The Power of the Breeding is in the Dam

Photo by Bob Segal from 2015 GSCA National Specialty

I’m picturing a long time friend of mine who is sitting at home reading this, nodding her head while silently cheering me on as we’ve always shared a common thought about dog breeding…”the power of the breeding is in the quality of the dam“. Oh, we’re not the first to say or believe this, and we won’t be the last, but if there is one thing that has been of the most value to me, it has been this guiding principle.

Does the bitch carry a sort of magical sauce that causes her contribution to a litter to be greater than that of the dog? If so, what is that sauce, how does it work? I don’t have a black and white answer for you, but I do have some reading to share, it is interesting, enlightening, and who knows, maybe it’s the start to proving what our gut instinct has been telling us, that the bitch genes carry more influence, that she contributes more to the litter than her half of the genes and what she gives through her nurturing.

Here is the first of the links for you, an article titled GENETIC X FACTOR SHARED written by Master Breeder, Barbara “BJ” Andrews. It’s a fast, easy read that shares great points. All you have to do is point your little cursor at the colored title, click, and a new page will open for you! Oh, you will have to do your own reading, sorry it’s not an audio book!

Photo by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Barbara Andrews refers to information that is coming from the Thoroughbred industry and I have an article or two from them to share with you as well. The first is this (just point and click, you know the routine) Maternal Influences Make a Difference |

The next link is to the actual abstract that founded the article Potential role of maternal lineage in thoroughbred breeding strategy

If I were here to simply offer advice it would be that, to be successful breeding dogs you must always maintain focus on the quality of the bitch you put in your whelping box. But, this is not new advice, it is ages old and comes from the experience of many wise men practicing long before me. Yes, the stud dog you choose is important, very important, but I believe that as the study of genetics moves ever deeper there may some day be scientific evidence to prove that the power of the breeding is in truly the dam.

Photo by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

8 thoughts on “The Power of the Breeding is in the Dam”

  1. I’m thinking the reference to” X” factor would apply to any trait that is sex-linked and Lynn is correct, offspring get one chromosome of each pair (strands) from each parent. If a trait is X-linked the FEMALE offspring get a double dose and may, for example, be heterozygous for a recessive trait that will therefore not be expressed. Male offspring will get one “X” and if the trait is recessive, they may then express it.


  2. “If I were here to simply offer advice it would be that, to be successful breeding dogs you must always maintain focus on the quality of the bitch you put in your whelping box.”

    The issues I think its that too many people breed on less than high quality females. Too often bitches are billed as “she has ____ and ____ behind her and ____ is her father” or “a daughter of ____”. Its whats on paper that people look at, and not what she looks like and can do. Yes you want quality blood behind her, but quality blood should also make her a quality example of the breed standing before you too.

    They assume a good male will make up for her shortcomings or unknowns about her. Too many people use her uterus as a vessel to get puppies than as 1/2 of the equation to making the next generation.

    The thing that stuck with me the most was from one of the best breeders I’ve ever known when asked about breeding was “If she was a he….would you still use them for breeding?” To me that sums it up right there. If you wouldn’t use that animal if it was a stud, why would you use it as a dam? That’s quality control.

    They don’t need to be proven in the field, or the ring, or wherever measuring sticks you use. Most folks know quality when they see it even if they lack the alphabet soup after their name or a big win. High standards for both parents means better offspring.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been breeding setters since 1988, and this is true,whenever i do an outcross breeding i always make sure the outcross dog is a female,i have been working with another breeder for a few years who is also a professor of genetics, he says a puppy gets 2 strands of D N A from the mother and 1 from the father, so that would lend some validation to this story, i do know other breeders who do an outcross to a male without getting the results i get,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry, but each pup gets one strand of DNA from each parent. It is 50/50. Whoever said otherwise, professor or not, is wrong or you misunderstood. Each dog contributes equally to the offspring. However, some dogs may carry a dominant gene where the other carries a recessive, so the dominant will prevail. It doesn’t matter if the dog or the bitch carries the dominant gene…the dominant will be expressed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us here Lynn. I don’t believe we implied here that the dam contributes more than one strand of DNA to the breeding. What was presented in the research article (we provided a link to that article) by the thoroughbred fancy is that in a study they conducted the mares seemed to have more influence on the racing ability of the offspring than the stud. There was no theory postulated as to why, the results were shared. There are other theories out there relating to the X factor as put forth in the other article by Barbara Andrews that was linked. The links to the resource articles are the key to what this article is saying. I do wish it were all as simple as dominant and recessive gene expression, that would make breeding oh so much easier!


        1. I believe she was replying to the other commenter that was incorrectly told “a puppy gets 2 strands of D N A from the mother and 1 from the father”.


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