As a breeder, I have a great responsibility, no matter what life I am producing. I have bred Quarter Horses, Labrador Retrievers and RagaMuffin cats. I believe my skills have improved over the years. It’s a learning curve for sure. The most important attribute a breeder can have is a clear goal. Every animal, every litter, should have a goal.
I believe experience has given me a more precise vision. I do believe in competition to force me to take off rose colored glasses and see my animals for what they are. That being stated, it does not mean I think the judge is necessarily always right. Competition gives me a gauge about where I need to go in my breeding program.
Breeding is an art that deals with so much more than looks. It’s complicated. The end result should be healthy, have the desired temperament AND look like the description in the breed standard and, in the case of Labradors, do what the breed was developed to do.
The breed standard is the Bible for every breeder. Each breed has a description of the ideal specimen. The aim is to come as close as possible to the ideal. The interpretation of the breed standard may vary from breeder to breeder. Since no animal is perfect, one breeder may focus on one part of the standard more than another breeder. For example, in RagaMuffins, one breeder may strive for the perfect muzzle, while another emphasizes the eyes.
Take that goal for looks, add to it proper structure and a strong immune system to allow for comfortable longevity. Add to that eliminating or at least reducing genetic diseases through DNA testing and health clearances and then top it off with a temperament that is typical for the breed. That’s a tall order. But, the holy grail of every responsible breeder is to strive for perfection.