The Breeders’ Bible According to the late, great Carol Garrison, as told to Joseph Neil McGinnis III
In 1985 it was my pleasure to interview one of the Dog World’s greats, a woman who almost singlehandedly crested a dynasty, the quality and effects of which resonate to this day. Carol Garrison’s CARLEE MIN PINS still stands as a blueprint for what we’d all like to do. I now share with you the “rules’ she shared with us many years ago, If we heeded her words, I’ll bet it worked, and if we did not, perhaps now’s the time.
I called it The Breeders’ Bible According to Carol Garrison. Here are the highlights:
The quickest way to get burnt is to break you own rules. You must stick to your own code of ethics, in your breeding program, in dealing with the public…in all things.
LEARN WHAT IS EASY TO CORRECT, AND WHAT IS HARD TO CORRECT.
For example, in Min Pins, eye color is easy to correct. The hardest things to correct in that breed are bad rears and bad feet. Once you get certain faults in your own line, they will keep cropping up forever.
NEVER BREED TO A DOG YOU HAVEN’T SEEN.
Don’t breed to the top-wining dog just because he is the top winning dog. If it doesn’t click with your line, you will be doing more harm than good.
NEVER RULE OUT A BREEDING THAT MAY IMPROVE YOUR LINE.
Appreciate the gene pool of a good dog – any good dog. No matter where it comes from, a compatible gene pool is what you want. Some of the top-producing dogs are not Champions: you want then to produce better than they are. Wouldn’t you think, if there was a non famous dog with the traits you desired, that it would be worth it to try? What’s one breeding?
LISTEN TO BREEDERS.
It is very important for new people to talk to breeders, but everything they say is not gospel. Listen to everything, then decide for yourself.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘A GOOD BROOD BITCH’.
Never breed a bitch that doesn’t possess as many positive traits as possible. You have to be very critical.
KNOW YOUR PEDIGREES.
It is important to know what the dogs were, where the present ones came from, but remember: the genes only hold for 3 or 4 generations – then, the influence dies out. Watch for the Top Producers. Top Producers produce.
PUT EVERYTHING IN PERSPECTIVE.
Decide what comes first in your breeding program, and stick with it.
To start your own line, find 2 lines that are compatible, that have no anomalies. This is where you derive dominance. If you don’t have a dominant dog bred to a dominant bitch, in lines what will ‘click’, you have nothing.
KEEP YOUR NUMBERS MANAGEABLE.
You can not keep every dog. Don’t keep anything that is not helping your breeding program. Having too many will put you out of dogs faster than anything else. The number of brood bitches you have means nothing. It is the quality that counts.
LOCK IN YOUR GOOD TRAITS.
Concentrate on keeping the positive characteristics in your bloodline, keeping in mind your priorities.
You can acquire an ‘eye’ even if you’re not an artist. Take pictures, draw, learn. And study.
EVERYING IS HEREDITARY.
You can not rationalize faults. If the mind is sound, a single bad experience will not ‘spook’ a dog forever. If the rear is sound, jumping off the couch will not cause the dog to limp for days.
CO-OPERATION BETWEEN BREEDERS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Pet people won’t wait – if you don’t have something for them, they will wind up at a pet shop. We call back and forth, and can usually provide a good pet for these people.
DON’T BE IN SUCH A HURRY.
I always get suspicious of a dog that looks mature at 7-8 months. They will probably end up looking like a Mastiff.
I keep graphs and weights of the puppies, and it is a tremendous aid in grading them. If you keep good records, you will soon see in black and white what you are producing.
PLAN EVERYTHING FOR THE GOOD OF THE BREED.
We have to fight for what is right. We need to educate our judges to see what breeders are aiming for. And, we must breed to the standard.
So, now I hope you see what I mean about Carol’s modus operandi. As I said, it worked very well for her. To tell you the truth, I thought long and hard about publishing this article in this magazine. It would be easy to dismiss it by saying “Well, that’s fine and dandy for Min Pins, but what about my Danes, or Dandies (or Poodles, or you name) it but here’s the key: breeder. If you run a successful hotel, you could probably run a successful restaurant, automobile dealership, or flower shop – many of the same rules apply...and as I have said, this is the best ‘set of rules’ I’ve put my hands on yet, and I didn’t want to waste time. Because if the above article can improve the quality of one litter, or save one person from heartache, it was well worth it.