This article was originally written in the 1930's by Dr. Kleemann (by whom the German Kleemann Seiger or KS tests were developed and for whom they are named. It was first reprinted in the Kurzhaar Blatter in August of 1962 then subsequently translated into English and reprinted in the GSP News in 1963. Once again it has been reprinted here (after being edited for brevity) for your review.
INDEPTH IN-BREEDING, LINE-BREEDING &
MOTHER-LINE BREEDING EXPLAINATION
What is the meaning of "Mother-lines?" The idea is too often confused by breeders with "mother’s side" or the bottom side of a pedigree, but Mother-lines is the whole of the bloodlines of all the mothers, including the father's mother and the other mothers on the father's side of the pedigree; but always the mothers.
>>> The success of Mother-line breeding comes from utilizing very important sex-linked genes present only in the additional DNA of the X chromosomes of great producing Stamm (original ancestor) females. Since a male dog has 76 paired chromosomes plus an X and a Y chromosome the only place a male can inherit these important sex-linked genes is through his mother. Therefore, when this son becomes a father only his resulting daughters (never his sons) get this valuable X chromosome back again (along with another X chromosome from their own mother)
In turn, when these resulting grand-daughters become mothers the art of breeding lies in selecting only the male offspring that inherited this valuable X chromosome (as these great-grandsons will be able to pass the important sex-linked genes on to their get). In so doing, we bring the influence of the Stamm (original ancestor) female (through this valuable X chromosome) to the topside of the pedigree and dramatically improve our chance of producing great pups true to type when we breed to quality females from the same Stamm-line (Ancestor-line). Thus the importance of having an unbroken Mother-line on both sides of the pedigree. <<<
Pedigrees only serve as a guide to show us what "blood" could be carried by certain animals. Only through careful study of a particular animal's offspring and intimate knowledge of its ancestors can we determine what "blood" an animal is actually carrying. It is necessary to breed both according to bloodlines and performance to achieve success. We are looking for animals who are outstanding performers within the same bloodline.
It is only by inbreeding that we can double up on the good and bad qualities so we can see what we are dealing with. When faults in the line come to the surface we can skim them off and get rid of them. By out-crossing we only cover up the faults and reduce our knowledge of what to expect in subsequent litters. Anyone who condemns inbreeding must in turn condemn the detective who brings crimes to light, as well as, the messenger who brings bad news.
A good brood-bitch is feminine, of finer build, a light and pretty head with a smaller and thinner neck, lots of nobility, but also depth for growing pups. You should be able to recognize a good brood-bitch at 100 meters and not find it necessary to look between her hips to tell her sex. Often I have seen young bitches which looked like grown males receiving much attention and being considered as future outstanding brood-bitches. These bitches never lived up to expectations.
And then there is bitch who was considered a "cat" at shows because of her fine build and light bone structure and was advised not to be bred because (it was thought) she would only produce poor small puppies. Yet, she is a Stamm (original ancestor) mother behind many great working dogs today.
If you have a bitch you must select a stud with complimentary mother-lines. It is much simpler if you have a bitch from a great mother-line so that you can profit from the long experience of breeders in that mother-line and have little difficulty in choosing a good stud dog. With a little known mother-line it is difficult to find the proper mate since there is but a small number of dogs to choose from. Look for a pup with a continuous mother-line from known performers.
When sire and dam have the same mother-lines you can generally count on outstanding pups and you will have classy breeding stock. To improve your mother-line, you must bring together matching bloodlines holding fast to the good qualities, and abolishing the bad. You then breed for performance, power, boldness, nose-work and conformation. The working dog must be able to perform at a high level, without tiring or losing interest and he must have an outstanding nose and never give up on the search regardless of the conditions.
Dr. Kleenmann's Legacy
Dr. Kleemann had been dead for 20 years when this article was first published, which was nearly 40 years ago. We all owe a great debt to Dr. Kleemann for his willingness to put his keen observations in writing for the rest of us to follow.
A History of Working Dogs
Unsuccessful Breeders regularly overlook an animal that has a great trait because it also has a minor fault in favor of an animal that has no faults but no great traits. Successful Breeders use specimens within their line that have at least one truly great trait and breed them with specimens that in turn are great where the other dog is weak. This is the "secret to line-breeding" the only way to successfully fight off the “drag of the breed”.
