The Four Sisters of the Deep South Part II
By Troy Barber
Last month, we did an extensive study of the pedigrees and history behind Chase’s Ace and Decker’s Tracking Pepper. In order to consistently breed great hounds, we must know what’s behind them, not just their names but also traits they possess both good and bad. Yes, even a blind hog will find an acorn now and then, but don’t count on lady luck to always be on your side. If you remember last month, we talked about several desirable qualities that were provided by certain individuals in this pedigree; however, we did not discuss the undesirable qualities, and yes they were present. I usually make an assertive effort to speak only positive thoughts when writing these articles but I think, in this particular case, it’s important to point out some of the weaknesses and how they were corrected through selective breeding. Since the Black Creek/Skullfork blood made up nearly 60% of this pedigree, we have to assume it contributed more genetically than the other bloodlines. I’ve already mentioned some of their outstanding qualities and, as good as they were, they are not without sin (faults or weaknesses). Many of them lacked search, stamina, conformation and intelligence. Now they were busy dogs with lots of body action but because of the lack of intelligence they would sometimes spend more time than necessary looking in unlikely spots. The lack of stamina and conformation go hand in hand; these dogs had hearts as big as elephants but some didn’t have the body structure and stamina to endure extreme conditions such as hot weather and long hours. By the time Ace and Pepper came onto the scene, most of this had been corrected through some well thought out breeding programs with outcrosses such as Dingus McCrae, Mile Branch Sadie, Gay Baker and Web’s Victory Sue who were all known for their intelligence, endurance, stamina, conformation and search ability. In order to eliminate faults, we must have genetic balance when making a cross, if we breed two dogs or bloodlines together known to have the same fault we only intensify that fault. If you go to Laneline Beagles website you will find the Gray Scale story, the breeding and selection method used by the great Elmer Gray. It explains, in detail, about balancing strengths and weaknesses, a very good read for those interested in breeding. The Black Creek/Skullfork hounds were line control hounds, but there was a tendency to hook or skirt the pack especially if you put pressure on them. This trait was intensified when Mountain Run Jake was added to the equation. While he put big ole coon dog mouths and ridiculously big noses on most of his pups, many of them would hook or skirt the pack. This trait was still present in some of the offspring of Ace and Pepper. Most of the breeders in those days were not aware that a bloodline existed that could help correct this problem. It was tolerated, for the most part, and explained away as being rabbit wise. I’m going to leave this hanging for now; we’ll come back to it a little later. Other undesirable traits in the Black Creek/Skullfork hounds were seizures and running fits. I’ll most likely ruffle some feathers here, but I don’t mean to offend anyone or discredit any bloodline. The Black Creek hounds were just a spinoff of the Skullfork bloodline so that’s why I always join them with a slash mark. The original Skullfork hounds never showed any signs of seizures or running fits until the Weir Creek blood was introduced into them. While it added some very good qualities it also brought along some weaknesses. This might have been the most difficult trait to overcome.Even today you will see it crop up if line breeding this blood.
You can find the remainder of the is article and some photos starting on page 12 of our December issue.