Helping you care for your chinnie


Costina and La Plata chinchillas

Some of this will be old news. I’ll try to explain the difference and how breeders use it.

A Chinchilla Lanigera is a Chinchilla Lanigera, just like a dog is a dog. You get different breeds of dogs but a dog + a dog gives you more dogs. You have a Jack Russel and a Staffie. They have babies. The babies are all dogs. They will just have qualities of both parents. Some will look more like the Staffie and some more like the Jack Russel. The Jack Russel is the Costina chinchilla and the Staffie the La Plata. Not the best example because Staffies are also busy but look at it this way. The Jack Russel is small, skinny and hyperactive. It has big ears and a pointy face. The Staffy is bigger, have much more “body”, is more relaxed, have smaller ears and a flatter face.

In nature the Costina chinnie is a prolific breeder and the La Plata breeds slower. The “rat” like chinnies are Costina and the round fluffy ones are La Plata. When breeders started setting show standards they too the La Plata qualities. Breeders breeding for shows try to improve on this. A long nose and a thin body doesn’t fit into this. A round body and flat face does.

Good Costina with big ears

Good Costina with big ears

When you research way back to when the first literature of chinnies was written you will notice that they do not look the same as many do today. They also do not weigh the same. I read a lot of scientific research papers written in the 1960′s and 70′s. The average weight of a healthy male chinnie was between 400-500g and for a female the average weight was between 550 and 600g. This was perfectly normal. The average healthy weight for newborn babies was 45-50g, depending on litter size.

Today people frown on it if you breed with a male that is less than 500g and a female that is less than 700g. I do not agree with this but it must be seen as a whole picture. Over the years breeders systematically bred La Plata qualities into all their chinchillas. They kept back the bigger ones and only bred with them. Now it is nothing strange to find males of 800g and females of over 900g. These chinnies are pure La Plata and have been bred rounder and heavier.

This didn’t happen in South Africa till about 10 years ago. It still doesn’t happen on fur farms. On fur farms the average weight for a male is still 400-500g and for a female it is still 550g to 650g. They don’t want it to change. The reason? They get a lot less babies. The original chinchillas in South Africa were ll imported for fur farming roughly somewhere after World War 2. There is no literature on this because it was kept quiet. I estimated the date on information from people who’s parents were actually fur farmers. When sanctions hit us hard in the 1980′s there was no market for pelts from SA anymore so it stopped. The chinchillas that were left alive became pets.

Pet chinnies in SA can be traced back to the late 1990′s. People started importing in about 2005 and still are. The imported chinnies were La Plata. They were bred with the “local” chinnies which were either Costina or a mix between Costina and La Plata. I have a few of those original La Plata that was imported. I also have Costina that was imported later. When we imported I asked for “herd improvement” chinnies, not show quality. There is too much La Plata in show quality.

Costina are better breeders, have more babies and care for the babies better. This is why there are so many Costinas in SA. Because people didn’t know the show qualities it didn’t matter. Now it matters because people see it on the internet and at breeders who do it right. What they don’t see is how the breeders breed. They also do not see the statistics on who gives what babies and how many. Or how many are raised successfully. I spoke about why people breed. Those who breed for shows will be happy to get 2 special babies a year from a mother if they win shows. My Violet La Plata gives babies once a year, twice in 3 years if I am lucky. She is just too much La Plata.

The breeders mix them. By pairing a Costina and a La Plata you can get La Plata babies, Costina babies and a mix. The La Plata and mixed babies paired with another of the same is what gives you the round fluffy babies. You will get away with this for 2 or 3 generations, then you will start breeding babies that will just give babies less often. The good breeders breed back to Costina. This way they keep the looks of La Plata and the breeding abilities of Costina. It is all in maintaining a balance. Most of my chinnies that gives the round fluffy babies are either La Plata + La Plata/Costina mix, Mix+Mix or La Plata + Costina. I do not pair Costina + Costina unless there are qualities I can enhance.

