Inbreeding is the accepted practice in animal husbandry of setting desired characteristics within a line. When you inbreed (and also linebreed) what you should be doing is attempting to produce your ideal for your breed. This is not to be done by the novice, as the novice can not possibly know enough about each of the individual animals appearing in the pedigrees of the dogs to be mated to make an informed enough decision to proceed. So much of what you hear in the general population concerning the practice of inbreeding animals (or breeding them, period) has no basis in fact. What is it that we most often hear? That inbreeding brings out the weakness in the animal and contributes to the deterioriation of the breed - they become tempermentally unsound, physically weak and have less vigor. This can be true, but only if you *do not breed* for soundness, strength and vigor. Stated another way, the way to ensure that you do not lose vitality when inbreeding on your stock is by selecting and breeding for vigor (and temperament and soundness, etc.) when you breed for the other desired characteristics. This is done whether you inbreed, linebreed or outcross. But, by inbreeding, you multiply the strength of the desired characteristics and can more readily eliminate those that are not desired (or faulty). You keep the best and breed on from there. Again, no one without *extensive* knowledge of the dogs they are dealing with should attempt to inbreed! You must begin with superior stock to be inbred upon and superior animals in any breed are few and far between!

A case in point. In the fairly recent past, I went to the UK to look for a stud dog I first wrote down exactly what I wanted in a dog. I was not looking for the "perfect" dog, but was looking for one that had the characteristics I needed to specifically bring into my breeding program. We looked at a number of dogs and then Merlin walked into the ring at Crufts. I was totally smitten. He had everything we were looking for on our list (except we had listed a red and white!) Because he had everything we wanted and needed physically, the next step was to check out his pedigree. I was thrilled when I saw how he was bred! His sire and dam were half brother and sister, both being sired by E. Ch. Belroyd Nutcracker. But it didn't stop there! His sire (E.Ch. Llyswen Break Every Rule) was not only sired by Nutcracker, but was also the result of a half-brother half-sister breeding. Nutcracker is sired by Pemland Royal Command, as is Llyswen Beauty, Break Every Rule's dam. So here is another inbreeding! But it didn't stop there! Merlin's dam, Dream Girl, was sired by Nutcracker and her dam (Cantata) was a daughter of E.Ch. Blands Limited Edition of Belroyd - you guessed it, a Nutcracker son! As I have seen and had my hands on Break Every Rule, his sire and dam, his litter sister and also Nutcracker and his dam Jacana, plus the Limited Edition dog, I had seen the major portion of his pedigree myself. I had also had the opportunity to discuss those in his pedigree I had not seen with knowledgeable breeders and had seen some of them on video. I felt I had a pretty good handle on where the strengths and weaknesses were in his pedigree. I was so excited. Merlin was the perfect foil for my other very strongly bred stud dog, Ch. Caralon's Shades of Dickens (Shane), and was going to be a cornerstone for my future breeding endeavors. Alas, the story ended quickly when Merlin, through an unfortunate accident, was rendered sterile. I do have one daughter, and there is a stunning young Merlin son out of Shane's litter sister whom I intend to mate her with in a year or so. This is just about as concentrated a pedigree as you can get - but I have a definite plan and I know where I'm going not only with this breeding, but with the next several steps.

I had gotten away from the basics as I have described them over many years of breeding. Through a couple of not so successful breedings I had basically backed myself into a corner and found that I was having to start afresh. The dogs that I had bred on from my original bitch (of 20 years ago) had to be removed from the breeding program. Buying an intensely linebred (inbred) stud dog that had the characteristics I desired who was linebred on dogs that carried those same characteristics was the best way to introduce the desired characteristics into my lines on the bitch and her offspring that remained (from another line).

For those just starting out, the safest way to breed your dog is by linebreeding. When you use this method, you usually pick out the very best dog in your dog's pedigree and breed to the best dog you can find that has this same dog in his pedigree, too.

So the answer to your question is that inbreeding in the wrong hands can and ususally is disastrous. But if you have a well thought out plan with a *thorough* knowledge of the dogs that make up the pedigree, inbreeding is the best way to go to set the characteristics you want and quickly identify and elimnate those that you don't. Does this make sense - or is all of this clear as mud?

Stephanie Hedgepath

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