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The Concept of Selective Breeding Essay

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Updated: May 8th, 2022

Breeders always try their level best to ensure that their breeds have the best traits. The qualities and traits in animals can be changed through systematic breeding (Kent, 2000). The process of breeding plants and animals to attain some specific genetic qualities or traits is what is referred to as selective breeding (Kent, 2000). It is the desire of every professional breeder to come up with an animal offspring that has better qualities than their parents. Selective breeding of animals such as pets should attain the set standards and qualities laid down by the breeder. Some of the qualities that a breeder aims at improving in selective breeding include health, temperament, body features, and color (Kent, 2000). The process of improving the quality of animals through selective breeding requires a sustained effort in order to achieve the desired results. This paper will explain the concept of selective breeding and highlight the differences that exist between selective breeding and inbreeding.

The strains produced after selective breeding are normally domesticated by the breeder. Selecting particular traits in animals leads to a similarity in characteristics, behavior, and appearance (Kent, 2000). Animals that have only one trait that is recognizable are referred to as purebred animals. A mixture of two purebreds results in a crossbreed. In order to carry out selective breeding, the breeder must first of all have a breeding stock with the desired qualities. The next step involves bringing together the breeding stock to come up with the desired traits that are superior to those of their parents. Crossbreeding can also be used to produce a breeding stock with unique qualities. It is important for a breeder to critically analyze the possible outcome after breeding animals with a particular set of characteristics (Kent, 2000). It is also important for a breeder to purchase a breeding stock that should be able to give him the projected results. Breeders with an intention of maintaining some stable traits within the generation use a purebred breeding stock. It is important to aim at producing breeds with a variety of qualities than single-trait breeding to prevent any kind of complications (Turner, 2012).

There are certain details that breeders should consider when carrying out the selective breeding process (Turner, 2012). To begin with, the breeder should consider the color or marking that they need. The breeder should also analyze the quality of animals present in their area. The quality of the breeding stock at the breeder’s disposal should also be considered before selective breeding is carried out. The number of animals that a breeder is able to keep should also be considered before a breeder embarks on selective breeding. The breeder should also inquire if there are other breeders breeding the same variety of animals within their locality. It is advisable to stick with one color when it comes to appearance. The results of selective breeding may not be seen immediately but may take some time before the expected results are seen (Turner, 2012). Breeders have an option of importing animals with better qualities in case those in their area are of low quality. Breeders should compare the quality of their breeding stock with the general level in order to determine the level of their quality. Selective breeding can only be successful if the breeding stock being used by the breeder is of better quality compared with the general level. The breeding stock should be changed if it is of lower quality compared to the general level. Carrying out selective breeding using a breeding stock with poor quality takes a lot of time. The breeder should have enough space for selective breeding in order to produce more animals (Gillespie, 2009). Working in collaboration with other breeders is very important especially in selective breeding.

The development of selective breeds should be constantly monitored through careful analysis of feedback (Kent, 2000). Information on each litter should be recorded to avoid any kind of confusion. The combinations in selective breeding should be recorded because it is easy for a breeder to forget the characteristics and qualities of animals that were produced as a result of a particular combination. A good breeder should take note of any faults in their breeds and at the same time recognize their successes. The development of the produced breeds is normally followed from birth to the time they produce their offspring. The bred animals are normally compared with their parents to check whether they have any superior qualities. All the inherited qualities should be noted by the breeder to determine whether they are making any progress in their quest for selective breeding or not (Kent, 2000). The uniformity of a litter is very important in determining the genetic make-up of their breeds. Selective breeding requires litters that have superior qualities. There is a high probability of animals with poor qualities end up transferring them to their offspring. The same case happens when a uniform litter produces uniform breeds. Selective breeding feedback can be received from shows and fellow breeders who give their opinion about new breeding trends during their meetings (Turner, 2012).

Faults can be bred out of breeding stock with some advice from judges and other breeders (Turner, 2012). It is important to listen to the opinions of other breeders to enjoy the benefits of selective breeding. A breeder can’t come up with a perfect breed but they should be patient enough because results in selective breeding take some before they become visible. There is only a slight chance of getting breeds with superior qualities from the first litter. It takes several generations for a litter to produce breeds with superior qualities. Setbacks in selective breeding are normal and should be handled patiently (Kent, 2000). In the course of breeding, breeders can encounter some faults in their breeds such as illnesses that are hereditary and unusual temperament.

