Breeding Traditional Brace Beagles Today
Thinking back over the past fifty five years I have been breeding brace beagles, I have made some interesting observations. Due to the constricting of our sport, today we have a reduced breeding pool with fewer males and females available for breeding. Also, the increased cost and restrictions on airline shipping has drastically limited our access to many stud dogs. It is very expensive and time consuming to drive across the country to get to your stud of choice. A few really dedicated breeders do this; however, most either can’t or simply won’t. This has resulted in more local breeding.
Local breeding, or own your own stud breeding, has resulted in many of our brace beagles appearing to be either outcrossed or else having a weak form of line breeding.This seems to work out better than it did in the past. My recollection is that the majority of males and females in the past, regardless of their quality, did not produce field trial caliber pups regardless of the quality of the bitches or males to which they were bred. It was the exception that was able to produce. However, it seems that today most of our better performing males and females are now capable of producing some decent pups when bred to good performing mates.
Perhaps this overall increased reproductive ability is the result of the many years of selection by past breeders resulting in more uniformity of genes in our dogs. In other words, many of our dogs are considerably more line bred, or inbred, than a five generation pedigree will show. If you extend most of our dog’s pedigrees back to the seventh or eighth generation, you will usually find that they have a number of common ancestors. So by often breeding to loosely related dogs and with selection over many years, we have ended up with a bit more inbreeding, i.e., reproducibility, than is apparent in a five generation pedigree.
Obviously there are still some males and females that are better producers than others. If you check back into the pedigrees of these individuals you will often find where one or more breeders did some doubling up genetically. This is often a half brother bred to his half sister. While it is certainly possible for today’s breeders to get field trial quality pups from local breeding, the demonstrated reproducibility of the top proven producers may very well make it worthwhile to make the long drive and bear the expense to make that choice mating.
In making any mating, you have to consider whether the stud covers your bitch’s weaknesses and if he has shown to produce any traits you are striving to either add to your line or to avoid. In making that final decision, it sometimes comes down to choosing the stud from a line that has proven to be a genetic click with bitches bred similar to yours.
Attempting to accurately evaluate all of the above factors and then having my selection decision proven right or wrong when the pups start is the reasons I find the art of breed such a challenging and rewarding endeavor. Over the years I have truly loved it!