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.