THE PROGRAM - Fennario's breeding program explained (with visual aide)
Updated: Dec 12, 2021
In an effort to conceptualize the breeding plan and goals of Rocky Mountain Companion Dogs, to give you, dear reader, a glimpse of where your expectations and desires may fall in the timeline of Fennario's generational breeding, I present my thoughts, goals and beliefs.
My ultimate goal is be able to provide healthy, long lived canine companions. As discussed on many different platforms, a "companion" means many different things to different people. My dogs and puppies, will be versatile and selected to pass on parameters of traits, versus carbon copies of the same thing, over and over until the big picture runs out of focus.
A Breeding Program strives to be different than the one off "le'ts see what happens" breeding of two intact family pets. A programmed breeder looks at what will be paired ten years from now. Math, science, getting dirty and a passion for the canine species as a whole is required to live this lifestyle.
The Program must be organized in GENERATIONS in order to avoid genetic bottlenecks. The breeder must be mindful of not going backwards in the recipe they are cooking. Once your cake batter is perfect, you can't repeat choice ingredients thinking it will improve your recipe. Each cake must be carefully prepared to produce its own flavor.
My Breeding program moves through ten generations in all. But I'm only going to tackle the first five in this blog article.
"In the fifth generation, hidden recessive genetics will begin to show and produce carriers of previously unknown traits and health conditions."
This is an age old theory that strikes a chord, rings a bell, raises flags and sends my doggy-spidey senses tingling. I believe this to be true, and, as such, place major focus in this area. A newer more research based theory of better canine health through Haplotype and Haplogroup diversity is taking hold and proving to be a promising tool for breeders to improve the health of both purebred and outcross bred dogs. I believe this to be true, and, as such, place major focus in this area.
As you read through the details below, keep in mind that my program is grounded in the basis of many reputable and degreed breeders over the course of many years. My knowledge is vast but not complete and true in all circumstances. I carry that knowledge into practice, organizing my goals around my experience.
Foundation Dogs are the pack of beautiful creatures a breeder assembles to achieve a particular goal. Some breeders focus on function, or phenotype, or temperament. In my opinion, good breeders focus on all these aspects, placing coat color last for selection after health and temperament. Health is a complicated aspect of breeding dogs. Nothing is absolute. As soon as science thinks it has it handled, a new genetic mutation will show itself. We will counter that with this breeding plan, obtaining DNA on all our breeding dogs, as well as health testing when it is indicated to bring only the best stock forward.
THE BOYS -
I'm starting my lines with three males and four females. I will have three lines working at the same time. These are King Boaz AKA Bo. Caspian, founder of the Colorado Mountain Dogs. Last but not least is August West.
- Rocky Mountain Companion Dogs started with August West. He came to us in 2015 and I attest with all my heart I have never met another dog like him. He will lend his genetics of outstanding health and unique temperament. His primary heritage is German Shepherd/Malamute. Great Pyrenees is undoubtedly in his background. Strikingly beautiful, large and solid. People will often stop us to talk about him, his pups are never hard to place.
- King Boaz caught my attention through a picture I saw on facebook. Sometimes that happens with social media pictures. I'll see one and feel a kind of "zap", telling me there's something special about the dog I'm looking at. When I finally did meet him, his temperament was all that I had hoped for. Calm and mellow, graceful with his actions and careful of my personal space. Whether it be nature or nurture, the fact is with most working dogs, if they don't have the inherent nature you can't nurture the behavior.
Bo has a regal stature and his angulation could be better, but his front carriage is solid and straight as an arrow. At first glance, you see something "different" about his coat color. I have breeder-eyes, so I can see the colors underneath the colors. What I see in tones of lilac and Indigo is Blue modifiers to the blacks of a sable. - 1
His son is our "Otto" black with white spotting. His littermates have a blue color to their coat. At first glance, and in direct sunlight, Otto's black coat shows flashes of
electric blue. In some breeds this is referred to as "Gun Metal Black". His sibling, Mithril has dilution that shows a light silver with darker undercoat. Another of Otto's full sibling from a previous breeding.
I am in close contact with Wilderness to Eden Ranch and have personal knowledge of Otto's siblings. So far the temperament is outstanding on all the pups. That I know of. I can certainly attest to the temperament of the one I have. He's all I prayed for. His female match will come from "Blues for Allah" girl, In'Sh'Allah. See more about her below.
- The Colorado Mountain Dog was started based on one male that came along in 2002. His name was "Caspian" and I had the same "zap" from his picture that I mentioned above with Bo. But bigger. There is a video on you tube that I stumbled across last year. PROVIDE LINK. Still gives me chills when I watch it. Caspian is now guarding the livestock over the Rainbow Bridge.
