Reading Dog Pedigree Charts

Created: May 11, 2018    |    Updated: Jan 14, 2021   |   Reports

Basic Guide to Reading Dog Pedigrees

This website offers complex dog pedigree reports and knowing how to read them and understanding what everything means in a pedigree can really help you out. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you'll find the pedigree for the German Shepherd Quantum von Arminius. We'll be using this pedigree as an example so you can follow along:

Show and Performance Titles

If a dog or in some cases if one or more of the dog's ancestors has performed in a past competition and received an award, indication of such awards might be displayed next to a dog's pedigree next to the dog's name just above the pedigree chart. These award titles will generally be shown as an abbreviation either just before or following the dogs name and are specific per organization (such as AKC) or by the dog's breed.

In Quantum von Arminius's pedigree, you will see the name is prefixed with 'VA2'. The 'VA' stands for 'Vorzuglich Auslese' (or 'Excellent Select' in English) and indicates the highest attainable award by a German show dog, only given out at the annual Sieger Show in Germany. The following '2' indicates the dog finished second runner up in the show.

The 'SCHH3' following Quantum von Arminius's name above the pedigree chart indicates that the dog was awarded a Working Title of 'Masters level of Schutzhund tracking, obedience, and protection'.

As mentioned above, these title abbreviations will vary between different organizations, competitions, and breeds.

Sex, Breed and Whelping Date

The dog's sex, breed and whelping date will be displayed (in that order) to the right of the dog's name and performance titles, the extra information, which is shown in a pop-up by hovering over the circular 'i' icon, and lastly any photos the dog might have which are displayed in a pop-up by hovering over the 'image' icon.


Inbreeding occurs in a pedigree when the same dog appears twice through different offspring. Quantum von Arminius's pedigree has a fair amount of inbreeding in it. Our pedigree reports will show inbred dogs by placing a colored bar to the right of names inside an ancestor's pedigree cell. Notice in Quantum von Arminius's pedigree below that there are colored bars next to Visum von Arminius, Ica vom Haus Reiterland, Fedor von Arminius, Uran vom Wildsteiger Land, and Odin von Tannenmeise. The bars are color coded so that you can quickly find matching sets of dogs. All of these inbred dogs appear more than once in the pedigree through different offspring. Notice that Afra vom Haus Reiterland also appears more than once in the pedigree (5th generation), yet she doesn't have a colored bar next to her name. This is because she only appears through her daughter Ica vom Haus Reiterland (in the 4th generation) and no other dogs in the pedigree.

Cross Duplicates

Inbred dogs that appear in both the dam and sire side of the pedigree are referred to as cross duplicates. In Quantum von Arminius's pedigree, Ica vom Haus Reiterland appears twice, once in Dux della Valcuvia's pedigree (1st Generation Sire) and once in Only vom Wutachtal's pedigree (1st Generation Dam). On the other hand, Visum von Arminius (another highlighted inbred) only appears in Dux della Valcuvia's pedigree and thus he isn't a cross duplicate. On Pedigree Online, you can choose to highlight the cross duplicates in a pedigree or all of the inbred dogs by selecting a value from the "Highlights" dropdown in the report menu above the pedigree chart. Why is this important? The reason it's important is that inbreeding is only a factor when both the sire and dam have similar ancestors and the subject dog can have matching sets of chromosomes (alleles) from specific ancestors.

Photos, Additional Information, and Health Information

We have photos, additional information, and medical information for many dogs in the database. These will be noted above the pedigree chart with small icons (photo info medkit). You can run your mouse over these icons to view photos or additional information for the dog who's pedigree is being viewed. Some of the additional information that might be displayed in the pop-up includes color, markings, date of birth, date of death, birth country, current country, show titles, performance titles, and registry number. Health information might include height, weight, hip and elbow rating, and breeding status (intact or neutered).

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