Our Breeding Philosophy
Our breeding philosophy isn't just about our natural pack environment. It's about our approach with crossing breeds and how it compares with the status quo. It's also about ethical breeding practices and understanding the necessity of both breeders and rescue/adoption. Read the short articles below and learn more.
A Sport-horse Approach
In the world of sport horse breeding, genetics will be brought in from a different breed to impart various traits into the mix. In the dog breeding world, this is generally not done in the same way. Pure breeds can be line-bred or inbred for generations in order to keep the breed "pure." This weakens the genetics and creates all sorts of problems. And physical traits can take precedent over genetic health. For example, the German Shepherd has been bred for many generations, all over the world, to have shorter hind legs, and creating a sort of "squat" position where it looks almost like the dog is sitting at all times. This is terrible for the hips, and hip displaysia can be common, along with a relatively short lifespan. Breeding certain breeds for bigger ribcages or a powerful look can be a problem. Nature did not intend for certain body shapes to exist. Humans breeding only for a "look" often ruin a dog. And a very common breed in the US, the Golden Retriever, gets various cancers so consistently, that our vet in the US called them "cancer retrievers."
Gene Eu, the creator of Bell Griffin dogs, had the goal of ultra-strong genetics and temperament priority for his ideal working and family dog. He grew up in the sport horse world, and knew that the breeding strategies were to prioritise certain temperament traits, physical traits and genetic strength into a mix, by using different breeds. The dog world frowns upon this, as it values the idea of a "pure" bloodline. But our Bell Griffin dogs are spectacular, gentle and vigorous by using this methodology. So we have a foot in both worlds - The special crossbred mix of Bell Griffins, and also the "pure" world of the Red Standard Poodle. The difference is that we breed our pure poodles with temperament and genetic strength as the priorities.
The Necessity of Ethical Breeders
The solution to stray and abandoned dogs is not "don't breed." It's not that simple. Ethical breeders are needed to make sure excellent quality genetics continue to exist in various breeds. The Komondor, for example, is an endangered breed. If responsible breeders do not carry on that lineage, they could go extinct. There is a need for both ethical breeding and rescue.
By "ethical" breeding, we mean following the principles we value: Not over-breeding females, not separating the puppies from their mothers or their pack, not rehoming female breeders when they are retired, cuddling and handling the puppies multiple times per day, giving the pups and the whole pack plenty of supervised outside play time. Within the first week of birth, we do specific things with the puppies to stimulate their senses and socialise them. The US military calls it the "Superpuppy program." It involves holding the puppies in a certain way to help them develop their senses. We bathe them from a very young age to desensitise them to that stimulation.
We do rescue work as well. Our Thai Ridgeback, Clementine, is a rescue from when we first arrived in Malaysia in January 2020. We have found puppies on the street in Bukit Tingi, that we have taken to the vet for treatment and then rehomed. We also have several kittens we have found abandoned or on the street, that we have adopted, treated and spayed/neutered. On our previous farm in North Carolina, we had a rescue Spanish Mastiff named Goyo, who was part of our pack for two years and helped guard our goats and sheep. Although we work from home and are with the dogs full time, with such a large a close-knit pack, it is still a delicate matter bringing a new pack member in. We are equipped better than many to do this.
Malaysia has a complex issue with domestic animals and strays. In the US, there is no stray problem like there is in many parts of Malaysia. This is due to several factors: the attitude and education about domestic animals, the view of them as part of the family, and the protective laws and regulations in place. Here in Malaysia we find a different and sometimes negative view of dogs in particular. When people grow up seeing dogs as "pests" and not an important part of a family, combined with a lack of subsidised spay/neuter programs and protective abuse-prevention laws, you end up with a stray problem. So from the perspective of some in Malaysia, the idea of breeding seems "wrong." But there is a need for both, and having a rigid "adopt don't shop" philosophy is not the solution. Some people are not equipped to have a rescue dog. Rescue dogs can have trauma that creates aggression and various issues that may not be suited for a family with small children, or a person who has a full time job and leaves the dog at home all day. Our dogs, being bred for temperament first and foremost, are ideally suited to people who cannot risk the issues of a rescue. There is room for both.