Selective breeding in animals – 3 Examples

Selective breeding is choosing parents with specific traits to breed with one another in order to generate offspring with more desired traits.

Humans use selective breeding, commonly referred to as artificial selection, to create new species with desirable traits. Fruits and vegetables that are more flavorful, pest-resistant crops, and meatier animals can all be produced through selective breeding.

Here are some examples of artificial selection in animals today:

Dogs

selective breeding in dogs

For centuries, the majority of dog breeds were first chosen for certain work, including hunting, shepherding or guarding. Based on their utility, fitness, and ability, humans deliberately bred canines that were most suitable for the different duties that were required of them.

Dogs bred for companionship are adaptable and eager to make friends, while those bred for sentinel work are much more on guard.

The American Kennel Club estimates that there are about 340 different breeds of dogs in existence globally, each with unique characteristics and behaviors.

Cows

selective breeding cows

Like dogs, cows have been domesticated since centuries. Humans created breeds that are more tolerant to various climatic conditions and circumstances through selective breeding. While some cattle were bred specifically for their meat, whereas others were bred for their milk. As a result, cows characteristics have changed in the following ways:

  • Larger and more muscular size (beef)
  • Higher milk output and bigger udders (dairy)
  • Increased content of fat and protein

Chickens

selective breeding chickens

In order to enhance specific traits deemed useful for human use, chickens too were bred in controlled environments. Chickens are frequently kept as pets and more often bred for their meat, eggs, or company. Some breeds are more economically advantageous for farmers because they:

  • Grow swiftly while consuming relatively little food. 
  • Some breeds lay larger or more eggs. 
  • Getting along with people

Did You Know?

In a letter to eugenist Davenport, Teddy Roosevelt explained that he believed selective breeding should be applied to people in the same way that it is applied to cattle, so that “degenerates” could not reproduce.