SUCCESSFUL DOG BREEDING
Linebreeding, Inbreeding, Outcrossing and Why
E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, TheDogPlace.org
Exhibition Editor - August 2009
Do you count your litters or do your litters count?
Are you a “dog breeder” or a “breeder of dogs”? What is your ratio of producing dogs that finish?
After buying a national
winning bitch, a breeder wonders why the bitch fails to produce quality
offspring. She doesn’t understand her bitch is not the only ingredient in her
recipe for success. Throwing time and money away, she blames the bitch. In all
actuality; it is her lack of knowledge regarding her breeding program that is at
fault. Breeding her bitch to currently winning dogs without giving a thought to
health, pedigree, or cross faulting, she puzzles as to why others accomplish
what she can not.
excellent breeding program isn’t “happen-chance”.
Cross faulting, health certifications, and pedigree
research is imperative as is breeding with the
future in mind. It is imperative one has a “breeding
plan” in place. There are reasons why some people
consistently breed top winners and others breed a
“flash in the pan” with the inability to reproduce
its qualities. One may go to the expense of buying a
top winner, but to reproduce a winner without a
“battle plan” is an effort in futility.
The goal of all breeders should be to breed
to standard. Breeding something different to “catch”
a judges eye may temporarily produce a winner, but
it doesn’t do the next breeder in line any favors
toward trying to build a credible breeding program.
This “quick fix” is a fad with little lasting value
that pushes the standard to the side.
This in turn creates a continuously moving target and sadly, it
is the reason many people in the sport drop out
within the first five years. For everyone to
SUCCEED, we must aim for a stationary target (the
breed standard). Only then will we perfect our aim
toward producing “breed excellence”. So let’s start
with the basics.
OUTCROSS: This is a breeding of pedigrees where the first
(5-6) generations have NO common ancestry. To
achieve a successful outcross, determine if the
chosen male offers “locked in” genetic abilities to
produce such virtues by observing his offspring. A
“flash in the pan” winner offers instant
gratification, but where does one go from there if
he isn’t bred to reproduce himself?
When possible, visit his sire and dam as well as
siblings. If the male of choice does not appear to
produce what you need, WHAT IS THE POINT OF BREEDING
YOUR BITCH to him? Using an inbred or closely line
bred bitch when introducing new characteristics may
assist you as this particular outcross invites a
lack of uniformity.
You have choices. If the puppy reflecting the
“trait” you went after is not sound, but is
showy, consider growing out a second puppy as well.
The first puppy may well carry the genes to produce
that which the second choice sounder puppy is not
capable of reproducing. Only by growing the two
puppies to maturity and breeding a litter from each,
will you know.
My ten girl cousins were the “spitting image” of my
father’s family look. My sister and I took after my
mother. As “half-baked” youngsters, one would never
guess our heritage but with maturity, our body type
and size, even our voices and actions confirmed we
were of the same “ilk”.
So every litter offers “different types”. Watching my
two puppies and breeding them resulted in “What you
see is not always what you get. The lesser of the
two adults actually produced more desirable puppies.
How did I learn this? By growing the two puppies
to maturity. When evaluating the offspring of
their litters, I gave those virtues most important
to me additional consideration. Without losing what
my own line offered, while evaluating the virtues, I
was able to incorporate them through the outcross.
The goal was “the best of both worlds. My male
produces a certain “look” and through serious
consideration I will incorporate this into my
initial soundness. This explains the difference in
phenotype (What you see) and genotype. (Hidden
Eventually, offspring from the bitch will be bred to
offspring of the male, anchoring outstanding virtues
into the pedigree by careful selection. At this
point, it evolves as “line breeding”.
Line breeding is the concentration of valuable
characteristics. It allows some control over
“families”. This method requires one of the selected
parents having one or more common ancestors in the
pedigree in the last several (5-6) generations.
These ancestors themselves may be a successful
line-breeding of outstanding individuals. Use only
healthy individuals or the program will meet with
Health, fertility, temperament, type, is imperative
because compromises negatively affect your
future breeding program and will require further
Once reaching the pinnacle of desired virtues,
INBREED. This “sets” breed type and defines a
certain “look”. You will “reap what you sow.
Inbreeding results in “the best of the best” and
“the worst of the worst”. This is what makes a
breeder! This risk is not for the faint of
heart. If things go “south”, take responsibility for
the results and act accordingly.
TO PUT IT IN A NUTSHELL:
OUTCROSSING introduces new traits for definite improvement. Our
biggest failing is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. LINEBREEDING creates and establishes a pedigree which in degrees,
incorporates and produces specific traits on a continuous basis. If a good female results from a
breeding, she can be bred back to her grandsire for consistency of type reflecting the sire’s side. INBREEDING
sets type and simplifies goals. Inbreeding consists of mother to son, father to daughter, brother to
sister, etc. Strengthening desirable dominants as well as hidden recessive, the breeder must recognize
and correct once again through out crossing...
Breeders must always be aware of hidden genetic
positive and negative effects. A breeding made from
paper study alone is like an arranged marriage-it
may be consummated, but there is small chance for
success”. (EHH 1968)
Successful breeders “arrive” through heartbreak,
tears, and hard work. They achieve desired results
by eliminating animals that do not reflect their
goals. These animals are called “pets”. The standard
IS our blueprint, although too often, personal
opinion takes precedence.
For a more in depth study of how to correct faults,
read Lloyd C. Brackett’s “Planned Breeding”
article on the website
www.nylana.org. This breeder, following
Brackett’s methods, is known for Best in Show
Schipperkes. Although there are over 53 pages, for a
serious breeder the consumption of ink and paper is
certainly worth the printing.
Not for the “squeamish”, there is another type of
BACKBREEDING. If one has a superior male and lovely bitch
excelling in health, type, temperament, and
conformation. MATE THEM. Keep a female from this
litter and mate this puppy to her sire. Keep a
female puppy from the resulting litter and take her
to the original sire, (her father). Breed until you
reach the desired results or until weaknesses become
apparent. Few will take up this challenge, but it’s
something to consider. “Back breeding” produced
many of the “GREATS” in a variety of breeds. This is
WHY many greats of the past were dominant for
producing their qualities generation after
generation. This confirms becoming a respected
breeder is a slow and painful process.
Back Breeding “sets type”. The offspring will mirror
the excellence of the line. When line- breeding and
in-breeding is done properly, strengths, NOT
weaknesses, will be the end result.
True breeders are “tough cookies”. Through their
dedication to the standards, the goal of “breed
excellence” will remain firm, moving our great sport
of dogs into the future.