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Inbreeding: A Force for Good – or a Skeleton in Our Closet?

A lot of people in Great Britain heaved a deep sigh of relief when they realized that our Westminster Best in Show winner, the feisty Affenpinscher GCh. Banana Joe v. Tani Kazari, would not be going to Crufts this year. This had nothing to do with anyone being afraid of the competition: I have no idea what the preferences of the breed and Group judges might have been, but I’m sure everyone – British and Americans alike – would have enjoyed watching Joe put on his usual show in the big ring at Crufts. (If he got that far, of course; last year, when he traveled across the pond to be shown in Birmingham, Joe won Best of Breed, but didn’t place in the Toy Group.)

No, my British friends’ concern was of a completely different nature. They worried that if a high profile dog like Joe had been present at Crufts, mainstream media would somehow learn that Joe is the result of a breeding practice that is presently banned in Britain, as well as in several other European countries, and this would have given rise to even more bashing of purebred dogs and dog shows than already took place. This activity seems to have become a popular pastime among journalists looking for a story, and regardless of how healthy and happy and in every way “normal” little Joe is, the fact that he’s the result of inbreeding – father to daughter, no less – would, according to my British informants, be enough to send the mainstream press into a foaming rage.

Although I don’t doubt that this is true, it’s rather depressing to find that this is the kind of reaction you must expect in Great Britain today. This is the country where the modern concept of purebred livestock originated a couple of hundred years ago; where the breeding of fine livestock, horses, sheep, poultry, and of course dogs, has reached an unsurpassed apex. It all started in the late 1700s, when Robert Bakewell (1725-1795) was the first to implement systematic selective breeding of livestock, as opposed to the mostly random breeding methods that had previously governed animal breeding. (This all had to do with the then revolutionary idea that you shouldn’t slaughter and eat the fattest pig – you saved it for breeding, and thereby produced more of the same.) Bakewell mainly focused on sheep and cattle, but once his ideas had taken root in the 1800s they were put to good use in “purebred” dogs as well, with the result that by the 1860s the sport of dog shows, kennel clubs and modern breeding got off the ground… and we’ve been on a roll ever since.

Great Britain gave rise to the modern concept of purebred livestock, implementing systematic selective breeding practices in horses, sheep, poultry and dogs that include linebreeding and inbreeding. Photo by Gbphotostock/Dreamstime.

The Victorians, although much more delicate than we are in many ways, were certainly not squeamish about using close inbreeding in dogs to set the characteristics they wanted to “fix” and thereby create a breed. Without strong inbreeding and linebreeding, we simply wouldn’t have all the breeds we have, and they would never have been able to consistently reproduce the qualities (of both character and conformation) that define them today.

The Same Names, Over and Over…
It’s unfortunate that so few breed fanciers study their breed’s origins in depth. You might be surprised by what you would find. In many cases the foundation stock from which every single dog of a breed descends consisted of just a handful of individuals, and if you extend the pedigrees backward you tend to return to the same few names, over and over and over again. It’s not quite like Adam and Eve, and not nearly as far back as that either, but it’s common to come across the same dog many hundreds, even thousands, of times if you go back far enough.

Behind that there’s darkness: some breeds have documented pedigrees for just a few decades, others for over a century, but eventually you’ll come across the dreaded “pedigree unknown.” Ultimately, of course, all purebreds are mutts, in the sense that at some point you can no longer prove “pure” ancestry, and that’s something I wish we’d all accept. (I also wish we’d be able to find a less loaded term than “pure breeding” for what we do, but that’s a different subject.)

Let’s not get too involved in the intricacies of genetics here. I’m not a geneticist, but every dog breeder has to know a little bit of practical genetics. What we do know is that if you double up on a characteristic within the same family, you are likely to get it in spades. That’s great, provided it’s a desirable feature; what’s not so great is that the same is true of less desirable characteristics. A lot that’s hidden under the surface may also come to light when you inbreed, and there are, of course, those who believe that inbreeding, in and of itself, is “bad.” (At least some of the latter, I think, is a natural human aversion to a taboo subject. I’m wondering if we feel more strongly about this these days when our dogs have increasingly become family members, even our “children,” and we are therefore more concerned by their sexual habits, as well as everything else they do, than in the past when “dogs were just dogs.” It’s a thought.)

