After relating in the second installment of these articles some of the gratifying results achieved through my own use of inbreeding, linebreeding, and “family” breeding, I stated that the “HOW” would be explained. I also mentioned an advertisement appearing about 1940 in THE SHEPHERD DOG REVIEW in which I announced by intention to build a distinctive strain within the breed using three great males. In that announcement I gave their names and the reasons each was to be utilized as a foundation head, stating that they were closely related.
Building A Strain
Up to that time my breeding operations had been of the sort practiced by the average dog fancier, fully 98% of them, I would estimate. This consisted of mating the best bitches I could get to the best available males, regardless of related bloodlines. It is true, however, that for many years I had practiced compensatory matings — using studs strong in characteristics in which the bitches needed improvement. This was a plan, but not a breeding program such as I then inaugurated, although it produced more than the average run of good specimens which are bred by those who make only hit-or-miss matings, but still it did not give me multiple Champion litters, or establish a definite TYPE. As explained in the preceding articles, these results can be obtained ONLY by utilizing the power of inbreeding and linebreeding.
Referred to hereafter by their first names only, these three foundation males were German Sieger, U.S. Ch. Pfeffer v. Bern, his half-brother (same sire) U.S. Ch. Odin v. BuseckerSchloss, and German Sieger, U.S. Ch. Arras a.d. Stadt-Verbert. The common sire of the first two dogs was Dachs von Bern. Dachs’ sire had as his paternal grandfather Ger. Sgr. Utz von HausSchutting, while his dam Vicki was sired by Utz. Now we come to Arras, the other male in the triumvirate. His dam was the triple Siegerin (German Grand Champion) Stella von HausSchutting, claimed by the German breeders to be the greatest specimen of the breed they had ever produced. Stella’s sire and dam were BOTH by Utz, making her the offspring of a half brother-sister mating. From the above we see that all three dogs stemmed closely and strongly from Utz.
In addition to being thus closely related, each dog had some compensating factors for the others. (Remember as applicable here the several times repeated principle given in the previous installments: “Physical compensation is the foundation rock upon which all enduring worth must be built.”) My breeding program was predicated upon “closed-up” bloodlines, commonly designated as inbreeding and linebreeding, hence the importance of that dictum.
Only in a general way are the compensating factors, which I had to consider of importance to the fanciers of other breeds. Every variety may tend to have different shortcomings at one time or another in their history. It may be heads, or feet, or on throughout the entire category of physical structure. However, to make this clearer, I might state that some of the main shortcomings, or faults, most common in our breed at that time were soft toplines, straight (terrier-like) foreassemblies and fading pigment.
In announcing my intention to build a real strain within the breed, using these three males as the foundation stones, I wrote that I was using Pfeffer for his over-all type, noble appearance, excellent rear angulation, and pigment. His half-brother Odin was to be used for topline correction, ideal ribbing, perfection of gait and, in common with Pfeffer, a good shoulder assembly. Arras was being incorporated in my projected strain to increase the strength of Odin’s topline influence, as well as Pfeffer’s pigment; also for his good, although small, amount of somewhat unrelated blood which brought in traits possessed by the other two which were desirable but not as strong in their dominance as I felt was needed.
Importance In Selection Of Bitches
Having decided upon the breeding program as has been briefly outlined, my next step, of course, was to find and obtain the necessary bitches with which to implement it. This is not an easy task at any time, or in any breed. Owners of females of breeding age who have proven themselves, or because of type and bloodlines give promise of being worthy producers, are loathe to part with them. When one adds the stipulation that they must be daughters of certain studs, their procurement becomes increasingly difficult. Suffice it to say here, with no other explanation than that it took me about two years to find and obtain them, I DID get a daughter of each of the above three studs. Moreover, in most respects they evidenced the traits for which their sires were notable, and for which I had chosen them to found a strain.
With only the mention of my foundation BITCHES given above, I am sure I have not sufficiently stressed their importance. It is a much-used aphorism that no stable is better than its mares, and no kennel better than its bitches. That, of course, is true. The most valuable acquisition a would-be dog breeder can make is that of a good bitch or bitches. Without one or more of these, the tasks of breeding superior specimens in any breed is a long, if not indeed a hopeless, one. It is better, surely, if the bitch herself possesses all the attributes of a show specimen, but of great importance also is her genetic background. It is in her bloodlines, as delineated by her pedigree, that her potential worth can best be judged.
Perhaps some elaboration and explanation of that statement should be made, especially as there are those who believe that a top bitch, regardless of what may be behind her in bloodlines, will as likely produce good ones as will another who, though less perfect herself, has a family of good ones behind her. Every experienced dog breeder knows, and it was pointed out in an earlier installment, that sometimes a superior specimen will come from a quite nondescript and hit-or-miss mating. Such a one is an accident or “happenstance.” To claim that a bitch is more likely to reproduce in her own image than that of any one of her litter mates, for instance, is to demonstrate an ignorance of the laws of heredity. Which one or ones, if any, in the litter might carry the genes for the characteristics she alone manifests can be determined only by testing them as breeders.
Here as an illustration is just one example of many observed during my experimental dog breeding days. In a litter of eight there appeared only one who was white. Structurally she was the best of the lot and quite a superior specimen. Bred a total of seven times during her lifetime, she herself never produced a white, nor did any appear in succeeding generations, at least not up to the fourth, when I lost track of them. She either did not carry the genes for white, or the genes for pigment, which she carried, were dominant. On the other hand, several of her sisters did whelp whites.
