Our Philosophy of Breeding

At Rare Breeds Ranch, we are breeding working livestock guardian dogs. Our philosophy is simple: Breed the best to the best. The offspring should be as good as, or better than their parents. As breeders, we strive to be very thoughtful, as we have a limited gene pool with which to work. What has been 6000 years in the making, can be lost forever without careful attention to BREEDING TO TRADITION. All of our breeding dogs are proven to guard sheep, goats, alpacas, our property, and our family. Our dogs live in rough terrain, with hot, dry summers and below freezing temperatures in the winter. Our dogs work equally well in the field and the home. We do exhibit some of our dogs at AKC dog shows as these shows have been established as a venue for breeders to come together to compare breeding stock. As breeders of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, we often look for inspiration to our Peruvian friends who breed Peruvian Paso horses. We, like they, are faced with a small gene pool and a creature, that if lost, could not be reconstituted, as the genetic material used to create these animals not longer exists. The following excerpt from Verne R. Albright's book, "The Peruvian Paso and His Classic Equitation", provides insight into the Rare Breeds Ranch Philosophy:

"The creation of this breed (Peruvian Paso) was a masterpiece of genetics. It is inconceivable that any other group would have had the patience, honesty and dedication necessary to achieve it. It must never be forgotten that Peruvian breeders have managed to incorporate the desired qualities into their horse strictly through selective breeding. They have not succumbed, as have breeders of almost all other gated horses, to achieving their desired ends through artificial means. All characteristics of the Peruvian horse are inherited and were incorporated into the breed with almost superhuman patience, step-by-step, through genetics.

On my second trip to Peru about thirty years ago, I was visiting the hacienda of one of the leading breeders. By coincidence, I arrived there at the same time as an Argentine, also interested in Peruvian horses. Our host showed us many beautiful horses, and as the 'piece de resistance', he brought out a truly magnifi-cent stallion. Both of us complimented him on the excellence of the horse. The Argentine went on to say that he had ben traveling extensively in Peru, visiting major breeders and felt sure our host's stallion was destined to be the next National Champion of Champions. Our host smiled with great pleasure, thanked us for our compliments and said that we had overestimated his stallion. The animal would certainly do no better than a fourth or fifth place. When we wanted to know why this was so, he told us that the horse had a defect: a slightly shorter stride than was desirable.

"Well then," said the Argentine, "I am going to tell you something for which you can thank me when you horse wins the championship. It will be quite simple for you to increase the length of his stride. All you need do is lay cvaletti poles flat on the ground, parallel to on another, sort of like a stepladder. Space these poles so your stallion will come down on them with his hooves unless he takes a longer step. With enough work, he'll learn to increase his stride."

Our host's face furrowed into a frown. His manners were impeccable, and I'm sure he did not realize that he had the look of a man who had just smelled an unpleasant odor. He said, "Well, in the first place, under unwritten rules we have here, that would be considered to be cheating. In the second place, it seems to me that it would no be wise. If I were to do what you suggest and as a result win the championship, many mares would be brought to my house for breeding. A good number of their foals would inherit his short stride and would re-quire this training on the cavaletti poles. According to our way of thinking, it is better to let the stallion with the natural long stride be the champion."

At first, I didn't fully understand the significance of what I had just heard. To me, it still seemed perfectly reasonable to use a few little "gimmicks" to improve a horse. However, later that after-noon, this same Peruvian gentlement helped me to better understand the Peruvian philosophy of horse breeding. I had noticed that all Peruvian horses are ridden in the same bit. There are small modifications from one bit to another, but essentially all are the same. I pointed out to my host that I thought this very strange and went on to suggest that proper application of a spade bit to one of his mares would quickly improve her collection. Furthermore, I said, there was another mare that was unmanageable but pro- bably would not be so with a more severe bit. My host looked at me kindly, in the same fashion a Grand Master in chess might look at a ten-year-old boy who had done something in a checker game in which the boy considers very clever. "If a horse cannot be handled in our bit, we don't want him", he said to me. "We want our horses to have good collection because the head is set on the neck properly, the neck is set on the body properly and the spirit in the horse is such that he wants to collect himself. As for that uncooperative mare of mine, she has been banished to the work string and will not be used for breeding lest here undesirable characteristics show up in future generations."

By understanding the unique circumstances that have led to the development of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, or as they are known in their homeland of Turkey, "Kangal Dog", we at Rare Breeds Ranch are committed to preserving and improving this Turkish treasure.