Friday, 22 July 2011

Hate, hope and the HSUS

The "Stop the BBC Making Another PDE" Facebook site (which now includes AKC Chairman Ron Menaker as a member) yesterday scored what they think is an enormous scoop.

Rather belatedly, they've discovered a blog post here, and the accompanying debate, about whether or not I should speak at the Purebred Paradox conference in Washington in April that was co-sponsored by HSUS.  My attendance was considered controversial by many for the reasons explained in the post and the comments reflect this. Most (although not all) thought I shouldn't go and said so strongly.

Now the anti-PDE FB site has found and proudly cached it - as if, perhaps, I've left up all those negative comments up there by mistake for the past three months, rather than because I might actually invite debate.

Here's the somewhat surreal exchange on the Facebook site - which, as you'll see, includes a berating for the "cowardly person" forwarding me material from the site. Their problem with this? It is giving me an opportunity to rebut all the lies and misinformation being posted there - on my Myths Busted page (see tab above).



Anyway, at least it gives me an excuse to write, rather belatedly, about what actually happened at the conference (which was also sponsored by the RSPCA) and what my conclusions are.

Yes, I did go and, yes, HSUS did pay for my flight and a modest hotel room (as it did for all the other speakers). This was not quite enough to buy my soul.

The conference was, essentially, an academic meeting (links to abstracts and speaker biographies here) marking the launch of the Humane Society's new Institute for Science and Policy  and I spoke alongside some very eminent names, including Professor Sir Patrick Bateson.There was a lot of support for good breeders from many of the speakers and much constructive talk at a workshop on the second day on how to encourage breeders to adopt better practice.  A real beacon on this was, and is, Brenda Bonnett whose inspiring presentation on Disease Risk for Disease in Purebred Dogs was the highlight of the conference for me - just brimful of humour, good grace, and empathy for dogs and breeders.

Other notable speaker/attendees included Ake Hedhammer, (who is organising a Dog Health Workshop alongside the the 6th Canine and Feline Genomics Conference in Sweden next year),  Gail Smith (who founded PennHIP), Wayne Cavanaugh (President of the UKC), vet/labrador breeder Fran Smith (whose many pertinent qualifications include being President of the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals), vet Patty Haines (who has served multiple terms on the AKC Board of Directors), vet/author Bruce Fogle (co-founder of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People) and geneticist David Sargan from Cambridge University. All good people with a genuine interest in dogs.

There were fewer than 100 people there all told - a disappointing turnout that was undoubtedly as a result of the HSUS involvement. But I am pleased that at least some breeders braved it - including Sharyn Hutchens of Timbreblue Whippets, who has written a thoughtful report of the conference and its consequences.

So what did I think of the HSUS interest in the pedigree dogs issue? Well, I met several HSUS staff who clearly care very deeply about animals (although I did sigh a little at the wide-eyed insistence from one of their staff that allowing a cat to venture outsde was the very height of animal cruelty. He was horrifed to hear that most cats in the UK get to be, well cats - although, in truth, I think he was mostly trying to point out that in getting to be cats not so many birds get to be birds).  And Andrew Rowan, Chief Scientific Offcer of HSUS, did his best to reassure that their approach would be firmly rooted in science not animal-rights-fuelled rhetoric.

But I have to be honest.. and after three  months of thinking how on earth can I say this without causing offence to my hosts:

Thank you for the vegan muffins - but if you really care about the dogs, please butt out of this one. 

The HSUS hierarchy is clearly frustrated that dog breeders see them as the enemy.  But, let's face it, this is a bit like Hannibal Lecter whinging that it's unfair that everyone thinks he's going to eat them.  Sure, he claims he prefers a pre-packed T-bone from Tesco's these day, but..

(Apologies for the carnivorous analogy here - not entirely appropriate given HSUS's culinary sensitivities)

Yes, HSUS has been less vocal on the mandatory spay-neuter issue recently, and it's a long time since any of their number has said anything ridiculous about keeping domestic animals being tantamount to slavery - but HSUS still pursues punitive local ordinances that persecute and alienate good breeders. Really, this means that there there is just too much bad blood for HSUS to take this on as an issue in an effective way for the dogs.

But I am glad I went to Washington.  A big thank you to Professor James Serpell from the University of Pennsylvania for organising the conference and for  inviting me.  I hope it was helpful for HSUS to hear how complex and nuanced this whole issue is from the many excellent speakers. I also hope it was helpful for the scientists, too often divorced from the on-the-ground reality of dog-breeding, to have more grass-roots imput (and also, particularly  to understand why dog people do not want the HSUS to be involved).

As for the anti-PDE Facebook site.. Let's get this straight: you are entitled to campaign for what you believe in.  It is, after all, all that I ask too.  Lobbying for better representation of good breeders in PDE 2 is a legitimate pursuit (although a few emails would probably be as effective).  But stop the silly bitchy stuff  - which last week extended to horrendous personal slurs of Beverley Cuddy and her exemplary Don't Cook the Dog campaign (started after two police dogs died recently in a hot car) simply because she is editor of Dogs Today - a magazine for which I write a regular column.

This quite unbelievable post,  is STILL up on the Facebook site.

81 comments:

  1. Really pleased the conference went well. Great conference bringing together views from all areas of the dog world. Sounds like it was very productive.

    As for the rest......
    I feel I have just read a script from St Trinians.

    They should be utterly ashamed. No wonder it is a closed group. How an earth can conversations like this do any good for the dogs?

    What are they really trying to do that is going to benefit dog health?

    I followed their "bitchfest" on the KC facebook page under the KC's support for Beverely's campaign and thought that went too far.

    They claim not to be a secret group?

    Well, I sent my request to join yesterday evening because I want to see their reasons for stopping your second programme.

    My avatar on facebook is the DON'T COOK YOUR DOG LOGO, because it is a great educational campaign that I strongly support. I also support the RSPCA and KC similar campaigns because all three have the dogs welfare at heart.

    Now however I am really not sure i want any association with this group.

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  2. The sound of crickets chirping is probably the best you could have hoped for out of this conference.

    Now, why doesn't Professor Serpell organize a conference sponsored by his own institution -- not a dog-show entity or a fundraising and lobbying mill masquerading as an animal welfare group -- and perhaps there will be more than a hundred participants. I'd have been more inclined to drive on down if I wasn't hit up for mor moneez to save baybee seals when I went to the online registration page. (And I'm guessing, though you do not say, that HSUS papered the hall pretty heavily with their people, so that 100 figure is likely pretty padded with those who are not exactly leaders in the world of dog breeding.)

    Also, absent the extraneous agenda, one might be able to butter one's breakfast bagel. (That's not an obscene euphemism. I really mean that participants could have, you know, butter. Or cream cheese. Milk in the coffee. A ham sammich.)

