Catahoula Issues » Breeding Styles  

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Breeding styles include Inbreeding, Line Breeding, and Outbreeding (Out Crossing). To describe in complete detail what these are would require more space than is available. There are books on these subjects, and they should be studied.

Inbreeding is the breeding of two dogs that are very closely related to one another. The following are universally accepted as Inbreeding: Father to Daughter; Mother to Son; Brother to Sister or Half Sister; Full Aunt to Nephew; Full Uncle to Niece. This type of breeding will produce faster results when breeding for specifics; however, it also produces faster disasters. The breeder that undertakes this type of breeding must be prepared for some undesirable traits and malformations due to genetic influences. Understanding the various genetic influences is of the utmost importance whenever this type of breeding style is chosen.

Line Breeding is the breeding of two dogs that are related to one another. Such as Grandparent to Grandson or Granddaughter; Cousin to Cousin; or even a more remote kinship to each other. This is considered a safer method of breeding to achieve desired results, but it could in all likelihood be considered another form of Inbreeding due to the closeness of the relationship. The possibilities exist that remote relationships could be genetically closer than some of the inbreeding pairs. Genetically speaking, the possibility exists that cousins could be more closely related to one another than the siblings within a litter.

Outbreeding (Out Crossing) is the breeding of a totally unrelated pair. As simple as this sounds, it will become more apparent that this is not always achieved. When checking the backgrounds of six generations of any two pure-bred dogs, it is likely that you will find that one or more ancestors are common to the two dogs, however remote. What does this mean? Simply, when two pure-bred dogs are joined together to produce a litter, that breeding may be more closely related genetically than imagined.

If you want to become a Catahoula breeder, I urge you to study the genetics involving this breed. Pay particular attention to the Merle Gene. The Merle Gene is visually prominent in the Catahoula, and it is widely believed that the Pi-Bald Gene is present but is masked by the Merle Gene. Know, understand, and be able to identify Double Merles and methods that must be applied when breeding such a dog. To date, there hasn't been any in-depth genetic research on the Catahoula, so most of what is known about these dogs comes from experienced breeders and educated speculation. There are a few studies being conducted, but the results of those studies were unavailable at the time of this writing.

We know from the studies and research of other breeds that some traits are directly inherited. For example: Tracking is 46% inherited and Scenting is 39% inherited. If this fact had been available years ago, lining (culling) may not have been as harsh as it was. It is due in part to these studies that I have kept working and hunting lines (traits) in my kennel. Since the gene is present for inheritance, it is not necessary to be a hunter or a rancher to produce dogs that will work or hunt. On the other hand, dogs that do work and hunt can, and do produce offspring that are not interested in working or hunting. It is necessary to understand what the desirable traits are and to breed for those traits. Of course, this doesn't mean that any two dogs can be bred to produce the perfect specimen. It takes much more than that.

The Catahoula that you see today has evolved because of the care taken in breeding specific traits. By not keeping these traits active in the breed, you will eventually end up with a specimen that will not hunt, work, fetch, or participate in any activity, thereby creating a passive specimen that is referred to as a lap-dog. One that is only enjoyable to look at without any of its best traits and abilities present. If you feel this is an unfair statement, take a look at the history of the Standard French Poodle. This was a working/hunting dog that was developed to retrieve water fowl from frozen waters. How many Poodles do you see performing its prescribed work today? The Catahoula has been allowed to evolve for over 400 years with very few changes. Those of us that enjoy this breed do not want to see that change.

The general rule of thumb when breeding a pair of Catahoulas based on coloring alone is best to breed Dark to Light, Dark to Medium, Medium to Medium. Beware of breeding Light to Light. The lighter colorations produce more than the acceptable amount of white and add to the possibilities of producing genetically deficient offspring. Keep in mind that this is only a visual reference, and much more needs to be taken into consideration before you breed. You must study the background of each of the dogs you intend to breed. Know where they came from, and what six generations of their ancestors and their siblings displayed. Not just the coat or eye colors, but their temperament, abilities, conformation, health problems, etc. All of their traits and maladies must be considered, not just a few. Checking the backgrounds of the pair to be bred will not give you any guarantees, but it may reduce the amount of surprise when the litter arrives. It is very possible that a darker colored dog could have the prevalence of producing lighter of its genetic inheritance. Research as much as you can before you decide to put a pair together.

Understanding these methods of breeding and the expectant results of each breeding pair will help you to become a better breeder. It takes Time, Knowledge, and Planning to produce good quality dogs with specific or desired traits. Know and Accept the Probability, not the Possibility, of what may result from a breeding.

Bad Reasons for Breeding:
It makes a better dog and helps them to mature.
Wanting children to experience the birthing process.

Dogs will mature whether or not they are bred. If this were the only reason for maturing, then what would happen to those dogs that are born sterile or spayed/neutered? Would they remain puppies for their entire life? Of course not. They would mature through time and experience. Sexual maturity and/or producing a litter is of no consequence. Take a look around you. Today, we have children producing children, and I can assure you that, just because a boy made a baby and a girl gave birth, it does not make either one of them mature. It's a process that only time and a living experience will provide. The same holds true for your dog.

As for wanting children to experience the birthing process, buy a movie. There are a lot of movies on the subject of animals' giving birth. If you can't locate one, contact your local Wildlife Department. I'm sure they can provide one for you, or at least direct you to where you can get one. If you want your children to learn from the birthing process, show them a movie on how irresponsible, backyard breeding impacts the economy by producing dogs no one expects or wants. Explain why breeding should be approached with a different outlook other than just giving birth. What's going to happen to those puppies when they are born? They're going to be given away, with no questions asked, and taken by someone who feels sorry for them. At some point, they may end up at a shelter or puppy mill, or be thrown out on the road to become "Pavement Pelts."

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