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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I love to read about breeding, but so many of the oft-repeated words of wisdom contradict each other:

Breed the best to the best and hope for the best

Let the sire of the sire become the grandsire of the dam on the dam's side

Breed type to type, and like to like


I was curious if anyone has strong opinions about COI, going tighter on a very healthy/special dog , or a way they breed by philosophy?
 

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I'm not a breeder. I am not involved in showing my dog or in any sort of competition (maybe a good citizen soon). My Pippin is our first golden after years of keeping papillons (the first was a rescue, we have two that followed, and then three human boys who wanted a dog that could keep up with them). I am completely head over heels with my pup and love the adventures we have that were not possible with my papillons. Perhaps some day I will have a papillon again when I am unable to keep up with a golden or hang onto the lead without breaking a shoulder. I hope my boy lives an exceptionally long life. I got a much higher quality puppy than I deserved, and have learned more and more about how to give him the best possible life. He is a beauty and comes from the hard work of several dedicated hobby breeders who made the improvement of the breed a labor of love. I didn't know what to look for and was well guided by a wonderful, selfless woman named Sue with the Greater Louisville Golden Retriever Club.

When I was searching for a puppy, one thing that I saw on websites-and that is what I had most access to-was about hybrid vigor from doodle sites and "comfort retriever" sites that I landed on while exploring golden size and shedding. I also saw much on sites for "English Creme" retrievers that gave the impression that dogs imported from Europe were longer lived and had lower incidence of cancer because they were not as inbred. I bought into these claims hook, line, and sinker. If not for Sue, I would have purchased a pup from a breeder of English creme golden and thought that I had a superior dog. I have become educated about the falsehood of all those claims, but as a newbie, they sure rang with truth to me. Who wouldn't want a more vigorous, longer lived, healthier pet? I would say that my vantage was at least typical of others looking for a pet golden retriever, and maybe even a little more informed or researched than many.

First, I have read your posts and would trust you and your choices in a heartbeat. I hope that when the time comes for my second golden retriever, you have a litter with a Mystic line pup for me. That said, I think that the general population has been lead to believe that the lower the COI, the better. I see posts from people looking for GRs with a long history of long life and see the four big certifications of heart, eyes, elbows, and hips to be a warning about the dangers of poor genetics and think of inbreeding as the cause of this.

The point I was leading to is that whatever decision you come to for your breeding program, consider educating the public with explanation and links to research on your website. Most prospective pet families really do want the best for their puppy, they just don't know what they don't know.

Your purpose for producing a litter is not to produce family pets, but I know that some percentage of your litters will land in pet homes outside the show prospects. This response is not the discussion you were leading, but just a request to put out good information for those like me who are following your lead.

Brian (and Pippin)
 

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I'm certainly no expert, but I'm trying to learn as much as I can about breeding practices. I understand the purpose of line breeding for conformation bred dogs, but logic says that genetic diversity can be good for the health of the dog and the breed as a whole. That's not to say that lower COI will produce a healthier dog if your not breeding from healthy lines to begin with. When breeding a performance, field or even companion golden I think breeding the best to the best has the most merit. My perfect Golden is one that looks like a show champ, is as smart as an obedience champ, and has the work ethic of a field champion. That's why I love Goldens.
 

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I love to read about breeding, but so many of the oft-repeated words of wisdom contradict each other:

Breed the best to the best and hope for the best

Let the sire of the sire become the grandsire of the dam on the dam's side

Breed type to type, and like to like


I was curious if anyone has strong opinions about COI, going tighter on a very healthy/special dog , or a way they breed by philosophy?

Hope some experienced breeders weigh in on this. I'd be interested to hear discussion of how much breeders focus on short term, i.e. what will the pups from this breeding be, vs long term, how will this breeding fit into longer term plans of the breeder, or future health of the breed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I have been researching, reading, contemplating, and also remembering all my grandfather's thoughts on breeding Morgan horses.

In my anecdotal experience, my lowest COI dog was my least healthy- outcrossing introduces an element of rolling the dice that the master breeders do only for very specific reasons( to hide recessives or improve a feature) but outcrossing is safer for the new breeder( heath wise) but produces very uneven dogs.

In horses, the idea of outcrossing is more like one tightly bred horse to another unrelated but tightly bred horse, when the horses resemble one another( like to like) . This seems true too in the older books I read about breeding dogs.

