The ABC's of Dog Breeding
Home Study Program

Although there are still some dog breeders who feel that using rules of genetics in a breeding program has little effect on their success, it is unlikely that a breeder can produce healthy dogs of consistent quality, year after year, without understanding how traits are passed from one generation to the next.  Anyone can breed one or two good dogs by chance, but understanding why something happens in a breeding program, which is the stuff of genetics, is an important key to keeping virtues and eliminating defects.  Much of our knowledge about the significance of genetics to canine breeding and health is thanks to research done in the lucrative livestock industry.


The ABC’s of Dog Breeding Home Study Program takes a practical, step-by-step approach to the art and science of breeding by focusing on 7 key tools and concepts. These include (1) genetics, (2) breeding systems, (3) pedigree, (4) selection, (5) anatomy, (6) kennel blindness and (7) genetic defects.  Understanding each one of these elements can help breeders put together the pieces for a more successful breeding program. The goal of the ABC’s of Dog Breeding is to provide a home study course for dog breeders by gathering together in one comprehensive program the “need to know” information from the fields of domestic animal breeding and canine genetics.


Breeders Toolbox

1. Genetics

2. Breeding Systems

3. Pedigree

4. Selection

5. Anatomy

6. Kennel Blindness

7. Genetic Defects


In addition to discussing the genetic principles of animal breeding, the ABC’s of  Dog Breeding also addresses many of the common misconceptions that have been handed down from dog breeder to dog breeder. Breeders may fail to reach their full potential in part because they are basing breeding decisions on flawed rules of thumb. A few of these include: (1) the pedigree is more important than the individual dog;  (2) breeding to the littermate of a favored dog is the same as breeding to the favored dog itself; and (3) a dog with straight shoulders can produce well-angled shoulders if its ancestors possess the trait. The reality of these three myths is that: (1) the individual dog is always more important than the pedigree; (2) littermates differ genetically and breeding to a brother or sister of a favored dog is not the same as breeding to the favored dog itself; and (3) a straight-shouldered dog has inherited genes for straight shoulders and is likely to pass these genes on to offspring regardless of ancestors possessing good shoulders.  Many other breeding myths abound.


One aim of the ABC’s of Dog Breeding is to explain why, based on genetic principles, common breeding misconceptions are not valid.  It is important for breeders to have a general understanding of how a sire and dam pass genes on to offspring, since a simplified explanation of this process allows breeders to understand why many myths about dog breeding lack scientific support.


Written from a layman’s perspective by a breeder for breeders, throughout the writing of the ABC’s textbook, the guiding principle was: How important and practical is a particular genetic concept to a dog breeding program and is the explanation simple and concise?  I believe that most high school students would be capable of understanding the ABC’s of Dog Breeding Home Study Program.