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.
An 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 value).
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”.
LINEBREEDING: 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 disaster.
Health, fertility, temperament, type, is imperative because compromises negatively affect your future breeding program and will require further elimination.
INBREEDING: 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 breeding:
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.