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Friday, September 26

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By Alon Bigler

I personally think that pedigrees, and what they consist of, are extremely important for every breeding program, whether of show Persians, Doll-Persians, Maine Coons, Birmans or any other breed. The research and proper use of pedigrees as a breeding tool are the essance of ethical breeding. Quality of lines and their reputation are things to be carefully considered in a breeding program and should not be taken lightly.

When I come to evaluate a breeding cat for my program, I give 50% weight to the cat itself and 50% to the pedigree. (50% is a lot!) In many cases, I would prefer a slightly lesser cat in looks, but with outstanding lines that I know, study and value, rather than a better looking cat from lines that are completely anonymous to me or known to have issues.

So what does one look for in a pedigree, and how does one approach a pedigree at all? Many people look mostly at titles. If a pedigree is full with CH and GC, they immediately think it is a good pedigree. Well, show titles are important for sure, and they do tell you about the consistency of breeding for show type (for breeders of show cats). Yet this is only a part of the pedigree, and there are so many more things to be learned from one, regardless of titles.

Health and fertility, for instance, do not show as any kind of title on the pedigree, and yet they are extremely important for a breeding program. Consistency for those is also very important, if not more than the show consistency. This information actually requires study of the pedigree and asking people about this or that cat and line. The more seasoned a breeder you are, you also know more and more cats in the pedigree personally. Such knowledge is priceless! This is what makes mentors so important - they know their lines from tail to nose.

And yet, there is more to a pedigree than that. You can learn the color genetics and color probability from a pedigree. If you find enough information, you can find whether your lines are consistent for high white, nice amounts of silver or nice light color point color. You can learn what health issues are going around and if they are consistent. You can also learn the level of inbreeding done in your lines and the amount of homozygosity in the lines (which would bring to consistency), and this is just for start. If someone ever wants to create their own look, they actually have to use pedigrees to know which trait comes from where and try to guess which combination would give you what you want.

Pedigrees are a whole world, and line chasing is not done just for fun. It is done as a research of the breed and gene behavior, too. In a way, every breeder is a small genetic scientist with one goal in mind - creating the healthiest, prettiest cats, according to a set standard.

Breeding Persians is a hobby of love. It is our responsibility as ethical breeders to be professional about it, for the following reasons:

  • Professional, correct breeding brings to health.
  • Professional breeding brings consistency and a way to try and predict results (even if Mother Nature has her own way with surprises).
So my personal advice to ethical doll-breeders is to be as professional as you can, if you want to be taken seriously. Also, study your pedigrees well. You need pedigrees in order to create a new/old consistent look that will be respected.

My advice to extreme show breeders - make sure the pedigrees you work with are more to you than the titles in them! Show titles are important, but they are merely the beginning thread of really knowing a pedigree and using it right. Use titled pedigrees, but make sure you are not dazzled by them.