The Newfoundland is a dog of distinctive type in appearance, temperament, and natural abilities. Temperament is the hallmark of the breed. The NCA encourages careful and selective breeding of Newfoundlands that exemplify these qualities in sound, healthy specimens. Breeders should be knowledgeable regarding both the Newfoundland Standard and the inheritance of genetic health problems in the breed and recognize both factors should be carefully evaluated in any breeding program. This document outlines specific practices that are strongly encouraged by the NCA to maintain the quality and stability of the breed now and for the foreseeable future.
Conformation: Clearly, breeding decisions define the genetic future of the breed. There are no substitutes for direct knowledge and honest evaluation of the dam, stud dog, and their close relatives, particularly any previous progeny. Breeders should strive to be as familiar as possible with the conformation, movement, and temperament of these dogs. Further, less experienced breeders should seek out the opinions of those with greater experience and greater familiarity with related dogs.
Temperament: Temperament, no less than conformation, has a substantial genetic component and should be strongly considered in breeding decisions. Outright aggression, whether directed at people or other dogs, must clearly be selected against strongly. Other behavioral traits of the sire and dam, e.g., reactivity, energy level, sociability, trainability, etc., strongly influence the same traits in offspring and must be considered in breeding and the proper placement of puppies.
Health Screening: The overall health of a dog or bitch to be used for breeding should be carefully considered. Radiographs of hips and elbows should be evaluated - preferably after two years of age - by a board certified radiologist, hearts examined by auscultation or echo-cardiogram by a board certified cardiologist after one year of age, and the cystinuria genotype determined. * Thyroid, patella, and CERF eye exams are also encouraged. The NCA strongly recommends the results of these examinations be entered into a publicly accessible database.
Further, and no less important, is a direct, open discussion between the bitch owner and the prospective stud dog owner regarding these results, and the status of both dogs with respect to health issues for which there are no current screening techniques. To the extent possible, the status of first- and second- order relatives should also be considered since the inheritance of all but cystinuria is considerably more complicated than simple dominant/recessive. This complexity of inheritance also underscores that, in spite of cleared parents, offspring may be affected and breeders should be prepared for that eventuality.
Diversity: Breeders should understand that the genetic structure of the breed is a consequence of the combined breeding selections of the population and should weigh the impact of strict selection criteria against the resulting decreases in genetic diversity. Breedings should not be done simply for the sake of diversity or for the sake of matching health clearances. Both parties (owners of stud dogs and dams) should be aware of any deficiencies in the health status of both dogs and be prepared for those to appear in a litter. While breeding close relatives, per se, does not result in loss of population - wide diversity, it does increase the probability that recessive phenotypes, good and bad, will be expressed and, again, breeders should be prepared for that eventuality.
Other considerations: Only bitches and dogs in good health should be bred and both, particularly the bitch, should be mature. Stud dog owners have no obligation to service a bitch and should not service bitches about which they have substantial concerns. Breeding stock should be permanently identified.
Placing puppies: Breeders should thoroughly screen prospective homes and be prepared to keep puppies as long as necessary to find an appropriate placement. They should strive to maintain a good relationship with owners and provide advice and support throughout the life of the dog. In the unfortunate event that a dog must be placed in a new home, the breeder should arrange for the placement or take the dog back. Contracts should include a clause to this effect. Puppies are usually placed between 9 and 14 weeks and should be evaluated by a board-certified cardiologist prior to placement. Earlier placements should be made only for a specific reason since puppies benefit from interactions with the mother and littermates and definitive health screening is often impossible before 9 to 12 weeks.
Contracts: Written contracts are strongly recommended for all transactions, such as sales, co-ownerships, breeding rights agreements, compensation for future puppies, leasing a bitch, and stud service. Clearly defining the obligations and expectations of each party, in a simple, but well written manner, should help to prevent any misunderstanding at a later date. Violations of contracts can seriously erode the trust among breeders and owners. The NCA offers arbitration of contractual disputes through the Arbitration Committee.
Conclusion: Breeders are especially visible to the public and the fancy. They should remember that they and their dogs represent the breed and the NCA. Whether conducting transactions involving Newfoundlands, educating the public or less experienced breeders, or participating in AKC or NCA competitions, breeders must always conduct themselves in a way to bring credit to both the club and the breed.
* The NCA Board of Directors will periodically review recommended screening and may update these recommendations as evidence and availability of tests warrant.
NCA Breeder Education Committee 2009:
Jean Mc Adams
Kathy Mc Iver