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How Outcrossing Destroys a Breeding Program ~

This is a HUGE fantastic article that explains everything you need to know about breeding by a world renown breeder. This is just a portion of it covering outcrossing which is the only type of breeding allowed at the TLGDA. That a dog registry can dictate to their members how they can breed still amazes me, but that they literally make it so people can’t improve upon the breed just boggles the mind. There is simply no other breeder who has come even close to what he has accomplished. This is just the part of his compilation of articles on the subject of out-crossing written for Dog World Magazine for which he won the Dog Writers’ Association Award. You already know we are big advocates for line breeding here at the ABLA and many of us have even been working together to create our own “strain” within the Blue Lacy breed in our goal of perfecting the breed. Lloyd C. Brackett is one of the fathers of the German Shepherd in this country and the oldest living continuous fancier of the breed in America (since 1912) his theories on breeding have been more than proven in his Long-Worth Kennels where he established his own strain in the breed and produced more than 90 champions in only 12 years —a world’s record for any breed. Known affectionately as “Mr. German Shepherd” he has proven beyond doubt the soundness of his breeding program.

Advantages of Line Breeding
Few indeed are the dog fanciers who do more than mate bitch to dog HOPING for results that is no scientific reason to expect. When by good fortune one or two above average offspring do appear, they have nothing behind them upon which to base an expectation that they will pass on their desirable traits. On the other hand, when such superior offspring are produced by line breeding, and improvement is shown, it is backed up by the most powerful hereditary influence obtainable because of the simplicity and strength of the ancestry. If the SELECTION of this ancestry has been good, the “pulls” are all in the same direction. The records of all breeds show the pronounced salutary results that have come from judicious line breeding. Fortunately there are in almost all breeds of dogs a very few fanciers intent upon consistently producing dogs superior to the average of the breed. Many of these know that the quickest and most certain way to do this is by line breeding.

The preceding installments have dealt mainly with defining inbreeding and line breeding together with their advantages and the results to be expected. There was also a report of some of the writers successes obtained by using these breeding methods. While much more could, and perhaps should, follow along the same line, it can wait until a future time. The subject of out crossing is particularly timely now, when there seems to be not only many misconceptions regarding it, but probably never before in the history of dog breeding such a regrettable and harmful amount of it being done. Somewhere in a previous article I made a statement to the effect that in some breeds the bad results of out crossing were not as evident as they would be were it not almost impossible to find absolutely unrelated blood in those varieties.

Some of my readers may conclude that an outstanding animal appearing once or even several times further back than the third generation will have a noteworthy influence. One often sees pedigrees, especially those of German Shepherd Dogs currently being imported, stating that there is line breeding to one or more sires, as “4-5” or “5-5”, meaning in the fourth and fifth, or twice in the fifth, generations. When it is considered that a dog appearing the fourth generation contributes only about 1/256 of the heredity factors in a puppy, one can understand that those distant relatives could not have done much to overcome the influence of the unrelated and perhaps inferior specimens appearing in the pedigree later. Altogether too many fanciers are misled into feeling they have a worthwhile breeding animal because back in the third or fourth generations there appears one or more outstanding dogs.
It remains now to cover the matter of how often it is advisable to introduce an outcross and, when and if such an outcross is made, where one goes from there.

I would like to interject here my observation of something that continually amazes me, 2nd it has to do particularly with our present-day German Shepherd Dog breeders. Practically none of them have evolved a “plan” of ANY sort. There is presently a heterogeneous crop of imported males available and they are being used as breeders by hundreds of fanciers who have NO knowledge of those dogs’ ancestors. Neither have they the least knowledge of the producing abilities of these studs themselves, in most instances. I have asked dozens of these breeders (they cannot rightly be designated as “fanciers”), “Where do you plan to go from there? and I cannot remember a single instance when any one of them could tell me of a breeding plan he had for the future.
We are about to discuss out crossing and, as above outlined, “how often,” “when,” and “if” to do it. This will mean absolutely nothing, whatever I may write, to such hit-or-miss breeders who are not only starting with outcross-bred animals, but must almost of necessity CONTINUE that process unless they immediately find some way to breed back on the sire’s side (often inadvisable when his forebears are considered, or impossible from the standpoint of availability), or start inbreeding on the best dogs of the dam’s side. But when asked, “What are you going to do next?” as stated above, the usually reply is, “I haven’t gotten that far.” or “I haven’t thought of that.”

