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frog
UKC Forum Member

Registered: Aug 2009
Location: Stephenville, Texas
Posts: 954

merle to merle breeding

Just a few things new owners need to be aware of. Please read the links. Double merles can be great dogs, but there are some dangers.

http://www.lethalwhites.com/doublemerle.html

http://bowlingsite.mcf.com/genetics/merle.html

Thanks Jerry D. This was great info to read. Everyone should be aware of the problems associated with this type of breeding. It doesn't matter if it's a Shepherds, a Leopards or other dogs with the merle gene, a double merle can lead to problems.

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Old Post 10-30-2012 12:50 PM
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MeganAK2AZ
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Always a worthy topic

Thanks for posting! You can't share information like this enough.

I found it especially relevant that the article states, "The merle to full color breeding, then, produces just as many merles as does the merle to merle breeding, and without the danger of defective puppies." So, in regards to people trying to breed for coat color...

Now, here's a question just for the sake of my own knowledge: I've heard/read some people claiming that a merle with no white is fine to breed to another merle...as my new Leopard pup, that has no pure white on her, could be bred to any other merle and produce a healthy litter. I was just approached over the weekend, with a fella that has a Leopard Catahoula male and wants to set up a breeding! Ha! Funny, since both the dogs are pups and haven't proved to be worth anything special yet! Apparently, "they'd make pretty handsome pups". Well...not if they're all blind they won't. And wouldn't that chance still be in the cards? The Catahoula is splattered with white and has two blue eyes. Hypothetically speaking, of course...crossing my pup to a Catahoula is not coming up in any future plans and I'm also pretty particular about what dogs and horses deserve to be bred anyway...so with little Juniper, that remains to be seen

I've thought that I'd always play it safe and only breed her to a solid Leopard Hound male, if and when the time comes...

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Old Post 10-30-2012 05:47 PM
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bruceatempire
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Registered: Feb 2009
Location: Empire Alabama 35063
Posts: 324

breeding

If your female makes the type of dog you desire.. then consider breeding.. but as you said I would stay with the Leopard cur/hound and breed to a good gene pool to reproduce what you desire in a your dogs... I have a black female and have bred her twice and each time she produces a variety of colors.. solid black, Merle (gray), dark merle trimmed with tan, blk / tan, blk trimmed in brindle, high tan with merle saddle.. so the color variations will be there.. sometimes some more than others. The male studs I used one was dark merle trimmed with tan and the other one was high tan with merle saddle.. had merles in both litters.. Just my experience..


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MeganAK2AZ
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Thanks for the input and experience! I figure I might have to acquire my own Leopard male, if I want to breed in the future...haven't heard of anyone around here with one. But we'll see! I have a lot of time and work to put in, before I worry too much about it. Fun to think on though...

