Author Topic: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .  (Read 2136 times)

BurningRiver

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The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« on: May 22, 2010, 08:42:12 AM »
So, the topic has come up time and time again. . . And I think there is variability depending on whom you talk to, at the result of different bitches needing different things and different lines being prepotent for different things. I've spoken with some who feel that heads are the hardest to breed for, and others feel that fronts are hardest, while yet others feel that rears are most difficult.

For me, it's been mouths. While I understand the others, it seems that if you go to a dog with a good head/front/rear, from a line that has good fronts/heads/rears, for the most part, you'll get good fronts/heads/rears. . . But, from my experience, mouths are a completely different story.

First, like fronts, I think that truly good mouths are few and far between. I'm not sure that I've ever seen the truly desirable boxer bite (straight, tight, wide with canines in line with incisors), and I've spoken with many who feel that they have good bites, only to look inside the dog's mouth and see a narrow bite.

Second, inheritability is completely unpredictable. I recently took a bitch with a bite that is round, narrow and too undershot to a dog with a wide, straight, tight bite, from a line known for producing this trait. . . All of the puppies in this litter inherited wide, tight, straight bites, with some slightly narrower than others, but pretty consistently correct just the same. I've been told that I would have to take all of those puppies to correct mouths (with parents that have correct mouths), if I want to retain those good mouths. I've had a level bite in my house, where I was told by a long time breeder to take her to a correct mouth and I'd get gorgeous bites. In fact, of the three bitches that I've had over the course of the last ten years, from different lines, I have not had a truly good bite in my house.

Third, terminology is completely mixed in our breed. How many people know how a reverse scissor differ from a correct boxer mouth? I'm not sure that I do, to any definitive detail, or at least not in so much as to be able to completely discount a reverse scissor as anything other than "too tight". In fact, I've heard some (outside of our breed) refer to the boxer mouth as a "reverse scissor". How can we determine how "undershot" is correct when our standard isn't even explicit in this area? Do we really strive for the classic "pencil width"? Or would the average breeder consider that to be "not tight enough" today?

Do you feel that a consistent vision of what a truly correct mouth is exists in today's breeder's mind across the board? If not, then why is there such an emphasis placed on it in our breed?

What do you feel is the most difficult thing to breed for in our breed?
Jessica, Mia and Carter
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Re: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2010, 11:53:35 AM »
Mouths are definitely a constant struggle.  I've got straight, and I've got wide, but not-quite-wide-enough - canines are still just a bit behind the incisors.  (For now - ask me again in 3-4 year and they might be totally different! ;) )

I think breeding "for" something is far easier than breeding "to keep" something - which I'm sure is what you mean, really.  You can fix most anything with one breeding, if you breed to the right dog - but retaining that fix in successive generations can be more difficult.  (By the same token, you can lose something in one generation and get it back the next, if you choose the dog wisely.) 

In general I guess "fronts" are difficult to breed for, because there are so many different components to a correct front: shoulder layback; length of should blade; length of upper arm; amount of prosternum; space between shoulder blades; transition from neck to shoulders; angle between scapula and upper arm.... Trying to breed for all of those things in one generation could be challenging! 

(Of course, really, the same can be said for any "main part" of the Boxer. Heads include width of skull; rise of skull; stop; turn-up; muzzle length, depth and width; ratio of muzzle to skull; set of eyes; set of ears; bite; padding; and so on.... You really need to drill down to the smaller parts, I suppose.)

As far as bites, in a reverse scissors bite the back of the bottom teeth touch the front of the top teeth; any gap between the teeth would technically then be an underbite.  The original Boxer standard called for a reverse scissors bite, actually.  I saw someone in our breed once call a reverse scissors bite correct (and this person was not old enough to have been around for the original standard! ;) ).  I think a pencil width would be too much underbite for many; the rule of thumb I've seen is that if you balance a pencil on the lower canines, it will not touch the top incisors - but that would be only slightly more than a half-pencil width, right?  I've seen 1/8" mentioned a few times as correct, with 1/4" bordering on too much.
Jennifer Walker
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RocketBoxer

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Re: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 01:24:38 PM »
What do you feel is the most difficult thing to breed for in our breed?

