A beginners guide to inbreeding and line breeding

Animal Care College – caring for people caring for animals


My thanks to Sue Bowling for allowing me to quote extensively from her article

First and foremost I should emphasise that line breeding is the cornerstone of selective breeding. Selective breeding has given us cows that give the maximum amount of milk, sheep that give the maximum amount of wool, chickens that lay eggs almost every day and the most beautiful dogs in the world. There is nothing wrong with line breeding but it is like using a satellite navigation device – if it is not used intelligently you land up in Richmond, North Yorkshire when you intended to go to Richmond in London! If you are to use line breeding intelligently you have to know the basics. I hope that this short article will help.

What are inbreeding and line breeding, and what effect do they have?

In genetic terminology, inbreeding is the mating of two animals who are related to each other. In its opposite, out crossing, the two parents are totally unrelated. Since all pure breeds of animal (including humans) trace back to a relatively limited number of foundation ancestors, all pure breeding is, by this definition, inbreeding though the term is not generally used to refer to matings where a common ancestor does not occur within a five-generation pedigree.

Breeders of purebred livestock have introduced the term ‘line breeding’, to cover the milder forms of inbreeding. Exactly what the difference is between line breeding and inbreeding tends to be defined differently for each species for there is no ‘formal’ definition. Inbreeding at its closest applies to what would be considered incest in human beings – parent to offspring or a mating between full siblings. However, uncle-niece, aunt-nephew, half sibling matings, and first cousin matings are called inbreeding by some people and line breeding by others. Under normal circumstances if this was the only example of close breeding in a five-generation pedigree what is called the ‘inbreeding coefficient’, expressed as a percentage, would be so low as not to be significant. But three things need to be taken into account. The closer this relationship is to the first generation of the pedigree, the more often it occurs and the relationships of the other sires and dams in the pedigree all result in an increased percentage.

What does inbreeding (in the genetic sense) do? Basically, it increases the probability that the two copies of any given gene will be identical and derived from the same ancestor. The higher the inbreeding coefficient the more likely this is to happen. The technical term is ‘homozygous’ for that gene. The ‘heterozygous’ animal has some differences in the two copies of the gene. Remember that each animal (or plant, for that matter) has two copies of any given gene (two alleles at each locus, if you want to get technical), one derived from the father and one from the mother. If the father and mother are related, there is a chance that the two genes in the offspring are both identical copies contributed by the common ancestor.

This is neither good nor bad in itself – but consider, for instance, the gene for PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), which causes progressive blindness. Carriers have normal vision, but statistically, if one is mated to another carrier it is likely that one in four of the puppies will have PRA and go blind. Inbreeding will increase both the number of affected dogs (1 in 4) and the number of genetically normal dogs (3 in 4) so inbreeding can thus bring these undesirable recessive genes to the surface, where they could be removed from the breeding pool – you do not breed from the dogs which go blind – although a proportion of other dogs in the litter will be carriers.This will only matter if they are mated to another carrier, of course, but it demonstrates the complexity of the problems

Unfortunately, it is still much more complicated for we cannot breed animals based on a single gene – the genes come as just two packages: one in the sperm and one in the egg. So you may be able to eliminate one undesirable pair but the very fact that the animals will be becoming increasingly homozygous (which may quickly improve some characteristics) is also likely to bring other undesirable combinations to the surface.

Sewell Wright developed what is called the ‘inbreeding coefficient’ in the 1920s. This is related to the probability that both copies of any given gene are derived from the same ancestor. A total outcross (in dogs, probably a first-generation cross between two purebreds of different, unrelated breeds would be the best approximation) would have an inbreeding coefficient of 0. As we have seen, they would still have common ancestors many generation back so would still be homozygous for somegenes shared by all dogs so even though the inbreeding coefficient = 0 even matings between unrelated pairs can still throw up genetic disease.

An inbreeding coefficient of 100% is rare in mammals and would result if the only matings practiced over many generations were between full brother and full sister. A mating between a brother and sister from unrelated parents would result in an inbreeding coefficient of 50%. A mother/son (or vice versa) or father/daughter (or vice versa) mating would result in a breeding coefficient of 25% assuming that there were no other related matings in the preceding generations. A cousin-to-cousin mating actually gives a relatively low percentage (6.25) but other related matings would affect this figure – perhaps substantially. However, Dr Malcolm Willis, one of the most experienced geneticists in the world of dogs, has said that the average inbreeding coefficient in pedigree dogs registered with the Kennel Club is actually only between 4 and 5% but, of course, the long term effect of many generations of a breed on the same register will mean that today’s dogs do have a higher chance of passing on deleterious genes simply because, as explained at the beginning of this article, there were relatively limited number of foundation ancestors.

As a general rule, very close inbreeding in domestic animals cannot be maintained for many generations because it generally results in loss of fertility – apart from any other genetic disease which may become apparent. .

To ensure genetic health breeders need to select pairs in such a way that the inbreeding coefficient of the offspring is kept as low as possible commensurate with the adherence of stock to the breed standard.One way of doing this is to use the method often adopted in other countries: that is breed from animals which ‘look’ the same (heterozygous) as distinct from what we tend to do in the UK which is to breed from animals which are genetically similar (homozygous).

Another key is to constantly move away from families known for possessing deleterious genes – a method practiced by knowledgeable dog breeders for generations.

You can download a programme from the Internet called GENEs which was written by Dr Robert Lacy which will enable you to calculate the inbreeding coefficient of any mating (assuming you have the full five generation pedigree) quite easily. The programme is free but has some restrictions. Go to http://www.vortex9.org/genes.html to download it.

Genetics is an immensely complex subject and this is but a simplistic introduction. Much more can be found athttp://www.highflyer.supanet.com/coefficient.htm including the formula for working out inbreeding coefficients.

278 Comments on “A beginners guide to inbreeding and line breeding”

  1. Robyn Says:

    I am thinking about putting my bitch to a dog which both have same mother but different fathers.

    or my bitch & the dog have mothers that are litter sisters

    what is your thouhts/

    • davidcavill Says:

      I would need much more information before I could comment. My initial reaction is ‘no’ but if you are an experienced breeder, are trying to selectively breed against an unwanted characteristic then is might be feasible. Dachshunds have a relatively broad genetic base so you should not find yourself in the position of mating so closely under normal circumstances

  2. John Wilders Says:

    This is great a good explanation on inbreeding that is understandable to the average “moderately” intelligent (where genetics are concerned) dog breeder. It’s long past time when we should take out the emotion and the anthropomorphism from the subject of close breeding s. We need to find the balance between the health of our breeds and the maintenance of breed type and heritage..

  3. stacey Says:

    i am thinking of breeding a father yorkie to his daughter. No health issues have been noted in the father. Is this ok?

  4. davidcavill Says:

    I would not. Apart from the fact that the Kennel Club will not register the puppies it is a relationship to be avoided simply because it significantly reduces the gene pool and if there are any genetic defects (even if they are not visible in father daughter) they may still be lurking and this may bring them out. At There are plenty of good Yorkshire Terrier stud thoughts about. I would use one that was at least two generations away and if you can find a suitable outcross that would be good

  5. stacey Says:

    thank you for the input. one last question though. Is it ok to breed a male to a female that have different mothers, but the same father

  6. davidcavill Says:

    In general, the principal of line breeding should be not to use relatives of the immediate previous generation at all. What you have to remember is that the closer the relationship the more likely problems will occur(this is not necessarily the case but statistically the chances are significantly greater closer the mating – and greater still if this practice is continued over several generations). So the sensible thing is to stay as far away from the immediate relatives as possible. My advice is to try and have at least two generations separating any given mating and that this should only be done twice in every three generations. On the third-generation the dog and the bitch should be as unrelated as possible. this is called and outcross but should still retain a similar phenotype to the other half of the mating. This is my general advice for pedigree dog breeders who are not only working towards developing their own healthy breeding lines of quality but have a very significant knowledge and understanding of the pedigrees of their stock .But if you are a pet owner and would just like a litter to have, say, another dog or to educate your children into the mysteries of mating, whelping and weaning, it is always sensible to choose a totally unrelated male mate for your bitch.

  7. Jessica Says:

    So if I understand correctly it is ok to line breed, as long as if it is a few generations apart. But it is not ok to breed a grandfather dog to granddaughter. Rather you want to breed great grandfather to great granddaughter, is this correct?

    • davidcavill Says:

      Like most summaries, your comment is oversimplified, Jessica. All breeding in pedigree dogs is inbreeding to a certain extent but those of us who see ourselves as dog breeders think of ‘inbreeding’ as mating a dog and a bitch that are closely related and and if we mate a dog and a bitch which are related less closely we refer to it as ‘linebreeding’. Where the line is drawn depends largely on the quality of the two animals. The more ‘sound’ they are the closer you can breed. many people forget that the reason we have cows which give a great deal of milk and chickens that lay eggs everyday is because we have inbred of them for those characteristics. There is nothing wrong with close breeding but you have to know what you’re doing

      The problem has been that some breeders have mated closely animals which are themselves not sound or have some other genetic defect. The technique is to choose animals which are very sound, of very good type and as little related as possible.

  8. Joanna Reichert Photography Says:

    This is a good write-up – thanks for taking the time to make a potentially exhausting subject palatable!

  9. Tracy Says:

    I have been breeding Golden Doodles for several years. My stud is the Golden Retriever and my bitches are Standard Poodles. Realizing my stud was getting old, I studded him last summer with a Golden and took pick of the litter male as stud fee. Got a beautiful boy who looks and acts just like his daddy!! My stud has over 100 children in the world, none of which have had any health issues at all. We lost him this past spring to cancer at the age of eleven and a half.

