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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Making of a Stud Dog (Meet "Roscoe"!)

Hurray!!!
The darling Manor Lake Apollo, aka "Roscoe" has passed (and shined though) an exhaustive string of health tests, and finally is officially registered as a Golden Gate Labradoodles stud dog.
(Please click on the individual photos to view them in large format)

While there is no such thing as the "perfect" breeding dog, we believe that males especially, who have the potential to spread their genes so widely across our breed, should pretty much "walk on water"!

As we try to make our (small) contribution to preserving and improving the true Australian Labradoodle (ALD) breed, we believe it's important to identify different ALD lines to offset relative faults and to diversify our existing bloodlines and avoid inbreeding in the program. Much reflection, research, and due diligence goes into these decisions, as not only are stud dogs pricey (about $12K, plus another $1,500 in testing expenses), but, through their progeny, they can have a sweeping impact on a breeding program for generations to come.

Beyond simply examining pedigrees for track records of health testing and soundness, it is important to find other talented breeders who have an eye for conformation and an ability to recognize the special temperament of the Australian Labradoodle. As much as we like a "pretty color" and a "cute face", these superficial attributes should never be primary considerations in breeding decisions, over the more critical factors of  a calm, intelligent, and human-focused temperament, sound conformation, and solid health testing. The non-shedding coat is also of principal importance, in our opinion. A quality breeder does not "breed for color" or for other attributes that will "sell" well to customers. This discrimination is of particular importance, given the relatively high inbreeding that already exists in popular colors such as in the red-caramel-apricot lines and in the parti-colored dogs.

Even after finding a suitable fellow breeder and breeding pair, it can be months (or years) before a suitable puppy is even born with the right temperament and physical attributes, including the non-shedding coat. Much correspondence and many photos are sent showing the puppy's conformation from every angle--including front assembly and shoulder angulation, top-line, hocks, and tail. "Stacking" a young dog or puppy is no easy feat, so simply getting the photos is an endeavor in itself!

Hudson's The Topper, when he was just a skinny kid, sent to me by his breeder Curtis Rist.  Even though the stacking is not perfect, this photo illustrated his substance and boning, nicely laid-back shoulders, straight top-line, and correct proportions, which, 2 years later, have continued to be among hunky Topper's strengths as a stud dog (along with his modesty!)

As he matured, we could appreciate Roscoe's lovely head-shape, alert ear-set, and wide-spaced eyes in the photos sent to us by his breeder

Roscoe had already passed preliminary Wallace-method hip testing as "Good"; was cleared by his genetics from being a carrier of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); and had his eyes examined to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) standard, before coming to us. Subsequently, the little guy endured x-ray, blood, and other genetic testing... with fabulous results:

PennHIP radiographs: tighter hips than OVER 90 percent of all Labradoodles tested!
OFA Thyroid blood panel: "Normal"
von Willebrands disease:  "Not a carrier"
Elbows: OFA "Normal"
Improper Coat: "Normal"
Brucellosis: "Clear"
We also learned that he does not carry the genes for the color "Cream" so all of his puppies for us will be Chocolate!

When we "pulled the trigger" and Roscoe arrived, we were delighted! We especially admired his loose, wavy fleece coat
Roscoe did not realize at this point what a glorious romantic career the future had in store for him! 

The Young Apollo (photos by Manor Lake)

We had an independent trainer-behaviorist evaluate Roscoe's temperament out on walks downtown

(He is not fazed by much, including giant baby bumblebees and alpha princess-divas)

Roscoe: Ready to Rock and Roll!

Our specialist reproductive veterinarian Dr. Cain examined Roscoe and pronounced him "ready to go." The lucky boy will, we hope, be "proven" with the luscious Miss Bailey Mae! The happy couple has honeymooned, and if fortune smiles on the union, will be expecting their first litter of medium/small medium chocolate pups  in March. Fingers crossed!

Golden Gate Bailey Mae

Young Miss Bailey

Bailey Mae at 8 weeks

Won't Roscoe and Bailey's pups be the cutest?