Hmmmm, I would probably go with bites and shoulders.

I think I do have a pretty good idea what an ideal boxer bite should look like - although I am not sure that I have ever seen an actual boxer with such a bite. I think that part of the problem is that there are so many not-so-great bites that have been bred that it is hard to find dogs that consistantly produce good bites.
My other problem with bites is that from what I have seen you can't necessarily predict how a puppies bite will turn out. What they look like a 8 weeks or even as they grow up is no real predictor of how they will turn out.

FWIW - when I attended a seminar on the boxer given by long time boxer breeders (the audience of the seminar was all breed judges) we were told that the pencil width was the ideal width.
Kerry
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BurningRiver

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Re: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 01:48:17 PM »
Yes! Thank you Kerry! That was another point I wanted to bring up--puppies change. Carter has bounced between being level, to reverse scissor to even level at one point because he is so tight, but at 8 weeks he was undershot. Will he be when he grows up? No idea. There are no guarantees with puppy mouths--Pixie was undershot at 8 weeks, then went level and never came back. It's a crap shoot.

I understand where you're going Jennifer, but I'd hardly consider the boxer mouth to be a "big" thing--at least not the equivalent of shoulders, yet it is so difficult to breed for and retain, and people struggle with it so much. Shoulders affect the overall dog--it's movement, topline, the overall outline. . . The bite? Maybe the structure of the muzzle in extreme cases, but with a well padded dog? You can barely tell that something isn't right in there.
Jessica, Mia and Carter
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RocketBoxer

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Re: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 02:02:30 PM »
The other difficult thing about bites is that you often can't tell what a bite looks like when you look at pictures of a dog, and you have to take people word as to what it was like.
Say you are looking at a specific stud, and researching his parents and grandparents. One might have head shots and stacked shots of all of the dogs in question but I doubt one is going to have access to bite shots. So oftentimes you really don't know what's further back there when it comes to bite.

FWIW - regarding shoulders (and I know this doesn't cover all the aspects of what makes a good front), but when I went to the breeding seminar they did say that with shoulders what you saw in the parents was likely what you would get. They used the example of a stud who was straight in front - yet behind him there was a pedigree filled with dogs that had just gorgeous shoulders. They said don't breed to him thinking that you will get good shoulders because there were a lot of good shoulders behind him - one would be most likely to get straight shoulders.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 02:04:25 PM by RocketBoxer »
Kerry
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BurningRiver

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Re: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2010, 08:13:42 AM »
Yep. Looking at the photo of my girl, you'd not know that her bite is as narrow as it is. . . Because she has good padding. Maybe you could tell that she's round, but in a flewy dog, this too can be difficult. Similarly, telling that a dog is too undershot can be difficult.
Jessica, Mia and Carter
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Re: The most difficult thing to breed for. . .
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 09:37:34 AM »
Quote
I understand where you're going Jennifer, but I'd hardly consider the boxer mouth to be a "big" thing--at least not the equivalent of shoulders, yet it is so difficult to breed for and retain, and people struggle with it so much. Shoulders affect the overall dog--it's movement, topline, the overall outline. . . The bite? Maybe the structure of the muzzle in extreme cases, but with a well padded dog? You can barely tell that something isn't right in there.

Oh - well, I wasn't really ranking in order of 'big' or 'small', but keep in mind that the standard is about more than just appearance.  No, the bite doesn't have much effect on the overall pet Boxer today, but the breed was developed as a catch-and-hold breed, and so the bite was extremely important for its function.  Yes, shoulders were too, but it could be argued that since Boxers were never meant to be endurance runners, shoulder angulation - while still important - had less of a bearing than bite.  Dogs that couldn't run 20 miles efficiently could still do a short spurt to chase down a boar, but dogs that had an improper bite might not be able to hold the boar until the hunter got there.

I'm not trying to say that we should focus on bites above everything else - but you asked what was the hardest thing to breed for, and since I think we see correct bites even less often than we see correct shoulders (which is infrequent enough!), it would seem to indicate that bites are at least as difficult to breed for as shoulders.
Jennifer Walker
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