Starting with his phenotype, Caspian has the body build I am looking for to improve what few traits that can be improved from Auggie. No dewclaws, small pendant ears and improved rear assembly, will all lend themselves to canine careers as Therapy and Service Dogs. The softer look of the CMD head, white is associated with light and healing. Auggie is striking, we all agree his "look" has to be maintained. However, sometimes his rustic wolfy appearance can be daunting to children recovering from trauma or received cautiously in nursing and rehabilitation facilities. Its good to have options.
The Maremma is the obvious choice for outcrossing my lines, but this breed is hard to find and lacking in genetic diversity. The Pyrenees and Anatolian both have their challenges such as stubborn, quick tempered and bark bark bark bark bark bark. The Colorado Mountain Dog is developing a temperament that will accept being confined in smaller territories. A goaled duplicity of family companion and devoted guardian to small fuzzy things that run around like good prey should. Accepting of strangers - if human predators are a problem for you, this is not the breed to look at. All of these attributes and more are the exact theoretical recipe for a loving mellow family companion or a dedicated deterent for wildlife predators.
The founder of the breed, Wendy Francisco, had a full vision of how to share this unique LGD with the rest of the world, and has developed a breed standard. I often pick Wendy's brain and stalk all the social media pages, - keeping a close eye on the related ancestors of my dogs. With the shared passion of the CMD community and assistance of genetic direction from Wendy, the breed founder, I hope to bring Caspian forward as I develop my lines.
- The GIRLS.
The lady that captured my heart and fills my expectations beyond my wildest dreams is Bonnie Lee. Having contributed her genetics to our program with two great litters, she will retire this year and become a full time Therapy Dog registered with Pet Partners. We plan to engage in private AAI Professional Therapy and provide AAE with the R.E.A.D. program in the spring. Bonnie can read a room, delivering her performance with only as much drama as needed. She is intense about what she is asked to do, taking her tasks very seriously. Cooperative and clownish at times, Bonnie's little figure is beautiful. Her bone structure and size are what I picture for my females. She is proving to mature into a slinky agile but still heavy framed female. A good bitch line is every breeders dream, and I believe my Bonnie Lee will be true to me.
Her son with Auggie, "Koda", will head up the line bringing my Auggie down through the generations. I was hoping to bring together Auggie's best with Bonnie's best and I believe I got it in this boy.
- Pearly Baker was selected for her outcross lines from Caspian into 3rd generation CMD "Artax". The few aspects of Bonnie's pheno-type that I desire to improve are the stop of her skull, better proportions height to length, and lighten up her Shepherds crook. Pearl has a dominant amount of Great Pyrenees in her. She is typical and typey for a Pyr given to vocal outbursts and typically stubborn. I also saw something in her facial marking that told me she held the coat color genetics of no black masking, and her white spotting was erratic on the head. This tells me it will be easy to "pull back" the white spotting through selection.
"Althea" has a dream temperament. Accepting, cooperative, affectionate without being needy. No resource guarding, low prey drive, low energy level, and a vibe of happiness and joy. She has a dream come true coat. Soft and dense, medium shed and a tail that speaks volumes carried loosely over her back in a smooth curve finish. Not exactly a Shepherds crook, more reminiscent of a Bichon Frise's tail set. Althea's temperament is being brought into our program specifically to work with any less desirable temperament traits that the Anatolian GSD x Pyr x Malamute may bring in. Her face is my model ideal as far as expressiveness, ear and eye set. There are aspects of these traits in common with Goldens. The soft eyes expressive eyes, smiling face and dark pigmented skin. ("eyeliner"). Althea's one trouble spot is confinement. She will find any weak spot in the barrier and test it. Not to run away mind you. She has broken out of the back pen to come to front pen and asked to be let in. Its more of a "need to be with you" issue than need to be away from you. A good game she plays.
We've recently aquired the very last ingredient to our breeding program recipe. In'Sh'Allah is (reportedly) Mostly Maremma Sheepdog with pieces of Pyrenees here and there. She is second or third hand from the breeder, so I have no working knowledge of her heritage, other than her mother was a blue dog. I believe this to be true as I can "see" it with my breeder glasses. Like the difference between a bluish hued LED light and the yellow of an incandescent. I suspect In'Sh'Allah had some mishandling before she came to us. Skittish and submissive, she seems always to be expecting the next blow. Her true nature is forever lost to the ages. What I see in her is akin to what I have experienced with wolf/dog hybrids. She's a wonderful pet and house dog, but the is a wild side to her. She has a connection to the ancestors. She is the smallest dog I have here at Fennario, maybe topping 60 lbs at one year old. She's not slinky like a border collie, but wolfy heavy and square. Purposeful and careful with her movements, she is agile and fast when needed. Her angulation is the best on the playground.
Having given you the ingredient list to my dogcake recipe, the breeding program begins with solidifying Auggie's best attributes, so they are easily carried through the generations. I need to be able to recognize him as the years go by. The best way to accomplish this was with "Stella", a daughter from Toodles - an American Alsatian from Schwarz kennels. This pairing gave us all males, the Workingman's litter. In the pictoral aide, this is the middle line, G1.
