Most large race teams that run ten plus canine athletes are breeding a litter or two each year while others prefer not to raise pups an purchase dogs from top mushers. We also need to put some puppies on the ground in order to feed young blood into the race team. In our experience, sprint racing dogs typically have a small window of performance two to six years with the occasional phenomenal yearling and veteran.
Given the distances we are training, 18-25mi, we are looking for certain characteristics in our line of sled dogs. This is nothing new for many mushers but it is much different than the limited class mushers some of whom only run two to four miles.
Before I get into Jaana’s actual breeding I’d like to give a little background on what we are looking for in a sled dog.
Some Characteristics of a Canine Endurance Athlete – In no Particular Order
- Tough Feet – Not enough can be said about a dog that has really good feet as no one likes putting on dog booties! Pads have to be tough and wear resistant handling sharp or old snow as well as sand and gravel. There’s also the issue of fissures which appear as larger or small paper cuts on the bottom side of the dogs webbing. The Grace X Ari litter has really tough feet. I’ve only had to booty those bitches a couple of times in adverse conditions where any dog would have to wear booties.
Good Coat – Some of these hound crosses have pretty thin coats even though they are still dual layer. Having a thicker, but not too thick of a coat, protects the dog against the extreme cold while retaining heat thus burning less calories in the colder months which helps retain weight and is easier on your food bill. All the bitches in the Grace X Ari litter are one scoop dogs, very nice.
I could get into more characteristics but these are some of the essentials assuming the dog shows leader potential, has great drive and concentration, and is a fast learner/ good listener.
Jaana X Kulane
My friend Chuck Gould has kept up his old alaskan husky breeding lines going back to Grover from George Attla. We need to water down the hound lines in our breedings to get the prior characteristics. I was willing to split a litter with Chuck to get some of those old lines so I paid him a visit with Jaana who was in standing heat at the end of March. I took my time looking at his male dog yard there were a lot of good looking dogs and some were successful producers. But the dog that caught my eye was Kulane. Kulane is a Hobo (Lance Mackey) grandson with Burner (Roxy Wright-Champaine) and Streeper lines further back.
I took the time to drive up to Chuck’s in Isabella for each breeding instead of leaving her there. They were bred twice, once on Wed. and the second on Friday. Puppies have a gestation period of sixty-three days so we were looking at early June. This would have been Jaana’s second litter.
The hound crosses usually start to show something at five to six weeks but Jaana was still trim at this time. Coming into the 8th week she still was not showing any signs of carrying a litter. At week nine, her mammaries started to grow but her abdomen did not drop. She also started to nest trying to dig a hole under the shed and started lactating at day sixty-three. During her first pregnancy she was bigger than a tick at this point so we thought maybe one or two puppies.
Over the next few days I kept a close eye on her watching for changes in mood or signs of discomfort while checking her temperature and possible discharge. She showed no change in anything and would still vigorously chase squirrels and chipmunks around the wood shed.
Given advice from experienced dog people I decided to take her into the vet for an x-ray to check for a possible stuck puppy and a blood test for pyometra. The x-ray showed a clean abdomen and the blood test no elevated white blood cells.
A false pregnancy! What a bummer. I’ve raised six litters, three of my own and three at Windigo and was really looking forward to having puppies this summer. None of my other sixteen bitches have come into heat yet this season which is really odd. Hopefully Chevelle or Joan come into heat before the end of the summer so we can have a planned breeding with her and Ari.