UBBADAT KENNEL, in the official magazine of the Water Dog Club of FINLAND
Tell me a little about yourself, your family, your hobbies, your everyday life, your age, etc. Anything personal that you would like to share.
My name is David Colmenero, I am 43 years old and I live in Torreperogil, a town in Andalusia, southern Spain.
I live in a rural area, far from the town, with my partner and our water dogs. I lead a life that I like in the country but it is somewhat hard because you do not have the comforts of living in the center of a city. Obviously to do a professional breeding of dogs you must be with them 24 hours a day and the only way is to live with them. Dogs share my life every day, which requires almost exclusive dedication to their care.
I started breeding German Shepherds when I was very young, then I have had boxer dogs and finally the Spanish water dog breed definitely fell in love with me. They are special, so smart and active that they make you fall in love. Although sometimes they are extremely crazy!
Could you also tell me about your daily life with dogs? Everything you would like to share with Finnish water dog breeders and owners.
Living 24 hours a day with water dogs is quite an intense life. They require a lot of daily attention and in the breeding season this multiplies.
Daily life in the countryside is quiet, outside the city, and in the South of Spain we have a climate that allows us sunny days most of the year. Intense rains occur a few weeks a year.
The day to day of a breed selection breeder is based on cleanliness. It is the most important thing. Keeping the dog’s facilities clean and well disinfected is a great job that saves visits to the vet and provides a state of health for your dogs.
Everything is easier with a professional disinfection protocol. The dogs are healthy and strong and you can dedicate yourself to the training of the dogs and their socialization.
After a year I usually make about four litters and this allows me to make a selection brood. Choose the best puppies so that they stay in my house and watch their evolution over the months. I am very demanding in assessing the quality of a puppy and in order for it to remain in my home and be part of the future upbringing it must meet my requirements. This cannot be seen in a puppy that is 15 days old, or even 2 months old; it is necessary to wait much longer. Watch its evolution and make decisions with a very cool head. The feelings and affection that you may have towards a dog should be forgotten when you are selecting the best.
When did you start breeding and why and how did you choose your breed?
In my family there have always been dogs at home, mainly German Shepherds. My first dog was given to me by my father when I was 12 years old and it was a male German Shepherd imported directly from Germany. At that time I suppose that this dog would be one of the first specimens to be brought to Spain.
Already in my youth and in the first stage of my adult life I competed and raised German Shepherds. I traveled a lot. I was able to learn the teachings of some of the best Spanish breeders and a few Germans regarding the breed and how to carry out a breeding plan mainly based on females and bloodlines.
In Germany there has always been a high degree of demand for breeding, obtaining x-rays of the hips and elbows is mandatory, in addition to work tests. A DNA test proving that a puppy is the child of its parents is also mandatory. All this process I learned.
I went through a difficult personal time a few years ago and left the world of the German Shepherd dog. I ran out of dogs at home. But it was something temporary and one day, taking a trip through the countryside and mountains of Andalusia, I could see a shepherd with a herd of goats. The herd was led by a bitch with black waters. She worked happily. I talked to that man and got a daughter from that bitch. That would be my first Spanish water dog. No pedigree. With a great character to work with.
After some time I met who would be my teacher in the Spanish water dog, Rafael Fernández, from Afijo Anarres. I visited him many times at his home and was able to acquire his last young females for breeding before he left dog breeding for good. Rafael taught me to be very demanding and to know how to observe the dogs to select the best of each one of them. I’m really grateful to you.
What characteristics do you consider most important in your breed?
Over the years, my work has been based on the ANARRES maternal bloodlines and I have tried to complement the characteristics of my females by choosing the right males for them, not for their championship titles, but for their type, genealogy and character; creating a UBBADAT own bloodline where strong, medium, dry, not heavy, cheerful, hardworking dogs predominated, with straight poise, with good mouths, firm and straight backs, with a broad and cheerful trot.
That is the main characteristic of UBBADAT, dogs with a strong character, dominant, hard-working and loving with their owner. Dogs to work with, have fun with and share a life full of games, careers, joy and dedication.
