Supply and demand in kennel world

I decided to write my blog sometimes in English and particularly when my thoughts concern breeding in general. And of course I get excited when I find that happenings in kennel world concern also breeding hovawarts. Writing is a good way of thinking and I have noticed that more and more dog-owners share same thoughts with me. My main source of information is internet and I often surf in the pages of working-dog.eu. That is a very good website to study the breeding guidelines from the pedigrees of all common working-dog breeds in Europe. There are unfortunately very rear Finnish hovawarts with their pedigrees and records but all Finnish dogs with their show and test results can be found in the homepage of Finnish Kennel Club www.kennelliitto.fi  but these pages are only mainly in Finnish.

How the natural business law of supply and demand works in kennel world? I have for several years now noticed that it really works for example between breeding and the most popular hobby dog shows. The more breeders concentrate on outlook of the dogs the more popular hobby dog shows becomes. At the same time the appreciation of for example working-dog tests decreases. I have tried to take that into open discussion also in Finnish Hovawart Club internet forum in order to improve the status of hovawart as a working-dog here in Finland. Because of my thoughts I have got and still get criticism especially from those whose main hobby with their hovawarts are dog shows. Just recently I became very pleased because I found similar thinking and surprise, surprise - among hunting dog breeders!

Benchmarking Nordic hunting dogs

Just before Xmas Finnish Kennel Club informed that based on general meeting of FCI Kennel Clubs the Nordic hunting breeds of Finland, Sweden and Norway shall not get anymore International show dog champion title of C.I.E that is based only in dog show results (4xCACIB in 3 different countries). These hunting breeds like Finnish hound can still get the International Champion title C.I.B. that needs 2xCACIB from 2 countries and a result in official hunting test of the breed. Why these Nordic Kennel Clubs wanted to give up the C.I.E title? Argumentation based on that they do not want these Nordic breeds to slip up to hunting dogs and show dogs. History of breeding these hunting dogs is based on dual-purpose-strategy: breeding animals should have both typical outlook and typical working capacity of the breed. These hunting dogs can also get the Finnish champion titles based both in 3 CACs and a result in typical hunting dog test.

I was very thrilled about hunting people logical and loyal decision of giving up C.I.E title! The biggest and most popular Finnish hunting breed Finnish hound that is registered about 1500 dogs yearly had only 5 C.I.E titles in year 2011. Last year Finnish hounds had 93 Hunting Champion titles, 26 Finnish Champion titles and 12 C.I.B. When this show dog title C.I.E without any working-dog test results became in year 2009 I was very worried about its influence in hovawart breeding here in Finland. And C.I.E became as I thought immediately the most popular Champion title among hovawart owners in Finland. I wish hovawart breeding would also be strengthened at the same way as in these Nordic hunting breeds towards the dual-purpose-breeding-strategy. Today hovawart breeding strategy varies very much from one country to another. By comparing the dog material for example in www.working-dog.eu you can quite easily see that show dog breeding strategy among hovawart breeders is far the most typical strategy in every other country where hovawart is bred except in the biggest hovawart breeding organization in RZV Germany. As I see it the slipping up into show and working-dogs have already happened in hovawarts but not mainly inside one country but hovawart populations differ from country to another.

I have looked at these statistics because I have been worried about the hovawart breeding here in Finland. I think it is too much based on dog shows and so it seems according to the statistics. I do see that supply and demand go hand in hand also in dog breeding. The more you concentrate on show dogs in breeding the more popular hobby it becomes. Here are only few hovawart breeders out of tenth of breeders that have working-dog test as their hobbies so that they themselves also take part in working-dog tests with their hovis. It is of course much easier to go to dog shows but it can also mean that hovawarts in general have already become too difficult to work out ready for working-dog tests.

In Finland hovawarts and other German working-dog breeds have similar international and national champion title rules than Nordic hunting dogs. Finnish hovawart shall have a result in working-dog test in class 2 (like JK2, IPO2 and FH2) + 3xCAC in order to get the title of Finnish Champion. For C.I.B title a working–dog test result is needed in class 1 (like JK1, IPO1, FH1) and that rule is the same to every hovawart all around the world.

Dog shows are far the most common dog hobby in Finland. Last year 2011 Finnish hovawarts dog show activity can be seen in 1033 show participations. Year 2011 Finnish hovawarts had 130 working-dog test participations. In working-dog tests there were only 52 different hovis participating and many of the dogs took part in several working-dog tests and some of them did not get any acceptable result at all. There are many dogs in Finland that have 3 CACs but no result in working-dog tests so they cannot get the title of Finnish Champion. Instead of trying to train their dogs to working-dog test and get evidence of their dog’s potential there and get C.I.B or Finnish Champion title many Finnish hovi-owner´s travel around Europe to get champion titles that do not need results in working-dog test and therefore also C.I.E was very welcome.

