Breeding is the most efficient way to maximize your favorite Pokémon’s competitive output. Pokémon can be fine-tuned to absolute perfection. We can optimize Max Stats, Nature, and Ability. Pokémon breeding also grants us access to otherwise unobtainable Egg Moves.
Of course, the benefits don’t end there! We can also use breeding for glamour-based traits such as Pokeball entrance animations and increased odds for shinies. We’ll cover that near the end.
Game Freak doesn’t broadcast the breeding process anywhere in-game. Perhaps the development team swore an oath of secrecy. Perhaps they consider tutorials to be a thought-crime in the studio. It could be laziness, it could be a philosophy of accessibility. Who knows?
The point is, leaping online Pokémon battles seems both rigorous and impossible to the untrained eye. Believe me, I’ve been there, too!
The leap is not impossible. In fact, it’s more accessible than it’s ever been before…
And I’m here to help.
I’ve got all the information you need to start breeding competitive Pokémon in less time than it takes to waltz down to the convenience store.
Before we begin, let’s cover what I mean by Max Stats:
Embedded deep within the code of Pokémon is a unique genetic identity for every Pokémon you catch. This DNA manifests itself in stat points. We call them Individual Values (IVs)
These hidden IV variables exist for each stat category. There are six in total.
Translation: Hitpoints, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed all have a hidden value ranging from 0-31 that impacts the highest attainable stat of a Pokémon. In the wild, these stats are completely randomized.
Game Freak included IVs as a nod to species diversity within the game. This code has existed since day 1, although from generation 3 onward – these stats have been accentuated for even more Pokémon diversity.
Unique won’t win us matches, not while we’re playing online. We want our Pokémon to be efficient.
There is no standardization in the amount of IVs a Pokémon can inherit. A legal Pokémon can have 31 IVs in every stat or 0 IVs in every stat.
When we breed Pokémon, we eliminate IV randomization. Every egg will inherit 3-5 IVs from its parents, and we have an item to guarantee 5 inherited IVs every time. This opens up an opportunity to make our Pokémon as strong as possible.
Cool. You’re probably wondering how we can check hidden stats on a Pokémon. The method varies from generation to generation, but we can catch a glimpse of max IVs in-game.
In Sword and Shield, we’ll unlock the ability to check IVs by defeating Leon in both the main story and once again in the battle tower (located at the top edge of Wyndon). Once we’ve completed that, we gain access to a streamlined view of IVs within our Pokémon storage boxes.
Simply hover over a Pokémon and press the plus button until arriving at a “stat” screen. We won’t find a concrete value between 0 and 31, but we’ll see visible categories: Best, Fantastic, Very Good, Pretty Good, Decent, and No Good.
The ‘No good’ category will be reserved for 0 IVs and ‘Best’ will be reserved for 31. It’s also worth noting that ‘Fantastic’ is exactly 30 IVs.
In every version, IV checkers relay information in the following order: HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, then Speed. In versions where you need to speak to the rater directly: You’ll typically be told what your Pokémon’s best IV is. If we’re breeding for max stats, he’ll list all the categories tied at 31. Starting in X/Y, the checker began sharing categories with 0 IVs as well.
IVs alone won’t make a stat reach its maximum potential. You may have heard of another hidden variable. We call them Effort Values (EVs), but those only become relevant once we’re training a Pokémon. While breeding, we won’t need to worry about them.
All right, enough with the statistic mumbo-jumbo. It’s time to get geared for breeding!
The first thing you’ll need to know is how to collect Pokémon eggs, to begin with. You’ll need to go to a daycare and deposit two Pokémon of the same species (Or egg group. Don’t worry, we’ll cover that soon!). The deposited Pokémon need to be of opposite genders to produce a child.
Not all Pokémon can breed. ‘Undiscovered’ genderless Pokémon cannot. These are often Legendary Pokémon.
There is one major exception to the rules of breeding: Ditto.
Ditto is a free spirit. It can breed with any Pokémon other than itself. This opens up an opportunity to chain breed and maximize all of our IVs without losing nature, ability, or any other desirable traits a parent Pokémon may have.
Chain breeding? Yeah. The Pokémon universe bears striking resemblance to the days of Medieval royal bloodlines… we get our best results when we keep it in the family. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about Pokémon birth defects…
If you’re looking for the daycare: In Sword and Shield, it’s located in the wild area. It’s right smack dab in the middle of Bridge Field, tucked away in a cranny directly to the right of the fast travel location – Just past the two watt-digging brothers. You can’t miss it, it’s the only building around.