There’s also the well-known fact of “hybrid vigor,” which means that the result of outcrossing, at least in the first generation, often has a tendency to evidence a vitality that’s not necessarily as common in heavily inbred lines.

Inbreeding Versus Linebreeding
How do you distinguish inbreeding from linebreeding? Inbreeding really is an extreme form of linebreeding: mating first-generation relatives, such as sire to daughter, dam to son, and full siblings, would constitute strong inbreeding. Some people would call grandsire to granddaughter combinations, or even the mating of first cousins, a form of inbreeding.

The Kennel Club in England bans the mating of first degree relatives, which means that the progeny from mother to son, father to daughter, and full brother to full sister matings cannot be registered at the Kennel Club. (That’s a direct quote from the Kennel Club. Note that they say “father” and “mother” – not “sire” and “dam,” thereby enhancing the natural discomfort you feel when you compare inbreeding to human incest.)

The above does not mean that inbreeding is going to produce freaks. Like almost everything else, it’s a question of how it’s done, and intelligent breeders can achieve brilliant results by employing selective inbreeding. Nobody who has met Joe, our Westminster winner, could doubt for a second that he’s as healthy, happy and “normal” as any dog with a less inbred pedigree. (I don’t know if there are any skeletons in his closet, of course, although I doubt it very much. I’m only basing my observations on what I’ve seen of Joe, in the extremely high pressure atmosphere at, for example, Westminster, which he handled with greater aplomb and assurance than most!)

You don’t have to do a lot of research to realize that line- and inbreeding are pretty much endemic, as much among British breeders as among Americans. Looking at the pedigrees of the winners at this year’s Crufts, for instance, it’s clear that in- and linebreeding feature prominently among them – at least as strongly as in Joe’s case, although it’s not as clear-cut a case as sire-daughter breeding.

Take the Best in Show winner, for instance – the extrovert, ever-charming Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Ch. Soletrader Peek A Boo. ‘Jilly,’ as she is called, is the result of her dam having been bred to a son of her litter sister – in other words, nephew to aunt. And since the dam and the aunt are already the results of linebreeding (their granddam is also their great-granddam), there’s a pretty narrow genetic base.

The Terrier Group winner, the Skye Ch. Salena The Special One, is the result of cousin-to-cousin breeding, with the additional twist that one single dog occupies five of the eight spaces in the fourth generation, and apparently even tighter linebreeding before that. The Toy Group winner, the King Charles Spaniel Ch. Maibee Theo, is out of a bitch whose sire is full brother to her granddam, with both also related to several dogs on Theo’s sire’s side. The Labrador Retriever and Tibetan Terrier Group winners appear to be of mostly outcross breeding, at least as far as I could tell from the five-generation pedigrees I have access to.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Ch. Meadowpark Whispers Breeze is sired by an import from Belgium, Goodboy van’t Stokerybos, whose granddams are first cousins. Actually, they are even more closely related than that, since the sire of one of them is also the grandsire of the other.

Breeze’s dam does not appear to be related to her sire, in which case she herself could be termed a “pure outcross.” However, it’s of interest to U.S. breeders to note that Breeze’s dam is at least one quarter American and descends from AKC champions carrying kennel names such as Abbey Road’s, Elmira’s, etc.

The Australian Shepherd Ch. Allmark Fifth Avenue’s pedigree is almost all-American, but not closely linebred. Her U.S. sire Ch. Dazzle’s Bill-A-Bing Bill-A-Bong descends twice from Ch. Arrogance of Heatherhill in the first four generations, and he also appears far back on the dam’s side. There are a number of American Bayshore champions in the pedigree as well, but most of them are only distantly related, at least as far as the five-generation pedigree shows.