    Did you ask Wayne Cavanaugh (who is, BTW, the OWNER of the private company called the UKC [sic], not president of a legitimate "club") about how working breeds are "improved" by turning them into show dogs? Because he and his functionaries sure had a lot to say when they were edjimicating me and and my colleagues about that, how shitty our working dogs were without the benefit of cheap 'n' easy championships bestowed by super-sekkrit experts who had never SEEN a member of the breed, and how unreasonable we all are for not going along with their brilliant idea about that. And what a stupid idea the suggested "compromise" of at least maybe not granting championships to dysplastic dogs was. Now our breed features a dysplastic "grand champion's" name in red in a pedigree on a puppymill's website. A twofer!

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  3. Heather, one of the suggestions (made by Brenda Bonnett at the workshop) was for the need for an independent umbrella organisation/website that could host the science/expertise and thought on this issue - one firmly rooted in in impartiality, free of any agenda of cause. There was real support for this.

    As for Wayne Cavenaugh, I was impressed that he turned up and he made insightful and sensible comments at the workshop. He seemed totally to get it. Does this represent a change of heart? An eye for a marketing tool or a new means to make money? I don't know. But AKC registration are dropping like a stone and the popularity of conformaton shows are dwindling; UKC registrations are rising and the organisation at least talks some of the talk regarding working dogs. Wayne says their "do-something-with-your-dog" activity events are extremely popular. I did not get the impression that he sees the future in conformation shows.

    Perhaps you could write to him and ask?

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  4. Any chance the webcasted any of the talks? I'd love to hear a few.

    As far as the old guard among the kennel club and the AKC groups I wouldn't pay them too much mind. A few who wish to lob spitballs just encourage others to pay attention to what all the fuss is about which pretty much guarantees another PDE. They're searching for something to condemn you by so any association with ARA or what is considered to the old guard a group who lobbies to change something in the status quo will always be seized upon.

    The writing is on the wall. Doing the same crap and trying to bleed money out of the same people will never yield the results they want. The market has shifted and inevitably those who cling to the past will eventually find themselves in a smaller market - for better or worse you adjust or fade away.

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  5. THIS S A FORMAL NOTICE OF REMOVAL REQUEST FOR POSTING COPIES OF A FACEBOOK CONVERSATIONS AS YOU DO NOT HAVE APPROVAL OF THOSE PEOPLE DIRECT OR INDIRECT A MEMBER OF SAID GROUP YOU ARE IN BREACH OF COPYRIGHT. REFUSAL TO REMOVE WILL LEGATE FURTHER ACTION FROM FACEBOOK AND LEAGL ACTION

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  6. There was talk of putting the presentations up on a website - will check.

    Jemima

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  7. I joined the "Stop the BBC Making Another PDE" Facebook site a few weeks ago. I never posted to it. A few days later, I'd been booted from the group and blocked.

    They are clearly both paranoid and brittle, if they're banning people who they think *might* be critical.

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  8. "THIS S A FORMAL NOTICE OF REMOVAL REQUEST FOR POSTING COPIES OF A FACEBOOK CONVERSATIONS AS YOU DO NOT HAVE APPROVAL OF THOSE PEOPLE DIRECT OR INDIRECT A MEMBER OF SAID GROUP YOU ARE IN BREACH OF COPYRIGHT. REFUSAL TO REMOVE WILL LEGATE FURTHER ACTION FROM FACEBOOK AND LEAGL ACTION"

    Suggest you Google "Facebook" and "reasonable expectation of privacy", Anon.

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  9. LOL at Anonymous who wants the Facebook screen shots taken down. There is no copyright claim (see fair use), and no expectation of privacy when you post slander on the Internet on a service you do not control after spamming the world and signing up people without their permission just so you can ginny up the page numbers. Is simply holding up a mirror so ugly a thing that you and your group recoil at the sight? Perfect then!

    Jemima stayed with me a few days while in DC, and while I would not grace the HSUS event at which she spoke, I did chat with a few of the panelists after the conference when I picked her up, and we went to dinner with some of the participants afterwards -- much meat served and eaten by all but me, LoL. I had the salad. Ate it with a pointy knife (inside joke). Of course I had not been forced to eat vegan for two days either. Funny how, when I have a conference, I always offer a vegan meal, but when the vegans have a conference, they feel no need to offer a meat one!

    Yes, the HSUS conference suffered, but not because of the panelists who seemed fine (I read all their papers), but because HSUS sponsored it. No serious discussion about dogs in this country will ever be led by HSUS... or the AKC, or the AKC's apologists like the NAIA. The good news is that we may not need such a discussion at a table filled with academics. People in this country are voting with their feet and their wallet. The decline in AKC registrations is not slowing down -- it's speeding up, and at current rates the AKC will be gone by 2020! And on whose watch did it collapse? None other than Ron Menaker. Nice work Ron. Fine stewardship there.

    I should also mention that on Sunday Jemima and I went hunting, and she saw my two terriers work a groundhog and a possum in the first 100 yards from the car -- both critters released unharmed by me after two shallow digs. A short day due to rain, but Jemima is not a vegan, her presentation was very well received, and I assure you she is not on anyone's payroll, LoL. I guess ad hominem attack is all some people have since facts have collapsed around them. Poor things.

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  10. You've used underhand tactics to infiltrate a closed group. It is not a secret group as some have said but a closed group.
    So, you've used quotes and comments out of context as the above postings show.
    Perhaps now you know how it feels.

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  11. Good to hear that there is awareness among academics about the need to transcend entrenched agendas in sponsoring future inquiries.

    Mr. Cavanaugh does not reply to ignorant barn folk such as myself. He assigns employees to instruct us. He mouthed the "total dog" and "do something with your dog" lines ten years ago, too. Nothing has changed. He does like television cameras quite a lot, and you have those, so it makes sense you'd be popular with him.

    Until UKC eliminates pageant show classes for my breed, per a decades-old agreement with the late lamented owner of UKC, apologizes to the Club and the breed community for its arrogance, relinquishes absurd claims to "own" the "standard" for a breed about which they know nothing, and opens its studbooks and registration stats as well as publishes records of each "step-in" registration that was done without input from anyone who actually knows the breed, I have nothing further to say to him or his functionaries. Spent far too much time down that rabbit hole a decade ago. We've moved on. Breed conservation is challenging enough without that kind of time-suck.

    As for UKC registrations rising -- how could you possibly know this? They do not publish registration figures. Trade secret.