People go too much on size. A healthy, fit and busy Costina girl that weighs 550g will breed better and raise her babies better than a fat inactive 800g La Plata. There will be less stillborn babies and more will reach adulthood. Off course a 400g female that can barely walk because she is underfed is not a breeding chinnie. Then everything must be in proportion. You must look at the characteristics and overall healthy. Then you add all the other qualities. For you to breed good babies the best is to pair 2 La Plata from mixed parents or a La Plata and a “mix” ora La Plata and a Costina. Nothing wrong with pairing 2 Costina, you will just get Costina babies. If they have La Plata genes in their history you can even get lucky.

The characteristics of the Costina


The Costina have large ears, a pointy face, a “V” in the neck, a long and thin body (in proportion) and is smaller than the La Plata. It looks more like a jet plane than a bus.

Costina chinchilla

Characteristics of the La Plata


The La Plata has small ears, a flat face, a more stocky body and is bigger. There is no “V” in the neck. It is built like a fluffy bus instead of a jet plane. I reckon a Costina will be a sports car and a La Plata a minibus. Just add fur.

La plata

Are show qualities really important?

If you show your chinchillas the show qualities are important because they will be judged according to those qualities. There are no shows in South Africa yet. So why are they important? Because it tells you other things.
I am not yet convinced that I will ever show my chinchillas. There will be shows in South Africa and just like with other species like dogs, cats, rabbits etc. the reputation of the breeder will be hugely influenced by the show results. It is a personal thing, nothing against shows.
I see the qualities in a different light. Qualities like bar and blueness, even the line of the belly, darker veiling etc. are “fine tuning” qualities. In Standard and Beige it takes generations to improve if you don’t cheat by using Ebony. These “fine tuning” qualities are not a reflection on the health of a chinnie and it doesn’t influence the fact that it is either a good pet or a good breeding chinnie.
I plan and pair for these qualities. I select babies that will form new pairs according to this. It just comes second to health, strength and good breeding abilities. Improving veiling, bar, blueness etc takes a lot of time and you need to plan very carefully.
The show qualities that does play a role are general fur quality like density, guard hair etc, size and posture. Even how white the white is. There are probably more but I can explain enough with these.
Size is important but you must keep in mind that a Costina chinnie will be smaller than a La Plata. There is just a huge difference between a female that weighs 400g as an adult and one that weighs 550g. My Costina girls average 600g, which is perfectly normal. If a La Plata girl weighs less than 600g, there is a problem. Their natural weight, without being fed for size can go up to 900g.
It doesn’t mean a smaller girl can’t have healthy babies or be a good mother. There must just be a reason why she is so small. It can be that the parents were fed rubbish or she grew up on rubbish. It can also be bad genes. There are too many uncertainties. If the small size was caused by malnourishment it means she has a weak immune system. It puts her at risk but she can have perfectly good babies. If it is genetic, it will be passed to the babies. I don’t gamble so I don’t breed with them.
Posture is their form, how they “carry” themselves. Is everything in proportion? Is the head small in comparison to the body? Are limbs too long or short and are the front legs spaced wide enough apart? How does the face look? How long is the nose, how big are the ears and are the eyes too close to each other? Is there a prominent “V” between the head and body? The “V” is a dip in the neck, it gives the appearance of a hunched back.
If a chinchilla is out of proportion it is often caused by inbreeding. A Costina will have a longer nose but if it looks like the trunk of an elephant, something went wrong. A La Plata will have a round face and if they have long noses, something went wrong. My Costina chinnies have longer noses but when you compare them to wild chinnies, it is the same, not longer. The moment a chinnie is built out of proportion and the features are worst than what is natural, something is wrong.
The appearance of the fur tells me the most. In South Africa fur density (how thick the fur is) is not as good as in Europe and the USA. Ours are because we improved it. You still see it in other countries though. Thinner fur is caused by bad food and breeding generation on generation of weak chinchillas. Instead of pairing the best, they pair any chinchillas. It also makes them lose the darker veiling, they go light grey. The white is also not white, it is dull.
The guard hair are the hairs that makes the fur stand up and gives the chinnie the fluffy appearance. It goes hand in hand with fur density. Good fur is a sign of good parents and responsible breeding. It is most obvious in mutations. It doesn’t take much for an Ebony or a White to have bad fur density and weak guard hair. This means they were bred wrong for a few generations. The Standard is not pure. It shows in the White and repeating this for a few generations results in off-white babies with terrible fur. It shows that they are weak. The white color also shows if the Standard parent was pure.
RPA is the best example of this. You see it immediately, the day they were born. It just gets worse as they get older. Instead of the fur standing up and giving them the soft “fur ball” look, it lies flat. They look like a poodle that got wet. It means the parents were paired to get RPA, nothing else was taken into consideration. It often originates in the grandparents. This is what happens when breeders takes short cuts to achieve quick results.
You can destroy these qualities with one wrong pairing. The babies will show it. You just can’t fix what you destroyed in one pairing. It takes generations to repair the damage. Apart from their appearance, this tells me it was either a dangerous pairing or the breeder bred with weak chinnies.
I notice things. I will see the pics of babies with bad fur, etc. Often there are never any pics again. Why not? If I bred a good RPA I will show the pics because RPA gets more beautiful as they mature. Where are the adults?
A pet doesn’t need show qualities to make it a good pet. What it does need is a good build, healthy size and healthy fur. If it doesn’t have this, the breeder made a mess.

