The Carefully Planned Litter

Successful breeders know the strengths and weaknesses of each of their dogs. Pedigrees, when properly analyzed, can provide a roadmap of those positive and negative features. Computerized databases have made it easier to analyze pedigrees and to store and retrieve information, but breeders still must do their homework.

Understanding a pedigree is more than simply looking at names on a piece of paper. The names and titles will tell you what the dog has done in a conformation or performance venue, and perhaps his coat color and registration number. But by doing your homework, a pedigree can lead you to the information you really want. Specifically, the more you know about the dogs—their good and bad points, what they have produced (if bred), and the traits of their close relatives (littermates, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on)—the more useful a standard pedigree will be to you.

Once breeders have done their homework and recorded information in a manner that is easily retrievable, a standard pedigree can be analyzed to reveal information including the coefficient of inbreeding, which is the “probability that a homozygous gene pair will be identical by descent from both sides of the pedigree.” Pedigree analysis also can reveal traits in collateral relatives (i.e., the potential sire doesn’t have the trait, but he produced it or one of his offspring did). How heavily breeders weigh this information will depend on how far back a particular dog is in a pedigree and whether he appears more than once.

“You must have a passion and a vision. Your work is never done.” Georjean Hertzwig, Austrailian Shepherd breeder. 

Thinking long term is essential too, say the experts. Many breeders only consider the short term—the next generation—without looking at the long-term impact a particular breeding might have on a line. This is an ideology supported by longtime Australian Shepherd breeder Georjean Hertzwig, who admits she looks at her breeding program 25 years ahead. She says breeding an all-round dog—one with intelligence, instinct, temperament, structure, and movement all in one individual—is a difficult and humbling experience. 

Check out this Austrailian Shepherd posting a perfect score at an AKC Rally Advanced event.  GatorHeavens Sky Legend- Blue Merle AKA Gryffin - first time off leash at a Trial and scored 100 out of 100.