    Keep in mind that it is a private, for-profit company that does as it pleases, rejects transparency, and appears to be currently mined for its revenue potential. It also develops breeds into suitable "show dogs" for AKC "recognition." Kind of the farm system for big-league "new" breed destruction. Since Mr. Cavanaugh is a former AKC VP and, like some of his employees, remains an AKC pageant judge, it shocks no one knowledgeable that this process has accelerated since he purchased the company from Mr. Miller's widow. There's plenty of mutual back-scratching to be accomplished with such arrangements.

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  12. When I first started down this path on the internet, a wise relative told me something very important: "Don't put anything on the internet you don't want someone else to see."

    Because, um, they will see it.

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  13. I wonder if these Horsfalls are related to Violet Horsfall, the founder of the Great Dane in Great Britain, owner of the Redgrave dogs.

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  14. Wait, I just grokked that the person who is threatening LEAGL ACTION because of rebroadcast Facebook posts and doing so via FORMAL NOTICE in the form of a blog comment (must've gone to one o' them offshore lawyer skools) has done so anonymously.

    I am so happy. I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

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  15. Me too - although not at our intellectually-impoverished venture-defamist, at this wonderful blogpost of yours from earlier in the week. Perfectly, perfectly observed:

    http://cynography.blogspot.com/2011/07/not-your-stick.html

    Laughed out loud.

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  16. Sarah Morgan22 July 2011 19:50

    I would LOVE to see an effective campaign that would prevent your ever making another Pedigree Dogs Exposed, one that did so by ensuring that show bred dogs (including those in performance) are healthy, able-bodied, and sane.

    Of course, it might look a bit odd when you JOINED that campaign, but not as odd as crippled and distressed dogs being paraded around a show ring as exemplary of their breed.

    But it would be good to see responsible breeders given some air time in PDE2. There are quite a few people who really do care and learn about canine health to be found in the show ring, too. They deserved to be exposed, too.

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  17. OK now everything is making sense, the lady that started that post Im 99.9% sure is who kept commenting on the PDSA page, quite rudely sometimes, and when I proved she said what she did by copyin and pasting(this was referring to epileptic dogs) the whole thread mistiriously vanished! Shame I didnt think to make my own copy of the comment. Now any responsible breeder would want another program to be made, highlighting the problems is the only way to raise awareness of them and educate people. I may ask to join the group, however I feel if they see my comment here I would not be accepted, or would soon be booted off, especially if I made comment.

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  18. I can hardly be described as one of Jemima's biggest fans and as regulars will know, come quite frequently on here with counter arguments to Jemima's posts. However, I wouldn't personally wish to have anything to do with a group like this whose sole purpose appears to be trying to stop the making of PDE2 through the means of vindictive personal attacks and trawling up any tiny thing which might be considered deframatory.

    People - this is not the way to protect your hobby and dogs from further critisism! You are simply adding to the impression that everything said in PDE was correct and you have no concrete defence to fall back on. If you really want to prevent a second PDE being made then start doing something positive. Promote all the good work that has been going on in your breed. Highlight all the positive examples of happy, healthy show bred dogs you can find! Don't sit there muttering amongst yourselves about how awful Jemima is because NO ONE THAT MATTERS IS GOING TO LISTEN!!!
    There is a lot to celebrate and applaud about pedigree dogs that are bred and shown so start being a bit pro active please and let's tell the world how great they are, how caring and knowledgeble the breeders are and then this can be the subject matter of PDE2!

    Sarah, very good points made in your post.

    I also want to add that until I read the final FB post, I held the author in quite high regard but I'm afraid the final paragraph left me cold. I've had disagrements with Beverley in the past too but the Dont Cook Your Dog campaign is surely something everyone needs to get behined, regardless of their opinion on other matters.
    This type of comment does neither the show/breeding community nor the author any favours at all and quite frankly I'm disgusted anyone could write such a thing.

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  19. Julia says "If you really want to prevent a second PDE being made then start doing something positive" the shame of its that the majority of breeders and in particular show breeders have done an awful lot about if for a longtime, with the help of vets and the KC made great strides in many fields of canine health, but was ANY of this shown in PDE, no it wasnt, so why should they expect any different from PDE2. However I suspect neither Julia or anyone else will see this post as it would mean JH would have to admit the programe wasnt balanced, and she would never do that.

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  20. I'm honestly shocked at the bitchy comments being posted on FB. And these people want to be shown in a good light? A good representative of their breeds? Seriously? Are they really running that scared about a follow up to PDE? If this is how some breeders/breed enthusiasts act in the dog world it makes me very nervous to ever want to venture over to the purebred world. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    Louise

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  21. I agree, Louise. What a bunch of unpleasant, ignorant people they must be. They are certainly presenting themselves in a most unfavourable light.
    Julia Lewis

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  22. Sorry to post as anonymous--I know it's tacky and I certainly don't mean to give the impression that I want to hide my comments, but I tutor students...can't post a direct link to my prof. email and website....

    Jemima, I've read your blog for years since I found it on Terrierman's site. PDE was great. I'd suspected that something was "off" about some PB dogs after seeing the young Boston Terrier being unable to catch his breath on a warm spring day, and the wrecked sloping hips of a GSD, and my neighbor's dog that has all this HAIR...

    Anyway, I digress. Ma'am, I must admit that one of the reasons I continue to check out your blog on a weekly basis is so that I can read the 'comments.' I have wasted so many hours reading the comments sections of your blog! Much of the criticism is funny is a black, sardonic, ironical sense of the word...vaguely reminiscent of a Monty Python skit. Like, if an astute comedy writer appeared here to lampoon pedigree dog breeders/apologists, that writer would produce material very similar to what your critics have left in the comments section.

    The shrill accusations, the false equivalencies, the absurd paranoia (IN BED WITH HSUS/PETA? ONLY HAPPY WHEN ALL DOGS ARE "MONGRELS"?)...they don't seem to realize (or at least, I assume that they don't seem to realize, based upon what I have seen on your program and others) how strange, creepy, and petty they look to outsiders aka the general public.

    Don't back down, Jemima. You had (have) many completely valid points to argue in your docu film. You can continue this with your blog and new movies. This subject is nowhere near talked out! And you're one of the only "reporters" pounding the beat!

    Finally--your film made me see dogs in a somewhat different (and more enlightened) view. I praise you for that. And I want you to know that I don't ever intent to buy a pet animal from a breeder ever again. Dog, cat, parrot, ferret, canary, whatever. It's petfinder and the local classifieds for me, baby!

    Take care. Congrats on your success and I wish you nothing but the best in the future....

    Morgan

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  23. As a breeder/exhibitor im not really shocked by the FB site, the same weirdness goes on weekly in pretty much all competative spheres but dog shows seem to attract the worst.
    There are many breeders doing their best in the face of this stupidity.....so FB members...you are NOT HELPING ANYBODY. By all means put forward sensible, reasoned arguments as we read here, im becoming embarrased to tell anyone im involved in breeding dogs !