My selection work is never finished, I am always looking for excellence. Each litter brings something improved and is one more step on the long path of breeder. Follow a well thought out path step by step. Breeding planning.
The perfect dog does not exist and to this day I continue to work on improving certain deficiencies that I find in my dogs. You have to be humble and realistic. I am not fooling myself.
How important do you see the movement, what about the expression … what about the guy? Describe your ideal dog?
The Spanish water dog is a carea dog, that means its job is to lead cattle (mainly goats, sheep or pigs) following the orders of the shepherd.
A carea dog must have several characteristics to do its job. This is called functionality. They must be very functional dogs. A dog must be able to jog for a long time without getting tired, it must have a good mouth and know how to bite to lead cattle, it must be agile, resistant and very rustic. The obsession with work and serving his master must be paramount. There should be no fatigue for them and high or low temperatures should not be an impediment to their work.
The selection of dogs based on their work and functionality is the most correct. Movements should be fluid when jogging, with a wide stride covering a lot of ground with as little effort as possible. They must be dogs that trot without rest during long working hours. A fluid and agile trot. Cheerful.
Regarding the expression of a Spanish water dog, I have to say that it must always be happy, attentive to its master and predisposed to work. Her gaze is alive, it seems that she could speak and she always asks for your attention. An intelligent, humble and helpful look.
If we talk about the type, we would have to distinguish bloodlines in the race. There are different lines and the breeders of each of them follow a different type from each other. This is possible because the breed standard allows for a wide variety.
The ideal type of dog that, from my humble opinion and work as a breeder I look for and like, is that of a medium dog (males of 48cm in height and 20kg in weight / females of 44cm in height and 16-18kg in weight), suspicious of strangers, very helpful to the master, with a good quality of coat (woolly), the head is very important (it is a characteristic that is achieved for many years and that is lost very quickly if you do not know how to maintain it), full mouths of premolars and scissor bite, firm and straight backs (not saddled), straight front legs (without opening the elbows) and chest width, parallel and wide rear legs. The angles should be sufficient for the dog to cover as much ground as possible when jogging.
But above all, character. A hard-working character, obsessive with the ball, cheerful, helpful and dominant. I like dominant dogs, not submissive. Strong dogs of character capable of defending and facing a stranger.
When you have a dog or puppy at home, what are your criteria for choosing between puppies?
Selection breeding is a very sacrificial job. No feelings. The breeder must think with the head, not with the heart. Difficult to understand decisions are made by a particular person who only has one or two dogs at home. To discard a dog after raising it throughout its life (be it a few months or several years) you need to have a very cool head and have a very clear objective. Only the exceptional should stay at home; the rest, sooner or later, must go.
Self-deception is the path of failure. Not attributing virtues that your own dogs do not possess is essential. You have to know how to see the reality of what we have at home.
When a new litter is born, an illusion is also born to obtain the expected result. Puppies from birth are subjected to early stimulation to assess their character from a very young age. I do a lot of sensory exercises to try to get the maximum information from each puppy.
Weeks go by and there is always one or more puppies that stand out from their brothers. Ideally, phenotype and genotype are combined with a cheerful and courageous character.
For a puppy to stay in my house and become part of the breeding team, it must have more virtues than defects (there is no perfect dog). The virtues of the dog can be very varied depending on what I was looking for with the crossing of its parents.
It is not the same to choose a female than a male. When I am choosing a female I look at her maternal line a lot to verify that all of them are good mothers (uncomplicated births, regular jealousy and successful raising of their children); and when I am choosing a male I focus a lot on whether she is a representative of her paternal line. Healthy, strong males, without problems to reproduce naturally. I also do the study of crosses by consanguinity with my females and that male. The males that are in my house can be crossed online with most of my females to provide refreshment but without destroying their virtues.
On the other hand, I always look to preserve the quality of the head, the substance of the bone, the general quality and the vigor of the specimen. I do not like calm, weak or submissive dogs. The water dog must be cheerful but must also have vigor and a dominant being.
Can you name one or two water dogs (dogs can be from other countries) that especially impressed you and why?
