This litter has finally arrived! I expect these pups to be superior pups for our BPDog breeding plan. I have a high confidence that the sled dog instinct will surely come through in this litter. I also have high hopes that some level of hunting instinct and prey drive will be found in many of these pups. Perhaps we may even see some of them exhibit some increased suspicion of strangers as potential watchdogs, for our KBDog is suspicious of strangers and the maternal grandmother of the pups is a good guard/watch dog.
It must add the caveat that all puppies, no matter how good their parents are as breeding stock, are a genetic gamble. There is no such thing as a 100% guarantee that any particular pup may live up to some artificial, preconceived standard. Puppies are not made like cookies from a secrete recipe. Nature has a random wild card in genetic pairings that can change even the most carefully executed plans. So each pup is sort of like a Christmas present the night before being opened. We wait in anticipation like anxious children, but one can never be totally sure what is hidden under that wrapper until it is opened and inspected.
A good sign was clearly seen in the pups just moments after birth. They hunted for their mother's milk immediately after being born and successfully nursed sooner than any litter of puppies I have ever seen. They were strong in the lung, squealing loudly whenever other pups pushed them aside to nurse. They were very energetic and aggressive in contending for milk. This is a sign that many of them may turn out to be very assertive dogs, and willing to stand up to challenges, rather than shrink behind the owner as a cowardly dependent pet. Breeders of various Elkhound breeds that I know from Scandinavia have told me that a good hunting dog is a bold and aggressive one. They tend to assert themselves, and like to be first in line for whatever is being encountered. The shy, reserved, polite dog is often one that will run away when things get tough.
There were ten puppies total, 7 female and 3 male. There were a greater number of grey ones, which seems to be a strong genetic trait that shows through from the KBDog father. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, our KBDog has the rare grey coat from before the KBDog standard was made, but is still common in Russian Karelia. His father was a grey, and this gene seems to be very strong, for it showed up in the other litter our dog fathered with Molly the Central Asian Shepherd. We also had two pups that were almost entirely black, and some others that were black with the typical white neck band and other white markings. Our Karelian Bear dog's Mother was a predominantly black one, thus that gene of almost pure black KBDogs seems to be popping up in both of these litters.
I was surprised that not a single white puppy was born, for the mother is pure white. She comes from several generations of pure white dogs, and it has been a very strong trait in our kennel for many years. I don't really want white coats, and have tried to breed the white coat out many times by crossing the white dogs with other colors; but the white coat often prevails. In this breeding it appears that the white coat gene has been finally pushed aside by stronger color genes. In all decisions of breeding and puppy choices, color is always the least important consideration. Although we often have color preferences, they should always be secondary to the more important traits of good health, physical formation, temperament, and intelligence.
Some reasons why I planned this breeding are that I wanted to breed out the natural friendliness of sled huskies and replace it with a suspicion of strangers. Both parents are more cautious of strange intruders, and less likely to greet visitors with gregarious kindness. They were also both able to work in the harness well together, keeping a matching pace and being very hard workers. Finally, the mother has a trait that is hard to get from modern sled dogs. She has a very thickly furred belly. Many dog breeds have a tendency to be bald or thinly furred on the abdomen, especially near the rear. This makes them vulnerable to frost bit on the genitals and teats during long runs in sub-zero runs. Our old freight dogs were all well furred on the belly, and never had frost bite problems. But most purebred dogs that I have encountered are bald bellied. I am hoping that she passes on that trait to all the puppies, so that they will be able to endure the harsh cold of deep winter in Alaska.
Both parents display prey drive, but the Karelian Bear Dog father has a prey drive that is more intelligently executed. To pursue, tree, hold at bay, or do blood tracking work, a dog must understand certain strategic actions. For example, when finding a treed grouse, the dog should not frighten the bird, or bark too much. They are supposed to stare at the bird as a form of pointing, without frightening it into flight. A stupid dog will simply try to chase the bird and make it fly away. Different hunting tasks require different actions, and a smart dog understands these differences. Hopefully some of that intelligence and situational awareness will arise in these pups.
Finally, for those people who want a pup that can bond with the family, both parents are very socially attentive, and are gentle with children. The mother in particular is as sweet as peach pie, and is very gentle with our children. I have no fear that she would ever hurt one of our children. These pups will have a strong, loyal attachment to whatever family they join.
Over all I have high expectations for these puppies. They will be athletic, healthy, loyal, intelligent, working dogs.