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Old Post 10-30-2012 06:46 PM
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sam kirkland
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Registered: Jul 2008
Location: East Tenn.
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The genetic literature is good reading but like Ron Ganus explained to me a few years ago its common sense and actual experience that helps the most in breeding these leopard dogs. I breed my Chug male that is a merle to my Skye female that is a merle. So far out of multiple matings I have only got one pup that showed double merle characteristics. The trick I have found is knowing how to spot these dogs with double merle characteristics and not breeding them to another merle. Theres always these genetic people that are gonna come back with well if its out of two merles its a double merle even if it doesn,t show it. I am with Ron on this when he says that Bull Pucky. I get some solid black pups out of Chug and Skye. These are not double merles. As far as breeding the merle dogs to solid colors thats fine but I don,t think the chances of getting a pup or two with double merle tendencys is gonna be any less. Another wrench in the genetic theories. A lot of these solid colored dogs have merle parents. According to most genetic literature the offspring off two merles are supposed to be double merles. That would make some of the most sought after dogs that have been bred the most solid colored double merles. Some of these would be Johnny Reb, John Cox,s Cain dog, Birds Bishop, and the list goes on and on. I say breed for ability and use enough common sense to not breed a merle dog with obvious double merle characteristics to another merle but don,t get hung up on that old hogwash that you have to breed a merle dog to a solid colored dog to insure that you will get good genetically sound pups cause it just ain,t so. If you don,t know how to identify these merle dogs with the double merle characteristics then by all means breed to a solid colored dog. This won,t insure your gonna get good sound pups because the merle dog you are breeding to the solid one may be a double merle since you wouldn,t know how to tell the difference. Breeding these merle dogs takes actual experience and common sense to get successful at it to the point that you produce a minimum amount of obvious double merle pups.Also breeding these merle dogs is not something that you can take a written genetic manual and follow instructions and get guaranteed results.If a person is interested and dedicated enough and has good common sense they can successfully breed these leopard dogs with a minimum of pups that will need to be culled at birth. Notice I said a minimum because any breeder that has raised a good number of litters will at times have to cull a pup here and there that has the obvious double merle characteristics. Like I try to stress here we need to be breeding for ability first. If in order to breed that way we need to breed two merles make sure one of them does not display obvious double merle characteristics. Any time anyone is in doubt and would like an opinion on whether a dog is exhibiting obvious double merle characteristics if they will contact me with some pics of the dog showing both sides the head,eyes and nose I will be glad to help.Some people think when breeding two merle dogs people are breeding this way with the goal of getting more merles. I,ve never had that goal and don,t know any other serious breeder that has that goal. I do get a good share of Black and Tans and solid blacks when I breed Chug to Skye,Princess or Little Girl.All these females are merles with no double merle characteristics.Any time I can be of help to anyone that has questions about possibly breeding two dogs they have I will be glad to help any way I can. I just hate to see any beginner breeders grab a genetic book and think they will have all the answers to breeding better leopards cause it ain,t that easy.A better way to learn is to pick the brain of people that are producing good pups consistently. Rex Laker, Dan Minton,Jason Abbott, John McDill and Ron Ganus come immediately to mind and there are several others. I personally think these breeders actual experience will help you a lot more than reading a book.

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Old Post 10-30-2012 07:38 PM
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MightyOaks'Leps
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Interesting genetic study

www.abneycatahoulas.com/issue_merle.php

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MeganAK2AZ
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Sam--what are all the characteristics of a double-merle? I mean, besides a lot of white and/or two blue eyes? That's all I've read so far, but the need to research for myself is a new one, so I've just started reading about it. Is one blue eye considered a double-merle trait?

I will remember you said that you are here to help! If, in a few years, my female turns out to be a dog I think has the talent to pass along, I would appreciate input when the time comes to choose a match...so stick around And that goes for anyone else too! I'm a sponge for knowledge and opinion-sharing.

I hope Leopard Hounds are still safe from breeders that are carelessly destroying the quality of the breed in favor of coat patterns--as you mentioned, trying to breed for merle pups, instead of just good ability. So far, everyone who has them that I have met, is actively using them to hunt and actively concerned with how they work, not what color they are (although I do admit I wanted my first Leopard female to have a little merle coat too ) The breed still seems like a "best kept secret" if you ask me...but maybe that's just because there are not an abundance of Leopard Hounds in my area...haven't met one person yet that knows what I'm talking about. Anyway, seems like when a breed branches out and gains too much popularity, that is when the breed starts to suffer and just get messy...pretty much the story of any purebred animal that turns high-demand, at one time or another--and not just dogs. I hope that doesn't happen to the Leopards. It's a tricky thing though, breeding...I just encourage everyone to respect it. I just think being a breeder is a role that should be taken on with great respect and care.

It's probably still good for any beginners to be careful of merle-to-merle breeding and practice caution by way of genetics, just for the sake of strong and healthy dogs. I mean, look what happened to Collies and Australian Sheherds, once people took them out of the fields and tried to make house pets out of them? I bet the farmers and shepards that originally bred and worked those dogs didn't have nearly as many problems with their lines, as the breed does now.

