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All this research is important when a breeder is effectively trying to improve on a weakness in a bloodline. In contrast, by doubling up on a dominant trait that is a fault will inevitably cause undesirable results.

A recessive trait is one that is not readily apparent in either the sire or dam of a litter but is present in the offspring. Recessive traits can hide themselves for generations and only reappear when bred to a dog that shares the fault. For this reason, it becomes important for a breeder to critically evaluate each dog in the pedigree.

Common Breeding Techniques

Breeders may seek to improve the qualities of a bloodline by utilizing one of three common breeding techniques: outcrossing, linebreeding, or inbreeding. In essence, the later is less often practiced that the former.

Inbreeding involves either breeding parents to offspring or full brother or sister. This form of breeding is not very common today and requires that both dogs be from fundamentally sound breeding stock and of genetically clean lines.

A variant of inbreeding and a slightly less intense breeding technique is known as linebreeding. Linebreeding involves breeding dogs that are relatives through common ancestors, such as aunt to nephew or uncle to niece. Both inbreeding and linebreeding techniques quickly expose both the virtues and faults of a bloodline. If there are any faults in a breeding program they will be exposed when bred heavily, typically for 3 or more generations.

A common misconception is that inbreeding causes high strung, nervous and aggressive dogs. This is simply not true. The temperament of a dog is determined by the genetic makeup of the parents and the fact that a line was bred closely will not alter the disposition of the offspring. A breeder who uses dogs with volatile temperaments as breeding stock is likely to have problems in their lines. In contrast, a breeder who uses dogs of sound temperament will produce dogs with sound temperaments, even if bred closely.

Careful linebreeding has proven to be the best method to perpetuate desirable characteristics in sporting breeds. However, closely breeding on a strain of gundog for more than four generations will stagnate the line and make dramatic improvements of a strain more difficult because uniformity has been established in the line and the possibility of improvement is no longer possible. The decision to utilize an outcross breeding technique and go to a stud dog from a different bloodline is necessary to mix up the genes that have become uniform through linebreeding. Often linebreeding purist, will take a puppy from the outcross litter and breed back into one of the two lines and recapture the fruits of their breeding program.

Final Note

Remember the goal of any breeding program should be to continually improve on the breed. When selecting a puppy from a particular breeding, ask the breeder what he considers the strengths and weaknesses of both the sire and dam. Stay clear of the breeder that proclaims, “My dogs don’t have any weaknesses.” Every dog, even history making retriever 2xNAFC/2xCNFC/FC/AFC Ebonstar Lean Mac – “Max”, has traits a breeder should look to improve on. Admittedly, a dog like Max has fewer than most. A competent breeder understands the virtues and faults in both the sire and dam and looks to improve the breed through responsible breeding.
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