Selective breeding can sometimes be frustrating because there is no guarantee that the breeder will come up with breeds that have all the desired traits (Gillespie, 2009). Several breeders should work on a similar variety because it becomes much easier to get a new breeding stock with similar varieties in a situation where a breeder’s breeding stock dies because of a deadly disease or any kind of poisoning. A lot of time and effort is needed when a single breeder sets out to accomplish the desired results in selective breeding than when several breeders work on the same variety. Selective breeding is common with pets and therefore breeders should ensure that the most important qualities such as health and temperament meet the required standards (Turner, 2012). The presence of hereditary illnesses in new breeds is not a good sign when it comes to selective breeding. Dealing with a single variety minimizes the chances of making mistakes in selective breeding (Kent, 2000).

Selective breeding and inbreeding are two genetic techniques used by breeders to come up with breeds that have desirable qualities (Kent, 2000). Despite having a similar goal of producing breeds with desirable traits, the two methods of breeding have quite a several differences. Selective breeding involves animals with different characteristics whereas inbreeding involves animals with similar traits. Parents in inbreeding have similar traits and are related biologically whereas parents in selective breeding are very distinct with different traits (Kent, 2000). Selective breeding involves selecting parents with the desired qualities to produce breeds with more superior qualities. The offspring in selective breeding possess better qualities than their parents. The qualities of breeds in inbreeding resemble those of their parents. The offspring in selective breeding may have different traits but the situation is different when it comes to inbreeding. The offspring inbreeding has a similar genetic composition to their parents (Turner, 2012).

The genetic composition of the offspring in selective breeding is normally different from their parents (Kent, 2000). There are normally high chances for the offspring in inbreeding to develop genetic disorders because there is a possibility of inheriting alleles that cause genetic illnesses from their parents. In selective breeding, two animals with different genetic characteristics are crossed with the resultant offspring getting the best traits from their parents. Both male and female parents possess desirable traits that are passed on to their offspring. Selective breeding is in most cases an artificial process whereas inbreeding can occur naturally (Turner, 2012). Selective breeding leads to hybridization that brings forth new qualities and traits. Inbreeding only leads to the conservation of the already existing traits. Selective breeding is done to create new traits while on the other side inbreeding is used to preserve the existing traits. Inbreeding is only used to increase particular genetic traits. The undesirable traits in parents can be emphasized in the produced breeds and the process leading to a lot of faults in the resultant breeds. Physical and mental abnormalities are a common feature with inbreeding compared to selective breeding where only a few cases are reported (Gillespie, 2009).

The offspring from selective breeding tend to be more resistant to diseases compared to the ones from inbreeding (Kent, 2000). Direct siblings can be used in inbreeding whereas the scenario is almost impossible in selective breeding. It may not be possible to produce breeds with better qualities if the parents are siblings. To get some desirable results, breeders practicing inbreeding should dispose of offspring with undesirable qualities. Selective breeding may involve parents from different species whereas the parents used in inbreeding must be from a similar species. An example of this case is when a donkey and a horse mate to produce a mule. A mule in this case inherits traits from both parents (Turner, 2012). Some experts argue that selective breeding is almost similar to hybridization. Hybridization is normally carried out in plants but the process is almost the same with selective breeding. Inbreeding becomes diluted if the parents are distant cousins. In this case, the parents might have traits that are slightly different. There is a high probability of producing abnormal offspring when direct siblings mate in inbreeding. Breeders have to be careful not to include direct siblings in their breeding stock if they want to get better results from inbreeding. Breeds from selective breeding can be taken to the show by breeders so that their effort of producing new varieties is seen (Gillespie, 2009). Breeds from inbreeding can not be taken to a show because they do not possess any new qualities.

Inbreeding is associated with many side effects compared with other methods of breeding (Turner, 2012). Even though some traits may be strengthened in a breed, the negative effects of inbreeding are just too serious to ignore. To begin with, inbreeding can lead to serious birth defects. The defects in inbred breeds are caused by the recessive genes that may be present in one or both of their parents. Most of the animals bred by inbreeding have physical defects that make them look unattractive. The offspring may have imbalanced proportions in other body parts whereas some parts may lack the normal conventional balance. An example of such a case is when one leg of an animal is shorter compared to other legs (Kent, 2000). Defects may also be seen in the offspring’s ears or eyes. Some animals may also be born without tails as a result of inbreeding. The second side effect associated with inbreeding is to do with the size of the inbred animals. Inbreeding causes animals to produce fewer offspring that are small in size with less weight (Gillespie, 2009). The breeds from inbreeding grow very slowly with even adults appearing small in size. This trait can be transferred to subsequent generations if it is not eliminated as soon as possible. The strength and vigor of animals bred by inbreeding are normally less compared to those of other methods such as selective breeding. Incorporating unrelated specimens that have superior size qualities in inbreeding can help a great deal in solving the problem of size (Gillespie, 2009).

