INBREEDING---when is "too much" really TOO MUCH?
By: Tina Barber
(reprinted with permission of the author
from the November 1998 SSDCA Newsletter)
Several years ago I helped a friend
of mine pick out a very nice show puppy. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that this puppy was
having difficulties after eating, she was displaying symptoms of Esophageal
That brought back some ugly memories of litters from long ago born with this anomaly! I
had been so sure that I had managed to "wash-out" the recessives responsible for
this! After the veterinarians verification of this disease, I started to research my
own memory attempting to locate the cause. It was very prevalent in the (lets call
it "Sword") line, furthermore, it seemed to be more prone to coming out through
the (lets call it "Cloud") line. I owned "Cloud" and due to his
size & other "special" qualities, he was used a considerable number of times
with many different bitches. My records showed that the problem only came up in puppies
that were inbred on him, or descended from him along with a heavy concentration of
the sword bloodlines. I did more research into dogs inbred on Sword, and found that they
too produced this! Since I knew that we were at least 7-8 generations away from
these dogs, I was dismayed to think that somehow we could have this problem again! I
proceeded to visit the breeder, and on her kitchen table she laid out her 6-generation
pedigree. I asked for some blank paper, and started to write in the next few generations.
It went something like this; (I am going to list the dogs in the 6th, cap the
dogs in the 7th 8th, and bold those in the 99h)
Reno-SWORD, Rhyme-PAL-MORE -Sword, hooch-ZEB-Sword, Daffy- 10th
& 11th, Cloud-PAL-MORE-Sword, this went on down the line! Nearly every
dog in the 6th generation could be traced back to "Sword" if we
went up to the 11th generation. Even more shocking was the fact that more then
half of these dogs had him much closer!! As for "Cloud," either he or his ½
brothers showed up in there 22 times (2X in the 5th, 5X in the 6th,
6X in the 7th, 5X in the 8th, 4X in the 9th) in the first
9 generations !!!! Maybe compounded recessives can only stay "dormant"
for so long?? If you consider the fact that you are dealing with 1024 dogs in the first 9
generations, when the same dog shows up over 100 times (like "Sword") some
caution should be used if continued inbreeding is planned!
Nearly all "Shiloh breeders" are using lines that are
linebred on "Shane" or "Smokey." So lets look at one of them
now. Shiloh-Guardian Still Smokin is out of DI-MAR-Shilohs Princess
SHILOHS SMOKE-IN-SZAR. Szar is out of a Gunsmoke son (Luke) and Gunsmoke daughter
(Tara), who in turn is out of Gunsmoke and Solo, whose sire is "Festus, " a
Gunsmoke son! Now lets look on his dams side. Leia is a Luke (Gunsmokes son)
daughter, and Shiloh-Lin-mars Czarne Mishka, who in turn is out of Shilohs Hope of
Perfection, who is out of LUKES bother, Cid!! Whose sire of course is..
How many times does Gunsmoke show up in the first 5 generations?? Why hasnt anyone
noticed this before, or if they did notice, why hasnt Gunsmokes
"bloodline" been researched more?
In 1983 I printed my first "Stock Sheet" that listed all of
the dogs in my breeding program, with pictures and a brief description of the dog, listing
both dominant & recessive FAULTS & VIRTUES! This was again repeated, and
expanded in the 86-87 Stock Sheet that included many articles, pedigrees, and
pictures!!! Just as an example, I would like to share the Gunsmoke "write up"
Ch. Campaigner's Gunsmoke
Black & Cream 27" 115#
OFA GS 3405
has been the foundation of our Super Oversized
dogs!! He was the "missing ingredient." We needed to consistently produce dogs
like Luke!! Since we incorporated this fantastic Paladen son into our breeding program
back 8 years ago, we have produced some of our Greatest dogs!! After proving his
abilities to produce Super Size Show Specimens (he has sired several Champions and appears
in the pedigrees of many top dogs today!) and after seeing the fantastic temperament and
working abilities of his oversized sons -- we decided to test the "old man" in
protection work. At the ripe old age of 7, Smoke took to it like a duck takes to water. He
has a very strong protective instinct and proved that he was a Champion in more ways than
one!! Even to this date, visitors are thoroughly impressed with that "old" dog
that stares them in the eye, and will not back down!! It is very clear he is still
the "Boss" and even though his sons have taken over the "girls" for
him, he is still a great dog! The most amazing part is that even in his old age he can
track with the best of them and still loves to go out herding the cows!! He's living proof
of a sound mind and a very sound body with outstanding hips!! Smoke has been inbred,
linebred, and outcrossed to a variety of bitches, and has always produced sound
temperament and good hips. He has an amazing quality to pass on his best!