    I bred one of my Standard Poodles with one of my first Golden Doodles and produced a litter of F1b’s, which I am very pleased with. The stud of this litter is the son of my original Golden. The mother was totally unrelated.

    I have an incredible liver colored female in this litter, and I am seriously considering keeping her. She even has a brown nose, which is unheard of in Doodles! But my stud is technically her uncle. Or half uncle since there is no relationship on the mother’s side. I loved my stud’s line and disposition, which is why I studded him to get this male. There are no genetic difficulties in his line anywhere. There are also no genetic difficulties in the mother’s line.

    Would you think this mating would be acceptable? I think it would, but certainly welcome the opinions of others! Thanks!

    • davidcavill Says:

      My view is that I would prefer the efforts of sensible and thoughtful breeders such as yourself to go towards improving the genetic quality of established breeds and see little point in developing crossbreeds which are unpredictable as far a type and temperament are concerned – there are more than enough crossbred dogs in the world already (actually, imho, too many pedigree breeds too, for that matter). However, from a technical point of view your proposed mating is perfectly acceptable. This is an interesting discussion. I will be taking it up in a future speakers corner.

  10. Tracy Says:

    Thanks for your response! Like you, I was not in favor of the crossbreeds we see for many years. But I must say I stumbled upon the Golden Doodle several years ago, and studied them with great interest. They are truly a wonderful dog! The lack of shedding with a poodle combined with the lovely hair of a golden produces a beautiful dog. I have placed many babies in the homes of children with severe allergies who had tears in their eyes saying “You mean I can finally have a dog???” and they have had no allergic reactions to Doodles. I have several placed in homes with autistic children, and the result in simply incredible. There is something about a Doodle that brings out love in an autistic child. I am not sure what it is….but it is quite undeniable. The intelligence of poodles is amazing, and goldens are incredibly smart, too. The hybrid vigor that occurs between these two lines is something else to see. I let them go home at seven weeks of age, and have had owners who wanted to train them to ring a bell when they need to go outside. Doodles can master that by day two in the new home. I have been very picky about my selection of dogs, and Golden Doodles are the only cross breeding I will ever do.

    One other thought I might post for other breeders to read is this. When my puppies go home, they do not cry at night because of two things I do with them before they go. I have had so many positive comments from new owners that I feel it is worth passing on. I allow buyers to select at five weeks of age. I require them to bring me two things when they select. First, a wire crate for obvious reasons. Second, I have them get out an old, ratty bath towel they no longer use and have every member of the family sleep with it for several days prior to the selection. I want them to wallow on it a bunch!! Then they leave me the towel. At six weeks, I place them in their crates to sleep at night, but before bed I hold each baby with their towel. (We won’t mention that I rock them and sing to them while we hold the towel. LOL!!) The towel does not go in with them at night, but is placed on top of the crate where they can still smell it. When the new owners return for their babies, they are instantly recognized by the baby. By crating them here, and beginning the separation process, my older dogs lay beside the crates all night and keep them from crying. When they go home, they are used to their crates and they do not cry. I also collect baby blankets from friends whose babies have grown up, and my dogs lay on them. Each puppy goes home with a baby blanket that smells like their parents. If the puppy is crying in the first days in the new home, a short holding with their baby blanket soothes them greatly.

    Thanks again for your answer!!! I do appreciate it!

    • David Cavill Says:

      Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for all that. Some excellent ideas in your response which I will remember (and use) and circulate.

      They will turn up on my Weblog in the next few weeks

      Very best wishes


  11. Caroline Says:

    Hi David
    My lab bitch has the same grandfather as the proposed stud’s father. Both mine and the stud are PRA & EIC clear though it’s still subject to hips and elbows, is this a reasonable mating or too close in your opinion? I’m keen to use this stud as he’s the last of my original line.
    Thanks for your time.
    Caroline, Pig, Puddle & Oink!

  12. Catherine Says:

    Wow! What interesting comments! Thank you so much! I’ve been breeding labradoodles for the past 2 years, so Tracy, I can say without a doubt, I know where your coming from. I believe very strongly in what I’m doing as well. The joy I get from doing this so rewarding!

    I have 2 F1’s that I’ve been using, mainly because they are absolutely the best all round dogs I’ve ever had! Their offspring are totally amazing! I just finished placing the last of my litter of 11 puppies! Because of how well my puppies have been received, I already have a waiting list for next years litter!

    Next year though, I was hoping to breed my girl with my male labradoodle AND my standard male poodle. I’m really hoping to get a beautiful curly black female to keep for myself and breed later on when my female retires. So here’s my question for our very knowledgable genetics guy :) … My female is cream with a black nose. My male labradoodle is all black. And my poodle is cream with a brown nose. If she were to have an all black female, would it be acceptable to breed her later on with my standard poodle?

    • davidcavill Says:

      I would say yes – black is sually dominent whatever else is in the mix. BUT beware -I have absolutely no experienced of these cross-bred dogs. Unfortunately the result of such matings will necessarily be unpredictable – one of the reason for sticking with pedigree dogs in my view – you usally know wat you are going to get from a mating.

  13. Catherine Says:

    Thanks David for your quick response! Don’t worry, I won’t hold you liable or anything :) I’m just trying to educate myself before I make any decisions.

  14. davidcavill Says:

    May I suggest you go to http://www.animalcarecollege.co.uk and click through the the bookstore. There may be books which will give you much more information than is available on the Internet or in a short article

  15. Lizzie Lou Says:

    David – we are preparing to purchase a Vizsla puppy with no intensions of breeding. The puppy is from an accidental litter and we are aware that the dam and sire are half sibblings. Is this a red flag? They have the same mother who we met. The lines of both the sire and dam are documented and accessible to us.

    • davidcavill Says:

      It could a ‘red flay’ in many breeds but the Hungarian Vizla is one (of the many breeds) which is considered a very healthy breed. My view, of course, is not a guarantee but it would be one of the (many) breeds which, so long as this mating was not a regulat occurance, should cuase no problems. You should have a look at the Hungarian Visla Breed club website (www.hungarianvizlaclub.org.uk/health which will give you more information and provide you with some sensible question to ask the breeders

      Best wishes and good luck


  16. Rebecca Says:

    David – I’ve just stumbled upon this blog in a search for some answers, and I think you might be able to help me. I have a stunning 6 month old male boxer pup with no faults or problems, and I have recently bred my unrelated dark brindle bitch with his uncle (his fathers full blood brother from the same litter). I intend to keep a female pup from this litter to hopefully breed with my boy, which would make the breeding pair first cousins. My brindle bitch does not share any relatives with the sire of this impending litter for as far back as we can trace (we have 5 generations for the bitch, but only 2 generations for the sire), and as she was imported, it is highly doubtful that there is any relation between them further back than that. Do you think the pairing of these first cousins would be acceptable, and could you offer me any advice when it comes to picking which female pup I choose to keep out of the litter?

    Thanks for your time.

    • davidcavill Says:

      See the other comments, Rebecca. It looks a sound mating to me on the statements you make. For picking a puppy you should consult Pat Trotter’s The Puppy Puzzle which gives by far the best advice on selection available. You either need to have read this book or ask an experienced breeders to comment at 12 week. Why 12 weeks?. This is the point, according to Pat wheh the pupp is most likely to have the same proportions of the adult

      • LJ Says:

        I probally shouldn’t comment on this breed but I have purchased 2 and rescued 1 boxer . the female I rescued ended up having cancer I still have her but lost a litter of pups partially because of this . the other reason the pups were lost the male I purchased first had a sezure disorder I was told after spending several thousand dollars for medicine and on vet bills that this breed was prone to having the sezures and it was a bad idea to allow them mate . I had doubts about this and purchased another boxer and he has the same sezure disorder . My best advise is to research with breeders that specialize with the boxers and a few vets about this breed of dog .

  17. Mike Ferrar Says:

    I am very pleased to have discovered this site. David, your article is hugely enlightening, thank you. I also found Tracy’s comments, and in particular her strategy on comforting newly placed pups when going to their new home, helpful. I am breeding English Springer Spaniels, and have discovered that the Sire (Murray) I propose using on my two Dams (Georgina & Harriet – mother and daughter) is a first cousin to Harriet i.e. Harriet’s father, and Murray’s mother were brother and sister. I will put Georgie to Murray, as there is no relationship going back through 5 generations. Would it be advisable or not to put Harriet to Murray? Would it be advisable or not to put Harriet to one of Murray and Georgie’s dog pups, given that Harriet is Georgie’s daughter? Thank you, David.

    • davidcavill Says:

      Thanks for your comment. Mike. I am very pleased there are people out there doing some sensible research before mating theri stock. Having said that – I cannot advise you because, as wilt all these quesions, ‘it all depends’. If the dogs are sound, helthy and their relatives live long lives free from disease or pain (and have you have done the relevant tests) then I see no problem at all. You can breed quite closely so long as the dogs are sound.. But if there is a history of helth problems then I would avoid. Good luck.

  18. luis Says:

    i am thinking of buying a new german shepherd puppie for breeding and i realized the my male have the same great-grandfather, it this ok and if AKC will it register.

