Dogs, not averages, matter in breeding

Blue Shaquille on prairie

Blue Shaquille (Houston x Blue Silk) on the prairie of North Dakota. Photo by Chris Mathan, The Sportsman’s Cabinet.

On average, the most likely division is one whereby half the chromosomes in any gamete (reproductive cell) come from the sire and half from the dam but all possibilities will exist ranging from 100% of paternal origin to 100% maternal.
~ Malcolm B. Willis, Genetics of the Dog, 1989

Averages. What do they mean?

Weather forecasters, statisticians, sports announcers and insurance underwriters all make decisions—some of which are extremely important—based on averages. They are a slick way to slice and dice large sums of data in order to draw conclusions, theorize, forecast and make assumptions. But they might mean nothing when it comes to a specific occurrence or individual.

The “average” July day is sunny and 84 but what does that matter if your wedding reception is held under a tent due to a downpour and temperatures is the mid 60s? Or if LeBron James “averages” 25 points per game but only scores 12 in Game 7 and the Heat lose, his average becomes a nonfactor.

In the dog breeding world, if half the pups in a litter are more like the sire and the other half are more like the dam, then they “average” out to have inherited about half of their traits from each parent. But if the dam was mentally unstable or had a major fault, it certainly matters which parent the individual pup took after!

Most tools used by dog breeders—things like pedigrees, coefficient of inbreeding and percentage of blood calculations—all rely on averages. They show what genetic traits could be carried by certain animals. Those tools provide a place to start, but once a specific dog is standing in front of you, those averages cease to matter.  Now we have an individual with its inherited attributes, strengths and weaknesses. It might be similar to others in the litter…but it isn’t the same. Each dog is unique and could be more like a parent, a grandparent or possibly even a great-grandparent.

Choosing which individuals—not averages—to breed will make or break a breeding program. First-hand knowledge and careful evaluation about a specific dog’s traits are crucial.


    Spotlight:  Northwoods Mercury

    Northwoods Mercury (Northwoods Parmigiano x Northwoods Rum Rickey, 2014)

    Shot this pic this morning. He had a single grouse stapled.
    ~ Paul Fischer, hunting sharptails in North Dakota

    Good stuff about puppies

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    A pointing dog’s first hunting season
    Bird and gun introduction
    Early development of puppies
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    How to pick a puppy
    Patience and puppies
    Picking puppies: the unimportance of picking order
    Puppies and fireworks
    Puppy buying mistakes
    Raising puppies at Northwoods Bird Dogs
    The pointing instinct
    Training puppies on a stakeout chain

    Good stuff from previous posts

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    Finer points on...

    A brace of bird dogs
    Accuracy of location
    Bird finding
    How to flush grouse and woodcock
    Hunting pattern
    Running grouse
    Scenting ability
    Speed and scenting
    To point a bird, first a dog has to find it
    Using grouse dogs on pheasants


    A bump or a knock
    Backing point
    Bird dog basics:  hunt, handle, point birds
    Bumping grouse
    Electronic training collars...a little perspective
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    Patience and puppies
    The pointing instinct
    Transition to wild birds
    Unproductive points
    WHOA and NO


    Dogs, not averages, matter in breeding
    Evaluating litters
    Pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs
    Proper conformation
    The tail of a bird dog


    Bird dogs and hidden traps
    Feeding bird dogs
    Feeding for ideal body condition
    First aid kit for bird dogs
    Get your dog ready for the season
    Hazards in the grouse woods
    How to maintain a good weight for your dog
    Quick lesson on poisoning and how to induce vomiting
    Tick-borne diseases in dogs


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    Sandy Oaks Art

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