The show qualities : the compact version


The absence of red or yellow pigmentation in the fur. The color must look “clean”, eg white must be white, not yellow. It’s how pure the color shows.

Fur density

How thick the fur is. You can see it but the best way is to feel it. It is determined by the amount of hair per follicle.


The most difficult to get and the most difficult to see. Nothing to do with color, both a White and an Ebony can have it. It’s like a blue “shine” on the color, an “aura”.


How dark it is and mow much it covers. In a Std it will be the dark on the head and back. The darkness is the shade, light, medium, dark, extra dark. The coverage is how far down the body it goes.


How pure the white is, how straight the line is and the inverted “V” or triangle it makes in the hip.


Body shape. The posture, how the chinnie “carries” itself. Is it stocky or long and thin? Is everything in proportion? There must be no “V” in the neck. When drawing a line from eye to nose to eye and between the eyes, it forms a triangle and the legs must be the same length.


The length of the body from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. Breeders try to breed them as big as possible. It can be unnatural, by adapting the diet. A normal weight for a male is 400g to 600g. A normal weight for a female is 600g to 800g. Some are naturally bigger but they tend to be slow breeders.


How smooth the fur is. Does it look like silk or like steel wool?


When you blow on the fur if eg a Std, you will see the grey under fur, closest to the skin. Next there will be a white line. This is the bar. It can be wide, narrow, shallow or deep. Good bar is pure white and forms a straight line, it makes a clear white stripe.


How the color of the fur is distributed. Is it mottled, full of spots like granite or is it an even color? The color must not be “broken”. My chinnies are all priming. This gives them a mottled look that will go away when they get their winter fur. In the pics of young ones you can see it is an even color, indicating better texture.


Qualities like bar, blueness, veiling etc is fine tuning. It makes the difference between a show winner and an ordinary chinnie. Qualities like size, patterning, conformation, fur density and texture reflects on health.
Overall health is always more important than the show qualities and it can be sacrificed to achieve better qualities. Good qualities reflects better genes but fine tuning takes years of careful planning.
I don’t know if I got them all, I wrote from memory. I posted a complete document with pics about this.

Light Tan girl. Good fur, good face shape, good size and good posture. Smallish ears. She will be a good girl.

Light Tan girl. Good fur, good face shape, good size and good posture. Smallish ears. She will be a good girl.

