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:
Genetics for breeders Don't breed a dog without knowing
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
information/ Conformation/ Health details
Reg # Never registered.
The breeder was going to mail a
to allow me to register him but never did.
Dam: Chrisma Egypt
Ballykelly of Swords
Maria of Swords
Africa of Swords
Maria of Swords
It was hard to say.
He seemed sound of frame and conformationally correct but he
never got a chance to grow to adulthood.
he was very loving and devoted and never showed any sign of
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.
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