Selective Dog Breeding; Everything You Need to Know

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Last Updated: October 27th, 2023

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Selective breeding is a practice that has been around for centuries, aiming to emphasize or eliminate specific traits within a species. In the world of canine companions, selective breeding has been used to achieve desired physical and behavioral characteristics in various breeds.

a litter of labradors on pink background

What is Selective Dog Breeding?

At its core, selective breeding involves choosing specific animals with desired traits to reproduce, ensuring these characteristics are passed on to the next generation. Over time, these chosen traits become prominent within the population, leading to a breed with defined and predictable attributes and characters.

The Benefits Of Selective Dog Breeding

Selective breeding has paved the way for the creation of breeds tailored for specific tasks. From the agile Border Collie, renowned for its herding abilities, to the sturdy St. Bernard, a symbol of mountain rescue, and Dachshund, the badger hunting dog that was designed to squeeze into small burrows. Selective breeding has allowed for specialization of dogs. Additionally, specific health issues can be minimized or eliminated through responsible selective breeding.

Challenges and Concerns of Selective Breeding

Selective breeding is beneficial for some things but it comes with its controversies. When done irresponsibly, it can lead to a reduced gene pool, increasing the risk of inherited diseases. The drive for aesthetic perfection in some breeds has also led to health and structural complications, diminishing the quality of life for the animals.

Natural Breeding vs. Assistance

Some breeds, due to their physical attributes developed through selective breeding, find it challenging to mate naturally. Bulldogs, for instance, often require veterinary assistance for reproduction because of their unique body structure. UFA reports that 86% of English bulldog litters are delivered by caesarean section rather than naturally.

Selective breeding of english bulldogs

Genetic Considerations in Selective Breeding

While selective breeding can lead to remarkable breeds with specific traits, it’s essential to recognize the potential dangers. Every breed has its set of inherited health concerns. However, with responsible breeding practices and regular health screenings, the risk of genetic disorders can be managed and improved through generations.

FAQ About Selective Dog Breeding

What are common problems with selective breeding in dogs?

  1. Reduced genetic diversity leading to increased risk of inherited diseases.
  2. Structural issues, such as respiratory problems in flat-faced breeds, like French Bulldogs.
  3. Exaggerated physical traits that might hinder natural behaviors or physical abilities.

What are 5 examples of good selective breeding?

  1. The Greyhound for speed.
  2. The Rottweiler for guarding.
  3. The Labrador Retriever for retrieving game.
  4. The Bloodhound for its sense of smell.
  5. The Poodle for its hypoallergenic coat.

Why is selective breeding good for dogs?

Selective breeding allows for the development of breeds with specific attributes, be it for work, companionship, or other functions. When done responsibly, it can lead to healthier and more specialized dogs.

Cute litter of Vizsla puppies

Is selective breeding good or bad for dogs?

It can be both. When practiced responsibly, it can produce healthy breeds with desired traits. However, irresponsible breeding can lead to health issues and reduced quality of life.

Why is selective breeding bad for dogs?

Irresponsible selective breeding can lead to a lack of genetic diversity, resulting in inherited health problems, reduced vitality, and issues related to exaggerated physical traits.

Does every purebred dog have a genetic disorder?

Not every purebred dog will manifest a genetic disorder, but many breeds have predispositions to specific health issues. Regular health screenings and responsible breeding can mitigate these risks.

two black and white border collies running across a field


Selective breeding is a useful tool in the world of dog breeding, offering numerous advantages when approached responsibly. However, it’s crucial to prioritize the health and well-being of the animals, ensuring breeds thrive not just in appearance but in health and vitality. If you want to learn more about dog breeding, read our in-depth article about dog breeding.


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