Some statistics of Champion titles of Finnish hovawarts

Year 2008 (before C.I.E title came) Finnish hovawarts got 4 Finnish Champion titles, 2 C.I.B and 1 working-dog Champion title and 13 Champion titles of different countries mostly in Baltic countries where you do not need any working-dog results.
Year 2009 came totally new show dog title C.I.E and Finnish hovawarts got that year already 5 C.I.E titles, 3 C.I.B, 3 Finnish Champion titles, 1 working-dog Champion title and 1 obedience Champion title and 10 Champion titles of different countries.
Year 2010 C.I.E was even more popular and 9 hovis got that title. 3 dogs got C.I.B and only 1 got Finnish Champion title. 2 hovis became working dog Champions and one became tracking-champion on animal’s blood track. This year hovis got altogether 9 Champion titles of other countries.
Year 2011   7 hovawarts got C.I.E titles, 4 Finnish Champions, 3 obedience Champions, 2 C.I.B, 1 Nordic Champion and 1 Champion of water rescuing test. Totally 14 Champion titles of other countries got Finnish hovawarts but 5 of them got only one dog that travelled a lot.

Comparing participation activity of dog shows vs. working-dog tests in German working-dog breeds in Finland

I compared activity in hobbies of dog shows and working-dog tests that hovawarts and other German working-dog breeds here in Finland have had last year 2011. I divided the number of working-dog test participations with the number of dog show results. As I already mentioned hovawarts took part totally in 130 working dog tests and they got 1033 show results so their relation was 130/1033= 0,13. Only boxers had this relation even lower 79/872= 0,09, rottweilers had 264/1248= 0,21, dobermanns 170/623= 0,27, giant schnautzers 208/365= 0,57.The most common working-dog German shepherd that was registered 1708 dogs last year in Finland and with this number it was the second popular dog breed in Finland among all dog breeds. German shepherds participated to 925 working-dog tests and 1228 shows 925/1228= 0,75. Even that is rather low compared to the same kind of activity statistic of Finnish hound in year 2011 when there were registered 1577 puppies. Finnish hounds participated in 3284 hunting tests and 2197 shows 3287/2197=1,50.Tallivahdin similar activity statistic last year was 34 dog show results from 10 different dogs and 14 working-dog test participations made by 4 dogs, 14/34=0,41.

In last four years (2008-2011) there were totally 102 hovawarts that took part in working-dog tests in Finland. All these working-dog hovawarts were born between 2001-2008. On the average about 5-7 % of the dog´s of a Finnish hovawart kennel have working-dog test results and about 70 % of dogs have show results.

Hovawarts, dobermanns and boxers have registration numbers yearly about 200-300 in Finland. Giant schnautzers have some less and rottweilers about 550. This relation of these two hobby activities shows well the main breeding aims of these breeds. Same kind of differences can be seen in Champion titles: hovawarts have most C.I.E titles of all these breeds. It is obvious that boxers and hovawarts are more show dogs here in Finland than other German working-dog breeds.

RZV is priced as being the best Hundezuchtverein in Germany in 2012

German RZV has a clear strategy how to keep the status of working-dog higher than the status of show dog. This year 2012 RZV organizes totally 76 working-dog tests (Leistungprüfung) that often have about 10-15 dogs in each test so total amount of test results is maybe 700-1000 every year. They also take part in organizing 27 dog shows that is the best source of financing all dog hobbies. There are perhaps 20 dogs in every show so the same activity comparison would be something like 700/550=1,27 to the benefit of working-dog tests. RZV concentrates also much on breeding tests and organizes 39 breeding tests of JB, NZB and ZTP that evaluates dogs both according to their outlook and behavior. In RZV about 1000 hovawart puppies are born every year. Because of their active breeding strategy RZV won Dogs award 2012 as being the best Hundezuchtverein of Germany. Dogs award 2012 is a valuable prize that is given by the Europe’s biggest dog magazine Dogs. More information can be found in RZV’s homepage www.hovawart.org

The amount of puppies in RZV is much less than german shepherds have here in Finland c. 1700 but the working dog test numbers are almost the same RZV hovawart c. 700-1000 and GS in Finland 925! When you read RZV´s Der Hovawart magazine it is easy to see that working-dog sports IPO and FH are more popular than dog shows. Other dog hobbies like obedience are very rear in Germany and instead of agility they have so called turnier sport that is not so common either.

In Finland interest of hovawart owner´s is also divided to other big dog hobbies like agility and obedience that are easy to have as hobbies in cities and in winter they can be exercised in warm arenas. Many big agility clubs have their own warm arenas in Finland. Interest towards these hobbies that are more easy to train in cities and compete all year round than working-dog sports leads to that Finnish dog material is slowly changing to support success in these city-sports: little and active shepherds like border collies are most popular and suitable to these hobbies and the amount of bigger and more guardian types of breeds of working-dogs is getting smaller.