If the goal is to improve the parents with every breeding, and you are starting with top quality animals, it is actually easier to get worse lol.

A completely outcrossed dog who is a phenom- is that a lucky accident and will he reproduce himself? A very inbred high quality dog line bred again- will recessive dangerous genes emerge that would have caused no trouble in an outcross ?

To have a very influential and predictable line or family of dogs, some degree of line breeding on the best and most healthy individuals must take place. Once a litter IS line bred( or some, like a very luminary Portuguese water dog breeder I talked to last week, inbreed a certain amount) , the selection of which puppy to carry forward has to be skilled and ideal. Any puppy manifesting less then the best hoped for or recessive issues must be spay/neutered excluded from the breeding pool.

One thing I took away from Pat Trotter is the idea of huge kennels of the past having space to make mistakes and recover, while in our time every pup will be someone's precious pet and heart dog potentially, so it inst easy to take risks and we err on the side of outcrossing even if we don't improve the quality of dog over their parents.

A legendary Australian shepherd breeder I talked with told me about the days when it was harsh but accepted to "cull" pups that showed health or even coAt color problems from recessives come to light, and it was an acceptable trade off for the process of diving deep into the hidden possibilities of ones own dogs, so you could say for sure what scary problems lurked in their genetic make up and what wonderful strengths.

The other thing, the other angle, is population genetics which really has less patience for trying to create the "perfect" golden or a line of very similar dogs in a family that trying to keep the entire colony of pure bred dogs as healthy as possible by keeping COIs as low as possible, even going so far as do support crossbreeding.

I love to study and research, but in the main I have used the "breed the best to the best and hope for the best" thesis. My next litter though will be a tighter breeding, but with more pups going to pet homes and only the best puppy carried forward.

We shall see how that works out!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here is another one:

Your strength is in your bitches/ your bitch line
 

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I totally believe the bitches are the most important. A strong bitch line imo makes more of a long term difference than the stud dog who is involved. Partially because (imo) she is the one who raises the puppies.. so her behavioral 'stuff' is extremely important.
I tend to do loose linebreedings on long lived dogs who are older (over 12 or so) and who have not produced issues downline, and I use grandsons usually or great grands, who are themselves over 6 and have not produced problems. I start watching dogs in the 12-18 class since by then the darling little 6-12 boys are culled out for eyes, etc. Then I follow them until they are older and typically if I start with say 25 boys I am watching by the time they are 5-6 and I have a girl in mind I'll be down to 2-4 boys who are still on my list. All my girls are related so I can watch boys generally, without considering particular girls until it's near time to really be serious.

COI I think the general public thinks lower the better. Not sure that a COI over the average of 7 +/- is necessarily a bad thing... and if we breed the bitch according to Brackett's Formula (the one you quoted) then we are sure to have COIs around at least 10.
Type plays into this because if we go too far from type of bitch we may or may not get what we want and if we do, what we got may not be reproduce-able and then we have a generation we're backpedalling to 'fix' type on. Sometimes two or three.
I think one can lose a head in one breeding and it takes at least 3 generations to solidly get that head back if it's a muzzle issue. I think you can fix a shoulder layback in one generation with at least half the puppies. I think eye shape can fix in one breeding, but I think tail set and carriage can be lost in a breeding and that takes forever to fix consistently. Dropped incisors are really hard to fix consistently too, imo.

PS SUE is the bomb!! You lucked up when you 'met' her , Louisville Brian!
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thank you for that useful post. I appreciate the window in to your successful program and your strategy. My bitch has some of the issues you mention- like her muzzle isn't as good as either of her parents and I don't want to reproduce her head in her puppies. She has a nice layback of a shoulder and a nice tail set, but she is on the low end of the standard for height and weight. She finished her AM CH from 12 to 18 with several BOB/Group 2s, but she would look tiny in the specials ring. On the plus side she has a lovely spring of rib and a short loin and short strong hocks. She is a beautiful mover. Since her pedigree is outcrossed and both her parents are also outcrossed themselves( chosen by her breeder for "type to type), my chances of retaining her strengths and improving her head seem better with a tighter line breeding on e healthy long living dog who produces well who is already in her pedigree. She is prelims hips excellent, elbows normal, eyes clear no breeder options, and heart normal, but of course that could change in April with her finals. I would like to improve her in her pups by trying a line breeding on the right dog, rather than roll the dice and hope for the best with yet another outcross, even one of similar type.
 

