Developing a New Breed
I am compelled to write this paper because there seems to be so much confusion about our wonderful Biewer Terrier’s coloring and conformation. What should be used for breeding and what we should put in the show ring? Is this bite acceptable? Are these ears ok? How big is too big? Is there enough black/blue on the back and face? Is that tail curled over the back enough? and so on, are just some of the questions being asked.
I am constantly told that so and so should not breed their dog because it is ugly, or it’s too big or too small, or it doesn’t have enough black/blue on it, or the ears are too big, the hair is bad, etc.. First of all, that old saying, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” holds true in breeding also. I may think a dog is beautiful and you may think it is ugly. Who’s right? I’ll tell you, BOTH. That’s why we have a standard, a description of a dog that we should be to breeding too.
I would like to start out by saying, that this is a new breed and it is nowhere near perfection. I am going to go out on a limb and say that this breed has only been in existence since 2003 when we started importing from Germany. As we found out, the story that we received with the dogs was not the truth. Many pedigrees were falsified purposely by the person that sold the dog and some were falsified before a particular breeder received their breeding dogs. Either way we have a bunch of false documents that we will have to use for lack of correct documentation. This is why I quit putting so much importance on pedigree research, as is normal in breeding.
That being said, we have a lot of work to do to produce dogs that will breed true every time we have a litter. This is done by keeping the best back from a litter, working with each other and keeping an OPEN mind about your breeding program. There is a difference between show and breeding dogs. If a dog has a white back with a black spot on its side, it will not do well in the show ring. The white will grow out and cover up the black which will give the appearance of a solid white dog. This dog may be used for breeding, but will end up losing in the show ring against other correctly colored dogs. At this point, I advise against using a predominantly white dog. The SW gene is hard to contain, so if you choose to breed it, make sure you use a dog with a long lineage of black on the back.
Big ears can create two significant problems; not only in size but they may also have poor placement. Generally they sit low, which makes them stick out to the sides of the head. This will take more time and effort to correct so make sure you breed with dogs that have an accurate ear set and size. Bites create a major challenge when trying to correct. I personally will not breed a dog with a bad bite as it usually takes a few generations to correct. If you do pursue this task, make sure you check the lines behind the mate as far back as possible to ensure all dogs have had a solid, correct bite. An undershot/overshot bite can skip a generation and pop up in the next one, thus the reason to check as many generations as possible. At this time, there are no set disqualifications, so all dogs may be shown. However, many would be better off just being used in a breeding program and not in the show ring, or sitting on a lap of luxury.
Getting dogs that completely fit the standard is going to take a while, so do not take offense when another breeder tells you that your dog needs more color, the ears are too big, the body or legs are long, and so on. Do not try to fix all the problems at once either. You may have to work on conformation first and when you have accomplished that, move onto the next issue you may have with your dogs. I personally worked on my conformation first, then my ears and then the coloring. I have my black staying black, with plenty of coloring on the backs and am now working on getting more brown in the face. The reason I worked on conformation first was because it is the hardest to get perfect. Coloring can change in one breeding so I saved it for the last. Don’t get me wrong, I worked on the other issues also but concentrated on one thing at a time.
Just remember, we have a new breed and it is going to take time to get the Biewer Terrier to that perfect state. The Yorkshire Terrier went through many changes before the look that we have today. Keep an open mind and look for people to work with in establishing a good solid breeding program.