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Pedigree of Sigmund Christoph von Waldburg-Zeil-Trauchburg , Canon in Konstanz from 1776 (late 18th century)

A pedigree is a diagram showing the ancestors (ancestors) of an individual , sorted according to their family ties . Pedigree tables are created in family history research ( genealogy ) and animal breeding in order to be able to record the ancestry of a person or an animal (referred to as test person : "test person", also as ego "I") at a glance and to be able to compare it with other genealogical tables or ancestral lists . They contain both parents and their ancestors known by name (compare generation names ); of this comes a person or an animal in a straight line from. While animals are concerned with purely biological lineages ( consanguinity ), humans can also contain legally related ancestors (through acknowledgment of paternity , determination of paternity or adoption ).

Forms of the pedigree

A pedigree over 4 generations
generation 1. (I) 2. (II) 3. (III) 4. (IV)
Kekule number = name 1 = ego ( test subject , person) 2 = father 4 = grandfather (paternal side) 08 = great grandfather (father side)
09 = great grandmother (father side)
5 = grandmother (paternal side) 10 = great grandfather (father side)
11 = great grandmother (father side)
3 = mother 6 = grandfather (maternal side) 12 = great-grandfather (mother's side)
13 = great-grandmother (mother-side)
7 = grandmother (maternal side) 14 = great-grandfather (mother's side)
15 = great-grandmother (mother-side)

In this example of the generation designations , the “ Kekule number ” that is commonly used today is used: The person or individual whose ancestors are represented receives the number 1 as the test subject (or ego ), the father 2, the mother the 3 and so on. The father of each individual receives double the number of his child, the mother double plus 1. With the exception of the first individual, all even numbers are male, all odd numbers are female. If the board fills a page, a new board or page is started with the kekule number of the respective "final tooth", which is numbered with the kekule number (not the page number).

As much as the blackboard form is recommended as a supporting sketch for quick orientation, the presentation of the results in list form as an ancestral list in the genealogy has so many writing and printing advantages that the list form has been established in Germany since 1920.

The family history genealogical signs - relevant abbreviations and symbols - often used in pedigree tables are used to keep the table compact.

Particularly vivid is the portrait ancestral panel , a panel with portraits , or the heraldic representation with the coats of arms of the ancestors and their marital union as the marriage coat of arms ( alliance coat of arms ).

In monasteries it was and is sometimes customary to portray the abbots or abbesses. These portraits were then mostly hung in a row in the corridors as a "portrait gallery". Another special form is the friendship gallery .

Mathematical consideration

In contrast to the descendant table , the pedigree has a regular structure, since every individual regularly has two parents. However, the same ancestors can appear more than once in a pedigree if the parents are related to each other. This occurrence is known as ancestral loss. In spatially or socially restricted groups of people, such as the high nobility , religious minorities or in remote areas, the inbreeding coefficient can reach considerable proportions (see inbreeding in humans ); in animal breeding , inbreeding coefficients above 10 percent are not uncommon.

Mathematically speaking, the pedigree is a binary tree . The number of nodes doubles in each generation , so each individual (2 0 = 1) has two parents (2 1 ), four grandparents (2 2 ), eight great-grandparents (2 3 ), sixteen great-great-grandparents (2 4 ) and so on . In general, the number of all ancestors (of each person in generation n +1) is to be calculated as 2 n +1 - 2 up to the n th generation .

However, this approach only applies if relationships between ancestral pairs are excluded (see marriage of relatives ). If 25 years are assumed for each generation, this results in a period of 100 years for 4 generations (compare generation gap ):

  • 0100 years: Within 04 generations, a person has arithmetically 30 ancestors: 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 (2 × 2 4 - 2).
  • 0250 years: Within 10 generations, a person has mathematically 2046 ancestors: 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 128 + 256 + 512 + 1024 (2 × 2 10 - 2).
  • 1000 years: Within 40 generations, a person has arithmetically 2,199,023,255,550 ancestors: around 2.2  trillion (2 × 2 40 - 2) - a number that is well over a thousand times the world population at that time (less than 1 billion) .

