“So many men, so many opinions,” and on the subject of breeding animals there will always be a very wide field of difference. In preceding installments I have tried to delineate various plans, together with their advantages and some of their dangers. It has seemed advisable to lay down no laws but merely to draw attention to facts often forgotten, even if ever known, by most dog breeders.
Superstitions Hard To Eradicate
After each article, correspondence and personal conversations have indicated to me the need for further elaboration upon inbreeding. The old bogeys and superstitions held by so many, and for so long a time, seem all but impossible to eradicate. They pop up even in some scientific circles amongst investigators whose experiments have quite patently been conducted in a wrong or incomplete manner.
An instance at hand is the recent report of a Laura A. Harris and associates regarding inbred bulls and their semen evaluation. Since nothing was stated as to any selection having been made to insure potency when the inbreeding was done, one must presume that this factor was not given consideration. Most certainly through inbreeding one can increase, or lose, not only virility but the many other traits composing an animal. It all boils down to CAREFUL SELECTION.
In this short article, preceding the final chapter which I hope to have ready for the March issue of DOG WORLD, I would like to draw attention to some facts which are so often overlooked or forgotten. Because there are so many misconceptions about closed-up breeding, it might be well to touch upon certain categories of living or animal organisms, starting with humans.
The origin of the human family is mysterious, but history has given us certain examples of consanguinity.
We have read of an old Syrian tribesman named Terah who had three sons and a daughter named respectively Nahor, Haran, Abram and Sarai, by different wives. Contrary to modern custom, the two latter (half brother and sister) married, and their son married Nahor’s granddaughter who was twice his first cousin, once removed, and they were known as Isaac and Rebekah. Their son Jacob married his two first cousins (great-granddaughters of Nahor, Terah’s son) and had eight sons, who became the founders of the most persistently influential nation in human history, the ever-miraculous Jewish race.
Eight of the twelve founders of tribes have each four separate crosses to Terah, and they passed a law to establish their tradition that their children should not marry into strange families, which law survives in essence today.
Of the many charges brought against the Jews in all of history, nobody has ever levied, or even heard, that of degeneracy.
In wild animal life amongst deer, foxes, rodents, cats, dogs, horses and cattle, inbreeding, checked only by the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, has prevailed uninterruptedly since time immemorial. As a result, there has been a pronounced similarity prevailing in the age-long result; nor is there any inherent degeneracy traceable to such inbreeding.
Horses and Cattle
Some mention has been made in previous installments of foundation horses from whom almost all of today’s race horses stem. Those much more conversant with horse pedigrees than am I could supply interesting and valuable data, I am sure, but I shall not attempt it without a great deal more study being given to the subject than is possible.
A piece of enlightening information did come to my attention some time ago, however, regarding cattle. It has to do with milk-producing Jersey cattle.
Quite some years ago, a daughter of the bull Saturn and the cow Rhea was mated to her full brother, and the resulting heifer was mated to her sire; the daughter of this mating was mated to her full brother and, again, the resulting heifer was mated to the same bull; their calf was put to the same bull and their calf yet again to the same sire.
The result of this intensive and exaggerated inbreeding, by which the last calf had nine crosses of the same original parents (Saturn and Rhea) and no other blood, was Purest, a cow of exceptional vigor and robustness, and an amazing milk producer.
Many such examples as the above might be found in all varieties of livestock but only those in which the excellence lies in strength, vigor and fertility would help to open the eyes of a generation of breeders who have associated inbreeding with a loss of those attributes.
There is perhaps no greater test of physical endurance than the prolonged flight of a racing pigeon; here, if ever, one might expect a constant demand for “new blood,” but what are the facts? I have read that Continental and British breeders of racing pigeons vie with one another in “wrapping up the blood” of their stock — that is, in preserving their own strains in concentrated form.
What is true of humans, horses, cattle, pigeons, and every variety of animate beings is, of course, equally true of dogs: By inbreeding and linebreeding we intensify both the merits and the faults of the original foundation parents.
The Syrian tribesman Terah must have had a strong, healthy body and a keen, lively and judicious mind. The cow Rhea must have had much more than a productive udder to commend her highly for being bred upon so heavily. Dreadnought (the Abraham of homing pigeons) must have had not only a deep keel and strong wings, but must have been perfectly balanced throughout. Cottage Queen (the first hen to lay an egg every day of the year except Sundays and Bank Holidays) must have had no ovarian blemish to bequeath to her countless daughters.
We as dog breeders, when considering inbreeding and line breeding, MUST remember that outstanding quality is good; indeed, it is excellent, but the absence of similar faults or shortcomings in the mating pair is every bit as important. We must also remember that by using as our tap-root, or foundation, animals for inbreeding or linebreeding two specimens having a similar fault, it is far more easy to establish that fault in our strain than had we used some other type of mating.
Any student who will take the trouble to study the original forebears of any strain in any species of livestock will find that inbreeding and linebreeding have played a large part in creating their type. There is a persistent belief that such breeding endangers virility and fertility, but the absence of the latter essentials to existence is, in any case, very common, inbred or not.
Many domestic animals are weakly, many are sterile, and any tendency in that direction in a parent becomes, of course, doubled by inbreeding. This belief, therefore, becomes re-established by the experience of those who have inbred their stock. WITHOUT ADEQUATE SELECTION OF SOUND SPECIMENS.