"Breeders also need to understand pedigrees. Do they want to linebreed or outcross, and why? Who are those dogs in the pedigree? What were their strengths and weaknesses?... Are there any genetic diseases in the lines?" (Naigus, Jan. "Spinoni Italiani." Breed Column. AKC Gazette, Oct. 2003, 63).

"How do you study a pedigree? First you read it. Then you study every individual dog in it. Go back five or six generations from the dog or bitch you are researching. Gather photos not only of that dog, but also of any relatives. Write down all the information you can gather on each prospective breeding animal and pair it with a photo, and you will have a very good base to work from. Note if the dog or bitch has been bred before--and, if so, how many times, how the puppies turned out, their temperament, health, and health clearances.

"Research the dog's brothers and sisters and their health and temperament. Investigate the sire and dam and their health, temperament, and so on. List titles achieved--not only champions, but obedience, field, tracking, etc. I also list bit (scissors, level, over- or undershot) and if there was white on the chest. If a dog in the line is deceased, I will list the age at death and the cause.

"Think: Is it better to breed to a dog who was the only one with a good front in a litter of six, or to a dog from a litter of six where all the fronts were good? If two dogs are equal in other ways, I would breed to the one where all the fronts were good, thinking that there would be a better chance of good fronts in the offspring. Use this approach with rears, bites, heads, whatever you wish to improve. Studying a pedigree (actually many pedigrees!) will give you the knowledge to do this" (Deugan, Marcia. "Using Pedigrees." Breed Column. AKC Gazette, Oct. 2003, 62).

Colby Glass, MLIS