  19. travis Says:

    i was thinking about breeding to pups that have the same sir but diffrent dams.is this ok in the line breeding

    • davidcavill Says:

      If you do I would mate to an unrelated dog/bitch but, like most of these questions I would need to know a great deal more about the propsed dogs before making a meaningful comment

  20. Rich Says:

    I just got an irish setter female pup and I registered her through the AKC. When I got her history, I see that her mother and father had the same mother with different fathers of two seperate litters. If I am reading your article correctly, this is not really a problem however not being a breeder, it is strange to me. Is this something that should have been disclosed to me prior to purchase or is this a pretty common practice? The dog is great with no known defects at this point. Thanks.

    • davidcavill Says:

      It is not uncommon and should not be problem – although much depends on the breeding behind the parents and grandparents. I assume you have the pedigree so the relationship has been disclosed

  21. Emily Lewis Says:

    Hi David,
    We are considering buying a labrador pup where the sire is the same as the maternal grandfather. We currently have a dog from this same sire. He certainly has the all the qualities you look for in a labrador, is both an FC and an AFC with an excellent temperment. The dam is also of this same calliber, both are CNM, EIC clear, excellent hips and elbows and eyes are certified. Any suggestions, is this too close? It is a repeat litter and the breeders were very pleased with the first results.

    • davidcavill Says:

      Dear Emily,

      You have clearly done your research – good for you. From what you same I think the puppy will be fine. The breeding programme is standard good, line breeding practice when all the dogs are sound

  22. Cynthia Says:

    Hi David,
    I have a 3 year old yorkie female and I was thinking about taking in her brother in another month. He’ll be 2 months old at that time. Being that this is her parents 4th litter of pups, would you it be ok if I eventually mated this sister and brother or would you not recommend it? Thanks in advance.

  23. Donna fowler Says:

    Hi, I love this subject! My bitch has the same father as my studs grandfather, trying to work it back I think they are second cousins so could this be a mating? Kind regards

    • davidcavill Says:

      Goo line breeding practice, Donna. If you are in the UK and your dogs are registered with the Kennel Club you could use the mate select online service to see eactly what the Inbreeding Coeficient is

  24. Karen Says:

    Hi, I am looking at getting an Akita puppy. The breeder I am keen on (not many Akita breeders in my country) is going to mate the grandson back to the grandmother. She genetically tests the dogs for the major defects. Would you consider this ok? Thanks

  25. Julie Says:

    Hello David. Like many others on here I have stumbled across your article on line breeding. I have a 12 week old Bichon Frise and studying her pedigree I see that her parents both share the same father, making them half siblings. It appears that our breeder has used the same stud kennel for their matings and the stud kennel operates selective line breeding with many of their dogs being champions all with exemplary traits. Our dog was the only one in her litter and though we love her dearly she is showing issues with dominance and has been aggressive on a couple of occasions. For this we are taking her to a behaviorist in the coming week. Do you think her breeding could have a baring on this or do you think it would be more likely to stem from the fact that she was the only pup? I believe we’ll get there with her in the end but in retrospect feel we were quite naive when it came to choosing her.

    • Julie Says:

      Just looked at the kennel club mate select online link you gave to the previous poster. Our dog comes out with an inbreeding coefficient of 22% where the average for the breed is 11%. Is this really bad?

      • davidcavill Says:

        Dear Julie,

        No it is not – it is similar to cousins marrying in human terms. However, you should find a dog which will lower the Inbreeding co-efficient. Going for a dog with the breed average would be the right direction.

    • davidcavill Says:

      Dear Julie,

      Temperament is much a factor in selecting a mate for a dog as anything else. You should be looking for a dog which is calm and biddable. Not all the puppies will necessarily take on those characteristics – but some will and, again you will be going in the right direction. In looking for a behaviorist I would ask whether their are a member of a professional organisation wand whether that organisation is a member of the Pet Education, Training and Behaviour Council

  26. kim Says:

    im breeding my vizsla and notice her and the stud have grandparents from the 4th and 5th generation is this ok

    • davidcavill Says:

      Vizslas are a generally healthy breed – It is not something I think you need worry about. With otu seeing the pedigree I guess it is a good line breeding


  27. Jennifer Says:

    I just got a male golden puppy to breed with my female sometime next year when looking at their petagree’s I see they have the same grandfather on the mothers side. is this to close to breed?

    • davidcavill Says:

      All other things being equal (the dogs are sound and healthy – and I have not seen the full pedigree) having the same Grandfather is not something to worry about

    • tori Says:

      I have a sir that has a fifth generation sir that is the exact same sir as the second generation of my bitch, my question to you is can I breed them safely and will it affect AKC registration for the puppy’s by any way? Basically is that legal per akc?

      • davidcavill Says:

        I would think so from a genetic point of view (other things being equal and I do not have access to the pedigree so could not be sure) – but you would have to ask the AKC if it is within their rules. I assume your dogs are AKC registered

  28. Lis Says:

    Hello, David,

    I bred my two German Shepherds not long ago. They are father and daughter. Both are excellent dogs mentally and physically. I have read and studied much on the subject of Inbreeding, studied the pedigrees of both dogs (which have come from high-quality, line-bred stock) and provide them with the best care possible–mentally and physically. They are sound.

    Is there anything wrong with my decision to breed this pair? You mention often in your blog, “…so long as the dog is sound”. Health of my dogs is most important. I believe that the pairing of this relationship was a good one…but I get some nasty remarks from people about my having done something “immoral”, and that nothing good will come of it.

    What is your opinion, please?

    Thank you. I appreciate your reply!

    Best regards,


    • davidcavill Says:

      I could not say. I would avoid such close mating unless there was an exceptionally good reason for them. This does not mean that they are wrong – just you have to know a great deal about the genetic health of the dogs in question as well as their being of sound constructional and physical fitness. Under UK KC regulations (not one of which I approve as there is no legal precedent) the pups from this mating would not be registered which indicates the concern which canine authorities have over the issue. Also. to be quite frank, I have seen few GSDs which would qualify for matings this close. This does not mean you are wrong – just that without seeing the dogs still and working and their pedigrees and test scores I could not say whether it was a sensible decision.

  29. Talha Zaheer Says:


    It was great learning from this blog. I don’t think I have a unique predicament, but nonetheless I thought it would be better to refer to an expert. So here goes:

    I have a beautiful red nose pitbull who is as friendly a dog as they come. I’m based in Pakistan right now and over here you are hard pressed to find a pitbull of this quality. He is only 10 months and is already bigger than his father in size (Mother is the one that gives solid colored pups and provides the size as well). I have a lot of people approaching me with studding offers. He recently won an FCI event here as well and I have literally had traffic stop and people climb out of their cars to play with him (after initial trepidation because its a Pitbull).

    From the little I know, one shouldn’t allow the male to mate until he has grown to full size (thus I’m planning to wait till he is 1.5 years old). Secondly, I have been looking for a suitable partner for him to preserve a quality red blood line in my region. The trouble is that just about every other Pitbull here simply does not compare. The only female worth mating him with is his actual sister. Provided both siblings are stable and have fantastic temperaments and are generally friendly, would it be advisable to mate them and then for me to select a female pup from the litter produced as a long term companion for my dog? Some guidance will help. It is pretty expensive importing quality dogs and alas other Pitbulls in the country are either lacking in size, looks or temperament. This is making me consider this route.

    Finally, when do you recommend for females to be mated? Skip the first two heats? How does mating affect the physical attributes of the animals that have been mated (based on age etc)? Would love to gain some insight. Thank You and Best Regards,

    Talha Z

    • davidcavill Says:

      All Golden Retrievers are descended from four puppies of a mating between a indeterminate retriever and a Tween Water Spaniel. In the wild many groups are closely bred – but you have to remember that in these circumstances (and this includes dog breeding) any offspring not absolutely fit died naturally or, in the case of dogs, were culled. As I said in a recent post – I would avoid such a meting unless there was an exceptionally good reason for it – but your post indicates that you have given the matter a great deal of thought so I would go for it – remembering you will have to make very careful assessments of the puppies and be prepared to cull any that show signs of unsoundness or aggression. This may not be politically correct and you may have to put up with criticism. You are the only one who knows whether you can handle that!

      • Donna Cox Says:

        hello David…just wanted to point out that the gentleman who sent this question, Talha Zaheer, was asking about a pit bull, not a Golden Retriever, as your answer indicated. I didn’t know if your answer would change if you realized he was talking about a pit bull. Also..he also mentioned the two dogs are BROTHER AND SISTER….in all of your past views on breeding brother and sister your answer has been “absolutely not”….it confused me a bit, and as a simple courtesy to both you and him, I just wanted to point this out. You can tell me to mind my own business lol. …it wouldn’t offend me…i simply wanted to bring it to your attention. Thanks so much! Highest regards. …Donna

      • davidcavill Says:

        I cannot track this down but I would not mate brother and sister – if I said it was OK I did not read the post properly.

  30. Talha Zaheer Says:

    Thanks David. Also could you shed light on changes in the dog’s body structure based as a consequence of mating? Does the height of the male dog really stop growing once it’s mated for the first time (and is the same true for females)? Moreover, I am also told that there is a marked change in temperament (cooler) after having been mated. As someone that owns a pitbull, I know not to go by the rumor mill- my dog is as friendly and playful as any lab, yet despite the friendliness is a fantastic guard dog.
    Really appreciate you sharing your wealth of knowledge!

    • davidcavill Says:

      Mating a dog or bitch has no impact on their size. Dogs will grow until they reach maturity. But once a bitch had been mated her temperament may change a little (perhaps be more affectionate or more protective) but, in my experience not by much A dog’s temperament may change a little too – he will be more anxious and difficult to manage if there are bitches on heat about.