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  24. "I don't ever intent to buy a pet animal from a breeder ever again. Dog, cat, parrot, ferret, canary, whatever. It's petfinder and the local classifieds for me, baby!"

    ...Are you assuming those people are magically producing their animals from thin air? All pet animals were bred by 'someone'. The smart choice is to learn about a breeder's goals and values before deciding whether to buy from them, rather than vow to start randomly choosing people out of the newspaper. Believe me, just because someone isn't a show/purebred breeder doesn't automatically mean they are ethical or producing healthy pets.

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  25. I would love for JH to do a Puppy Farming Exposed.

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  26. Still waiting to be accepted into their open friendly group...........

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  27. I completely agree with Pai regarding the classifieds. Think about it this way. if you really want to find wonderful homes for your dogs, be they adult or puppy, is placing an ad next to the 2nd hand washers and wardrobes really a good start. There are great breeders out there and if you know your stuff, you will be able to spot the wrong ones in short time.

    As for the Morons on the FB site, I can give them no higher praise than that. The fact they delude themselves that they have the moral high ground with no facts or proof to back them up, ridiculous children - next thing they'll come up with is 'my dad's bigger than your dad'.

    Looking forward to the next PDE and I think there needs to be one. I speak to many dog people who do not follow the blog and think it has all died a death and rely on the journalism on a gmtv level to inform them. The issue needs to be kept in the public consciousness.

    Emma

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  28. If responsible breeders really are responsible and acting in the interests of their dogs, they should have nothing to fear from PDE and PDE2. Instead of running screaming ‘lies, damned lies’, when Jemima exposes poor practices, they should be embracing and supporting the criticisms that are supported by independent science. To their credit, many are, though they may not be going far enough to totally satisfy those of us that believe that the real problem is that the whole system is rotten to the core.

    Here’s a novel concept for those who really think Jemima is on the wrong track: All the ‘responsible’ breeders get together and put Jemima’s cause to rest by doing their own programme that includes some real scientists backing their position. Show the world that closed registries and inbreeding do not damage the genetic health of individuals and breeds. Show the world that deformities and exaggerations do not compromise health and welfare of sentient creatures. Show the world exactly how divorcing form and function has ‘improved’ any breed.

    Somehow I don’t think it will ever happen. I don’t think the evidence to support these people is there. No wonder they are hiding in closed groups, afraid that their names will be made public.

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  29. The trouble is Sarah, when you (and others) say the "whole system is rotten to the core" and go on to list all the 'failings' such as closed registries, inbreeding, deformities and exaggerations these are subjective parameters.
    I know we've had this discussion before but how much inbreeding is too much? When does having a closed regestry really become detrimental? What exactly is a deformity/exaggeration?

    I've posed these questions before as I really think they need answering if the intention is to produce some kind of reform in purebred dogs.

    A species could be compared to a closed registry if no outcrossing to other species occurs. Blackbirds and thrushes do not ever (to my knowledge) interbreed, nor do red and roe deer. At what point does the definition of 'inbreeding' acatually apply - if there is a shared ancestor in 3, or 5 or 18 generations?
    What is an exaggeration or a deformity? Is any slight deviation from 'wild type' to be classed as detrimental? If you want to propose that it is wrong to selectivly breed for specific features then we should have no domesticated breeds of animals left - no Holstein cattle, no large white pigs, no shire horses or shetlands. There would be no lop rabbits, no silkie chickens or Maine Coon cats. We would in essence be turning our backs on thousands of years of history to a time where we relied upon hunting and gathering before we uniquely learned to adapt organisms around us for our own benefit. Has mankind been doing it wrong all this time???

    Just how far is reform to be taken? If you operate an open registration system which permits regular outcrossing to other breeds, dictate that there should be no reoccuring ancestor in x number of generations and strive to eliminate 'exaggerations' then before too long, there won't really be any distinct breeds of dogs left. There will only be some generic looking creature of average height, coat, build and looks. Is that really what you are aiming for? I just think it's all very well saying that changes need to be made but just how far is this to be taken? Parameters do need setting out.

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  30. It would be possible to produce a balanced programme on pedigree dogs, how they have been carefully selectively bred over generations to perform highly specialist roles to assist mankind; how advances are being made all the time in tackling inherited problems (which usually arose during the creation of the breed over a huundred years ago); how one species of domesticated animal has been morphed into a massive spectrum of variations due to its malleable genetic make up; how good breeders go about producing a puppy which will make someone and excellent companion. Yes, it would certainly be possible.

    By no means are all show breeders paragons of virtue but the problem with PDE is that in the space of a hour, it portrayed ALL those who breed dogs for showing in an extreemly negative light. There were no favourable comments made that were not followed by a caveat. It left in the public's mind no room for doubt that to buy a pedigree dog from someone who exhibits was a recipe for disaster. They have now been so convinced of this that they happily buy from puppy farms, back yard breeders, grossly overpriced and frequently ill matched designer crosses - anything so long as it has no connection to the evils of the show world. Those who have devoted a greater part of their lives trying to do everything possible to ensure they produced healthy, happy dogs were understandably outraged to have been classed as villans. Bear in mind that only in recent times has communication, science and technology brought some of the problems to light and techniques to tackle them are very new. It is very unfair to blame modern breeders for all the problems as so much has been inherited (!) from those who came before.

    The oddest thing is that no one is targetting the Rare Breeds Society for having tiny closed registries of purebred animals, or the horse racing industry for over use of popular sires. I don't see campaigns to halt the 'exaggerations' in beef and dairy cattle either, nor in other domestic exhibition animals such as pidgeons or rabbits. I do wonder why only dogs have been singled out for critisism?

    I can see that certain issues raised in PDE did need addressing and if it makes people question things to a greater extent, then great! I just hope that if a second PDE is produced then it either tackles the problems caused by puppy farms and BYB or it gives a far more balanced assessment of those who breed for the show ring. Certainly a further 'trashing' of show ring breeders is unlikely to be well recieved nor install any degree of wishing to improve things....

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  31. It would be possible to produce a positive programme on pedigree dogs, how they have been carefully selectively bred over generations to perform highly specialist roles to assist mankind; how advances are being made all the time in tackling inherited problems (which usually arose during the creation of the breed over a huundred years ago); how one species of domesticated animal has been morphed into a massive spectrum of variations due to its malleable genetic make up; how good breeders go about producing a puppy which will make someone and excellent companion. Yes, it would certainly be possible.