In so doing it is possible to line-breed offspring that are better than both the sire and the dame. Mathematically ¼ of the resulting pups have the possibility of getting the great traits from both parent. Plus, the resulting specimens in turn can pass these great traits on to the next generation, unlike the F1 hybrid animal that results from out-crossing that carries the same traits. This is how a successful Line-Breeder can actually improve his line as he condenses his gene pool.
So much is made about the perceived problem of a limited gene pool in pure bred dogs it has caused some "experts" to advocate out-breeding of all dogs. However, studies in genetic conservation of rare and endangered species have shown this practice actually contributes to the loss of genetic diversity. If we were to uniformly out-cross all "lines" in any breed of dog we would eliminate the differences between the lines and therefore reduce the diversity between individuals within the breed. The process of breeding toward genetic purity of any particular line of working dogs will in fact contribute to genetic diversity within the breed itself.
In fact, what few people understand actually happens is that as a line is successfully bred over the years a concentration of good recessive genes is happening. Assuming the Breeder is a person of integrity and doesn't knowingly breed animals that have disqualifiable faults or traits. Over a period of time this Breeder will clean up his gene-pool. While it is true that line-breeding gives the opportunity for the worst traits to display themselves in any individual animal, it is not true that the Breeder is required to use that animal in his gene-pool. In fact, if the Breeder is concerned with his gene-pool and not just about producing pups he actually has the opportunity to clean up genes that would go unnoticed in an outcross breeding.
What actually happens in a successful line-breeding program is that over the years the dominate genes in the line tend to lessen in number. This is because unless a dominate gene was selected out for in each successive animal it can never "reappear" in the same way that a recessive gene can. Obviously if neither of the parents displays this dominate gene then none of the offspring can - because it no longer exists in the gene-pool.
Dominant genes are either displayed or they don't exist. And it should be noted by any serious Breeder that the "Original Animal" his particular line was built on was the only animal in his line to carry all of the dominate genes originally possible. From that point in a truly closed breeding program there is only the chance that the number of dominate genes will decline as they are slowly being replaced on each point of the gene string by recessive genes. There is no other possibility unless a breeder outcrosses.
Therefore, if the Breeder isn't skillful in accessing and selecting offspring they will lose some of their precious dominant genes over time. Often we hear Breeders say they are “needing an outcross”; what they are really saying is that they have lost their original dominant genes and have no other means of getting them back. These could be some of the most cherished traits of the Fountainhead Animal.
If possible, it is wise for you as a Line-Breeder to freeze semen on old stud dogs in your gene-pool who are known to throw the dominate genes you value. This gives any Breeder the ultimate insurance policy, the ability to "outcross" within their own gene-pool if they were unfortunate enough to lose valued dominant genes over time. We have made good use of frozen semen on a number of occasions.
Working Dog Puppies
One of the more interesting things about a line-bred gene-pool is that it is difficult if not impossible to pass a line-breeding program on to another Breeder. Let’s assume that you have put in the work and made the difficult decisions not to use certain specimens (even those with highly touted titles and awards) because they pass on undesirable genes. Let's assume you have managed to clean up your gene-pool. At the point another Breeder is lucky enough to bred to some of your best specimens it will improve virtually anything the other breeder has.
Unfortunately, while those who outcross to your line will improve their genetic structure the genes of your inbred line will tend to vanish because these genes will very likely be more recessive than the outcross genes. In effect the outcross gene-pool will "cover up" your more recessive inbred genes. And there is not much either breeder can do about it, even if you wanted to. Unfortunately, many breeders do this to themselves.
We have seen this many times over the years especially from those who think they can "buy their way in." The fallacy in their thinking is that they can buy a line-breed brood bitch from one line and a line-bred brood bitch from yet another line to breed to their great new Stud Dog, often their first working dog. They think they can start a breeding program overnight from three different gene-pools because the dogs are such fine specimens. Oh, if it were so simple.
Often overly enthusiastic newbies in their over simplified thinking take this exact approach. Unfortunately, it is the third generation where the wheels come off. Why the third generation? Well the first two litters were dynamite because they were both F1 hybrid litters. But when the F1 hybrid offspring from one line-bred bitch are bred to F1 hybrid offspring of the other line-bred bitch things come apart. In fact, this "well laid plan" is a sure receipt for breeding straight downhill.
