Big Jake

To understand Big Jake's short life, you need to have an understanding of the three primary breeding styles, outcrossing, line breeding and inbreeding. So I'm providing a very simple primer here.  

For more detailed informtion I recommend:
Dog Genetics for breeders  Don't breed a dog without knowing this stuff!
Book titled" Genetics and Breeding Stategies: Essays for the Dog Breeder" by Dr. Susan Thorpe-Vargas
reprinted on the web site with permission.   ISBN 1-929242-17-4

Outcrossing is where you breed an animal to another that is unrelated in at least five generations. Outcrossing is usually done to an animal with a very similar phenotype (looks a lot alike) but is a little better. This style of breeding enhances genetic variability and minimizes the chances that a pair of recessive genes will be inherited.

An animal that is the product of frequent outcrossing will tend be inconsistent at providing it's "stamp" upon it's offspring. Members of a litter can vary greatly in looks. The real strength of outcross animals is that as a group they tend to be more vigorous, healthy and intelligent. Since there tends to be a minimum of paired recessives they are a lot less apt to come down with genetic related diseases or predispositions to diseases.

Inbreeding is just the opposite of outcrossing. It is breeding closely related animals over multiple generations. This reduces genetic variability and produces the most consistent offspring with the "stamp" of the line. Careful inbreeding concentrates genes to consistently express traits the breeder finds desirable. Since the breeder is working with a very limited number of genes the the breeder can not expect improvements to the breeding line that are not genetically within the line. With careful inbreeding it is possible to create a line of animals that consistently expresses highly desirable traits.

A byproduct of concentrating desirable genes is that recessive genes also get concentrated and many that tend to be masked are expressed. Almost all of the fatal or debilitating genes are recessives.

Inbred animals tend to have weaker, less vigorous constitutions and as a group has the highest rates of genetic health problems, mental problems, immune system deficiencies, allergy reactions and greatest genetic predisposition to diseases.

Livestock breeders who practice inbreeding often do so for two reasons. One is to find out what undesirable genetic problems exist within their breeding gene pool. Another is to produce a genetically homogeneous male that has highly concentrated favorable genes and a minimum of unfavorable recessives. This is the best animal to use as an outcross animal in a line breeding programme. The livestock breeder who inbreeds expects to cull offspring severely. Pet fancy breeders are considerably less apt to cull the undesirable results of inbreeding and are more apt to place them.  Unfortunatly for the puppy buyer, many genetic predispositions to disease are not expressed until after the puppy goes into a new home and becomes loved.

 

Line breeding is that space in-between outcrossing and inbreeding where the breeder tries to get some of the consistency of inbreeding while trying to maintain a level of the vigor that outcrossing provides. It is the breeding of two somewhat related animals, seldom closer than two generations apart (i.e. having a grand parent in common).

The general goal of line breeding is to concentrate the desirable genes while maintaining genetic variability and keeping undesirable recessive gene inheritance down to what the breeder considers to be an acceptable level.

The breeding of related animals that exhibit the same desirable traits tends to concentrate those traits. By not breeding very closely related animals together, the breeder keeps enough variability in the gene pool to allow for improvements and to lessen the expression of undesirable recessive genes.

Continued line breeding tends to concentrate genes over time to the point where further improvement becomes harder and the offspring become less vigorous. An experienced line breeder will make an outcross every few generations to bring in new genes and increase the overall vigor of the offspring.

Line breeding is by its own nature a compromise. Improvement of consistency is not as dramatic or fast as inbreeding, the vigor of an offspring is not as strong as a complete outcross breeding. Nature uses line breeding with herd or pack animals along with heavy culling of less vigorous offspring.

Line breeding works very well for livestock breeders who keep a large number of offspring for many generations and can easily see the differences in the lines of animals over several generations. Effective line breeding is a lot harder for breeders in pet fancys. These breeders tend to keep many fewer animals, breed less often and frequently lose touch with the offspring.

 

That said, Big Jake was a product of inbreeding. He was a product of his sire being mated with his Dam's full sister. His sire came from a mating of his sire to his sire's niece. So in a three generation pedigree Jake's mom is a full sister to his paternal grandmother, his maternal grandmother is a full sibling to his paternal grandfather and is also his paternal great grandmother.

All this makes for a high concentration of genes, both good and bad.

Jake was the last of his litter. When I saw him he was in a small pen outside by himself and had pink anti fly goo all over his ears. The breeder also bred horses and had a large fly problem.

Jake was this sweet red wheaten puppy (and I have always been a sucker for red heads) who was all alone in a small pen and being tormented by flys.

