Planned Breeding: Part II

In this article it is my intention to supplement and elaborate upon the subjects of inbreeding, linebreeding and outcrossing, which I discussed in the July issue. I endeavored in that installment to explain the simplest meaning, as most commonly accepted, of inbreeding and linebreeding. It also contained some categorical statements regarding the results to be achieved, and the dangers involved, in using either system or a combination of both. Therefore, in order to make what follows understandable and of more value to new readers who may not have seen the first article, it might be well for me to give the following recapitulation.

I concluded my July article with the following:

"I am not writing for experienced dog breeders or students of genetics. For them this article is elementary, with nothing supplied that they do not already know. To those for whom it is written, however, a summation of the total effects of inbreeding, and to a modified degree that of linebreeding, follows.

All characteristics both good and bad exist in various degrees in different dogs. One wishes in his matings to secure and retain the desirable characteristics, and it is easily demonstrable that this can best be accomplished by inbreeding and, to a lesser degree, by linebreeding. It is also easy to show that, by using the same methods of breeding, the lowest intensity of undesirable characteristics is attainable. Results are entirely dependent upon selection, remembering that physical compensation is the foundation rock upon which all enduring worth must be built.”

It would seem that the italicized lines above could be easily understood by everybody, and would need no explanation. Since writing it, however, a reader has questioned me as to its meaning. In brief, it is an abjuration against selecting a mating pair by pedigrees alone and emphasizes the importance of considering as a mate for any dog one that is right where the other is faulty. The word "physical” is stressed because any dog which is not mentally sound should not be used as a breeder. In the event that such a one IS bred, however, the same rule holds true. As just one example of many that could be used to illustrate the meaning of "physical compensation”: Where the Standard of a breed calls for a well laid back shoulder blade, one should not breed a bitch with a "steep,” "short,” or "pushed forward” shoulder blade to a stud having any of the same shortcomings.

While briefly on this subject, I should mention that failure to practice "physical compensation” is perhaps the most common mistake made by the average dog breeder. In my own particular breed, the German Shepherd Dog, we see it constantly … the mating, for instance, of terrier fronted dogs to others similarly built and especially of soft-backed dogs to others also possessing faulty toplines. So, when considering inbreeding or linebreeding, and presenting the advantages, I cannot over-stress the necessity of first considering physical compensation if one expects to obtain enduring worth, for it is the foundation rock, rather than the pedigrees alone.

In these articles I shall at time seem repetitious, perhaps bringing up the same point several times. When that occurs it is because I may either want to restate something so it will be remembered, supply added emphasis or clarity some point presently being touched upon.

How To Do Inbreeding

As I have tried to explain, the first prerequisite for inbreeding is to start with superior animals. It should NEVER be inaugurated by ANY breeder possessing mediocre breeding stock. An explanation of this requirement should be made because many of my readers will immediately conclude that the advantages of this system of breeding cannot be for them ... they may not possess, nor can they afford to buy, or perhaps find available, superior breeding stock. While any one or all of the above hindrances may be present, they can eventually still do that type of breeding. It will simply necessitate a few more years of effort before they can properly start either inbreeding or linebreeding. Possessing only a rather mediocre bitch, they can "breed up” through using a stud whose structure bears a strong resemblance to the breed Standard’s requirements. Then, on the resultant bitch progeny, or on a selected number from that litter, they should return to the sire’s side of the litter for following matings. I shall go further into that later.

If one grades relentlessly and discards all untypical specimens from his breeding use, inbreeding can be practiced with considerable impunity. On the other hand, if a breeder finds himself in possession of a small amount of very superior blood, and is wondering how to use it, and decides to "breed out” or, as it is commonly termed, do complete outcrossing, he will lose his type by dissipation. It is only because complete outcrosses are all but impossible to make, within most breeds, (and this bold assertion will be examined in a later article) that the matings which are termed, and believed to be, outcrosses succeed in producing typical stock, if they do succeed.

When a breeder experiences a great variance in the type of dogs he is producing, and can only occasionally come up with a really good one, and that more often than not by sheer luck … when the percentage of those good ones compared to his total production is disappointingly low … his only course which promises anything fruitful is inbreeding. It puts his breeders to the severest possible test, of course, and the hazard is admittedly great, but the possible results are phenomenal. By inbreeding he learns where his stock has dominant and recessive traits, and what they are, both good and bad. The really sincere breeder should always be ready to accept whatever hazard is involved thus to obtain the necessary information for success in the future.

If, to learn with what he is working in the matter of inherited traits, both dominant and recessive, he decides to do inbreeding and bring to the surface more or less hidden characteristics, the best way is to go "whole hog.” Many fanciers, fearing the consequences, proceed gingerly, breeding a little more closely with each successive trial. This, if not successful, is discouraging, may cause abandonment of the whole plan, is sure to accumulate numbers of undesirable individuals, and consumes valuable time.

