The Eurasier was originally developed by a group of people with the same idea in mind: to create a loving, family companion that still had the appearance and behaviours of a "natural" dog. Therefore, it’s origins are quite different from many of the other breeds we see today, particularly those developed for working, herding or hunting.
The Eurasier was never meant to be anything but a family companion that lives in its owners home and is with them as a constant companion. They were never intended to live in kennels with limited contact with their owners. Just as it would be unfair to deprive a herding breed an outlet for its genetic instinct, it is equally unfair to deprive a Eurasier of its genetic instinct to bond and be close with its family. Traditionally referred to as "The Eurasier Way", this is the philosophy we follow in our breeding program as well. Our dogs are family, they share our home (and often our bed, food etc.!), and breeding is a secondary goal, with the intent to preserve this wonderful breed, improve consistency in conformation and temperament, and to share these dogs with other deserving families!
HOW ARE BREEDING DOGS SELECTED?
This may seem like a simple question at first.. an owner or breeder purchases a puppy, or keeps a puppy from their litter and goes on to breed from there. But there is a lot more to it than that, at least when it comes to ethical breeding, where the breeder is selective and has a goal in mind for what they are hoping to achieve with this litter and for the future of their kennel and the breed.
The three major components of any breeding decision are HEALTH, CONFORMATION, and TEMPERAMENT.
But in what order? The logical first answer is health! But, there are plenty of mixed breed dogs that are healthy and live well into their teenage years, what makes a Eurasier any different? Perhaps conformation is first? A beautiful, well conformed and sound-moving dog is truly a sight to see, but if that very beautiful dog has a poor temperament, it may never see the inside of the show ring! What about temperament then? Certainly a dog must have a pleasant and breed-typical temperament in order to function well in its day to day life.. but how devastating would it be to own the sweetest dog you'd ever had, only for them to pass away at a young age from a preventable disease.
If you haven't caught on by now, the answer is that this is a trick question - all three are of equal importance and for different reasons. Here at Cerasi Eurasiers, we cannot consider one aspect without considering all three, and all three aspects are evaluated critically and as objectively as possible. What matters to us in an effort to breed ethically, preserve the Eurasier breed and make good breeding decisions is the order in which they are assessed, and not which one is "most important".
The first thing that gets assessed when a dog is being considered for breeding is conformation. This is simply due to the fact that it is the first thing that is most apparent. When a litter of puppies is born, a careful breeder will watch them as they develop over the first 9 weeks of life, and will usually have a good idea of which puppies have the most promising conformation and best embody the breed standard. This is never a guarantee, but you can tell a lot about how a puppy might mature if you have a well developed eye for conformation.
As the puppy grows into a dog, conformation can be assessed objectively, either in dog shows or by having a breeding assessment in countries where this is available. By maturity, the breeder should have developed their own thorough understanding of the dog's strengths and weaknesses as well. Any critical faults or disqualifications may eliminate the dog from breeding at this stage. Other faults may be compensated for with intentional breeding decisions. Some may disregard conformation as unimportant, or competing for ribbons, but for us, it is the first hurdle a dog must clear to prove its quality.
Next to be evaluated is temperament. In some respects, this is evaluated alongside conformation. A Eurasier with an unsound temperament will not perform well in the show ring, however temperament takes a while to fully develop.
The temperament you see as a puppy surrounded by its littermates and mother is not always what you end up seeing at maturity. Temperament is certainly genetic, but it is also shaped by the environment and life experiences. Additionally, puppies go through several fear periods during their development, so it would be unfair to judge a puppy on this when it may not be an accurate reflection of their adult temperament.
At maturity, around 2 years of age for a Eurasier, an adequate assessment can be made of a dog's temperament. Do they display correct breed characteristics? Are their any deficiencies in temperament, and if so, how severe? A Eurasier that is a bit reserved can be paired with an outgoing partner, but one that is fearful or aggressive would not be a suitable breeding candidate.
The "last" thing to evaluate is health, but this certainly does not imply it is the least important. Other than obvious defects that may be present from birth, or if the dog develops a health condition as it grows, you just don't know how a dog will do on its breed-specific health tests until they are old enough to assess them.
If the potential breeding candidate has made it this far by demonstrating it is a good representative of its breed and has a breed-typical and stable temperament, it is ready for the final piece of the puzzle, which is health testing. If the health testing yields favourable results at this point, then the dog in question is likely a sound choice for a breeding candidate! The breeder can then proceed to study pedigrees and find a complementary match.
A breeder can hedge their bets by purchasing a puppy from health tested stock, but it is never a guarantee. While a failing result is disappointing, it is still more than likely that the dog will go on to lead a normal, happy life, but just will not contribute to the breeding population.