Being a dog man is not always all it’s cracked up to be. I woke up today to a yard full of flooded dogs. My small stream near my dogs managed to turn into a raging river thanks to all of the rain mother-nature decided to dump on us. After I got all the dogs moved to higher ground, the rain turned to snow and before long I was shoveling out a yard full of dogs. This is all before lunch!
Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through all of this fun. Raising dogs is not easy. To do it right, it’s expensive, time consuming and frustrating. Just when you think you have it licked, something unexpected happens. We expect the best from our dogs, so they deserve our best in return. That means going without sometimes for the sake of your dogs. I’ve seen some of these dogs in the poorest of living conditions by some so-called dog men. A dog living in a crate in the basement for 20+ hours a day is inexcusable. A dog living outdoors with a substandard dog house and little to no straw is unjustifiable. A dog going without food for a day or more is indefensible. I could go on and on but the point I’m trying to make is that if you want to be a dog man you need to do more than the bare minimum. Taking shortcuts because you are too lazy to do things right is just setting yourself up for failure. If you don’t have the time, money or space to keep multiple dogs properly; then don’t. You should only keep as many as you can give your best to. It will save you a lot of trouble and headaches down the road. Oscar Stephany once told me, “Everybody can’t be a dog man… If you can’t do it right, then don’t do it at all.” It’s no wonder he has been so successful with these dogs for longer than I have been alive.
To make things even more difficult, a dog man has to make many difficult decisions. Great dogs that don’t meet a breeder’s standard have to be culled. Personally, I feel you owe it to your dogs to find your culls a proper pet home. Somewhere that he/she can live out their life as best as possible. It’s not the dog’s fault that he has an under bite or bow legs. Now, this doesn’t mean you can just give the dog to anyone who wants it. You need to check the person out to make sure they can handle the responsibility of an athletic American Pit Bull Terrier. The last thing we need for our breed is another loose pit bull jumping on the neighbors’ poodle.
The majority of dog breeders are breeding average dogs to average dogs, which in turn are producing average dogs. In order to breed the best possible dogs you need to be highly selective in choosing your brood stock. You need to keep entire litters or the majority of the litters and raise them up to determine which ones are the best. Take them to shows and see how they compare against other top dogs in the country. If your dogs aren’t showing well that is probably a good indicator that you shouldn’t be breeding those particular dogs. Selecting brood stock is another tough decision dog men face. You have to throw favorites out the window and be objective. You want to find the dog with the total package. Conformation, athleticism, temperament, etc. A dog with a great conformation and a horrible temperament should not be bred. Likewise, a dog with a great temperament but a poor conformation should not be bred. Even when you think you’ve done everything right and chosen the best brood stock possible, you can still get a litter full of average dogs! Every breeding doesn’t nick. The best breeders of our dogs seem to have a sixth sense to go along with a lot of determination and grit. It’s no wonder there are so few great breeders out there today.
Raising dogs is akin to a fighter training for a fight. Just about every boxer or Mixed Martial Artist will tell you that training for a fight is boring and redundant. The fun part is when you get in the ring and see result of all of your hard work. Similarly, to raise dogs properly you will have to sacrifice your blood, sweat and tears. However, when you are standing in the show ring and the judge hands you a blue ribbon for a dog you bred, raised, conditioned and handled, it’s all worth it. Good luck.