Pokémon of different species can be bred with one another to inherit a particular nature and special ‘egg moves’ that are otherwise unobtainable to an evolutionary line. Both Pokémon must belong to the same egg group, and (unless Ditto is a parent) the egg will always be born the same species as the mother.
Some Pokémon only appear in a single egg group, while others appear in two. As a general rule of thumb, Pokémon in two unorthodox egg groups tend to bring egg moves over to the group that may otherwise lack access to it.
There are 15 egg groups in total:
Let me save you some time: Hidden abilities cannot be bred onto a Pokémon unless a parent of the same evolutionary line already has it. Once you have acquired the hidden ability, you’ll be able to pass it along to eggs under the same rules as any other ability.
While breeding two Pokémon of the same species: The mother’s ability has a firm 80% chance of passing to the baby.
While breeding with Ditto: male and genderless Pokémon have a significantly lower chance of passing their existing ability to their offspring. This can come in handy if you want to breed for a different ability altogether.
Remember how I said we can breed favorable natures earlier? Equipping an everstone to a parent Pokémon will guarantee it passes its nature to all eggs. The everstone will also guarantee a Pokémon will retain their regional form when applicable. (i.e. Alolan Vulpix or Galarian Ponyta)
Equipping a destiny knot will ensure 5 IVs will pass from parents to their offspring. The inherited stats aren’t bound to one parent or the other, you’ll see a randomized mixture of both parents stats on each hatched egg. Without the destiny knot, only 3 IVs will pass to the baby.
In Sword and Shield we can find these items in the following locations:
The easiest way to obtain a Destiny Knot in Pokémon Sword and Shield is in Hammerlocke. Check inside the Pokémon Center. A female NPC sells them for 10 battle points (BP).
Other items can help you pass a single IV from a particular parent, but they aren’t very useful. You would need to sacrifice holding either the destiny knot or the everstone. No thanks! I’ve already bred a Pikachu holding a light ball before (the babies learn Volt Tackle this way), and that was pretty rough.
To maximize your breeding output, you’ll want a Pokémon with the Flame Body Ability in your party and you’ll want an Oval Charm in your bag.
The Flame Body ability can be found on Pokémon like Talonflame or Volcarona. While they sit in your party, they will warm unhatched eggs, effectively cutting the amount of time to hatch eggs in half. Don’t worry. There are plenty of other Pokémon with the Flame Body ability, I’ve just grown partial to Pokémon that learn HM fly – because breeding in older generations was tougher.
In Sword and Shield, we can fast-travel at the drop of a dime, so I’ll go ahead and include a complete list.
These Pokémon have Flame Body as a rare hidden ability:
In Sword and Shield, hidden abilities can be found on Pokémon caught in raid dens*
The Oval Charm increases the rate at which your parent Pokémon lays eggs.
Pokémon obtained in the same real-world region lay eggs at a slower rate, and the Oval Charm helps mitigate that. Two Pokémon you’ve caught on your save file (or received in a trade with a nearby friend) will breed dreadfully slow without this item.
In Sword and Shield, The Oval Charm is obtained from defeating a Policeman NPC named after the legendary Game Freak developer, Shigeki Miyamoto, in Circhester Town.
More specifically, you can find him on the second floor of hotel Ionia – located on the right-hand side of the Pokémon Center. He’ll be in the first room to your left.
Similar to all the other post-game stuff, you’ll need to defeat Leon in the Champion Cup to obtain the Oval Charm. Be prepared! Morimoto will have six Pokémon, all level 65.
To inherit egg moves, the father Pokémon must already know the move you want the child to inherit.
How do we know what moves will transfer to an egg? Don’t worry, you won’t be throwing random darts while twirling around blindfolded. The internet has plenty of resources for looking up what egg moves a Pokémon can learn, as well as who they can learn it from.
Once an egg move is latched onto a child, you can chain breed that child with Dittos. New hatchlings will continue to carry your special egg move. You can pile up egg moves until they fill a full four slots if you’d like. Pesky level 1 moves will not override an exotic egg move under any circumstance.
The move rememberer will also keep egg moves indexed if you ever want a Pokémon to relearn an egg move.
Sword and Shield feature a new mechanic where we can transfer egg moves to a fully-trained Pokémon. Long gone are the days of raising a new Pokémon from scratch!