Using the vernacular. I will state unequivocally that “nobody but nobody” amongst them is going to do constructive animal breeding or produce a satisfactory percentage of top specimens, and most certainly they WILL NOT build a strain within the breed. This having been proved to be true innumerable times by geneticists and all successful animal breeders, regardless of variety, what follows can be of value or interest to those now doing such outcross breeding only for one reason: to demonstrate why they are not getting the desired results.

Outcross Only for Definite Purpose
Those doing planned breeding based upon inbreeding and line breeding should outcross only for a definite purpose. Where the misconception started that it is not safe to inbreed more than three generations without an outcross nobody seems to know, but it is not necessarily valid. To my own misfortune I myself believed this fallacy at one time, and reaped the consequences.

Every experienced breeder knows that, perhaps more often than not, the offspring of a first-generation outcross of two excellent animals show many of the good points of their parents. That is why, when so many of those first generation puppies from outcross matings are doing well in the show ring, their breeders, and others who have noted this, rush to make similar breedings. They will undoubtedly learn, as I did, that the youngsters of succeeding generations of outcross breeding will be a heterogeneous lot, showing an absolute lack of uniformity. This will not only prevent those breeders from developing and holding a proper type, but will help to make their breed one of even further differing types in size and proportion.

Such breeders then, do a disservice to their breed and are mainly responsible for the great differentiation within it. They also are the cause of many judges’ bewilderment. One often hears puzzled fudges ask, in judging German Shepherd Dogs, for instance, “What DO you WANT, anyhow, those big and square ones, the small long ones, those angulated as your Standard calls for, or those built about like Collies?”

Breeders who believe that an outcross should be made at some definite time as, for instance, the previously mentioned third generation, are, as another writer has put it, giving credence to one of those “old wives’ tales” to which some dog breeders seem to be particularly addicted.
If my readers have obtained a correct understanding of the earlier installments of these articles, they will know that inbreeding and line breeding make for the elimination of recessive factors, which produce faults, and bring about purification within their strain. This close breeding upon the blood of one or more superior specimens has quite rapidly done away with the influence of the more faulty ancestors, and caused a definite type to be established. Because, at least after the first generation of an outcross mating, a breeder will LOSE THE TYPE HE HAS WORKED TO OBTAIN through line breeding and inbreeding (unless he then breeds back into his established line), an outcross should be made only FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE— to correct a fault or faults which may have shown up in his inbred strain. More will be written about this later.

To be successful as a breeder, one must seek to produce animals which are genetically pure for all those dominant qualities which are demanded by the breed’s Standard of perfection. The nearer he approaches that ideal the more uniform—similar in type—will be the dogs he produces.
When a breeder of any variety of dogs uses the more distantly related animals in his matings, he can expect less uniformity in the offspring. So, as previously stated, if complete outcrosses are used at all, they should be made for a definite reason and not with the belief that the purpose of the matings will be fulfilled in one generation.

To supply some backing for what I have written however, other than my own statement of fact) which is based upon both study and experience, I quote Onstott: “Any virtues which may be added to a strain through out-crossing . . . cannot be looked upon as inherent in that strain UNTIL THEY HAVE BEEN PURIFIED AND FIXED WITHIN THAT STRAIN THROUGH INBREEDING. Out crossing is only to be employed as a means to an end and as a preliminary to the FIXATION of its good results, if any, through inbreeding.”

Strains and Real Strains
To those who have become readers of DOG WORLD since this series started, I might explain that in speaking of a “strain” I mean, as someone has put it, a “variety within a variety” of animals.
One familiar with many breeds of dogs is struck by the fact that few breeds have many real strains within them. Uninformed breeders speak of “my strain” or “his strain’ when all that any of them have is a kennel of dogs possessing hit-or-miss pedigrees with a hodgepodge of ancestors, perhaps including “Champions” in their pedigrees, which, of course, indicates to the cognoscente that the advertiser is a rank and uninformed novice of the first order. In conversations, these people usually speak of their “strains” when, as stated above, all they have is a mixture of several strains, or perhaps one of “just dogs” with no rhyme or reason for any of them having been mated together.

However, where there ARE real strains within any breed, one seldom finds them unmixed with the blood of other so-called strains, because most breeders start their strain with the same ancestor, or ancestors. This is done because those mutual ancestors were considered to be great dogs of their time, as they probably were, or else a breeder knowledgeable and serious-minded enough to start building a strain would not have chosen them. WHEN such superior specimens have in mutuality been selected by the founders of different strains within a breed, the so-called out-crossing between their strains is less hazardous than would he the using of animals with either no, or very distant, relationship.

