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Digging and Popping since 2000

 

SO YOU WANT TO BREED NORWICH TERRIERS?

 

 

So often I am asked by a prospective puppy buyer if I would sell them a puppy for breeding purposes.  Here is a short reply to this. Just imagine what a full story looks like!

 

I think that anyone contemplating breeding Norwich terriers should start by researching the breed.  Not every dog is a Norwich terrier, and what makes a dog a Norwich is not as simple as an AKC registration. Even without a recent discovery that the integrity of Norwich stud registry has been compromised, all involved in the breed know that it takes a lot more than breeding two representatives of the same breed to get a puppy that typifies the breed. For a hundred years, many people before us have painstakingly removed some dogs from their breeding programs while breeding others to achieve the breed type.  Every reputable breeder today spays or neuters many puppies that are departing from our breed standard.  We do not breed dogs with bad bites, poor movement, small “weak” bones, long backs, loaded shoulders, extra wide fronts, too narrow heads...  The list is too long to quote.

 

Even if to an average eye a dog is of sufficient quality, only those truly understanding the breed and its essence should be making such a determination.  This is why even a breeder with years and years of experience is seeking a verification of his/her evaluation of the dog as of breeding quality by attending dog shows and having the judges pronounce the dog as conforming to the breed standard.  This is what dog shows are for: every win is an independent judge's opinion that a given dog is of breeding quality. There is really no shortcut for that. To observe for example that too wide fronts have become a much too common problem gives a breeder a pause before accepting such a fault. So the first question for everyone who starts the involvement with the breed is "Do you have time and energy for dog shows?"

 

If you answered "yes" then you are on the right track for selecting an appropriate dog to be bred and finding a mate with similar suitability. Unfortunately this is merely a beginning. Dog shows deal purely with the visible physical attributes.  Breeding dogs that look like Norwich is a good beginning but it's hardly all that there is to it. Each breed has its share of genetic defects, health and temperament problems.  We have epilepsy, breathing problems referred to as Upper Airway Syndrome, and a couple of other issues in the breed. The only way to preserve the breed is to avoid these problems.  Understanding ABCs of genetics, screening dogs for health problems and matching compatible pedigrees is the next step.

 

So you have your champion, studied the pedigrees, performed all necessary health tests and your bitch is pregnant.  Or wait a minute, is she?  Norwich terriers are notorious for missing cycles and not getting pregnant. Even if you are lucky with a successful breeding many pregnancies do not result in the whelp.  We have a high percentage of spontaneous abortions, stillborns and finally the mother of all the heartaches: a fading puppy syndrome.  To breed Norwich Terriers means sooner or later to be devastated emotionally. 

 

Don’t get me wrong.  This is a fantastic breed and this is what makes us keep going. Breeding problems that plague our breed are numerous, heartbreaking and impossible to avoid.  Norwich are the toughest dogs to breed.  Many breeders have never experienced any other whelping but a c-section, for many others a free whelp is a rare occurrence. Breeding usually involves multiple progesterone tests that range anywhere from $65 to $117  depending on where you live ($117  is my last bill for a progesterone test, here in NJ).  Often the most suitable stud lives far away and his semen needs to be shipped and involves an artificial insemination, not a cheap proposition. Many times we spend a couple of thousand of dollars on breeding, c-section and intensive puppy care just to grieve over an entire lost litter.

 

If it seems that I’m painting some morbid horror picture—I am not!  This is an honest account of what breeding this fabulous breed entails. If it were without any reward nobody would do it.  Yet, there are very precious few that stay with the breed for a long time.  The emotional and financial toll is high, even if the reward is the most fabulous breed.  Just as an example there are THOUSANDS of Cairn terriers being born each year and about 600 Norwich.  I have tried to explain to you frankly the heartbreaking story behind those numbers.