By Robert Humphrey

“Unless you study and know the traits of the dogs in at least 5 generations behind your stud or bitch, you are a blind squirrel looking for nuts. You may find one now and then but the vast majority of the offspring never measure up.

Consistently breeding for the best ALWAYS requires a measure of line breeding and an simple understanding of the following.


When a breeder starts to look at a dog’s genotype, what he’s really doing is studying the genetics in its family tree. Knowing the individuals within the pedigree and knowing their prepotency is key. Certain dogs are prepotent for certain things For instance, “What are the old line Grafentals known for? They’re known for being very trainable and having a natural protection drive and learning instinct. That’s kind of their signature thing. Each breeder will have different favorite prepotent traits that they like to breed for; but they will all have their strengths and minuses.” Once you’ve decided what your end goals are for the dogs you are trying to produce, you can select the prepotent traits that are more apt to get you there.

You should look at the traits found in each individual dog in at least the first five generations of a pedigree. Planning a successful mating depends on much more than just one stud and one bitch. Each individual in a pedigree contributes a certain percentage of genes to the offspring – a percentage that can be increased by line-breeding.

The sire and dam are going to contribute 50 percent each. The second generation has four dogs that have 25 percent each. The third generation is 12.5 percent each, and so on and so forth. If you have line-breeding and inbreeding within those five generations, then you simply add up those percentages. So if you have a dog in the third generation, which is 12.5 percent, and you have that dog again in the fourth generation, which is 6.25 percent, if you total that up, then that dog is responsible for 18.75 percent of blood within that individual. What that does is show you what probability of traits that dog can throw into the progeny.”

Combining the greatest number of prepotent traits in an individual’s genotype increases the odds of producing a superior animal But in addition to line-breeding, a breeder must give heavy consideration to hybrid vigor, to produce the “magic crosses.” Hybrid vigor is the positive influence that can be gained by introducing different families into a pedigree, or out-crossing. Magic Crosses describe the results from inbreeding to superior female families through different individuals. The inbreeding must occur on both sides of the pedigree, and within five generations.

A “magic cross” is a pedigree mix that has been proven to be successful time and time again,


In the past, with my quarter horses, someone would come to me and say, ‘I’ve got this filly and I’ve had her in training for six months, and I’m just not getting any success with her. So I’m going to retire her and I’m going to breed her.’ What they’re really saying is, ‘I’ve got a horse that’s really slow and I want to raise babies out of her so they can be slow, too. “You’re going to breed what you have, but don’t start yourself out in the hole, because she contributes 50 percent of the genes. If that’s all you have, make sure you breed the other 50 percent of the genes to fill in for all of her weaknesses.”

In other words, breed the best bitch you can afford to the best stud you can afford, within reason, always keeping in mind that genotype and phenotype work hand in hand.

Breeding for one at the expense of the other is rarely successful.

“Jesus was a pretty smart guy when he told us the parable of the olive tree. If you have your bad branch, it’s not going to give you good fruit, only the good branch will give you good fruit,” You know, that can be translated into breeding just the same way. If you breed to a superstar that has no genotype behind it, how likely are you going to get another superstar? Not likely, because it has no family behind it to support it.

The same thing could be said about really well-bred dogs that weren’t good individuals. If you want to increase your odds of success, then breed to superior individuals, both what they are now AND where they came from, not necessarily what’s happening in the potential breeding prospective crosses right now. What’s happening in 2018, when you are making that decision of who to breed to who in 2019, isn’t necessarily going to be successful in the performance of the offspring in 2020.

We follow the Brakets formula in our breeding program click here for more info >