Throughout the history of the Spanish water dog there have been numerous examples worthy of admiration and that have built the main bloodlines of the breed in Spain. It is difficult to choose among them which one has been the best as each of these specimens has contributed a lot.
In my opinion the bloodline of the CH. MORO is the essence of the Spanish water dog. A spectacular dog, with impressive skills for work and the father of numerous children heirs to his line. We could highlight among them two main sons: CH MORRUO (Gordo de Ubrique) and CH VUDÚ (Estilo de Ubrique).
My UBBADAT kennel is mainly based on female ANARRES, direct descendants of the great dog CH. VUDU (Estilo de Ubrique).
VUDÚ – as its owner Rafael Fernández (ANARRES) called it – was perhaps the best working dog that ever existed. A medium-sized, agile dog, tremendously predisposed to work and who had a very special relationship with his owner. Great representative of the breed and father of a very recognizable own bloodline in the eyes of experienced breeders from all over the world and especially from Spain.
In the ANARRES bloodline, medium dogs stand out, excellent workers, obsessive with the ball, very helpful with their master and with a point of madness and dominance that makes them special.
Currently this line is being worked by very few breeders in Spain but with great results in terms of quality of the specimens. Breeders such as RUBIOALFARO or AZOCARREM, together with my own UBBADAT, we continue to work on the legacy of Rafael Fernández de ANARRES, contributing to his blood specimens from other lines and trying, from the most absolute respect, to improve the best.
In this work I have to highlight a specimen, which today – and always from my humble opinion – is without a doubt the most representative dog of the breed and the specimen that best defines what a Spanish water dog is. This dog is CH. BIS. AVISPAO of Rubialfaro (CHUSCO).
CH.E.BIS AVISPAO de Rubioalfaro (Laurel de Anarres x Ancla de Gaidovar) is an ideal size dog of 48.5cm in height, with an impressive quality of hair – a thick and well defined curl -, dark brown without dilute, a masculine head without being heavy and a harmonious set that makes it an elegant dog with wide movements in its trot. With a firm back, which together with the neck mark a dorsal lumbar line parallel to the ground.
Regarding her character, Avispao (Chusco) is a very safe dog; functional in different settings and situations; Affectionate with humans, especially with children and other dogs, and always willing to play a ball game on firm or aquatic ground, trying to please and participate in the games of its owner-guide.
Wasp’s offspring show many of the traits of their parent: firm and straight backs, typicality, intense and undiluted color, masculinity in males and a very good character.
There is no perfect dog, but CHUSCO comes very close.
Finally, I must highlight the influence of a last bloodline, LA GALEA – originally created from females from the ANARRES kennel – and which has contributed many outstanding specimens to the breed. CH CHETO and his son CH COCO de La Galea (in turn descended from CH VUDÚ by maternal line). You cannot think of the recent history of the Spanish water dog without naming these specimens and the great contribution they still make to the breed today.
How important is dog show for the breed in your opinion?
In my opinion, dog shows are of unquestionable value for different reasons: they show the general public the pure canine breeds with the best specimens that breeders are selecting and they are the meeting point for breeders and fans.
It is true that there are always interests and some criticisms, but the important thing will always be its value of dissemination of the races and the meeting point of breeders and fans.
Everything can always be improved: organization, dates, larger venues, work exhibitions, etc … and we must work on that.
Either way, dog shows are what I’ve said before: a show place. Breeders should not get carried away by champion titles when it comes to breeding. In my opinion the breeding and selection of a breed should be based on the work capacity that the specimen has to carry out the work for which the breed was originally created. This is becoming increasingly distorted and in many breeds the only important thing is the titles and the exaggerated morphology (hypertypical dogs).
I don’t usually attend many exhibitions at the end of the year. I prefer to visit the breeders and the dogs that interest me in their homes to make my own assessment and to be able to speak calmly with their owner. It’s my way of doing things.
In summary, exhibitions are important to promote canine breeds but should not be a blindfold for breeders. We must look beyond a title hanging on the wall
When choosing a male to breed, what things are most important? What about the bitches?
