What is the CVCC?


The CVCC is the abbreviation of Central Valley Critiquing Club, and was formed by fellow dog breeders and conformation exhibitors. It is a club that uses the puppy evaluation technique developed by Bob and Pat Hastings to accurately grade the structure and temperament of each individual puppy, and overall soundness of the litter.


Why is critiquing/evaluating a litter important?


Critiquing a litter has one main goal in mind; to better any breed structurally, and improve temperament. With the successful techniques practiced and shared by The Hastings, we can help reduce common serious structural faults in any of the breeds. Slip hock, herring gut, cow hocks, sickle hocks etc. are all faults that can negatively affect the health and longevity of all dogs as they get older, but can be pre-determined before selling a puppy or considering it for a show home.


If you can’t tell what the puppy is going to look like structurally before it is born, how can you prevent any of these genetic defects from showing up?


There is no way of knowing for certain that you are always going to get a genetically perfect (free from health problems, diseases etc.) litter. Breeders can however, reduce the likely hood or probability of these sometimes fatal occurrences from showing up. The parents that are being considered for breeding go through examinations and series of tests to determine if they should be bred.

It all starts out from the breeder’s foundation stock. Any person who is serious about showing a certain breed did their research. Calling other breeders and asking questions about the pedigree, and health of their dogs (considering the breeder is telling the truth and has accurate knowledge). Countless hours of reading and searching for the breed’s history, and common diseases were done before they considered what puppy would be the start of their kennel.

Breeders should take into consideration what the breed standard requires. A lot of this depends on the breeder’s interpretation of the standard, but most reputable breeders follow the guidelines of the standard as close as possible. Smaller, undesirable traits should be avoided when breeding but any apparent disqualifying faults, especially regarding structure, should play a rather large part in deciding whether the dog should or shouldn’t be bred. The breeders also consider the parents temperaments, so that they produce more stable minded puppies.

Another determining factor of breeding is the parent’s pedigrees.  This relies heavily on the research the breeder did previously to determine if the two parents will be “compatible”. By compatible, we mean what they will compliment each other on based on their structural appearance, and what has been known to genetically show up in the line health wise.  Once there has been a comparison done on the two lines, there is still one more final step before the two are bred.

The most important factor is that both parents are health tested to be certain that they are clear of any diseases or health problems that can be passed down from generation to generation. Hips, eyes, thyroid, heart, elbows, patella or anything else that is a known problem in the breed is tested thoroughly by the breeder’s veterinarian and by organizations such as the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals, also known as the OFA. When the animals are tested the results are shown on the OFA website for public knowledge, and if the parents pass all their health testing they are awarded with a CHIC# certifying them with all passed health clearances. Again, it is up to the breeder what they consider to be un-breedable, such as a bad heart that can be fatal to future generations

After combining all of the variables and throwing them into an equation, the breeder can hypothesize the outcome of a litter.

            So again, even though we can’t foresee the future outcome, we can certainly take evasive steps to help reduce the likely hood of any unhealthy or unstable puppies.


How are the puppies graded and what does the evaluation involve?


The puppies are graded on overall structure. The exam includes the teeth placement, head, neck, shoulder layback/placement, chest, topline, brisket, croup, rear assembly, overall balance, and the temperament of the puppy. They are graded on a scale of one to five; one being the lowest score and five being the highest. The higher the number scored equals a better rating of the puppy.


If each breed has a different standard, how can this one procedure accurately determine if the puppies will be healthy structurally?


The breed standard does play a part in the evaluation of the puppies. The specific breed’s standard should be applied when using this procedure. If the dog is supposed to have a roach back, then adapt the evaluation so that it may reflect that a roach back should be a five.


How old should the puppies be?


Puppies should be graded no sooner than three days before they are eight weeks old and no later than three days after turning eight weeks old. If possible, it always best to grade them exactly eight weeks old because it is a theory that they will look the same at one years old , as they did when they were eight weeks old.



Why do I need other people to grade my dogs for me? I know my breed just as well, if not more than they do, so why not just do it myself?


Like with our own human children, it is hard to fault them as we love them very dearly and wish to think that they are perfect. Thus, naturally making us biased in our opinion of them regardless what the rest of the population thinks. The same goes for us as breeders; as much as we would like to think we will be unbiased, we almost always convince ourselves that the unwanted outcome of a certain event cannot be true. We ask ourselves “what if”, creating doubt and uncertainty. Without another opinion that is also unbiased, nine times our of ten the outcome ends in failure. When you have trusted, reputable, and experienced people evaluating a dog, they are able to bring in a new perspective and offer their unbiased evaluation a lot easier, as it is not their breeding and don’t have as much emotional input to give the litter. So to be fair to yourself and your breeding program, it is better to have others grade the litter.


What is the goal of the CVCC members?


To expand our knowledge of breeding healthier dogs, and to help educate others on how they can make a successful breeding program. We wish to influence others to follow the same path as the club and only breed the best in conformation, and also in health. Creating a Best in Show dog is just an after thought of a breeder. What our goal to do is to create a healthier dog in the long run that will be a sound in mind, and body for the families of the generations to come.


Can anyone join the CVCC?


Sure! We encourage all dog fanciers to join! The more the merrier, and if we can educate others on the breeding and health testing of their stock, our goal will come to fruition a lot more quickly!


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