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  • Writer's pictureTim Hackworth

Culling Genetic Defects

Removing undesirable traits from a strain is an ongoing process, particularly when outcrosses are used.  Mostly I am talking about physical defects, such as cherry eye, epilepsy, or tail kinks – all of which I have had to breed out of my strain over the years.  Without more genetic information, the best method for “purifying” a strain of defects is to cull any hound that demonstrates them. 


To give an example of how I have done this, about 20+ years ago I had a beautiful, good running big male I called Chaplain.  I bred to him, and a couple of other guys did too.  What we found was that he produced good hounds, except for one thing, and that was nearly every male puppy he produced had a kink toward the end of his tail, while the females didn’t.  I had never seen this in my hounds before.  I stopped breeding Chaplain, culled all of his sons from the breeding program, but used the nice females, so today when you see Chaplain in the pedigrees, you see him through his daughters.  One of Chaplain’s outstanding daughters was Woodpont Birdbaby, who rates as one of the best I have ever had.  The tail kink issue disappeared.


Field traits can need culling.  I culled a long female line because too often they skirted – not terrible – but just enough running outside the pack to irritate me.  I got that problem from some show blood I brought in through another breeder when I bought back a puppy they had bred.  I hated to lose that line, and tried to keep it going, but eventually felt the pack would perform better in the long run without them.  Sometimes you can breed out a problem, but other times it’s just better to cull.


By selecting only the best hounds to carry on a line, we are in effect “culling” the rest, and over time you can gradually purify a strain and improve performance in this way.  But it takes dedication, hours of study in field and kennel, and a willingness (will power) to accept the heartbreak that often comes with breeding hounds, knowing the results in the end will be worth it.


Photo: Woodpont Chaplain


  

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