My pick for Book of the Month is "Born to Win, Breed to Succeed" by Patricia Craige Trotter. If ever there was a book that you should read if you wanted to learn more about and get excited about the sport of purebred dogs, then this is the one! The author has many years of experience as a breeder, handler, and judge of purebred dogs; breeding Norwegian Elkhounds herself. She was also fortunate to know and learn from many of the greats in various different breeds at that time.
I’ve heard many people before talk about the fact that you can often learn more about your own breed by studying other breeds. This statement definitely holds true in this book. The author discusses many, many different breeds and their strengths and weaknesses. Not only does she describe them very well, but she includes pictures that excellently illustrate the specific points that she is discussing.
The foundation of all dog breeds is correct conformation. What that correct conformation is varies depending on what each breed was bred for. The author goes into details about the various different breeds, what they were bred for, and why their bodies work for that function. If you want to learn more about how the pieces fit together to make the whole, this book is great for that. Every little piece is important, no matter how small it may seem.
Another aspect of correct conformation is correct movement. The author describes why the trot was picked as the best gait to evaluate a dog at in the show ring. She also describes how the individual bones fit together to make this ideal motion happen. Things that can seem as insignificant as the length of upper arm, really are important and the mechanics of this are described.
Trotter also goes on to explain how the various standards evolved. How some can date back into antiquity. How some standards were created by horsemen who had a very good working idea of how a horse and therefore a dog should be put together for it’s intended purpose. Some standards still have portions that are not as well explained because it is assumed that some things are just known.
There’s also a wonderful section on genetics. How different dogs or bitches can be prepotent and pass along certain traits through the generations. Also explains about how sex linked genes work. Talks about why it’s really important to pay attention to the dogs throughout the pedigree to help predict what you may get in your future puppy.
There is much discussion on the importance of bitches and the impact that they can have on a breed. Trotter gives a succinct listing of some of the top producing bitches across different breeds. She also includes a discussion on stud dogs and how to pick the right one. Things to stay away from as well, such as The Popular Sire Syndrome. Following the top producing bitches is a section on the top producing sires across breeds and what they have contributed to their individual breeds.
Next there’s a discussion on pedigrees. What’s in a pedigree? She explains the importance of the individual players in it. And just generally how to make sense of one.
Once you’ve picked the appropriate parents and you breed a litter, your next hurdle is picking which puppy to keep. The author goes over some of the basic things to look for and to watch out for. Emphasizing the importance of having a mentor in your breed to help you along with your breed's specifics.