Monday, February 1, 2010

The Foundation Bred Catahoula

Cayenne Rose, she's a hot pepper!

For over a decade, I operated my breeding program the way most people do. Find a good hunting dog and breed it to a good hunting dog and assume the result will be to get good puppies that grow up to hunt the way the parents do. Right? Seems logical, but the truth is it doesn't work that way.

For over a decade I ignored the advise of the old timers who told me to get some Blair blood and breed it on top of my old Maurice bloodline. I found a lot of good dogs and experimented with many crosses. Mostly these experiments failed. Instead of getting good dogs I was lucky if one in the litter that would hunt.

One day at the Uncle Earl's Hog Dog Trails, I saw an amazing dog being walked out of the campsite next to me, and later that day, I bought Patch on sight, then got his papers and thought; Cool, a Blair-bred dog!

About a month later, at two years old, he demonstated an amazing ability to bay a hog in my pen, in spite of never seeing a hog in his life until that day.

So...I assumed I would hunt him with Bob, my best dog, and Bob would teach him to hunt. Well, big surprize! In about five minutes after turning them out, Bob was bayed up and before I got to Bob's bay, I heard another dog baying about 50 yards away, and looked around to see who was still with me. Both young dogs were following me. Patch had gone right on past Bob and found his own hog! So just like the old timers told me, we went to the woods for the first time, and this two year old(one dog wonder), who had never hunted, found his own hog and bayed until he got cut and the hog broke.

Most amazing thing about Patch is: he does not produce one runt or one cull in his pups. Every litter is smart, fast, strong, healthy, gritty, loyal, devoted and versatile. They make good pets, cow dogs, hog dogs, blood dogs, security, are gentle with children, and are mostly getting into trouble every day as a puppy.

The last quality mentioned is grossly misunderstood by most people attempting to raise a Catahoula pup. Although they outgrow this problem at about a year or two, we can expect to be tested or schooled by a well-bred Catahoula early on. They climb over, dig under, open latched gates, tear through, destroy landscaping, furniture, toys clothes, shoes, etc.

Very important to note here that the test is to determine if you are the boss or not. If you are not, they will rule your house and yard. More importantly, be advised to control your anger, and not be mean to them for being smarter than you are. Because they are also faster than you are, you will not be able to be mean to them again, because you can't catch them.

The most important thing you need to teach a Blair-bred Catahoula is that they can trust you and they must come when called, on command.

It took me about three years of dealing with Patch's descendants to realize that the tests these pups were putting me through everyday, clearly demonstated they were smarter than me.

From that point on, I began to learn from my dogs. Soon I realized that I did not have to teach these dogs to hunt because they were bred to hunt and the hardest aspect of this new challenge was to control my desire to put them in harms way too soon. Too soon meaning, at about 20-22 months with virtually no experience, these dogs hit the ground running and went and found their own hog with no help, just like Patch did, his first time out.

You don't have to teach them to hunt, you have to teach them to survive and that means to bay until you get there. And the easiest way to accomplish this is to resist running too many at one time. In nature, they bay until help arrives, and if that help is a pack of dogs instead of you, guess who is the first dog to get killed? The best dog.

On the other hand if they bay until you get there and then catch, you are there to back them up and throw the hog and the hog as well as the dog has very little injury. So simple.

Early on, I do not have to teach them to hunt, I more importantly need to protect them from getting killed. Because a Blair-bred dog is so fast, smart, and gritty, you lose nothing by letting their muscles, bones and skin toughen up for two years, as a pup. Time after time, my customers take a two year old Blair-bred, started dog out for the first time, and he out hunts their experienced dogs.

Prior to that, many never saw a hog in the woods until almost two years old.

I am not suggesting that you can't or don't need to bring them to the woods, but be careful of running them with anything but an older, experienced dog who is a one dog wonder.

I always hunted my dogs two or more at a time until I got Patch, because that's how I learned to hunt, and I operated under the assumption that hog hunting was dangerous and the more help a dog had, the safer it was.

A foundation bred dog comes from generation after generation of proven, elite, high performance working dogs and then when bred, produces generation after generation of the same after them.

A "freak" is a dog that comes out of nowhere and makes a name for themself, and we assume because they are a good hunting dog, we can breed to them and get good pups who grow up to hunt like the adults do.

Based upon my personal failues with that program, I now breed only foundation bred dogs and the rest is history.

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