    By no means are all show breeders paragons of virtue but the problem with PDE is that in the space of a hour, it portrayed ALL those who breed dogs for showing in an extreemly negative light. There were no favourable comments made that were not followed by a caveat. It left in the public's mind no room for doubt that to buy a pedigree dog from someone who exhibits was a recipe for disaster. They have now been so convinced of this that they happily buy from puppy farms, back yard breeders, grossly overpriced and frequently ill matched designer crosses - anything so long as it has no connection to the evils of the show world. Those who have devoted a greater part of their lives trying to do everything possible to ensure they produced healthy, happy dogs were understandably outraged to have been classed as villans. Bear in mind that only in recent times has communication, science and technology brought some of the problems to light and techniques to tackle them are very new. It is very unfair to blame modern breeders for all the problems as so much has been inherited (!) from those who came before.


    The oddest thing is that no one is targetting the Rare Breeds Society for having tiny closed regestries of purebred animals, or the horse racing industry for over use of popular sires. I don't see campaigns to halt the 'exaggerations' in beef and dairy cattle either, nor in other domestic exhibition animals such as pidgeons or rabbits. I do wonder why only dogs have been singled out for critisism?



    I can see that certain issues raised in PDE did need addressing and if it makes people question things to a greater extent, then great! I just hope that if a second PDE is produced then it either tackles the problems caused by puppy farms and BYB or it gives a far more balanced assessment of those who breed for the show ring. Certainly a further 'trashing' of show ring breeders is unlikely to be well recieved nor install any degree of wishing to improve things....

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  32. Julia says so much sense, Jemima might have published her comments but I doubt she will read them, listen to them (or others) and not have a balanced or open view on the subject, so many here are just anti pedigree, anti shows, anti Kennel Club, but by not acknowledging the views, ideas and evidence of others that may be different to their own, thier CLOSED minds will do more harm than the Closed Registers they claim ever have done, to the future of ALL dogs

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  33. Julia, I have met and had close interactions with probably 50 show dog breeders, and every one of them put winning in the ring and besting their peers above any concerns regarding their puppy buyers or breeding "healthy, happy dogs." I believe there is something about the show ring that either attracts unethical people, or brings out the worst in otherwise good people.

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  34. Julia;
    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    One thing to consider when you look at species as closed systems is that those closed systems evolved to function in their environment, not with a hand hold for survival. In the wild, if an animal had a poor immune system he would likely die before reproducing, in dogs we offer medical intervention and other support.

    In addition, dogs are a species, canis familiaris, and all breeds are simply a type of that species. Blackbirds and song thrushes are seperate species: Turdus merula and Turdus philomelos, respectively. You cannot really compare the genetic bottleneck of a few of the dog breeds to the closed system of a species of bird.

    You ask a lot of valid questions, and I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone. What is defined as function should be working ability, whatever the work may be, from herding dogs to lap companions. Form will follow function as genes for appearance are tied with other genes. The issue now is quite a number of breeds are bred for the function of trotting around a show ring. Any issue of exaggeration should be taken care of by focusing on these two items. No dog should be awarded a championship defining them as excellent breeding stock unless they can pass a test that demonstrates they can do the work to a sufficient level and that they are healthy.

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  35. I can understand that these people might be upset, but if they are responsible breeders interested in the welfare of their dogs, they will be able to show their prospective customers that they have tested their dogs for genetic problems, or have done their best to breed healthy animals. As long as they can do that, no one will think badly of them. To throw tantrums only makes them seem petty and sneaky, and there are not many people that want to do business with someone they cannot trust.

    I also find it interesting that conformation competitions tend to produce animals that are less healthy in other species. Quarter horses that are shown as halter horses tend to have leg and hoof problems from being bred to have tiny feet, and some have HYPP (which causes paralysis). HYPP stems from one stallion who passed the genes on to his hundreds of descendants. I find it strange that the same problems are caused by the same things even in different species, and yet the people allowing the problems to happen deny that there are any problems.

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  36. Hurrah for Julia - she's raising exactly the same points that I have over some years and that quite frankly have never been addressed by critics of the pure bred world

    "....... I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone. What is defined as function should be working ability, whatever the work may be, from herding dogs to lap companions"

    so what happens to all the present individual breeds of herding dog ...or companion dog....or terrier - after all there are many many individual breeds who originally had the same function - are they all to be 'mixed up'

    if function and health are the ONLY criteria then there's presumably no need for both the Sussex and the Field Spaniel - no need for the Flat coat and the Golden Retriever and no need for German and Belgian shepherd dogs - just freely interbreed them - - tell it to us straight is this REALLY what you are asking us to do ?


    ..and if it is then presumably it's what you are asking of all breeders of domesticated animals not just dogs ? ...if not why just dog breeders ? ...

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  37. "Julia, I have met and had close interactions with probably 50 show dog breeders, and every one of them put winning in the ring and besting their peers above any concerns regarding their puppy buyers or breeding "healthy, happy dogs." I believe there is something about the show ring that either attracts unethical people, or brings out the worst in otherwise good people"


    ..then you've been associating with the wrong 50 people !! ........this is a prime example of the sweeping condemnation that typifies this blog - what complete GARBAGE !!!

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  38. As it happens, I agree with you, Bijou - and I'm surprised to hear Romany Dog say this. I wasn't sure about publishing the comment. I think that show breeding has caused many problems but I don't think that in the main it's through knowing, unethical ill-intent. In fact probably the opposite.

    Jemima

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  39. It is very difficult to be a fact based moderate trying to solve any problem in this country at this time. Very frustrating. I am not sure that HSUS can't lead a discussion in this country about purebred dog health. Whether they can or not, it appears that they are the only ones willing to at least try to host a meeting and get some discussion started. I don't think the failure of the AKC solves the problems as people will still buy purebreds with any other registry appearing label on them. The label will just have to seem like it might mean something. Without a massive public discussion consumers won't be aware that they should care about the background and health of their pups or know what to do to research same.

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  40. Bijou asked:

    "so what happens to all the present individual breeds of herding dog ...or companion dog....or terrier - after all there are many many individual breeds who originally had the same function - are they all to be 'mixed up'

    if function and health are the ONLY criteria then there's presumably no need for both the Sussex and the Field Spaniel - no need for the Flat coat and the Golden Retriever and no need for German and Belgian shepherd dogs - just freely interbreed them - - tell it to us straight is this REALLY what you are asking us to do ?"

    Well, are all herding dogs the same? The various herding breed exist because there was a need to fulfill a role in an environment. Border Collies do not move stock like cattle dogs who do not move stock like Belgians. Each of these breeds was modified from existing herding dogs to fulfill a role. So why would you assume that breeding based on the function of a dog would morph them all into one breed?

    And imo, if the only thing that separates a breed is a coat color or ear set, yeah, I would be all for those breeds merging. The definition of a dog should not be only his physical conformation.

