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Bill Fawcett Reviews
Breeding Working Dogs by Michael Brander

Brander approaches the topic of breeding working dogs quite differently than your typical book on breeding. I think his pragmatic working approach is a good match for his topic: working dogs. He states: "While size and conformation may be measured accurately, there are other factors in any working dog which simply cannot be assessed in the same way." In other words, the concepts behind breeding working dogs are unique compared to the general dog fancy.

Brander has over 40 years experience in breeding and is an experienced UK Field Trial judge. He is also the author of Training the Pointer-Retriever Gun Dog. The writing is good, somewhat conversational. Perhaps, as he admits, he spends too much time repeating himself, but these are lessons that sometimes bear repeating. And although the book is aimed at the novice or wannabe breeder, I think there is much to be gleaned by the experienced breeder.

Brander considers some of the problems created by reckless inbreeding: "The situation regarding certain endemic diseases has become so bad in some breeds that they now require that any dog or bitch should be rated according to a strict set of rules in a bid to eradicate diseases which have become endemic due to careless inbreeding." And he details the extent of the expenses now incurred by such testing. It is my impression that he spends quite a bit of time outlining the seriousness (and expense) of breeding. If you are considering breeding, and this book scares you away, maybe that's a good thing.

The book contains the expected technical information on the actual mating process, care of the pregnant bitch and the whelping process. The book also contains a good number of detailed photographic illustrations. The information is contemporary and practical.

"It is very different dealing with ten or fifteen squirming little balls enclosed in blood membranes arriving at intervals of as much as two hours, sometimes wrongly positions, with the dam occasionally straining convulsively and seeming near to exhaustion."

Although I have seen breeding topics discussed in some larger more general books, and in dog health books, this is the only book I know of that covers the entire topic in a manner oriented towards the working dog. I found the information and the anecdotes quite frank, presenting a variety of thoughts and methods about breeding. All told, it is a very helpful book and worthy of your consideration.

Breeding Working Dogs
Copyright 2008 Michael Brander
Quiller Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 978 1 84689 003 1

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Bill Fawcett resides in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife, Cindy, and his Smythwicks Springers: Jenna, Beebe, Pie and Drake. He is an avid hunter, field trialer, breeder and member of the M-AHSC and the ESSFTA. Bill is a regular contributor to Spaniel Journal through various articles, book reviews and his Wingtips column. Bill also maintains an extensive public ESS pedigree database at

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Spaniel Journal - your source for flushing spaniel training, hunt test, field trial & hunting information