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Champion parents, international pedigrees, imported lines: understanding common breeder terms

If you’re out to purchase a puppy, you’ll probably come across terms and inputs from breeders – champion line, imported parents, international pedigree, working line, among them. The terms sound easy enough to understand, but what do they mean to you as a puppy buyer?

Here’s a short explainer of some common terms and what they mean in real life.

Champion parents – This means that the puppy’s dam and/or have earned championship titles in conformation shows. To become a champion, a dog has to compete against other dogs with a judge ensuring that the dog meets the breed standards of its breed. The miniature schnauzer, for instance, should meet the breed standards spelled out by the American Miniature Schnauzer Club if it competes in North America; or by the FCI if it competes in Europe and the rest of the world, including the Philippines. Breed standards describe a breed’s structure and temperament. For the puppy buyer, having a champion parent/s is the breeder’s way of assuring you that your puppy, through its champion parents, conforms to the breed standards. (Health is not part of this, and is checked out in a different way). In plain language, if the parents look good, then in all likelihood, the children should look good too. My take: the logic is sound, but genetics is a game of the dice, so even if the puppy you are eyeing is the progeny of champion parents, you still need to use your eyes to see if everything checks out. 

Champion line – Similar to above, the puppy’s grandparents or great grandparents may be champions, but its parents are not. When breeders say this, they are telling you that the puppy descended from good stock. My take: as with above, the assurance of having nice ancestors is great, but check out the puppy.  A knowledgeable breeder should be able to tell you the good traits of the puppy’s ancestors, and which of these are evident in the puppy.

International champion – Championships are awarded in different countries. When a dog wins in the Philippines, then it is a Philippine champion. If it competes in other countries and obtains its championship there, then it is a champion of that country too, and may be called an international champion. There is also what is called an FCI dog show, where a dog has to be adjudged “Excellent” by international judges to obtain what is called a CACIB certificate. Upon obtaining four CACIB certificates, a dog is considered an international champion. Hence, you will see INT.CH. preceding the dog’s name in his pedigree. For instance, Olaf is a champion both in the Philippines and Thailand, and he is also an international champion, so his pedigree name is preceded by the titles  PH CH/TH CH/INT CH (Philippine champion/Thailand Champion/International Champion). My take: As a dog show exhibitor and hobbyist, these championships matter to me, as it lets me know that judges from all over the world see that my dog is a good representative of the breed. For you as a puppy buyer, however, my advice is as I have mentioned above for champion parents.

Imported parents – This simply means the puppy’s parents were brought in from another country. In breeds where the gene pool is limited in the Philippines, this matters to those who have plans to breed their dogs.  It also means the possible introduction of traits that are not found in the locally bred lines. Standard poodle lines in the Philippines, for instance, were very limited for a long time, and those bred in the country were small and lacked substance. The entry of imported standard poodle lines could possibly change this. In miniature schnauzers, we noticed that backyard breeders were inbreeding their dogs, producing very rangy and sickly ones, so we decided more than a decade ago to import stocks from around the world. Today, the Philippines has a wide range of miniature schnauzer bloodlines which has greatly helped uplift the quality of the breed in the country. My take: An imported dog means a new bloodline, but a knowledgeable breeder should know what this bloodline brings to the breed. Now, If you’re being offered an imported dog by a dog trader, remember that imported means nothing other than the dog being born outside the Philippines. You still need to examine the puppy very closely, preferably with a vet, to ensure that it is healthy and that everything checks out. I have horror stories of sick dogs being shipped into the country by unethical breeders and dog traders, but that’s a topic for another blog.

International pedigree – This term refers to an export pedigree. Each dog can only have one pedigree. When a dog is about to be sent off to another country, the kennel club where the dog is originally based issues an export pedigree, which contains the same information as his original pedigree. However, this export pedigree is what the kennel club, such as PCCI, would require so that it could register the dog in its books. My take: You’re only going to encounter this if you’re importing a dog. Whatever it’s called, check with PCCI to ensure that you get the correct papers that would allow you to register the dog in the Philippines. 

Working line – You’re bound to hear this only for some breeds such as the German Shepherd. Here, what is referred to as the show line looks different from what they call the working line, which is the line used for police work, obedience, etc. I am no GSD expert, so I will not delve into this. 

The above are just some terms that you might hear from time to time – I’ll update these should new terminologies emerge that are worth explaining. 

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