So what is the answer? Wherein lies the truth? It is not what you want to hear but here it is: Years and years of line-breeding by a committed ethical Breeder . . . someone with a vision of perfection and the tenacity to make difficult decisions. The only way to consistently produce superior animals is to line-breed. Period, it’s that simple!
Those who argue against line-breeding are inevitably those who have never successfully bred animals themselves; most often they are college professors. The same people who have bred nothing more complicated than fruit flies or no more demanding than lab rats are often the most vocal about how others should breed performance animals. These "know-nothings" advocate the notion that out-crossing is in and of itself good because it produces something they often refer to as "hybrid vigor".
To them, and to you, we pose this question: "If out-cross breeding is the answer then why don't the owners of successful herds of Holstein milk cows out-cross to the American Shorthorn milk cow?" In theory this would produce super milk cows by combining a milk cow that has the genes for high milk production like the Holstein with one that has the genes for high milk quality like the American Shorthorn. Oh yes on both paper (the stuff of academia) and in theory this should produce the best milk cows on earth.
But this is where the theory that reigns supreme in the professor’s lab meets the reality of the milk barn. Some of the most inbred animals on the face of the earth are Holstein Cattle. The reality is that dairy farmers know all too well is that they would go broke from the inferior milk production of the resulting out-crossed animals. Crossing to an animal with such poor milk production would be disastrous for them. And therein lies the rub for all of us . . .
Understand something and don’t let anyone sway you again! Outcrossing does NOT produce “more”, the genetic material remains the same. Nor do the qualities of the subject animals it produces multiply. Just as line-breeding doesn’t damage genes, out-crossing doesn’t magnify what’s in the genome. There is no magic in out crossing!
Note: So called "hybrid vigor" is never in and of itself the answer to breeding better specimens. The quality of the specimen used in any breeding is far more important than whether or not a particular animal has a very low inbreeding coefficient or whether the proposed breeding will result in a low inbreeding coefficient.
And for those who continue to stubbornly advocate out-crossing we ask you this final question: "Even if by random chance the outcross breeding in question would actually produce a superior specimen would the animal in question be able to reproduce itself? Would the greatness be passed on to its get?" No!
The sad fact is that this superior specimen would likely not be able to reproduce itself. It will likely never throw a single specimen as good as it is in its lifetime. This is because by definition this “super specimen” is of the F1 generation and animals of that generation are rarely able to reproduce themselves. So what has been accomplished by even a successful outcross? Little or nothing other than to put a single animal on the ground.
For fun, I would like to invite this no-nothing college professor to the race track where for an afternoon he would have the opportunity to bet on all the out-crosses and I would bet on all the line-bred race horses. I believe we call them Thoroughbreds for a reason don’t we? Oh, but I forgot, he wouldn’t be the betting kind would he? Not in his lifestyle and not in his career. No, he would be the man of theory. He would be a man who lives in the world of theory.
Not us my friend! No, we both live in the world of fact. Yes, we live in the world of working dogs where what separates the wheat from the chafe are immeasurable traits like “heart”, “tenacity” and “boldness”. We understand how much is expected of these amazing athletes we call working dogs. You see, we own performance animals . . . not lab rats.
Think about it. Those who advocate the out-crossing of working dogs are effectively proposing that working dog owners entrust the development of their performance dogs to the whims of random chance. If you believe this is a wise course, then you need to locate another Breeder. May we suggest that you check the want ad section of your local newspaper where you will find many splendid examples of out-cross breeding.
Successful line-breeding is a long and arduous task, one that requires a lifetime's commitment to a particular line of dogs. We have great respect for the few Breeders of working dogs who successfully developed and perpetuated their particular line of working dogs in the past, fighting negative public opinion all the way. Even if we don't have a single dog from their particular line in our pedigrees we have studied their breeding patterns and over the years have developed a deep appreciation for their work.
It is from the legacy of Breeders who refused to settle, who held to their standards when things didn’t go as planned that we owe so much. It is from those Breeders who bred to the brother of the champion because he produced better pups than the titled dog that all of us enjoy a robust working dog gene pool today. To them we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.
Our Breeding Philosophy for Working Dogs
Although our breeding program remains modest, our commitment to the to breeding outstanding working dogs remains strong. We are looking forward to many more fine litters and many more years of great working dogs.
Von Asgard K-9 Center 35571 State Road 70 East / P. O. Box 331, Myakka City, FL 34251
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