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In-Breeding: The Best Form Of Breeding

By Dr. Tunji Nasir
04 July 2015   |   3:10 am
IN the last week, we have laboured to understand the concept of breeding of animals. But as it goes, it has become trickier to understand, as a reader recently posited. Let me confess to you that I have found the study of genetics to require an uncommon understanding for one to digest its principles. I…

PetlifeIN the last week, we have laboured to understand the concept of breeding of animals. But as it goes, it has become trickier to understand, as a reader recently posited. Let me confess to you that I have found the study of genetics to require an uncommon understanding for one to digest its principles.

I was initially thinking of discussing the various methods of breeding that are commonly employed by breeders all over the world to perpetuate good breeding stocks. And these are in-breeding (and its several norms), line-breeding and out-crossing. However, I have found in-breeding to be highly intriguing, the most known and the most misunderstood. Therefore, I have decided to give it my attention this week.

In fact, one of the basic lessons a lot of veterinarians will give their clients is an advice against keeping dogs with close family ties together in the house, basically to forestall mating.

And quite honestly, I don’t have any problem with that, because such people do not have defined programme of breeding. They are not likely to do selection for the dogs and may not recognise traits to perpetuate or to discard. So, vets have found the advice to be incumbent in order to preserve certain characters that are still useful in today’s gene pool.   However, I have come to realise that in-breeding may hold the ace in order to purify our degenerating stocks.

The only thing is that rules must be rigidly kept. If this is done, the best quality of dogs will be the result in any kennel that chooses to walk that road. In- breeding is when you mate father to daughter, half-brother to half-sister, son to mother and the most tenacious of all, brother to sister together to achieve stability and purity of genetic materials. This is quite in order in the scientific world and the intriguing world of animals.

It may not have a place in our civilized world (although I have been told that certain tribes in some parts of Asia also engage in this form liaison). And, who knows? The longevity and the associated hardiness of these people may be explained away with this kind of phenomenon.

Essentially, in-breeding concentrates both good features and faults, strengthening dominants and bringing out recessives, exposing the skeletons in the closet (so to say) where they can be seen and evaluated. To a friend of mine, in-breeding basically brings out the weaknesses into recognition and provides a further avenue for their elimination.

It thus supplies the breeder with the tool to combine and balance the genetic factors at his disposal for the good of the breed. Therefore, a breeder must understand that he cannot just start practising in-breeding without understanding the concept and the phases he must pass through to have absolute control.

These phases are basically: (i) Choosing from as nearly faultless partners, as it is possible. (ii) Culling or selecting rigidly form the resultant progeny. I must confess to you that this is a phase where a lot of breeders go wrong, because of their inability to let go of certain animals with faults.

A sincere breeder must be ready to discard animals with discernible faults immediately. It is imperative and there is no compromise. Selection is, in fact, the success of any in-breeding programme. If the good stocks are selected and re-bred, there is a concentration of all the virtues that are so valuable in that basic stock.

To the average breeder, who may not want to be bothered about the intricacies of selection, I will advise that such an individual keeps a comfortable distance away from breeding. Another interesting development that must be known is that in-breeding produces extremes in the individuals eventually. The best and the worst of traits are produced in the same litter. The breeder, I repeat, for the umpteenth time, must select against the worst traits.