    "
    ..and if it is then presumably it's what you are asking of all breeders of domesticated animals not just dogs ? ...if not why just dog breeders ? ... "

    Well, this is a blog about pedigree dogs so your comment here is a bit of a strawman, but if there are issues in other animals like horses then the same criteria should apply.

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  41. "The definition of a dog should not be only his physical conformation. "

    so there's no place in your world for breeds defined by their colour - no Red Setters or Irish Red and White's - no Kerry Blues ? - no Soft Coated Wheatens ? - no Golden Retrievers ?

    ...and many breeds overlap others in their function Bichon, Papillon, Maltese, Griffon Bruxellois, Chihuahua, Pomeranians etc etc were all bred for the same function - should they all disappear to be replaced by a generic lap dog ?

    Across Europe there are many hundreds of hound breeds - all serving more or less the same function so which should we lose ? the English Foxhound the Swedish Hamiltonstovare or the French Porcelaine ?

    and what about the breeds defined by coat type or size ? no more Smooth and Wire Fox Terrier - Rough and smooth Collie, Tervueren and Malinois no more Grand and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen - the two sizes and three coat types of the Dachshund would be lost as would the three sizes of Poodle .....I could go on but surely you get my point !

    Pedigree dogs are very often defined by their physical differences - Norwich and Norfolk Terriers differ only in their ear carriage shoud they too disappear ?- after all they were bred for the same function

    My own breed ( BSD ) was developed for the same function as the GSD - in your future both these wonderful breeds would merge as one - (along with the Dutch shepherd and other European Shepherd Dogs presumably !)


    be honest - your vision of the future means the end of many many established breeds - a fact that most on here seem reluctant to face or admit !

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  42. Bijou and Jemima,

    I'm sorry my comments upset you! Maybe breeders are more caring in the U.K.? Because over here in the U.S. I see an awful lot of "circling the wagons" and blaming the puppy buyer any time a puppy has a health problem. Not to mention stabbing one another in the back any time a breeder is foolish enough to let a health problem in their lines become public. And the comments at ringside deriding those who win on the days you're not the winner? It seems to me that it would be almost impossible for an ethical person to survive in that cutthroat world. You would certainly have to have a very "stiff upper lip" and get used to a lot of people hating you. !!!

    Again I can't speak for all breeds or other countries, of course, and I hope what I have seen doesn't go on everywhere. But, I am certainly not making it up or exaggerating, and I have a lot of data points. :)

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  43. Beth F. said...
    "I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone. What is defined as function should be working ability, whatever the work may be, from herding dogs to lap companions. Form will follow function as genes for appearance are tied with other genes. The issue now is quite a number of breeds are bred for the function of trotting around a show ring. Any issue of exaggeration should be taken care of by focusing on these two items. No dog should be awarded a championship defining them as excellent breeding stock unless they can pass a test that demonstrates they can do the work to a sufficient level and that they are healthy. "

    Something often not given appropriate airing is that in many working strains of dog, there is considerably more inbreeding and use of popular sires than occurs in the show ring. There seems to be an idea that 'working dogs' are 100% wholesome and free from the issues which beset their glamorous show ring cousins. However this is often not the case. In many breeds where working type is now largely seperate from show type, an examination of pedigrees frequently shows very close line breeding. An outstanding sire will often be in very high demand because owners/breeders will want to replicate his qualities in their own stock. In addition (possibly) because there are far fewer working stud dogs and because ability in the field isn't as subjective as show ring merit, all serious breeders will be looking to a limited pool of dogs to sire their litters.
    It is also historically less likely that any health testing will have been carried out as those with working dogs have generally considered this as unnecessary.
    One final consideration is that the temprement of a dog which is descended from a long line of tirelessley working ancestors may not be at all suited for a pet home. Bear in mind that many working dogs are kennelled and spend the majority of their lives in the company of very few people in quiet rural environments where tremendous stamina and initiative is necessary. This type of dog has had character traits which make it suitable for this lifestyle bred in over countless generations and it will not readily adapt to life as an understimulated pet in a cramped, urban setting.

    Obviously there is a fair amount of generalisation in the above, but for all those who are calling for intergration of working lines with 'show' lines, they are definite considerations. Personally I would always recommend the 'average' pet owner to steer away from dogs with a working background because they are very hard work. Keeping them mentally stimulated, sufficiently excersised and socialised goes beyond most owners capabilities which is why so many end up in 'rescue'.

    The positive side to show dogs is that they have been bred for generations to live a rather more placid lifestyle and to have almost bombproof temprements, something which is crucially important for modern pet dogs of any breed.

    The healthiest and fittest dog in the world is no use unless he has a steady, sensible temprement as well.

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  44. I think we're getting too hung up on specific functions here. If that is the case the peke can stay as it is because it has no working function. The function of a dog is to be able to be just that. To not have to be aided to simply just live. To not have to rely on medical intervention in order to breed, breath, run around, have free movement, live a decent amount of time. For us not to accept that certain physical restrictions are normal simply because they are prone within the breed. Instead of pointing and name calling, take a look at the veterinary journals, they have been highlighting the problem for years. Take a look at nature, inbreeding does not prosper. Would it not be an idea instead of wanting an exact cut off point (which is valid) make a start at close breeding, while we find the answers. Many of the breeds do not have any new bloodlines. Is is really better to carry on than look for another way.

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  45. "Very frustrating. I am not sure that HSUS can't lead a discussion in this country about purebred dog health" says above poster:
    When the HSUS steps up to the plate and donates MILLIONS of dollars to canine health research and funding of all sorts of programs that actually HELP ALL DOGS as the AKC does then they can lead any discussion they desire.. until then they can only pay for "modest hotel rooms and airfare" ( business or coach.. inquiring minds want to know).. with donor dollars that people give them thinking they are helping poor "puppies and kitties" instead of incessantly lobbying to remove the rights of owners and breeders. How many donors do you think give their $19.00 per month to the HSUS and have even an inkling it paid for this bloggers hotel room? I can tell you. not many.
    Meanwhile Julia is on the right track with her very sensible comments.
    Romany Dog.. I am saddened that you feel that way about US breeders. I am one and I know of no one .. much less 50.. who blames the health problems of a puppy on the owner.. unless of course the blame belongs there.and sometimes it does..since you are disappointed with your 50 friends.. why do you continue to show your dogs?

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  46. "be honest - your vision of the future means the end of many many established breeds - a fact that most on here seem reluctant to face or admit !

    bijou: I am being very honest. If the *only* difference between 2 breeds is something as cosmetic as coat length or ear set, then yes I have no issue with the end of an established breed.

    However, I think there are far more differences between Bichon, Papillon, Maltese, Griffon Bruxellois, Chihuahua, and Pomeranians than coat length and color. Each of these breeds may be primarily companion dogs but they all have differences in temperament, size, child tolerance, training aptitude, etc.

