By Fran Buell
Professional trainer, APDT
Bare Paw Dog Obedience
In last week's column, I began the examination of dog breeds and responsible breeding techniques. This week I will more closely explain the need for the responsible breeding of canines.
A reputable dog breeder will rely on three main breeding systems - inbreeding, line breeding and outcrossing.
Inbreeding is the mating of two closely related individual canines, which will increase the likelihood that the good genes common in both parents will show up in the offspring. This type of breeding can bring out hidden recessive traits that, if harmful, can produce birth defects like hip problems and cleft palates. Those can be bred out by preventing the dog that has the unhealthy gene from being used again for breeding.
Line breeding is the mating of two individual canines that share a distantly related ancestor. This can bring back beneficial traits that exist in the common ancestor of the two dogs and will decrease the odds that birth defects will occur.
Outcrossing is the mating of two unrelated or distantly related individual canines of the same breed. It should not be confused with crossbreeding, which is the mating of two individual canines of different breeds. Outcrossing brings in new, positive traits to the dog breed such as color and size.
The specific breed of a dog may be a general predictor of behavior. A dog's temperament is determined by several genes as well as the dog's environment, such as postnatal care and socialization.
If you are in search of a particular breed of canine, you can find it at a shelter or rescue group. Oftentimes they are there because the previous owner did not research the breed and found it did not fit into the lifestyle of that owner. These dogs can make wonderful pets, but sometimes carry some unwanted behaviors with them due to neglect and abuse. If you like a particular breed and do not want to deal with the risks that may be involved with adopting from a shelter or rescue group, you can search out a reputable breeder. Start by checking with friends and your veterinarian, looking in dog magazines, surfing the net or contacting a dog club. When you find what you are looking for, focus on the facility, how it is kept and what kinds of activities are taking place there. Next, you need to check out the dog's parents. They should be happy, outgoing and friendly, not shy, standoffish or exhibiting any kind of aggressiveness.
Ask the breeder a lot of questions. Write them down before you visit. If the breeder hesitates to answer when you ask a question, or says he has never had any problems with the breed, use caution when purchasing from him. Be sure to ask for the cost difference between show and pet-quality puppies. A pet-quality puppy may not have the specific traits a good breeder is looking for, but can make an excellent pet. The breeder usually requires the puppy to be spayed or neutered to prevent any undesireable traits from continuing in the breed.
Most importantly though, is that what your dog becomes, be it purebred or mixed breed, depends on you.
Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy training.