Sunday, 29 May 2011

Mate Defect

One thought has pervaded the last couple of days of researching Mate Select and reading on the lists the concerns of breeders - for whom breeding dogs has become an unenviable juggling match of expensive health tests, co-efficients of inbreeding, ancestor loss co-efficients etc etc - and owning dogs for too many has become a gut-sinking wait for preventable disease and lives robbed too young.

What a bloody shame that is has come to this. 

What a bloody shame that those who could have done something to stop it never did.

And what a bloody shame that more isn't now being done to tackle the fundamental reasons why too many dogs today lead shortened, compromised lives.

That's all.

115 comments:

  1. Well said, Jemima. Please don't ever give up your campaign. There are so many of us who support your great work.

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  2. My breed has a high COI but they live way into the teens with very view ailments and certainly not inherited ones, things are certanily not as clear cut as you like to portray and you are most definatly not the saviour of our dogs infact your meddling has done quite considerable damage giving status to all the silly crossbreed, but hey if it massages your ego whats abit bit of puppy farming to stand in your way.
    P.S maybe this comment will get published as ive screen shoted it as you havea terriblke habit of not publishing none favourable comments.

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  3. The only comments I don't publish fall into one of the following categories:

    • defamatory (against me or someone else)
    • stupidly or illiterately vindictive (witty or well-written invective is usually welcome)
    • off-topic
    • duplication

    Your post, Anon, is pretty vindictive, but have published it because you say your breed has a high COI and yet has no inherited ailments - which is interesting. There are exceptions to most rules, of course.

    What is your breed?

    Jemima

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  4. Whichever way they squirm, whichever way they try to word it, or whichever way they try to point out their way has always been best, the breeders have the facts in front of them, both scientifically and in practice, with the diseases that are occurring so regularly in pedigree dogs. You're right when you say 'What a bloody shame that those who could have done something to stop it never did.' There's none so deaf as those that don't want to hear or none so blind as those that don't want to see.

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  5. A bloody shame indeed. And there are many good reasons to never let up on external pressure. I'd like to make three observations.

    I was concerned to read the following from Ronnie Irving in the KC's annual report "We believe that, without slowing up on any of our work, now is the time to consolidate all that we have done to allow ourselves a period within which to measure and assess the results of our actions." So whilst glad to hear they are hoping not to slow up - they are clearly not keen to speed up either. To me that read "could you all leave us alone for a while now"


    Err No would be the answer to that.

    In some work I am doing cataloguing the history of pedigree dog health here in the UK I read that the BVA eye screening scheme was initiated in 1965 after concerns over PRA in Elkhounds. So despite an attempt to tackle that condition as far back as that - has PRA now been eradicated in the Elkhound? According to DNA test results for 2009 it has not. Unless it is a different PRA. If anyone can clarify I would be happy to understand more.

    I think that we are rightly to be concerned over the efficacy of current testing schemes.

    Third - I have long held the belief that in terms of contributing to health the KC has a history of being mean. However some recent benchmarking I have done on their finances (still to be completed I acknowledge) I have changed my mind. They are not mean. They are poor.

    Their entire financial model needs an overhaul if for the future the most generous investment in canine health can be made effectively.

    Philippa
    www.thekarltonindex.com

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  6. Nice post J! Simple.

    As for "anonymous," the fact that you will not sign you name says more about you than anything you will ever write. Coward.

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  7. There is nothing cowardly about not wanting to be part of JH PR machine, the very fact that nothing the KC trys to do pleases any of you says it all to me you will not be happy till all pedigrees are gone.
    As for what breed i have its a Spitz breed.

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  8. Anonymous comment about an anonymous "breed." Lying coward.

    Jemima, if you are not posting the stupidly and illiterately vindictive comments ... I'd hate to see your cull file, given the quality of invective on many comment threads here.

    I once had a troll (non-anonymous) on my blog post several rants about why a post was WRONG WRONG WRONG, without ever presenting one fact or argument about why it was wrong. She also demanded equal time to put a post on MY blog about why I was wrong.

    Sweet Cheeks, this is not the "Talk Back" page of the West Footrot Pennysaver. My blog is MY salon, not a public utility.

    I discovered, as well, that this individual maintained no fewer than three blogs of her own. She wanted space on mine because nobody reads hers. Can't imagine why.

    Regardless, I release all comments that are not frank spam (no, my readers do not need a new pair of Uggs, or if they do, they can handle that transaction elsewhere), libelous against someone other than me, or compromising pending litigation (not, I hasten to add, litigation of merit or initiated by me or any organization with which I am affiliated).

    Because The Stupid, it should hurt. The best I can do is to allow the mean and illiterate to expose themselves.

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  9. i think its clear by how little posts are now on this blog how few people your message gets too but hey again if you all want to feel better calling people stupid bewcause they dont share your views carry on shall not stop you, i shall go get ready and bath my show dogs for a lovely social day out tomorrow doing what i love :)

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  10. Dear Anonymous, Jemima started this blog in November, 2010 - I make that six months running - and has now 206 000 odd visitors. I don´t think that means "few people" in any language.
    As for the message, Jemima is not alone. Very far from it! How can it be that the show world people fail to notice?

    Go bath your dogs and enjoy your day, there is no harm in that, provided the dogs enjoy it too. The harm comes when the results of showing are the only things considered important in breeding dogs.

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  11. anon 15.47, heavy rain forecast everywhere tomorrow so you'll need a brolly for your dogs or why not let the rain do the natural job.

    To the same anon...have I missed something? Does reading a truthful and educating blog mean I must comment every time?, bewcause there was me thinking I could just read and educate myself........like the on average 1,040 other people that read this daily.

    Keep up the great work Jemima

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  12. Your assuming all those that visit are in support??? i know alot in the show world visit here and their posts dont get approved. As i have already stated my breed is a very healthy breed and the dogs i take most certainly enjoy it, infact if i dont take one they make me feel bad for leaving them at home with the hubby.
    There is far to much finger waggling at the show breeder, we are bending over backwards to do the right things but every time the goalposts are moved and its not enough, the KC are trying hard to imliment this Breed mate which is a work in progress yet that is STILL not enough and you's have to neight say it, you will never now get the support you crave of the show fraternity because you have tarred every last one with the same brush!

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  13. Spitz's lover29 May 2011 18:56

    Yes kate because we often go wash our hair in a brook, get real there is nothing wrong with keeping your dogs coat clean, infact i think itys neglectfull not to keep them clean and wash out all the dead skin for the dogs coat. i get fed up of seeing pet dogs that are left for years without a groomout and a bath and spend all their days scratching.

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  14. Anon18:38 said: "i know alot in the show world visit here and their posts dont get approved."

    Jemima, are you declining posts by the show breed people?

    I enjoy this blog. I think it is a very honest look at a very serious issue facing dogs today. The documentary speaks volumes. While I read this blog, this is my first post. I can't imagine Jemima is moderating out anything but a bunch of spam. JMO.

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  15. Dear Anonymous of 18.38, it may come as a shock to you but the "show fraternity" is not the majority of dog-owning people. It´s rather obvious that many of them THINK they are... but no.

    Of course nobody assumes that all the visitors here are in support. Every time this blog mentions a particular breed problem, the comment board is awash with anonymous, from spiteful to downright venomous remarks against Jemima as a person.
    What they seem to assume is that Jemima Harrison is the cause and first mover of the criticism against show world priorities, exaggerations of conformation causing pain and trouble to dogs, semilethal methods of breeding close kin, etc etc etc. She is not. She was one of the first to give voice to views that very many of the genral public hold.
    Is that so hard to understand?

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  16. Spitz's lover29 May 2011 19:47

    Well if you visit the boards i do and read the dog papers you will see alot of comments dont get put up, surely they are not all lying??

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  17. Spitz's lover29 May 2011 20:03

    Nope i don't assume i am a sole dog lover,after all the majority of poorly bred dogs come from puppy farmers and pet homes not all that many registrations are from people who show, these poorly bred animals come complete with all the ailments you seem to assume come from us and more and if as much energy was put into putting stop to the3se practices dogdom would be a much better place, but heyho its nicer to think that were all egomaniacs with huge god complexes than people who just love there pets and havea a active social life with them.
    P.S JH can hardly cry about spitefullness when she liked the show world to peadophiles!

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  18. The show people are enormously outnumbered by ordinary folks who simply want a companion who has a reasonable chance of making it to a reasonable age and doesn't suffer from some crippling neurosis that makes dog ownership a continual worry instead of a pleasure.

    That doesn't make most show breeders bad people and if I had to make the choice I'd rather have a dog with some expensive physical problem than one who lives in perpetual terror because he was reared in a tiny cage and can't cope with the outside world. But pet owners shouldn't have to choose between puppy farmers and breeders who won't accept that modern knowledge about genetics (particularly WRT the immune system) is relevant to dogs as well as other animals.

    There's just no reason why show breeders shouldn't take a pride in producing first and foremost healthy dogs who will enhance the lives of ordinary animal-loving pet owners.

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  19. Love how people differentiate people into "show owners/breeders" and "ordinary" owners. Guess what, we're all human, just happens that some of us have dogs for a hobby, whereas some only keep them for companionship and joy. The big problem with dogs is peoples ulterior motive, i.e. winning shows or making money or breeding for looks or breeding for money.
    THAT needs to be scrapped, breeders who like to separate themselves out from "ordinary" owners need to get off their high horse and realise this isn't us vs them, its human beings trying to rectify the damage years of irresponsible breeding for the purpose of showing(winning shows, gaining titles, getting to crufts, Westminster, club shows, whatever) AND money(puppy farms).

    This NEEDS to be 100% for the dogs, not for showing, not for money and not even for the love of a breed, but simply for the dogs. Now I know most people have their favourite breed and most people are reluctant to allow that breed to be changed in anyway. "Pedigree" has been around a long time. Breeders and showers need to realise that they are responsible for a HUGE number of problems because they have become so fixed on the idea of types, standards and the hobby. Their obsession with perfection means dogs that don't make the cut are chucked out the gene pool leaving our pedigree dogs with hugely restrictive genetic resources. We need to responsibly widen the gene pools. Our dogs health is worth more than fitting a certain standard. And you can argue mixed bred dogs are not always as healthy, but true mixed breeds/mongrels are. Cross a cavalier with a mutt and you're more than likely to see heart disease, but if done properly you can maintain a looser definition of a dogs type and original instinct (herding, working, terrier dogs etc) and keep the showers happy, and the dogs healthy. Unfortunately human nature means I'm probably looking at over 100 years into the future, but its what I think we should be aiming for.

    Owners, get off the showers backs. Showers/breeders, be honest with yourselves.

    Time to test the true definition of dog lovers.

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  20. Here's a suggestion, anonymous "lover" of the unnamed inbred frequently shampooed spitz breed:

    Start your very own blog where those who claim their comments did not appear here may post them in their entirety.

    Based on the level of discourse and mastery of the mother tongue showcased here by the anonymous whinging that does appear, I'm sure it will be a ripper.

    Looking forward to it.

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  21. Spitz's lover29 May 2011 22:20

    I do not need to as i have people who i can talk to/exchange meaningful conversation in real life, not resort to acting the ejit on a anon blog, after all you've hardly got your address and telephone no on here for the world to see so what difference is it to what my name is on here? to add anything else would be meaningless.

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  22. Curious, I employed an obscure technological process called a "search engine," and found my own address and phone number by the third page, using only my name as it appears here.

    So, Anonymous Cowards, if you feel moved to drunk dial me, or plan to appear at my gate hopped up on meth, wearing an adult diaper, and with a freshly-shampooed immortal Spitz dog tucked under each arm, have at it. I have caller ID and the shepherd dogs are always hungry.

    I'd still be interested in finding out what this sooper sekrit inbred-but-lives-forever-with-no-health-problems breed is.

    Falsifiability is a real bitch, especially when you are lying.

    My parents taught me to own my words. And at least my words are in standard English.

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  23. Spitz Lover's breed is the Japanese Spitz. It is, indeed, reported to be a healthy breed - as one might hope from a new breed (standard not finalised until post WW2 and other breeds were brought in to develop the breed before that). But it is not true to say that the JS has no inherited problems - luxating patellas are an issue; runny eyes attributed to too-small tear ducts another.

    This is a breed, similar to but a bit bigger than the Pom, that was developed recently as a pet (a designer dog of the time - still not recognised by the AKC) so has no physical function to help keep it healthy, and the tiny gene pool is a red flag for the future in terms of immune-mediated problems.

