Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A well bred dog

A very liberally edited version of an article by Jerold S. Bell, D.V.M. that appeared in the September 1992 American Kennel Club Gazette, "The Ins and Outs of Pedigree Analysis, Genetic Diversity, and Genetic Disease Control"

The secret is that all linebreedings must be made on a combination of performance, appearance and ancestry.

Successful Breeders realize they are fighting "the drag of the breed," which is the tendency for all animals to breed back toward mediocrity. If it didn't work this way super species and super races would have developed long ago in every animal on earth. For instance in human beings it is impossible to breed parents with high IQs together to produce higher IQs. Even when two genius have children the average IQ of their children will be half way between normal and the average of their IQs.

By the way Einstein himself was the off spring of parents who were themselves first cousins - and he married his first cousin. So much for the tails of woe you heard in school about the effects of inbreeding.
In fact what few people understand actually happens is that as a line is successfully bred over the years a concentration of good recessive genes is happening. Assuming the Breeder is a person of integrity and doesn't knowingly breed animals that have disqualifiable faults or traits. Over a period of time this Breeder will clean up his gene pool. While it is true that line breeding gives the opportunity for the worst traits to display themselves in any individual animal, it is not true that the Breeder is required to use that animal in his gene pool. In fact if the Breeder is concerned with his gene pool and not just about producing pups he actually has the opportunity to clean up genes that would go unnoticed in an out cross breeding.
So what is the answer? Wherein lies the truth? It is not what you want to hear but here it is: Years and years of line breeding by a committed ethical Breeder - someone with a vision of perfection and the tenacity to make difficult decisions. The only way to consistently produce superior animals is to line breed. Period ... it's that simple!
Those who argue against line breeding are inevitably those who have never successfully bred animals themselves - most often they are college professors. The same people who have bred nothing more complicated than fruit flies or no more demanding than lab rats are often the most vocal about how others should breed performance animals. These "know-nothings" advocate the notion that out-crossing is in and of itself good because it produces some thing they often refer to as "hybrid vigor".

To them, and to you, we pose this question: "If out-cross breeding is the answer then why don't the owners of successful herds of Holstein milk cows out-cross to the American Shorthorn milk cow?" In theory this would produce super milk cows by combining a milk cow that has the genes for high milk production like the Holstein with one that has the genes for high milk quality like the American Shorthorn. Oh yes on both paper (the stuff of academia) and in theory this should produce the best milk cows on earth.

But this is where the theory that reigns supreme in the professor's lab meets the reality of the milk barn. Some of the most inbred animals on the face of the earth are Holstein Cattle. The reality is that dairy farmers know all too well is that they would go broke from the inferior milk production of the resulting out-crossed animals. Crossing to an animal with such poor milk production would be disastrous fore them. And here in lies the rub for all of us ...

Understand something and don't let anyone sway you again. Out crossing does NOT produce "more" the genetic material remains the same. Nor do the qualities of the subject animals it produces multiply. Just as line breeding doesn't damage genes - out crossing doesn't magnify what's in the genome. There is no magic in out crossing!
And for those who continue to stubbornly advocate out crossing we ask you this final question: "Even if by random chance the out cross breeding in question would actually produce a superior specimen would the animal in question be able to reproduce itself? Would the greatness be passed on to its get?" No.

The sad fact is that this superior specimen would likely not be able to reproduce itself. It will likely never throw a single specimen as good as it is in its lifetime. This is because by definition this "super specimen" is of the F1 generation. And animals of this generation are rarely able to reproduce themselves. So what has been accomplished by even a successful out cross? Little or nothing other than to put a single animal on the ground.

For fun I would like to invite this no-nothing college professor to the race track where for an afternoon he would have the opportunity to bet on all the out crosses and I would bet on all the line bred race horses. I believe we call them Thoroughbreds for a reason don't we? Oh but I forgot he wouldn't be the betting kind would he? Not in his lifestyle and not in his career. No, he would be the man of theory. He would be a man who lives in the world of theory.

Not us my friend! No, we both live in the world of fact. Yes, we live in the world of tracking and hunting where what separates the wheat from the chafe are immeasurable traits like "heart" and "tracking sense". As Blue Lacy breeders we understand how much is expected of these amazing athletes we call Blue Lacys. You see we own performance animals not lab rats.
Think about it. Those who advocate the out crossing of hunting dogs are effectively proposing that hunters entrust the development of their performance dogs to the whims of random chance. If you believe this is a wise course then you need to locate another Breeder. May we suggest that you check the want ad section of your local newspaper where you will find many splendid examples of out cross breeding.
Although our breeding program remains a "hobby" our commitment to the Blue Lacy remains strong. We are looking forward to many more fine litters and many more years of great hunting behind our beloved High Desert Blue Lacy dogs. Which remains the single driving force behind our breeding program. Good Hunting.

Breeding true to type - Breeding true to the breed

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