Recognizing a mutation

I believe the most fights on groups break out because of food, treats and genes. The food and treats are easy, you just check the nutritional info and compare it to the needs of a chinnie.
The genes are easy too. People make it complicated. I won’t discuss “double” or “triple” genes. I believe a chinchilla does perfectly well with a single pair of genes, of which one should preferably be Std. If not, like with recessives, it must be paired with Std or a chinnie that carries a Std gene.
Descriptive names differ all over the world. The same chinnie will be known as 10 different things. Golden Mosaic or Beige Mosaic is a good example. Even Hetero Beige have different names in different countries. The most confusing of the lot is all the Whites. I don’t care about names. I just ask one question. What are the parents?
Knowing this gives me a few options. Obviously there is only 1 pair of genes in each chinnie and each parent contributes one gene. Take a White and a Hetero Beige. The White is White+Std and the Hetero Beige is Beige+Std. If each gives Std, you get Std. If the White gives Std and the Beige gives Beige, you get Hetero Beige. If the White gives White and the Beige gives Std, you get White. If the White gives White and the Beige gives Beige, you get White.
But there is a difference between the 2 Whites. The White gene is the same gene. How the chinnie will look is determined by the other gene.
White+Std can give eg. Silver Mosaic, Wilson White, etc. Each of these have specific characteristics. It follows rules. The spots (if any) will be grey and the eyes will be dark. It is still a White, you just know what the other gene is because you know the characteristics. This means you will know how to pair the chinnie if you breed.
White+Beige can give eg. Pink White or Golden Mosaic. Again there are characteristics. The eyes will be red and if there are spots they will be beige. Because of the characteristics you know the one gene is White and the other is Beige. It is still a White. Now you just know how to pair it.
I don’t even try to learn all the names, they are just names. The moment I know what genes it carries, I know everything I need to know. How White must a Pink White be? How much Beige is allowed before it is a Golden Mosaic? Who cares, let people fight over the names. I really don’t care. A name can’t let you make a wrong pairing. Not knowing the genes and their characteristics can let you make a wrong pairing.
I believe people put so much emphasis on the descriptive name (phenotype – what you see) that they forget about the genes (genotype, which genes it carries).
It is far more important to know the influence the genes have on each other and the characteristics of the genes than to know what it is commonly called. You plan everything according to the genes and in my opinion, you breed any mutation from a pair of which one is a mutation back to Std. Pushing it would be to pair a White to a Beige but Beige is such a strong mutation that it is fine. Just keep the generations into account. And off course I do not believe in pairing White with Homo Beige, only Hetero Beige. Homo Beige carries 2 Beige genes, Hetero Beige carries a Beige and a Std gene.
Off course you must be right about the parents. since I don’t breed with funnies it is no problem. Then all you do is look at the possibilities the pair of genes from each parent gives you, apply the characteristics of the combination of genes and you know what it is.
I won’t even go into the funnies. I don’t see a reason for breeding chinnies weaker than they can be. Not fighting, there is acceptable practice in breeding for this and breeders do it. Just a personal thing, it is not for me. I don’t have a pair that can give me funnies and I don’t see the reason why they should have more than one pair of genes. Mutations are already weaker than Std, why complicate it even further?
People should rather learn the genes. All that is in a name is a sales pitch. The more impressive it sounds, the better it sells. There are still only so many genes.

What chinchilla are you buying?

