Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Submit Photo: 5
Photo Submissions 19 Times in 13 Posts
I take a good, hard look at 8 weeks of age and try to get some other breeders that I respect to look at them at that age also (without telling them what I see).
My first evaluation is at 7 weeks age - and that is where I evaluate for temperament. A poor temperament immediately disqualifies any dog from staying.
Next, I start off with Pat Hastings' method of evaluation for overall balance. She is really good in teaching generic canine structure. Then I go to the Havanese Standard for specifics. There are many faults, but I weigh some heavier than others. I will not keep a dog with a bad front, because a bad front is dominant (genetically) and you can fight that for generations without getting your correct front back. And, I will not keep a dog with a bad bite. Dentition (number of teeth) is different from the bite. Weak pigment is something I look down on also. Head shape is very important to me. I highly value a good head. If the head doesn't look like a Havanese, then the dog is automatically off my list for keeping also.
Strangely enough, I was just talking with Hedy about this today. Since my goal is to always be improving the breed, I do not want to keep a puppy that is not better than his/her parents. Likewise, if I have a dog that can't produce better than him/herself, then I don't want to keep that adult in my breeding program either.
It is very important to learn to recognize the strength of each dog. Anyone can recognize faults. (Give someone a standard and a little information and they can sit ringside and pick out the faults in an hour.) But, it is much harder to identify the strengths of your dog. If you can learn to identify strengths and be willing to create a heirarchy of faults that you won't tolerate, you'll get a great start.
Unless you are going to collect dogs, you have to be hard core at evaluating critically so that you are able to scrutinize your own puppies without emotion. It is hard to step back and be objective, so that is why it is important to have others who will tell you the good and the bad without hurting your feelings too.
It is so important to grow in knowledge. Seek out experts in dogs and in your breed and learn from them. I sign up for every seminar that I can and read a lot of books that are touted to be "experts" in the canine world. Sometimes I learn more about canines in general and it is amazing how much a general dog structure (or genetics, nutrition, breeding, etc.) seminar will teach you. I have a long way to go, but I intend to keep learning every day I can.
Last edited by Havtahava; 10-30-2008 at 11:16 PM.