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Pet or show quality... Can one really pick the "future" champion in a litter?

Discussion in 'Doberman Puppies' started by Maja Rocks, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. Maja Rocks

    Maja Rocks $ Forum Donor $

    Recently I was going thru boxes of old photos and photo albums of my years showing in the confirmation ring back in the 80's & 90's . So many great memories of the wonderful dogs & people that have blessed my life over years. Going thru the photos I realized that not one of the puppies that I owned or co-owned that were deemed "Show Quality" by the breeder ever finished and earned their Champion title. Even with the help of the top professional handlers at the time. They all did very well, earned points & came close but for one reason or another they never got their "major" or what it was they needed to finish.

    Certainly one can argue that since they won their class, best of breed or opposite and even their group and better on a few occasions. That they were indeed "show quality" just not quite champion quality. There is more to being a champion than just confirmation and movement. Champions have a certain quality call it "charisma, attitude or the "it factor" that sets them apart and makes them stand out from the rest.

    On the other hand my 2 Dobermans that did achieve their Champion title were both considered "pet" quality at the time by their breeders. I owner/handled them at small local shows "just for fun" and paid professional handlers to show them in the majors & finish them. Both of those puppies were the runts but they had "heart" and once they left their litter mates they were not runts for long.

    So I was wondering is my experience unique or have other folks had the same experience too?
    Can one really pick out which puppy is show / champion quality out a litter of puppies at 10-12 weeks of age?

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  2. Ddski5

    Ddski5 Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    What a great topic...

    One of my favorite topics- nature vs nurture- genetics vs heart/attitude.

    And the cool thing is that you have knowledge and experience to back it up.

    I don’t have it with Dobermans but I have it in athletic sports. I love to see heart/attitude kick genetic ass. But you have genetics with heart/attitude then they become a “specimen”. Just poetry in motion born to do their thing.
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  3. Ingrid H

    Ingrid H Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    I like this topic especially since @Rits is having to wait for her breeder to grade her puppies and assign them to new owners.
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  4. JanS

    JanS DCF Owner Administrative Staff Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Very interesting topic!

    Della was not picked as a show prospect but she did get her champion title because she got out there and gave it her all. She always loved people and the show scene (even though it was tiring) and even after I retired her, she would stack herself next to the ring when she was hearing the commands from inside. :love:
    • Appreciation Appreciation x 6
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  5. Maja Rocks

    Maja Rocks $ Forum Donor $

    How exciting!

    Disclaimer :I have no problem with the confirmation ring. It is the breeders arena and I have the upmost respect for the all of the hard work, knowledge and passion it takes to breed champions. Thank you for all that you do and for our wonderful dogs!

    That said I personally won't ever buy a "show" quality pup again for the following reasons.

    A) Price charged for "Show" quality

    B) The many contractual obligations including the agreement to show and finish the pup

    C) Showing is very expensive, travel expenses for food and lodging add up fast. Not to mention entry fees and handler cost.

    D) Requires often exteded periods of time apart from your dog unless you travel with your dog the shows you will be sending it off with the breeder or handler.

    E) The interruption or delay to a proper training program . My experiences is the majority of conformation handlers don't give a damn about any training except for what is necessary to win in the confirmation ring. Some of the worst behaved & most obnoxious dogs I have come across have been conformation champions "Sorry ______is a show dog. We don't ever correct him/her for bad/unacceptable behavior because we always want him happy and up.

    F) AKC politics If you think there is no politics in the show ring you are new to the sport. Most of the judges and professional handlers have been in sport for decades and know each other. Every judge I know tries to very fair but at the upper level of showing like the majors & national specialty shows the completion is fierce and there are no bad dogs in the ring. Often out of more than 100 + dogs it will come down to just 2 or 3 dogs. Every dog has faults there is no perfect dog and this is when the politics enter in to the mix .The judge knows the handler, probably the breeder and may even know the dog. Human nature is to go with the one you know.

    G) Show ring trends and fashions like crop styles and length, tail length, head shape, ideal muscle and bone mass etc are always changing often to the detriment of the breed. I am not a fan of ridiculously long show crops, longer "gay' tails, and the fine boned dogs with swan necks that many judges prefer today. The breeders see what is winning and breed acordingly. This is what has lead to many of the health issues we see today in many NA dobermans. My family has had Dobermans continuously since 1957 many of the dogs I see today are a charicture of the Dobermans I grew up with. I think that is why we are seeing many of the old school Doberman people turning to NA x Euro crosses to get the breed back to what is was bred to be. Most european breeders are keenly aware of what the breed was intended be. 1st and foremost a working breed that was bred to protect it owner, Compact ,fast ,fearless, intelligent & loyal.