    BSD and GSD are both herding/working dogs, yes, but is their only difference in appearance? If your answer is no (which would be my answer) then selecting for working ability and temperament over appearance would not water them down to one breed.

    However, yes, I believe that separating breeding stock over coat type alone (wire fox vs. smooth fox for example) is an unnecessary division that serves only to further bottleneck already small gene pools of many breeds. Before the split, were there not both smooth and wire types in the same litter? Before the US split Tervs and Groenendaels, were there not black and brown dogs in the same litter? What is the value in splitting the breeds?

    "Personally I would always recommend the 'average' pet owner to steer away from dogs with a working background because they are very hard work. Keeping them mentally stimulated, sufficiently excersised and socialised goes beyond most owners capabilities which is why so many end up in 'rescue'."

    Julia: You have very valid points regarding small gene pools in working lines, and the fact that top winning popular sires can create bottlenecks as well. The difference is, the qualities in a overused working sire are qualities that define the function of the breed as opposed to simply a dog with flashy markings.

    Rather than steer "pet" people to the watered down version of a working breed in the breed ring, we should steer them away from the working breeds period. There are many breeds who are more suitable as pets. In addition, I cannot assume that a dog from "show lines" will have a better temperament than a dog from working lines. I have met many dogs with serious behavioral issues from show lines. In addition, many show lines can have health issues that remain hidden because the dogs get their championship at a young age and the issues don't show up until they have many offspring already.

    As someone says, many of you are defining "working standards" in a very narrow view. Each breed could choose what the "working" definition is for their breeds, be it a temperament test, an obedience test, a test of breed working ability, etc.

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  47. "One final consideration is that the temprement of a dog which is descended from a long line of tirelessley working ancestors may not be at all suited for a pet home. Bear in mind that many working dogs are kennelled and spend the majority of their lives in the company of very few people in quiet rural environments where tremendous stamina and initiative is necessary. This type of dog has had character traits which make it suitable for this lifestyle bred in over countless generations and it will not readily adapt to life as an understimulated pet in a cramped, urban setting."

    I can't comment on other working breeds, but this is NOT universally true. I keep Border Collies as companions and sports partners. I have had several "working bred" dogs and they made fine pets, able to turn down the volume when relaxing around the house and turn it up at playtime and work time. Due to a human crisis, my agility dogs did no agility for 3 years and they lived a happy fulfilled life as pets who took long walks and played frisbee. I was very active in Border Collie rescue for 15 of the last 20 years and did not find that the majority of dogs came from "working breeders," rather backyard bred pets and puppy mills. People give dogs up to rescue because of human reasons, because they were not prepared to be a Border Collie owner (and in many cases, unprepared to be a pet owner, period), not because working Border Collies are unsuitable for non-working homes. To take a breed such as the Border Collie and make an attempt to judge it based solely on appearance is to turn them into a different dog. If you want a "low volume" pet then don't get a Border Collie at all, get a breed whose function is quiet companionship!

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  48. "Julia, I have met and had close interactions with probably 50 show dog breeders, and every one of them put winning in the ring and besting their peers above any concerns regarding their puppy buyers or breeding "healthy, happy dogs." I believe there is something about the show ring that either attracts unethical people, or brings out the worst in otherwise good people" well when you have met many thousands of exhibitors and breeders over a few years then perhaps you might get a different answer. Perhaps you asked thsose 50 people such a closed question they could only give the one answer you wanted/expected them to give?

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  49. bijou said...

    "be honest - your vision of the future means the end of many many established breeds - a fact that most on here seem reluctant to face or admit !"

    If you actually read what people wrote instead of constantly knee-jerking, you would realize that open studbooks do not mean the end of a 'breed.' There are many, many domestic animals that have open studbooks, including rabbits, some breeds of cats and dogs, and horses. Some of these animals are even ::gasp:: shown in conformation shows and judged against a standard! Imagine that!

    Here are some handy definitions for you, bijou, that may help you to understand the concepts:

    Cross-breeding: breeding two different breeds together. The purpose may be to produce a cross, or to introduce desired traits or genes into an established breed. This is how breeds came about in the first place.

    Back-crossing: breeding a crossbred animal back to one of the parent breeds, in order to disseminate the characteristics of the cross into the pure population.

    Examples incluse the Dalmation Backcross project, the Chinook backcross project, and the Corgi/Boxer project. These are well documented examples.

    I have heard only extremists advocate the 'destruction' of breeds. Most of these people are against breeding dogs on purpose, anyways. An open studbook does not mean a free for all, as evidenced by the reinstatement of the B register.

    The insistence that anyone who advocates the availability of cross-breeding is out to 'destroy all breeds' reeks of paranoia and idiocy. There are many successful examples of open registers that work and have not 'destroyed' their breeds. It does not reflect well on the breeding community to continue to ignore these examples.

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  50. you know it seems to me that for most on here , it's much more fun to tell breeders they're doing it wrong than look at the reality of what statements like " I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone. " actually MEANS to the hundreds of individual and specific breed we currently have -

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  51. the Lua Dalmation and bob tailed Boxer outcross projects are red herrings - they were done NOT to create genetic diveristy in these breeds but to solve a single particular issue and the resultant pups were bred back into a single RESTRICTED breed gene pool for many generations after the original outcross in order to get back the Dalmatian and Boxer breed characteristics . - if the prime aim is diversity then surely outcrossing would need to be repeated every 3-4 generations - and if you do that then tell me just how you could retain specific breeds. ?


    you speak of breeds with open stud books - I know of only a very few ( Jack Russells, Collies and Lurcher types ) - tell me how a breeder of Affenpinscher or Kerry blues could use this method - what 'type ' is available for the Skye terrier breeder or the Italian Spinone breeder ?

    Julia's point on the results of breeding soley for working traits is a very valid one - rescues are NOT full of ex show dogs but have more than their fair share of working bred Springers/Cockers and Collies - in my own breed it's the working line high drive Malinois that most often comes on to our breed rescue ( and are very difficult to rehome succefully ! )


    "BSD and GSD are both herding/working dogs, yes, but is their only difference in appearance?"

    yep - go back far enough and GSD's looked just like present day Malinois !

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  52. Really what's needed is not a single PDE mark 2, but a series (maybe titled something like "the state of dogs in Britain today").

    The problem with a single short program is that it has to simplify and put things in black and white, because that's how the media works; that's not Jemima's fault, it's just how things are.

    I'd be sorry to see HSUS and similar organisations shut out from the debate, because I think there's at least some evidence that the all-out campaign to reduce the number of unwanted pets by promoting spay/neuter had a side effect of reducing effective population sizes of some breeds. If you convince the ordinary, good pet owner that they ought never to consider breeding it inevitably restricts breeding to specialist hobbyists and commercial setups. There's a happy medium which is very difficult to achieve.

