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Is It Safe to Breed Brother and Sister Dogs? (Avoid It!)

Nicole Cosgrove

It can be quite dangerous to breed dog siblings for many different reasons. This unfortunately makes it unsafe and something that you should avoid if you want to ethically breed your dogs to produce a healthy lineage of puppies with minimal health problems.

Breeding dogs is not something that should be done frequently, and it should not be done unless there is a shortage of specific dog breeds in your area. There are so many homeless dogs up for adoption and the shelters are frequently overrun with loveable dogs looking for homes.

If you want to learn more about the ethics behind breeding dog siblings and what you should do instead, then this article is perfect for you.

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The Safety and Ethics Behind Breeding Dog Siblings

canaan dogs fetching a tree branch
Image Credit: FilkovPhotography, Shutterstock

The reasoning behind the unsafety of breeding a brother and sister dog together is mainly because of the long-term risks and complications behind inbred litters. Even if neither of the dog siblings has current health issues, it can eventually cause indirect problems due to unnatural genetic material.

There is some degree of inbreeding required to keep certain dog breeds present, such as the Labrador. Only experienced breeders should attempt this if they have skill and knowledge on doing it correctly, but many experienced and professional dog breeders will disagree with inbreeding, even to save a pure lineage of dog breeds and so they do not even want to attempt to inbreed their dogs.

It is recommended to only breed dogs that do not share the same parent or ancestors and have no blood relation to one another. Dogs that do not share the same genetic material in a four-generation pedigree ensure that the genetics shared between litters is similar, but not too close to each other that is will reduce the gene pool over time.

Unfortunately, dogs do not have the same mental maturity level as humans do when it comes to the repercussions and morals of breeding with their blood. Therefore, male dogs will still try to mate with their female sibling even if it is wrong. This makes it essential to separate the litter at the right time when all the dogs are sexually mature. It is an instinct in dogs that will rarely occur in the wild and mainly happens in captivity because of human intervention.

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Why Should You Avoid Breeding Dog Siblings?

Dog siblings are mainly bred together to produce puppies with predictable traits. Usually concerning temperament and appearance. This comes down to the aesthetics and health status of the parents that then gets carried on through the generations with inbreeding. In theory, dog breeders who work with siblings have the idea in their mind that by breeding these two genetically related dogs, that the quality of their genetic lineage will be passed to their offspring to produce a more superb specimen. This is because dog siblings share more genetic material than two distantly related dogs will since the parents are the same. The belief then stems from the fact that this will strengthen the lineage and fix homogenize traits in dogs with the intent that certain traits will be passed to the next generation.

However, it is incorrect to think that breeding dog siblings have much positive benefit at all and that two of the same dogs will produce a perfect litter. Truthfully, it is quite the opposite and there are many risks to be aware of.

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It’s All About Genetics

Schnocker mixed breed dogs
Image Credit: Crystal Alba, Shutterstock

Two dog siblings that may seem to not have any health issues or appearance negativities, will still be a genetic carrier for recessive alleles. Incest in dogs has been known to produce major health conditions such as hip dysplasia, heart, or liver conditions, and neurological disorders. Deafness and blindness are also common among same-gene litters, which occurs when an individual carries two defective copies of the gene.

The problem with incestual breeding in dogs is that you cannot see the internal genetic material harboring inside of the two related dogs you plan to breed. Since they both came from the same litter, these dogs are most likely to have the same varying degree of health issues that may not have made an appearance yet. This then gets passed down to the offspring who must suffer as a result.

Not only are you reducing that specific generation of dog’s gene pool, but you are also putting the future litter’s generation at risk for seemingly human benefit and gain. Incest dog breeders mainly focus on the money factor behind the high quality of their incestual dog litter, while very few focus on saving the pedigree lineage of certain dog breeds. Many dog breeders may also find it easier to breed two related dogs because it is right in their hands, which saves them money from having to purchase a new high-quality dog to pair with their desired male or female dog.