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that if the Kennel Club, and some of the other European clubs that follow along the same line, had outlawed inbreeding earlier we would not have the variety of dog breeds we now have. Certainly inbreeding is nothing for a novice dog fancier to be playing with, and it’s a practice that’s risky if you are not deeply aware of all the problems – as well as the virtues – that may lurk beneath the genetic surface of your dogs. But it’s a practice that has been, and can continue to be, extremely beneficial to use in dogs.

My thanks to Glen Dymock of the Kennel Club for providing pedigrees.

Written by

Bo Bengtson has been involved in dogs since the late 1950s and judged since the mid-1970s in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Japan, China and Russia. He has judged twice at Westminster, twice at Crufts and four times at the FCI World Show, as well as the U.S. national specialties for Scottish Deerhounds, Whippets, Greyhounds and Borzoi.
Comments
  • Beth Ferrier March 20, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Excellent article, The issue here is not in/line breeding, but the SELECTION of what is used to carry on. We are long departed from the generation of livestock farmers who used this on a regular basis, used common sense when “culling”,,(in the case of cattle , either selling, or comsuming), Our own kennel has used extensive in breeding for 30 years, the female tail line being the same with the addition of a part outcross male.
    Our own BISA,BISS Can/Am.Ch.Taeplace Monet, winner of 55 All Breed Bests, Canada’s Top Dog All Breeds for 2000, eleven specialty wins, Breed at Westminster, and sire of dozens of champions, was the result of the sire being bred back to his mother. Three intensely line bred lines, with a strong linebred outcross.
    As stated, education needs to be addressed in understanding the science of selection. When properly administered, line and inbreeding are a very powerful tool to achieve every trait desireable, as well as bringing out traits which should not be bred from. In other words, predictability.

    • Collin March 22, 2013 at 7:13 AM

      Beth, with all due respect, breeders today should not be encouraged to utilize mother to son or father to daughter breedings, with or without “understanding the science of selection.” We may be long departed from generations of livestock farmers you described, but we are also long departed from the days when we made breeding decisions in the privacy of our kennels, without the rabid eye of animal rights extremists monitoring our every move.

      • Beth Ferrier March 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        I wholeheartedly agree, Collin. The issue is the fact that we no longer have “students” of the breed, young people starting in have no desire to study “why” some kennels have top winning AS WELL AS top health, and reproduction .
        The fact , I will say once again, is NOT the fact of close breeding, but the lack of understanding of “why am I doing this breeding, ” and “where am It taking this”?
        FIRST must be health.Case closed. Having been and still am a long time cattle farmer, we are driven by the bottom line. If we do not do our job on the base line concerning reproduction, milk, temperament, we soon find ourselves out of business.
        I have based my kennel philosphy on these principles. My bitches are huge milkers. They come in heat the first time at six months. Testicles are always down by 8 weeks. They have huge nostrils, and run and play. I am a very small kennel, always under 10, and pride myself on being known as the kennel which can win, reproduce and have health.
        So, line breeding and inbreeding to me is the last test of a consciencious breeder. It is a very, very powerful tool in the correct hands, but a disaster otherwise.

  • Robin March 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    ‘one single dog occupies five of the eight spaces in the fourth generation’
    Are you sure? That doesn’t leave room for a male and a female pair as each g-grandparent. If a way has been figured out how to breed 2 females together – I want to know, as this would solve my issue of not finding a suitable male to breed my bitch to, while I’ve found several great bitches I’d like to incorporate into my line!

  • Iva Kimmelman
    Iva Kimmelman March 20, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Thank you again for an article of importance.
    Unfortunatly this foaming rage and fear comes from the unknown truth and the fantasies made up by animal rights zealots. There are just as many, if not more, sick, diseased and “ticking time bombs of health problems”mixed breed dogs as there are purebreds! Our enviroment is polluted and that has little to do with genetics.
    The entire subject of inbreeding makes many people cringe and for no good reason.
    How do they expect to keep the good things they want in their dogs if they only want to invest in the outcross? This is how many health problems are introduced. Not by breeding healthy individuals together that are closely related.
    I have done outcrosses, linebreedings and two in breedings: one was sister to brother, one was father to daughter.
    From those two breedings I only went on with the father/daughter. I got nothing but healthy, beautiful dogs coming down from that cross. The reason I didn’t move forward with the brother/sister was because of a fear of heart disease. There was no dsease in either parent, that I know of, but we didn’t test in those days and I was concerned when the female in this litter develped heart diease at 8. She lived to be 16!
    No one wants to breed sick dogs on purpose, but inbreeding and linebreeding have not the culprits here.