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I enjoyed reading this. I agree with Ljilly28's last post concerning her bitch.
When I started in Bassets in the late 70s I found a type I liked in the UK and was lucky to buy a bitch of 2 years from that kennel. She had been shown and won in conformation but the breeder had a younger one she liked better and sold Bindy to me.
The breeder had sold 2 very in-bred brothers to Holland and suggested I used one of them as my bitch was an outcross (a USA import father) but her mother was in the line of the Dutch owned dogs. I did what she said and produced a world champion in my first litter of 5 and 2 other Swiss Champions (all conformation). I went on to buy a 2nd bitch (Pup) in the UK with some ancestors of Bindy (she became Swiss champion). I bred her to a very typy dog in Germany with the same Grandfather - otherwise all outcross. I kept a lovely bitch (Swiss Champion) who I bred to a very in-bred dog from the Dutch kennel (World Champion) to go back to my original line (Bindy). This produced a bitch I sent to Pup's UK breeder and she became UK Champion and top Basset bitch of the year (1984 I think).

In other words I like well thought out in-breeding (all faults are there to be seen- in my case only gay tails!!). All the good points are fixed (heads, type, character and hopefully health). Bindy's line nearly all pups and future offspring lived to 14 or more. She died of old age at 15.5.
I like to be able to go out for something special (dark eyes, colour) and then come back in again.
Best to best is almost what I did in Pup's litter to the German dog, kept the best and then went back into my line.

Sorry this is long and rather complicated but I also find this subject fascinating. I also bred Swiss riding horses (part throughbred/part riding horse). We always bred type to type (nearly always outcross) trying to improve the general horse each time in a small way - movement, head. These were not a fixed breed like a Morgan so some looked very thoroughbred and fine and others were more heavy a bit like an English hunter. I had one mare with fantastic gait and a dressage rider ordered a foal if I used a particular Swedish stallion. I agreed to do it with frozen semen and she bought the foal at 6 months. Turned out to be a super horse and she did really well in competition, living to 25 years old still with the same owner.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The breeder had sold 2 very in-bred brothers to Holland and suggested I used one of them as my bitch was an outcross (a USA import father) but her mother was in the line of the Dutch owned dogs. I did what she said and produced a world champion in my first litter of 5 and 2 other Swiss Champions (all conformation). I went on to buy a 2nd bitch (Pup) in the UK with some ancestors of Bindy (she became Swiss champion). I bred her to a very typy dog in Germany with the same Grandfather - otherwise all outcross. I kept a lovely bitch (Swiss Champion) who I bred to a very in-bred dog from the Dutch kennel (World Champion) to go back to my original line (Bindy). This produced a bitch I sent to Pup's UK breeder and she became UK Champion and top Basset bitch of the year (1984 I think).

In other words I like well thought out in-breeding (all faults are there to be seen- in my case only gay tails!!). All the good points are fixed (heads, type, character and hopefully health). Bindy's line nearly all pups and future offspring lived to 14 or more. She died of old age at 15.5.
I like to be able to go out for something special (dark eyes, colour) and then come back in again.
Best to best is almost what I did in Pup's litter to the German dog, kept the best and then went back into my line.
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I am thankful for this post with all your experience contained within it. For sure it reiterates what I have learned about really achieving excellence that can be sustained over time with a predictable health temperament, and high quality line. The risky part is getting there- discovering gay tails is one thing, but discovering like recessives for epilepsy or something is another. I DO think outcrossing randomly one great dog to a really great bitch more often then not is disappointing and if it is not, it is luck and doesn't reproduce itself reliably. Your post is super helpful to me- thank you:smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I


Type plays into this because if we go too far from type of bitch we may or may not get what we want and if we do, what we got may not be reproduce-able and then we have a generation we're backpedalling to 'fix' type on. Sometimes two or three.
I think one can lose a head in one breeding and it takes at least 3 generations to solidly get that head back if it's a muzzle issue. I think you can fix a shoulder layback in one generation with at least half the puppies. I think eye shape can fix in one breeding, but I think tail set and carriage can be lost in a breeding and that takes forever to fix consistently. Dropped incisors are really hard to fix consistently too, imo.
!
This is the voice of experience, and I am so thankful to read this. In my experience, it is a lot easier to lose the great attributes you have, then keep them and improve if you breed a strong bitch to a quality dog , but of differing styles and pedigrees. I have definitely walked the breed the best to the best and hope for the best road now as a breeder, and not really met my goals. I am not sure that I can pull off bracket breeding, but I am going to try tight line breeding on the bitch side I think trying to keep what's good and improve my head and size.
 