    G) And lastly can anyone look at a litter of pups at 10-12 weeks of age and know with great certainty what those puppies will look like when fully mature and reach breeding age? Sure you can rule out puppies with obvious faults but in my experience that is the extent of it.

    To me it's like baby beauty contest...You can pick out the prettiest baby today but nobody knows what they will look like when they are grown up. I am sure we all have seen the plain looking skinny girl/guy with braces and glasses in high school that shows up to the 10 year reunion and has matured into the most beautiful person in the room.
    In my experience dogs can be like that too.

    Sorry for the rant I will get off my soap box and go enjoy my pet quality doberman with her too short tail LOL!
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  6. Maja Rocks

    Maja Rocks $ Forum Donor $

    Just my opinion but grading litters is at best an educated guess/ wishful thinking on the part of the breeders and a marketing ploy to charge more for one puppy over the other.

    When I lived in Florida I was a member of the Fla West Coast DP Club for 20+ years.
    During that time I was lucky and privileged to know become friends with Paul and Adelaide Combs.
    Both received lifetime achievement awards from the DPCA (Paul in 2002 and Adelaide in 1989)

    Our club hosted a specialty show every year that attracted some of the finest dobermans in the SE region of the US.
    Since it was our clubs show & Paul and Adelaide took turns judging it was considered a conflict of interest for club members to compete. So I volunteered & started clerking for them when they were judging, talk about a 20 year learning experience.

    I always bought my puppies from breeders and litters they recommended.
    When it was time I always asked them to come and help me pick out my puppy.
    Generally they would rule out one or two pups because of obvious faults with a very diplomatic.
    "I think there are better choices in this litter." When I would point out the pups that were graded as "show" quality.
    They both always responded with a smile and a "Well we will see...and time will tell".

    So other than name dropping what is my point?
    Do they have future in the ring? "Well we will see and time will tell"

    The best advise they gave me was "Always pick the puppy you fell the strongest connection with and
    only you can judge that. They are going to spend their rest of their life with you, so pick the puppy that speaks to your heart..

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  7. Rits

    Rits Admin Administrative Staff Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Yes but typically at 8 weeks is a mini version of themselves as a mature adult. What you see is what you get. They all have flaws, one way or another. Sometimes the one not selected for show can mature well enough to finish. Temperaments play a part too. It's the breeders job to try and match the puppies best to each owner, whether it be show, performance, or a more laid back pet (as laid back as a doberman can be). I trust my breeder to pick the puppy that best matches what I'm looking for as she can. After all, she's the one that's spent 10+ weeks with them. Nothing is ever a guarantee and there's nature and nuture that plays a part. That's why it's important to research pedigrees, ask the breeder what temperament and drive is like, and ask other people that own dogs/bitches from similar lines how their dogs are. :)

    Not all breeders charge more for a show puppy. My breeder is one that does not.
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  8. Maja Rocks

    Maja Rocks $ Forum Donor $

    That is true but most of the breeders I have come across charge more, often want to co own and campaign their "Show quality" puppies. Every breeder is different.

    Well that is the thinking & a widely accepted theory that at 8 weeks they are mini versions of what they will grow to be.

    But neither Paul or Adelaide Combs with over 60 years combined experience with the breed considered it to be a reliable gage of quality. They felt that each puppy grows and develops at its own pace and the dynamics of being in a litter environment introduced too many differing contributing factors.

    What they did believe was excellent genetics , the environment and the breeders experience were much more important than what the pups looked like at 8-10 weeks.
    As Paul used to say it's not an accident that same breeders and kennels consistanly produce champions often by introducing very diverse bloodlines into their kennels breeding programs.

    Looking back I believe why the "show" pups I owned didn't finish was they were simply pushed in to the ring way too soon, spent too much time on the circuit in handlers RV's kennels and really did not enjoy being "show" dogs and it was apparent when the got to the majors and specilties.

    On the other hand the two that did finish I did not buy them with the intention of ever showing them in confirmation. So I didn't care if they were not "Show quality" at this point I had lost interest in the confirmation ring, had zero desire to be a breeder and was having a ton of fun doing obedience.

    Only after lots of encouragement from others did I venture back into the confirmation ring.
    By that time they were both over a year old and had earned their CD & CDX .
    So I thought why not? They both really enjoyed traveling with me and "showing off" in the ring.
    They were mature, happy ,confident and enjoyed the experience. I think this contributed as much as to their success as their genetics. I firmly believe there is no substitute for excellent breeding it is at least 1/2 of the equation.

    Like I posted this has been my experience for what its worth, others experience may be the complete opposite.