    Mate Select suggests a breed COI of 18.5% - high. Spitz Lover, does the breed club/breeders have plans to try and bring this down - perhaps with more imports? (Although one imagines they all go back to the original dogs?)

    I would imagine that the idea of an outcross to help keep this breed healthy would be unacceptable - and can understand why given its few current health problems. But its founder breeds are still around so there is, at least, the possibility should more problems begin to emerge.

    Jemima

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  24. I may be an eternal optimist, but I feel that a lot of the "bad" breeding practices were and still are caused by ignorance, as well as by people like Malcolm Willis who, from a position of relative authority, recommended inbreeding as the sure path to success.

    Granted, the goal, breeding successful show dogs, should not have been the prime concern, but I don't think that any breeder intentionally ever bred sick dogs.

    Being automatically against and crotical of anything the Kennel Club does seems to have become a conditioned reflex.

    IMHO, confrontation is not the way to go; accusations are conterproductive. The only way that breeders will change their methods is through cooperation and education. There more information there is, the more likely it will be that breeders have a thorough knowledge of what they are doing. That is not yet the case.

    There is nothing wrong with breeding a show winner. However, the primary concerns must be good health and temperament.

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  25. You know ...something puzzles me here Jemima - you fairly obviously do not support the way that most of us breed and maintain our individual breeds .... that's fine but you have to face up to the fact that those of us who are breeding are the ones holding all the cards here -after all WE are the ones making the choices ...the solution is simple - if you dont like what we are doing then breed your own ( and that goes for all the others who enjoy critisising breeders )......if you're right and can consistently produce well constructed dogs with low COI's , good health test results, excellent temperaments and longevity whilst still looking like their individual breed ...and repeat this down several generations then the proof of your 'pudding' will be there for us all to see - breeders are not born we choose to do this and flaming hard work it is too !! .... usually we breed because we are passionate about our breeds and usally we do the very best we can....but if you think you can do it better then go ahead - you breed your own dogs according to your own principles ....and leave the rest of us to do the same .

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  26. Bijou said;
    "you fairly obviously do not support the way that most of us breed and maintain our individual breeds"

    3 major welfare reports on dog breeding pointed that out.

    "you have to face up to the fact that those of us who are breeding are the ones holding all the cards here -after all WE are the ones making the choices ...the solution is simple - if you dont like what we are doing then breed your own"

    What a self righteous comment to make.

    "you breed your own dogs according to your own principles ....and leave the rest of us to do the same ."

    With that attitude Bijou, I worry about the future of dog breeding.
    There is no harm and it gains more respect when people can put there hands up and say "we are not perfect, we have made mistakes, and we need help". But sadly there are STILL a number of breeders AND breed clubs that are in complete denial that even the most obvious problems exist in their breeds.

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  27. "What a self righteous comment to make." ....it strikes me as being much more self righteous to tell others how to do something when you've never done it yourself !! ............quite frankly you can 'worry about the future of dog breeding' until you're blue in the face but until you climb off that high horse and actually practise what you are so fervently preaching then you are in no position to claim the moral high ground -

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  28. Bijou - you have my sympathies, really you do (and the point of this blogpost is, at least in part, to point out that I recognise it's a nightmare for breeders).

    I agree - the future of pedigree dogs does lie in the hands of breeders. And I can fully understand the frustration of having to deal with all the armchair experts who have never bred dogs themselves (although I should say that at least some of those commenting above have).

    It is difficult, however, for me and other critics to simply let you get on with it as there remains such an obvious need for change in the way dogs are bred (not just purebred ones).

    Jemima

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  29. I have no rights to be concerned about pugs because I have never bred one. Better health for pugs, better conformation for pugs. THAT is what I supposedly "preach".
    I have never told you Bijou how to breed your dogs. I was merely commenting on the way your post came across which was in my opinion rude.
    Do I therefore have no right to have views on pugs unless I am a pug breeder?

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  30. im am curious about your comment in this post that say something like ''why has it come to this.''

    was breeding dogs and livestock different 30 years ago? 50 years ago? were these health conditions, etc not around then?

    im not being flippant its an honest question, because it strikes me that even in chickens we have always had a genetic-fault aspect to our breeding, so i assume that it has always been the same with other species such as dogs too?

    it seems that breeding has become more scientific with the times, but is that to say that our forefathers in breeding did not have the same worries and struggles to maintain a balance?

    i know that you have referred to photos of dogs in the past the look different but think that you must remember that is one photo of one dog, and should be careful not to allow your mind to paint a rosey picture that things were better 'back then.

    Just a thought.

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  31. What makes Bijou so damned sure that the loudest and most persistent chorus of voices calling him/her/it and its cronies out aren't breeders?

    When "customers" vote with their feet and buy mixed-breed puppies or adopt dogs from rescues and pounds, the fancy breeders whinge about how the fools have been misinformed.

    When people in the media -- Mark Derr, Michael Lemonick, and now Jemima -- point to the nekkid Emperor, they are attacked and blamed for the exodus of interest in fancy-bred "pure" dogs.

    When fellow breeders point to our long-lived, generally healthy,* purpose-bred dogs that are conserved within open registries -- well, our dogs are, you know, ugly.

    There's always an answer that doesn't come down to "Oh. We have to fundamentally change our practices to reflect biological reality and an increasing intolerance among pet owners and working dog handlers for sickly, "pretty" dogs."

    Keep digging your own hole, folks. Just keep digging.

    * But not uniformly perfectly healthy, given that they are living beings and all.

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  32. OK .....so point me the direction of someone who DOES breed in the way that you'ld like us all to and still manages to produce dogs that look like their breed ( and I'm talking of those that breed Japanese Chins, Kerry Blues, Dandie Dinmonts , Schipperkees, Laeeknois etc etc )...why are none of you doing this ?.....show us how it can be done instead of just poking breeders with another stick ......how many geneticists are actually involved with breeding a small single breed ? ....hell even the new Dog Advisory Council only has ONE dog breeder on board !!!! .....

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  33. >
    > point me the direction of someone who DOES breed in the way that you'ld like us all to and still manages to produce dogs that look like their breed
    >

    breeding for "a look" rather than for vigor is the problem

    wherever a breeder selects vigor, you'll find variation

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  34. Laura Bernier31 May 2011 15:21

    Closed registries, inbreeding and popular sires in conjunction with show-line breeders who only care about winning in the ring and will hide health problems have gotten pure breds in this predicament. Bottom line, public education is an important key in changing the way things are done. Breeders who actually care about the future of the breed beyond their kennels and the current decade must dare to challenge the elitist groups now. And, for some breeds it might be too late. Breeders themselves hold the golden key to change the future, they must group together and contact the scientists to have studies conducted. If you love your breed, you need to be the answer. Waiting for scientists to have an interest in your breed is not going to help, you must bring the problem to the scientists.

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  35. Heather your post does not reflect the truth from where I'm sitting ........I currently have a litter of a relatively unpopular and little known breed - all my pups were booked prior to their birth and I'm getting daily e-mails or phone calls enquiring about buying a pup ( some of my puppy buyers have waited up to 2 years for a pup of this specific breed )....the demand for pedigree puppies remains as strong as ever .....and why ? because folk want the very specific traits that a 'fancy bred ' ( strange term that ? ) can ensure ....there's no exodus of interest in pure bred dogs just an exodus of breeders who are fed up with the increasingly impossible hoops we're being asked to jump through leaving the market to be filled by those who would'nt know a COI if it jumped up and bit them in the face !!


    and by the way working breeders and breeders of cross breeds do not have the monopoly on "generally healthy, long lived dogs " ....I currently have 6 of my breeding here - the oldest is 15 they are all healthy active , bright ,good natured AND ( shock ) pure bred !!

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  36. Of course you CAN breed for health and type and diversity. The answer is assortative mating. In the shortlist of criteria, along with hips, conformation, gait, eyes, temperament, DNA tests, add a column called below breed mean COI and USE it. If all other criteria are equal or balance out the lowest COI pairing could be the best thing you do for your breed. (Bijou what is breed mean score for Gronies?)

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  37. Bijou, what a pet owner wants from a specific breed and what the show breeder is breeding for are very different things. I breed collies, and I get many inquiries from people who want this breed, but do not want a show dog. They don't like the extreme fur and exaggerated look of today's show collies. Because my dogs aren't inbred, there is a lot of variation in their appearance, yet they are all undeniably collies. I don't think I'd be doing my puppy buyers any favors by breeding to win in the ring. In fact most everyone who has bought from me would not buy from a show breeder. I think the tide is turning. My waiting list is very long. :)

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  38. ...and there are breeds where the pets and show dogs are virtually indistinguishable, like mine, as most pets come from show breeders. My waiting list is quite long, as well, almost embarassingly long given breeders singing the blues on several breed specific lists about the dearth of pet homes. Having said that, my website doesn't dwell soley on show photos and brags. Instead its full of dogs being dogs, breed information, health information, etc. I have consistenly bred very successful show dogs, certainly, but most of the dogs we breed end up with families.

    I think many puppy buyers are becoming increasingly discriminating which is surely a good thing; however, there will always be a subset that will buy the first puppy available for a low price regardless of health, temperament, etc.

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  39. "Bijou, what a pet owner wants from a specific breed and what the show breeder is breeding for are very different things"......rubbish ! this is just not true for most breeds- my current litter of 9 pups are ALL going to be pets first and foremost I would not sell them to anyone who did not view them as members of their family- their new owners also have a range of dog related hobbies ( three will be shown, three will be doing agility, one will be doing obedience, and one will be 'just ' a pet )- the pup we keep will be a pet, a show dog, and a therapy dog...tell me how a show Buhund, Keeshond, Leonberger ,Elkhound, Welsh Terrier, Visla or Min Pin differs from a pet one ? .....how are they in any way less suitable as pets ?....in fact I would contend that what a pet owner wants from a specific breed and what the WORKING breeder is breeding for are very different things !!- rescues are NOT full of dogs from show lines but do have more than their fair share of working bred dogs whose high drives make them unsuitable for the average family as pets .

    In my breed ( Groenendael ) there is no show/ pet/working split and this is true of many other breeds.......for goodnes sake stop demonising show breeders in this stupid oversimplistic way...

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  40. "OK .....so point me the direction of someone who DOES breed in the way that you'ld like us all to and still manages to produce dogs that look like their breed ( and I'm talking of those that breed Japanese Chins, Kerry Blues, Dandie Dinmonts , Schipperkees, Laeeknois etc etc )...why are none of you doing this ?"

    Dear Bijou, don't be silly. You know very well that it is near impossible to do such a thing without parent club or registry cooperation, and working within the closed registry system. Most people who have done a cross to get desired traits, whether those traits are genotypic or phenotypic, are working outside the registries. And I can tell you exactly what those folks go through, because I am one of them:

    -You will be vilified and talked about on breed specific mailing lists by people who don't know you.
    -People will harass you via e-mail or any other route they can find. Like publishing your e-mail and blog address in a breed club magazine and calling you someone who "doesn't care about purebred dogs" and who shouldn't be allowed to have your breeds.
    -You will be placed on every 'don't sell a puppy to this person' list there is.
    -The few people in your breeds who do take you seriously will usually be afraid to speak up, except in the most general way, for fear of being harassed themselves.
    -You will never, ever qualify for most of the so-called definitions of a 'Responible Breeder,' resulting in attacks from the 'pet person' front as well.
    -You will be criticized because because the shelters are full of mixed breeds, why would you be producing more of them?
    -You will be criticized for even considering that your favorite breed has faults that could be improved by cross-breeding.
    -If you talk about your crosses in any venue where you do not have control over comments, you will spend your entire time defending yourself against stupid accusations and misconceptions from people who have never done a cross-breeding and have no idea what they're talking about.
    -You will waste time talking to Animal Control or the local Sheriff about the condition of your dogs, because of the nice people who were so incensed by your breeding program, they felt your dogs should be taken away.

    Shall I go on?

    How many breeders do you think would have the balls to put up with that crap, to breed dogs that couldn't even be registered? Even if they could wrap their minds around the concept, which a lot of them can't.

    Not many.

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  41. Bijou, The reason I "demonize show breeders," if I do, is that the ones I've met tend to value winning in the ring over all else, including the health of their dogs. If you have a family of dogs that all look like clones of one another, chances are you don't have the genetic diversity necessary for good health. People want to leave their mark on a breed and create their own trademark "look"--and that requires inbreeding. It's putting yourself and your reputation with other show breeders above the health of your dogs and the desires of the people who buy pets from you. Pet owners want a healthy, well-tempered dog--they don't care whether he looks exactly like all the other dogs in his bloodline. Are you breeding for health and temperament FIRST? If so, you're probably not doing much winning. Are you winning a lot? If so, something else is falling by the wayside. You can't breed for everything.

