Everything you need to know about inbreeding in dogs

Some people wonder about the harmful effects of inbreeding in animals, and especially in dogs. Some homes prefer to adopt the same breed of dog, while others don’t really care about the breed of their adoptive dog. So, what are the long-term consequences for the health of dogs? What measures can be taken to avoid this inbreeding? We will try to answer these questions.

What is inbreeding?

Consanguinity is the union between parents who are related, which means that the descendants come from the same common ancestor. This means the mating of a dog from the same father and mother: brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son. This encourages you to consider the calculation of the inbreeding coefficient before marrying two purebred dogs.

The coefficient of consanguinity of a purebred dog is an element which makes it possible to measure the kinship of its ancestors and consequently the genetic diversity of the examined dog. The higher the coefficient, the more the dog is inbred and the less genetic variability there is. Coefficients greater than 0.25 usually indicate high inbreeding and should be avoided. For information, the average inbreeding rate for purebred dogs is around 0.15. Which means that, on average, purebred dogs have ancestors that aren’t directly related.

How does inbreeding manifest itself in dogs?

The long-term consequences of inbreeding in dogs are numerous. However, high levels of inbreeding can affect the health of puppies, although it is difficult to know the exact impact it may have on puppies. In principle, the higher the rate of inbreeding, the greater the risk that puppies will develop proven or unknown hereditary disorders. Anyway, this practice is very common in animal husbandry and has many advantages and disadvantages.

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Happy woman playing with cute dogs

The advantages of inbreeding dogs are:

  • Contributes to the preservation of the breed and the development of sought-after characteristics: puppies from related dogs will be genetically more similar, meaning they are more likely to have characteristics and traits that owners seek out, such as a particular coat color or size;
  • Allows to maintain the genetic heritage of a breed: dogs resulting from inbreeding will have lower genetic variability, which can be beneficial for maintaining the breed and its genetic heritage;
  • Facilitates the mating process: canine inbreeding is much easier and cheaper than mating unrelated dogs.

The disadvantages of dog inbreeding can be as follows:

  • Increases the risk of genetic diseases: canine inbreeding can lead to an increased risk of genetic diseases and birth defects in puppies;
  • May cause a lack of genetic variability: canine inbreeding can lead to a lack of genetic variability in dogs, which can cause long-term health problems and poor quality of life;
  • Causes unwanted behavioral changes: Canine inbreeding can lead to sometimes uncontrollable behavioral changes in puppies, such as aggression or shyness.

What are the reasons for inbreeding?

Many people search for dogs of certain breeds because they are looking for well-defined criteria. So they want to get a dog that has the same physical and behavioral characteristics. As a result, they often choose to breed a dog from the same ancestor to ensure good hereditary qualities and obtain puppies that are « identical » to their dog. This practice is very common and usually leads to cases of inbreeding. Anyway, here are the different types of inbreeding in dogs:

  • Inbreeding or close inbreeding: this is the most common form of inbreeding in dogs. It involves mating between animals that are very close in line, such as siblings, parent and child;
  • Outbreeding or lack of inbreeding: it is the form of mating that occurs between animals that have no common ancestor in their pedigree;
  • Linebreeding or wide inbreeding: it is a form of canine inbreeding that involves the mating of an animal of the same ancestor in their pedigree, but not necessarily related by blood.
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What to do to avoid inbreeding?

There are several steps that can be taken to avoid inbreeding in dogs. First, make sure your dog is from a breed recognized by a professional registration body. Second, you should always do health tests before letting your animal breed, to make sure they don’t have any genetic or congenital health issues. Finally, you should carefully consider the pedigree of your dog and the dogs that could serve as partners: if the parents are very close, it may be better not to breed them.

Although inbreeding can be practiced in dog breeding, it is important for breeders to take steps to reduce the risks and negative health effects to dogs. Additionally, it is recommended to use a variety of unrelated males and females, limit the number of inbred generations to less than five, and always perform DNA testing before mating.

Although the consequences of inbreeding in dogs are serious, they can be avoided through responsible breeding and proper health testing.

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