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  9. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    @Maja Rocks I tend to agree with most of what you said. One big exception is I never heard of a quality breeder that allows you to pick the pup. What's the point of grading the litter? I think a reputable breeder would more than likely listen to what you want in a pup and then try to match you up with the right pup. Usually a week or 2 before you pick the pup up you know which one is yours.

    Now for my thoughts on showing. From experience I would say AKC conformation should be left for the breeders and people that have serious dreams of becoming one. There are other venues that leave the fun in it for the rest of us. I showed the boy in my avatar in a few different venues. Even considered AKC until I got an inside look ringside and realized it was NOT for us. I did have tons of fun in other venues like UKC and IABCA.
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  10. Ravenbird

    Ravenbird Notable member

    Agree with @GennyB - when searching for my pup and questionaires from breeders, not one had the option of me picking the pup. After seeing some of the many differences in pups from a single litter I have come to agree that a good breeder can match up owners the best. But I was looking at working dog litters, not show dogs, so it was based more on the personality test than conformation.
    @Maja Rocks, back to your intro of this thread. I trained racehorses for many years. All the best horses had what we called "the gotta wanna". (they gotta wanna win) That was the heart and the love of the game that so many had, but you couldn't train it into them, they either had it or not. I can see this in working Dobermans and how so many SchH clubs got to where they would roll their eyes when you said "Doberman" because they'd met so many that "wouldn't bite a biscuit". It's not that they were not wonderful dogs, they just weren't bred for SchH work, or they may have been but didn't have the gotta wanna. My personal belief is that you have to have the breeding/genes to do what you want to achieve then an owner/handler/trainer to bring out the best that dog has to offer, whether it is show, agility, nose work, bite work or just a pure devoted companion.
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  11. Maja Rocks

    Maja Rocks $ Forum Donor $

    I agree that quality breeders don't let you pick your pup especially if they don't know you..
    When we got Maja after a 18 month search for "right" breeder I left it up to her to match us with the right pup.

    This was long before the internet and to acquire quality dogs you had to be referred or known in the community I was both.
    At the time I was was actively competing in obedience and served as an officer and board member of the regional DP club.
    I taught our clubs Puppy 101 & 102 and basic obedience classes.

    The breeders I was getting my pups from were also club members. We knew each other and there was a relationship in place.
    I was not a 1st time doberman owner or unknown buyer. So I did not need to go thru normal screening or application process.

    It was a different and simpler time. Our club had over 100 active members. We actually knew each other and reputations. There were only 4 obedience titles CD,CDX,UD and UDX. Most breeders after finishing their dogs in confirmation felt it was important to at a minimum to have their dogs achieve their CD & CDX. Breeders wanted to prove they were not just breeding pretty dogs. There was not the separation between the confirmation and obedience community that I see today. We co-mingled and helped each other achieve their goals and titles.

    I just looked at the AKC site and looked up AKC titles I lost count at 116 there was probably 60 more
    Dock diving, fast cat, barn hunts, agility, rally, fly ball, trick dog, water racing and the many others did not exist.
    While I think it is great that there so many different sports and fun things to do and compete in.
    The down side is all of those different sports also tend to create their own small communities and isolate us from each other.

    Any way just my thoughts, experience, views and opinions.
    Others may have completely different thoughts, experience, views and opinions.
    Thats great its how learning grow.

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  12. Ravenbird

    Ravenbird Notable member

    @Maja Rocks - we are of like minds. And the fact that there are fewer and fewer of us that recall how things were before the age of the internet. My Dobe that was born in 1991 was purchased by word of mouth - I told a friend I thought I was ready to get a puppy and she wrote back (days of post office & stamp letters) that she knew of a litter - both parents worked at the local SchH club, which was really laid back and liked ALL breeds and ALL people - so I said I'll take a female. And when I told a local friend I was getting a Doberman puppy they said they'd like one like that, so I wrote my friend back and said make it TWO females. They were $500 each if I remember right, I never talked to the breeder, my friend picked the two pups up from the vet clinic where the ears were done and drove 1,000 miles with them and I and the other buyer gave her cash to take back to the breeder plus gas money. Talk about trust. HAHAHA! Those were the days. I did get the pick of the two pups. She was a fantastic dog, lived 11 years, never sick a day in her life, (died in her sleep overnight, so probably heart though) went 100's of miles with me on horseback, never a lame step. For sure, it's all different now, no going back to the old days, but sure is fun to chat with someone who remembers the Dobermans way back when!
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  13. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    I don’t know much about the breeding topic but always wondered how there could be so much variety in one litter of puppies coming from the same parents. But then I think about how human parents can have a variety of children despite being raised in the same sort of way and environment. Once the kids are adults, you can end up with overachievers and underachievers coming out of the same source.

    There’s another difference from the older breed and today’s version of it - no same sex aggression issues or restrictions back then.
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