When someone contacts me looking for a chinnie, I ask 2 questions before I go any further. Why do you want it? What do you plan on doing with it?
The reason why you want it will determine if I will help you or not. Off course it takes a lot more than just a good reason. If it is as companion to a lonely chinnie or you want a same sex pair and you did your homework I will gladly help. If you are a breeder I want to know what you plan. I do help breeders, just very few. I prefer pet owners to breeders but there are a few good breeders I do help.
This is one of my pet hates. Not knowing the mutation or selling a chinnie for what it is not upsets me to no end. It is so easy. You can’t see everything but you can see the parents. Chinnies also “matures” with age. I have helped breeders out of a mess a few times because they sold Std kits that turned Ebony a few weeks later. TOV can do exactly the same.
Why do the show breeders only show their chinnies when they are 6 months old? They show them and based on the show results they get sold. Why not show them at 12 weeks? You can sell them quicker then.
Because the qualities matures as the chinnie matures. Colors change. Ebony and Tan goes darker, TOV becomes more prominent and White goes whiter. Many White chinnies are sold as Mosaics and by the time they are 6 months old they are Wilson White.
It is all in the basic genetics. You can’t create a gene, it must be in one of the parents. The 2 genes together will determine what the baby is but you need one from each parent to begin with. Nowadays there are a lot of “Ebony Mosaic”, “TOV Mosaic”, “TOV Ebony” etc babies for sale here. I believe it is to make the descriptive name more impressive so they sell better. You must be extremely good to recognize TOV in a young Ebony or White. Just like you must know your story with Ebony Mosaic and a lot of others.
It is basic maths. If one parent is TOV, there is a 50% chance the baby is TOV. There is also a 50% chance that it is not. The only way to tell is to wait for it’s babies. By then you already had it for over a year. It can be a very expensive mistake.
The same applies to Ebony. Most breeders don’t even recognize the difference between a dark Hetero Ebony and a Homo Ebony. If one parent is not a Homo Ebony, there is only 50% chance that the baby carries Ebony.
There are ways to recognize it and certain basic rules that each mutation follows. It can’t do anything but follow the rules. If you know these basic rules, you can’t make a mistake. There can be doubt but you will know what the odds are.
Recessives is a story on it’s own. I will write about them a bit later. I wrote about all the mutations in detail. There is also a lot of good info on the internet. It just all goes back to the very basic rules of genetics. If you don’t know the basics and you buy a Homo Beige as a Pink White or you buy a TOV Mosaic that is only a Mosaic, it is your own fault.
The basic rules can’t change and they are very easy to remember. I don’t have sympathy for anyone who gets duped because they didn’t know.

Why show qualities matters

I must reiterate that I’m not fighting with anyone who shows chinchillas, it is just not for me. But why are the show qualities important and why do I strive to improve them?
Like everything else, it goes about the balance. It doesn’t make sense to me to sacrifice health or longevity to achieve better show qualities. I believe show qualities in Standard Grey in South Africa deteriorated because of bad breeding decisions and inadequate feeding. Because of this it reflects in all the mutations too.
We talk of show qualities like fur density, size, posture, bar, veiling etc because chinchillas are judged by this at shows. Well, they also reflect health and breeding practice. It means the breeder selected the chinnies with the best qualities to breed with. Off course there are limits to this, especially with size. A breeder can get so obsessed with breeding the best show qualities that they try to achieve it at any cost.
I can breed bigger chinnies and get bigger babies. I can even get more babies and make them grow faster. I simply believe it is not natural and the chinchilla will eventually pay the price. If I get 500-550g males and 750-800g females, why increase the size artificially? If this was healthy humans would be 20 feet tall by now and cows would weigh 2 tonnes. We are not because we are not meant to be.