JMO

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Old Post 10-30-2012 08:25 PM
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MeganAK2AZ
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That link to to Catahoula Merle Genetics was a good read and pretty much supports what Sam is saying...thanks for sharing!

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Old Post 10-30-2012 08:32 PM
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sam kirkland
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Some but probably not all the traits are white coloring on the head area especially around the ears and eyes. Lack of pigment in the nose or pink colored nose. Excessive white on the body is an indication but i,ve found when there is a good deal of white in the head area is where the chance of blindness/deafness increases.The light colored eyes of course are an indicator.There is always the exception where a dog with a pink nose and albino characteristics is neither blind or deaf. Remember that this is an exception as the majority of dogs with these characteristics are. Dogs with just mild double merle characteristics with no blindness or deafness can be bred to a solid color dog usually with no problems. These are the dogs you wouldn,t want to breed to another merle. That is what I wanted the beginners to understand that not all merle dogs are unnacceptable to be bred to another merle. As long as two merles exhibit no double merle characteristics at all I see no problem breeding them together if that is where the ability is at.

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Old Post 10-30-2012 09:00 PM
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MeganAK2AZ
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Sam

Yes, I see what you're saying.

I don't have anything to worry about for several more years anyway, poor darlin' is just a tiny pup yet! But I think I'll be having to purchase my own male, if I do decide she is breeding material...then I'll have to wait and see if I think HE is breeding material! LOL! We'll see what the future holds.

I'm just getting all nervous because everyone in my area is already getting so excited about her and trying to pawn their random males off on us...and now I just want to hide her away! LOL! I suppose my best line can be "...well, I want to keep her with another UKC Leopard", so that way no one gets their britches in a bunch that I don't find their stud dog a good match I just feel surrounded by people who think they've got the next Wonder Dog Catahoula or BMC...but if you watch the dog work, it's more of a lucky strike than anything else and I'm not interested in that...all these males that love to fight, constantly run trash, and tear up a ruckus in the kennel...I don't desire it, personally. I just finished both volumes of Walk With Wick and it really made me start to think differently about the whole deal...I agree with John Wick that we should be careful and selective to what traits we're breeding. And I feel like, since any Leopard I put out there, will (likely) be a lot of my community's first introduction to the breed, I need to be real honest and responsible about it so that they meet up with solid minded and strong dogs, not junk. We'd like to represent the breed well, over here in our little corner of Arizona

Anyway, time to saddle up and get off the message boards for awhile! Thanks for some good insight and conversation everyone. As always, I'm learning a lot by all the experience sharing!

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Old Post 10-30-2012 09:28 PM
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sam kirkland
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I used to prefer the merle color but I really like the looks of a solid black leopard more now days. I don,t know if theres any thing to it or not but it seems percentage wise the solid black have a very high rate of turning out to be nice dogs. I have seen a lot of real good black and tan colored ones.The black and tan is not my color preference unless it is a tan dog with black saddle or high tan as we always called them. I always liked the high tans. The tan color with the real dark merle saddle is also a sharp combination. Richard Johnsons old Crank female was that color.One thing about the leopard dogs with all the different colors you can find one you like. The bad side of the color story is that sad but true most beginners want a merle. This could lead to unscrupulous breeders trying to breed for that color. I hope there is very little of that going on. When I have a litter of pups I will sometimes give a discount price on the black and tan colored pups so they will sell as quick as the others.The black and tan colored stand the same chance of turning out as the rest but the odd or different colors are more attractive to newcomers. Here also is where something else happens that probably bothers me more than anything.An unscrupulous breeder has a pup with too much white and strong double merle characteristics that does not meet the breed standards for color by having over a third white and sometimes blue eyes.Well instead of culling at one day old they go ahead and get puppy papers for this sub standard pup.Well here comes the beginner and most often his wife or girlfriend will think that white lookin pup with blue eyes is the cutest thing they have ever seen. Well they buy this one and are tickled to death till they start showing it around and learn the truth.Then they stick the pup on the leopard board trying to get their money back . What makes it worse is when the unscrupulous breeder has bred their female to a well known stud dog and here they are showing this pup that should be culled offering it for sale out of someones stud dog.I have had this happen to me and it really ticks me off. These people that knowingly put puppy papers on this pup should be dealt with severely by UKC.These people that keep passing this pup on once they know it doesn,t meet breed standards should also be dealt with.I wish all beginners would do some research before buying and we could get this practice stopped. I know I stop it on my end because once someone reg. a pup that should be culled out of my dog I will never have any dealings with them again and when someone interested in one of their pups calls me for reference I give them one and probably not the type reference the breeder would like.

