You may have heard stories in your high school science classes about kings and queens who used to keep their bloodline pure by marrying within the family. After years and years of this practice, a child would be born with tons of physical and mental problems. His teacher probably explained that this was because all the “bad” genes eventually appeared through inbreeding. Whether this story is true or simply an illustration, it makes a valid point, along with a bit of exaggeration. Genetics is a complicated science, so it will be expressed in the simplest possible way.
It’s easier to understand breeding issues if you can identify the different breeding methods. Inbreeding, as demonstrated with kings and queens, is the process of reproduction within the family. That is, the man and the woman are related, even if they are only cousins. Online parenting is a form of inbreeding used to achieve “hard to find” traits, such as a recessive color. Online breeding takes a son or daughter and raises him with the female. Crossbreeding is a practice where the dogs are of mixed breeds. Proponents of crossbreeding claim that dogs are much healthier than inbred dogs. Almost everything related to the dog is inherited or developed through the environment. Eye color, coat color, size, and temperament are all passed down through breeding. However, temperament can also be affected by the environment the puppy is brought into.
Even the best breeders can have problems. Depending on the size of the operation, there are more than likely a small handful of males and females that are used to breeding. Sometimes there are even only two dogs that reproduce continuously. You might be wondering why a breeder wouldn’t pick two dogs from completely different bloodlines. This can and does happen; but the difficulty arises when the breeder is trying to achieve a desired trait. Dogs from two different lineages are highly unlikely to have the same trait. This is when online parenting happens. If a breeder is trying to produce puppies of a recessive color, then they will use line breeding to accomplish their task. However, when reproducing, you cannot choose which genes will be passed on and the bad ones will be passed along with the good ones (the same goes for inbreeding). Over time, a genetic disorder arises because, simply put, bad genes have accumulated and affected the bloodline.
Another similar problem occurs when one dog is used to raise multiple litters. For example, people may want a direct descendant of a dog that has won all kinds of contests and awards. Why not raise it? It’s almost perfect, right? Well actually, you still have not-so-good genes that are veiled by better genes. However, you can bet that it will broadcast both types.
A good breeder will not use dogs that have known genetic defects to raise more puppies. That is why many breeders will guarantee the health of their puppies. However, an uneducated backyard breeder will continue to produce unhealthy dogs, especially since many of the disorders do not appear until later in life. Hip dysplasia, eye problems, and heart problems are all genetic disorders that have made their way down the lineages of the races. This not only adds to the overpopulation of pets (where many end up being euthanized), it adds unhealthy animals to the problem.
Breeding is a science that involves the help and knowledge of many people. Fortunately, breeders don’t have to tackle the tasks themselves. There are organizations that help provide information to breeders about certain diseases or genetic defects and the findings of recent studies on the two. Keeping an open line of communication between breeders also helps in the breeding process.
There are many problems that can result from improper playback, and this just touched the tip of the iceberg. Although it is not easy to understand the how and why of gene selection and inheritance, it is beneficial to understand the complications of reproduction. Even the best breeders can run into problems that are simply beyond their control (remember that environment can play a huge role). Open communication is gaining popularity and helps breeders raise healthy pets.