Breeding Philosophy

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American Chesapeake



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chesapeake breedingp philosophy

breeding with a plan

“If you think breeding is a crap shoot, you should probably
shoot the crap you’re breeding.”

      The basic premise is this: everything a dog is, including temperament, trainability, character, drive, work ethic, much of health and longevity, is genetic: and, DNA is usually immutable. The corollary is that breeding does have a degree of predictability; if this was not true, there would be no purebred dogs.  People who are looking for a dog to serve as "just a pet" need to know this: The traits which make an animal a pleasant companion are just as heritable as those that make a good working dog.
      Planned breeding requires a clear goal, which should be to fix desirable traits so that they breed on reliably, and to eliminate undesirable traits. Planned breeding requires knowledge of genetics in general and of your breeding stock in particular; it is a lot more than mating two animals and hoping for the best.

      Sue Keroack recognized these truisms long ago, and developed a breeding plan aimed at preserving and intensifying the traits which, in her opinion, make the Chesapeake a unique animal.  She bred dogs that she liked and that fit her lifestyle, which included hunting, training and competing year around, and living with the dogs as her companions. Her own dogs and those related to them have achieved titles in various disciplines, including the conformation ring, obedience (three OTCH’s, UDX, numerous HIT’s), field (derby pts., NAHRA and AKC hunt tests, WD/X/Q, WC/X), tracking (TD/X), Agility, and Schutzhund. Some found jobs as therapy dogs and bomb detectors, and of course as companions and personal gun dogs.


Plan in practice

      The Chesapeake was bred to work, and it’s original job as a retriever for market hunters shaped the dog both physically and mentally. Sue’s first priority as a breeder was to produce a versatile working dog; the goal was to preserve a high level of trainability and intelligence in a sound dog bred true to the written standard. The following describes the sequence of  breedings she used to pursue that goal.


WR Mtn.View Katmai Bay CD, WDQ, WCX, CGC, NAHRA All-AmericanTeam (Thunder) x Rockrun’s Springtime Magic (Magic)

thunder over water

     Thunder was one of the most brilliant and trainable dogs Sue ever worked with, sired by one of the most titled dogs in the breed. He quickly and easily achieved multiple titles, and he had a lovely temperament. The breeding to Magic doubled the bloodline responsible for intelligence, temperament, trainability and work ethic. It produced Sue’s foundation bitch Ch Spendthrift Thundersstorm,WD, WC, CGC, SHR (Storm), who proved to be very prepotent for these traits.


Ch Chestnut Hills Stone E’s Tug (Tug) x Storm

     The goal here was to improve conformation and retain/strengthen drive. Tug was/is the leading producer of conformation champions, and carried strong field lines close up. This match produced the best all-around dog Sue ever bred, Ch Spendthrift Storm Warning WDX, CGC, SHR  (Autumn).  Autumn was field titled at 6 months old, and won a supported show entry over 60 top show dogs as a special. She was a brilliant hunting dog who was very adept at solving problems with no help from a handler.


Ch. Pond Hollow Calico Key Largo (Hunter) x Autumn

     The aim here was to produce easier temperaments, since most of the prospective buyers were first-time Chessie owners. It produced Spendthrift Rising Wind Am. Pts., CGC, SHR, (Windy) who became Sue’s “Rent-a-Chessie”, borrowed by friends who needed a gun dog for a short time. Windy was trained by Sue and by Tom, and Tom put the NAHRA SHR title and three WR legs on her.


Ch Susqudillas Dark Star x Windy
Chessie windy with Pheasents

    Once again, a breeding primarily for temperament for novice owners. It produced Spendthrift Storms Legacy CGC, SHR, (Jessie) and Spendthrift Rolling Thunder CGC (Cirrus). 


Ch Chestnut Hills Barnacle x Jessie
Picture of Jesse

    Barnacle is a paternal half brother to Jessie’s grandmother Autumn, thus this breeding doubled Tug and all the good traits he brought to the table. It did exactly what the pedigrees predicted, improved conformation and a dramatic increase in drive. It produced Maya (Spendthrift In The Wind), who will carry the bloodline forward. Jessie and Maya are Tom’s house pets and hunting dogs, as well as his NAHRA hunt test competitors. This breeding was so good it will be repeated Click here to see spring 2010 litter announcement.


The Future - Spendthrift in the Wind
Maya puppy duck picture


     The traits concentrated in Storm are still apparent four generations later. The Dark Star x Windy breeding was especially interesting because Cirrus is a total throwback to Thunder. He is very handsome, equally as brilliant, if not more so, learns so quickly that appears he was born trained, and never met a person he didn’t like and is especially fond of children. He is the sweetest, most agreeable dog Sue has ever owned, and, after a slow start, has become a star as a hunting dog.


     The dogs in this line are not suitable for every person or lifestyle (as is true of the breed in general). They tend to mature very quickly, often hunting and titling as early as four months old. They are extremely intelligent, active and busy, and want to be trained and have a job. They respond poorly to conventional training methods that involve a lot of repetition, and to heavy-handed correction. Prospective buyers are screened carefully to ensure suitable homes for the pups.


      I have been associated with Sue and her dogs for a number of years, and have witnessed first-hand the success of her program over several generations. She has entrusted me with the continuation of the Spendthrift bloodline, and I am happy for the opportunity to take on the challenge of producing dogs bred to her exacting standards. She continues to provide me with her invaluable guidance and experience as I move forw ard with this lineage to produce future generations of exceptional Chesapeake Bay retrievers.

Tom Frew
Spendthrift Kennels II