Before going further into the subject of out-crossing, I feel it should be repeated that NO complete out breeding should be done unless some fault or faults have shown up in an established strain. If even through careful selection during the building of his strain, a breeder finds he has some shortcomings he cannot eliminate or improve without using outside blood, then it is time to outcross. This may well be one of the most critical periods in his breeding career.
In reaching out, through outcross blood, to obtain some wanted characteristic not present in his strain, or to correct a fault he has not been able to eliminate from it through closed-up breeding, a breeder should make the outcross as partial as possible. In other words, he should obtain the desired correction or improvement through using a stud possessing the needed trait, and who is also, if possible, related to his own strain—the more closely related the better. Through this procedure he may save himself from the necessity of generations of breeding to regain the virtues already in his strain as well as hold those he obtained by out crossing. This is true because out crossing is quite as likely to destroy the good traits already possessed as to add others which are missing and desired. So important is the matter of what to do after making an outcross, I think it should be repeated that any bad results from out crossing can be eliminated only through continued inbreeding or line breeding, and careful selection, so that the benefits derived from out crossing may be incorporated in one’s strain.

Danger in Continued
When salubrious results are obtained in the first generation of an outcross, many breeders think-, the mating was an unqualified success and all they need do thereafter is to continue such out crossing to, become great breeders with an established type of their own, producing a high average of good ones. They could not be more mistaken, since the exact opposite is sure to occur. I can do no better than quote here from the world-famous geneticist Dr. E. Fitch Daglish, who is also a contributor to DOG WORLD. – The following is an excerpt from his article in the June l959 issue:
“INVISIBLE FACTORS INHERITED: One of the fundamental principles of genetics is that it is not the visible properties of individuals that are inherited but those factors or genes which endow them with the ability to produce certain qualities under certain conditions. When two animals differing in genetic make-up are mated, their offspring must be genetically impure in varying degrees however closely the two parents may resemble each other in outward appearance. It is this, which causes the wide variation in size, shape, constitution and so on that is invariably seen is, the second generation of cross breeds.

What does all of this actually mean to breeders? It means that out crossing is particularly dangerous when traits both visible and those inherent in the mating pair’s ancestors, are not known. A breeder is gambling when he makes an outcross mating, and it is an outcross breeding when no common ancestors appear in the fourth or, at least, the fifth generation. In out crossing one is mixing the bloodlines of different strains and consequently unwanted recessive characteristics are likely to be brought in. Very often novice breeders present the pedigree of their outcross-bred bitch to me, asking for advice about breeding her. Such a pedigree cannot be evaluated properly because it is impossible to know the genetic makeup of such an animal.
What does all of this actually mean to breeders? It means that out crossing is particularly dangerous when traits both visible and those inherent in the mating pair’s ancestors, are not known. A breeder is gambling when he makes an outcross mating, and it is an outcross breeding when no common ancestors appear in the fourth or, at least, the fifth generation. In out crossing one is mixing the bloodlines of different strains and consequently unwanted recessive characteristics are likely to be brought in. Very often novice breeders present the pedigree of their outcross-bred bitch to me, asking for advice about breeding her. Such a pedigree cannot be evaluated properly because it is impossible to know the genetic makeup of such an animal.

Never outcross when things seem to be going well—do it only as an experiment, or when some fault or faults cannot be eliminated by staving within one’s strain Breeding complete outcrosses is a dangerous procedure, sure to result in a hodgepodge of breed traits with a loss of all true type, if practiced carelessly, or beyond an initial mating for a definite purpose.

When, and if, an outcross is made, every effort should be expended to see that the outcross dog brings in as few alien traits and genetic impurities as possible. To insure this, one should use an individual, which carries as much blood as can be found of the foundation stock of the strain which is to be crossed. After an outcross has been made, a breeder should then breed right back into the original strain. This is the only safe procedure after the purpose of the outcross has been achieved. As Dr. Daglish states it: “Only in that way can the high degree of genetic purity established in a valuable true-breeding strain be recovered and the bad effects of mixing the genes carried by unrelated animals be avoided.”

If you are considering breeding or already a breeder I highly recommend reading the full article:

“This explains perfectly why we are so against the rule set by the TLGDA for no line breeding and why we advocate and encourage line breeding of health tested dogs. Also why a few of us have even gotten together here at the ABLA in a collective effort towards building our own strain within the Blue Lacy breed. This includes selective breeding of dogs that have been health tested for a few generations now and who we know are producing healthy pups with zero genetic faults, excellent temperaments, incredible noses and easy trainability. As the officers of the ABLA and breeders ourselves we more than welcome those that would like to join us in our endeavors. If you are looking for good foundation stock for your breeding program or looking for advice we are happy to help.”

Stephanie Schenk
ABLA President

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