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The Value of the VGP – And the Breeding of Deutsch-Drahthaar

 Reprinted with permission of the author Lynn S. Whiteley, VDD/GNA Breedwarden

 

When many DD owners think about the VGP they think of it as; “That test they do in Germany because that’s how they hunt, but it really doesn’t apply to what I’m doing.” Some feel the only reason to train and handle a dog in VGP in America is to become eligible for the judging program. They believe that the “Breed Tests” VJP and HZP are the only tests needed for breeding because they give us information about the basic inherited natural abilities of the dogs. There was a time when I at least partially shared this opinion, but not any more. After being involved with the DD breed for over 29 years I have come to realize how important a piece of the (Breeding) puzzle the VGP is.

What was it that dvgparticlerew us to the DD in the first place? For most of us it was the intelligence and mentality of these dogs that not only hunted and pointed birds, but also gave us the ability to do a credible job in other hunting situations on other types of game. This unique mentality that is so valuable to those of us that use our DD’s in different hunting situations, is an added bonus to those of us that primarily hunt birds. It isn’t the result of focusing on only one facet of the DD, but from breeders that over the years have remained focused on versatility. VDD is really no place for a breeder that has no use for versatility and only wants to produce a “Bird Dog”.

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The Deutsch-Drahthaar is, and was always meant to be a versatile dog. For over 100 years breeders in Germany have bred and selected for this versatility. Obviously breeding versatile dogs is much more complicated than breeding specialists. As breeders we can’t just concentrate on one specific aspect of the dog or over time versatility will suffer. It is truly a balancing act of abilities. While it is true that the VDD Breeding Regulations allow the breeder the freedom to use his/her own ingenuity to produce the type of dog they need in hunting, the basic underlying premise demands a certain level of versatility. The VGP is the standard of versatility! No other test comes close to verifying the versatile hunting ability of a dog as does the VGP. While the Breed Test results can give us a good indicator of abilities such as nose, search/drive, tracking ability, pointing, waterlove, and some trainability, they don’t even begin to tell us what we need to know about mental stability, intelligence, calmness, and the ability to switch gears on a dime to handle different hunting situations. After almost three decades of hunting, training, handling, and judging these dogs, I can say with conviction that in most cases, the dogs that really impress me in hunting with the entire package of versatile ability and mentality, upon examination of their pedigrees I will find that most if not all of the ancestors on a four generation pedigree carry the bold five digit DGStB number signifying that they have passed the VGP. I don’t believe for a minute that this is a coincidence.

Some might say; “My dog has proven in VJP and HZP that it has the genetic ability to pass a VGP, if I just took the time to do it. ” All I can say to that is TAKE THE TIME! I promise that it’s well worth the effort! Not only will you prove the versatility of your dog by passing the test, but you will learn a great deal about your dog, and yourself, whether you pass or not. It’s a learning process, and isn’t something you can farm out to someone else. To “GET IT” you have to do it yourself. If you don’t have time to train a VGP dog, you probably don’t have time to be a good breeder.

Take a look in the breed books at the more successful German breeders. These breeders usually work exclusively with one line of dogs, and they know them inside and out. To them breeding is a constant experiment, probing the gene pool to test the genetic makeup of their line, and to see what combinations produce what results. That’s why they rarely repeat breedings. They consider repeat vgparticle3breedingsgenerally to be a waste of time because they don’t tell them anything new. To them breeding is a long term endeavor designed to gradually produce better and better dogs than what they started with, not simply to produce puppies to sell. It’s almost unheard of for them to breed a bitch before she has passed the VGP. The experience of a breeder devoting a summer to train a bitch for VGP not only proves her versatility, but it provides a wealth of information about her that can’t be learned in any other way. None of these dogs are perfect. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, their good points and their bad. Being the breeder and having the knowledge of what it took to train your bitch in the many different VGP subjects gives you a big advantage when choosing the right stud dog. It’s not the same as buying a VGP bitch or having someone else train yours for you. When completed you will not only have a VGP score, but you know from first hand experience exactly what it took to get that score! If you are a breeder that is being honest with yourself, you will be looking for a stud that not only compliments your bitch, but also one that you think can help cover her weaknesses. I personally made a promise to myself about ten years ago that I would never again breed a bitch before she passed the VGP.

 

Lynn S. Whiteley
VDD/GNA Breedwarden

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