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I am not a fan of really high CoIs above 14. Especially when we already have several historical bottle necks and those are starting to drop off the calculation.

Nor am I particularly fond of 0.01 outcrosses.

I certainly want to have show ring success and as an owner handler that is already tough. Sure it would be easier to get that by running by my CoIs up into the 30s. I am just not willing to do that because I want to breed what I am looking for an can't really find a lot of, which is a genetically more diverse dog.

Being in AZ and looking for a stud dog is very limiting. There are literally only a handful here I could even consider using but some are too young and one is already my girl's dad. That means I have to look to CA for a wider selection with in a day's drive. But though there are certainly more dogs, they fall into what I consider 3 families based on the ancestry. Some of which I don't want to use and some of which would be what I have already and drive my CoI higher than I want. I am going to have to figure out with my work schedule to be able to drive 5 days (there and back to the nearest dogs I would lie to use) plus breeding time for my girl who will just not take AI. ☹ I wish there were more options which is why I got Tizzy.

I am so excited to see what Tizzy can do for the breed if she passes her health certifications. Her pedigree is very unique. She will be an outcross to nearly every dog I could consider in North America. Her pedigree usually yields a 6 or less with European style dogs and under 1 (but not 0.01) for US style dogs. She does actually have US lines through her great grandmother so she has common ancestors to bring forward with stud dogs from both gene pools.

My hope is that she can produce some kids or maybe grandkids that other breeders will be able to take the risk on to use as an outcross.

Consistency in looks beyond meeting the standard is not something I am really all that focused on right now. Hopefully I am young enough that I can spend a decade or so blending lines to create a bank of diverse genes in healthy and sound dogs as an investment in the future with a little success in the showring. Then once I have my base then I can work to set my personal style.
 

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I am thankful for this post with all your experience contained within it. For sure it reiterates what I have learned about really achieving excellence that can be sustained over time with a predictable health temperament, and high quality line. The risky part is getting there- discovering gay tails is one thing, but discovering like recessives for epilepsy or something is another. I DO think outcrossing randomly one great dog to a really great bitch more often then not is disappointing and if it is not, it is luck and doesn't reproduce itself reliably. Your post is super helpful to me- thank you:smile2:
Thank you for your kind words.
I was lucky in that my U.K. Breeder of Bindy had done all the hard work with her in-breeding programme over several generations. She was a gynecologist so had a very good understanding of genetics. I just carried on using her foundations and adding my own interpretation. She was always very supportive. Also bassets, although they do have hereditary problems, do not have so many problems as GRs seem to have unfortunately.
Good luck with what ever you decide to do with your bitch.
I always enjoy your posts and photos.
Happy Christmas
 

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I'm extremely interested in this topic! However, it's all completely brand new to me and I'm trying to learn about COIs and what they really mean as well as how to interpret them. We just got our very first show puppy this fall and, as long as he passes all of his clearances when he is 2 and does reasonably well in the show ring, he will also, hopefully, sire some litters and I want to be as knowledgable as possible when that time comes. I've been reading and studying so much, but it's like a foreign language to me right now. I'm determined, though, because I want to be the most knowledgeable, responsible breeder (or stud dog owner) that I can possibly be!
 

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Very interesting thread, thanks for posting it Jill.
 

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Thank you for posting this. Trying to learn as much as possible.

My breeder only does an out cross every so many generations. Every time she does an out cross, at least the next one or two generations are line bred. She is in the planning stages of bringing back into her lines, her sires that she has had frozen for a decade or two, they will be used with her current or future bitches, once they have proven themselves with their first litters.
 

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Hi! I am not a SUPER experienced breeder, but I do hold some knowledge on line breeding. When talking with a few golden breeders ovrerseas(in the UK and in holland). It was very important for them to go over the pedigree of my girl to make sure we didn't have to much closeness. We had 3 of the same dogs in our pedigrees and it was a no-no with one of them. They both were very against line breeding. I find that the breeders over seas (apart from Ukraine) are very very smart in their breeding programs and I truly trust what they say. With that being said, I would stay away from line breeding.
 
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