    • Iva Kimmelman
      Iva Kimmelman March 20, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      To those who say: “but won’t you get freaks and idiots if you in-breed” I say, not unless you breed two freaks and idiots together.

      • Dorothea Penizek March 28, 2013 at 2:03 AM

        Not true1 Look what happened to the Spanish Habsburgs.

        Ever heard of inbreeding depression? Canines are subject to that as are all species with sexual reproduction,

    • Golden owner March 21, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      In breeds like the golden retriever, where the top winning dogs are often the dogs carrying the most cancer, elbow dysplasia, PU and other hidden issues, breeding to same stud dog over and over, and tripling up on those “awesome” genes, (that often aren’t disclosed for public knowledge) leads to puppies that end up with cancer at younger and younger ages. PU a disease that often doesn’t come about until about 8-9 years of age, often leads to the loss of the eye (s), lets say most golden breeders do line breedings (or in breedings) over and over on the #1 dog in the country, at the age of 7 he gets PU, looses is eyes, and now there are 50-100 litters on the ground with doubled and tripled genes for a disease that will cause them to loose their eyes. That to me just isn’t smart, its not good for the breed as a whole, and does nothing for the purpose (hunting) the breed was bred for. Those puppies might win a lot before they loose their eyes, but lets be honest, winning isn’t everything, when you love your dog. The sad part is that people don’t care the outcome of that stud dog they line bred on, even if he died young of cancer, they will still breed those dogs with tripled genes of that one dog. I do not have an irrational aversion to inbreeding, what I do have is a completely natural aversion to breeding for the ring and disregarding longevity and soundness.

      • Mary Beth McManus September 18, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        Most breeders will tell you they want to breed healthy dogs. When a top ranked dog of a certain working breed was reported to have dropped dead in the show ring at a young age (cardio), yet several breeders were sorry they didn’t get to breed to him! Duh! I agree there is a mentality that ignores soundness and longevity, or health testing to breed away from problems. Finding a long term breeder who knows what they are producing from their dogs, breeding away from problems, and is forthright about it is not always easy. It’s not just studying the pedigree and breeding percentiles, it’s also knowing the dogs within it.

  • Golden owner March 20, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Most of your argument is based on the premise that in-bred and line bred dogs win at shows and “seem” healthy…Winning is not important to most dog owners, or even most breeders, its nice, but healthy and longevity must absolutely be first. Nothing in your article shows any scientific proof that these heavily in bred dogs actually are healthy, for instance the winner of Westminster is still a young dog, longevity is a big unknown, is cancer common in this breed? Maybe not, but in other breeds like the golden retriever, in breeding is a much more difficult thing to argue, since more than 60% of Goldens die of cancer, there is no cancer free line or dog, any golden is related to a dog that died of cancer, or might die of cancer themselves. How can one ethically argue, doubling, tripling up on cancer? If you are arguing that in breeding WAS necessary for the current breeds, you are correct, but it is NOT currently necessary for well established breeds. AND even though breeds like the golden retriever originated from just a handful of individuals, over time genetic drifts allows for a great degree of genetic diversity, that is not present to begin with. This genetic diversity can be utilized by breeders if they so choose.

