Dog breeders work in different ways. Some work tirelessly to find their founding breeding dogs, while others stumble on the right stud or dam that makes them look into dog breeding. Regardless of the breeder’s personal “why”, what matters is that dogs are only selected due to their great characteristics, not because of subjective feelings.
A reputable dog breeder never breed two dogs because of intuition. Instead, it is a long period filled with studies of dozens and dozens of bloodlines and pedigrees of potential matches.
Pedigree analysis means the thorough research of the ancestors of a given dog in order to establish their weaknesses, strengths, and whether or not we can spot a pattern or repetition of desirable or undesirable traits and characteristics. Some valuable pieces of information you can quickly find from a dog’s pedigree chart include:
- Titles and Awards
- Inbreeding Level
- Patterns of Desired and Undesired Traits
- Coat Types, Colors, and Patterns
- Stud Book and Ancestry
Because we don’t have access to the potential matches’ genome, we must study each dog’s ancestors one by one and go back to as many generations as possible. Some traits are recessive and can be carried over each generation without showing. If you only study one generation, you can be tricked; but if you study ten generations, you will see the defect or pattern at some point.
Extremely valuable information that we have got access to lately thanks to public databases is whether or not a dog is affected by a given inherited (or not) medical condition or disease. Indeed, DNA screening tests have helped breeders breed defects out of the breed way more easily than in the past. Remember that some flaws are not that serious but may take several generations to be completely out of your bloodline.
Lastly, when you read a pedigree for desired traits, you can tackle a pedigree analysis in two ways:
- selecting dogs that show the desired results, or
- selecting dogs that are proven to have clear measurable physical features that are responsible for a given desired result.
For example, if you breed dogs for running speed, you can either breed dogs which ancestors were known to run fast, or you could study what makes a dog run fast and focus on picking partners with these characteristics (longer legs, high muscle mass, lean body, etc.)
A quick and important note – a litter of puppies can have multiple fathers! It is the breeder’s task to ensure only one male dog mated the fertile female to avoid having to deal with a multiple-sired litter.