The educational world and the business world are full of tests to tell you what kind of person you are: What is your learning style? How strong are your organizational skills? How to be a better ~ insert career here ~ person. There are all sorts of standardized tests that you can take to improve your communication skills and thereby your chances of success in the business world.
Breeding dogs is a bit different: for the most part, our "tests" are made up of bone and flesh and fur... and sometimes we don't know if we got all the answers "right" until the "experiment is 2-3-4 years old... or older!
The experienced breeders keep copius records; something that has become so much easier with improvements in technology! For example:
In my first Cardigan litter, I took photographs of each puppy at birth, and then each week until they left home. I labeled each photo with the puppies birth number, and kept the entire mess in a big envelope, along with the birth records, pedigree, contracts, and photo's of the parents. In a separate envelope I have show pictures of the puppy that I kept from that litter, Shelby. I happened to find that envelope the other day and spent some time looking at those pictures.
Where have you been?
By and large, the entire litter lacked bone, had oval bone, had straight, wide fronts, and was without the angulation that I would expect. In short, if this litter were born today- I would put them all in pet homes.
At that time, I didn't have a clear idea of what a "correct" Cardigan Welsh Corgi was supposed to look like. I was too new in the breed. In truth- I should have never bred that litter. I had only been in the breed a few years! I didn't have the experience to select a stud dog for my bitch; let alone choose which puppies were worthy of moving forward. I was encouraged to breed my bitch because "She was OK"-- and my own male was a Champion-- and that was reason enough! I *thought* I knew what I was doing!
Where are you going?
Before you make the decision to breed that first litter, do you know where you are going? Do you have a clear understanding of the Standard of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi? I don't mean, can you recite the standard word for word-- can you put those words into action? Can you explain Why our breed has a wrap front? Why our height/lenght ration is 1:8-1? What breeds were instrumental in developing the Cardigan? And why does that matter?
Furthermore- can you correctly evaluate your bitch? Do you know, deep in your heart, what all of her virtues, and all of her faults are? Are you absolutely positive that her virtues far outweigh her faults? And, are those faults minor faults, that will not have consequence to the health and well-being to her offspring? It goes without saying that your bitch will not possess any disqualifications, and that all of the standard health testing is complete.
Before you prepare to breed your bitch, you should have a vision in your head (or soul) of the ideal Cardigan Welsh Corgi. There are no perfect dogs. But, hopefully you will have had your hands on enough high quality dogs to recognize the best of the best when you see them. Before you breed that first litter, you should have made the effort to attend several National and Regional Specialties, so that you have opened your mind to the quality that is out there. It is a disservice to yourself, and the breed, to only see local dogs, or to only see photographs. Do your homework, and investigate different bloodlines in order to find the right stud dog for your bitch. The best stud dog may well not be the most convenient, or the "cheapest". There is absolutely no benefit to the breed for anyone to breed for convenience; thats what back-yard breeders do! Serious, concientious breeders breed to improve the quality of the breed. With the advent of fresh-chilled semen breedings and frozen semen breedings, there is no reason not to breed to the best possible dog, since distance is no longer a consideration!
Think about where you have been- look at the dogs that you started out with. If your desire is to improve upon what you have, and move forward with a successful breeding program, you need to take advantage of the resources that are available to you.
The CWCCA Website and the Cardigan Commentary Website contain information that can help tremendously. Our breed has a wonderful Breeders Education program available to members.
The future of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is in the hands of every single person who is contemplating breeding a litter.
Please handle our breed with care; it is precious to us!