This is another in the growing list of titles for the dog breeder that attempts to introduce the breeder to the basic concepts of genetics. It is not really a primer, as it is not written in a style or fashion that someone without a sound basic knowledge of breeding, science, and perhaps, genetics will find easy to grasp on first looks. Nor does it offer a great deal in basic concepts, such as the likely inherited pattern for a specific trait, but that is not a failing this book alone suffers.
This is a book from the kennel of Alpine Publications, and as such is a sound book. It’s failing is (which is probably due to a lack of knowledge within the field anyway) the lack sound hard facts on how to breed for specific points such as lay of shoulder, stronger pasterns, set of tail, whatever. In the section ‘Applications for Breeders’ the chapters are
Coat Colors and Markings (which several books since Little’s groundbreaking title in the 1960s have already broached)
Coat Types and Qualities – nice to see this touched on, although, most breeds won’t find it of great value as the coat types of a breed often sees those members deemed as separate breeds anyway.
Structural Traits – excellent to see the topic, but the 10 pages covers The Head and The Body and I guess won’t tell anyone anything new of they have already done any reading on the topics.
Control of Genetic Disorders
Congenital Disorders and it is rightly here as many congenital disorders are blandly described as genetic issues when sometimes they are not.
Common Hereditary Problems (Bleeding disorders, Epilepsy, Eye Disorders, Hypothyroidism, Skeletal Disorders)
The last part of the book looks at Selection, covering the topics The Theories, The Art, and Evaluation and Records.
The first two sections of the book could drive a novice away, but as breeders, or would be breeders, you can skim the first part of the book and get down to the sections that will really interest you. The early sections cover The Nature of the Species (Evolutionary Genetics and Behavioral Genetics) and The Nature of Heredity (Cytogenetics, Mendelian Genetics, Molecular Genetics, Quantitative Genetics, and Population Genetics)
Genetics is a huge and rather unexplored science, and as such can spook breeders, but a good breeder will study genetics books as much as they study performance and pedigrees on dogs they seek to breed, and Genetics by Jackie Isabell should be included in their studies. As a first book or primer it will be overwhelming, but as a reference that discusses newer ideas within the field of genetics it is of great interest. The prose and writing style is fairly easy to read, the layout is nice with lots of summarizing tables, and photos. The section on evaluation is a great aid, but I am confused as to why the chosen puppy has not been noted as being over at the knee, but otherwise the assessment of the limb bone placement looks good.
And, yes, the author has put thought into her book, for example she mentions that Little and Willis (and that Robinson does not) both list the Locus B allele for the Clumber Spaniel as B (black) when it obviously cannot be, the breed never has a black nose except in a first generation cross.
The chapters are well referenced, and there is a strong bibliography given, plus an extensive glossary.