How to Read a Dog's Pedigree Chart

Written by elle smith
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How to Read a Dog's Pedigree Chart
Your dog's family tree can reveal much about its history and health. (dog image by apeschi from

A pedigree is a dog's family lineage and a pedigree chart is a listing of the registered names of the dog's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond. Pedigrees are useful when planning a breeding program to determine how closely the dogs are related to each other and--by understanding life spans of relatives--to provide indications of possible genetic diseases. There are popular software programs available that will create a personalised pedigree chart for the progeny (dog of interest) or you can create one online.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Locate the progeny's name on the pedigree diagram, which appears on the furthermost left of the tree. Identify the progeny's AKC or CKC registration number appearing below its name. Locate the "Whelped" date, or day the progeny was born, and the progeny's colour.

  2. 2

    Read the chart from left to right. Follow the horizontal lines above and below the dog's name, noting that the dog's father--or sire--appears above the dog's name and the dam--or mother--appears below. Pedigrees may hold up to five generations.

  3. 3

    Note any names that may be printed in red, which indicate "Champion of Record," also indicated by the letters "CH" in front of the dog's registered name. This title means that the dog has won the required number of points in competitive judging of its conformation and is an ideal of the breed standard.

  4. 4

    Pay attention to suffixes such as UD or CDX that may be attributed to any ancestors, which indicate excellence in utility or obedience.

  5. 5

    Take note of any record listing "OFA," which is an evaluation of the dog's hip health. This is an important indicator to predict hip issues, such as dysplasia, that can be passed on by its ancestors. Pay attention to any note of "CERF," which means that the dog's eyes are normal, or "BAER," which indicates the dog has had a hearing test.

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