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Health Concerns

dog at vet_ESB Professional, Shutterstock
Image Credit: ESB Professional, Shutterstock

Hereditary health problems are a major concern in the incestual breeding of dogs, and it poses a risk to the future health of dogs. This is not only true for sibling pairs, but also sibling and father, or mother and sibling pairs which have equally risky genetic complications.

A List of Incestual Dogs Hereditary Defects

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Loss of vigor (weak, low energy, and poor fitness levels)
  • Infertility
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart Conditions
  • Liver failure
  • Deformities of the spine, hips, and mouth
  • Reduced gene pool
  • Low genetic potential
  • Shortened lifespan
  • Obesity
  • Increased risk of stillborn
  • Birth complications

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When Is It Okay To Breed Dog Siblings?

Overall, it should be avoided. Some highly skilled breeders may take on the job of breeding incestual dog litters, and it should be left to them. It is safe to say that many dog breeders do not have the financials and knowledge to ethically breed incestual litters.

Keep in mind that these types of dog breeders lose more money than they will make for breeding dogs. This is because they need to do regular genetic scans on each related dog to understand the basics of the genetic material they are going to breed. This is highly necessary and costly, as you will need to seek out a canine medical center to run these tests before even attempting to breed the related pair. Not only is that risk, but the breeder also must test the offspring and discontinue to lineage if there is something wrong.

Consult an Expert

dog and vet._LightField Studios_Shutterstock
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

To even begin breeding a related pair of dogs, you need to start with two very healthy adults who have been bred and tested for their genetic excellence. It can take years for inbreeding in dogs to work, and the average breeder typically does not have the financials and time to wait.

Expert dog incestual breeders mainly breed to produce pedigree and pure lineages in certain dog breeds like Labradors or Pomeranians. Even they have concerns around the ethics of what they are doing, and many do not recommend it to be done by others.

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What Can You Do Instead?

Instead of breeding dogs or purchasing dogs from a breeder, we recommend that you first look at your local shelters and rescues for dogs and cats. Most of these places are overpopulated with over a hundred different dog breeds.

It is a myth that dogs from shelters are unhealthy or unattractive. These dogs have been placed there because they have been picked up off the streets, confiscated from unethical backyard breeders, litters of puppies rescued from strays, or dogs that have been given up, mainly because their previous owners could no longer provide for them. This is the sad reality for many dogs and even puppies. Shelters require adopters and fosters because if they cannot care for all the dogs in their custody, these dogs will have to be euthanized. There is nothing sadder than finding out a local shelter had to euthanize a group of dogs because they could not find a home.

You would be surprised by how many ideal dogs and puppies are found in shelters. Many are high quality and come in a variety of sizes and ages. This means that there is a perfect dog for everyone, just sitting in the shelter and gazing at potential adopters.

How Can You Tell If You Are Ready To Breed Dogs?

The average dog owner is rarely ever ready to breed dogs. A popular issue is that so many backyard and unethical breeders are taking over the marketing trying to sell their ‘perfect’ dog or puppy. Breeding dogs requires a high level of skill and knowledge on genetics that many people are unable to comprehend. It is also expensive and time-consuming and is falsely portrayed as easy.

A reputable breeder will agree that it costs more to breed dogs than it is to sell enough puppies to keep up with all the financial losses. Incestual dog breeding is exceptionally difficult, and not for the average owner or even breeder.

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Conclusion

We highly recommend avoiding the breeding of related dogs. There are too many risks and complications that outweigh any possible pros. It is not worth the hassle and effects it will have on both the breeder and future offspring. There is no reason to put dogs through the complications of incest when you can find a perfectly compatible dog at a shelter for you and your family.

It is still an ongoing belief that breeding-related dogs make the offspring more superior and pricier than mixed breeds, which is why so many breeders use this method to make a quick buck. The reality is far more complicated than that.

We hope that this article has shed some light on the negative side of breeding brother and sister dogs together and that you understand why it should be avoided.


Featured Image Credit: wa40friend, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.