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Old Post 10-30-2012 09:37 PM
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sam kirkland
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Another thing that we as breeders need to do to preserve the integrity of our breed is also cull pups with genetic physical defects. I have seen pups sold that were born with badly deformed tails and other bad birth defects to beginners that want a leopard so bad they will buy these specimens only to regret it later. I know money is tight all over and most people need every dime their dogs can bring in but I just can,t see doing it at the expense of destroying the integrity of the breed.When a pup leaves here I strive to send out a pup that I myself would be proud to own and a good physical speciman that that will be a source of pride to the owner. I think if all breeders would try to do this it will help our breed and there will be more people desiring to own a leopard dog. Getting experienced trainers and hunters to try a leopard is what will do a lot to strengthen the breed and get more leopards to wind up in the winners circle.

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john Duemmer
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Anyone that thinks they can sort the pups carrying the double merle genetics from a litter based on their apearance is either just kidding themselves or their customers or they just havent done their homework about how the merle gene works. Sure some can be identified and culled, but just because they dont exibit the double in appearance doesnt mean its not there. Just wait 3 o 4 generations down the road of making merle to merle crosses and see what the rsults are. Genetics is a science not just some guys theory that decided to write a book, come on guys its the 21st century, you have a google search button right there in front of you.

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john Duemmer
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Statistically..... every time 2 merle dogs are crossed 25% of the litter are (MM) double merle, they can be black, black and tan, or any other color but they are still (MM) dogs. The more merle is crossed on merle, the higher the percentage of dogs in the gene pool that carry the double (MM) merle, and when 2 of these dogs are crossed the result is a high % of dogs with genetic deafness and blindness. Just because a dog isnt merle doesnt mean it doesnt carry double merle genetics.

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MeganAK2AZ
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John

So, as you stated, just because a dog is solid colored, that doesn't mean it isn't carrying the merle (I also read the same this afternoon)--how would one go about finding the best pairing? I can't afford genetic testing for my Hounds right now We do that for our horses though! We send their hair samples to a University...it's beneficial for both our stable and their research, still costs us a grip though! I thought if be okay if I bought a black or black/tan male...but now...? Don't worry, I'll get to Google again here in a moment and probably find my answer I'm on my phone right now.

You make an excellent point about 4 etc generations down the line! People need to remember that!

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Old Post 10-31-2012 01:43 AM
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sam kirkland
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I,m not even gonna honor ol John with a response me and him been down that road too many times. I believe the poor ol boy just lives to differ with me. Must be the yankee in him.I,ve stated a outline on how I do it right or wrong and I get a minimum of albino looking pups that might be deaf or blind. I say might because I do the right thing and cull them at birth so I don,t know for sure if they are deaf and/or blind. I,ll deal with 4 gen. down the road when it comes.Good luck with your female young lady and if you ever have any dog questions and think I might be able to help don,t hesitate to ask.Some of the guys I mentioned helped me with questions in the past by guys I meant the breeders I mentioned earlier not ol John from New York I don,t think I have ever run into anything he would be qualified to advise me on and truly hope I never do.

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Leopard58
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Well I must say I think this is some very good reading, and some good information has been given out. And with all the technology we have today I would say we have alot of ways to figure it out if you have the money for the testing folks can go that way. I know I can't afford to go that route so I'm going with the indicators but the main point is the double merle gene is out there and it can be in dogs that you don't see it in and we just need to be aware of it and try to avoid it as much as possible. But my point is sometimes we just need to agree to voice our views and stay on point.