Otto and In'Sh' Allah will be giving us the Blues For Allah litter. A diverse genetic basis is what I'm after here. This is a totally forgein line to me. I have hardly any first hand experience with the background of either dog. My familiarity will improve as the generations come around - recessive health issues will show themselves and we will tackle weeding those out as they appear. This will be an intense and serious litter. Calm, but not mellow. Most of these pups will not have the temperament I want to work with permanently. Homing them will be an intense process. Applications will be taken early. To make matters worse, (or better, depending on how you look at it), these dogs will be STUNNING. There will be nothing like them in the United States. A Ghostly lilac overcoat covering a deep indigo undercoat. Penetrating light brown eye color and small ears carried close to the head. Long expressive tails furnished with a flashy white tip. In the pictorial aide this is taking the LEFT line down to G2.
In'Sh'Allah will give us one more litter with an outside stud Colorado Mountain Dog carrying the fading silver/blue dilution. This litter is the Rocking the Cradle / Egypt '78. Again this is taking the LEFT line down to G2.
Hopefully Otto will make an outstanding stud for the Colorado Mountain Dog Breed development, and I would welcome puppy-back offers to build an even more diverse selection to work with his lines. From Otto, his offspring would always be G2. In the pictoral aide Again this is taking the LEFT line down to G2. (Anything off Otto will be the "Bear's Choice" Litter Group. Litter pages will be created as they become.)Selection will be tricky, as I will be concentrating hard on temperament while working on keeping the recessive blue reliably reproducing.
Auggie and the Colorado Mountain Dogs will be coming together in this G2 category at the same time as the Blues.
Bonnie, Pearl and Althea all have Caspian in their background just at the right location to keep COI's on him down to acceptable levels. Next, we bring Auggie's genetics over to the Colorado Mountain Dogs starting with Bonnie. We had three BEAUTIFUL boys, only one having the temperament in the parameters needed to offset our G2 CMD's of Anatolian Shepherd heritage. In the pictorial aide this is taking the middle line to the right hand line, G1.
Second CMD to blend Auggie is Pearl. This litter will be Pearl's 2nd season, approx. April 2022. These will be the long awaited Skull N Roses pups around. HOWEVER, I might have to deviate with the names, as both of these are Dave's dogs, and Dave's choice breeding. As so, he can name the litter.
In the pictorial aide this is taking the middle line to the right hand line, G1. Anything directly off Auggie is the Wharf Rats Litter Group.
Althea will give us "Go To Heaven" litter with our choice from Workingman's . The Album Cover is indicative of what this litter will give us, including the possibility of some beards and longer hair, as Workingman's has some Irish Wolfhound in the background. I am so looking forward to the temperament for these pups. Kinder souls you will not find. These will be prize companion temperaments appropriate for therapy or service. I probably will not be selling any of them as pups, but rather growing them out and placing them as trained adults.
Pups from Workingman's, Skull and Roses, American Beauty and Go to Heaven (Wharf Rats) will be introduced into Bear's Choice lines at the third generation. Both lines will have been carefully selected to have the outstanding temperaments within the parameters for companion dogs that can work easily on a small family farm or a professional therapy setting. Auggie's wolf sable coloring will now be given the fading grey/Blue dilution developed in Otto's lines, giving us Blue Sable. This brings the middle and left lines together, bringing us to G4's.
Remember those Colorado Mountain Dogs G4 girls I was saving for later? At this point King Boaz, August West and Caspian should meet together in an appropriate COI that will show us the best of all three foundation males. Having grown out the G4 girls we can now bring together the Bear's Choice/Wharf Rats with the Europe '72 Group.
In the pictorial Aide, this is the bottom line - G5.
The fifth generation goal is to have registered Colorado Mountain Dogs of classic solid white, Tuxedo Black, (In varying degrees of blue dilution and grey fade) and Blue Wolf Sable. Although outcrossed dogs of up to 10 different breeds, 5th generation RMCD's will have consistent temperaments of reliable parameters. My lines will range from companion family pets to serious Live Stock Guardians for many years. Ear sets and coat texture will vary and some unexpecteds like "Up" ears will show occasionally. At this G5 level, things start to even out, and selection for consistency really ramps up at this point, as traits can be set in stone or quickly lost. Fifth generation-G5, is the linebreeding generation that seems to bring the most difficulty in the form of genetic bottlenecks. The course of selection based on the health history of the past generations of the program must be carefully maintained and balanced with recessive coat color genetics.
Diverse haplotypes from Auggie's background and the maintenance of the Colorado Mountain Dog's unique inherent behavioral traits will give us some of the most special creatures on the planet.
The 5 generation breeding program above could take up to ten years to ful fill, and as things change and improve or disappoint, we will have to adjust. It's the journey, not the destination.