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  42. " along with hips, conformation, gait, eyes, temperament, DNA tests, add a column called below breed mean COI " ....sorry Mary but this reads like a line from Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' ( what did the Romans ever do for us ? ) ....read that list again and tell me how feasibile it truly is to find dogs that meet ALL the criteria within a numerically small breed....and if you do find such a paragon everyone else will wnat to use him too !....it's a prime example of the impracticality of some of the demands on breeders - THAT'S why those that do breed need to be listened to instead of lectured at !


    The mean COI for my breed ? ...well according to the KC's Mate Select it's 2.5 but of course it's not really - the COI of the litter I currently have is 5.3 and I think our breed average is around 8%.


    The term assortative breeding is flung about with abandon but in reality there are no 'assortative' dogs in many breeds - and if the only solution is cross breeding then you're asking breeders to throw the baby out with the bath water - of COURSE they won't do this ...

    ...and we're all back to square one .....I'll tell you this ...all the finger wagging and lecturing in the world won't change a single thing until you work WITH pedigree dog breeders on realistic goals ...and this has to be done on a breed by breed basis - what works for Border Collies just won't work for Affenpinchers - stop casting us as the pantomime villain with such stupid statements as 'Show breeders dogs don't make good pets ! " and above all stop asking us to do the impossible ...unless you can prove that it can be done by doing it yourself !!

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  43. Bijou
    with a numerically small breed, if the only way to prevent it's genetic demise is to out cross, why would breeders be throwing the baby out of the bath water?
    Apart from the obvious which would be that the type would change, and the usual argument that we do not know what other genetic problems this will introduce.
    Let's face it, many "purebred" breeds of today were actually originally crosses.

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  44. Romany Dog.

    What you say about personalities breeding for THEIR 'Type' is so true of many Breeds. They can basically change a characteristic because they are at the 'top of the tree' and people behave like sheep. Once an Affix is winning well - forget about Protocols ! Young dogs get grossly over-used and bitches get mated at 14 months. WHY? because they desire that bloody 'CC' which is so necessary to them and promotes puppy sales overseas ! Then they will have their mates, who are also Judges and have related stock. Therefore they each promote the others and so the circle of 'scratchy back' is maintained. It is all down to people who are using dogs as a vehicle to promote their EGO. If it wasn't dogs it would be flowers or Chickens. Thats just the way they are. ------------------ Healthy dogs must come first and winning a distant second and as a bonus.

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  45. Romany Dog - I along with most breeders who show do all the health tests required, we DNA test and import new lines, we use our breed data bases to avoid lines that produce problems and we calculatethe COI of litters we are planning -frankly your statement that we don't breeed for health and temperament is just another typical sweeping condemnation - I have to live with the results of what I breed - along with most show breeders I undertake to take back any dog of our breeding if their owner can no longer keep them in other words I have to LIVE with the results of what I breed - of course I breed for health and temperament !!.....

    ...talking of diversity can I ask what the COI of YOUR last litter was ?

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  46. yes i do indeed have japanese spitz and yes they can suffer from LP but that is not a life ending disease albeit a very life limiting one if severe and something our club are working hard to avoid, we have schemes in place to encourage everyone to score their dogs and have more transparency with results but this will tale time as the inheritance of LP is not a easy straightforward one and many factors contribute. in regards to over weeping eyes it is more a cosmetic problem than again a lifelimiting problem i myself have 2 bitch's with runny eyes and have had their tearducts checked by 2 different vets who have comfirmed they are not blocked but still they get the red yeast staining.
    Yes we have a few imports in the country and their is more on the cards but my feeling is because they are not a popular breed that is exploited and not litters being produced willy nilly we azre for the time being in safe hand with a very dedicated group of supports whos only concerns are the breed we love not maklng money.

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  47. Bijou

    I have just done a mating with a COI of 0.38% over 7 generations using the above criteria. It can indeed be done....

    mary

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  48. Bijou wrote: "" along with hips, conformation, gait, eyes, temperament, DNA tests, add a column called below breed mean COI " ....sorry Mary but this reads like a line from Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' ( what did the Romans ever do for us ? ) ....read that list again and tell me how feasibile it truly is to find dogs that meet ALL the criteria within a numerically small breed....and if you do find such a paragon everyone else will wnat to use him too !....it's a prime example of the impracticality of some of the demands on breeders - THAT'S why those that do breed need to be listened to instead of lectured at !"

    Actualy, I think it's a prime example of the impracticality of having such a numerically small breed.

    Bijou, I know you and others really DO do try to dothe best with what you've got. It's the "what you've got" bit that needs some wider thinking. If it has got to the point where you're struggling about where to go (and I know this is the case in many numerically small breeds) then an outcrossing programme should be considered.

    Can you explain how the inter-variety matings are working in BSDs in the UK? Does that offer some opportunities for your Groens?

    Jemima

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  49. I wish to let you all know that MATE SELECT is a shambles and basically needs to be ignored.

    An enquiry with the KC has revealed that the BREED AVERAGE for any given breed is based on, wait for it.......

    Not the ENTIRE average but that of the puppies registered during 2010 !

    The KC are aware that this is not satisfactory and are working on the problem ?

    This is why so many Breeds have such low averages, merely because the % is based on the wrong data.

    You couldn't make it up, could you !

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  50. I think that's too harsh. It's a start and they're keen to make it better.

    Yes, we knew that the breed averages are worked out on the last-complete-year of registrations. On my previous post, have detailed this and suggested that a five-year rolling mean would be better - but it would be good to have the whole-breed average, too.

    Jemima

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  51. Bijou, face it.

    People who care first and foremost about the health and functionality and happiness of dogs, and the happiness of those who love them as dogs, not as display items, do not care much about your quest to breed a dog that wins kennel club pageants (translation of "looks like its breed.")

    It's not my problem, or a pet-buyer's problem, or vet's problem, or a geneticist's problem, that you think you can't win ribbons without inbreeding, or that you recoil in horror at the icky notion of crossbreeding.

    "Tell me how to meet all MY goals!" -- not interested. The whole point is that your priorities are messed up.

    You can change your priorities or be left behind.

    As for really, truly "looks like its breed" -- I can give you a photo lineup of English shepherds. I guarantee you that you will not be able to pick out the ones with border collie in their recent background, nor a ringer that is 1/4 Labrador. And neither could any expert on the breed who did not already know each dog by sight.

    Selection for breed-typical morphology is easy. Unless one writes criteria so narrow (and generally so exaggerated) that it is nearly impossible for a creature of biological origin to meet it. That's an obstacle that show fanciers have willfully created for themselves. It's not anyone else's job to pull them out of the hole they've excavated.

    Try selecting for complex, subtle, polygenic, environmentally-dependent breed-typical working behavior and temperament for a decade or so and then get back to me.

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  52. "Can you explain how the inter-variety matings are working in BSDs in the UK? Does that offer some opportunities for your Groens?" ...

    my latest litter is the result of an intervariety mating ( Groen X Terv) - these pups will be registered as Groenendaels ( they are all black) with 3 * on their registration documents - they need to be bred back into the Groenendael gene pool for three generations before they will be deemed 'pure' and the stars removed - we have this facility because ours is one breed with 4 varieties - so we are simply crossing varieties who differ only in coat colour and type - their essential breed type is not affected as it would be if I outcrossed to a GSD ( for example).


    "I have just done a mating with a COI of 0.38% over 7 generations using the above criteria. It can indeed be done...."

    Mary in which breed was this ?

    "You can change your priorities or be left behind"

    ...really ? ......of course the other alternative is that we just stop listening to what you've got to say and carry on ....as I said before it's breeders just like me that hold all the cards - for all your hot air and fine line in insults it's NOT you breeding pedigree dogs - if you wnat any change at all you simply have to stop being so aggressive and listen to what we are saying ...


    ....and English Shepherds ...really ? is'nt that just another name for a vaguely Border Collie looking mongrel !!

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  53. Bijou wrote: "my latest litter is the result of an intervariety mating ( Groen X Terv) - these pups will be registered as Groenendaels ( they are all black) with 3 * on their registration documents - they need to be bred back into the Groenendael gene pool for three generations before they will be deemed 'pure' and the stars removed - we have this facility because ours is one breed with 4 varieties - so we are simply crossing varieties who differ only in coat colour and type - their essential breed type is not affected as it would be if I outcrossed to a GSD ( for example)."

    How important is the breeding-back considered? Presumably dogs that come out looking like one or the other variety are as like that variety as a 'purebred' one? Or do you sometimes get something between the two? I understand that people have a particular affection for one type, but is there a case for treating the BSDs like diff coloured labradors - ie all one breed? Would there not be a considerable gain in terms of genetic diveristy for the breed to be reunited as one (as I understand it is in Belgium?)?

    Jemima

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  54. no the breed remains one breed with 4 varieties in the whole of Europe - and has been like this for the last 100 years - Belgium has the same system that we now do i.e an application for an IV mating has to go before the breed club and the Kennel Club and the quality of the dam and sire is considered as well as the results of any health tests before permission is given.

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  55. In America rough and smooth collies, doxies and chis are bred between their varieties. Why not in uk?

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  56. Bijou, as I understand it Heather H´s English Shepherds are working rescue/search dogs.
    And excuse me, I may have missed it - what kind of work do your mongrels do?

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  57. "In America rough and smooth collies, doxies and chis are bred between their varieties. Why not in uk? "....

    and in America BSD are NOT allowed to be bred between their varieties in fact the USA does not even recognise the 4th variety ( Laeeknois) -


    "And excuse me, I may have missed it - what kind of work do your mongrels do?"

    dogs of my breeding have gone to many diffeent kinds of homes - and yes I do have one working as a Search and Rescue dog up in Scotland ( 'Dexter' on my website) - they go to agility,CaniX, HWTM, obedience and show homes -some of my own dogs also work as therapy dogs as part of the communication programmes for autistic youngster ( see this article http://www.simplesite.com/grondemon/25407902 )

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  58. I don't understand why people have such an issue with this. Health is so much more important than any other factor in our dogs lives. Nothing should come in its way, not even breed standards.
    Who cares if you recognise the breed, its a totally human concept born by a sport turned hobby. You can't play with lives like that and not expect problems.
    With so much resilience from some (not all) breeders and showers it is clear where their priorities lie. Progress is going to be so unimaginably slow if they carry on being ignorant to the practice of some pedigree line breeding.
    No, not all pedigree dogs are suffering, but do we have to wait for that to happen to realise how selfish we are being.
    I rescue dogs, doesn't matter what breed, from Neapolitan mastiffs and cavaliers to heinz 57s.
    I do understand why some feel the need to preserve certain aspects of a breed, but the exact height/weight/nose length/tail type/coat type/ear type specifications are far too extreme. This idea that everything has to be pure is too. Collectively all dogs are a species, breeds are dogs we have bred to have increasingly similar DNA and therefore present more and more similar phenotypes to fit a standard.
    I really think this idea of purity is completely false, and that it is possible to maintain a less specific type rather than focusing on a given standard. Going back to the origins of breeds, their actual functions and allowing researched careful matings of dogs with similar back grounds can only be a good thing. Done carefully the phenotype will be relatively stable, (there will be variation but surely we can cope with that) and the dogs gene pool will be widened and health improved.

    I have to deal with so many dogs who struggle every day because of a breed specific problem. We all know what these problems are. From brachycephaly to autoimmune diseases, epilepsy and growth hormone deficiencies. We know what damage has been done. Carrying on the way we are is not solving it. There are amazing breeders out there who are doing such amazing work, but they often don't show. Their hard work needs to be rewarded and this mad world of purity and standards should be drastically reduced.

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  59. "Health is so much more important than any other factor in our dogs lives. Nothing should come in its way"

    Well, I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and disagree with that statement.

    Yes, health is very important, but the MOST important thing to be considered when breeding dogs is TEMPERAMENT. There is no point at all in having a super healthy dog that lives for maybe 18-20 years in misery because it is so nervous that any slight change in its routine causes the dog to panic. Equally there is no point in breeding a healthy dog that is so agressive to people or other dogs that it cannot be allowed to live in the real world.

    Whilst a very, very small percentage of dogs are used for guarding purposes, the overwhelming majority of puppies are destined to become part of a family, able to cope with modern living in all its aspects.