Posture (the “pose”) goes hand in hand with size. A fat chinchilla will appear more “blocky” and would do better at shows because there is a straight line from the head to the body. I can adjust the diet and make them look like that. They will die young so I won’t do it. There is a reason why some chinchillas have a dip in the neck and a longer face. Did you notice that the bigger they get and the better the posture gets the less kits they give? It only takes a few generations. Off course a show breeder would not mind one perfect kit compared to 4 that won’t get a place on a show.
For me size is only important so far as that a breeding girl must be big enough to have a safe pregnancy and healthy kits. A small boy would not breed in nature but a too big boy is lazy. Being in proportion is more important than posture. Nothing wrong with good posture, they are just not fat and it is not artificial. It is how they would look in nature. Being out of proportion is often a sign of inbreeding, you get it in other show animals too. Not the ones you see at the shows, the “mistakes” that never makes it to adulthood or are sold just to get rid of them. Breeders of “teacup” dogs and pigs knows this but will never admit it.
Fur quality is important because it reflects on overall health. It shows that a breeder didn’t just put 2 together and the pair was not 2 weak mutations. Ebony is a good example, keep breeding Ebony on Ebony and you end up with pitch black small chinnies with terrible fur. The pure white belly is a sign of pure Standard, there was no messing around to try and breed “funnies”. Veiling goes darker generation by generation, as far as it is natural. The poor veiling in South Africa is because of rubbish food and stupid breeding practice.
Royal Persian Angora is the best example of all because it is so obvious. I’ve seen pics that made me want to cry. There are rules to safe breeding. It doesn’t only keep the kits strong, it also improves the show qualities, which is then a reflection of health and good breeding practice. This is especially true for the recessive mutations like Violet, Sapphire, RPA and the others. You see in the fur how they were bred.
I breed RPA and Violet. I already had my first RPA and RPAC kits. My pairs are so safe it is over conservative. I am yet to get Violet kits because I bred carriers. Pairing my Violets would’ve meant 4 or 5 litters of Violets by now. For what? Just to get Violet? No, thank you, they are weak and you see it in the color and fur. It will take the right partners and a few generations to fix. My VC pairs will soon start giving kits and with only 25% chance for Violet there are no guarantees. When I do get Violet there will be none stronger. No hurry.
The same with Sapphire. I have a Sapphire but she is not the best because she was probably bred wrong and they made her get pregnant too soon. She is fine now after a long rest but I paired her with pure Std. If there is a problem with the kits she will never breed again. I have 2 adult SC boys and a girl. I can get a Sapphire if I pair them. It will be a weak Sapphire and you will see it in the qualities. Instead I will breed “possible” Std SC, pair them and hope for the best. If I don’t get Sapphire I will get strong healthy pets that will make someone special happy for many years.
It is easy to breed recessives or any other mutation, even RPA. Just put 2 together. The difference will just be that ours doesn’t look like wet poodles that had a bad shave job.
I don’t categorize animals, I love Scarlett with her hanging ears and tiny Lenny with his paralyzed limbs just as much a Vicky and Crystal. They are all my pets and my responsibility. It is just also my responsibility not to breed chinnies like Lenny.
The show qualities is the mirror reflection of what the breeder did. You can see everything. It can just also be “cosmetic surgery” that looks great for a few years and then falls apart. I won’t breed “plastic” chinchillas for the “looks”. I will also not feed them what I know will kill them in a few years just because I want bigger kits that grows faster and are bigger adults.
I select who I pair, I select according to show qualities but only after I selected for health. And I sure as hell don’t feed them steroids.

