Terms Used in Breeding Dogs & Cats
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Race Foster, DVM

Q. What do breeding terms mean?
 
A. A family of dogsWe are frequently asked about breeding terms - what is crossbreeding? outcrossing? line breeding? and inbreeding?

'Cross breeding' generally refers to the mating of two animals of different breeds. In the case of a Poodle and a Cocker Spaniel, the offspring is sometimes referred to as a Cockapoo. Some distinctive new breeds of cats have been created in this manner.

'Outcrossing' refers to the breeding of two unrelated animals within the same breed. This is occasionally done by breeders to bring in 'new blood' or more specifically a new gene pool, to their breeding program.

'Line breeding' is the basis for establishing a good breeding program. It is the breeding of genetically related individuals that are not closely related. An example would be the mating of two cousins. Line breeding is done to concentrate the desirable genes found within related individuals.

Siamese cat'Inbreeding' is the mating of closely genetically related individuals. An example would be the breeding of a brother and sister. This type of breeding should only be attempted by expert breeders who have a thorough understanding of their pets' genetic pool. Although undesirable characteristics can surface with any type of breeding, they are most likely to be exposed with inbreeding.

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