    People buy a pedigree dog mainly because they can be reasonably sure what the dog will look like as an adult - and it is a look that they like - and that they can make a good estimate of the temperament of their puppy as an adult from other examples of that breed.

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  60. If dogs were bred to others who simply had a similar original function then we would have no more individual breeds but just generic dog types ( i.e a Retreiver type - a herding type a toy companion type etc ) so goodbye the English, Gordon and Red Setters - adieu the Labrador, Flatcoat and Chesapeake Bay Retiervers - no more Salukis. Afghans, Sloughi's Azawaks, Whippets or Greyhounds- the end of Borzoi, Irish Wolfhound and Deerhounds - goodbye to the Bichon, Poodle, Havanese and Coton, no more Westies, Cairns, Scotties, Sealyhams, Damdies, Glen of Imaals and the end of my wonderful breed too as it's unique features get amalgamated into the mix of GSD, Dutch Herder, Rough and Smooth Collie, Sheltie Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Bearded Collie OES and Pyrenean Sheepdog, .....is this truly what we want ?...is this really what you are asking breeders to do ?


    Realistically what could a Borzoi breeder ( for example ) use and not lose the wonderful unique chacracteristics of this magnificent breed ?- and would you expect other breeders of pedigree animals to follow this pattern - after all a horse is just a horse - why have pure bred Suffolk Punches, Pecherons and Shires just mate them all together for a draught horse 'type' - why have the English Thoroghbred, the pure bred Arab and the Lipizzaner - amalgamate them all and be done with it ! - why Orpingtons, Black Rock, or Appenzeller poultry- mix them all up and widen the gene pools !! - my neighbour keeps and breeds Highland Cattle - he maintains pedigrees and works within their restricted gene pool in exactly the same way that I do with my BSD ( and he shows them too ) - the work he does in keeping their unique charcteristics is valued and supported by the Rare Breeds Trust whilst I as a pedigree dog breeder am being told to destroy the breed I love - why the difference ?
    -

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  61. ....and English Shepherds ...really ? is'nt (sic) that just another name for a vaguely Border Collie looking mongrel !!

    Since it's Monty Python themed here ...

    "Now we see the violence inherent in the system!"

    This is so often how a "fancier" reveals her intellect, values, and quality of character.

    Call the working dog a "mongrel," snigger, and believe herself to be both witty and biting.

    As if this word was an insult.

    Do I hear "cur" for ten dollars? Because that word doesn't mean what you think it means, either.

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  62. Heather - perhaps it's a trans Atlantic thing but your post made no sense at all to me - I'm not sure how pointing out that English Shepherds look like Border Collie crosses reveals anything about my intellect, values or quality of charcater - don't YOU think they do ?

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  63. Margaret Sierakowski3 June 2011 11:33

    "whilst I as a pedigree dog breeder am being told to destroy the breed I love - why the difference ? "

    Its more about your fears that if you add anything different to your dogs that you love so much , it might look different.
    The reality is that outcrossing to another breed , then breeding back, within three or four generations you will have dogs who are outwardly indistinguishable from your dogs but have more genetic diversity, and therefore on average and longer term, are likely to have fewer health and genetic problems. Now if you love your dogs, dont you want them to be healthy too, as well as looking like clones of the ones you love so much
    If you breed two very similar breeds together, like Irish Setters and IRWS, you can have dogs that look just like an IRWS in the first generation (if the red dog carries the colour gene), and in the second generation bred back to IRWS if the red dog didnt carry the colour gene
    Calling IRWS who have been outcrossed to good red Irish Setters, then bred back, "mongrels" is an insult to both breeds
    Look at Bruce Cattanach's unlikely cross between Boxers and Corgis to get a bobtail Boxer without docking, by the fourth generation he was getting good boxers which the KC registered as such. Much easier when breeding two much more similar breeds

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  64. Working dogs make up a tiny portion of the 75 million dogs in the US, for example. It's interesting how these discussions get focused on 'working' dogs as defined by SAR, guide dogs, etc. when the primary function that the vast majority of dogs will perform is "house pet."

    No matter what the ARista's have been telling us for the last 20 years, dogs are not interchangeable. Different breeds have different characteristics ranging from physical appearance to temperament and 'personality.' Those characteristics may not be readily apparent to those who don't own or live with the breed, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Those sometimes intangible qualities make the difference between 'love' and like.'

    While 'working dog' breeders (however that may actually be defined) are more than welcome to breed perfectly functional dogs for whatever venue, their experiences are not necessary applicable to the rest of dogdom. It also takes a certain amount of hubris to suggest that someone would be 'just as happy' with a "Heinz 57" dog. That's really not the case particularly for those who have owned a particular breed over time.

    Ultimately, the most important question for purebred dog breeders/owners is how
    do we ensure the health and longevity of our (beloved) chosen breeds? What are models of breeds that are healthy and successful? What registries and clubs do it RIGHT?

    The JRTCA, for example, emphasizes limiting inbreeding and testing for health before dogs are even registered. They also ofter both conformation and dog-sports events.

    I genuinely believe there's a middle ground where the unique characteristics of our breeds can be preserved along with health and longevity. It just requires a paradigm shift away from linebreeding to assortive mating, and away from rigidly closed registries. How many breeds have huge un-tapped reservoirs of genetic material that is effectively off-limits because the dogs purebred but not registered?

    In my opinion, the zealots on both sides are only causing dogs suffer by throwing hand grenades at each other rather than looking for rationale solutions.

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  65. Terrific post, Carolyn - thank you.

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  66. Id rather have less breeds and more healthy types of dogs.

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  67. Anonymous- that presumes that one can only exist in the absence of the other. The truth is there are plenty of healthy purebreds. -entire breeds on fact where the instances of heritable disorders are low and exaggeration non-existent. Further, everyone needs to have realistic expectations. Dogs are are going to get sick and die. What is a 'healthy' dog? What are realistic expectations for longevity. I've read rants about breeds where half the dogs due of cancer; however, the ranter forgets to mention average age at onset is 12-13 years old. Definitions are important.

    For example, a recent UK health survey for my breed includes False Pregnancy as a health problem which in turn is used in calculations of the number of problems in an average dog etc. Virtually every intact bitch experiences some fform of pseudopregnancy. It's the norm- part of canine physiology. The definition of 'problem' is meaningless but useful to those who have an agenda.

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  68. Well "Bijou," since you are actually the only one here who has just bred a mongrel litter (as defined by the American Kennel Club, aka "the government of dogs" trans-Atlantically speaking) ... Oh, but you protest, they aren't mongrels by my definition.

    Alas. In America, your definition means nothing, and you are a breeder of paradoxically inbred mutts. Unregisterable. Unshowable. No ribbons for you! You'll have to sell them as "designer dogs," I guess. Good thing there seems to be a market for those, though I would have advised you to choose pug crosses for easier sales.

    Funny, huh? Your definition of a "purebred" dog should be how you define it, not how a bunch of snobs somewhere ... Oh, right ... too bad about that.

    Now, ask me, a black Belgian shepherd "looks like" some sort of show collie mix. Just pointing that out. I mean, that's what they look like. Collie mutts. No offense, right? Just, isn't what you're selling just a collie-type mongrel? Because that's what they look like. Pointy heads, big hair, no stop. Just saying.

    And what a dog looks like to someone who knows absolutely nothing about it and cares less is obviously the most important thing, its defining reality. Right? That's the essential point of the dog's character. Or charcater, if you must.

    As you say, you are not the one breeding "pedigree" dogs, so we'll just carry on here with our vaguely border-collie-looking mongrels. But I will let you in on a secret.

    We find it both hilarious and reassuring when a fancier sniffs and proclaims that our dogs look like mongrels, and thinks that she has just insulted them. Hilarious because of the "charcater" reveal, and reassuring because it signals that she is too dull to covet them.

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  69. Carolyn, one reason these discussions tend to swirl around working dogs is that fanciers try to justify their practices by claiming to be breeding them (in forums such as this) while their own records show selection for show wins only.

    In breeds that have a working function, ability to work at the traditional and breed-appropriate tasks is the first thing to be lost when the animals are inbred and selected for pageant-winning "type." It's the genetic canary in the coal mine. Temperament and health follow it quickly down the toilet. This pattern does not vary.

    It's also often the case that the "type" selected by pageants has morphological extremes that preclude the physical soundness that allow a dog to do whatever work his breed was originally intended to do. Or much of anything else.

    Breeds that were always intended to be companions only -- such as the CKCS -- or that retain that history only in name -- the bulldog, most "terriers," the American cocker spaniel -- have the same inherent need for physical and mental soundness in order to live good lives. But they frequently lack a yardstick by which this soundness may be measured. No canary, so the health and temperament hit is the first one that registers.

    I don't expect a pug to scale a rubble pile like one of my English shepherds does, but I do think he has a right to be able to perfuse his tissues with oxygen in a wide range of weather conditions. I don't expect an American cocker spaniel to flush birds like a Boykin, but is too damn much to ask that he refrain from biting the kids?

    That's one reason why discussions of health and temperament so often sidetrack into work function.

    Another is that working dog breeders and handlers are disproportionately in the forefront of breed conservation efforts.

    Many of us are scrambling to salvage working breeds that have been or are being genetically swamped by fancier-selected counterfeits that share a name and cross-registration with the genuine article. Others, such as myself, are stacking sandbags to protect a genetic treasure that could be destroyed by a decade or two of gormless selection for what someone deems "pretty."

    We're just trying to keep our canaries alive. As we stare anxiously at our own little yellow bird, we tend to forget about those who have been toting an empty cage for decades, if not forever.

    You don't experience the fear and heartbreak of watching your birdie die, but you also get hit by the gas without warning.

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  70. The personal stuff aside, Bijou asks a good question above: what more can someone like her - who is already doing inter-variety matings, who does all the health tests and already checks COI - do to improve the genetic health of the breed/s she loves?

    To recap, the three suggestions so far are:

    • Assortative mating
    • Using non-reg'd stock
    • Outcrossing to a different breed and breeding back.

    All good suggestions but they require thinking outside the current show-breeding box and I hope Bijou will be back to tell us how acceptable/practical these would be for her.

    My suggestion, for what it's worth, is that I think every breed should have an individual breed conservation plan worked out with breeders (work, show + pet), geneticists, epidemiologists etc - and it needs to be an international collaboration. This way, I believe breeders can start to think more holistically about their breeds; that it will encourage breeders to get together and talk about the future of their breeds in a breed-wide sense, rather than just (as often happens at the moment) pursuing individual interests - for good or not so good.

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  71. IIt has taken me several starts to get through all the posts and I am surprised that there has been no mention of one of the LUA Project in Dalmations.
    Here is an example of how a problem was solved and still the breed club here in the US fails to accept the results. Fails, no, refuses, is a better word because they feel these dogs are compromised. These crosses occurred 14 generations ago with outcrosses to a AKC champion pointer, The genetic make up of LUA Dalmations is 99.8% the same as the AKC variety. That's purer than Ivory Soap, now why wouldn't you want to "improve the breed"?

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  72. No mention on this thread of the LUA Dals, but plenty elsewhere on this blog:

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2010/11/uks-first-gm-dalmatian-and-shes-winner.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2010/11/and-akcs-decision-re-accepting-spotted.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2010/11/armstrong.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2010/11/fab-fiona-does-it-again.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2010/12/dalmatian-club-of-america-kills-dogs.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2011/01/dalmatian-club-of-america-last-throes.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2011/03/dalmatian-diehards-would-be-disgusted.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2011/03/fiona-at-crufts-win-for-breed.html

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/2011/03/fiona-crufts-spot-difference.html

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  73. I'd add an absolutely necessary fourth component to the three above

    -- Widen and alter the selection criteria and the desirable range of morphology

    If someone outcrosses (however defined) once and then immediately commences selection for the same narrowly-defined morphology, then the result will be the same over time as if the outcross had never been done.

    I once sat over drinks with a board member of the AKC Tervuren club and an acknowledged all-around "dog expert" of the older generation. All-breed show judge, among other bona fides.

    The board member was describing the (coff coff) "discussion" then ongoing on their standard revision committee about whether or not to "allow" gray dogs.

    Seems the gray dogs kept getting born whether or not they were allowed to do so. How rude of them.

    The Voice of an Old Generation pontificated about how the way to show that one was serious was to have "high standards." By "high" standards he meant defining the breed type more and more narrowly every time the standard was revised, to make it harder to meet and the dogs more uniform in appearance. If the club wanted respect, they would disqualify the gray dogs. Outlier = deviant.