Breeding From the Best Without Regard to Bloodlines

I have reference here to the practice of selecting and breeding from the best individuals but without regard to bloodlines. It is probable that, given enough time, a fancier might come up with quite a percentage of good dogs, especially if he confined himself to a rather limited area wherein his selections came originally from related foundation stock. But in actual practice the breeder following this method succeeds in producing nothing of note, and breeds a jumble of different types. It is the system usually followed by beginners and those whose main purpose is to breed puppies they can sell on the basis of quoting some "big” names and the greatest number of "champions” in the pedigree. If and when such breeders turn into fanciers whose main objective is to become preeminent by building a strain of superior animals within the breed, they go at once into some form of inbreeding or linebreeding and this of necessity if they are to succeed. The system of breeding one follows, in other words, depends upon the result to be accomplished. If the purpose is breed improvement, then inbreeding and line breeding will be found most effective.

Personal Experience in Support of Theory

While writing these articles, the thought constantly comes to my mind that, considering the very few breeders who have any breeding plan, and thus the many who are likely to challenge my statements, I should explain the basis for my breeding advice. To any reader of scientific literature pertaining to animal breeding, or to a student of genetics, no justification is needed, although I doubt that such persons will do more than scan these articles, which are intentionally devoid of scientific terminology with all its references to genes, chromosomes, phenotype, genotype, zygote, homozygous, heterozygous, etc., etc. If I find it necessary, later on, to use these terms, or any of the many others, I shall try to define them so they will not be confusing to those in the "beginners’ class” of breeders. As I have previously stated, at the request of Ye Editor I am writing non-scientifically. Nevertheless there should be more than my personal opinions or beliefs and ideas presented, if credence is to be given the many arbitrary statements I make. Otherwise I would be taking upon myself a greater responsibility to the fancy than any conscientious person would care to assume. It seems advisable, therefore, that I should give something of the background upon which my statements and declarations are based.

During my more than 48 years of dog breeding, I have read and studied every book on animal breeding I could lay hand to. Many of them are in my permanent library and are being referred to constantly as I write, to make certain my memory serves me correctly. It is worthwhile to read theories but a more dependable knowledge comes through testing them one’s self to determine whether they are right or wrong, and in what degree. This I have done.

As I am writing for an all-breed magazine and know that these articles will be read by breeders and fanciers of various breeds, rather than by those of German Shepherd Dogs alone, with which breed I have done most of my experimenting, I have thus far refrained from interjecting any reference to personal experience. From all I have learned through study, however, I would say that whatever is applicable to one breed of dog is equally so to another, as it is to practically all other varieties in the animal kingdom. Therefore, in writing of the one breed with which I have worked in the main, this should be understood and considered.

It seems to me that the story of my own testing of breeding systems, and relating some of the results, might be of interest to my readers and perhaps be of assistance and an incentive to them in their own breeding programs. A presentation of some of the results, prior to telling how they were achieved, may be sufficiently impressive to warrant increased interest in finding out how they were accomplished. The "how” will therefore be given later.

As unimportant to the purpose of these articles, I shall omit the details of how I obtained my first German Shepherd Dog in 1911, and started breeding them in 1912. My bitch was one of the first of this breed in America and was brought over in the womb of her dam. Comparatively speaking, the breed was in its infancy even in Germany, the land of its inception. To the best of my knowledge there are no others in this country who started with the breed in those early days, bred them as long as I did, and have retained their interest even unto this day. Isn’t it claimed that five years is about the life span of the average breeder who gets into the game, and continues his interest in breeding dogs?

After a great many more than five, during which time my hobby consisted of breeding dogs just for the fun of it and, when luck was with me, making a little profit occasionally, my objective changed. For one thing, the popularity of the breed as it became better known in this country, had caused thousands to start breeding it. There was a saturated market of pups for pets, as often happens when any breed achieves great popularity. During the depression of the early thirties I bred only a litter or two a year and found I had the time as well as the inclination to study a bit about how to breed better dogs. I shall skip some intervening years until about 1940, at which time I announced my intention to establish a strain within the breed. In my SHEPHERD DOG REVIEW ad, I stated it would be built on three great imported males of that time, and named them, giving my reasons for the incorporation of each one in my breeding program. Their names and close blood relationship will be given later when I explain HOW the following results were achieved. It is my purpose to limit a listing of these results to no more than enough to show that the "proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof,” and that I have tested the theories about which I write.

Before setting forth some of the results of my breeding plan, perhaps I should explain that I no longer have ANY connection, either in an active or advisory capacity, with any kennel, and this has been true for several years. I therefore, have no self-serving motive in writing of my achievements.

In the early forties, I made some incest breedings for educational purposes—to ascertain the dominant and recessive characteristics of the individuals being used in my breeding program. The first dogs of the strain I was then starting began to be shown in competition in 1945. During the next fourteen years more than 90 homebred champions were finished by customers and ourselves, here and abroad. I am told that this is a world record for any breeder, in a lifetime of breeding and showing. I emphasize "homebred” above because the total does not include the probably larger number of those finished who were sired by our studs, or from matings made by customers of bitches bought from us and thereafter bred to our studs.