  31. StevenMD Says:

    HI my wife and I are looking to get a pocket beagle from a breeder who states that the puppy that we’re interested in has been born through 2nd cousins (not sure what the dog terminology would be for that). If this is true, are there ant defects we should be aware of? Also the puppy doesn’t look like it has any defects but is there anything we should be aware of further down the road?

  32. hatem zalloum Says:

    Hi David, An impressive article indeed & I thank you for it,,
    Wanted to ask you about breeding my german shepherd male who comes from germany and is a truly super quality ‘his grandfather is a world sieger”, mind u, half his siblings had floppy ears!!!!! Would he pass on the “bad ear gene”? noting that the female I am considering has few sibling with soft ears too”she also comes from sieger blood lines”!

  33. Hello David, a great eye opening article indeed & I dearly thank you for it.
    I have a super german shepherd male imported from germany with a super pedigree “a grand son of a world sieger” mind you, half his siblings have soft ears!! If I breed him, would he pass on the bad ear gene? Especially that the female I’m considering also had some litter-mates with soft ears!
    Thank you,

    • davidcavill Says:

      I think you need to talk to a GSD specialist. I do not know the genetics regarding ‘soft’ ears but it is likely to be a complex mechanism and not the result of a single gene – and it may well be different in different breeds. The ‘natural’ ear set is ‘pricked’ as can be seen in Caanan Dogs and Huskies be GSD are a long way from this genetic framework.

  34. Anne H Says:

    Hi im talking sheep, I have a ram by x out of a ewe by Z most of my ewes are by Z or there grandmothers are by Z .Can i use the ram back on anything please

    • davidcavill Says:

      It sounds as though your stick is becoming quite inbred. You need to work out the Coefficient of Inbreeding (the is a link in this or another of my posted articles) and keep the % below 12.5

  35. Question…In your opinion, Is it to close to breed two dogs from the same sire, with different dams and and a year or two apart in age? or even the same age for that matter.

  36. Pat Says:

    I have a stud bulldogge his parents are the grandparents of a dam I acquired through a trade. I was not aware of this at the time of the trade. Do you think this is too close? I have received conflicting answers. I plan to acquire another stud within the year so I can wait to breed her. That is not the issue. I am just curious. Thank you. Pat

    • davidcavill Says:

      I do not think this is too close but you should have a through knowledge of the breeding history of all the dogs you intend to use and base you decisions on their having sound genetic and physical health

  37. Lisa Says:

    I am looking at a litter that is related to my current dog. I just love her to bits :)
    The dam’s mother is the same breeding as my dog, the father is an outside dog
    The sire’s mother is an outside dog and the father is the same breeding as my dog (and the dam)
    I think this works out to a niece and nephew with 2 outside dogs being breed.
    I am having a hard time following the inbreeding and line breeding and just wondered what this was :)
    I thank you for your input!

  38. jamie Says:

    Hi David, thank you for a great insight into breeding. We breed Miniature Dachshunds. I have recently been offered a dog to add to our breeding, he is from the sister of 1 of our dams. Would he & his mothers, sister be a good mating in your opinion. Our dogs are all PRA clear and have great temperament.



    P.S Thank You Tracy for your sharing of that experience it is something we will definitely be adding to our breeding.

    • davidcavill Says:

      Sound good line breeding to me – subject to all the other heath checks of course. Do you get the Dachshund Breed Council Newsletter. If you do not you should. You can join the list from their web site

  39. jamie Says:

    Thank you, for your reply..we have all our dogs health checked & DNA tested before even considering breeding them. The dog we are looking at is of excellent lines, and parents also have great temperament, as has the dam we are looking at mating him with. Will look at getting that newsletter for sure.
    Thanks again,

  40. Lou Says:

    Hi I’ve just brought I make chihuahua 2 mate with my bitch I’ve just realised when looking at both pedigree papers that the mum of my boy has the same grandma but not grandad but the dad of my bitch has the same grandad but different grandma if that makes any sense

  41. kat Says:

    Hello there..I am about to buy a golden retriever male pup whose mother is the sister of the bitch I already have . When the male matures I would like to breed them ..am I right in saying then this new male puppy will be my bitches nephew ? all dogs have clear hip / eye tests..would this be too close to mate them or does it come under line breeding ? the pups have a different father than my adult bitch

    • davidcavill Says:

      Its quite close – you should ensure any recommended tests are carried out on both dog and bitch before you mate them and ask yourself why you want to mate these two particular dogs. If it is just cheaper than gping to another stud dog you might want to think again. A goof stud dog is not ‘cheap’ but compared to what you would get from selling the puppies is is very reasonable

  42. Rachel Nimmo Says:

    Hi I need help I have a staff cross bitch who I want to breed with a pure Irish blue staff The dog is the bitches grandfather on the mothers side ?? Can u help

    • davidcavill Says:

      Would not be a problem if there were no genetic or physical defects – but I would ask ‘why?’ If you like SBTs, what is the objective in breeding from a cross bred bitch?

  43. Anne Says:

    I have a female Amstaff (ky) my mum owns kys brother ( Boof) ky recently had pups completely unrelated english staffies father (jet) female puppy (sapphyra) my mum would like to know if she brought Ky & Jets female pup Sapphyra could she breed with Boof all 100 % healthy if Sapphyra passes all health checks when she becomes breeding age?

  44. Pamela Doyle Says:

    We have registered Shetland Sheep & have been breeding for several years. We are interested in breeding a ewe & ram that have the same sire & completely unrelated dams. What are your thoughts on this breeding?

    • davidcavill Says:

      I know nothing about sheep or whether or not there are any genetic defects in this particular gene pool. However, if they are both healthy (and the Inbreed Coefficient is not high – you need to look further back in the pedigree to see how closely they are relating in the past) it seems a sound mating

  45. Steffi Says:

    Urgent question. I am about to buy a labrador retriever puppy and am considering pus from 2 different litters.
    In Litter 1, the dam’s mother is also the sir’s grandmother. In other words, the dam is half-siblings with the sir’s father.
    In litter 2, the sir’s father and dam’s mother are half siblings.
    Are both of these sound matings? Thanks so much!!

    • davidcavill Says:

      Like all these questions you need a great deal of information – and even then you cannot be sure. In theory, all other things being equal, there should not be any problems. It sound good line breeding as far as I can tall

  46. Steffi Says:

    Thank you so much!! I’ve found some breeders can get a little touchy when asked too many questions.

  47. Tyler Says:

    Ok I have a question. In reply to Jessica’s question (from feb 2012) about breeding great-grandfather to great-granddaughter, you said her answer was over simplified. But never gave a definite answer. And then went on to say that the line was drawn by the the “quality” of the dogs. But in reply to to others such as Stacy (from August 2011) you say to not breed the father to daughter and that the kennel club would not register them, Which tells me the line is drawn by more than just the “quality” or how sound the animals are. So I guess what I am asking is, is there an exact answer for how many generations you need to have in between the male and bitch you are breeding? Or is it primarily up to the Kennel club your registering with? After reading the summary I still don’t feel like there has been a straight answer as to the difference between line breeding and in-breeding. I fill like it has been filled with a lot of scientific and genetic jargon and no definitive answer has been stated. But maybe it is me and my ability to understand what it is you are saying in this weblog. So any answer in laimens terms would be GREATLY appreciated lol.

  48. Acheron Says:

    I am looking at buying two American Bully dogs to breed, but they aunt and nephew, is that considered acceptable? They bitch is a sister to the sire of the male dog I am wanting, but no relation on the mothers side whatsoever. Neither side as any known issues. The breeders say it is acceptable but just wanted to make sure. Thanks.

  49. Susan Crowley Says:

    Is it safe to mate my girl Chihuahua with a stud dog that has the same dog as his grandfather and my girls father, coefficient came out at 11% average for this breed is 7%. Thankyou

  50. Alex Says:

    I have a 4 yr old female and just recently got a 10 month old male, I plan on getting him fixed but was curious if they did accidentally mated what could happen? they have the same mother but different fathers and being 3 years apart with many litters in between.

  51. davidcavill Says:

    How far apart the litters is irrelevant. As always, it is not possible to give specific advice but if both are healthy it should not be be problem – but it is too really close

  52. Alex Says:

    does the fact that the dogs have different fathers but same mother matter?

  53. vamsi Says:

    i wold like to ask. my female dog had a son he had a son with another female can i place his son to his my female ??? that means grand son to grand mother…..

  54. Ingrid Says:

    Hi David, I am looking at a Havanese puppy where the parent dog and bitch have the same mother but different fathers. All recent generations are well bred champions and no cross breeding there. The pup seems to have a good temperament. What do you think?

  55. andrea Says:

    hi I have a question I hope can be answered these are American bulldogs my daughter sold a pup that is a grandchild to my sire and my sire and a new female with no bloodlines to any of my bloodlines are having a litter the person who bought my daugthers pup wants one of these new pups to breed with his dog meaning that the sire is the grandfather and father of the new pup none of the other dogs are related….he has good bloodlines been tested and is 6 yrs old with not a health problem in him what are your thoughts as they asked me and I have never inbred any of my dogs so have no answers

    • davidcavill Says:

      Getting too close I would have thought – but it all depends on the health of all those involved – but why does this dog have to be used?

      • Amber Says:

        I am so glad to have found your site. I have a question for you. I purchased a male and female French bulldog for breeding. These dogs came from different breeders. After looking at their pedigrees I realize that my females dad is my males grandfather. They both have great temperaments and are very different in size. My female is chocolate and carries blue. My male is blue and carries chocolate. Is this too close for breeding?