There must therefore inevitably be double counting within individual generations and across generations (loss of ancestry). The entire ancestral "tree" is thus a cycle-free, directed graph , but not a tree in the sense of graph theory : the branches and twigs inevitably unite again.

So it is a peculiarity to have Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) among the ancestors, but highly unlikely not to have Charlemagne (747-814) among them.

Pedigree in the estates

Gallery of ancestors in the residential palace Ludwigsburg (2009)

In various contexts in the late Middle Ages and in the early modern period it was necessary to provide evidence of descent in line with one's status in the paternal and maternal line up to a certain generation of ancestors. Pedigree tables were often used for such evidence ( ancestral test , in the case of the nobility also nobility test ). Applicants for exclusive offices or benefices (for example positions in ecclesiastical or secular communities) illustrated their ancestry on such boards, usually using coats of arms . The origin and so-called purity of the sex was certified on the ancestral tables of peers.

Initially, often only the family crests of the eight great-grandparents or the sixteen great-great-grandparents were depicted one after the other, but finally the graphic representation in the form of a tree became common ( family tree ). In addition to these as Aufschwörung Stafeln (confirming or increasing the nobility) documents referred to contain collections of pedigrees in genealogy and legal treatises of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Pedigree in dog breeding

Pedigree charts in dog breeding, often referred to colloquially as "papers" (English pedigree ), are certificates of descent and serve to prove the descent of pedigree dogs . Pedigree charts are issued by breed clubs and kept in accordance with the stud books . Internationally there are agreements for the mutual recognition of pedigrees, this applies in particular to the FCI and its contractual partners.

In the breeding of working dogs in the VDH , colored pedigrees are sometimes common. The color provides information about the breeding status of the parent animals. Red pedigree charts (colloquially “red papers”) are used in some clubs for dogs that have come from licensing or performance breeding . This means that both parents have passed performance tests and are licensed . The exact regulations are made by the respective breed clubs, they differ from one another. This applies in particular to the type of performance tests prescribed in each case. According to § 4.1.1 of the Breeding Regulations, German Shepherds in the SV may only be bred with dogs that have a training indicator, i.e. have successfully passed a performance test. Breeding associations of other races do not necessarily require this. A dog's pedigree (and its color) says something about its parents and only to a limited extent about the dog itself.

Pedigrees are not only issued by breed associations, puppy sellers also issue them themselves. Such pedigrees do not correspond to any stud book and are not recognized by any breed association. As a rule, they also have no meaningfulness regarding the pure breeding of the dogs for which they are issued.


Individual evidence

  1. a b section Charlemagne. In: Peter Chr. Clemens: Family research and Mecklenburg. Various aspects. (No longer available online.) In: Research. Association for Mecklenburg Family and Personal History e. V., January 24, 2004, archived from the original on August 27, 2009 ; accessed on March 13, 2020 .
  2. Elizabeth Harding, Michael Hecht (Ed.): The Ahnenprobe in the premodern. Selection - initiation - representation. Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-86887-006-0 , pp. ??.
  3. Examples from Elizabeth Harding: Adelsprobe. In: Historical Lexicon of Bavaria. January 25, 2010, accessed March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Gabriel Bucelin: Germania Topo-Chrono-Stemmato-Graphica Sacra Et Profana. 4 parts. Ulm 1655-1678.
  5. ^ Philipp Jacob Spener : Theatrum Nobilitatis Europeae. 4 volumes. Frankfurt / M. 1668-1678.
  6. Example at RZV Hovawart: Hovawart breeding in the RZV. In: February 5, 2020, accessed March 13, 2020.
  7. Example from the Association for German Shepherds : Breeding Regulations Version 2018. Validity: from October 1, 2016, p. 15 ff. ( PDF: 297 kB, 19 pages on