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How To Read A Pedigree For Breeding ~

Make sure you have done at least the minimum of health testing on your dogs (hips, elbows, eyes) and know the health history of at the very least the parents, but hopefully a few generations. Don’t take peoples word for this, see proof. Check the OFA database or see the paper results yourself. Most record keeping software for breeding has a COI (co-efficient inbreeding) calculator. I use Breed Mate. There are also free ones online you can use.

Reading a pedigree for application ~ By that I mean learn to read your pedigree, or proposed pedigree, by genetic information being passed. That is where a photo pedigree line up is helpful. (I also think one with dogs stacked is more helpful, but sometimes we have to take what we can get). It is this combination of information that will tell you instantaneously if a line is pheno-typical or not and therefore the chances of it being geno-typical which is what you are really after. It is also where learning which related family members should be bred or not bred to produce or avoid the traits you are looking for. You don’t have to be a geneticist either, just use some common sense. Personally I think it can be made to be much more complicated than it really is.

Here goes nothing!

There are 62 dogs in a 5 generation pedigree, not all 62 dogs will be genetic contributors. In the same litter, females will  receive genetic information from 34 of those 62 dogs while males only receive genetic material from 22 dogs. Not all the same dogs will be contributing genetic information.

The males are the easier of the sexes. Of the 22 contributors to the male puppies, exactly half come from other males. As he can only carry one X chromosome, he will only carry female contributions from his mother’s side which is why you are seeing her traits in him, remember she only has an X to give and she has to give it. Actually the male will only receive 5 genetic contributors from his sire’s side in total, all males in a direct line, the male tail line. What that means when reading the pedigree you can mentally black out every other dog on the sire’s side of the male puppy.  The contributors from the mother’s side will be heavily weighted in females as males can only carry genetic information from their mothers making it easy to block out the non contributing dogs. If you label a blank pedigree by number vertically in columns with 1 being the sire and 2 the damn, 3 the sire’s sire etc. the male puppy’s contributing dogs numbers are: 1,2,3,5,6,7,12,13,14,15,25,26,28,29,30,31,52,53,60,61,and 62.

Females get more difficult as they carry two X chromosomes. In female puppies, the sire’s side will contribute a total of 15 dogs, 7 males and 8 females. Since a female cannot carry a Y chromosome, she will only get her sire’s mother’s side of the pedigree. None of the sire’s sire side will contribute- NONE. (To me this is hugely important. You want to know what type of bitches your sire will throw? Look at his mother!)  The female puppy’s mother’s side will contribute 19 dogs, 7 males and 12 females. Those carrying more contributors through the grand parents and their dams than their sires (X and Y necessary transference). So if you read the female puppy’s pedigree labeled the same way, the contributing dogs numbers are: 1,2,4,5,6,9,10,12,13,14,19,20,21,22,25,26,28,29,30,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,52,53,54,57,58,60,61,and 62.

Once you take a pedigree line and mark it up a bit you will start to get the flow of how to read it to your application advantage. If you talk yourself through what each dog is contributing as you do it, it will start to become second nature and soon you will be able to look right away and mentally block it out. Add that to knowing what the remaining dogs look like and you will have a better sounding board to bounce off of.

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