The probability of the inbred breeds having chronic diseases is high compared to selective breeding (Kent, 2000). The recessive genes found in inbred animals cause some chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart conditions. Inbreeding is also associated with low immunity where breeds are constantly attacked by various illnesses. There are many reported cases where young breeds end up dying because of little immunity. Some sicknesses occur because inbreeding allows some genes associated with particular illnesses to be inherited from the breeding stock. Too much inbreeding also lowers the fertility of the resultant breeds (Turner, 20120. The male offspring from inbreeding face the danger of becoming infertile through repeated inbreeding. This is the reason why producing healthy litter by inbreeding is a great challenge. Too much inbreeding is also the reason why breeds resulting from inbreeding are always associated with poor health. Sickly breeds are a perfect sign of excessive inbreeding. The mortality of young breeds is normally very high if inbreeding is used as the only method of breeding over a lengthy period (Turner, 2012). The mortality rate is normally very high if there are some recessive genes in a particular generation. The deformities observed in animals are sometimes caused by gene mutations which are among the deadly side effects of inbreeding.

The diminishing pool of genes is normally associated with constant inbreeding (Turner, 2012). This is normally caused by a small breeding stock that keeps on diminishing with time. Breeders are normally forced to bring in new breeding stock to retain their gene pool. The gene pool of breeds in inbreeding fails to produce breeds with good qualities because recessive and undesirable genes are normally passed on from one generation to another (Turner, 2012). The desire to produce high-quality breeds with better traits can not be fulfilled if a breeder continues to use inbreeding as the only method of inbreeding. Inbreeding has got a lot of side effects and some of which can destroy the entire breeding stock. The breeding of animals with similar genes results in many complications that may frustrate a breeder. It is important to occasionally bring some new animals in the breeding stock in order to minimize the side effects associated with inbreeding. The tendency of undesirable genes to become dominant in breeds is normally high in inbreeding compared to other methods of breeding such as selective breeding (Kent, 2000). Dogs are the most affected by inbreeding when it comes to health and temperament issues. In inbreeding, the breeder has no chance to achieve their desired results because they have limited varieties within their breeding stock. Breeders who continuously breed mothers and their sons cause some undesirable side effects that are not good for the produced breeds (Kent, 2000).

Mating two puppies from the same litter is not possible because of several reasons (Turner, 2012). To begin with, puppies from the same litter have similar traits and characteristics and therefore the probability of giving birth to puppies with better qualities is very limited. Mating puppies from the same litter is a form of inbreeding and therefore all the side effects associated with inbreeding can be seen in selective breeding (Kent, 2000). It is sometimes very difficult to find puppies with different traits from the same litter and therefore coming up with breeds of superior qualities is not easy. The only possibility, in this case, is to produce breeds with similar traits to their parents. Puppies from the same litter may happen to have some recessive and undesirable genes and therefore mating them can lead to breeds with undesirable qualities. Selective breeding is supposed to produce superior qualities and therefore mating siblings from the same litter can not produce the desired results in selective breeding (Kent, 2000). Puppies from the same litter may probably be from the same parents and therefore nothing new would be added to the produced breeds. It is advisable to take puppies from a different litter in selective breeding to increase the chances of getting the desired results. Selective breeding is the recommended method of breeding because it leads to the development of new traits and qualities. Selective breeding has limited side effects compared to other methods of breeding such as inbreeding. It is important for breeders to clearly state their desired qualities before deciding on which method to use in breeding (Kent, 2000). Selective breeding is, therefore, the best alternative when it comes to producing breeds with superior qualities.


Gillespie, J. (2009). Modern livestock and poultry production. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Kent, M. (2000). Advanced biology. London: Oxford University Press.

Turner, J. (2012). Animal breeding, welfare and society. New York, NY: Routledge.

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