    I note that in the current Tervuren standard, gray is only a fault. Our expert's advice was not taken. (I didn't think the board member who was represented there was being anything other than polite about it, but her account of the rest of the committee left the outcome in doubt.) I assume this is effectively close to making it a "disqualification." One website says that 14 gray Tervs have been declared "champions." I don't know how that stacks up breed-wide in this country.

    The take-home lesson, though, is that the old way of thinking, taken from the pages of fancy poultry and pigeon shows, is that one demonstrates prowess as a breeder by hitting an ever-shrinking morphological mark. (There are fancy poultry standards so exacting that it is necessary to maintain separate, unrelated "hen lines" and "cock lines" of the same breed in order to win in the respective classes, as the daughter of a show-winning cock will not look like the the hen standard, and the son of a show-winning hen will not look like the cock standard. The thing about poultry is that one makes soup from the "failures.")

    The reality of genetics is that in order to have a healthy gene pool, one is going to have to tolerate much greater variations in morphology than any cosmetic dog standard, with dog pageants applied as the winnowing tool, currently does.

    Since we are told that this means "destroying the breed I love," it appears that at least some members of the self-identified "fancy" are demanding the impossible -- that they be enabled to continue business as usual and somehow reap a different result.

    Wand is in the shop. No can do.

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  74. "Since we are told that this means "destroying the breed I love," it appears that at least some members of the self-identified "fancy" are demanding the impossible -- that they be enabled to continue business as usual and somehow reap a different result."

    I wrote an article about brindle in Salukis and was told that I was single-handedly destroying the Saluki.

    I have only ever bred one litter of Salukis. None of them were brindle. Or any other exotic color.

    I had no idea I had such power. It's rather giddying.

    Brindle in Salukis is quite contentious right now. As an example of the kind of double-think that goes on, I shall use the UK Saluki standard, which forbids brindle. This is because of longdogs (sighthound crosses, usually multigenerational SalukiXGreyhound) being bred into Salukis, then the progeny being registered as pure. So, ostensibly, brindle is forbidden in the standard to prevent fraud.

    Except that I was told, point blank, on a mailing list, that brindle being a DQ keeps Salukis 'pure.' Now, longdogs come in many, many other colors than brindle. Explain to me how keeping the brindle offspring of such dogs out but not the other colors keeps Salukis 'pure.'

    No explanation was forthcoming.

    Until that kind of magical thinking goes by the wayside, you are just not going to get a bunch of dog people together to talk sense about genetics.

    In the last issue of the Spotter, the DCA club mag, there was an article worrying that Dalmatian genes might have been 'lost' during the cross to the Pointer. Because Dalmatians are not really dogs, they are an alien species that doesn't actually share the vast majority of their DNA with Pointers anyways. Magical thinking.

    This kind of ignorance, and I'll give Bijou the benefit of the doubt, about cross-breeding and back-crossing, and how selection is selection whether it is a purebred or not, is not uncommon. It should be uncommon, given the examples of the LUA Dals, and the Boxer/Corgis crosses, but unfortunately we are talking about what amounts to a religion for some people. Not a science. Until that changes, nothing is going to change.

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  75. "To recap, the three suggestions so far are:

    • Assortative mating
    • Using non-reg'd stock
    • Outcrossing to a different breed and breeding back."

    assortative mating and using non registered stock may be possible for some breeds but not for many - what breeds would be 'assortative' for Schiperkees , Shiba Inu or Skye Terriers? and how many non registered Japanese Chins, Keeshonds or Cheaspeake Bay retrievers are there ?

    Out crossing and breeding back in might work if you are tryng to correct a single problem as in the LUA Dalmation but don't forget that it took many many generations of breeding back in to get back to a Dally that was of sufficently good breed type - if the objective is genetic diversity then surely the out cross would need to be repeated every three or more generations in order to maintain diversity and would this not lead to an irrevocable loss of breed characteristics ?

    you are absoloutely right that we need to work on a breed by breed basis - there can be no 'one size fits all' solution here- sadly there are still some on here who think that the only amswer is to do away with the whole notion of pedigree dogs ......this is a totally unrealistic goal ....and what a crying shame if it was ever achieved !!

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  76. As a breeder of a long lived minority breed who health tests to monitor my own bloodlines, work out my coi's submit DNA to various research groups worldwide, advise puppy buyers to keep me informed of any health problems they experience again to monitor things. I just give up so defeated and tired of being abused for enjoying showing and training my dogs, working hard to produce the best healthiest puppies I can.

    Have you an idea how demoralising it is to put so much effort into something only to watch some idiot down the road 'rescue' adult pedigree dogs to breed asap? Sell their pups in no time, no health testing, don't bother to tell new owners when mother dies of heart attack on a walk. Replace her with a different breed that 'sells well', whilst you get bombarded by folk saying things like, you show people are evil you should be shot, making those poor dogs do that just for your vanity. You breed them to their family members putting all that suffering on their new owners! Whilst they're abusing you they're stroking a pedigree show dog with low hip scores, clear health tests and coi's worked out back 10 generations for some dogs in their pedigree.

    I said when PDE came out I could see my dogs going overseas, my first went to Russia in April as a neutered pet, his sire's semen has gone to America. I have a waiting list from Holland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, America and Australia all people who already have my dogs.
    I'm a tough ex member of HRH's armed forces sick of all those instant experts out there, Ex is an unknown quantity whilst Spirt is a drip under pressure my old CO used to say.

    Within ya own breed you can do something, educate yourself and fellow breeders, invite research scientists to visit, share pedigree's when a problem arises and educate fellow breeders. Unfortunately GP watch a tv program, read a few blogs and know it all, you are dismissed because you show dogs - brilliant just brilliant!

    Bijou ask that question of Dr Sampson he'll have an answer for you.

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  77. Shell, no one is dismissing the very hard work that certain breeders are putting in to their breeds.
    Sadly when you read through blogs like this, well known dog forums etc, it can to some look like a division. Both sides are responsible for the "them and us", and threads go round and round in circles.
    We are all the general public, whether breeders, veterinary trained, geneticists, or ecologist. Each one should be allowed to make suggestions, and this should follow with a sensible discussion not a cat fight.
    As you can read above suggestions have been made. It doesn't matter who by and what they do. Not everyone will agree with what someone else does or doesn't do, what someone suggests or dismisses.
    If everyone in the world agreed on everything what a boring place it will be.
    Keep the comments and suggestions coming, but keep them constructive, even the critical ones, and who knows we might start sharing ideas instead of dismissing them.

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  78. Chesapeake Bay retrievers could be outcrossed to Labradors (especially American working-type Labs, which look and act more like Chessies) or possibly curly-coated retrievers. The original Chessie was as varied as the English retriever dog that became the curly and the wavy-coats, then the modern Labrador, golden, and flat-coated varieties. I think all retrievers should be made varieties of a single breed and bred in the way that the Belgian shepherd dogs are.

    At one time there were long-haired Chessies, curly-coated Chessies, and short-coated Chessies, which are the only survivors (that can be shown at any rate). The only difference between the Chesapeake and the English retriever type is that the people of Chesapeake Bay bred for livers of various shades and red and yellow of various shades and the Brits wanted black dogs. The so-called silver coloration (liver dilute) in Labradors exists in Chessies as standard color called "ash."

    All of these dogs come from the same root stock-- the Newfoundland fisherman's dog.

    Schipperke, contrary to much of their breed propaganda, are not miniature Groenendaels. When left undocked, their true identity is revealed. They are a spitz, probably nothing more than a shorter-coated version of the German spitz type. Thus, your outcrosses could be anything from what we call Pomeranians to the Keeshond/Wolfspitz.

    Skye terriers are very closely related to Cairn terriers. The cairns were originally called short-coated Skyes. But all the terriers from the north of Scotland are closely related, so any of those could be used.

    In the US, there are likely thousands of unregistered Chesapeake bay dogs. There are a few lines of the breed still can be found in Maryland that have resisted the American Kennel Club and the purebred dog fancy altogether.

    Oh. And BTW, the English shepherd is the original English herding dog that small farmers kept before the Enclosure. They took these dogs to America during colonization, where they remained as the main farm dog in much of the Eastern US. Its closest living relative is likely various forms of Welsh sheepdog, which were also used to found the modern border collie. The modern border collie is a creation of post-Enclosure agricultural practices, which included large-scale sheep production and required a strong-eyed dog to manage vast flocks of sheep on large ranges. Of course, trials also shaped the border collie in ways that the original English shepherd-type never experienced.

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  79. The main reason folk seem to have against anything but pure breeding is "we will lose type" well sorry but a look around the rings today in the majority of breeds and it seems to me its been lost without any help from different breeding methods
    greyhounds are like donkeys, retreivers have no legs, neither have border collies, dobes are as substantial as Rotties, shepherds have turned into frogs, whippets have morphed into greyhounds,pointers are now triangular, ridgebacks look like Mastiffs and labradors are akin to blobs
    The ordinary pet owner dosnt want what you have created apart from their character so bring on the outcross then we can choose to own a breed that may have some resemblance to the one we admired

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  80. Agreed, the show ring is a poor agent of selection and some breeds have been driven into ill health, premature death, loss of intelligence, etc. through line breeding. But the stats also show that some breeds have high diversity, pretty good health stats, and work well either as working dogs, or family members.

    Please don't throw the baby out with the bath! Keeping pedigrees is what allows a good breeder to avoid inbreeding and steer away from dogs who fail tests of health, temperament, OR conformation. And, believe it or not, there are breeders who put health and temperament above conformation. And, as the data show, many popular breeds (eg, Labbies, GSD's) have wide genetic lineage to draw on . . . and strong working lines that are bred for function, not the show ring. As a Lab breeder, I wouldn't dream of outcrossing to increase diversity. I have no trouble finding a sire who doesn't raise the (already low) COI and has great vitals and temperament.

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  81. "The ordinary pet owner doesnt want what you have created apart from their character so bring on the outcross then we can choose to own a breed that may have some resemblance to the one we admired "

    ....if you are so convinced of this then why are you not breeding outcrosses yorselves ? ...all those of you who are against the continuation of pure 'pedigree' dogs are completely free to choose and breed cross breed if that's what you think the pet owning public want...my own observation and experiences tell me that the opposite is true ..... - this weekend I will have the first cohort of my puppy buyers visiting, some of them have waited 2 years for a Groenendael puppy - none of them want a puppy that will grow up to look and behave only 'vaguely' like the breed they are supposed to be - they have deliberately researched and sought out a breeder of a very specific breed -because they want ONLY that physical appearance and set of traits - the demand will always be there for consistency of type and character traits.

    if I am wrong and you are right then market forces will mean the end of pedigree dogs - so go ahead and put you money where your mouth is and breed dogs yourselves ...but I suspect it's a whole lot easier and infinitely more satisfying to tell the rest of us just where we are going wrong !!!

    ...and I'm assuming that none of you who disapprove of 'pure bred' dogs actually own one yourselves ...now that would be just a tad hypocritical - no ?

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  82. That wasnt really the point i was trying to make so will try to clarify.
    There is much to celebrate and admire in the different breeds but that dosnt mean much if along with their wonderful temperament and specific look also comes a worrying set of possible health issues. The way forward may well mean a sacrifice of show specific type to achieve better health.
    As I see it the only thing that stands in the way is the show breeders desire to win above everything else.
    Market forces are already marching in another direction
    I hear many breeders bemoaning the types winning with their short legs, wrong colour etc etc but do they continue breeding the ones they know to be correct or do they join the merry band of short legged show winners. i think the answer to that can be seen in how breeds have changed.
    Prospective puppy owners do want a Lab....but they would prefer a less fat blobby one, they do indeed want a Basset ....but would prefer one not dragging its sternum along the floor, they want a Setter...but maybe one with less coat to manage, they would love a whippet but maybe one they can pick up, a shepherd...yes but one that dosnt resemble two dogs joined in the middle.
    And where is the prospective owner going to find these dogs...puppy farms are bad obviously, pet breeders or BYB for want of a better term may not have the knowledge required in the present genetic maelstrom so they have show dogs...the breeders I dont doubt want to breed healthy dogs but they want to win too
    I for one dont disaprove of pedigree dogs, I admire them, all Im saying is dont let the present fashion required to win in the show ring today stand in the way of the future of the breeds

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  83. Jennifer:

    "Please don't throw the baby out with the bath!"

