Lines and families

Each breed has its own stock, whose geographical dispersion leads to the creation of different lines. Although the genetic input of sire and dam are identical in the first generation of puppies, when studying a pedigree over several generations we speak in terms of the maternal line and paternal line.
An elite stud dog will always produce more descendants than a champion brood female, which is physiologically limited to no more than two litters a year.

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Family and line-breeding


A dog’s pedigree contains information on its origins and the degree of inbreeding within a particular line. Parallel breeding of several blood relatives is the most common method used in dog breeding. This is ended after several generations when the desired traits have been permanently retained. This line constitutes a family that can be recognised by an expert fancier. The family is therefore a group of related individuals with similar traits from the same breeding establishment, most of which are identified by their own affix.

The necessity of introducing new blood

However, excessive line-breeding within the same family can result in reduced occurrence and variation of genetic traits. In this case, the breeder may choose to introduce new blood. It is now also possible to preserve semen and thus the hereditary material of certain studs if there is a need to backtrack at a later date.

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The 13 deadly sins of modern dog breeding

• Breeding small dogs that are too small and big dogs that are too big.
• Breeding dogs to exaggerate their traits in an extreme or abnormal way, such as excessively short muzzles, excessively short feet, excessively long ears, too many skin folds and pigmentation problems.
• Mating dogs that are too closely related.
• Mating dogs with known genetic defects.
• Mating bitches with a single champion stud.
• Concentrating on your own dogs without considering their ancestors.
• Focusing on aesthetic aspects and competition rather than health issues.
• Ignoring or underestimating the characteristic health problems of a given breed.
• Covering up health issues in your own establishment.
• Only seeing the merits of your own dogs while being very critical about the dogs of other breeders.
• Following breeding fads for trendy dogs rather than long-term, functional breeding goals.
• Forgetting that the domesticated dog is descended from predators and should principally be able to hunt and capture prey.
• Forgetting that dogs feel pain and discomfort just as much as humans, without being able to communicate them.


Irene Sommerfeld-Stur, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Professor of Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Austria)

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