Parents and grandparents usually
represent the most dominant genes in
the pedigree but not necessarily. We’ll
get to the “doubled up on” factor short-
ly but for right now, you need to know
the phenotype and genotype of the first
dogs. The importance of having a
knowledgeable AND objective mentor
in the breed can’t be stressed enough.
Depending on which bloodline the
pedigree represents, your mentor may
be a bit biased. It’s human nature. Try
to determine whether or not a poten-
tial mentor has actually seen the first
dogs and hopefully, some of the sib-
lings. If this is not the case, cast about
for another mentor who can be more
help with your particular pedigree.
Look for genetic evidence of
thoughtful line-breeding on a partic-
ular dog within the third or fourth
generation of the pedigree you are
studying, contemplating using or liter-
ally, buying into. If that dog produced
consistently well then, count him as
being in the first or second generation
because his genes are more concen-
trated and should therefore be more
powerful. A dominant, line bred great-
grandsire can contribute as much as
one of the first 6 dogs.
Hang on though, before you run
into that pedigree pileup, you need to
know there’s a little glitch in the above
statement. More so today than ever
before, most so-called line breedings
occur as a matter of economy or conve-
nience, not due to study of the genetics
involved. A mediocre dog repeated in
the pedigree can be bad news. It’s up to
you to ferret out the concentrated dog’s
quality before getting excited about a
line-bred” pedigree.
Top ranked BREED winners in the
first two generations indicate someone
was willing to spend time and money
to prove their quality. Those dogs
could be your super highway to breed-
ing success. If the pedigree doesn’t
reflect one or more verifiable (1) top
ranked Best Of Breed winners within
the first three generations, it means
one of two things; either there are no
outstanding dogs despite any claims to
the contrary OR you must accept that
incompatible top winners bred to each
other for the wrong reasons do not
guarantee success.
Even if a dog and bitch are out-
standing representatives, it doesn’t
matter if they are not genetically com-
patible. Compatible means simply that
neither sire nor dam share the same
fault, either visibly (dominant) or hid-
den in their genes (recessive). Ideally,
both would be dominant for the most
important features of breed type and/
or soundness. Do not mistake compat-
ibility as being “from the same blood-
line” because frankly, very few real
bloodlines exist today. Anyone can get
lucky once or even twice. Before you
ship your bitch or buy into a bloodline,
you need to slow down and take a good
look at the road ahead. Use an accurate
and readable “map” because there’s no
shortcut. Forget the scenery, see the
dogs and apply what you’ve learned
into structuring a pedigree that will
last as long as that overpass ahead!
As a Master Breeder, I’ve presented
many seminars on breeding practices
but in the last two decades, it has
become obvious that many breeders
don’t even know how to spell genet-
ics. Many attendees are successful in
the ring, some are judges, but that
doesn’t mean they will automatically
be accomplished breeders. Ring suc-
cess can be bought with a good handler
and a fat wallet. What you do after-
wards involves you! I trust you are
willing to take the time to (gasp) learn
the basics and apply yourself to doing
it right.
Portions extracted from AKC Gazette
Toy Fox Terrier column, June 2008
ShowSight Magazine
online pro-
vides years of free, searchable ratings
Reading Pedigrees,
A Lost Art?
of paper. Some kennel names
may be familiar, some will have the
coveted Ch. or even GCh, and some
dogs may be recognized as top winners.
It’s a fast paced world out there
and increasingly, everyone is or wants
to be, in the express lane. As you may
have noticed, that can lead to pileups.
Or – maybe you’re too busy to notice
and that is why the ability to read pedi-
grees has become a lost art. Instead of
a car crash, your breeding program
is headed directly towards premature
death. That’s why the average life span
of a new breeder used to be 5 years
according to AKC records. Now, I’d
wager it is les than 3 years – and
exhibitors and judges are dropping out
almost as fast.
This document will help you suc-
ceed. First, you must accept the fact that
names on the pedigree tell you nothing
unless you’ve seen at least half of the
first 14 dogs. If a dog is “repeated”, i.e.,
appears more than once, pay particular
attention and research that dog. If you
haven’t actually observed the dog in
person, try to get a video. Photos are
better than nothing but be aware that
digital retouching is common today and
can correct the particular fault you are
trying to avoid or eliminate from your
breeding program.
B.J. Andrews
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