The only serious fault we came upon early back in the seventies was
ESOPHAGEAL ACHALASIA. Originally this caused enough of a scare that we ended up
sacrificing many excellent breedings out of fear. Not wanting to lose his fantastic
abilities we began a selective outcross program in which the problem disappears and
linebreeding than can be continued with excellent results.
Smoke has produced some fantastic pigmented pups, but when bred to
bitches that carry a diluted pigment gene, the results are very "washed out"
colors, including white feet (not just toes) and rarely (when heavily inbred) white facial
hairs. He has never produced "livers or blues."
a) Smoke has always produced sound stable character!! Depending on the
bitches, and type of breeding program used he has produced from medium to very hard
aggressive temperament. He has never produced a "hype" or "spook"!
b) He consistently out produces himself, and has produced an
exceptionally great percentage of males and females that mature larger than
he is. All of his offspring have inherited his excellent longevity and hips.
Esophageal achalasia was
certainly mentioned as the MAIN problem in his lines!! If you would like to investigate
more genetic links to this, I would like to suggest you study the excellent pedigree
printed in Fred Lanting's book, THE TOTAL German SHEPHERD DOG, on pg. 189. Is this the
"only" problem that Shiloh breeders should be concerned with? Maybe not ! If you
look at the pedigree below, please take a moment to highlight Bezaubende Zobel Tamara,
and her full litter sister A-Farms Hannalore of Emmview. You will note that
"Hanna" is Solos dam, and therefor Szars g-grandam! While
"Tammy" is the original "Shep"s" dam, and grandam of the famous
"Kari" !! These dogs are being INBRED on continuously!!! What do we know about
This is a question you should certainly ask your breeder! You
may also want to ask other questions like; how many times do these dogs show up in your
puppies pedigree? Why did you linebreed on these dogs? What good qualities do you
hope to gain from this breeding? What problems may arise from such a heavy concentration
of these particular genepools? How much experience have you had with this particular
inbreeding, versus other inbreedings you have documented, etc.
Inbreeding can be a horrible CURSE , or a marvelous BLESSING! It is an
excellent tool to be used by conscientious breeders looking for "deeply rooted"
recessives! Inbreeding brings these "hidden secrets" out of hiding, so they can
be properly dealt with. The great stuff can then be "polished" and strengthened
through tighter inbreeding on that particular dog, the BAD stuff can be
"washed-out" through identification & elimination! Inbreeding on
"pedigrees" without extensive knowledge of the dogs themselves, their
littermates, etc is without a doubt the most dangerous form of breeding! It is much
safer to just outcross, or "type" breed! That is the reason that most novices
are advised NOT to inbreed!!! Without a long-term breeding program in mind, and the
resources and dedication to accomplish it , all such breedings are in vain! Worse
of all, others will most likely continue to breed such dogs without having sufficient
knowledge about their faults & virtues, thereby compounding this problem even more!
As a well educated consumer, it is YOUR responsibility to
discourage such breedings, by refusing to purchase puppies from UN-informed breeders! If
you fall for a good "sales-pitch" and end up with one of these genetically
.please dont blame the breed! There is
no such thing as a "perfect" dog! The Shiloh Shepherd is still under
"development." Some combinations work great, others do not! Some dogs should be
often, others should not be bred at all! Some puppies will be suitable for
future breeding programs, others should be neutered or spayed! The SERENITY PRAYER applies
well to choosing a Shiloh puppy, or breeder. I have changed it slightly for future Shiloh
God please grant me
the serenity to understand the things I cannot change
The wisdom I will need, to produce only the best dogs possible
And the courage to do the right thing, no matter what people will
Now lets go back for a moment and look at this pedigree
again. If you study all of the data in my "Gunsmoke" file, you will discover
that when he was bred back into a heavy concentration of certain lines, his offspring were
HUGE! When I inbred on HIM, the size went down considerably! Solo for example was very short
& stocky, (just think of a Basset hound). When bred back to the "leggy
Gunsmoke, her offspring were still short & stocky!! It took one more cross, to
a Gunsmoke son to "bring back" the "leg" but I still did not
get the height! The most interesting part is that when I bred Szar to Kess (who carried
some very tall dogs in her lines) the pups ended up very short & stocky! If you
look at Shiloh-Emmviews Super Jiggs, you will notice that she is the granddaughter
of Countess Marchese, a half sister to "Tammy" & "Hannah."
If you then take a good look at Cara-Mias Drifter, and HIS pedigree, you will be
able to understand why the pups came out that way! In order to rectify the problem, I
needed an (inbred) outcross that carried the desired lines back to the "tall"
dogs that Gunsmoke produced, while "washing-out the (Basset) "look."