    • Kris March 21, 2013 at 8:43 AM

      Well, I have heard great deal on both sides. However, what I see at the moment done, is that people don’t really study pedigrees in-depth. In my favourite breed I see a great deal of breeding done using one nice-looking and sweet-tempered male who, however, has produced problems in temperament and health. He is used, because his progeny is winning, but his lines are also producing problems. Why is he still used? Because thiose who use him either don’t want to acknowledge the problems he produces and claim it’s only a hear-say, or they just don’t know because they are relative newcomers in the breed and their interest is mainly focused on who is winning.
      And I wonder how many breeders can claim that they know all their progeny’s issues be they behavioural or health ones. Even in a small country whole litters disappear from the pool of knowledge, and very little is known what has become of them, how long they live, what kind of lives they lead, etc.
      Another thing – if one’s clossly bred klitter has produced unhelathy puppies, how many breeders have the courage to put them down? Most are saved by veterinary profession, and even if not used for breeding, they are still someone’s pets. Even if given away for free, why should a pet owner get an unhealthy dog? I know only one breeder who put down a whole litter after hearing the male he had unkowingly used, was carrying a genetical condition. But how many would do that?
      And what about neurological diseases – the likelihood of their popping up grows with close breeding, even though every single individual in the pedigree is “clear” of it. But what about their siblings?
      I don’t want to condemn any breeding practice out of hand, but I see how little breeders often care in their game for going to the top. As they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions…

    • Dorothea Penizek March 28, 2013 at 2:09 AM

      Genetic drift does not mean what you say—it is loss of diversity, not the opposite!

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.1987.tb00023.x/abstract

  • Shawna Staggs March 20, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    You have presented a lot of fantastic insight inbreeding and line breeding, I would like to learn more. I also would like to find out how to find more on my own dogs lines beyond their 4 generations pedigree. Any insight on how to do this would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Shawna Staggs
    Pomqueensuzie@ymail.com

    • poodlepedigree.com March 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      Many breeds have online databases…they can be found here:
      http://www.alfirin.net/pedigree-central/

      all breeds with a db appear as a link.

      Goldens, Poodles, Tollers and Labradors have realtime db’s

      http://www.k9data.com for Goldens and Labs
      http://www.poodlepedigree.com

      what is being seen now are uninformed “breeders” trying to see how low they can get the coefficient of inbreeding with no regard for the problems they may be combining :(

  • Susan Mann March 20, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Gotta love the comment that you don’t know much about genetics- it is, unfortunately, pretty true of many breeders. Go learn about population genetics, rather than focusing on color or conformation. We are seeing increased rates of cancer and autoimmune disorders, digestive and fertility issues, and decreased life spans in many breeds, especially those with few founders or a genetic bottleneck.

  • Judy Higgins Kasper March 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Many good and insightful comments here. Discussion is healthy, wish there were more of it.

  • Bonnie Norris March 24, 2013 at 4:48 AM

    I just happened upon this article and was shocked to read the comments bashing animal rights groups. Aren’t we for the rights of animals? Aren’t we dog lovers?

    The author of the article practically tried to compare prejudice against inbreeding to prejudice against skin color. This is ridiculous and insulting.

    No matter how well “type” is fixed using in and line breeding, the scientific fact remains all purebred dogs are inbred.

    Read the non-biased scientific journals.

    If not that, it’s a know fact of the ancients that in breeding produces unhealthy weaklings susceptible to disease and death. That’s why it has been a moral anathema for ions.

    All one has to do is look at the statistics for disease in the purebred dog and it’s subsequent rise since the fancy began.

    Yes, inbreeding produces some pretty dogs that look alike, but over time, without the intervention of modern veterinary support, we could not sustain our beloved purebred dogs.

    • ruby March 26, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Bonnie, I hope you understand that yes, those of us in the purebred dog show world are “for the rights of animals,” and we are most certainly dog lovers. But we are vehemently against the agendas of the animal right extremists. Anyone who is at all involved in purebred dogs ought to know this by now. The extreme animal rights groups — PETA, Humane Society of the United States, etc. — want nothing more than to end the ownership of companion animals as we know it.

  • Lena Kjempengren March 25, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    Some genetic knowledge IS necessary when we are discussing the inbreeding; “A Force for Good – or a Skeleton in Our Closet”. It is also vital to discuss it in light of the age of the breeds. I take it we are discussing established breeds.

