What is the Difference Between Hybridization and Inbreeding

The main difference hybridization and inbreeding is that hybridization is the crossing of two dissimilar individuals, whereas inbreeding is the crossing to similar organisms. Furthermore, the main goal of hybridization is to obtain the best characteristics of each parent in the offspring, while inbreeding is to maintain stable traits over generations. 

Hybridization and inbreeding are the two methods of selective breeding or artificial breeding. Usually, humans use artificial breeding in both animal breeding and plant breeding in order to selectively develop a particular phenotypic trait. 

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Hybridization
     – Definition, Process, Importance
2. What is Inbreeding
     – Definition, Process, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Hybridization and Inbreeding
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Hybridization and Inbreeding
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Hybridization, Hybrid, Inbreeding, Offspring, Parents, Selective Breeding

Difference Between Hybridization and Inbreeding - Comparison Summary

What is Hybridization 

Hybridization is one of the two methods of selective breeding. More specifically, in hybridization, breeding occurs between two parents that are genetically dissimilar. Moreover, the parents may belong to different species, different breeds, or cultivars within the same species. Furthermore, hybridization can occur in both animals and plants. Also, the resulting offspring is known as the hybrid.

Main Difference - Hybridization vs Inbreeding

Figure 1: Mule

Besides, the hybrid may have more desirable traits than either parent stock through a process known as “hybrid vigor.” For example, in plants, in comparison to the parent stock, hybrid plants may produce more showy flowers, more seeds, less disease resistant, less insect and pests resistant or tolerate more herbicides. Also, an example in animals is producing mules from the mating of horses and donkeys. In addition to that, another example is the mating of the tiger and lion and producing a liger. Additionally, the hybrid can have a mixture of inherited characteristics of both parents. For instance, ligers may have both the distinguishing spots and stripes of both parent stocks.  

What is Inbreeding 

Inbreeding is the other method of selective breeding; it is opposite to hybridization or outbreeding. Generally, inbreeding involves the breeding of two genetically-similar or biologically-related parents. Therefore, the main purpose of inbreeding is to maintain the desired characteristics of parents in the offspring. For example, dog breeders, horse breeders, and the breeders of exotic animals often use inbreeding to increase a desired genetic trait from the parents in the offspring. However, the negative side effects of inbreeding include the emphasizing of the undesirable characteristics of the parents, such as physical and mental abnormalities in the offspring.

Difference Between Hybridization and Inbreeding

Figure 2: Wild Mustard Plant Selective Breeding

Moreover, there are different levels of inbreeding. As an example, inbreeding between parents and the offspring or between direct siblings is known as 50/50 inbreeding. However, it has the highest risk of producing abnormal traits in the offspring. On the other hand, inbreeding between aunt and nephew, niece and uncle, half-siblings or direct cousins is known as 25% inbreeding. 

Similarities Between Hybridization and Inbreeding  

  • Hybridization and inbreeding are the two methods of selective breeding.  
  • Generally,  selective breeding is responsible for selectively develop a  particular characteristic by choosing specific males and females to sexually reproduce to have offspring.  
  • Dogs are a common example of animals that are subjected to selective breeding. 

Difference Between Hybridization and Inbreeding 


Hybridization refers to the process of animal and plant breeding with an individual of another species or variety, but inbreeding refers to the breeding from closely related people or animals, especially over many generations. 

Type of Breeding 

Hybridization occurs between dissimilar individuals, but inbreeding occurs between similar individuals. 


The main goal of hybridization is to obtain the best characteristics of each parent in the offspring, but the main goal of inbreeding is to maintain stable traits over generations. 


Hybridization can show hybrid vigor; sometimes, growing larger or taller than either parent, but inbreeding can cause genetic disorders such as hip problems in golden retrievers. 


Hybridization is one of the methods of selective breeding in which two dissimilar organisms undergo breeding. Also, it produces a hybrid vigor in the offspring. Therefore, it helps to obtain desired characteristics in the offspring. In contrast, inbreeding is the second method of selective breeding in which two similar organisms undergo breeding. However, its main goal is to maintain the best characteristics of the parents over generations. Hence, the main difference between hybridization and inbreeding is the degree of genetic similarity of parents and the goals of the two processes. 


1. Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “The Genetic Consequences of Inbreeding in Humans and Other Organisms.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 23 Jan. 2020, Available Here.
2. Samiksha, S. “Hybridization in Plants: Types, Procedure and Consequence of Hybridization.” Your Article Library, 6 Jan. 2014, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Juancito” By w:User:Dario u / User:Dario urruty – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia   
2. “Wild Mustard Plant Selective Breeding” By Liwnoc – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia  

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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