Monday, October 25, 2010


If you breed long enough, sooner or later you may breed a litter that has genetic health problems like mega, EPI, SIBO, etc. Many times you are very surprised by this because you were unaware of the bloodlines that you were breeding carried these problems. Truth be told many bloodlines carry some health problems. There is not a perfect bloodline free from any and all health problems. The trick is to find a bloodline that has as few of these problems as possible. Without honesty among breeders and especially stud dog owners, then “surprise” litters like this will pop up more and more.

Why do I say especially among stud dog owners? Well because most of the time a breeder should know (if she’s done her homework) the faults of her bitches line. When she chooses a stud dog, she is looking to correct those faults or stay away from them altogether! She’s not looking to double up on them. She should be able to go to the stud dog owner and ask him if his dog carries these health problems in his line. Sadly, many (not all) stud dog owners will say, “Not my dog!” Without this honest communication among the breeders, the bloodlines get corrupted and may take generations to weed out the genetic health problems.

This is the purpose of this article today. Most good breeders if they have a puppy or two in a litter that has mega esophagus for example, will not keep a brother or a sister that doesn’t have it and use them for their breeding program. They’re smart enough to know that although this puppy doesn’t have the fault, that the potential for him to carry it is great. So perhaps if they bred their unaffected puppy, her pups could be affected with this terrible health problem.

Now what I want to know is does the same thing hold true with the temperament of a litter? If you had a potential “star” in a litter, but a couple of his litter mates had bad temperament, would you keep or sell the star knowing that although he has wonderful temperament, the potential for him to produce bad temperament is there?

So your new litter seems to be healthy and strong with no obvious genetic health problems. BUT………a couple of the puppies don’t have ideal temperament. You know your bitch has a good temperament and the stud dog appears to have a good temperament as well. How much do you know about the temperament behind the two dogs you bred?

Why is it that breeders will keep a puppy from a litter that didn’t have 100% of the puppies with the ideal German Shepherd Dog temperament? How is this any different from keeping a puppy where litter mates had health problems? Is one more serious and important than the other? Should we not be as conscientious when it comes to keeping a puppy that comes from a litter that has bad temperament in it although he himself is fine?

I remember one time a litter that had two champion males. One of the males had the ideal temperament and the other one did not. Both of these dogs were utilized by breeders in their breeding program. I remember talking to breeders that had bred to the dog that had a good temperament. A few of these people told me that they were disappointed in the temperaments that they got from this dog even though he himself was fine. On the other hand the bad tempered male produced some dogs that had good temperament.

So do we do a disservice to the future genetics of the breed by including dogs that come from litters that are not 100% sound of mind? Would you, should you be breeding dogs that come from litters of unsound temperament? Are we fooling ourselves by thinking that because we kept the good tempered puppy that we don’t have to worry about bad temperament in our future litters? We should not treat temperament problems in a litter with any less seriousness than we do a health problem.

From the book - "CONTROL OF CANINE GENETIC DISEASES" - If you breed dogs for any reason, you must own this book. Genetic diseases are among the most serious hazards on the landscape of modern dog breeding and one of the most vexing challenges facing today's dog breeders. Is it appropriate to open the gene pool to unwanted conditions in the pursuit of physical perfection, or must breeding to the Standard take a back seat to producing healthy animals?

In Control of Canine Genetic Diseases, renowned authority George A. Padgett, DVM, provides an expert road map to help dog breeders everywhere avoid the pitfalls they are almost destined to encounter. For anyone whose goal is to produce healthy, functional and beautiful dogs, this is the book they need. Dr. Padgett provides clear explanations of modes of inheritance, how to conduct and analyze test matings and how to lower the chances of producing affected animals. Numerous tables, diagrams and graphs further enhance the text to facilitate the breeder's understanding.

My rating: Genetic faults: (1)


  1. I seem to recall from my college biology courses that the female has a great deal to do with passing along genetic faults or traits. Also that defects can be hidden for a couple generations and then pop up.
    It seems to me responsible breeders are looking to improve the blood lines of the GSD and work very hard to try to improve the breed. However there are others with a lack of scruples that are more interested in money, or have other goals that is not consistent with good breeding principles.
    My morning bible study this morning had a statement that addressed that aspect. "Some people are like toxic plants. They look harmless, and they blend in with people who, like roses, are fragrant and beautiful". They are toxic to the efforts of good people.
    They look normal and act pleasing but they have agenda's that are not for the over all good of the breed or mankind. Is that a somewhat accurate statement or am I reading to much into the matter of proper genetics? Bruce

  2. Yes Bruce like in all things in life there are those that are good and those that are bad. Most breeders are breeding to improve the breed or at least to breed as close to the standard as they can. But again, like in other areas of life when money comes into play some people forget the true meaning and purpose of breeding. Then it becomes about the almighty dollar. What's that old saying? "Money is the root of all evil?".....or something along those lines!

  3. I truly believe that when you breed dogs, you are playing God. All breeds have health issues of one form or another in their lines, just as human beings do. Do we ask to see the "pedigree" of our potential mate before we decide to have children?
    Look at the case of the television reporter who has a malady that causes her hands to be shaped like lobster claws. She knew that in having a child, he/she had the potential to have the same problem, but had one anyway.
    Some people have depression, cancer, alcoholism or other serious and potentially genetic health issues close up in their bloodlines...but they still choose to produce a child KNOWING that the chances of the child developing the condition/disease are higher than average. In my own family, diabetes is rampant as is heart disease...and yet I chose to have 2 kids, hoping that they do not inherit these horrible conditions. I came down with diabetes at 55..too late to have made the choice to get spayed before I had a family.
    For what its worth, here's my 2 cents....
    When you breed a litter, you do your homework You ask the questions of the stud dog's owner and hope that they can honestly answer you (they may NOT be able to...they may not know if its a young stud dog who has not produced much)..You make certain that your bitch is healthy, well fed and cared for and of sound mind. If you are AWARE of any serious health issues in her line, either spay her or at the least be cautious in the breeding. Again, remember that some conditions do not show up until the dogs are advanced in age. (ie DM)..
    and it takes TWO to tango...don't always blame the stud dog when you have a health issue in your litter. Its all in how the genes line up.
    I am NO expert on breeding...not by a long shot...but common sense tells us that when you have multiple births, the law of averages for issues is certainly going to rise.

  4. Actually it comes from the bible and I think it says "The love of money is the root of all evil". So it just boils down to what you love.