How to Read Pedigree Charts

A pedigree chart shows your dog's family tree.
Schäferhund image by mhp from

When you buy a purebred dog, one of the things you will receive along with the dog is his pedigree chart. This tells you something about your dog's background, such as whether his parents were conformation champions and whether they hold any obedience, field trial, tracking or other titles recognized by the breed registry. Pedigree charts also typically contain a great deal of other information about your dog’s immediate ancestors, including health information, DNA registry number and the color of each dog. If one or both parents of your dog are imported from or reside in another country, they may hold titles in that country that may not be included in the information on your dog's U.S. pedigree. Usually, the breeder will be happy to supply you with that information, and you can also use the name and registration number of the parents to search for the background information you want online.

Step 1

You should receive a pedigree when you buy a purebred puppy.
black labrador, tired puppy image by Scott Slattery from

Start at the left side of the page and look in the center position. This is where your dog’s name and other information about him is found. If you are buying a puppy, this spot may be blank, or the breeder may have filled in minimal information about your puppy, such as breed, sex and color. You can fill in the rest after you give your dog a name and register him as an individual.

Step 2

All puppies in a litter have identical pedigrees.
3 papillion puppies image by Trina Mole from

Locate the next two names to the right of your dog's name. The name above your dog’s information is his sire, or father, and the one below it is his dam, or mother. Each of these dogs has links to two more dogs, which are your puppy’s grandparents, and each of the grandparents has links to their parents, which are your puppy’s great-grandparents. The males are always the upper listing and the females the lower listing in each pair of ancestors. A typical pedigree shows your dog plus three generations.

Step 3

Review each dog’s name for basic information about that dog. Every name has a registration number directly under it. To the right of that is a date in parentheses. This date is not that dog’s birth date, but when it was first registered in the stud book, meaning this is when the dog was bred for the first time. To the right of that is the dog’s color, and to the right of the color may be a DNA registry number, if the dog has a registered DNA genotype.

Step 4

Check each name in the pedigree to see what titles the dog earned. These titles can help you decide whether a puppy from this litter is likely to be the right choice for you. A conformation champion will have a title in front of the name, such as GCH for Grand Champion or Ch. for Champion, and has proven that he is a good example of his breed. One that has a lot of working or obedience titles after his name, such as AX for Agility Excellent, UD for Utility Dog, HS for Herding Started or TDX for Tracking Dog Excellent, has shown the ability to perform a job well enough to earn a title. A puppy related to such dogs may have similar characteristics, especially if there are a lot of working dogs or conformation champions in his background.

Step 5

Huskies can earn special sled dog titles.
Sled dog race image by Stana from

Determine whether your breed is one of the many breeds where the parent club also has specialty titles. Some of the breeds that offer such titles are the American Rottweiler Club, the Siberian Husky Club of America and the American Bloodhound Club. If your dog belongs to such a breed, you may also find additional working titles such as MT for Man Tracker, SD for Sled Dog and CS for Carting Started.


  • Some breeders will not give you a certified copy of a pedigree when you buy a puppy, but will instead give you a pedigree that includes only names, titles and colors. This practice is not uncommon, but if the breeder is unwilling to give you any type of pedigree, it signals a possible problem. At the very least you should get the puppy’s registration papers, which will include information on his parents. You can use that to obtain a complete pedigree when you register him.


  • Pedigree forms may vary slightly in appearance, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t look exactly as described here. The information on the pedigree chart is what’s important.

  • Some working titles appear in front of the dog’s name, and many dogs have multiple titles. It is best to ask the breeder if you don’t know what the letters stand for.


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