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Old Post 10-31-2012 03:32 AM
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john Duemmer
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Sam you can face bark at me all you want, and your dogs are yours to breed however pleases you, but you apparently have made no attempt to educate yourself on the science of genetics. The information is readily available for anyone who wishes to learn. If a breeders objective is to produce a litter with the best odds of not haveing pups with genetic problems then crossing dogs that may be double merle should be avoided. Every time 2 merle dogs are crossed 25% of that litter carries double merle weather they have excessive white or not. Neither you, me, or anyone else can see whats on the inside.

Megan I'm glad you are doing some reading, i think you will be able to make an educated decision when the time comes, just avoid the superstition and old wives tales. Happy hunting.

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Old Post 10-31-2012 04:03 AM
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frog
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the point of the post

This post is to educate new owners and potential new owners of leopards and potential new breeders. The demand for leopard spotted dog is so much more than a black and tan, solid red, or any other color. I don't think it's to the best interest of the breed to keep breeding merles to merles. Yes you may have litters that come out with less or no white on them, but the danger is still out there. The goal of this thread was to make new owners aware of the problems that occur with breeding two merles together. The proof is in the history and in the genetics, but thats the choice a person makes. Look at all other breeds with this type of gene. problems will occur if we don't educate.

Again the goal is to educate. If it offends someones breeding program than I'm sorry. It's for the better of the breed to educate all new owners, potential owners, and new breeders.

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Old Post 10-31-2012 04:30 AM
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john Duemmer
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Re: the point of the post

quote:
Originally posted by frog
This post is to educate new owners and potential new owners of leopards and potential new breeders. The demand for leopard spotted dog is so much more than a black and tan, solid red, or any other color. I don't think it's to the best interest of the breed to keep breeding merles to merles. Yes you may have litters that come out with less or no white on them, but the danger is still out there. The goal of this thread was to make new owners aware of the problems that occur with breeding two merles together. The proof is in the history and in the genetics, but thats the choice a person makes. Look at all other breeds with this type of gene. problems will occur if we don't educate.

Again the goal is to educate. If it offends someones breeding program than I'm sorry. It's for the better of the breed to educate all new owners, potential owners, and new breeders.



Excellent post and very good information.
I think the most important point is that a solid X (Mm)merle cross will produce a half solid half merle litter and that a merle(Mm)Xmerle(Mm)cross still only produces half merles, with the other half being 25% solid and 25% being double merle(MM)

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Old Post 10-31-2012 05:15 AM
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Dan McDonough
UKC Forum Member

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Northeastern Wisconsin
Posts: 981

A little more...

Merle will always present itself. There are however, pups that have just a smidge of merle on them and as they grow older it gets very hard to see. That is just a simple matter of looking your pups over when they are young.

Dogs can be free of white hair or nearly so and still be double merle. I owned Ganus' Hoosier Seabiscuit for the last half of his life and he had a fingerprint sized patch of white on his chest and was nice and dark-eyed except for one tiny little pie-slice of white in one of his eyes...double merle (any white in the eye is a result of the pup being double merle).

I and others have seen pups out of two b&t parents that were deaf but that problem can and does come up occasionally, independently of the merle gene.

You can breed two merles together if you want but this being a game of statistics it's silly to do so. Now, breeding the next greatest dog is the goal of some and the hope of others, so having a few to cull is not the end of the earth. The funny thing is that there are a heck of a lot more people breeding merle to merle than there are of those breeding solid to solid. Is that because more of the best Leoaprds are merle or because more people prefer merles(?)...my guess is the latter.

As a Leopard breeder, being color blind is more rare than you would think. That being said, sometimes you have to balance the long term goals with how your pups look because unless your wealthy, have access to someone else's money or are foolish, you've got to sell a few to stay afloat.

It's my opinion it's a matter of statistics . The breed will get to where it needs to go faster if no one bred merle to merle ever again...as if that will ever happen! I'll probly do it myself again. That's just the nature of breeding and wanting to see what is around the next corner. In most every case though, I would choose merle to solid or solid to solid.

