THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PEDIGREES THE STUDY OF PEDIGREES IS REWARDED IN THE WHELPING BOX
by Cathy M. Driggers
B reeding dogs has everything to do with genetics and heredity. In order to have a successful breeding pro- gram, it is imperative that you understand the impor- tance the pedigree will play in your program. Before I ever put two dogs together to breed, mymentor and I sat together for hours just pouring over pedigrees. We dis- cussed why we should or should not breed this dog with that bitch or what a certain dog brought to the pedigree. What did he improve? Which one produced something we want to breed away from? We also discussed the importance of line breeding in order to not jeopardize type or style, but we knew what we didn’t want to double up on and we were aware of the risks of not knowing what was in our lines. We used to depend on breeders to give us photocopies of pedigrees, or they’d send them off and we’d wait for them to come in the mail. In today’s world, there are so many re- sources, websites, and databases at our fingertips to find, create, and download pedigrees. AKC has a great online pedigree that you can download and print in just minutes. Just because a dog is registered or has a Certified Pedi- gree doesn’t mean that the dog is necessarily high quality or good breeding stock. Just because you have a champion dam and champion sire doesn’t mean you have a pairing that is going to produce the next Best in Show winner. Don’t get me wrong, you have a better chance of produc- ing nice dogs this way, as this is the whole purpose behind conformation competition; each dog has been evaluated by multiple judges who believe that a particular dog was a good enough example of its breed to be awarded AKC Championship points.
However, you can have two BIS dogs bred together and pro- duce a “dud.” Just because a dog doesn’t have a title in front of the name doesn’t mean it is not of quality to be bred. It simply means it didn’t compete. If the dog has been bred previously, what did it produce?What is behind that dog? Just because the #1 dog in your breed is appealing to the eye and has a record number of Best in Show wins doesn’t mean that it is going to mesh with your bitch at home. Once again, pedigrees are about genetics. You must have the correct pairing. Every dog listed in the pedigree of your dog contributes to the genetic makeup of your dog. Each dog will have some effect on soundness and temperament. Reading a pedigree can be an overwhelming task, espe- cially for those who are new to a breed or new to breeding altogether. Do not be afraid to ask for help. We all started somewhere. Understanding terms like genotype (simply put, genetic characteristics) and phenotype (physical char- acteristics) will help in those discussions. Hold conversa- tions with fellow breeders, mentors, and historians within your breed. Learning about the dominant and recessive traits, and knowing the weaknesses and the strengths with- in your breed, will help you with reading and understand- ing your pedigrees. The most successful breeders are those who breed with purpose and are using the pedigrees as a road map to what they want to achieve in their breeding program. The time that you spend studying your pedigrees, learning about and researching dogs in your breed prior to breeding, will be rewarded in your whelping box.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR I have studied diverse groups of animals. I was involved in horse judging competitions and enjoyed show- ing cattle. I was first in the ring in the 1980s with Briards. My first Pomeranian was one that I adopted from a shelter in 1994. It was not until 2004 that I became interested in breeding and showing Poms. Since then, my husband and I have enjoyed breeding, showing, and trainingwith our all-breed club as well as with the APC. We have produced multi-BIS and Group-winning Poms, and finished championships in various other breeds. We are AKC Breeders of Merit and Register of Merit breeders.
I am the current President of the West Volusia Kennel Club and its AKC Delegate, and I’m the instructor of the club’s confor- mation handling classes. I’m also the current 2nd Vice President of the American Pomeranian Club, the current Secretary and Past Treasurer of the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs, and the current President, Show Chair, and a Founding Member of the Sunshine State Pomeranian Club. Additionally, I am the current President of the Volusia County Animal Control Advisory Board and a Client Advocate for the Grace House Pregnancy Resource Center. I was taught at an early age the importance of serving and giving. I enjoy taking our Poms to assisted living facilities, prisons, schools, and Meet the Breed events. It is my deep passion for mentoring and education that has kept me so involved in our com- munity and working with Juniors. My husband, Mark, and I have two daughters, three grandsons and two granddaughters.
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