      • davidcavill Says:

        As always – both dogs must be sound. If they are the relationship between them is fine. Without seeing the dogs is sounds like good line breeding

  56. kim Says:

    Ok, I have looked into line breeding and cant really get a good outlook on it. I have a male I got from a breeder that does line breeding. I love their dogs. They are very correct and healthy. I would like to purchase a female from them but am unsure. The female I am looking at is related to my male down in the pedigree. They produce all their females through their founding female. He is the son to that female and I am unsure how far related the mother to this female is. Ill try to give a family tree. female I want to buy= mother( same sire and grand sire to my male in her pedigree although not sure how far back), Father to the female( same sire and my males grandsire). This female is 2/4 linebred on my males grandsire.

  57. Andrea Says:

    Hi, I have miniature schnauzer girl, my friend has male, we want to breed the two of them but, we know my girl is aunt to her male is nephew ( my friend other male dog is my girls brother , he’s father to male I want to breed with ) would this be to close? both dogs have eye checks and are in good health

    • davidcavill Says:

      A little close – it depends on the rest of the pedigree. Are there any other relatives in any areas of the pedigree not directly related to you dog and bitch? If there are not it should be OK

  58. Maria Says:

    Thanks for an interesting article! I want to do a mating where the COI calculated from 10 generations is 11, and the 5 generation COI is 4.5. The sire, dam, grandparents and other close relatives we know abaout are healthy. Would this mating be okay, or too close? When calculated from 10 generations what COI should breeders strive to keep under in a rare but generally healthy breed?

  59. Maria Says:

    In 5 generations? But what about when counting from 10 generations?

  60. Angel Snow Says:

    Hi David, we have a half boxer half pitbull, the mother was a purebreed pitbull and the father a boxer. The mom had another litter with a purebred pitbull. We wanted to know if it’s ok to breed them where there half brother and sister. We want to keep her blood line going where she’s an amazing kind dog.

    • davidcavill Says:

      A little close – it depends on the rest of the pedigree and the soundness of the two dogs. Are there any other relatives in any areas of the pedigree not directly related to you dog and bitch? If there are not it should be OK

      • Angel Snow Says:

        The only thing linking to both dogs Is the mother. There no other relations throughout. The mom has no health conditions neither did her mother. I’m not sure about my girl dogs father. I but the boys father is healthy and has no issues that we’ve been told. My fiance and I don’t want to breed them, if iit’s not good for them. But also want to keep her blood line going.

  61. cris Says:

    hello David, I have two Siberians huskies, they are brother and sister, same parents, same litter. I researched about the consequences if they would breed, and I found all kinds of possibilities and risks, but is all uncertain. Could a just run some kind of DNA test? to both to have a definite answer to find out if it would go with out problems instead of speculations and possibilities with out certainty.

    • davidcavill Says:

      I do not think DNA test would provide any useful information. Sibel are a pretty healthy breed but I still would not mate brother and sister. Apart from the fact that you would not be able to register the pups with the KC ithe CoI is too high for comfort. It has been done but usually by accident or by those who are very experienced.

  62. Jane Says:

    Unfortunately the COI’s are very misleading on the KC website, especially for low founder breeds. COI’s are only as good as far as you can go back. Take the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that apparently has an average of 5.2% but this breed was only seperated from the King Charles in 1942 and had only five stud dogs as founders. If the KC where to actually go back as far as it records can and calculate its COI, the COI will be a lot higher than 5.2%. I know people who have taken the time to go as far back as records allow with their dogs and the COI was then doubled or in some cases even more than doubled. I’m afraid its smoke screens and mirrors and if you truly want to get a more accurate idea of a pure breeds COI you need to roll up your selves and do your own home work, as the COI’s calculated for breeds on the KC website can be misleading. You really need to know how many generations the COI is calculated over and in most cases it often is manipulated far enough ahead, so the low founder issue of the breed is not truly reflected in the COI.

    • davidcavill Says:

      You are quite right, of course and the same would be true of many long established breeds – all Golden Retrievers, for instance, can be traced directly back yo just one male and one females and all life can be traced back to (probably) just one cell! But the convention is to work over 5 generations as, within that time, any serious problem which is going to arise is likely to have made itself known.

      • Jane Says:

        Who’s convention is it to only use 5 generations ?
        Selective breeding in dogs as only been around for less than 1% of the evolution of canidae, so tracing back to one cell is a bit of a silly asperion on the calculation of COI’s for pure breed dogs. We are talking about levels of inbreeding in dogs not evolution of species. If the Golden Retriever as you infer has only two founders ( I seriously doubt this and I suspect that dogs like in other breeds have been allowed on the register in the early days with unknown breeding but of type, as foundation stock), then calculating beyond five generations is even more warranted in trying to keeping what genetic variation in the breed there is from depleting even more.
        Ten generations is good but to really get a true picture, as far back as you can until the pedigree information stops, so most we are talking at around twenty or more generations. Looking at a dogs COI, as you know is to calculate its homozygosity (doubled up of alleles) in an individual due to the same ancestors showing up multiple places in its pedigree. No matter how many generations you look at, the dogs pedigree/ancestory won’t change. Consanguinity has created a level of inbreeding in a dog and that will not change, only the willingness to see it.
        More information is always equal and in the most part better than less information.
        We know it can take more than five generations before people start to realise they have an ancestor with a problem and have saturated a line with its blood. Convention should never stop people seeing the full picture and only looking at five generations is like just letting the sunlight peep through the curtains, instead of pulling them right back and letting the light flood in.
        I would of thought it better to advise people to get as much information as possible before breeding dogs and as I said before, “if you truly want to get a more accurate idea of a pure breeds COI you need to roll your sleeves and do your own home work.”

  63. davidcavill Says:

    You are right, of course and there is no internationally recognised ‘convention’ just years of experience and practice – and the KC,decitsion of course. My comment about ‘one cell’ was tongue in cheek but there comes a point (5,6…12) generations when calculating the CoI becomes pointless – partly because damage and naturally occurring changes in DNA (and accidental or purposeful matings outside the breed) mean that succeeding ‘copies’ are inaccurate so negating the validity of the CoI. The key question is ‘What are you trying to achieve?’ and for most people 5 generations is enough. For others (perhaps in breeds with very restricted gene pools) then more generations are necessary. My wife and I bred very successfully from a relatively narrow gene pool for many years (see http://www.toveri.co.uk) without once referring to the CoI – although we did study pedigrees and assess many dogs, bitches and their offspring in the UK and abroad very carefully. There are more ways than one to kill a cat so although the CoI is important is it but one tool for the concerned and successful breeder.

    • Jane Says:

      Exactly using COI’s over just five generations really serves no purpose and most should be able to read a pedigree and see interfamily connections easily.
      It only becomes pointless when the pedigree stops giving information and obviously we will have to agree to disagree on when it becomes pointless. Five though is also pointless, unless you are unable to understand pedigrees.
      If you are wishing to win in the show ring and your aims are short term, say your lifetime, using just a five generation pedigree as you have shown will acheive your aim but for breeders hoping for the survival of the domestic canidae for many generations of humans to enjoy in the distant future understanding the COI further back than five generations is of more significance.
      I am trying to acheive steming depletion of genetic variation in the domestic canidae. We have already lost from selective breeding since domestication of wolves 35% genetic variation by selective breeding and as we have only been doing selective breeding for less than 1% of the canidae evolution, that’s a frightening figure, we do though see only a loss of 5% in street dogs and mongrels.Genetic variation is the key to survival in the long term, just look at humans.
      Sorry to of troubled you as I now understand that this site is more geared to a breeder wishing to breed for the show ring and feel a bit of a fool for commenting on here now.

  64. stephanie Says:

    I was planning to breed my female with someone else stud I noticed that my female her great grand sire is the same as the studs grand sire. would that be considered line breeding? I have been trying to read up on this as I was a male that’s going to compliment my female to get the standard of the breed. could you please tell me a little more about what this type of breeding could bring us? good or bad. btw they are Siberian huskies

    • davidcavill Says:

      Unless either the dam or sire has a genetic or conformation problem (unlikely in Siberian Huskies – they are generally a very healthy, sound breed) I would go for it. Of, course, if you want to show or race then you will have to take the charcteristics of the pair into account but if you just want a litter of Sibes that should be fine from a health point of view

  65. Gael Loro Says:

    This is wonderful information as I didn’t know what line breeding was. I have a question: I am considering purchasing a Cairn Terrier (bitch) who’s mother’s parents are first cousins. The sire has no line breeding what so ever and no connection to the bitch. Would this be, in your opinion, ok?

  66. Erica Says:

    My sons great grandpa had a baby with his first cousin, my sons grandpa, does this effect my son at all?

  67. jackie Says:

    Ok my question is is i have a male and female from the same mom and dad i know i cant breed them but the lady i got them from wants to breed my male with one of her females that is not related to him at all she says that if i get a male out of his litter he would be ok to breed with my female(his aunt).what is your take on that?I have siberian huskys.

    • davidcavill Says:

      It is a little close but if both dog and bitch are really sound it is feasible. But if you want to mate your bitch you should use a proven quality stud dog. There are plenty of excellent Siberian Huskies around

  68. Nicole Says:


    if you have a bitch who’s dad is the same as the stud dogs granddad, can you breed this or is it to close?

