One of the trends in dog breeding is a rising awareness of responsible breeding. Many breeders want to have accurate insights in order to breed healthy dogs with great characters. However, they are faced with many challenges, such as high inbreeding percentages. Many associations search for solutions to have less inbreeding and to share that information with their members. Is there a solution? Erik Reudink is managing director of ZooEasy. We asked Erik how software and apps can provide breeders with better insight.
You need information to have a complete picture. Many breeders register the data of their dogs, such as bloodlines and health issues. The information of one breeder is useful, but you need a complete history to calculate an accurate inbreeding percentage. Many associations have collected that information over a number of years, sometimes even decades. Put that together in one database and you have a complete picture!
Make sure it is easy to search for dogs and their bloodlines and health information. There are several software applications on the market that help breeders and associations to check inbreeding percentages. With ZooEasy, for example, it is easy to create a trial pedigree. Select two dogs, and the software automatically calculates the inbreeding percentages of a new litter.
One of our users is Madelien Atema of the Drentsche Partridge Dog Association, who also occasionally breeds a litter. She says, “The breeders make trial breeding pairs in ZooEasy. Relationship and health are important, but breeders also look at exhibition results and job results. With that knowledge, they decide which combination is best to improve the breed.”
Associations share information in their databases with breeders to provide accurate and up-to-date information. The association sends the breeder an invitation to create an account. The breeder uses a password to login to their dog association’s database and search for dogs. This saves time, because breeders can login at anytime and anywhere to search for what they need. There is no need to wait for the association to reply. Breeders only see the information they have access to, such as a list of dogs with pedigree numbers, names, gender, characteristics, health information, show results and inbreeding percentages. The database is live and online, so the breeder always has access to the newest information.
Example of a pedigree certificate of the EAKC, Kenya
When breeders look for a stud dog owned by a fellow breeder, they want to know if this dog is the right choice. With ZooEasy, they can create a trial pedigree to show the inbreeding percentage of a puppy. The breeder can also see bloodlines and other information that the association wants to share with their members. When two dogs have a positive match, the breeder contacts the association and the dog owner.
Giving breeders access to the database has another great advantage for associations. Because associations manage such a large history, they can’t know every single dog. Breeders know everything about their own dogs. When they see that their dog’s information is incomplete or incorrect, they can send a message to the database manager with a request to update the information. The association decides whether to accept or decline this request.
Sarah Paddock of the United States Eurasian Club (USEC) uses ZooEasy. She says, “All our members take great care when considering a Eurasier mating. For every litter, we perform research on possible pairings, health information of the breeding dogs (including dogs within the lineage), and we complete all required health tests of the breeding dogs. We share mating information upon request, so members can make educated decisions about potential pairings, and choose the best mates possible. Once a mate has been identified and chosen, the breeding is reviewed by Directors of the USEC Board, and voted on. Those pairings that are found to be in compliance with USEC breeding requirements are issued a Litter Certificate, certifying that the litter has met the breeding requirements set forth by the USEC.”
Example of Litter Certificate of the USEC, United States
There are some apps in which all information about dogs is publically available. That is not the philosophy of ZooEasy, and is not compliant with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Our team speaks to breeders on a daily basis, and 95 % of the dog breeders want to keep information private. The most important reason: dog associations want accurate and reliable information in order to inform their breeders the best they can.
Most breeders share negative information, such as health issues, only when they trust the other party and when this information leads to better quality of their breed. To maintain that trust, it is important that associations store that information with care.
With ZooEasy, the association’s board decides who has access to which information. All members need a unique user name and password to keep the database secure. The manager has access to all information in order to manage the database efficiently. Members of committees can see and edit dog information, such as breeding, health and show results. They can also share private notes about dogs, such as a suspicion of a health issue in a certain bloodline that needs a closer look. Breeders can see only the information they need in order to make responsible breeding choices and create trial pedigrees; they are not allowed to edit information of other dogs.
Creating an up-to-date database takes time, but is easy with state-of-the-art software. We often get questions from associations who have problems with their current database. Most of the time the problem is due to outdated technology, because a technically capable breeder volunteered to build the database. While this is a very nice gesture and can be a nice solution, but what happens when that volunteer no longer manages the database, and it becomes technically out of date?
Some associations only have paper records, such as the East Africa Kennel Club (EAKC) in Kenya. The Executive Secretary, Neeltje Rosenstok, takes care of all activities in the office, including registrations. She says, “We have a lot of information on paper. Some papers are so old, they almost disintegrate. Luckily, we have now listed over 13,000 dogs in ZooEasy.” With the arrival of ZooEasy, the registration certificates have also been redesigned. “They look nicer and are more difficult to copy. We can also issue new certificates faster, because all our data is digitized.”
Example of registration certificates of the EAKC, Kenya
We get many requests to update an old database and import the data to ZooEasy. First, we talk with the current board of the dog association. What do they want from their new database? Who will use it and what do managers, committee members and breeders do with the current database? Together, we create a plan. Then we prepare a new data set from the old data and import this to the new ZooEasy database. The managers take a short course and then test their data within ZooEasy. Check out our video to see the process.
When the database is up and running, up-to-date information is available to the board and members, 24/7. One of our users is Frank Beiboer of the Dutch Rottweiler Club. He says, “Once you know what is possible, you can adjust your database so that it functions more conveniently for your team.” At the same time, he gives the tip to be aware that a database is never finished. “Four times a year we import data from the Dutch Kennel Club. If the name of a breeder or dog is spelled slightly differently, for example if it is separated by a dot instead of a dash, a new contact will be created. This is a well-known IT-related problem, and one which requires careful attention. This is why we must always check this information before updating the database.”
I think many associations choose ZooEasy because in the past 26 years we have guaranteed continuity of the software, and we share knowledge of how to use it. We also ensure that the data is secure.
Our team has regular meetings with breeders and board members. This enables us to develop new and improved features that individual breeders and associations need in order to make the best breeding choices.
Associations that are interested can contact us via our website. We will set up a meeting via Skype and take the board through a demo of our product. Our state-of-the-art software is easy to use. Just try it and see all the opportunities it offers your association.