This article was published in the June 2001 edition of the Show Beagle Quarterly. Reproduction of written material and graphics prohibited without permission and credit.
Breeders face many choices in breeding beagles. We carefully study pedigrees, phenotype, show careers, genotype, and positive attributes a chosen beagle can contribute to the next generation. Along with those considerations are also the Knock-Out or Take -Out traits. Another breeder used this term many years ago and I would like to expand on it.
Knock-Out Factors or Take-Out Factors are those "things" that remove a beagle from our breeding program. These factors could be bad conformation, bad temperament, or health issues. KOFs can change as a breeder matures and learns from past experiences. But one thought that I would like to encourage all breeders to remember is that many of our beagles will become someone's pet. The beagle may be sold as "pet quality" at a young age, sold as an older puppy or young adult that just does not "grow out" to be show quality, or even the retired champion that is not being used as breeding stock or has been retired from the breeding program.
With this in mind, issues that would affect the beagle's ability to be a pet should be considered when planning a breeding. History or lack of history concerning epilepsy, allergies, hypothyroidism, temperament problems, or hip dysplasia in related beagles would be of great importance when contemplating a breeding. Yes, we all want our beagles to be competitive but we cannot ignore health problems for the sake of the beautiful body.
A pet family may not be emotionally and financially able to cope with their three year old beagle that starts having seizures, or the two year old that is so crippled from Hip Dysplasia that major surgery is needed, or the beagle with severe allergies. Responsible breeders seek to not only produce that beautiful outstanding show quality puppy but they are dedicated to producing HEALTHY puppies.
Breeders must determine
their own Knock-Out factors. Some to consider are:
Chondrodystrophy- "The Funnies"--dwarfism
Chinese Beagle Syndrome
Eye Problems- Glaucoma, Cataracts, Dry Eye Syndrome, Cherry eyes
Abnormal Orthopedic problems (short outer toes)
Height Concerns--Too small or Too Tall
Many of the listed health problems would almost automatically remove a dog from a breeding program i.e. a beagle that was affected with chondrodystrophy or epilepsy.
But what about that sire or dam that produced the puppy; beagles with this same sire or dam could also carry the genetic potential for this same problem. If you had a half brother to the affected beagle would you want to know so that you could use that knowledge when breeding your unaffected beagle? Would you as a breeder notify people that owned beagles that were offspring of this sire or dam?
These are hard questions and as you go down the list of problems noted above ask yourself these very same questions.
All to often if someone asks questions about a certain problem they are labeled by other breeders as "having that problem". In all actuality they may be trying to avoid getting that problem. Every breeder has strengths and weaknesses in their breeding program-let's just be honest about them.
Only with open,
honest, and non-judgmental communication can we as guardians of the breed
hope to improve with each breeding.