  69. Loulou Says:

    Hi I have a bitch mother and father are both top line kc pedigree labs but she has mated with her father I found them in a tie he lived close few blocks away he ran off and got with my bitch who was in our back garden so father and daughter mating then an hour later my neighbour had her friends visit bitch was out for a pee and this dog jumped the fence and mated full tie he’s also kc reg top spec owners not happy at all about it but was wandering if pups would be ok we looked at five generation pedigree on mother father and other dogs papers and all are top line no inbreeding before as far as we can see

  70. Nikky Says:

    Can i do a mating between my german shepherd male and his neice.? Males mother is neice’s grandmother.Can i expect any problems? Thanks

    • davidcavill Says:

      I would need to see photos of the dogs. There are many GSDs I would not mate whatever their parentage but that said, so long as the dogs are healthy and sound there should not be a problem. It is close but not too close. Unless you have a specific objective why not use a totally unrelated dog?

  71. Nikky Says:

    Hi,is there anyone moderating this site ?

  72. Hi,
    I have male and female boxer who have common grandfather and great-grandfather. In addition that same dog appears in my sire’s 4th and 5th generation pedigree. Would it be OK to breed my dogs.

    • davidcavill Says:

      As always – it all depends on the health and quality of the dogs themselves. Genetically it is not too close but every dog and bitch must be assessed carefully if you want to retain characteristics and health

  73. Jade Says:

    Hello there David,
    I am going to be welcoming a little Yorkie into our lives in the next few years but before we choose our breeder e.t.c could you tell me what to ask the breeder for best health concerns e.t.c? Should I choose a breeder that uses an outcross ? I’m very clueless when it comes to all of this and just want to ensure we are chosing the best for our future furr buba :) Thank you (if you wouldn’t mind emailing me when you get the time, I would GREATLY appreciate your advice) :) Thank you

  74. I have a female and I am looking at getting a male for her. The male I am looking at is a grandson to her father. A little history of that is as follows. Her dad is Peppy. She was from a litter from Molly. Peppy fathered another litter with Sienna and that Puppys name was Scooter. The puppy I am looking at getting is a puppy from Scooter and a female that is not related to any of these. Can I breed her to him (i guess he would be a cousing sort of)????

    • davidcavill Says:

      As always – it all depends on what you want. What is the breed? – you can mate more closely safely in some breeds than in others. And to retain characteristics in breed such as Boxers and Bulldogs you need to line breed (carefully). If the pedigree is ‘open’ even thought the pair may be related to the extent they are then there should be no problem.

  75. Actually I guess it would be her nephew not her cousin.

  76. Jake Says:

    I’m considering mating 2 dobermans for just 1 litter. They have the same parents but there is a 2 litter gap between them. No known health issues with any of the dogs from the breeder I bought my dogs from. Both are healthy good looking dobbies but I’ve heard two different answers to my question, which is why I wanted to ask the master!

    • davidcavill Says:

      Don’t do it Jake. You could not register the puppies with the Kennel Club (assuming the parents are both registered) in any case as the KC will not accept registration from brother/sister matings. And they will not do it because there is a reason – it is too close. Incidentally, the fact the parents were from different litters makes no difference.

  77. kendra Says:

    Pig farming question. .. can I breed an uncle with his niece? I have 4 piglet 2 are girls and Im gonna sell them if I cant breed….

  78. kim Says:

    What about English cream goldens brother to sister different litter mates

  79. Connie Says:

    my female is small … maltipoodle … I just rescued a same breed …
    so they said … but he is much bigger like 3 times her size … and
    I now realize she is in heat … can they breed? which one determins
    the size of the pups?.. I will NOT wager loosing her!! THANK YOU!

  80. Leanne Says:

    My neighbour just got a 6 week old female pup who has the same father as her 2yr old male so they are half brother and sister, she is planning to breed them and I said I would try and find some information for her. Is this possible?

  81. andrew Says:

    I was thinking of breeding my female pit bull with one of her mother’s new puppies same father yous that OK

  82. Ozzy Says:

    Can I breed my pit/bull dog and her purebred pit father?

  83. Mary Says:

    I am a breeder of German Shepherd Dogs. Czech working lines. I don’t inbreed, but one of my females (age 2 years 1 month), got loose and tied with one of my males (age 1 year 11 months), by a huge human error. They are 1/2 brother and sister out of the same father, also both dogs have different mothers, but the mothers are full sisters. Will this breeding be bad, all my dogs are 100% healthy, no genetic problems at all. I would NEVER have breed them, but they did tie once on day 14 or 17 as close as I can figure. My vet tells me, they can’t give my female anything to slip the pups, it’s only been 6 hours since they bred. Will she take? Will I have problems? This female, is scheduled to breed on her next heat cycle to a new stud dog I purchased for her, I just want to try and figure out what may happen if she does catch.

    • davidcavill Says:

      I sympathise. But if your dog and bitch are sound I would let it go – you might get something fantastic!

      • Mary Says:

        Thank you David, yes, my male and female both are 100%, I had her scheduled for her OFA after this heat cycle she is in now to be done. When it rains, it pours! I just don’t want anything to happen to her, and now that this has happened, to have healthy pups. And, YES, who knows, they might just be awesome dogs too! My lines are good, and my dogs have great drives, temperments and dispositions. I guess all I can do is deal with this and see what the future holds. Thank You for your reply.

      • Mary Says:

        David, I will ultrasound my female next week after 21 days, is this considered “In Breeding”? What do I call this litter from your stand point? I want my clients to know exactly what this litter is and everything about the pups. Thank You.

      • davidcavill Says:

        Please read the article agaiin – I am afraid you have not understood it

  84. priscilla Says:

    Hi I was actually interested in purchasing a german shepherd from this breeder. She says one the dogs backs is too long and she wants to fix it. Both sire and dam are in line bred only to fix the problem but the breeder assure me that it was several generations back. I’m not sure how to read their pedigrees but it is from the Q litter. If you can please tell me what effects the puppies will have.

  85. priscilla Says:

    I found out that they’re grandmother’s are sisters.

  86. Mary Says:

    Ok, Priscilla, just didn’t want to be someone that I am not. This thread was a mistake “Tie”, and I wanted David’s opinion. I don’t inbreed or line breed. But now I have this “Tie” that might possibly be an upcoming litter. I just want my dogs ok, and litter puppies ok.

  87. priscilla Says:

    David- the sire and dam of the puppies do share common ancestors both dogs do look solid. I have heard nothing but good things from people who purchased her dogs. So I’m basically wondering what effects the puppies will have. They should be born any day now. Well the sire and dam have the common ancestor Their grandmother’s are sisters.
    I looked through the pedigree and line breeding took place one this occurrence as well as another occurrence the grandmother’s sisters they share. The line for this was only showing line breeding as 5 generations back but did show these.

    Occurrences. Wrights
    5-4. 0.40%
    4-5,5. 0.39%
    5-4,5. 0.40%
    5-5. 0.20%

  88. davidcavill Says:

    Good luck – you are doing al, the right things as far as I can see

  89. Emma Says:

    We r thinking of breeding, our dogs are from completely different lines of breeding but they share a great grandfather, he was a champ so he must have been stud to many different bitch dogs and had many pups. Is this okay to breed?

  90. stefaniernst Says:

    Hey David, thank you for your page and all the information. Are there any books you can advise me to read on the subject of line breeding. I’ve downloaded the program and will do my own tests, but if I could have your advise it would be great and immensely appreciated. We breed with French Bulldogs. I’ve now send in my Studs certificate and I’m waiting for the new one…so I can not give all the details on his side. But lets assume for now that the inbreeding coefficient of my Stud and Bitch is at 0%. They’ve just had their first litter, of two bitches. I want to keep one. A new male puppy became available from the same breeder where I’ve bought my stud. So they have the same mother but different fathers. So my new bitch’s grandmother is the mother of the stud I want to mate her with?

  91. stefaniernst Says:

    Thank you David! I’ve tried to download the program…but it is not for Macintosh users….Is there an alternative program for Mac users?

  92. Duane Says:

    I have someone who has a female bulldog and she wants to breed to my male but in her pedigree and my males pedigree we have a great great grand dad that is the same male, can I breed to this female without problems

  93. haley lindsay Says:

    My next door neighbor bred a sister and brother, and a son and mom, I want to buy one of the puppies, but I’m not sure if it will just die because of genetic defects. None of them are registered, (not even the moms and dad) they are huskies, and the dad could possibly have a respitory problem. Please advise on what I should do!

    • davidcavill Says:

      I would not and in my opinion the breeds are behaving irresponsibly. The pups may be fine but the risk of problems is greatly increased with such matings

  94. shay Says:

    I am looking to line breed my female and was wondering if it okay to breed a female to her uncle (fathers younger brother from a repeat mating)? Looking at the pedigree it would be like breeding her to father. The resulting COI would be 22.3%

  95. Sybil reynolds Says:

    I want to buy another lab pup from same place I bought my other one from . Mine is amale and want to buy a female . But is father to mine grandfather to other pup so what if they breed together

  96. Key Says:

    hi I have a male king corso and his mother and father just had a new liter. Is mating between the 2 a no no if I were to get a female which would be his siter from same sire and dam?