From statistics to common practice

I have learned that training and competing with your dogs in working-dog-sports is important in the process of learning what means working-dog potential. If I here benchmark again hunting-dog-breeding: in order to be reliable breeder of Finnish hounds everybody assumes that you do like to hunt yourself and by doing this also learn what kind of potential there must be in a good hunting dog. If you just want to breed big dogs for dog shows and family dogs you must be sure that they are easy to handle and passive in behavior. And I believe that show-dog breeding as the main aim worsens breed´s working-dog potential and this depression can be noticed already in couple of generations. And this is more of a side-effect that happens even though you would not like it to happen. In breeding there must be one clear aim to gain in order to get success in it and you just have to compromise with other criterias. That can well be seen both in dog shows and in working-dog sports if you compare the dogs that are winners. So the question really is do we want hovawarts to be first fine show-dogs or fine working-dogs? I am sure we all breeders want of course our hovis to be healthy best friends. And in that there are other strategies you must also follow but it is another story.

Finnish mental test of dogs is very popular among hovawart breeders and it is all the time becoming more popular among show and family dog breeders. It is commonly believed here to be a shortcut way in breeding character of dogs. Even there is no scientifically shown evidence of its usefulness in breeding or its ability to predict dog’s inherited and permanent behavior. My sister and I made a couple of years ago a statistical research of the mental test results of hovawarts tested in years 1996-2006 in Finland (N=807). One of the main results was that evaluations of judges differ so much that judges seem to have totaly different criterias. But there are even more problems in using Finnish mental test in working-dog breeding.

The dog’s ability of learning and willingness to learn and co-operate with people is not tested in this Finnish mental test. Neither is tested dog’s ability to concentrate and work out difficult challenges that last long and nor is dog’s ability to use its nose. These are although extremely important potential of working-dogs and they are measured only in working-dog tests. Although we do not have any own working-dog breeds here in Finland we have several successful working-dog breeders. They can be found in working-dog breeds like malinois, german shepherd and border collie and they concentrate on breeding according to working-dog test results. That is very easy to find out of the pedigrees of their breeding animals. This strategy of working tests typical to the breed has shown to be the best way of breeding both potential hunting dogs and working-dogs and therefore I am benchmarking it in my breeding strategy.

The easiest way to get good working-dog potential in hovawart breeding is of course by importing a working-dog bitch puppy from Germany and then mate it with German working-dog male. At least one Finnish hovi breeder has done that and the result has been very convincing. That is also a fact that most of the Finnish hovawarts that have results in working-dog tests have German hovawart as their father or more of a working-dog- bred mother imported to Finland. Tallivahdin third generation hovis in litters F & G have at least 70% working-dogs ancestors in their pedigrees. And I am very satisfied of these puppies and their working-dog potential although they have not had enough time yet to show it in tests. F-puppies are now 1,5 years old and G-puppies just 9 months. This 70 % is already so good pro cent that it is similar to normal RZV working-dog hovawarts. But in order to keep this high pro cent or even higher it I need to use German working-dog males regularly and get my bitches I choose for breeding also to people who are really interested in getting results in working-dog sports.

The law of supply and demand in breeding has also crystallized to me since I opened my homepage year 2004 and wrote my breeding strategy there. My statistic of the features of typical owner´s of Tallivahdin hovawarts on my homepage also works as a self realizing prognosis. The more exact I have become in my strategy and thinking the more specified puppy buyers I have got. I think my own interest in working-dog sports supports also my breeding strategy very well and it speaks for itself in marketing puppies. I can say that I already find out the puppy´s potential quite realistically, I know something about training a dog and can also tell how much effort is needed to get results in working-dog sports.

I see the main thing you must concentrate in breeding good working-dogs is the working-dog potential and for that Finnish Hound Club with their evaluated breeding indexes is a very good benchmarking object. I have been talking about how it is important that dog’s can get working-dog results already when they are young. Then the result is more based on dog´s natural potential and its trainability. And of course it lengthens the good working age of a working-dog. I have been pleased to notice that the dog´s age in its first hunting test is also one of the indexes Finnish Hound breeding uses.

I also see that there is no need for breeding normal family dogs or house guardian dogs separately. Not all working-dog-bred dogs are at their best in working-dog sports but they still can be very trustful, predictable and easy learning family dogs and house guardians. As byproduct there will always be also some potential show-dogs for them who want to concentrate on that hobby. But as I see there is no point of making hovawart into a show dog as I am afraid is the main direction of development everywhere else than in RZV.

Most Tallivahdin puppy buyers say that they are not at all interested in dog shows, but the strategy of dual-purpose-breeding needs also to take care of a typical outlook of the breed. And that has been more difficult because we have not had any special breeding tests (like ZTP) in Finland for years. That is why I try to get Tallivahdin owner´s sometimes to take their dogs to Finnish Hovawart Club show in Tervakoski to be evaluated by the experts of our breed. Because it is also the world´s biggest hovawart happening it is worth visiting and more adventure you get by participating there with your hovi. About 50% of Tallivahdin hovawarts have been in Tervakoski ;-) and about 50 % of them have been ranked there among the four most beautiful dogs in their classes! That is about 25 % of all Tallivahdin hovis and that for sure is good enough to convince me my dual-purpose-strategy in breeding typical hovawart outlook has at least worked well so far. My biggest dream of all is that I can sometime in the future see that my strategy is  realized also in working-dog tests. I wish I can someday say with proud that at least 40% of Tallivahdin hovis have shown their potential as a working-dog! And in that I see we are already taking very promising steps…. :-)