Thursday, January 21, 2010


I received an e-mail last night from someone asking me questions about inbreeding, linebreeding and out crossing. I confess I’m far from an expert on this subject. There are many more experienced breeders than I that are better equipped to answer this question. I answered his question pertaining to what had been successful for me. So once again, I’ve done some research on the subject, but all of you “seasoned” breeders feel free to jump in anytime you feel you’d like to add your own experiences with your breeding practices.

Most of my own breeding has always been line breeding. A few breedings I that I did were outcrosses. I have never done inbreeding. I did not feel that I had enough experience to try inbreeding and I was happy with my line breeding anyway. So let’s discuss the different breeding a breeder can choose to do with his litters.

Linebreeding: This is when a breeder looks for dogs going back for generations in the pedigree on one or more good dogs and bitches. This is when you will have a pedigree that has the name of these dogs more than one time. The breeder is looking to incorporate the good qualities of this dog by having him be more dominating in the pedigree therefore looking for these good qualities to come out in the litter of puppies. In order for a breeding to be considered a linebreeding, both the sire and dam have to carry some of the same dogs in their own pedigrees that the breeder is doubling up on. The breeder is looking to produce the outstanding genetic contribution of these animals in their puppies. Some geneticists consider linebreeding and inbreeding to only be different by a small degree. Both of these styles of breeding are using animals that are relatives to one another. Most breeders consider this a safer breeding than inbreeding might be. They don’t expect as many health problems as some may fear with an inbred litter. They feel that they can pretty much expect a certain type with a line bred litter. Most kennels have used this type of breeding very successfully.

Inbreeding: This is when a breeder mates a dog to one of its immediate ancestors. No new bloodline is introduced with inbreeding. This is when a mother/son, father/daughter, or a brother/sister breeding has taken place. The breeder that does these types of breeding is looking to lock in the virtues of this bloodline. He may also find out the faults of the line as well. It is felt that (and I quote here) “inbreeding reduces fertility, vigor and overall health and mental stability. Inbred animals are more prone to diseases such as infections and cancer, and more likely to be "highly strung". Also I have heard of dogs not being of the standard size. Never having done this type of breeding before, I don’t know how true that is. I do know that some very well known and successful breeding have been through inbreeding. I know the serious show person/breeder is usually familiar with knowing who these dogs/bitches are. However, I do wonder about the littermates of these famous dogs. What became of them? Years ago many breeders that did inbreeding would also cull their litters. If they saw an undesirable fault in a puppy, they would put the puppy to sleep. Who the heck wants to do this? Not me. That’s why I wouldn’t attempt this type of breeding because I wouldn’t want to make that kind of decision. Most of the time with this kind of breeding, you can pretty much lock in the type of your animal. In my opinion, this is the type of animal that would do best by breeding him/her to an out cross type of dog. The Fran-Jo kennels were very successful doing inbreeding with their lines.

Outcross: Normally when you do an out cross breeding, the pedigree will not have any similar dogs going back 4 – 5 generations. Many dogs will have some similar dogs in their pedigrees going beyond this. An example of a true outcross breeding would be an American bred dog to a German bred dog. Some breeders have been very successful doing this type of breeding whereas; other breeders rarely if ever use it. Some think that this type of breeding is the “luck of the draw!” You would not expect a consistency in breed type with this type of mating because there is nothing similar in their bloodlines so anything goes. You may be pleasantly surprised or very disappointed. I feel this is a good breeding to do when you already have a heavily line bred or inbred animal and need to take it out for some fresh bloodlines. In this writer’s opinion, in order for this type of breeding to be successful, you should use a dog that is prepotent for producing the qualities that you are looking for in your puppies. Darby-Dan kennels have been extremely successful with breeding their American bred bitches to their German dog “Jim!”

Because genetics is never an exact science, meaning that when you breed, all the “correct” planning in the world doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to get what you had hoped for. It might look great on paper. It might look great when you look at the stud and bitch standing together. It might have been a successful combination when the kennel down the street did it. It doesn’t guarantee that it will be great when you do it. One never knows what to expect when you breed a litter. The best you can do is to study, study and study some more about the bloodlines that you want to breed to. Know your own dogs’ bloodlines very well. Investigate…..find out the genetic health problems both in your own lines and the stud that you plan on using BEFORE you breed that litter. Even the best laid plans can go amiss! Rather be pleasantly surprised than shockingly disappointed!

My rating: linebreeding: (4), inbreeding….only for those who know what they’re doing: (3) outcross: (3)


  1. I am a relative newcomer to breeding, having only bred two litters and both from the same dam and stud.
    My determination as to who to use as a stud was totally unscientific...I followed my heart. While it might not be something I would necessarily recommend doing, in my case the breeding produced 6 AKC Champions, three of which are certified Service dogs as well!
    My bitch was very healthy and had a phenomenal mind. She had proven herself in the show ring as well with only one major remaining for her AKC Championship, so I knew she was a solid representative of the breed as well as my "better half". The sire, Dallas, had stolen my heart from the moment I met my mind there were no other considerations.
    Breeders of note may have considered my attempt at a "breeding program" less than knowledgeable,
    and I would be the first to agree. That being said, and all things considered...I feel that we have done VERY well. One of our dogs received the Award of Merit at Westminster 08, and is a multiple group placing Special. His brother is on his way up the ranks as well, garnering a Best of Breed and Group 4 just this past Friday out of a VERY large and worthy class of GSD's.
    Sometimes, ya just gotta follow your heart I guess....many thanks to Kiz and Dallas for giving me the ride of a lifetime.

  2. Geez Dawn, if you were so successful just by going with your much more successful could you have been by studying the bloodlines you were breeding??? LOL!

  3. The odd thing was that this was a TOTAL outcross...which usually produces (I am told) apples and oranges...
    Well, I got DIAMONDS! Even the "pet" quality puppies were spectacular and COULD have gone easily into the show ring. Several of them live as companions to VERY small children with great success. I was fortunate to have found some companion people who were interested in showing as well; something that I hear is not common in this endeavor.
    They say that everything happens for a reason...
    I say, somebody Up There must like me!

  4. And others "down here" like you as well!!!!