  97. Brenda Says:

    I have an AKC registered Havanese male dog, who is now 3 years of age. He came from our 1st litter of pups. We just had our 4th and what will be our last litter of 6 puppies, from our very healthy bitch and an unrelated, healthy sire. I was researching breeding our male 3 year old dog and a puppy from this litter, when she is of age to do so. They would be half siblings, both from the same Mother but different unrelated Fathers, going back 5 generations. We have not yet mated anyone with our male dog but we are planning to do so sometime in the future and trying to determine if we should simply buy a unrelated female to mate with him or if it was possible and recommended to keep a female from this litter and wait till she comes of age and then mate the two. Our male dog has some excellent traits within his breed. Good hair, size, no genetic problems, etc. The female from this litter of pups is too small to see what her traits will be like except that she will probably be a a good size and weight and her color is nice and she is healthy so far. Given when she matures with preferable traits as I expect she might, and when she comes of age to mate, would it be in your opinion to mate these two? Or would you suggest that we simply purchase another female to breed who is unrelated for past 5 generations back?

  98. Key Says:

    ok thank you. I’ve heard that it could be good to keeping the genes of them strong is that assumption wrong? what’s the negative side to this?

  99. davidcavill Says:

    Don’t – if there are problems is will exacerbate them

  100. Kari Ditty Says:

    I have a male Cairn terrier that has had all his tests done and clear, have the opportunity to purchase a bitch puppy that is a half sister…same mom different stud with all tests cleared. Male is almost finished with his championship and bitch well on her way. Would breeding these two be too close for line breeding?
    Thanks for your time!!

  101. AlyssaE Says:

    David, I have a very concerning question. I have a mixed breed in-bread dog. I got her spayed, so she cannot be breed. I though that was best for her. But my my concers are her future health. I know in a lot of dogs health problems don’t show up till the dog is older. My dog, is the result of a sir mating with his daughter. The sir was a Chihuahua/ Mini pin mix, the dam(which was the sirs daughter) was a Chihuahua/mini pin and Dachshund mix. The owners told me it was an accidental breeding. But know that my dog is almost 3 years old I’m concerned with wht kind of health risk she could face from not only being a mut but from being in-bread that closely. Any information or advice would help me out a lot. Thank you.

    • davidcavill Says:

      O think it unlikely you will have a problem because both were the result of mixed parentage. The difficulties we have with some pedigree breeds genetically is that they are mated closely withing their family for several generations and physically they are sometime extremes of type. Your dog does not have either of these problems in its background. So, although nthing is guaranteed in this world, you can stop worrying.

  102. Nick Castle Says:

    So this Saturday I am picking up my male cane corso. My dad and I thought of the possibility to breed in the future. My dad also thought about getting his corso from same breeder but a different dam that is due in 6 weeks. So pretty much, the sire would be the same but the dams would be from 2 different lineage. What do you think about this mate? Thanks

    • davidcavill Says:

      I know nothing about this breed (they have only just begun to appear in the UK). My advice is that unless you are an experienced breed always to go to other lines in any breed. It is not rocket science but there is no point in taking unnecessary risks

  103. Chantal Says:

    Hi David

    I have a female Alaskan Malamute. The breeder I got her from kept her sister. he then (mistakenly, he says) bred the sister to her own father. She had a litter of 10 puppies, all healthy. Can these pups develop health problems later on? I know he kept one female pup from the litter, that he plans to breed (however not to her own father anymore!!! Could he be breeding a dog with potential health issues?

    • davidcavill Says:

      These things happen and genetic health problems are always possible. It is a percentage game. They are less likely if parents are unrelated and more and more likely the closer related they are. But this does not mean problems are inevitable – just they they are more likely. And the breed makes a difference. A pair of closely related Malamutes are basically a very healthy breed so less likely to have a genetic defect than a pair of, say, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels where there are some problems which are embedded in the DNA. In this instance I would not be particularly concerned but would make sure that the next two generations of matings from this litter are from different lines.

  104. Steve Says:

    Hi David,
    Hopefully this question has not been asked, but I may have missed it. We are thinking about buying a Brittany puppy where the male dog is the bitch’s uncle. I guess that this is line-breeding rather than in-breeding, but do you feel that this relationship is too close and too recent?

  105. J'One Says:

    I’m thinking about breeding my Banddogge Stud (Jahsaree) to his daughter (Nyla) who’s mother (Remy) is also a Banddogge from a different family. Jahsaree is 8 years old and and Nyla will be 1 in November. Jah is in excellent shape no health issues what so ever, and his temperament is amazing. Please inform me on what to look for to have a successful inbreeding/line breeding experience.

  106. adrianna Says:

    Hi I was wondering if it is ok to breed aunt to nephew there pit bulls? Im getting a puppy who was bread like this and I want to make sure its not bad

    • davidcavill Says:

      IF only it were that simple. Aunt to nephew need not be a problem but if the line is already closely bred it could be. I would need much more information – and I still might not know the answer. IF we did know the answers we would all only breed perfect dogs

  107. Nicole Says:

    I have just placed a deposit on a female Golden Retriever Puppy and received her Pedigree Certificate with her heritage information. I am quite concerned as her parents both have the same sire which makes them half siblings. I will try and portray my worries with the rest of the breeding line too, as some other breeding patterns seem off to me. I am quite new to all of this but I am trying to educate myself.

    Brunnental Urban Blues

    Brunnental Jetsetter

    Brunnental Driving Force
    Brunnental Karshi

    Brunnental Driving Force
    Brunnental Volcanic Lass

    Great Grandparent:
    Brunnental Kardelle
    Brunnental Our Pleasure
    Brunnental Garbank Starturn
    Garbank Johnina At Brunnental

    Brunnental Kardelle
    Brunnental Our Pleasure
    Brunnental Urban Blues
    Brunnental Kalisko Lass

    Great Great Grandparents:
    Garbank Starturn
    Garbank Johnina At Brunnental
    Brunnental Farmers Boy
    Brunnental Jewel
    Ch Bethrob Bracken
    Garbank Oyez
    Ch/Ir Ch Garbank Special Edition of Lislone
    Nortonwood Miss of Garbank

    To be continued…

    • Nicole Says:

      Garbank Starturn
      Garbank Johnina At Brunnental
      Brunnental Farmers Boy
      Brunnental Jewel
      Brunnental Driving Force
      Brunnental Critical Air
      Brunnental Karshi

      To me, there are too many names that appear too often but as I said, I do not know much. Could you please advise me on whether I am right to be worried? Kind regards and thank you for providing such an informative report and your ongoing support. Nicole

    • davidcavill Says:

      It looks sensible line breeding but perhaps you should ask the breeder for the Coefficient of Inbreeding of the litter! You want it to be low – under 7 is good – over 12 be careful

  108. traci Says:

    This article did help me tremendously when I was worried about my 15 month old grand dogs they did mate but it wasn’t something we planned

  109. Mike brunning Says:

    Great site good solid information and we’ll writen article with out emotions

  110. Stuart Says:

    I have retrievers, I have been breeding the same line for 12 years, my bitch line has remained strong, I have 4 generations of my bitches all descended from my foundation bitch. I tend to breed cousin, half uncle to niece or outcross out every 2nd generation, so I have out crossed twice.
    My next mating will be mating uncle to niece, my bitch to her mother’s litter brother. I’ve delayed doing this mating until I was 100% happy with the line I have, my dogs have good hip scores and clear eyes, and are living well. I felt I had to build a line with all good results before I bred closer than I already had done. These 2 dogs are excellent match but I only feel confident as I know the lines, followed the health of all pups I’ve bred and know dogs in the pedigree as individuals not just as names on the pedigree document. The 2 I’m pairing have also had pups previously to unrelated dogs, I think important to see what can be produced from dogs you plan to breed closely.
    Just thought id share my experiences.

  111. Stuart Says:

    Hi David, thanks for the website, very informative. I think you’ve find a great job explaining it all and offering advice.
    My question is, a lot is said about prepotent stud dogs (dogs that produce their type regardless of their mate), in addition how common and important are prepotent bitches?
    Can many bitches be prepotent or is it because they are limited to 3 or 4 litters their true impact is unknown? Just something that interests me.
    One of my bitches had 4 litters, each to a different stud dog, 2 of the stud dogs she was related to, half uncle niece son the other a cousin. The other 2 were 100% outcrosses (to 5 generations) but her type was prominent in all her puppies, as pups bad into adulthood. Was I perhaps lucky all 4 dogs whether related to her or not matched her in physicality, or phenotype. Estentially a male version of her.
    Just a question. :-)

    • davidcavill Says:

      In theory both sire and dam contribute equally but it is generally accepted that the characteristics of the one which is most homozygous is likely to have the greatest impact. So this would mean that bitches can certainly be prepotent. It is also often said that a kennel is founded on its bitches and this would indicate that experience confirms the observation because it is the females which tend to be kept for the next generation rather then dogs. I would be interested to know of any research which proves or disproves this commonly held view.

  112. sofija Says:

    Hi, we have a brother and sister Yorkie. Brother is mated with his sister, we did not want this. I do not know what to do with the puppies. I’m afraid thay will have problems.
    Thanks and best regards!

    • davidcavill Says:

      But they may not. Yorkies are a healthy breed and if they two are not already closely bred the puppies may be fine. Keep a close eye on them and do not hesitate to consult a vet if you have any concerns about their health. I hope you are lucky

  113. sameh Says:

    Thanks for the great article and related discussion, what about mating a GSD bitch to its grandfather who is a grand son of a great bloodline of larus von batu, a bloodline that I would like to maintain.

