Constructive Breeding

The Breeder—a person who has on his premises one or more bitches which are mated for commercial purposes, for sale as pets, as guide dogs, or to produce potential show, field or obedience dogs. The serious breeders are highly interested in the genetics aspect of breed improvement.

Care and Management— in the entire process of the care and management of dogs, the exercise of good judgment is involved. Upon the choice of the two dogs, male and female to be mated together depends upon the future success or failure of one’s dogs. If the two to be mated are ill chosen, either individually or as pertains to their fitness as mates, one to the other, all the painstaking care to feed and rear the resultant puppies correctly is wasted. The mating together of two dogs is the drafting of the blueprints and the writing of the specification of what the puppies are to be like. The puppies when they arrive, must be adequately fed and cared for in order to develop them into the kinds of dogs they are in their germ plasma designed to become. However, if the plans as determined in the mating are defective, just so will the puppies that result from them be defective, in spite of all the good raising one can give them.

Element of Luck— the element of luck in the breeding of dogs cannot be discounted, for it exists. The mating which on paper appears to be the best possible may result in puppies that are poor and untypical of breed. Even less frequently, a good puppy (champion mutts) may result from a chance mating together of two ill chosen parents. The results are fortuitous and unusual, however the best dogs as a lot come from parents carefully chosen as to their individual excellences and as to their suitability as mates for each other. It is as unwise as it is unnecessary to trust to luck in the breeding of dogs. Careful planning pays off in the long run, and few truly excellent dogs are produced without it.

Some breeders without any knowledge of genetics have been successful, without knowing exactly why they succeeded. Some of them have adhered to beliefs in old wives’ tales and to traditional concepts that science has long since exploded and abandoned.
Best to Best— breed the best to the best was an early breeder of Thoroughbreds, names Robert Bakewell’s axioms. This led to the mating of superior animals regardless of relationship and this frequently led to extremely close mating. He thereby introduced inbreeding as a tool in breed improvement.

Like begets Like— it is questionable whether Bakewell in practice carried this adage to the extreme, some of his adherents did in latter years. Bakewell merely maintained that superior animals were more likely to produce superior offspring than inferior individuals. He was therefore very critical in his selection of breeding stock, not only as to appearance but as to performance and, as to breeding performance.

Inbreeding— inbreeding may be defined as the mating of animals which are more closely related than the average of the breed. By inbreeding the number of ancestors is necessarily reduced, buy the number of ancestral places remains the same.

Reasons for close breeding— there are several rather specific reasons for inbreeding. The first is the purification of bloodiness. Inbreeding induces segregation; hence continued inbreeding accompanied by rigorous selection for certain characteristics is the quickest and most certain method of fixing desirable traits, undesirable traits are, however, fixed with as much rapidity and sometimes it appears they are fixed with even more ease than desirable traits; hence the selection should always be directed at the traits sought in the line after they are purified. Inbreeding neither adds nor subtracts from the line, it merely brings out what is in the bred and offers the breeder the opportunity of selecting more intensive than he otherwise would. It is a mistake to start inbreeding until one has reason to believe that he has something good in the line. On the other hand, it’s a mistake to delay inbreeding after something good has been found because each outcross eliminates exactly one-half of the hereditary material already in the breed.

Undesirable Traits— undesirable traits, as mention earlier, come with inbreeding. Therefore corrective mating (outcross) has their place in constructive breeding. The corrective mating should be made for the specific purpose of correcting some definite defect in a stock or strain. The outcross needs to be followed by a certain amount of inbreeding in order to fix the character in the strain; otherwise it is likely to be lost in subsequent outcrossings.

This article was written by Lawrance D. Mahomes.

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