This took 4 generations to accomplish, but it DID work! Although the "Basset
pups" would still show up occasionally, they would be weeded out, and sold as pets. I
STILL do this today!!! We now call them "low-stationed" and remove them from the
The dog I chose to cross with was still a Gunsmoke g-grandson, and
linebred on his sire, Paladen. Even though he too carried "Tammy" in his
pedigree, he had enough out-crossed blood to "over-power" the Tara influence!
This dogs full name is Shilohs Easy Rider a/k/a/ "Shane." He is the sire
of Shilohs Wolfin Sasquach, Shilohs Captain Caliber-Baker, and many other dogs
that are in nearly every "Shiloh" pedigree, often many times over!! When you
outcross two (properly selected-compatible) inbred lines, you gain size, bone &
vitality!! Extensive inbreeding on the same dogs, without proper research &
selection, causes LOSS of size, and increases major health risks! If a breeding program
"falls out of balance" the puppies end up paying the price, developing immune
deficiency problems that can lead to things like Demodex Mange, some forms of Cancer,
Necrotic bowel syndrome, Pancreatitis, autoimmune disorders (like Lupus), just to name a
few. Above all else, producing genetically healthy puppies should always take precedence
over any specific "show" type, after all most of them will go to homes that
desire them for their intelligence and companionship. Health & vitality should never
be sacrificed, at any price.
So when is too much, too
There is no special "rule" or "formula" that
works perfectly all the time, but there are general principles that need to be followed.
From my experience, working with these lines for nearly 4 decades producing
hundreds of litters, that have been heavily inbred many times over, out-crossed at varies
levels, then inbred back, etc. I have discovered some basic results that seem to show up
consistently. A guide that needs to be investigated by all breeders goes something like
this; (provided that you are inbreeding on a SOUND genepool, which has already been well
4 times in the first 5 generations is usually very good. You
will be locking in the "type" you are looking for, without any major inbreeding
depression. When the same dog appears 5 times, a "caution" flag should go up. If
he is in there 6 times
..You could be heading for big trouble! A lot
really would depend on the "rest of the story" that you need to investigate,
like this dogs influence going back to the 7th (or even better) 9th
generation. You could be dealing with a big problem, brewing in the background,
that you are totally unaware of.
This week I did an intense study of a pedigree that belongs to a recent
litter of puppies (dont panic, they are not ISSR registered). When I
first saw the litter advertised, my stomach felt the same way it does after a long roller
coaster ride! Once I managed to calm myself down, I did an intense 9-generation outline on
this breeding. Knowing all of the dogs in this pedigree intimately, and remembering their
littermates, etc., I would be scared to go so deeply into this genepool, even though it
would make an interesting experiment. There are times when you just have to draw the line
for the sake of the poor creatures that you are bringing into the world, unless of course
you plan to cull heavily and raise the rest yourself.
The first thing I did with this pedigree was to circle
"Still-Smokin" in red. Then I started to count off the number of times he shows
up in the first 7 generations. 1 X in the 3rd, 3 X in the 5th, 7
X in the 6th, and 1 X in the 7th. That is a TOTAL of 12
times. Now if you want to go to the beginning of this article and figure out how many
times "Gunsmoke" shows up in this dog, plus the other lines I mentioned, you may
start to get some idea of the influence these dogs (Tammy Hanna etc.) actually
have on the puppies that will be born! Then I proceeded to count off how many times
"Shane" or his dam (Kari) show up in the first 7 generations, and again I came
up with 12 times! Since Gunsmoke is Karis grandsire (and TAMMY is her
grandam), it only stands to reason that this litter is being very heavily inbred on
both TAMMY and GUNSMOKE!! Worst of all, I highly doubt that the breeder is even aware
of this fact.
Since the Shiloh Shepherd was "created" via an intense
inbreeding program, much care has to be exercised when planning future litters. Future
owners need to be better informed in order to avoid some of the dangerous pitfalls they
will face in choosing a new puppy. Other breeds that have not been careful about exchange
of information in their breeding programs, and focused only on "show" or
"type" have created so many inferior animals, that the breed itself has suffered
greatly. Just take a look at any popular AKC breed, like the Golden or
compare the quality you can expect today, to what you could find only 10 years ago! If you
really think about it, it didnt take "breeders" very long to
"ruin" some great breeds! I know that I would really hate to see that happen to
my beloved Shilohs. I dedicated a lifetime to "creating" the "total"
dog, and I have every intention of dedicating the rest of my life (and my daughters J) to continuing the
excellence that I expect from this breed! If you become an educated breeder or consumer,
you will have nothing to worry about!
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