  114. sameh Says:

    Does the sir have more impact on the characteristics of the litter as they say? And why? And how do I make use of this

    • davidcavill Says:

      Its a complicated question. In theory both sire and dam contribute equally but it is generally accepted that the characteristics of the one which is most homozygous is likely to have the greatest impact. I would be interested to know of any research which proves or disproves this commonly held view

  115. sameh elmallah Says:

    Dear David,
    i am trying to line breed larus, got a female with larus in her 5 generations, made the mating outcome check with my male (grandson of larus) and i got this outcome :

    Linebreeding – 5 generations Inbreeding
    Occurrences Ancestor Wright’s Hardiman’s
    3 – 5 2X VA1 Larus von Batu 00.79% 04.15%

    is that a good trial or a too long shot?

  116. Laura Says:

    I have a great male he is 4%, I am breeding to his daughter who is 6%, whats going to be the % of offspring. I dont plan any more inbreeding with this lines,.I have had the main line for 5 generations. The prcd is A, body type in every generation is the same. OFA’s good. All lived from 10-14 years, no problems till right befor they died of old age. Temperment is perfect. Does there seem anything I may need to know ?

  117. davidcavill Says:

    You can continue to mate closely as long as you are SURE there are no underlying problems. The best advice is you breed closely is two generations close and then bring in a male or female unrelated

  118. Rachel Says:

    Hi David,
    I just got a 9month old miniature schnauzer and the lady I got her from had her half brother (same father different mothers with no other inbreed in the pedigree) and he locked with her one time, if she is pregnant she would be five weeks along. She is not showing but her teats are swollen. Her vet will not do a spay because she is to far along. My concern isn’t just if the puppy’s will be healthy but how will it effect her being so young? I plan to have a ultra sound done next week to find out for sure. Her vet said she is either in a false pregnancy or she is only having one, maybe two puppy’s and that she may not ever show if she only has one. I guess my question is, should I find a vet that will termanate and spay her now or will she and the pup/puppy’s be okay if we go through with the pregnancy?

    • davidcavill Says:

      If you want the puppies and can find homes for them I would go along with the pregnancy – they are basically a healthy breed – just take care in the future! She would not have come into season if she was not ready to have puppies (there is no evidence I know of which confirms that there is any problem mating at the first season).

  119. Mary Robinson Says:

    This article helped. I am thinking of breeding an uncle/niece, through the male line. The niece’s father and niece’s uncle were brothers with same mom and dad. I began with a Shi-Chi, whose mom was AKC 100% ShihTzu and whose dad was AKC 100% Chihuahua. The Shi-Chi bitch mated with a small Yorkshire Terrier, with a Pomeranian mix. Both males were born to them, separate litters. One male is my Uncle. The other male bred to a full Shih Tzu bitch (no paperwork/AKC). Their was a female bitch born to that litter, which is my Niece. Your opinions, Sir?

    • davidcavill Says:

      Once you get into cross bred dogs you have know idea what problems might emerge. There are specific problems with some pedigree breeds but the advantage is that, by and large, you know what they are and can avoid them whether you are are breeder or potential owner. One you have an almost entirely random genome you certainly are likely to have hybrid vigor but there will still be genetic problems (as there are in humans) but these will entirely unpredictable. I have already seen a number of reports of genetic difficulties with some of the established cross breeds such as cockerpoos so I am afraid I un able to offer any useful advice

  120. Michele Misurelli Gillis Says:


    I just wanted to commend you on a very well written article! I have been a breeder/owner/handler of two breeds for 20 plus years and know that it is a constant learning experience, so I appreciate your input very much! In the last 10 years I have gone to a toy breed of dog and I must say that it IS very different depending on the breed of dog you are working with-just as you said. With so many underlying health issues in the toy breeds we have to be so careful getting too close with line breeding and inbreeding is a scary thought with some of the threshold genes, like luxating petallas. Some breeders have the nerves of steel to do it, I just don’t so I stick with line breeding and then outcrossing.

    I especially liked the way you handled some of your responses to the questions asked to you by some; people who really have no business breeding dogs (or anything else for that matter)- I have to say, I don’t think I could have been as diplomatic as you were so kudos to you!

    I look forward to more great reads from you sir!

    Warm regards,
    Michele M.G.

  121. tina Says:

    can you breed a sister with the son of her brother?

  122. Kelly reardon Says:

    Hi david i have brother and sister saddleback pigs and want to breed them for purely meat can this be done ? Thanks kelly

    • davidcavill Says:

      I have no idea of how closely they are bred and know even less about pigs. But if you are only interested in the meat so they are going to be slaughter quite young I doubt there will be a problem.

      • Kelly reardon Says:

        Yes only breeding for meat and was thinking of getting a unrelated female to mate with our boy to sell piglets for pets , so thankyou so much for your reply david , have a great day . Kelly

  123. Lisa Says:

    Hi, I have two pitbulls, one male and one female. They are both registered, but the male dog is the females offspring. Somehow he got to het while she was on heat and now she is having puppies. Will they be considered inbreeds or linebreed puppies and will they be normal healthy pups with such close breeding(mother to son)

    • davidcavill Says:

      This is close inbreeding and not to be recommended. The pups may be fine – it depends how genetically healthy the parents are and I cannot know that. I would advise that you let go any of the pups which are weakly or poorly.

  124. Laura Says:

    HI, I have a female cattle dog. I know the personality of 6 generations back. Her Dad is Toby, AKC champion, he is a great dog, His grandfather was the nicest red male I have ever met. The dam of Toby is from a kennel that my one female is from, but not related, the female is Chyna. Chyna when bred to Arrow,(son of my first ACD) produced #5 acd in 2012. I bred Toby to Chyna, and have 2 pups 3 years old and 4 years old.I want to breed back dad to daughter. Physically they are perfect. mom and dad are PRCD A, OFA certified, mom had Baer test, both have full Dent. Temperment is perfect. One is 4% COI, the other is 5%. What concern would there be with this litter if bred?

    • davidcavill Says:

      You sound as if you know what you are doing although breeding that close is not recommended (indeed, the UK KC will not register puppies so closely bred). It is a risk but you could get lovely puppies alhtough I would try to go for a less in bred mating

  125. Chloe Beasley Says:

    Hi David, ive been asked by my 7 month old bitches breeder if I would like to breed her with her grandfather, would there be any deformitys or defects if I do when she is mature enough to become pregnant?

    • davidcavill Says:

      As always it depends on the breed and how sound the dogs are. Under most circumstances it is good line breeding. It is usual to wait until a second season

      • Chloe Beasley Says:

        Thankyou, she is a pedigree Cane Corso, theres only one line breeding time in her blood line and that was her great great grandfather to her 4 greats grandmother, shes just come into to her first season

  126. christine.farrell Says:

    my male jack Russell mated with his sister who is year older on day 20 of heat 2 weeks ago if she is pregnant will puppies be ok am not a breeder, have read so much intranet info, should I get her spayed this week.

    • davidcavill Says:

      I should have her spayed in any case if you do not breed and have a male in the house. Ask your vet straight away (they could give an injection to stop a pregnancy depending on the circumstances) but most do not spay during or close to a season. Pups may be fine – the risk depends on how closely they are themselves bred. The closer they are the greater the likelihood of problems.

  127. Cyndi Dietze Says:

    I have two Australian Shepard’s, the female is twice the weight of the male, she is also very alpha. She is ready to breed, will her size make it hard for him to breed? Also if so, how can I help?

  128. Phillip H. Says:

    Hey David,
    My male Brittany is great grandson to NFC AFC FC Dimond Hill Dan, grandson of AFC FC The Rock, son of AFC FC The Rock II. I am thinking of buying a female to breed with him. That puppy is great grandchild of NFC AFC FC Diamond Hill Dan, grandchild of Londeree’s Dimond Hill Dan, daughter of Londeree’s Pam. Diamond Hill Dan was the only dog in the world to win National Field Trials 3 times. Hall of fame dog as well. My male has perfect health, and makes absolutely perfect field trial dog. I want to own and breed from my own female. Would this new puppy be a problem? If not for health reasons then for sale reasons when I sell puppies? Neither dog has any other matches anywhere through 5 generations.

  129. chris wiggins Says:

    on Dec. 18th 2014 3:56 pm– Chloe Beasley asked if ok to breed her 7 month old bitch to her grandfather , when bitch is old enough to breed. and your reply………under most circumstances it is good line breeding. Then my question to you “Will AKC register litter ? “

    • davidcavill Says:

      I am based in the UK so cannot give a definitive answer – I see no reason why AKC would object. it is direct relationships which are of the most concern brother/sister (the closest inbreeding), mother/son, father/daughter (one step away), uncle/aunt to niece/nephew (three steps away). Further distance is generally referred to as line breeding BUT this is very much dependent on the number of close relatives which occur in the pedigree.

  130. sissy Says:

    I have a mother dog and her son got her pregnant.will she die?

  131. Hello, I just found out that my male dogs (Hercules), grandfather and great-grandmother are my female dogs (Athena and Luna) mother and father. So that means that the owners had breed mother and son, to get my females, but is it ok to breed the male and females? Also, would that make them related, and how closely related would they be?

  132. davidcavill Says:

    I would not – go to another dog.

  133. wayne Says:

    I am getting a female american bully pup and i want to use her on my male when she matures. The only thing is that my females mother is my males grandmother. Will this be considered line breeding or inbreeding?

  134. davidcavill Says:

    I would describe it as line breeding. It is close but a lot depends on the breeding of the other dogs and bitches in the pedigree

  135. sameh Says:

    Hi David,
    I have a male and a female rott half brothers, same mother different father’s ( both IFR Champs) I have repeatedly mated them with great litters, do you think I will have diseases in the future with the progency? And if not what about the next steps? Should I get a complete new blood to mate with their progency?

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