WHERE THE BOYS ARE

 

Once upon a time, in the land of Cavaliers, it was decreed that most breeders would never keep any stud dogs! A mystery, to be sure, but one that many in the kingdom found troublesome, indeed.

The lack of intact stud dogs of varying blood lines in the breed is startling. How many times have we heard “I don’t keep boys under any circumstances” or  “I can’t keep males.” How many whelpings have been reported that lament the ‘disappointing’ number of males in the litter vs. the “good’ number of bitches?

The “only girls” phenomenon may not be unique to Cavaliers, but the real or potential damage to our relatively small gene pool is striking. The policy of neutering potentially valuable males is at cross purposes with long range planning for health and longevity, the melding of differing bloodlines to produce the essence of type, and even the realization of long term fertility itself in a breed where fertility cannot always be taken for granted. When we wish to breed our bitches to an outside stud dog, we are often stymied to learn that the blood line we prize is unavailable to us—stud fees too high, distance too great (not everyone is able to partake of cooled or frozen semen), or (horrors) club affiliations not acceptable to the stud dog owner. Time and again, when I see an outstanding bitch, I have inquired of breeders as to the whereabouts of littermate males. Invariably comes the reply, “There was a beautiful brother but we sold him and he is neutered in a pet home.”  These attitudes encourage that ‘popular sire syndrome’ we have all read so much about—heck, he may be the ONLY sire available in the area! Or at the very least, the lack of variety in local stud dogs stimulates the use of just a few…and what if those dogs might represent bloodlines best avoided?

I am not advocating the indiscriminate breeding of pets that SHOULD be neutered, but rather I am begging the fancy to think twice before automatically deleting a potential Caption or Gillespie (two of our most influential stud dogs). Boys deserve to be ‘run on’ along with their sisters. If we just cannot add one more dog to the household, there really ARE homes out there that will responsibly keep an intact male, even if they are not always show homes. On the show scene, many an eager novice had to start somewhere—why not carefully place a potential champion boy? And at home, if we do decide he is exceptional, the inconvenience of our own yodeling male lifting his leg when a bitch is in season must be weighed against our ongoing mission to improve the breed.  My own experience is that the boys make superb pets indeed, can be taught proper manners, and rarely defile the furniture.  After the season has gone by (and we know bitches often cycle together), peace reigns supreme for another 6 months. Whatever our personal opinions on that subject,  it behooves us to remember that the keys to the kingdom might well rest with that beautiful boy in our whelping box…

 

--Stephanie Abraham  P.O. Box 346  Scotland, CT 06264

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