We feel it important to share in specific terms what guidelines we use in the selecting and breeding of our labs which produces the fine puppies we have to share with families and individuals from cities near and far.
Anyone who has visited us or spoken with us knows how much we love the girls and boys that make up the sires and dams in our kennel. Every one of them is special to us in their own way. They all, as a group and individually, exemplify the finest the Labrador Retriever breed has to offer. They are beautiful, loyal, smart, sweet, playful and dedicated. They produce excellent hunters, companion dogs, therapy dogs as well as agility and show ring superstars.
There is a lot of information available that will inform you about the best breeding practices of dog breeders but unfortunately there is also some confusion about the subject as well. And there are differences of opinion among breeders on certain practices.
And there is also a large number of individuals who think that to see their dogs pedigree showing any similar family members on both sides is a BAD THING. And to show no similar family members is a GOOD THING. Neither of which is completely accurate.
The purpose of this article is to honestly discuss the situation and share with you what we do here on the Desert Wind and why we do it.
Let’s begin with some definitions of the most common terms used to describe the different methods or approaches to dog breeding.
This is when you take 2 completely unrelated dogs of the same breed and mate them. This is the most common and widely accepted method of dog breeding. What are called “backyard” or “hobby” breeders utilize this method almost exclusively for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes it’s just to make a few extra bucks … sometimes it’s because 2 friends have labrador retrievers and want to experience the process … sometimes it’s a complete accident.
And through the formation years of Desert Wind Labradors we built our kennel using this method. We selected males and females from other breeders that were the best in all the aspects that are most desirable in a Labrador Retriever. The interesting thing about outcross breeding is that the puppies created can have three different looks to them … they can look like the father or the mother or be a combination of both which may look like neither! So each time a litter is a mystery until you actually have a few litters from which to track the result
Because of the number of litters produced, and our staying in contact with the families and individuals who we have placed puppies with as well as those we have kept for ourselves, we are able to pinpoint temperaments and physical similarities in each of the lines we have developed using this method.
It has been stated that one of the benefits of outcross breeding is Hybrid Vigor which means that this method gets you a healthier, stronger puppy. But in our imperfect world this is of course no guarantee. We are able to see the Hybrid Vigor in many of our puppies because we have been able to observe over 2 and 3 generations and therefore see the actual results which then help guide our future breeding plans.
Some have voiced concerns that outcross breeding can seriously diminish performance in the instincts that are so important in a Labrador retriever such as retrieving. But again with our ability to see over many generations what is produced we can keep all those incredible aspects of the Labrador Retriever intact and work to improve them as well.
Which brings us to the next breeding method which is …
This is when you select 2 dogs of the same family such as a half-brother or half-sister (same sire but different dams), granddaughter or grandfather, or a niece or an uncle. This is not INBREEDING! Inbreeding is when you breed full brothers to full sisters (same sire and same dam) or fathers to daughters. Some breeders want to refer to those practices as line breeding but that is not correct.
Desert Wind Labradors does approve of and utilize line breeding and we will explain why below. Although some breeding programs use line breeding to produce show ring or field trial superstars at the expense of health and temperament we do not believe that to be an acceptable use of the practice. Unlike those that are looking for just a superstar or 2 in each litter and are willing to class the other puppies as being inferior or pet quality. This is where the term “pick of the litter” originated.
We at the Desert Wind believe that the perfect or superstar Labrador retriever puppy will embody all those traits in health, temperament, physical beauty or conformation and a strong hunt drive to perform in casual hunting or field trials. And another benefit of line breeding is that there is a consistency as far as size, color and ability.
Over the years we have developed several lines with specific traits and we utilize line breeding to keep those alive in our program. We never breed incompatible sires and dams in either the outcross or line breeding pairs. The health and longevity of our labs and their offspring is of the highest priority. Knowing multiple generations in our lines is invaluable information that we utilize in each breeding performed here.
Truth is none of the breeds that are recognized would be here without line breeding!
Line breeding is not Inbreeding!
As stated above inbreeding is when you take 2 of the same breed that are full brother and full sister or father and daughter or mother and son and mate them. And inbreeding is thought of as bad by nearly everyone although some very experienced breeders CAN and DO use it successfully.
You may see lots of the same dogs dotted within a 5 or 6 generation pedigree but that is not nearly the same as seeing one of the above, very tight matings. This and this only is inbreeding.
The gene pool for Labrador Retrievers is very very large so most experienced breeders do not practice this method. Desert Wind Labrador does not utilize this method. Really, knowing that any of the recessive health problems which are proven to be directly inheritable, such as the eye problems in the labs (hip and joint problems are polygenetic meaning they have several related factors which go towards causing them), could occur with greater frequency in inbreeding matings because one opens oneself up to the same genes being placed together so closely, why take a chance? To us it is a risk to future generations that is completely without merit.
We are so proud of what we have been able to create here on the Desert Wind in our Labrador Retriever puppies! As we continue to receive the glowing reports on the excellent hunters and companions they are it really warms our hearts to be able to offer something so special to people in their lives.
We are committed to consistently producing puppies that are healthy, even tempered, physically beautiful, with the strong hunt drive intact and who will live long wonderful lives. We wrote this article to remain honest and transparent about the breeding practices we utilize and to show that the combination of outcross and inline breeding work together to achieve those results now and over the long term.
This is what our breeding program here at Desert Wind Labradors is all about … and we will not compromise that for anything!
Jeff & Laura McCracken
Desert Wind Labradors