Saturday, January 19, 2013

Outcrossing

* All of the information below is from the book "The Complete Game Dog" - Ed and Chris Faron*

"An outcross is taking two dogs that are basically unrelated and breeding them together. Usually this means dogs who have no common ancestors within the first four to five generations. As mentioned above, outcrossing is an excellent way to reverse inbreeding depression, and is also useful for breeding characteristics into your dogs that you have either lost, or never had. For instance if you have managed to develop a line of dogs that have tremendous gameness, but lack mouth, you might outcross to a dog that has a great mouth.

For this to be completely successful, you should ideally try to go with a dog that is down from several generations of hard mouthed dogs and not just a 'fluke', and dogs that are also fairly deep game as well. If you were to use a hard mouthed cur as your outcross, you might get the mouth you were looking for but you are taking a step backwards because you're going to lose some of the precious deep gameness you worked so hard to produce consistently.

Some lines cross together better than others; you might want to choose something that has already proven in the past to go well with your line, but on the other hand, there are probably many great breedings people missed out on because "it's never been done before". There has to be a first time for everything, and your 'experimental' outcross may turn out to be one of the best breedings ever made.

Any breeding you do should have a purpose, that is, there should be a specific reason behind why you are doing that breeding. Inbreeding for the sake of convenience or just because it's inbreeding is not selective breeding. Are you breeding your bitch back to her father because he is an outstanding producer and she is one of his best offspring, or are you just doing it because it's a father/daughter breeding? A certain pattern of breeding alone does not automatically denote quality, it's the individual dogs that were bred together that are important.

Likewise, randomly and repeatedly outcrossing serves no real purpose. For instance, you could take a scatterbred bitch that was sort of a Heinzl/Patrick/Eli/Sorrels bitch, and cross her to a male that was Alligator/Panama Red breeding, and then take a bitch of that breeding and breed her to a dog who has a little Redboy/Jocko blood, and maybe breed one of those pups to a Zebo/Boomerang dog. At the end of all of this, you will still have a purebred, registered American Pit Bull Terriers, but that is about all you will have. You won't have a family or bloodline of any sort.

Dogs bred this way can sometimes be great individuals but are a challenge (often even a disappointment) to breed because they seldom will consistently reproduce themselves. This is not to say an outcrossed dog cannot be a good producer or a valuable part of your breeding program, but if you just keep on outcrossing aimlessly, you are very unlikely to retain any of the traits that made the dogs good in the first place.

A solid breeding program usually involves various combinations of both inbreeding and outcrossing. Outcross to get the qualities you need and then inbreed to lock them into your line. For instance, you could do a father/daughter breeding with two of your best dogs, keep the best pair off that, breed the bitch to a male from a different bloodline, keep the best bitch off that litter and god back into the father or uncle with it, and so forth. If you look at many of today's top bloodlines, you will see in many cases that the breeder has made a foundation of a few key dogs, and crossed offspring of these dogs back and forth, throwing in a little of something completely different ever now and then.

The first part of making any breeding is selecting your broodstock; different people will of course have different priorities in choosing which dogs they will be breeding together. Decide what it is that is important to you, i.e.. what qualities you are looking for in a dog, and then do your homework looking for a line of dogs that is consistently throwing those qualities.

Have a rough idea in your mind of what is the minimum acceptable level of quality in a dog for your breeding program, and try to stick with it when choosing your foundation stock, but you have to know when to make an exception if you feel it will be positive for your yard, one example would be if you don't like cold dogs but have a chance to acquire a col bitch that is producing winners like crazy.

In performance, it is what the dog does that is important, but in breeding the single most important thing is if the dog can produce what you are looking for. There are many an 'ace' out there who never threw a dog that was as good as they were (and a few that unfortunately seemed to have trouble producing even average quality dogs) and such a dog has no value as a brood dog. On the other hand, there have also been many dogs throughout history that produced much better dogs that they themselves were.

When you are starting out breeding dogs, one good way to begin would be to buy an older, proven brood bitch that has the qualities you are looking for and has already begun to show that she can throw those qualities. Take that bitch and breed her to a quality stud, maybe a dog bred similar to what she has already produced well with. If you kept as many of those pups as possible so that you could see which ones turned out and pick the very best, and did that each time you bred her, in just a few short years, you could have a yard of dogs as good as any in the country.

If you cannot afford a proven bitch, get a well bred bitch pup, or a few good bred bitch pups to raise up and breed. Instead of spending thousands of dollars filling up your yard with pups, prospects and grown dogs you've bought, with a little patience you could breed your own. Unfortunately, not all dogs are going to work out to be what you want them to be, but with the latter method all you have waster is your time and some dog food rather than a large amount of money.

If the first generation off your foundation bitch give you some solid bulldogs, you could then do various breedings back and forth with half brothers and sisters off her, sons back to her, and so forth - always keeping only the very best - and make this bitch the foundation of your yard. Maybe even take a few of her daughters and breed them to good stud dogs off your yard, to get males that you could then breed back to your bitch if they work out.

We say a bitch because it is easier to do this with a brood bitch that a stud dog, because with the bitch, for the price of the airline ticket and a stud fee you have your choice of any male in the country standing at stud. With a male, once you have gotten a good dog you have to then purchase some quality bitches to breed him to.

The important thing, however you start out, is to know what is is you want, develop an eye for recognizing it, and don't fall into the pattern of kennel blindness (pretending what you want is there when it isn't). Learn as much as you can not just about the blood you're working with, but other bloodlines in general. Don't hesitate to bring in with what you already have, and don't hesitate to get rid of what you have and start over if it just isn't working.

As to what it is you want to breed for, that is a matter of personal opinion. Different people breed for different reasons, there is nothing wrong with that unless of course you are breeding for one thing but misleading people you sell pups to into thinking you are breeding for something else; i.e. it's not wrong to breed for big, pretty dogs if that's what you like but it is wrong to try and sell them as game-bred dogs if you aren't breeding for gameness."

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