One more thing. UKC will let you register all of the double merle pups you want and it's up to you as the breeder wether or not you want to breed that dog. Some will say that UKC "is just in it for the money". Well they would be crazy not to be but the real wisdom in how this is set up is not talked about very much. Have faith in the free-market system. It's better at culling than any of us are. Know why that is? It's because a true free-market system mimics nature. The problems come when (because free-market systems are man made) the regulatory boundries are not properly set. Say what you want but the UKC has stood the test of time and I agree with some of it's "loose" ideas where it concerns registration.

That's all I've got for now.

Oh, one more thing. I'm all for a well regulated single registration proccess. The problem is we just have not had the right guidlines written for that to go on correctly. Sometime I intend to write that but it takes a heck of a lot of time to come up with something like that so that it is bullet-proof...for me anyway.

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Old Post 10-31-2012 05:43 AM
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MeganAK2AZ
UKC Forum Member

Registered: Sep 2012
Location:
Posts: 43

Hmm. I think threads like this one are always worth starting. Discussions are good! Doesn't matter if people agree or disagree, it keeps everyone thinking and on top of their game. Nothing to curl the lip over.

Merle to Merle breeding can be a concern. As I stated earlier, at the very least, it's something for any beginner to be very wary of practicing. I'm not going to argue with people that have their own proven experience and positive results, but it's something that certainly makes me nervous and it should

Genetics is fascinating stuff.

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frog
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Registered: Aug 2009
Location: Stephenville, Texas
Posts: 954

Dan it's all about educating and letting folks know whats out there. We, as a group, need to educate folks about the breed and breeding standards. We sure don't want folks breeding blindly.

I would like to come up with a simple written post or letter to address double merles and the problems related to them. I would like this letter or flier to be mailed with every new member to the ALBA and if the ALBA would agree to it, ask the UKC to include this flier when ever they send out new registration papers to members. Now it would take the association to agree and vote on this and then introduce this to the UKC. I think this would be approved by the UKC and they would help all they can.

I would also like the ALBA to get with UKC and have a small short discussion and show the difference between the catahula breed and the american leopard hound/cur breed. Just to make sure we educate folks about the difference in the two. That's just what I would like to do.

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Old Post 10-31-2012 01:05 PM
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sam kirkland
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Registered: Jul 2008
Location: East Tenn.
Posts: 850

I have a question, Wicks Camo Jug was a merle, do you think people bred their dogs to him in hopes of getting a bunch of merle pups or because he was the best prepotent stud out there at the time even tho he was merle. Also if Jug was still living and the best reproducing female you owned was a merle but you also owned a unproven solid colored female and you had the chance to breed only one dog to Jug be very honest if you can and tell me which one you would breed to him. I direct this question to all but John from New York as i,m not interested in his answer.I think the answer to this will show which breeders are actually trying to breed a better leopard and which ones are only trying to be politically correct. I invite all older experienced leopard breeders who read this to answer this question I am very interested in your answer.I already know what some of the older famous breeders did that produced the great dogs that we are stacking up in our pedigrees today. From the looks of most pedigrees we are going to be in a terrible mess 4 gen. down the road according to the geneticist.

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sam kirkland
UKC Forum Member

Registered: Jul 2008
Location: East Tenn.
Posts: 850

I personally feel if all beginners and young hopeful future leopards breeders would go to known leopard breeders that are producing the good dogs of today and ask questions like I did above they will learn more practical information on breeding a better leopard than they will ever learn from a book.All experienced breeders know that breeding two obvious double merles will produce a percentage of pups that have to be culled.All experienced leopard breeders know how to spot these dogs that might produce the cull pups.They do this without having to go to the extreme of never breeding two merles.If they did go to that extreme a huge percentage of the dogs we are using to produce the best performing leopards of today would never have been born.Common sense has to come in somewhere and its a known fact that a lot of book worms are short on common sense.

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