Choosing a specimen for reproduction, either male or female, is a complicated path and should be far from feelings. In both cases there are common and basic characteristics that every breeder must take into account.
The first of these, and perhaps the most important, is that the dog chosen to breed must come from an excellent maternal line.
If you have a male or a female who comes from an excellent maternal line, with genetic strength and transmission power, then you have much of the way to go.
Then you have to look at the paternal line. Especially when choosing a male. The specimen must be a worthy representative of his paternal line. Forever.
In males, their head is perhaps one of the most important points. It must be large and masculine. Never heavy.
Choosing a male to breed should be a very thoughtful job. Its pedigree must be excellent and complementary with the genealogy of the female. You should use the right male for each female, regardless of whoever owns the male, leave personal relationships apart and be humble. If you have to travel many kilometers to take your female with the male because it is the best option for her, then you should do it.
Regarding the females, they should be a little longer than the males. This makes pregnancy and delivery easier. They must be perfect hips, strong mature bitches.
What kind of collaboration do you do with other water dog breeders?
There is a problem in the world of the Spanish water dog. The vast majority of Spanish breeders never – or very rarely – cross their females with males from other breeders.
If there is the right male for your female you should use it. Whoever the owner is.
Bearing this in mind, my UBBADAT kennel is perhaps the exception that confirms the rule because when I am going to make a cross and there is an ideal male for my female I do everything possible to reach an agreement with the owner of that ideal male.
I have to say that no breeder today has closed their doors to this possibility and that many of them have been surprised receiving a visit from me in their kennel despite the many kilometers that separate us from each other.
I like visiting other kennels, meeting people who can contribute a lot to the breeding of this wonderful breed. With respect, education and humility all doors are open.
Meeting a male in your own home is very different from seeing him in a show ring. The dog is relaxed, you can touch him, play with him, watch him perform with his owner or breeder. This is very important. We should not judge dogs at exhibitions but in the field, at home, playing, showing their true character. Well the show is a show; dogs are stressed, tired from travel, in a static position without moving or in a movement on a leash. That way you can never see a natural dog.
It is very important to visit related kennels and get to know their dogs. If you want to use a male it is better that you go to visit him at his house and see some of his children. You will be able to see the mothers of those puppies and assess the reproductive capacity of the male that interests you. This is the best way to meet a male; their children.
What advice would you like to give to new breeders as well as new puppy owners?
If you want to start breeding, look for a young female or female cub descended from a solid maternal line. The female must be substantial and of quality. She will be the mother and the pillar of your house.
It would be a mistake to start with a male, it is better to have a small number of good females and then pay for the services of a good stallion for them. From there you can start creating your own line.
Errors are part of the life of the breeder. If you are not wrong, you do not learn. So make your decisions and be wrong. Learn and move on. The perfect dog does not exist, never existed and will never exist.
For new puppy owners I just have one piece of advice: Be happy!
What is it like to be a breeder in your country? What is good and what is not?
Doing things wrong is easy and fast, doing them right is difficult and takes much more time.
Being a breeder is a passion, not a profession. You must be passionate, otherwise you will leave it sooner or later.
In Spain there are great breeders, very good, passionate and great masters of the water dog breed. There are also opportunists and unscrupulous people. It is a battle for race and for personal honesty.
Raising a litter is relatively easy but building a bloodline is very difficult. It requires sacrifices and knowing the breed very well.
Living in Spain gives you the option and the ability to find the best specimens in the world and that is truly lucky. But you can also find the worst and it takes a lot of time and effort to know how to distinguish a mediocre dog from a truly exceptional one.
The climate of Spain is very favorable for breeding, many months of sun and few of intense cold or rain, so it is possible to have the dogs free in the field almost all year round. That is a blessing.
In short, being a good breeder is not easy living in the country of the world that you live. There will always be bad things and good things. The important thing is the passion you put in your dogs, difficult moments are always forgotten when a planned and expected litter is born and you see the new healthy babies. The illusion returns and everything begins to roll again.
I appreciate the opportunity of this interview about me and my UBBADAT kennel.
In Spain I wait for you. I really like the people of Finland. I have some good friends among you thanks to the dogs.