A Decade to Reflect

Ten years is considered an achievement of longevity in the Dobermann breed and since my A-litter turned 10 this year, it is a fitting time to reflect. 

I have owned dogs all my life, but Dobermanns only since 2011. My first Dobermann was a backyard bred, poor tempered, sick dog which I had to put down due to juvenile renal failure. This made me somewhat of a hypochondriac when it came to acquiring my next one, and so I went about purchasing my first ever “pedigree purebred” dog. I would guess Ashra’s breeder thought I was a bit cuckoo at the time for wanting to do blood panels, eye, spine and ear exams on a puppy before agreeing to buy her. In fact, the amount I spent at the vet in the end exceeded her purchase price. 

I can say that I’ve never gotten more value for my money than I got in Ashra since then, and probably never again will. She exceeded all my expectations: she managed to title in multiple European countries as an American line dog with untaped flying nun ears. And while we never got around to titling in sport due to moving around internationally and life’s circumstances, she was ready to accompany me on whatever adventure I embarked on: we played around in Mondioring, IGP, and tracking. But much more than that, she is the embodiment of health: she is athletic and playful with a sound mind at 12.5 years old, she has never suffered from allergies, a sensitive stomach, or OCD.

Ashra is the dam to my first and only Dobermann litter, and I regret that the second attempt did not take and that I never got the chance to try again. My A-litter was a combination of European and South American show lines, something which back then was not considered to be a rational thing to do. In fact, many people felt so offended by my stud choice that they had the need to slide into my DMs to reproach me personally. Was it the best combination ever? Would there have been better combinations available to me at the time? Who knows.

In the end, the litter was Bred For Longevity certified with the DPCA (both parents reached 10+ years), and two sons were Longevity Certified this year (sadly, only one survives). I think for a first litter out of an experimental combination, I could have done a lot worse. The main issue that I have with the outcome of my A-litter is that only one of the puppies was ever bred to another pedigree dog. Although thankfully, that was the dog I sent to Mexico (where the culture is more relaxed towards breeding). So, there is still a small chance that the bloodlines make it to future generations. 

Now, I have an almost 6 year old Rudra who has never been bred. If and when she is, I’m sure to get a lot of criticism yet again, for DCM genes, vWD, or any number of other reasons. To be honest, if I had owned her 10 years ago, I probably would have removed her from breeding myself for even less. In spite of having no heart or other diagnosed health conditions and regular exams since she was 1 year old. But today, I won’t. I’ll let fate decide, whether the stud dogs on my shortlist don’t all drop dead this time and if all stars align with my finances and country of residence. Why? Because we need mentally, structurally sound dogs with genetic diversity to be bred. And if one thing is for sure, the haters aren’t buying my puppies. But moreover, they aren’t selling better alternatives, either. 

What do I want other new breeders to take away from this?

  1. Don’t hold out for the unicorn, you probably won’t know when you have it.
  2. Breed your dogs like it’s your only litter, because it very well may be.
  3. Don’t underestimate the importance of placing pups in breeder homes.
  4. Don’t pay attention to the haters – they are not buying your puppies. 
  5. Hug your dogs, and enjoy all the time you have with them.

I used to have a long list of criteria of what the perfect Dobermann should be. But now I realize that if I ever succeed in breeding an Ashra Doppelgänger, I’d be satisfied.