Here are the steps:
Is it a bug? Who knows. I bet it was an intended feature; but, like everything else I’ve covered, there isn’t a trace of information regarding it in the actual game.
Pokémon in apricorn balls, dream balls, beast balls, and safari/sport balls fetch a high price in the trading market. Oftentimes, you can hop into the Pokémon Home app and trade an ‘aprimon’ for Kubfu, legendary dogs, legendary birds, and other precious collectible ‘Mons.
They’re tough to catch, for starters!
Also, each ball has a unique entrance animation. Finding that perfectly harmonious entrance animation on a shiny Pokémon is essentially the ultimate end-game grind for Pokémon fanatics.
Thankfully, Sword and Shield adjusted ball breeding to a 100% ball inheritance chance. In most situations, if you caught a Pokémon in a certain ball, it’ll latch to the babies. But let’s dive into the grittier mechanics:
As of Generation 8, If both parents are the exact same species they each have a 50% chance of passing their ball on to their offspring. This doesn’t mean species of the same evolutionary line. Both Pokémon need to share the same number in the Pokedex.
Example: If you were to breed a dream ball Goomy with a luxury ball Goodra, you would be stuck with a 100% chance of receiving the ball the female inhabits.
Pokémon caught in a master ball or cherish ball will pass Pokéballs to their offspring. If your goal is to send out Pokémon in master balls, you’ll need to use mints to change their nature and bottle caps to maximize their IVs.
Legacy Note: Before Sword and Shield, only a female parent could pass a special ball to her offspring. Males could only pass Pokeballs.
The odds of encountering a shiny Pokémon in the wild are low. 1/4096, if you’re curious.
Since Pokémon X and Y, we’ve been able to increase our odds of hatching elusive shinies by breeding with Pokémon caught by trainers in other segments of the world. We call this the Masuda method.
The idea was to promote more online Pokémon trades.
The Masuda method reduces the probability of hatching a shiny to 1/683. That makes shiny Pokémon roughly 6 times more probable. We can further reduce the odds by completing our Pokedex and unlocking the Shiny Charm. Combining the two increases our odds to 1/512.
The Masuda method also allows Pokémon to lay eggs faster. There’s no reason NOT to give it a whirl, even if you’re like me and don’t favor shinies in the slightest.
The Masuda method isn’t as complicated as it sounds. All we need is a Ditto from another region. For example: If you’re in the US, get your hands on a Japanese Ditto. I’ll tell you where you can find one with perfect IVs in the next section!
Catching your own: You can catch high IV Dittos in Bridge Field, near the Pokémon Daycare/Nursery. The den will be on the right-hand side, just behind the bridge and tucked behind a wall of tall grass. Ditto will only appear while the den is glowing purple. If you’re lucky, a five-star raid will appear and you’ll encounter a Ditto with 5-6 max IVs.
I also highly recommend finding a Ditto with 0 IVs in speed to ease the process of breeding trick room teams, slow setters, and wish passers.
The Synchronize ability has a secret secondary mechanic when encountering wild Pokémon. A Pokémon with the Synchronize ability will instantly transfer its nature to a wild Pokémon at the start of each encounter, as long as it’s the first Pokémon in your party.
This little life-hack will help you catch Dittos with a particular nature. From there you can equip an everstone onto said Ditto while breeding to immediately latch his nature onto your Pokémon eggs. You’ll save yourself from a monster of a headache.
Trust me, there are a ton of Pokémon with an obnoxious 12.5% female hatch probability – fighting-types are the worst offenders. There are also Pokémon who are exclusively male. Having a Jolly or Adamant Ditto will save precious time while trying to hatch a 100% male Rufflet, for example.
Abra, Elgyem, and Ralts get ‘Synchronize’ as an ability. I’d recommend spending 15-20 minutes hatching random natures from one of these species.
Here’s my advice: Clear out a box and label it something along the lines of “Breeding Box” then organize the rows by the stat that is being reduced. Keep it nice and organized. Save yourself from playing Punnett square roulette while praying to RNGsus.
As you catch each Ditto, you can probably release your corresponding Synchronize Pokémon, although there will be times you’ll want to use it to catch wild Pokémon with a specific nature. I transfer my collection of Synchronize Ralts with me from generation to generation.
This brings me to my final point: Don’t feel discouraged early on! The more you breed, the larger the pool of creatures you’ve got to draw from. It gets easier and easier. Breeding Pokémon becomes clockwork.
Anyway, thanks for reading!