Looking at my records from 35 years of breeding beagles, it is interesting to note the outcrosses made to produce this strain of hounds. For these purposes, let’s agree that an outcross is breeding two unrelated individuals, or at least unrelated for 6-10 generations, since all hunting beagles in America are related if you trace the pedigrees back as far as about the 1940s or so. Most outcrosses worked but some did not. It has been several years since the last outcross, that being to a dog from Stan Hepler’s Misty Mountain Kennels in Pennsylvania. Some of the hounds from this litter were a little too conservative for me, although one female, Covergirl, is very good in my pack today. She was sold to a nice gentleman in Kentucky as a puppy and then repurchased when he started to have health problems and could not hunt with her. (In photo at right, Covergirl is leading the pack).
The first real outcross I made as a breeder was to Glenbarr Wolver Hazzard in 1987. I was trying to add some of the famous Nantucket-Treweryn formal pack bloodlines to my lines, but nothing was used to carry on from this cross. I still wish I had been able to keep some N-T bloodlines, as they were perhaps the best running pack of beagles I ever saw.
Another big outcross from about that same time was the addition of Woodpont Joker to my kennels. His contributions to the gene pool were drive, size, chop voice, and some of the black and tan coloring. He took the Little Ireland hounds I started with and added “grit” to them. Joker was from Larry Carter’s kennel, but was mostly Showfield bloodline, which was an old show kennel from near Dayton, OH.
Five generations into my breeding program, I had a female named Woodpont Beauty, who was a combination of the Joker x Little Ireland lines, but sired herself by Indian Hills Rowdy. Beauty was one of those hounds who could look tremendous when things were just right for her, and make you scratch your head at other times. She had a high-pitched screaming voice and other hounds would fly to her when she spoke. She was very fast, and like many good ones, she sometimes could be a little too much so. She placed many times at SPO trials in Ohio and West Virginia, and I will never forget her performance at the NBC Triple Challenge at Aldie, Virginia in 1997 when she dominated the Stake Class and won best 13 inch. She drove a rabbit at full speed all the way across the enclosure, right through the gallery, never missing a turn on the paths while all but a couple of the other 30 hounds were trying to climb the fence to go after a deer.
I mention Beauty because the three current Woodpont female lines go back to her, and all of them started with an outcross of Beauty onto a different field champion. This gave me enough genetic diversity in the kennel to be able to cross these lines back and forth in the future, something I am still doing today. I had been judging a lot of field trials up to that time, and saw some lines I wanted to add to what I had. Some of these lines were becoming rare, as the popularity among field trialers in the Branko hounds was really taking off.
Her first cross was to a Mississippi dog named FC. Boggy Holler Buddie, who actually had some Little Ireland lines, so he technically was not a real outcross as defined above. From this litter I got a nice female named Banner, whose line is represented by Tally and young Beeswax in the kennels today.
Beauty’s second litter was by Field Champion Burton’s Dan (see photo on Past Hounds page). I had judged FC. Andy’s Clover Patches, Dan’s sire, and wanted some of that bloodline. Big black and tan Andy was one of the best hounds I ever saw at a trial. He finished in 3 trials with 3 wins in big classes in 3 different states. From this litter I got Woodpont Blessing, who is represented by Chimer, Cheerful, Charmer, Madcap, and Magical in the kennel today, as well as several of the males.
Litter and outcross number three for Beauty was to FC. Northway Ninja, during the time Bruce and John New brought this dog down to Kentucky from his home kennel in New York. From this cross I got Woodpont Birdsong, who is represented in the kennel today by Birdbaby and Birdcall, as well as most of the males. Birdsong’s son, Woodpont Bruiser, has been written about several times in these blogs and is the dog we linebreed back to the most today.
The 1999 cross of Woodpont Music (see photo – from the Blessing line) to Show Champion Shaw’s Spirit of the Chase produced Woodpont Chimer, who is still living and in many of our pedigrees today. Chase was the top producing show dog of his day, and most America show beagles today have him in their pedigrees. Chase’s dam was Echo Run breeding, so I expected some hunting ability was there. There was also a dog in that litter named Woodpont Charger, who did a lot of winning in the UKC trials for other owners.
A cross with Woodpont Breezy (from the Banner line) in 2006 to an Echo Run show beagle owned by Hal Davis in Lima, Ohio, produced Woodpont Tackler, Tassel and Tawny. Tackler in particular has made an impact on the pack, particularly through his 2011 litter with Woodpont Madcap. From Madcap’s litter, we have Mailman, Mayor, Magical and Mayfly hunting in the pack today. You will be hearing more about these hounds in coming years. Tackler was tragically killed by an auto last December, putting an end to a fine hound in the prime of his life.
Other outcrosses did not work so well, such as the crosses I made to Bramlett’s Bear and to Pee Wee’s Grizz. Both of these dogs were from the Bramlett line, which I have always thought was very similar in hunting style to my hounds, but the conformation I got from them was such a step backward that I did not carry on with hounds from either cross. I still think the Bramlett hounds might cross well with mine, but they do not have the high class conformation I require, which is true of most any straight field bred line out there today. To get top conformation, you just have to have a little show blood in the pedigree somewhere
Looking back, I find that the great majority of the crosses I have made have been to hounds related to my own, which is “sticking to the family” they say. I did this probably more for conformation than anything else, since hounds bred like mine generally have enough show blood to not destroy the conformation improvements already achieved. This has been my greatest challenge, meaning trying to breed a top hunting hound that is built properly. Straight field or straight show crosses generally leave something lacking in this quest.
Going forward, I expect outcrosses to be rare for me, but there are a couple of lines that interest me, on both the show and field sides. I expect the best results will continue to come from using my own males, however. I have made an effort over the last 10 years or so to keep more males with this in mind.