In all fairness, I should insert here a clarification of the use of "us” and "we” in the preceding paragraph. The kennel operation as a hobby became too large for me and I found myself forced to neglect my business. When this happened I seriously considered liquidating my Long-Worth Kennels, especially since I had achieved my purpose of building a strain within the breed and had established a definite type with the ability to "carry on,” as such closely bred (inbred and linebred) animals have the prepotency to do. Briefly, and without further explanation I finally decided that, rather than let Long-Worth pass into oblivion, I would give it to Mrs. Virginia McCoy (now Mrs. Richard Vaughn). She had first managed the kennel operation for me and had been one of the most apt "pupils” ever to come to me to learn or just to ‘”talk dogs.” With my championship record well on its way, and using many of the original foundation stock of the strain, she augmented the number already finished for the title, and bred them independently.

Now again to some of the results. I should like to mention the Register of Merit, which will mean nothing to other than breeders of German Shepherd Dogs without my giving a short explanation. So far as I know, no such record of producing sires and dams is made except in one breed of cattle, and in our breed of dogs. Some years ago our Parent Club started keeping such a record of producing sires, and later included bitches. Certain wins by the at major point shows, made by their progeny, award to the sires and dams a designated number of points. When a dog has sired 5 champions, 10 progeny have made major class wins, and he has accumulated a certain number of points, he receives the honor of being rated as a Register of Merit (abbreviated ROM) sire, or dam.

Ch. Vol of Long-Worth is the highest ROM sire in the breed, with 1,120 points, more than double the number (545) of the second highest rating male, whose mother, incidentally, was bred at Long-Worth and was Vol’s half-sister. Very close in number of points (493) behind the second male is Vol’s son Ch. Chimney Sweep of Long-Worth, in third place. Sweep was not only sired by Vol, whose grandmother was Ch. Nyx of Long-Worth, mentioned below, but his dam was a Nyx daughter. Sweep himself became the all-time greatest Group and Best in Show winner of the breed.

In fourth position is another Vol son, Ch. Jolly Arno of Edgetowne, with 468 points. Jolly Arno was an inbred grandson of Ch. Derry of Long-Worth who was the sire of Vol, and himself a ROM sire with 12 champion offspring to his credit. Ch. Derry was quite an old dog before outside breeders took any advantage of his potential (as is so often the case with great sires) and then not more than a tithe as many used him as those who bred to Ch. Vol. It was Derry’s close linebreeding, intensified in the mating that produced Vol, which made the latter the most prepotent sire in the breed’s history. There are hosts of others listed in the ROM either bred at Long-Worth or carrying its blood.

These breedings will be explained in a following article so that readers with enough patience to read through the above, and what follows, presenting PROOF that the writer is not just a theorist, may learn how probably the greatest strain in any breed of dogs was built.

Nyx of Long WorthIt is difficult to present these facts and not seem boastful, but perhaps I may he allowed a feeling of justifiable pride in announcing that not only did I breed the highest ROM sire in the breed, but also the top-rating brood bitch. Ch. Nyx of Long-Worth holds that unchallenged (to date) record. Most interesting to students of breeding is the fact that she was the mother of Derry, the sire of Vol. Nyx has undeniably had more influence for good on the breed than any other bitch. Bred only a very few times, she produced thirteen champions, a breed record. Her famous "D” litter, with only six of the eight ever shown, finished easily. This is an all-time record for any bitch of the breed. Incidentally, this litter was so closely linebred as to be termed inbred by some.

Also worthy of note: There were only four bitches awarded Honorary ROM titles in ’59, because of their records made prior to the establishment of ROM for bitches. All of them were Long-Worth bitches, with one being one of my three foundation matrons. Combined, they produced a total of 25 champions, with the foundation bitch being next highest in number of points to Nyx. Another of our three foundation bitches was awarded an Honorary ROM position prior to 1959 and was the dam of 8 title-holders. This points out the importance of starting with good bitches, whether in building a strain or in just breeding a few good dogs.

Ch. and U.S. Grand Victor Jory of Edgetowne (litter brother of fourth position ROM sire Jolly Arno, and of Ch. Jaunty of Edgetowne) was inbred on Ch. Derry, his sire being Vol (Derry son) and his dam also having been sired by Derry. Ch. and U.S. Grand Victrix Yola of Long-Worth, perhaps the most perfect bitch I ever bred, was … but let’s skip the rest. The portion of the record already given has perhaps become tiresome, but I did want to give enough of it to prove my points: (1) That the systems of breeding I have been writing about CAN be used to advantage if one practices, and I am again repeating, the rule that "Physical compensation is the foundation rock upon which all enduring worth must be built;” and (2) That I am not open to the charge of "talking through my hat” in writing about animal breeding theories obtained only through "book larnin.’ ”

As previously stated, I will discuss in the next installment HOW the Long-Worth strain, which made the record part of which is given above, was built. Whether there will be any further articles on breeding after that depends upon the interest evidenced in these.

 

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