Bitch’s Background Of Utmost importance
While one of the tenets of all animal breeding is selectivity, this does not mean that a superior bitch, with nothing behind her in sufficient strength to dominate, can be expected to produce as well as another who, although somewhat less perfect in her own structure, has a family tree inbred or linebred upon superior quality.
The sometimes heard statement that “Like produces like” is far from being a dependable truism. BOTH are of importance, the over-all quality and type of the bitch, as well as her family tree, but of the two the latter will be found to have the more influence both for good and for bad. The first article in this series explained why this MUST be true.
It is my desire to get away from the subject of my personal operations, in the matter of building a strain, as quickly as possible. Supplying a record of all, or of even a few, of the inter-related matings would be, I fear, not only somewhat confusing, unless pedigrees were given for study, but would also result in book-length articles unsuitable for a magazine, and particularly for one read by fanciers of all breeds. However, in order to explain the “how,” it seems necessary to continue with that subject to a somewhat greater length.
Having obtained the three foundation bitches, each related to the others through their sires, and with one having both Pfeffer and Arras close up in her pedigree, I was ready to begin breeding operations, ready, I thought and hoped, to start a breeding program from which would eventuate a noteworthy strain of dogs.
Choosing The Males
If it has not already been noted by my readers, I should call attention here to the fact that, since my start was made with bitches sired by three closely related males, I was able to dispense with some years of preliminary matings. Had three unrelated sires been chosen, it would have taken several generations of breeding before I could have had in my kennel bitches so closely related in blood as to make inbreeding and linebreeding possible. With two of the foundation males having the same sire (plus other related blood), and the third a close-up descendent of the great German Sieger, U.S. Ch. Utz v. Haus-Schutting, as were the others, I was actually STARTING with linebred animals. (Had either Odin, or his half-brother Pfeffer, been a bitch, and one bred to the other, that would have been inbreeding.)
Therefore one can see how quickly I was “cooking with gas” or, perhaps stated more understandably, doing planned linebreeding, when I bred either an Odin daughter to Pfeffer, or the reverse—and I immediately did both. The results to be anticipated, as described in my first installment explaining what can be expected from inbreeding and linebreeding, were quickly brought forth and plainly visible. It took only a few generations until the type I had wanted to establish and “set” was obtained.
While none of the three males upon which I started the strain was perfect in all characteristics (no dog as yet has ever been), it should be pointed out that not, only were they quite superior specimens in themselves, but each compensated the other in one or more respects. This being true, when some unwanted or undesirable trait showed up, compensation could usually be found in one of the others.
Foundation Blood Intensifies Pedigrees
Year after year, and generation after generation, this foundation blood continued to intensify in the pedigrees of my dogs. MODIFIED outcrossings were made only occasionally. By “modified” I mean that, when reaching out for some needed trait, I used a stud or bitch possessing at least one-fourth, or better, one-half, of the blood of my strain. Both in such instances, and in the rare ones when complete outcrossing was done, I made it a practice to mate one or more of the resultant progeny right back into the strain. By doing this, I did not lose the qualities I had strived to obtain and make dominant, nor did I dissipate them.
Some of the results of this breeding program were reported last month. Multiple champion litters became more the rule than the exception, often with every member who was given a chance, through being shown by its owner, finishing for the title.
Temperament And Mentality Not Sacrificed
If any of my readers are Obedience enthusiasts, and not particularly concerned with structural perfection, they may feel that no consideration was given to intelligence and trainability in the building of this strain. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Because the abbreviations for German training degrees would be confusing to those in breeds which did not originate in that country, I purposely omitted them when giving the names and CONFORMATION titles of the three sires upon which the strain was founded. Each of them, however, had received, prior to his importation, one or more training degrees showing he had passed the necessary tests to “graduate.” As I now remember it, all three had been awarded the PH. (Polizeihund— Police Dog) degree, which signifies much more than our U.D.T.
The crux of the above dissertation on mental attributes is this: Qualities of the mind, as well as physical characteristics, are subject to the same laws of heredity. My strain became well-known not only because of its members’ structural superiority but because of their exceptional trainability in Obedience work as well. One member became top-scoring dog, all breeds, in the United States for two successive years prior to his retirement. It should be stated that I take no credit for this, having neither bred nor trained the dog. The sire of this “dual Champion” (both a bench show and an obedience trial title holder) was a son of Pfeffer, one of my foundation studs, while his dam (one of my world-famous “D” six Champion German Shepherd Dog litter) was so closely linebred on both Pfeffer and Arras as to be considered by some geneticists as inbred.
The belief, and some uninformed breeders’ contention, that inbreeding and line breeding per se will cause either physical or mental deterioration is a fallacy many times proven. Consider the breeding of the above dog as just one example of many that could be cited.
Inbreeding and linebreeding cannot be looked upon as a way to bring NEW characteristics into a breed but, as Humphrey states, it “… is a source of never ending combinations of racial characters in new individuals, producing variations, which are COMPARATIVELY SLIGHT EXCEPT WHEN THE TWO PARENTS ARE FROM WIDELY SEPARATED LINES.”
Reprinted from Dog World. Copyright © 2011 Lumina Media. All rights reserved.