Well my heart went out to him immediately and I needed to get him out of that pen and away from the flys. I made a down payment and took him home. I received a home printed extended pedigree that I barely looked at in my rush to get Jake out of that environment. It's sad when you consider removing a puppy from a show/ breeder as a rescue. But I certainly did.

When I got him home I bathed him and discovered that the pink fly repellent was strategically placed to cover bleeding fly bites. It looked like the flys were literally eating him alive and the breeder disguised it with a cover-up for my visit.

Jake got ointment for his bites, the run of the house, initial help getting up on the couch for the evening and into my bed at night. He was quickly housebroken and trained to lead. He got his first vet visit and a start on his puppy shots.

Everything was going well. He had the sweetest loving personality you could hope for. It seemed like he had saved up a lifetime of love and was giving it all at once. He seemed to sleep a lot but I chalked it up being a growing puppy. He also tended to drink a great deal and urinate frequently but I did not think about it at the time.

He settled into my home and my heart and gave tons of love. In mid August I took Jake over to visit his breeder and to make my last payment on him. While we were there we met a large black puppy that was there for a visit while his owners were on vacation. The black was about 1/3rd larger than Jake. I was amazed to find out that the black was Jake's littermate brother. He looked like he was about three months older.

When I made my last payment, the breeder was on her way out and told me she would mail me the registration certificate so I could get Jake registered. It turns out that she never did.

Jake and I headed out on our first Land Rover camping trip during the week before Labour day (Just a couple of days after making my last payment). We were doing fine at first but by the end of the week he seemed to be feeling "off". I had decided to cut the trip short and get home a week early. A day after I made the decision he started acting really sick. I made a quick run to a local vet who said the symptoms were classic for canine distemper. This of course was not what I wanted to hear. I decided to make a bee line towards home which was three days drive away. During that time he mostly slept. I had to force water and food down him. I stopped at another vet along the way to see if there were anything that could be done. The second vet independently made the same diagnosis. I was told to keep him warm and comfortable. Make sure he got enough water and food and that maybe he might survive.

As soon as I got home I made an emergency appointment with my vet who also said the symptoms did indeed look like canine distemper. However his blood panel work came back showing levels way out of normal and toxic buildups of some waste substances. It looked like a kidney related problem. More blood was drawn for additional tests.

The day after the vet visit Jake started going into seizures. I took him back to my vet and had him put to sleep.

The autopsy showed Jake had only partially formed kidneys that barely functioned. He was an example of undesirable genetic recessive genes being expressed through inbreeding. The lack of functional kidneys is why he was the runt of the litter and was so much smaller than his sibling. It explained why he spent so much time sleeping, drinking and urinating. It also explained why he was providing so much love. He only had a few months to provide all the love that would normally be given out over years of wolfhound companionship. I should have named him Tiny Tim instead of Big Jake.

I returned to the breeder with a copy of the autopsy report and asked for a refund of my thousand dollars. The breeder was in the middle of moving to Southern California. She told me that she does not provide refunds but that she will provide me with a replacement puppy from her next breeding. She took all my information and assured me that she would get in touch with me after she got relocated and provide me with her new address and phone number.

That was the last I ever heard from her.

Pedigree information/ Conformation/ Health details

Big Jake

Reg # Never registered. The breeder was going to mail a
            certificate to allow me to register him but never did.

Born:

Died:

Breeder:

Sire: Charisma Honker

Dam: Chrisma Egypt of Swords

SS: Tia's Ballykelly of Swords

SSS: Ballykelly Loughrea

SSD: Tia Maria of Swords

SD: Chrisma Africa of Swords

SDS: Greystoke of Swords

SDD: Heart of Swords

DS: Greystoke of Swords

DSS: Singing Swords Isaiah

DSD: Fleetwood Vanilla

DD: Heart of Swords

DDS: Ballykelly Loughrea

DDD: Tia Maria of Swords

 

Conformation:

It was hard to say. He seemed sound of frame and conformationally correct but he never got a chance to grow to adulthood.

Personality wise he was very loving and devoted and never showed any sign of aggression.

 

Health Details:

Big Jake was born with minimal partially formed kidneys that never worked properly. This caused him to grow slowly. Over time his kidneys could not keep up with internal toxins and he died way way too young. I abhor the use of inbreeding for pets. Especially when what should be culls get sold to unsuspecting people.

 

Return to the page top

Site Home page

Web site design by Marigold Ltd.

Copyright 2001, All rights reserved. Celtic graphics copyright Karen Nicholas