    No one is saying that. In fact, the KC re-opening the B register does not mean that you are going to have to breed to a mutt. No one is going to force anyone to do any kind of breeding. I keep seeing people write, "Oh, line-breeding and in-breeding, are just tools." So is cross-breeding. Only it's a tool that I don't get to have in my toolbox, if I choose to work within the closed registry system.

    What throws the baby out with the bathwater is a system that by it's very nature contracts the gene pool with almost every generation.

    "Keeping pedigrees is what allows a good breeder to avoid inbreeding and steer away from dogs who fail tests of health, temperament, OR conformation."

    You know, I have crossbreeds, and I've had two litters of backcrosses, and that doesn't somehow preclude me from keeping pedigrees. I can trace my dogs, even my crossbreeds, back to dogs originally imported from Afghanistan and the Middle East in the early part of the 1900s. I have watched people who keep longdogs rattle off a pedigree that goes back thirty years.

    "As a Lab breeder, I wouldn't dream of outcrossing to increase diversity. I have no trouble finding a sire who doesn't raise the (already low) COI and has great vitals and temperament."

    Lucky you. Just because you don't need cross-breeding in *your* toolbox doesn't mean other people might not want to have it.

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  84. "….if you are so convinced of this then why are you not breeding outcrosses yorselves ?"

    Dear bijou, I see that you have selectively ignored my earlier comment about why people don't suddenly wake up some morning and decide to crossbreed. What would be the point if you can't get the dogs back into the registered gene pool again once they are breeding true? If you leave the system, you cannot get back in without special dispensation. If you leave the system, you better be ready to stay out.

    " ...all those of you who are against the continuation of pure 'pedigree' dogs are completely free to choose and breed cross breed if that's what you think the pet owning public want...my own observation and experiences tell me that the opposite is true ..... "

    We're not talking about *your observation and experiences*. We're talking about population genetics, breeds as a whole. I wonder why you think admitting that there are problems with the closed registry system is some kind of sin. I also wonder why you believe that admitting that there are problems inherent in the system means that people are "against the continuation of pure 'pedigree' dogs."

    ::remarks showing ignorance about selective breeding and type removed::

    "if I am wrong and you are right then market forces will mean the end of pedigree dogs - so go ahead and put you money where your mouth is and breed dogs yourselves ...but I suspect it's a whole lot easier and infinitely more satisfying to tell the rest of us just where we are going wrong !!!
    ...and I'm assuming that none of you who disapprove of 'pure bred' dogs actually own one yourselves ...now that would be just a tad hypocritical - no ?"

    I AM A DOG BREEDER. I own and breed Salukis, Azawakh, and Saluki/Afghan crosses. Both Salukis and Azawakh have what amounts to open registries, animals from Africa or the Middle East can be imported, evaluated, and incorporated into registered bloodlines after a certain number of generations. The rules vary according to registry. Azawakh directly from the Sahel have earned conformation championships.

    So far, none of the dogs descended from country of origin dogs have exploded. And surprisingly, even if you breed to a rustic dog, in a couple of generations you can be back to your fluffy cream show dog, if that is where you want to go.

    My last litter was Salukis, a cross-between pure show lines and show/coursing lines, with a five gene COI of 0%. The bitch pup that went to my co-breeder, who is very into conformation shows, got her first points at six months old. The litter before that was 75% Afghan, 25% Saluki, and only two of my Afghans can match them for agility and speed, one of them the sire of the litter. As a pet owner, and an Afghan owner, they are Afghan enough for me.

    I daresay that my dogs, as *breed types*, pre-exist your breed by over five hundred years, probably more. I have images of very obviously Saluki type dogs with a bit of coat on them that are from 600AD. I have images recognizable as feathered Salukis without the fuzz on them that are just as old. So excuse me if I laugh hysterically at your concern for keeping your breed pure, a breed that dates only to the late 1800s as a 'breed,' instead of a landrace.

    A link, just for you, bijou:

    http://thecrowroost.com/RECIPES.htm

    Enjoy.

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  85. Bijou, I think you misunderstood Jan's comment, maybe intentionally? What she was saying is that the pet owner looking for a certain breed does not specifically want the look that is winning in the ring today--they just want a dog that looks like that breed. My collie puppies are all over the map in terms of their face shape, coat length and texture, what their ears are doing, their size and weight--yet they are all collies and all their owners think they are beautiful. I have seen collie kennels online where every dog looks identical to every other dog. The goal is to create a "look" for your kennel and to gain the admiration and envy of your competitors in the show ring. This is not going to make for healthy dogs. Generally speaking, dogs that look visually identical to one another are not going to be as healthy as dogs that have more diversity! If you look in the pedigree of those dogs you are going to see very, very high levels of inbreeding!

    Also, I notice you mentioned people who want to "do away with purebred dogs"--I don't think there are any such people posting on this blog. You are tilting at windmills so to speak? We all just want healthy dogs. I personally would be devastated to see every dog breed go away--I think they're all very special in their own way. But, it's more important that they be healthy and have good temperaments than that they conform to specific trends of appearance, which are constantly changing just like the latest fashions in New York and Milan. And which are constantly becoming more extreme and in my opinion, uglier also. I'd like to see more breeders breeding for healthy, well-tempered pets and I'd like to see conformation shows go away entirely. But that's just me... :)

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  86. bijou, you are missing the point.

    Its not an issue of 'disapproves of pure-bred' its an issue of what defines a dog as a breed.

    Its about 2 main issues:

    Issue 1: Maintaining a breed by breeding from a very small gene pool of dogs will allow a host of issues to arise that would otherwise not be expressed in a more diluted gene pool. This increases the dogs likelihood of having health and temperament issues. Many breeds have serious problems, and would benefit from an outcross with dogs that were similar in some ways but don't have the same issues, either similar breeds (like, the Dal/Pointer outcross)or un-registrable dogs from the origin of the original type (like the Basenjis from Africa being allowed into the US Basenji gene pool). This is common sense and good science. Unfortunately, for many fanciers, the very idea of "unpure" blood is so horrifying its unthinkable. The occasional outcross is not going to fundamentally change what makes a breed that breed (see Dals and Basenjis), even if the appearance of the F1 pups is slightly different. And if the outward appearance changes slightly, so what? Just because a Dal has "frosted spots" or a Saluiki is (horrors!) brindle, its doesn't make it a bad example of its breed.

    Issue 2: By focusing on a host of outward physical features that vary depending on whim and fashion as your yardstick for what makes a breed a breed, the behavior of that breed and the health of that breed will suffer. You cannot look at some of the more unhealthy breeds and tell me that the focus on the conformation beauty contest has helped the CKCS, the bulldog, the pug or the Mastino in any way. Look at the show ring BC and then look at a working BC...

    You, bijou, have a fairly healthy breed whose standards do not call for extremes to win breed shows. You also are in Europe where your breed is not forced to be separated by coat type into even smaller gene pools.

    Other breeds are not so lucky.

    Beth (owner of 3 purebreed dogs, and past owner of many more, so not a hypocrite at all, thankyouverymuch).

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  87. "Dear bijou, I see that you have selectively ignored my earlier comment about why people don't suddenly wake up some morning and decide to crossbreed. "


    I'm not the only one here being selective about what they reply to - why has no-one answered the point that if the purpose of outcrossing is to increase genetic diversity then it would need to be done every few generation ..and how would breed type be maintained if we did this ? .... look at this quote from Retrievermans post.... "I think all retrievers should be made varieties of a single breed and bred in the way that the Belgian shepherd dogs are." .....surely this would spell the end for Golden, Flat Coat, Curly Coated and Labradors as separate breeds ( don't forget that mine is ONE breed with four varieties - that's NOT the same as amalgamating 4 entirely separate breeds ) - do this with all dogs bred for the same purpose and surely this DOES mean the end of our seperate breeds .




    Romany dogs just because your dogs 'look' all over the map does not mean that they are inherently healthier - do you have proof that this is so ?

    "You, bijou, have a fairly healthy breed whose standards do not call for extremes to win breed shows. You also are in Europe where your breed is not forced to be separated by coat type into even smaller gene pools. "

    yep despite having a small gene pool they are a generally healthy long lived, fit and active breed and that's largely because they are not commercialised and remain in the hands of breed enthusiasts who test, DNA profle compile and update databases world wide and co-operate with other breeders to do the very best they can .

    Look at the breeds that are in trouble ( and yes there are some ) they include some of the most popoular - GSD's, Labs and CKCS are the bread and butter of the puppy farmer and it's not the show type that they are breeding - you say that the public has no appetite for exaggerations yet its the public that have made Bulldogs, Bostons Frenchies, Sharpeis , Chihuahuas and Chinese Crested the most fashionable breeds around - and the huge rise in registrations from those breeds is NOT because of show breeders but those breeding soley for the pet market -it's also the public who are buying crosses such as the Bashar ( Basset X Sharpei - advbertised as 'SUPER wrinkly )



    "I'd like to see conformation shows go away entirely" ...and here's the REAL agenda ....

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  88. Jemima, maybe you could pick a breed a week and do a discussion on possible conservation plan.
    Saying that, when we get to pugs it'll only need a day. OUTCROSS!
    Considering VIRTUALLY all their problems are conformation related and the recent inconsequential changes to the breed standard have not helped at all.

    Kate (pug owner that failed my PHD in pugs before purchase, but would now like to retake my PHD).

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  89. Bijou, I haven't been breeding for very long so I don't have "proof" that my dogs are healthier. However, I hear from many pet owners who are looking for a "healthy" collie, and I have heard many HORROR STORIES about the collies people have purchased from show breeders...dogs that have all kinds of bizarre diseases and conditions, not the normal ones you hear of in this breed...people spending THOUSANDS of dollars on diagnoses and treatments. It is heartbreaking.

    It took me several years to find healthy, well-tempered breeding stock, and I rejected several dogs that I think other breeders would have gone ahead and bred. I do extensive genetic testing on my dogs, and I avoid the close inbreeding that is so popular among show breeders, and I hope the results will be a healthier pet for my puppy buyers. So far so good!

    I don't know why you are taking offense here-- based on what you've said it sounds like you are a very conscientious breeder. But don't you think that at some point, a breeder who truly cares about health and temperament, and who also truly cares about winning ribbons, is going to have to make some difficult choices? And who wants to show dogs if you never win? :)

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  90. p.s. Yes Bijou, in my perfect world conformation dog shows would disappear. I feel that they have had a net negative effect on purebred dogs. Also, to me they are very much like beauty pageants for small children--i.e. creepy. But don't be too scared--I'm not going to DO anything to eliminate dog shows from the face of the earth. I'm just expressing my personal opinion here on the internet. :)

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  91. "Jemima, maybe you could pick a breed a week and do a discussion on possible conservation plan."


    ..... - Jemima is not a geneticist and has never bred a litter - she is not an expert on every single breed of dog and so can hardly be expected to come up with a plan for their future - they may well be others on here with more knowledge about genetics in general or in depth knowledge about one partcular breed but they certainly will not know enough about all the others - the danger here is that unless you include breed clubs and those that are actively involved in the breeds under discussion we'll simply get more of the same unrealistic one size fits all 'hot air'


    The future of individual breeds lies in those that are breeding them - you must engage them or you are simply talking amongst yourselves
    ...

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  92. I agree completely, Bijou. Pointless without breeder engagement, so thank you for sticking with it here.

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  93. Romany dog, everything you have just quoted there is based on hear say.
    You say that all we want is ribbons well if that's the case I'm doing the wrong shows cos all we get is crap card :p and no it's not all about winning out of the thousands who participate only a small amount can win for the most part it's about having a social day out with friends showing off thedogs I love and they enjoy it just as much otherwise they would look like sacks of spuds in the ring.
    You should not tar everyone with the same brush that enjoy it for what it is a great day out.

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  94. Katie my remarks are based on Personal experience not blogs or forums, I personally have been harrassed about my dogs, breeding and showing latest only 2 wks ago.

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  95. Bijou said.....Jemima is not a geneticist and has never bred a litter - she is not an expert on every single breed of dog and so can hardly be expected to come up with a plan for their future

    Bijou, I didn't expect Jemima to come up with a plan. I meant we could all discuss a plan on each breed, share ideas etc etc etc.

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  96. forgot to add......I realise we wouldn't come up with a plan over night, but just a sensible discussion from different people would be good.

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  97. Bijou said:

    ‘…and I'm assuming that none of you who disapprove of 'pure bred' dogs actually own one yourselves ...now that would be just a tad hypocritical – no?’

