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Books on dog genetics?


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chilly460

Anyone have a suggestion for an introductory text on dog genetics and breeding practices?  I've started to get interested in understanding how lines are built, how to outcross, the how's and why's, and also to get some understanding of dominant traits, how long they persist in a line, etc.   Basically, I know nothing and want to get a foundation of understanding.  I was beyond green when I bought my first dog, only checked his pedigree enough to confirm he came from "hunting" lines, but want to get into it a bit more.  Noticed he has loads of Hamiltons Blue Diamond throughout both his sire and dams pedigree, and wanted to understand the "why" and Pros/cons of breeding back to a single stud like that....amongst many other questions.  

 

 

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All of these discussions are interesting but I doubt there will ever be sufficient research into bird dog genetics to be of much help, above what intelligent observation already provides.  

Most people don't know this, and struggle to believe it, but there is NO (NONE, ZERO) correlation between hunting speed/range and a dog's behavior in the house.    If I have seen anything th

I think one of the great fallacies perpetrated by some breeders is that you can fix some hole in their male/female by going to a dog that can "fill" that hole.  Unless the flaw is a dominant or recess

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I will watch the replies with interest. If a good book is available that explains K9 genetics I'd be interested. I am not a breeder of dogs and likely will not be but spent a lot of my working career in cattle genetics. So the topic in general regardless of species I find interesting. One saying I heard often, "if it works it's line breeding, if not it's inbreeding."

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Snakefoot: The Making of a Champion by  Robert Wehle

This is an interesting read. It’s not a genetics book but there is a fair amount of information on the breeding philosophy that went into creating a line of pointers that a lot of people liked. I have recommended this book to breeders of cockers, Springers, setters, and pointers and they all enjoyed it.

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Dave Quindt

There's lots of books on genetics, but I've not seen anything that addresses with any widely accepted certainty the genetics around multi-gene trait inheritance, which is what we as bird dog folks are really interested in. In great part because I don't really think enough research has been done.

 

I've spent over 25 years trying to understand some of this stuff, and have spent some time with some folks who are deeply invested in the ideas of linebreeding.  Many of them will chew your ear off on this subject, until you ask them the following question:

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"How is it that the field Lab breeders have made big improvements in their dogs over the past 50 years, get consistent litters with occasional incredible individual dogs and have been able to breed for (and away from) certain traits.....all without using any serious amount of line breeding?"

That single question has a success rate of 100% in getting evangelical line breeding proponents (of which I have been at times) to shut up.  In great part because everyone is so siloed in the birddog world.

 

You see, when breeding good dogs to good dogs and getting good pups from it, it's very difficult in determining the "why" behind it.  Was it because of a shared grandsire?  Or was it because you bred two good dogs together?

 

One other thing to remember....if those pedigrees you are looking at are not DNA verified at every generation it needs to be treated with some reservation.

 

It's hard to separate what we know from what we think we know and what we want to be true.....and it's even harder for most dog folks to admit that.

 

JMO,

Dave

 

 

 

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Mike Connally

I’d like to see Scott Berg’s take on this. 
Also, Pat Comyn might have a thought or two. Pat deals with much larger animals but I’m sure there are some parallels. 

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Craig Doherty

I'll give another vote for Wehle's Snakefoot book.  And as a breeder of bird dogs I agree with a lot that is said above.  If you breed racehorses, you want them to run faster.  If you breed cattle you want them the gain weight quickly and evenly.  If you breed bird dogs you want them to have more endurance, more intelligence, a better nose, an appropriate size, great conformation. straight tails, high heads, bidability, and the list goes on.  

 

The reason for line breeding is you are more likely to get the consistency you want across as many traits as possible.  The reason for outcrosses is you get that F-1 hybrid vigor.  Whehle did both with what many think was great success. 

 

I had a daughter of Hamilton's Blue Diamond, in fact she was my last setter.  Not a perfect dog but a very good wild bird dog that was as heat tolerant and tough as any pointer I've ever had.  As you study pedigrees, especially in the competitive setter world, you'll find certain sires get used a lot as people try to catch lightening in a bottle.  Blue Diamond was one of those -- Shadow Oak Bo was another after he won the National twice.  What you'll find is both dogs produced a lot of mediocre dogs as their owners allowed a lot of outcrosses.  In Bo's case just about every possible breeding was an outcross as he was very far removed from line breeding.  Where as Blue Diamond had Tekoa MT Sunrise top and bottom two generations back.

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MTRookie76

A guy named Steeple Bell did the most thorough write up on the English Pointer breed I have ever seen. He published it on the old Field Trialer website. I'm not sure if it was saved anywhere, but if it was it would be worth tracking down and reading.

 

In the field trial world it appears the best breeders breed their best males to their best bitches and that's their system. 

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Bob Wehle made his money breeding cattle I think that’s where his background was that formed the knowledge basis for his dog line

 

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Pudgy gopher

Bobman I believe you are thinking about Ferrell Miller breeding cattle. Wehle sold beer.

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Wehle bred a national champion Holstein among other cattle, I think he was into it pretty far

 

I had to put down my Miller line pointer a few months ago, she was the best dog of my lifetime without question. I’ll never be blessed to another dog like her.

 

 

So I have no doubt Ferrel knew what he was doing 

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If your interest is in getting a good dog, another consideration is a repeat breeding of a dog that you've personally witnessed to be one that you'd like to own. Granted, it's still no guarantee, but it's a hedge to get what you're looking for. 

 

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Scott Berg

Genetics text address the science and components of genetics but rarely venture into anything related to breeding strategy.  They are put you to sleep dry.  Back when I traveled a lot I would read these books on flights and usually found myself falling asleep.  The closest thing to breeding strategy in these text or articles is probably the benefit of line breeding and the necessity of outcrossing.  It should be noted that outcrossing is often confused with heterogeneous breeding among dog folk.  Outcrossing is a product of crossing two relatively line breed dogs.  Heterogeneous breeding is basically breeding with relatively little common ancestry.

 

While an understanding of the above is helpful, there is a mountain of information about the ancestry (traits) behind the dogs that goes into applying it.  In other words, knowledge of the parents their ancestry, their sibs / half sibs, etc is all helpful information.  The greatest asset any breeder can have is a network of other breeders, trailers, and dog fanatics that are willing to share information.  I can’t begin to calculate the number of hours spent talking dogs with people around the country.  Pro handlers and trainers get many different lines in for training and they travel a lot seeing many dogs in trial and training situations.

 

Some knowledge of genetics is an asset but there is no education like actual experience.  Wehle had both so his books would be great source for anyone wanting to learn about breeding dogs.

 

SRB

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chilly460

Much appreciated, these suggestions are a good start.  And as implied, no I didn't want to get into the weeds of the technicalities of genetics, more as stated, trying to understand the approach to breeding which sounds like Wehle's book will do.  

 

Now that we're out of hunting season and into training, I'm around a lot more dogs and viewing my own two setters, I'm interested in what makes different breeds and breedings "tick", so to speak.  

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Three things I believe about breeding. I line bred hounds for 45 years.

If you have something you like line breed it but cull hard.

 If you see something you like breed to the sire.

The dam has at least 60% to do with the outcome.

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