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  • Writer's pictureTim Hackworth

Inbreeding and Line Breeding

Given my dislike for open pedigrees, you can understand why I prefer line breeding instead.  In recent years, my line breeding is almost more like inbreeding, as I keep putting more and more of the same into my pedigrees, but technically I am still line breeding.  I think as years go by and you get closer to what you want in a breeding program, the more difficult it will be to find hounds in other kennels that suit you, so the natural result is to stick more and more to your own lines.  I believe this requires great care, since you only want breed from the best that you have, even though you may reach a point where a lesser hound in your kennel may still suit you more than anything you can find elsewhere – then you have a soul searching decision to make!

Breeding hounds is a game of compromise, but the end goal is always perfection, something never to be fully achieved.  With so many traits desirable in a hunting hound, keeping the juggling act going – all the balls in the air without dropping something important is an ongoing challenge to breeders.  It requires a lot of study, knowledge and skill – and some luck.  Line breeding just increases the odds that you will get what you want.  I breed “close” to proven lines and hounds so I get fewer “surprises”.

I have found that to practice a good line breeding program, it’s very necessary to keep my own males for breeding.  I like hunting males in my pack anyway, but don’t want too many, since I believe it is your females who are the backbone of any breeding program.  Good males add stability to a pack, power, strength, volume, voice, and a certain steadiness you can rely on.  They are always available for hunting, and sometimes when all the females synchronize their heat cycles, that availability with males is very important.

I like to try keeping two or three female lines going at all times – these we call “tail female” lines, meaning mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc, etc – the very bottom line of the pedigree.  I currently have two tail female lines, one being 16 generations and the other slightly shorter, and I would like to add a third line.  Maintaining these lines, keeping males and female from each line, allows me to cross back and forth and stay within my kennel for breeding.  Having hunted every one of those 16 or so generations gives me the ability to predict very accurately what they will produce, particularly when linebreeding.

Photo: Woodpont females from years ago...

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