    Well, with that challenge I can no longer resist wading in to the debate. I am the proud and happy owner of two ‘purebred’, pedigreed Groenendaels. I have issues with the term ‘purebred’ and heartily advocate the occasional sensible, well-thought out, controlled outcross.

    The only way the concept of ‘purebred’ can be supported is if you believe that any given breed sprang fully formed from Zeus’s head and that contrary to scientific evidence, fewer genes lead to a superior result. Please do get back to me if you can find any proper research at all that supports either of these propositions – I’d love to read it.

    I haven’t read anyone advocating mass outcrosses for the purpose of destroying any or all breeds. Please, let’s put that straw man to rest. On the other hand, breeding practices used in the name of ‘improvement’ and ‘purity’ have led to compromised genetic health; even many ‘purity’ advocates have been forced to accept this, though they refuse to use the tool that would mitigate, if not solve, the problem.

    I live in Canada. I don’t know how other countries define ‘purebred’, but here we have a legal definition through our Pedigree Act. This is the interesting bit for the purpose of this particular argument:

    No association may, by its by-laws, determine that an animal is a purebred of a distinct breed if the animal has less than seven-eighths of its inheritance from the foundation stock of the animal’s breed or from animals previously registered as purebreds by the association. Animal Pedigree Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 8 (4th Supp.))

    In other words, one great-grandparent does NOT have to be from the ‘foundation stock of the animal’s breed or from animals previously registered as purebreds by the association’ for an animal to be legally defined as 'purebred'. That’s not a lot of generations; with animals that reach sexual maturity as rapidly as dogs, this legal definition makes out-crossing to improve genetic health a real option. Yet dog breeders here as elsewhere obsess over the ‘purity’ of their breed and refuse to use a vital and accessible tool to deal with a well-known and entirely avoidable problem – inbreeding depression.

    Yes, Bijou, our breed is still one of the healthiest thanks to careful breeders such as yourself. That does not mean it will stay that way if nothing changes. Inbreeding depression is not breed-specific and while Belgians and some other breeds may be in the slow lane toward genetic disaster, they are on that road as long as:

    1. inbreeding (including linebreeding) is carried out;
    2. the majority of dogs go to pet homes where they are not bred;
    3. and no new genetic material is introduced through outcrosses.

    I want to maintain our beautiful breed and the time to act is now, not some time in the future when the dogs we love are already a genetic mess. I resent being called a hypocrite for maintaining a logical, researched and scientifically supported position that is not at all incompatible with owning dogs that can be identified as belonging to a breed.

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  98. Spitz lover, If you don't think people will resort to all kinds of despicable tactics in order to win dog shows, I don't know what to tell you. I'm not saying everyone is like that but it's certainly not uncommon for dog shows to bring out the worst in people.

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  99. but romany it is in the minority not through out the sport as is so often claimed, it makes no sense for people to breed these apparent genetic monsters in the days of litigation and also when you are keeping them for the show ring, you want the best possible litters you can breed, in 10 years of owning my current breed i have been tothe vets (apart from vacintions) twice, once for my boy who is a bit of a prat jumped of my sofa over exhuberently and pulled a muscle and then once because my youngest bitch caught her nail whilest runnig in from the back and tore it. This is out of 7 dogs, does that sound like a sickly pedigree bunch to you???
    The same can be said for the majoirty of the people in my breed like i have stated before it is a healthy breed that has been well looked after by our older members.
    my only grumble in the show ring is that we always get overlooked in the group, it would be nice to see a judge reward the people that work hard to keep it healthy

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  100. "Bijou, I didn't expect Jemima to come up with a plan. I meant we could all discuss a plan on each breed, share ideas etc etc etc."

    Kate, this would not really be possible without extensive knowledge of the breed in question, including average COI, founder impact, effective population size, and a really good, honest, wide-ranging, anonymous, health survey. Pile it all up and have a couple of geneticists look it over and make recommendations.

    When PDE aired in the US, I suggested that if the AKC wanted to avoid the public relations fallout the KC is currently enduring, they would do exactly what I outlined above. At the very least, it would be a good PR move.

    I got called a traitor.

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  101. ""I'd like to see conformation shows go away entirely" ...and here's the REAL agenda .... "

    Grow up, bijou. Romany Dog lives in the US, where AKC is the largest source, if you will, of conformation shows. I don't know how your shows work in the UK, but under the AKC, only one dog and one bitch per breed get points towards their championship. Unless you are showing under judges that you respect, to get their opinion, the object is to gain a championship. This system is very poor for evaluating dogs. The judge is under no obligation to explain their decision whatsoever. The German system where each dog receives a rating and written critique is, frankly, a far better value to the exhibitor, because the actual competition for placements is separate. Every dog gets a rating and critique. A far better system for people who are just not competitive but still would like to have their dogs evaluated in a more objective manner. And much more welcoming to new people.

    IABKC shows are run on the German system, but unless you have a rare breed, they are considered either practice shows or cheap championships. UKC, which doesn't allow professional handlers, is likewise more friendly, but still not considered 'real' competition by many.

    Having only one dog and one bitch eligible for points towards a championship creates an intense level of competition and invites poor sportsmanship. One of my Afghan books I got as a novice with my first bitch many years ago actually warns new exhibitors about the competition dropping lit cigarettes in the dog's coat and stepping on their feet to make them lame. Sounds like fun.

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  102. "I'm not the only one here being selective about what they reply to - why has no-one answered the point that if the purpose of outcrossing is to increase genetic diversity then it would need to be done every few generation ..and how would breed type be maintained if we did this ? ...."

    There is no one answer this question, bijou. For instance, with a breed like the Scottish terrier, which has a very impoverished Major Histocompatibility Complex, a high rate of cancer, and a shortened life span, you would want to specifically choose outcrosses that would bring in new DLA genes for the MHC. You might want to do outcrosses to several related breeds. After several generations of backcrosses, you then re-evaluate the genetic state of the breed, and go from there. More crosses may be needed, or the first group may sustain the breed for many, many generations.

    In any case, such crossbreeding programs would have to be individually designed for each breed.

    Breed type in ANY cross, whether between breeds or between lines, is maintained by backcrossing. And not necessarily into the original line. Backcrossing into another line would result in increased diversity in the offspring while returning more closely to the original breed type. In livestock, anything from 3/4 to 7/8 is usually considered 'pure' after a cross.

    However, as the new anonymous stated, each time only one or two dogs from each litter is bred from, genes are lost. I see breeders breeding a bitch two or three times. With dogs, it's worse. How much genetic diversity would be preserved if that bitch's two sisters were bred from as well? Quite a bit. A wider view of breed type, with more variation in what is considered typical, would allow for many more dogs to be considered breeding material, and preserve more genetic diversity, so breeds do not become impoverished in the first place.

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  103. Jess said
    "Kate, this would not really be possible without extensive knowledge of the breed in question, including average COI, founder impact, effective population size, and a really good, honest, wide-ranging, anonymous, health survey. Pile it all up and have a couple of geneticists look it over and make recommendations."

    Agree entirely, however there's no harm in a discussion on it though. Then maybe individuals on here would realise that "those holding the cards" are maybe not shuffling the pack quite as well as they preach to be and could do with a reshuffle.

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  104. "Agree entirely, however there's no harm in a discussion on it though. Then maybe individuals on here would realise that "those holding the cards" are maybe not shuffling the pack quite as well as they preach to be and could do with a reshuffle."

    It would just be speculation. I am honestly not sure if speculation without relevant information about individual breeds would be useful, or if it would be better to stick to generalities. I find people are often more likely to listen if you stick to generalities; singling out breeds makes people defensive and they don't listen.

    Frankly, I think the ones who protest so much at the adding of a few extra cards to the pack are practicing religion. This includes the "you just want the end of purebred dogs" and "LUA Dals are mutts" camps.

    As I said, I have Salukis and it is possible to register dogs from countries with no Kennel Club and get them into the Western gene pool. There are people who feel these dogs are not 'pure' and they are free to read the pedigrees and not use them. Same as Dalmatian breeders are free not to use LUA Dals, etc. etc.

    Unfortunately, and I speak from experience as an atheist who has debated with religious people many times, for many, it won't matter what evidence you present. If it messes too much with their religion, they won't consider it. Dog breeding, at this time, is as much religion as science for some people.

    I have talked until I was blue in the fingers, on this blog and elsewhere, and there are people who just stick their fingers in their ears and yell "lalalalalalala!"

    Also unfortunately, actually talking about the problems inherent in the closed registry system will get you branded a purebred hater and a traitor in some circles. If you don't talk about it, after all, no one will notice. Dogs are magical beings, they aren't even subject to inbreeding depression.

    I daresay that part of the hatred many have for Ms. Harrison and her message is rooted in her exposure of closeted skeletons to the average Joe.

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  105. Oh. And BTW, the English shepherd is the original English herding dog that small farmers kept before the Enclosure. They took these dogs to America during colonization, where they remained as the main farm dog in much of the Eastern US.

    Well, sort of.

    It is the case that knowledgeable people consider the ES to be the most unaltered descendant of the old pre-industrial-revolution crofter's collie. However, this is due as much to selection pressure as to lineage. No one except perhaps some delusional UKC-folks believes that the breed was kept "pure" for so long. Lots of other blood mixed in, including well-documented infusions of Beauceron, cur, and border collie. And dogs imported directly from the British Isles as recently as 60 or so years ago and presented as "English shepherds."

    Nevertheless, and despite the name, as a breed they are American in provenance in every way that means anything.

    ES are purebred in the way that livestock are typically purebred.


    Its closest living relative is likely various forms of Welsh sheepdog, which were also used to found the modern border collie.

    No, by far the closest relative is the Australian shepherd, another American breed with a foreign name. The gene pools have been separate for less than 50 years. The distinction is partly geographic, but mostly selection-related for different work (family farm dog v. ranch dog).

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  106. Now this is interesting .......the moment the reality of what some on here are suggesting hits home ( i.e the loss of individual breed characteristics) you all back pedal ! - look again at Retreivermans post and tell me what this means .... "I think all retrievers should be made varieties of a single breed and bred in the way that the Belgian shepherd dogs are." ..... I'll ask again how could such a breeding method NOT lead to the loss of individual breeds.

    Anonymous welcome to a fellow enthusiast of our wonderful breed ! ......I think though that you over simplify your points - dogs may reach sexual maturity early ( as young as 6 months in some breeds ) but they surely should not be bred from untill all health tests are done and they have reached at least 2 years old - in our breed this is vital as epilepsy often does not show itself until the dog is over 2.....in some breeds perhaps good breed type could be achieved in as little as 6 generations but in others it will take many many more ( I think in Dalmatians it took 13 plus generations ) - how many breeders will 'stay the course' - would you ?

    I am a breeder of a specific breed- I would not breed if I was forced to produce cross breeds for 6 generations before I eventually had something that I was happy to call a Groenendael - and I think most pedigree dogs breeders would feel the same - can you magine the impact on genetic diversity then as breeders stopped breeding - not to mention the huge wealth of knowledge and experience about individual breeds that they possess.


    Finally can I ask that you add your dogs details to the breed database if you have not already done so !

    http://baza.belgi.pl/modules/animal/

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  107. "and in America BSD are NOT allowed to be bred between their varieties in fact the USA does not even recognise the 4th variety ( Laeeknois)"

    "IIt has taken me several starts to get through all the posts and I am surprised that there has been no mention of one of the LUA Project in Dalmations.
    Here is an example of how a problem was solved and still the breed club here in the US fails to accept the results. Fails, no, refuses, is a better word because they feel these dogs are compromised."

    I'd just like to clarify a couple of comments. AKC is not the only registry in the US, the United Kennel Club is another, albeit smaller, registry. Founded in 1898, it's a registry that tries to place more emphasis on performance. Coonhounds and connhunting make up a large portion of the registry, but many other performance, hunting, and yes conformation events are also very active. A large percentage of dogs competing in conformation also compete in some form of performance, whether it be hunting, lure coursing, rally, agility, obedience, terrier racing, weight pull, or dock jumping.

    Many of the LUA Dalmatians are registered in UKC. Belgain Shepherds are one breed with all four varieties recognized in UKC, and have their own form of judging in conformation shows that is very different from traditional conformation judging. With regards to coonhounds, these breeds are very much working and very healthy....they have not been bred for a certain look or trend in the show ring, but have been bred to hunt. Dogs that don't hunt successfully don't get bred. Don't get me wrong, they have maintained breed type within the various coonhound breeds, but neither do you see much hip dysplasia or other genetic health issues.

