would love to. They would probably require more exercise than a mastiff, but could easily adapt to backpacking.
Also, any of the breeds like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and Smooth Collies would be excellent choices. Any of them can be trained for protection, backpacking, or even to pull a cart. I have a soft spot for Belgian Sheep Dogs, and Smooth Collies, as I’ve owned and loved both breeds. Honestly, for me, either Belgian Sheepdogs, Tervurens, or Rough Collies, simply have more coat than I want to deal with. And all of these breeds will require a lot more exercise than an English Mastiff or Dogue De Bordeaux.
If you live in the country, there are a variety of hounds and gun dogs I’d recommend. They can be great for helping you get game and sounding the alarm in case of intruders. Bloodhounds, most coonhounds, foxhounds, bird dogs, beagles and even basset hounds can be extremely valuable for training to hunt.
Most of them require a huge amount of exercise and they will bark excessively if under exercised, so I don’t really recommend them if you live in town.
Same thing with most bird dogs. They have stamina aplenty and can run all day. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to keep an English Springer or Brittany Spaniel. The exercise requirements may just be too much for you.
Let me mention the benefits of terriers for a moment. As hunting or pest control varmint dogs, most terriers are unbeatable. They were bred for that job. Some for hunting small game, some for rat control, and some of the larger varieties, like Airdales, are phenomenal dogs to be trained for protection. For me most require too much coat maintenance, and I like big dogs.
I know I’ve left out your favorite breed. This article isn’t really about favorite breeds. It’s about some of the dogs I think are best for a Prepper lifestyle. I am fully aware of the many Mastiff varieties. I could own most of them. Especially Great Danes. I know I didn’t mention any sight hounds and some of them I adore. I’m not much of a toy dog or utility dog fan. But this post wasn’t about my favorite breeds. It’s about what breeds are the best choices for me as a Prepper.
So let me hear your thoughts. What breeds that I didn’t mention would you rank highly for prepping for a melt down? Give me the breed and some of your reasoning. I would love to hear your ideas.