Dog Pedigrees, Reputable Breeding & Registration Explained

Karen Peak
by Karen Peak
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Countless times people who are involved in the "dog world" hear statements that are not true. Yes, pedigrees are important but do they guarantee health? Are all dogs that are registered quality? Does having registered parents mean the dog is registered? Are pedigrees important to even the person just looking for a pet? The answer to all these questions is both yes and no.

Pedigrees

Basically, pedigrees are a breakdown of the parents, grandparents, great-grands, etc., behind a dog (or other animal). They list only a small segment of relatives in the grand scheme of things. (Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc are not listed on the pedigree). It is very easy to be blinded by Champions and working titles all over the place. But does this mean the puppy you are looking at will be quality? No.

Genetics can be funny and it is very possible for two great dogs to produce mediocre puppies. Breeding great to great increases the chances of producing great so always look for the best you can, but it is NOT a guarantee. Just because your dog is from some of the best lines in the country does not mean he or she will reproduce it. It just betters the chances of it. Though a breeder has pedigrees on the dogs, does not mean the dogs are top quality. Even pet shop puppies are sold with pedigrees! So you have to know the source of your puppy and what questions to ask the breeder about the pups. Even the best breeders will end up with puppies that are not the quality they want - it is just the luck of the draw even when breeding the best dogs possible. However, these puppies will be sold with a spay/neuter agreement and even limited registrations to try and prevent the undesired traits from being bred down the road and damaging the integrity of the breed.

Pedigrees & Health

Just being pedigreed does not mean a dog is healthy or does not carry for hereditary problems. A good breeder will screen for health issues such as hips, eyes and thyroid. They many even test further like BAER (hearing) and for other health issues in the breed. It is up to the breeder to do all possible to test and breed for health. If the breeder does not test or you cannot see proof of such tests, this is not a breeder to work with.

At minimum, hips and eyes should be screened. Just because a dog is a Champion does not mean it is healthy. I personally spoke to a man who was breeding a severely hip dysplastic bitch he got a champion title on before her hips became apparent. Even after she could barely walk, he kept breeding her. He felt since she was a Champion, she should be bred. He ignored the orthopedic problems he was passing on as he was blinded by the title his dog won.

It is not uncommon to hear people well versed in their breed to go over a pedigree and make comments like, "See this dog way back here? Several pups from different bitches in different lines developed eye problems. No other pups developed it. It is suspected this dog has it. This was before there was a test for the problem." And the same things goes for females: "The bitch was bred to a few dogs over the years and in each litter there was an affected pup so it is suspected she has the problem. The genetics are still unknown but none of the males have produced affected pups."

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