Have you ever watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on TV? Have you wondered what makes those dogs special or different from the dog sitting next to you on the couch. There’s more to the “sport” of purebred dogs than just trotting around the ring with a well-trained, well-groomed dog at the end of lead. As a breeder, I prefer to think of what I do not as “sport” but as “art”. Each breed has a written standard describing the ideal dog for that breed and you can find more information about the ideal beagle by hovering over “About Beagles” on my menu bar. A reputable breeder breeds according to the standard, attempting to breed the ideal for their breed, and dog shows are where we exhibit our breeding stock. Therefore, a show quality puppy is also puppy worthy of consideration for breeding purposes.
When a reputable breeder breeds a litter, the purpose for breeding the litter is not to produce puppies for sale and profit. The purpose is to produce a puppy that will continue on in their breeding program, hopefully an improvement on the generation that came before. If there are several breeding quality (show quality) puppies, they may be offered for sale to other breeders/exhibitors. The remaining puppies are sold as pets. The puppies sold as pets are perfectly healthy, beautiful examples of the breed but perhaps not the pick of the litter or possessing the trait or traits that the breeder was trying to achieve with the breeding. The puppy may possess a trait that will have no affect on its ability to live a long, healthy, happy life but would be disqualify it from remaining in the breeding program of a breeder. For example, in the US, beagles are disqualified from competition if they exceed 15″ in height so an otherwise stunning beagle may find itself in a pet home, simply because it is 1/4″ too tall. While any hound color is acceptable, some breeders have a preference for tri-color beagles so less common colors like red & white or blue puppies may not “make the cut” due to their color. A very nice male puppy may go to a pet home because his testicles fail to drop.
There are many factors that a breeder considers when they decide which, if any, of their puppies they will keep. From the moment that they’re born, I’m observing many, many traits that will help me decide the placement of my puppies. I look for traits that indicate obvious pets; I look for the puppy that stands out in the litter. The puppies change quickly over the nine weeks that they are with me and my impressions evolve but the puppies slowly sort themselves out. With my current litter, I have six very nice puppies but by nine weeks of age there “is just too much poop!” 🙂 and I HAVE to make some tough decisions and let some puppies go to new homes. As often happens, some very nice, show quality puppies will be sold as pets…but that’s ok…the most important thing is that the puppies have wonderful, loving homes for the rest of their lives.
The remaining puppies are those that show the most potential for show (breeding) purposes but I want to keep them a few weeks more before making that final decision. There are several developmental factors that I am observing at this point. All of the puppies have at least one descended testicle but I need to be sure that they have two before I sell them as show prospects (or keep one for myself). If they don’t drop, they have to go to a pet home. That process is still happening. Tails are still developing, too. Beagles should carry their tails straight up with perhaps a slight curve forward. Too much curve forward over the back is known as a gay tail and is not acceptable. It is quite common for baby beagles to carry their tails in a “gay” fashion and the tails will gradually straighten…this is quite normal. Sometimes they fail to straighten, though, and sometimes the tails “go gay” after 8 weeks of age. In either case, this would eliminate the puppy from further consideration and it would need to be placed in a pet home. It would live a perfectly normal, happy life, of course, but it is not a trait that the breeder wants to keep in the breeding program.
Pet puppies are those sold for companion purposes only. They are sold with limited AKC registration and a neuter agreement. They are not to be used for breeding. Show puppies are sold to those who have shown an interest and dedication to the breed with involvement in showing or performance; responsibly breeding, raising, and placing puppies in their new homes. To be a responsible breeder requires dedication and great deal of investment, both in time and money, to ensure the health and welfare of the dogs and of the breed.