Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Lake Gaston, N.C.
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 21 Times in 21 Posts
I invented soaped pictures. We were breeding Twinkle out for the first time, and were at the breeder's house. This was when there were just a few hundred Havanese in the country at that time.
There were some known health problems at the time, and she had probably over half of those pedigrees spread out on her dining room table. She had honest breeders tell her about health problems they had produced, and she was searching the pedigrees to find a common problem line. No single problem line could be found, but one thing that problem producers had in common was that they had bowed front legs. She said it was such a problem with a long coated breed, because the coat hid such things from view.
Pam and I had a history of studying horse conformation, so we always talked about conformation on the dogs too. We noticed when they were being washed, that you could clearly see conformation. After Diane mentioned the problem with the long coated breed, I said, "You can tell what you have when they are being washed, standing in the sink, covered with soap plastering their coat down." She said laughingly, "You mean we need to soap them all down, and maybe take pictures?" I said, and I remember it very clearly, "I don't know how else you are going to do it."
When we got back home and washed a dog, we took some 35mm (before digital) pictures of a soaped dog, had them developed, and sent them to Diane. It took off from there.
Very few people, including breeders, understand conformation to amount to anything. The number of people capable of putting their hands on a dog, and understanding what they are feeling is equally as small-including many judges. It takes two people, who know what they are doing, to take soaped pictures so that you can tell what it is that you are looking at, once you know what to look for.
There is no good reason to refuse to do it. It's difficult enough that I'm sure many simply cannot do it.
The vast majority of breeders think that results in the ring are good enough that they don't need to provide soaped pictures of their breeding dogs. You won't find us breeding to any of them. We have found out that you absolutely can select for conformation that you want, if you know which ones to select for reproduction.
As far as "routinely", sadly it's far from it still.