May 1 is National Purebred Dog Day, a day set aside to celebrate all of the purebred dogs that have been developed over the years to perform a wide variety of tasks for people.  Dogs are an amazing species that come in a huge range of size, coat type, structure, and temperament that allow them to specialize in jobs like hunting, herding, guarding, and companionship. Even if your purebred dog doesn’t do that same job today, the work his ancestors did is still a part of who he is. 

 

While I fully support the right of anyone to choose the right dog for themselves, whether that is a purebred dog, a purpose bred mixed breed, or a more randomly bred rescue dog, preservation breeding is most definitely the path I have chosen for myself. All three of the breeds that are part of my household have a huge place in my heart (even when the Aussies try to herd the PBGVs…..) and I hope that all of these breeds will have a strong future.  I wish that I felt more certain that that future will happen and I really wish that it was socially acceptable to speak up for purebred dogs more than one day out of the year. 

 

To me, preservation breeding means preserving not just the appearance, but also the temperament and working ability of a breed. We are fortunate that there are many events available now to evaluate a dog’s structure, prey drive, scenting ability, biddability, and overall athleticism.  While I don’t think there is any one type of competition that can provide a full evaluation of any dog, success in one or more event does provide useful information about a dog. As a preservation breeder of PBGVs, some of the characteristics most important to me are correct proportions and size, a coat that is truly harsh and not just made to feel that way with styling products, an excellent nose, a strong prey drive, and enough biddability to work off leash without a GPS collar. 

 

Preservation breeding can’t happen without a community of people who are committed not only to their breed but to being honest with each other. Especially for a critically rare breed like PBGVs, everyone’s actions have an impact on everyone else. Not everyone needs to have the same goals, in fact in may be healthier for a breed if we don’t, but basic trust and integrity need to be present. This means being candid about the strengths and weaknesses of a particular dog, since every dog has both. More importantly, it means recognizing that the truth matters and that while there are many shades of grey in the world, some things really are black and white. The rest of the world does not support preservation dog breeding- if we can’t trust each other then our beloved breeds have no future.