    Inbreeding is a tool we have to use to create new breeds in any species. Without it, we would not be able to create new breeds at all, – a dog would simply be a dog. By going on breeding dogs in closed populations (read; within breeds), we are already using a simple form of inbreeding. Most people would like to keep it that way, we like the many different breeds!

    As far as I understand; what we are discussing here is not how to create new breeds. What we are discussing is; how much inbreeding are we willing to do to create winners within a breed?

    By looking at pedigrees belonging to successful animals, it is evident that many breeders do use inbreeding, or heavy linebreeding, to produce successful dogs. What we do not see is the health and vitality in the “winners” family and relatives. It may be a happy story behind that winner, -or it may be a sad story… We do not know by looking at a pedigree, therefore; we can not draw the conclusion that inbreeding/linebreeding is the best way to success for a breed as a whole, based on “winning pedigrees”.

    Dog breeders are responsible for their own breeding, but we are all responsible for the breed in itself as well. Many breeds are now reaching a “bottleneck”. The more we are “fixing traits” by inbreeding, the more we will double up bad traits in addition to the good traits we go after. The genepool in the breed will narrow down and it will be impossible to breed away from established unwanted trait, because all animals in the end will carry the same traits with no room for variation.

    Quote: “The bottom line is that if the Kennel Club, and some of the other European clubs that follow along the same line, had outlawed inbreeding earlier we would not have the variety of dog breeds we now have.”

    -In that I agree, but now it’s a question about how to best preserve the breeds for future generations. NOW may be a good time to try to limit the loss of genetic variation within breeds, or there will no longer be any room for improvement within a breed.

    • Dorothea Penizek March 28, 2013 at 2:27 AM

      Quote: “The bottom line is that if the Kennel Club, and some of the other European clubs that follow along the same line, had outlawed inbreeding earlier we would not have the variety of dog breeds we now have.”

      I agree with Lena on what she says but the above quote does not recognise the fact that there have always been and there still are landraces….dogs that were used for a certain funcion.

      Sighthounds like Salukis are a case in point….a “breed” which is thousands of years old, selected purely for function. Look at Greek vases, Egyptian tomb drawings, etc.
      A more modern example are the livestock guard dogs—-every country that has sheep or cattle seems to have one, and they all look similarr. Form follows function!

  • Lowell1 April 15, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    From an evolutionary pov, it’s likely that EVERY species started in a situation of limited numbers (http://news.discovery.com/human/evolution/inbreeding-early-humans-130319.htm). In animal breeding, humans are replacing Nature. The problem comes in with several issues. 1. selection for health wasn’t significant and still isn’t with many. Leon Whitney pointed out that good breeding was taking a good bitch to the oldest male in a good line — the point being that a sound dog of 11 or 14 has demonstrated longevity whereas a 2 yr old hasn’t. 2. while inbreeding has it’s role, the fact is that in other livestock OUTCROSSING also occurs (in sheep and many other livestock registries, grading up is allowed so that one can bring in new blood). This isn’t “designer dogs” — its the same technique that helped Dalmatians by using pointers to provide a solution to a health issue. Canine registries need to allow for “appendix breeding”. 3. There is a tendency, in any competitive venue, to push for “more and more” as if exaggeration is better. It’s not “enough” to be good. How many breeds resemble even the top winners of the 1950s? Are the changes really better or just a greater push for a particular aesthetic concept in order to win? And finally, most dog breeds don’t have enough numbers in their breeding pools for breeders to be indifferent to matador breeding. None of these issues are easy to address and none have a “one size fits all” answer, but I believe that a more open appendix registration system might well have significant benefits.

  • Karyn Cowdrey September 18, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    The Bottom Line
    The bottom line is that if the Kennel Club, and some of the other European clubs that follow along the same line, had outlawed inbreeding earlier we would not have the variety of dog breeds we now have. Certainly inbreeding is nothing for a novice dog fancier to be playing with, and it’s a practice that’s risky if you are not deeply aware of all the problems – as well as the virtues – that may lurk beneath the genetic surface of your dogs. But it’s a practice that has been, and can continue to be, extremely beneficial to use in dogs.