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  108. ( I think in Dalmatians it took 13 plus generations )

    You may well think that, but it isn't, you know, true.

    http://users.nbn.net/jseltzer/dal_poin.html

    If the "wealth of knowledge" that would be lost when pouters "stopped breeding" because someone else was cross-breeding can be judged by the current state of fancy-bred dogs, well, I think dogs and those who value them can do without.

    See, now we see the paranoia -- Someone will force me to breed a certain way! Oh Noes!.

    Because a hundred years, give or take, of kennel club closed studbooks that have "forced" breeders to choose only from kennel club endorsed mate options to preserve "type" is "normal," but having more options in the service of good health is tyranny.

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  109. Thank you for the welcome, Bijou! And I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to write in anonymously before. I just hit the wrong button.

    Yes, I did simplify my points but they are all expanded on, and referenced, in other places by the scientists who have done the research. I am well aware that dogs should not be bred until they are two for the reasons you state and would never advocate breeding them any younger but in the big picture, this still means that you can produce a lot of generations in not many years.

    You say, ‘I would not breed if I was forced to produce cross breeds for 6 generations before I eventually had something that I was happy to call a Groenendael - and I think most pedigree dogs breeders would feel the same…’ and herein lies the crux of the problem for all breeders, though I’ll stick to Groenendaels as an example.

    How do you define a Groenendael? I know early photos are not the be all and end all, but bear with me and find the photo of Jules du Moulin on this website:

    http://www.camidecatheric.org/HISTORIQUE.htm

    Does he meet your criteria? Perhaps I misjudge you but I suspect he would be a disappointment to you if he showed up in one of your litters. However, to me he is clearly a Groenendael and I would take him and breed from him in a flash, though he differs significantly in appearance to the modern version. This magnificent dog won international working trial championships for five years running (1908-1912); in terms of function, he is unbeaten to this day.

    Do you and I have the same definition of a Groenendael? If not, which one is correct? Is it possible for both to be right? If both are right, how can we create an inclusive definition?

    We need a paradigm shift. The whole concept of ‘purebred’ dogs is built on feet of clay that are demonstrably crumbling. Breeds are artificial constructs, whatever they were selected for and however long ago the selection took place. Acknowledging this does not equate to wanting their destruction. Humans have created many things of beauty and value; artificiality in this sense is not in itself negative. But definitions of beauty and type are not absolutes; they are value judgments and as such, they are subject to change – early photos of dogs demonstrate this – and they can change again if the basis of the standing definition proves to be flawed or damaging.

    The definition of what constitutes a breed and its champions needs to be broadened to include truly the whole dog, not just a very narrow definition based on overly exacting criteria for appearance with lip service paid to health and function. I agree with Romany Dog; the show ring has a lot to answer for. Form and function have been divorced, leading breeds down a very weird and unhealthy road justified by a strange definition of improvement based on pseudoscientific principles and extreme aesthetics. The concept of ‘purebred’ also needs some revision to inject some reality. Joining the 21st century will not destroy the breeds we love; it will preserve and truly enhance them.

    It is a hard thing for one or two individual breeders to break ranks without support – Jess is a brave woman. Programmes that widen genetic diversity need to be controlled and supported at the club level, involving as many breeders as possible, either through their own breeding programmes or through some financial support for those who take the plunge. No one or two should suffer an unfair burden. Rules need to be re-written to accommodate such programmes. Conformation standards need to be revamped so that health and function come first. It can be done if the will is there and you are absolutely right that breeders and their critics need to engage positively in the conversation; I too thank you for doing this. Caring and responsible breeders quitting will just make things worse.

    And yes, I am happy to contribute to the database. Thank you for the link. I don’t see any of my breeder’s dogs there, so I will pass the link on to her as well.

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  110. bijou said...

    ".in some breeds perhaps good breed type could be achieved in as little as 6 generations but in others it will take many many more ( I think in Dalmatians it took 13 plus generations ) - how many breeders will 'stay the course' - would you ?"

    As little as SIX generations? Really?

    Boxer/Corgi first backcross (that means a Boxer/Corgi crossbreed was bred to a pure Boxer), the white bitch, stacked and facing left:

    http://www.steynmere.com/ARTICLES2.html

    That is TWO generations. First cross (Boxer/Corgi) and backcross (Boxer/Corgi x Boxer.) Please read the entire article, it is a good example of how and why such a breeding, in this case to get a desired characteristic, is done. The genes that control appearance in the dog are very few compared to the same genes in humans. It is possible to get drastic changes in just a couple of generations because of this.

    "I am a breeder of a specific breed- I would not breed if I was forced to produce cross breeds for 6 generations before I eventually had something that I was happy to call a Groenendael"

    My true love is the Afghan hound. The original Afghan hound, NOT the hair factories you see in the ring today. I have been offered a puppy from a native Afghan hound litter to be bred in Pakistan. Even if I could get the puppy here, logistically and financially, I couldn't register it. Or it's offspring. Ever. I've crossed a Saluki into my Afghans to reduce coat, and improve speed, and I can't ever register their offspring, either. No matter how they much look and act like pure Afghans. No one will force you to do anything; in fact, if a cross-breeding program were instituted, you could opt out and no one would look askance at you. But in order to get the dog I want I had to go outside the registry system and crossbreed. For that, I have been harassed from every side. My e-mail and blog address were published in a Saluki breed club magazine as someone who hates purebreds and shouldn't have Salukis; when I contacted the editor, I was told she had no control over the content of the magazine articles. Imagine that.

    "can you magine the impact on genetic diversity then as breeders stopped breeding - not to mention the huge wealth of knowledge and experience about individual breeds that they possess."

    I've considering stopping breeding many times. It's very hard to do something that you love and are proud of, when there are individuals feel the need to trash you both publicly and privately. EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS HARASSED ME HAS BEEN A SHOW BREEDER. Every. Single. One. Strange, that.

    GSPLady said...

    "Many of the LUA Dalmatians are registered in UKC."

    Unfortunately UKC is not FCI recognized. I own a very nice Tazi bitch (Saluki landrace) from Kazakh/Russian breeding that is registered with UKC as a Saluki, with their cooperation, and her progeny will not be recognized by any of the FCI member countries. She has a sister who lives in Scotland, she is not related to any other dogs in the UK, is completely fresh blood, and without special dispensation such as Fiona has received, her progeny will not get registered either. Maybe through the B registry, if her owner is interested.

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  111. "We need a paradigm shift. The whole concept of ‘purebred’ dogs is built on feet of clay that are demonstrably crumbling. Breeds are artificial constructs, whatever they were selected for and however long ago the selection took place. Acknowledging this does not equate to wanting their destruction."

    Nicely put, Sarah.

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  112. "The definition of what constitutes a breed and its champions needs to be broadened to include truly the whole dog, not just a very narrow definition based on overly exacting criteria for appearance with lip service paid to health and function. "


    Ok .....just this week my a friend who breeds Malinois ( and is in fact one of the top show kennels in the UK for this variety) has celebrated the fact that one of her dogs has won his third Agility certificate thus making him an agility Champion ( Ag Ch Bonvivant Kallisto ) - his litter brother is a conformation Champion ( Ch Bonvivant Kronik ) - how is she not breeding for the 'whole ' package ?- the pups from my current litter are going to agility, obedience, show and therapy homes - tell me how I am not breeding for the 'whole dog ' ?

    it's far to easy to make sweeping statements based on extreme breeds but many many breeds do not have a show / working split - I have other friends who breed Sibes - they show them in the Summer and work them in the Winter - yet others who breed Australian Cattle dogs who are like hot snot round the agility ring and are conformationally excellent enough to be UK Champions -

    It's way too easy to make broad brush statements that lump all breeders who show together ....but it's simply not true that most of us don't care about health or function - however we DO want our dogs to look like the breeds they are supposed to be ! -

    thanks for the link - a fascinating site ! - but I could'nt find the dog you highlighted - thanks for adding to the database -you can see the sire and dam of my latest litter if you type in their names ( sire : Corsini Valentino - Dam : Bijou Do Clos Des Agapornis )

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  113. I’m glad you liked the link, Bijou – it is one of my favourites.

    I think you have missed my point, though. I was not talking about a working dog/show dog split per se – I agree that overall our breed is still bred largely for the whole dog, though there are issues about what is rewarded in the ring. Go to the BSCA website:

    http://www.bsca.info/index.html

    Click on ‘Judges’s Education’, then on the left-hand side, click on ‘Temperament’ and then go to the bottom of the page and click on ‘BSCA Letter’ (sorry for the long route – copyright rearing its ugly head).

    It sounds to me as though judges are rewarding dogs who can’t even pass the very basic temperament test of running around a ring and being examined. So what are these judges rewarding? If the problem isn’t a prevalent one, why was the (very responsible) club so worried that it wrote this letter to ‘all judges of Belgian sheepdogs’?

    And by the way, I wouldn’t get too comfortable about Belgians being bred for the whole dog. I am told that a ‘show line’ malinois is developing in the States. The rot is creeping in - look what has happened to the GSD and don't kid yourself that it couldn't happen to our breed or any other.

    My point was about definitions and criteria for meeting them. Please, try again to find Jules (go to the section ‘Le Groenendael’ and go down to the fifth line of photos) and ask yourself if based on what you can see and what you know about his ability to function, would you would show him and breed from him and if not, why not?

    Of course individual breeders care about health and temperament and do their best. They are not evil people but there is a collective blind spot that stems from being caught up in 19th century ideas. The cognitive dissonance is frustrating because as Jemima pointed out in her post, knowledge of the problem and how to fix it has been around for a long time for anyone who cares to see. There is a disturbing inability to distinguish between individual and population, i.e. My dogs/breed are fine; therefore, there is no problem. What you call ‘sweeping generalizations’, I call the big picture. Read the paper by Carboli et al that Jemima has linked to in her post on Mate Select. If nothing else, read what comes under the heading ‘Discussion’ at the end and click on Table 3 and look at Column 6. This is big picture stuff and in case you think this paper is an anti-Kennel Club propaganda piece, one of the geneticists on the team is associated with the KC.

    If Purebred Dog World were really interested in the health and welfare of dogs, rules about breeding practices would be seriously re-written and no dog could be called a ‘champion’ until it had achieved all of the following:

    1. a clean bill of health (given the current state of knowledge and testing);
    2. a conformation title (based on standards that are not detrimental to health and welfare);
    3. a passing grade on a temperament test;
    4. and a working title appropriate for the dog’s purpose, including that of companion animal (3 and 4 often go together).

    A lot of work for the breeders? Yes, but who said playing God would be easy? We are dealing with sentient beings and the burden should be heavy.

    What is really under attack is what is rewarded (or not rewarded) in the show ring and poor breeding practices that stem from outdated notions promoted and enforced by those who should know better, not individual breeders such as yourself who are doing their best with the tools they are allowed. Having said that, all individuals, even amateurs, have the responsibility to educate themselves and stay up-to-date in their field and act accordingly. Go, Jess, go!

    I looked at your dogs – they are beautiful. Of course, in the States your puppies (and my dogs) would be considered the result of outcrosses. There we go – definitions again ☺.

    You asked previously if I would stay the course if I were a breeder doing outcrosses. Yes.

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  114. Jules de Moulin certainly fits my definition of a Groenendael - his type is somewhat heavier than most of my own dogs (although he does look surprisngly like my old girl Lola) - those white feet still crop up in Groen litters usually they recede by the time the pup has grown ( 5 of my current litter were born with white on their feet, at 5 weeks old most of the white has now disappeared ) and most Groens still carry that white flash on their chest - the type has hardly changed at all from the days of Piccard D'uccle and Duc de Groenendael and long may this reamin.

    I suspect though that we are straying off topic fascinating though it is to 'talk Belgian' ! .

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  115. Yes, Bijou, we are straying a little off topic at this point but if Jemima will indulge ...

    I am pleased to say I was wrong - I did misjudge you. I thought the amount of white on an adult and the heaviness would put you off.

    '... and long may this remain!' My sentiments exactly, though I maintain a rethink on 'purity' and a sensible outcross or two here and there would be beneficial for the long-term health of our breed, as well as others, without having long-term effects on type.

    There is enough suffering in the world without our adding to it needlessly by damaging an animal's health for the sake of puffing up our own egos. The dogs couldn't care less about winning competitions.

    It has been interesting - another thing we agree on, and true to training theory, I shall end here on that positive note!

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