The “long nosed” chinchillas

Over the past year or so I wrote about Costina and La Plata chinchillas a few times and in detail. They are the same chinchilla (C. Lanigera), not a different species. All that differs is that they adapted differently to their environment.
It is easy to explain the differences. It happens with other species too. In a hot country like South Africa the ears are bigger and they lose fur density after a few generations. A good example is Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits. Because they breed a lot faster it is obvious faster. I learned this from rabbit breeders long before I had chinchillas. They imported pure bred dwarfs and within a few generations the ears got big. They were not crossed with anything else, the herds were kept pure. It is pure evolution, adapting to the environment. Nothing changed, just the looks. Bigger ears means they can get rid of more body heat.
In their natural habitat the chinnies that lived closer to the coast also evolved. They became smaller, got longer noses and bigger ears. They got longer and thinner bodies and thinner fur. Their behavior was also different, they are extremely busy and often a bit shy and nervous. More important, they have bigger litters more often. As pelting started to take it’s toll they also moved higher into the mountains. Because of all the years of evolution, they kept the “qualities”. They are very good mothers, even though the litters are bigger and the kits are born smaller. The name “Costina” was derived from “coastal”, close to the sea.
On the other hand, the chinnies that lived high in the mountains also evolved. They are La Plata. They are the chinnies with the thick fur, small ears and big stocky bodies. They have the short noses and round faces. They have the qualities people want for shows. Because they live at such a high altitude, the weather isn’t kind and summers are short. They have fewer litters and less babies. The babies are born bigger. They are slow breeders with better show qualities. They are also good mothers, healthy chinnies are all good mothers. Compared to Costina, they are not very busy and just sit a lot more.
This is what show breeders strive for. They want those qualities, the posture, blocky appearance, round and flat face, fur density and all the rest. They pick their breeding chinchillas according to these qualities. They get a lot less babies but they are bigger and have better show qualities.
I read an awful lot of history and a lot of statistics. What happened over the years is that breeders (fur farmers at that stage) realized there is a difference and they used it to improve fur. This meant they got more chinnies with much better fur but most still had long noses. As one put it bluntly, they don’t care for the face because they cut it off. They care for the fur. I believe fur farming is evil but these are the realities.
From the statistics I realized how big the size difference really is. On average a La Plata male will weigh 100-150g more than a Costina male. A La Plata female will weigh 200-250g more than a Costina female. The weight difference in the kits are huge. I also get 66g kits from La Plata pairs. I just get quads of 40g each from Costina pairs. So far I lost one of the quads every time and 2 once. All the rest grew to a healthy size, over 600g and some over 700g. I have many triplets and they all survive. The baby weights are normal, just read the research papers, before we started breeding them bigger.
A few things happened. With shows, size counts, as do the other qualities. Breeders breed them bigger. To do this they pair the biggest males with the biggest females. They pair the biggest kits with each other and the process repeats. The kits do get bigger for 2 reasons. The food is boosted to make them grow faster but this is another story. The size qualities in the parents, combined with the other qualities are used to select the next generation. You end up with kits of 70g or even more. But often there is only one and often only once a year, after a few generations off course. They get bigger but less.
Some breeders realized this and kept a balance. I have friends in Europe who breed like I do. They taught me this, I just checked everything. They don’t breed females that ends up weighing 900g. They breed females that weigh between 700 and 800g, no bigger. The males weigh an average of 500-550g. They still win the shows. They will just not win in the USA purely on size.
I believe the balance is important but you also want the qualities. I have pairs that are both Costina, they have longer noses and are smaller. I keep their babies or help friends with them. I have very few pairs that are both La Plata. The ones I do have are imported or kits of imported parents. The La Plata kits I bred were all paired keeping all this in mind.
My old La Plata pairs (before I knew better) and my imported pairs give me either one litter a year (my old pairs) or two litters that are usually twins or one kit at a time. They are slow breeders. It doesn’t matter because you want the show qualities. I keep those kits or give them to Willie.
When I make a new pair (forget qualities for now) I pair a La Plata with a Costina. I’ve done this for a few years now. The kits I get are mostly La Plata, nice round faces, good posture, stocky, etc. The girls average 700-800g, just like my friends in Europe. I don’t want them bigger. With a pairing like this you do get kits with longer noses but actually very few. They are just in proportion and extremely valuable for breeding.
I can take the round faced kits from 2 “mixed” pairs and pair them. It will give me twins or triplets twice a year, they will all have round faces. There will be one or 2 that falls back on the long face but it is rare. These kits I breed back to Costina. If I don’t, the next generation will be slow breeders. You can be lucky and push it for a few generations, I don’t.
What I achieve with this. I get Costina chinnies with long noses but not the rat faces you often see. They have much better posture but you still see the difference. They also have better qualities, especially smaller ears and better fur density. They are “improved” Costina but they keep the breeding qualities. It also means that every single round faced La Plata I sell can be paired with another La Plata and still give 2 litters a year, except the ones I bred before I knew better. They can also be paired with a long nosed Costina but give round faced kits. There will be exceptions, it is nature.
It all goes about keeping the balance. If the balance in the ancestry is right you get great qualities, good mothers and more babies. Keeping the genes pure and breeding only with the kits of good parents, you end up with the qualities you want, not too big, you lose extremely few kits and more importantly, you don’t lose mothers to complications or have mothers with milk problems.
Not one of the mommies I kept to breed with had any complications, I didn’t lose one of them and most of the kits I lost over the years were from females I bought. I am still far from getting the show qualities I want but getting there. Recent kits have better qualities than I imported. Kits I got from Willie also have much better qualities than he imported. Now we just pair them right and get the qualities combined with good healthy mommies. And off course strong and healthy pets.
Don’t write off the long nosed chinnies, they are very important. There is just a huge difference between a good Costina from good parents and a chinnie that looks like a rat because some breeder bred with whatever he got hold of.
This I can’t get people to understand. My friends in Europe have experienced it, both Willie and I have experienced it. Everyone wants the perfect chinnie with the show qualities. You can breed that, it doesn’t mean they will be good breeders.