    And it is a darned shame that emotions vs common sense and science are now regulating breeding in parts of the world and if we don’t start educating our own politicians NOW, we will find the same problem in the US.

  • Birgit Wamberg September 19, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Nature, i.e. natural selection has built in some safeguards against the dangers of inbreeding. One of them is that the female has the power to discern how good – healthy and otherwise – the male that wants to mate her really is. So she puts him to the test, makes him work and prove himself worthy. Only then after some courtship will he be allowed to mate her. This is what happened in my kennel. I kept brother and sister apart, and yet she was mated on the 23rd day of heat. The result: 9 fine pups; but I only let 6 live. They are very promising. I am a breeder of 40 years´ experience and a biologist, and I trust Mother Nature.

  • Julie Wright September 19, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    This ban on in-breeding is just the latest in the Kennel Club’s interference with a breeder’s right to choose how they breed their stock. Frozen semen implants are also banned, as are any bitches who require more than 2 c-sections. Add to that the bans on cropping ears & tails & you have a LOT of key breeders in a lot of breeds who have given up breeding altogether or switched to other breeds. In my opinion, we are already seeing a decline in quality of many breeds in the UK and that is likely to get even worse in the future. I agree that in-breeding is a tool that should be used rarely and with good knowledge of the genetics you are working with, but it is a tool that should be available to those who know how to use it when it is needed.

  • Patty Coyne September 22, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    If you have a breed that is not plagued by a lot of health problems then the concept of doubling up on the “bad” genes is less of an issue. If you have a breed that does have a lot of health issues and many of them are hidden (incomplete penetrance) then the popular sire syndrome has a bigger impact. Because showing is about winning and a look rather than the whole dog the whole dog gets the short end of the stick. Sorry Bo, you automatically assume that Joe is healthy and happy ….just look at him! Open the doors and look at all the siblings, the litter sizes, the health data through a lifetime and then report on that. Showdogs have a lot of cousins in pet homes and there well being is just as important. Lacking the whole health picture should cause us to just be humble. Pet owners with sick dogs are bad publicity. High time health AND healthy longevity are factored in. A health certificate is a pretty small investment as is testing if a show breeders goal is to add to the breed instead of their own Brand. Every breeder should be doing that first and then having their moment to shine in the spotlight.

    England may have jumped the gun but they are also a country where MRSA was born and a pork industry with Hep E so that population may be a bit “sensitive”. I am not alone in wanting to support a healthier future with shared information. Optimal Selection may be a big piece of that. Especially for breeds that have small gene pools. That one $90 investment will give a breeder that little extra piece of information about diversity that could go a long way toward a healthier purebred in essential ways. That clinical trial is underway. It’s a small extra step that could pay off in spades. Immune health affects every part of the dog and inbreeding depression has already been brought up. I hope I live long enough to see the reality revealed in technicolor. I like others love our purebreds and see too many problems with the current breeding and show culture.

  • Christine Donda December 31, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I enjoyed this great article. I am starting out my breeding journey. I have been involved with dogs for over 20yrs I have waited to embark on the most important job i will ever have. I have been so blessed to have been given ( YES GIVEN THE GIFT) the opportunity of a line bred bitch. Health testing for me is a must so I know where I am at. I have many options for sires. what I notice is how many have a mish mosh of genetics and nowhere to go. Trust and support from a successful breeder priceless to my start. I will respectfully carry on her work. I was told by a departed dear friend Lee Mannix Genetics loads the gun environment fires it. I vow to make the environment the best possible for my dogs. I also am an owner handler the bitch I have wins under breeder judge, but sometimes can not be seen by all breed judges. This year we placed under 3 different judges at our national specialty. The struggle of what wins and what I want to breed for the future and health of my beloved breed may not always be on the same page. Knowing where i will be able to go outways the loss in the ring. I believe the success of any great breeder is 1 part SCIENCE 1 part ART 1 part Passion. Victory and defeat you will continue for the love of your breed.

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