Lloyd Brackett was an idiot, a sexist, and a bigot who not only put his own breed on the rails to ruination, but who has given countless show breeders an excuse to pretend that they are doing something safe, proven, and scientific by inbreeding according to his “formula.”
Lloyd Brackett talked about Lloyd Brackett in the third person. He was also a legend in his own mind, declaring himself “Mr. German Shepherd.” Here is his autobiographical hagiography which starts his award winning pamphlet “Planned Breeding:”
One of the fathers of the German Shepherd in this country and the oldest living continuous fancier of the breed in America (since 1912) his theories on breeding have been more than proven in his Long-Worth Kennels where he established his own strain in the breed and produced more than 90 champions in only 12 years —a world’s record for any breed. Known affectionately as “Mr. German Shepherd” he has proven beyond doubt the soundness of his breeding program.
There’s just so much wrong with dog culture captured in that paragraph:
- Someone who had nothing to do with the creation of the breed declaring himself a “father” of it
- The notion of “I got here first” being important, appealing to longevity instead of quality
- The unnecessary division of the breed (and thus breed type) by country
- Using the language of the scientific method and formal logic (proven theories, formulas) to describe what’s really nothing more than an entirely indistinctive suggestion to inbreed
- The ethic of establishing a distinctive strain within a breed that must be a visual trademark of the breeder
- The ceaseless ribbon chasing as something worthy of praise and proof of efficacy. (Fallacy: Appeal to Accomplishment)
The proof of his plan is not in his own satisfaction, but in the breed he left behind. And what we find is not proof of “agricultural improvement,” but of disaster, severe and intentional degradation of both health and conformation. Inbreeding has lead to unintentional explosions of disease in many breeds, but what we have with the GSD is intentional. Those “roach backs” are premeditated, the wobbly cow hocks desired. They don’t put these monsters they’ve created down, they put them up for awards.
Can anyone honestly claim that the GSD of today is in any way improved over the dog Max von Stephanitz gave us 111 years ago?
The deficiencies of the German Shepherd could fill several volumes, and a future post will cover just how far they’ve fallen from their roots. What I’d like to start with, however, is the actual formula.
Favorite Breeding Practice for Superior StockThere is a favorite breeding theory, or system, used by successful breeders of many varieties of animals. It usually eventuates in superior stock IF the male selected is himself an outstanding specimen, nearly faultless, and has such progenitors. It goes as follows: “Let the sire of the sire be the grandsire of the dam, on the dam’s side.”
Here is an example pedigree constructed using this formula:
If this common dog, let’s call him Studley, is the only source of common blood on the two sides of the pedigree than this is what the formula produces: the resulting puppies are 37.5% Studley, getting 25% from the father’s side and 12.5% from the mother’s side. Half the genes from the mother’s side would be expected to meet themselves and double up in the pups, so this litter would be 6.25% inbred.
The problem with applying a name and pseudo-scientific trappings to an otherwise unremarkable scheme, is that laypeople will make the false assumption that it’s important enough or efficacious enough to warrant this designation and that it’s been held to the standards of the scientific method. Neither are true of Brackett’s Formula.
As you can see from the analysis, the desired dog Studley represents 37.5% of the blood in the puppies and also has a “Cov A X” of 37.5%, matching the percent of blood. The “Cov A X” is the “Genetic Covariance” and represents the degree to which the puppies will resemble that given ancestor. Notice how in this case the puppies are no more likely to look like Studley than the degree to which Studley is already in their pedigree.
Thus, there’s noting special about this formula.
Brackett’s formula hasn’t produced Studley qualities in our puppies any more than any other inbreeding scheme which would result in a Cov AX of 37.5%. But notice which dog has a Cov AX greater than their percent of blood: the grandmother, Bitch, with 25% Blood but a 37.5% Cov AX.
This is a significant observation because Brackett fails to mention the importance of this dog in his scheme. This dog is every bit as important in the looks of the puppies, but not a word is given to why she is important. She’s important because it’s not a random collection of Studley’s genes that get passed on or even doubled up in the puppies, it’s only those genes that exist in his offspring, specifically in Bitch.
She passes along 25% of her genes to the puppies directly, but half of her genes are from Studley and of those, 12.5% make their way to the puppies through the sire line. It’s only the genes we see in Bitch that have a chance to get doubled up on in the puppies. None of Studley’s genes that aren’t present in Bitch will get doubled up and thus be guaranteed to be expressed.
This scheme is breeding to Bitch’s conformation equally as much as Studley’s, and it is in her that we are getting a glimpse of what parts of Studley we’re going to get most potently.
But Brackett is a sexist who doesn’t believe in rationally giving the dams as much credit as the sires. This is especially irresponsible in breeding because one has to work much harder to maintain diversity in the dam lines given how hard it is for any one dam to pass along her genes, as I’ve discussed before.
The point I want to make, however, is that in selecting a mate for a faulty bitch whose wide-open pedigree offers no individual in it free of her faults, and dominant in correcting them, one must select as her mate a dog not only himself CORRECT where she is failing, but through some intensity of corrective blood is dominant.
Here we have a multitude of sins.
- The first of which is the unsupported idea that only bitches have faults which can and need to be corrected by “dominant” blood in the male.
- The second is that this “dominant” blood is really a code word for “prepotency” a.k.a. homozygosity; the vast majority of traits that are hard to breed for are not dominant, but recessive, and thus the ability of a male to pass them along requires him to be highly homozygous (inbred) and for the female he covers to be at least a carrier for those recessive traits as well.
- The third is the presumption that a “wide-open” pedigree (an outcrossed, non-inbred pedigree) would have “no individual in it free of her faults.” This is faulting outbreeding for what happens in inbreeding. Even if an outcrossed pedigree could be found with such a trait, the fault in question would necessarily be “identical by state” even though as far as we know it’s not “identical by descent.”
That last point brings up an important new definition when we’re talking about genetics: autozygous vs. allozygous.
When the two alleles at a locus originate from a common ancestor by way of nonrandom mating (inbreeding), the genotype is said to be autozygous. This is also known as being “identical by descent”, or IBD. When the two alleles come (at least to the extent that the descent can be traced) from completely different sources, as is the case in most normal, random mating, the genotype is called allozygous. This is known as being “identical by state”, or IBS.
Brackett’s claim is a cherry-picked strawman that’s popular among shameless inbreeders. Beg the question by creating the mythical uber-diseased outbred dog and then pretend that inbreeding is no different. Outbreeding promotes heterozygosity and thus prevents recessive diseases from being expressed. If there’s an expressed recessive disease, the only way to “breed it out” is to first make it heterozygous and then select for the second generation dogs that are free of the disease. As far as the disease allele is concerned, outbreeding isn’t the best way, it’s the only way.
Outcrossing has a solution for this hand-picked strawman. Outcross more. Inbreeding offers this mythical pedigree nothing. There’s no way to inbreed your way to health if your entire pedigree is affected.
Speaking against this makes Brackett a fool. We’ve established that Brackett’s formula is nothing special, nothing unique, and nothing so specific that it needs to be proven or disproven. It’s simply one form of inbreeding that offers nothing special or unusual. We’ve established that Beckett was a sexist and a denialist of Mendelian genetics which gives no preference to the male nor the female contribution for all autosomal chromosomes. And we’ve established that Brackett uses specious arguments against outcross breeding.
In future posts, we’ll look more at the rest of Brackett’s plan and the fallacies he employs in them, as well as why his ideas are still dangerous today.
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