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  53. "you know it seems to me that for most on here , it's much more fun to tell breeders they're doing it wrong than look at the reality of what statements like " I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone. " actually MEANS to the hundreds of individual and specific breed we currently have - "

    Fun, eh? Hey, I'm open to debate...in fact thats what we have here, and I believe what the point of Jemima's blog in the first place. I know in 2 of the breeds that I love I have seen what the current system of breeding for outward appearance (including exaggerations which appeal to ones whimsey) alone has done to both the function of the breed and the health (Border Collie, Dal).

    Breeding for function is what was done for hundreds of years before there was a kennel club. Breeding for function is how these breeds were created in the first place!

    Bijou: I know you are not in the US, and so part of your POV may come from seeing something different than what I see. So, let me tell you a story. I have an aquaintence who is a conformation judge. Shes a really nice lady, breeds a herding breed (not BCs). She recently underwent extensive training to become certified to judge all the dogs in the herding group. We discussed it, as BCs in the breed ring is something I am passionate about. She actually said to me, that her preference was to put up a dog with a soft expression, because she didn't like teh look of those "ugly, hard eyes" that some BCs have. Umm, what? I asked her did she know that part of the distinctive, breed specific way that BCs move livestock included "eye" which is using those "ugly, hard eyes" to intimidate the stock? That its a part of the very blueprint of what makes a BC a BC and not just a black and white dog? Her answer was she knew, but she still preferred the soft expression.

    As far as your post that BSD and GSD are the same except for looks alone, I am not sure how to answer that. Knowing you are a BSD breeder I am even more taken aback. As a dog trainer, I know I find HUGE differences in the breeds, even as they share similarities. So, are you saying that all dogs are basically the same except for the way they look?

    And to teh earlier poster who said that shes never heard of a breeder blaming a puppy buyer for a health issue: I hear it all the time. I can't say that I have had teh same experiences with as many breeders as Romany Dog, but I know 3 people whose dogs had an issue whose breeders blamed the puppy buyer: 1. 4 month old puppy with CHD whose breeder blamed the dogs diet and badmouthed the puppy buyer to her friends 2. dog with epilepsy whose breeder insisted that the dog must have gotten into something poisonous and took no responsibility, even when another pup from the same litter also started having seizures and 3. dog with serious temperament issues whose breeder blamed teh puppy buyer for vaccinating too much because she followed her vets recommendations.

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  54. To clarify, I am not friends with 50 conformation breeders--I know personally of around that number of situations where a breeder did one of the things I mentioned--feuding, back-stabbing, and blaming the puppy buyer. I started out in collies believing (as everyone wants you to believe) that the only ethical breeders are those that show their dogs, so I began to attend shows and whatnot, and then I slowly realized that I just couldn't do it. So I don't show my dogs. I like a more old fashioned collie than what's currently in style anyway!

    And Beth F.--thanks for your comments. I know of many, many other stories just like yours, where puppy buyers have been blamed for genetic health issues in their puppies.

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  55. Beth - the very first GSD ( Horan von Grafath was descibed as a a wolf like dog of grey yellow colour - here's a picture of him :

    http://www.nsgsdc.com/breedhistory.shtml

    in body proportions, angulations, head type and colouration he's just like a Malinois - in fact his son Beowulf looks even MORE Malinois like !.-

    look at this link which shows an early Malinois 'Tjop' http://www.mystiquemalinois.com/about.htm - it's easy to see how both breeds were almost identical in the early days . It was only after the 2nd World War that the huge differences between the two breeds appeared -

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  56. Again, Bijou - you are talking appearance, I am talking about all the other factors that make a breed a breed.

    Yes, Malinois and GSD are similar dogs, yes, their foundation stock dogs were also probably similar and the two breeds used to be very similar in appearance. But they are very different in many other ways. Your insistance on defining a breed on appearance alone is confounding me.

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  57. Ahh Beth now you're changing your mind - originally you said ""I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone. " no mention of breeding for differences in character/temperament/appearance etc...in fact no mention for breeding for all the subtle diffrences that present day breeders DO breed for and which require us to use restricted gene pools to achieve !!- if you're talikng of function then yes BSD and GSD are interchangeable -should we thus combine them to form one breed ?

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  58. Julia, yes, we have discussed this and most enjoyable it was too. I am the first to agree that parameters need to be set. You do ask valid questions and, but I think you will find that the critics have indeed proposed some answers, though whether or not you agree with the answers is another issue. There is actually a lot of research out there and has been for over ten years, well before PDE.

    I also have a few questions, which you will find embedded in my answers below.

    1. ‘At what point does the definition of 'inbreeding' actually apply - if there is a shared ancestor in 3, or 5 or 18 generations?’

    I think you’ll find there is a pretty standard definition of inbreeding in any reputable dictionary: breeding between closely-related individuals (plants, animals, or people). ‘Closely-related’ is usually defined as first- or second-degree. I think the number 18 is a bit of a red herring.

    2. ‘How much inbreeding is too much? When does having a closed registry really become detrimental?’

    Carboli et al (2007) concluded that the inbreeding effective population size of the 10 breeds surveyed ranged from 17 to 114. This is in a study that used the records of 2.1 million dogs. They also concluded that ‘…many breeds [had lost] >90% of singleton variants in just six generations.’

    I would argue that if you are interested in genetic health, any inbreeding (including ‘linebreeding’) in such an already genetically compromised group as ‘purebred’ dogs is too much and that the closed registry system has already become detrimental. The Bateson Inquiry Report makes the following recommendation: ‘A good rule of thumb is that, if the pedigrees of the potential mates include more than two grand-parents, avoid that mating’ (p. 40)

    And here’s a question for you: What is the purpose of inbreeding in a breeding programme and what are the benefits of it to the dog that outweigh the risks to genetic health, either for the individual or the population?

    3. ‘What exactly is a deformity/exaggeration? Is any slight deviation from 'wild type' to be classed as detrimental?’

    I agree these are subjective questions: the discussion is huge and well beyond the scope of a blog space. However, I think the real question is: at what point do we stop breeding for them? Again, this issue has been discussed and answers proposed. If you can find the article by McGreevy and Nicholas (1999) titled ‘Some practical solutions to welfare problems in dog breeding’, you will see an in depth discussion. The independent report Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: a major welfare concern? is open-source and also discusses this issue in depth and makes the following recommendation on page 17:

    ‘We suggest it would be safest to recommend that any features which have the potential to cause suffering should be actively selected against (and not simply avoided)… A reasonable starting point may be, if the animal’s morphology results in health problems, and if those types of health problems cause pain or suffering in humans, then we are ethically obliged to assume that they cause comparable pain and suffering in dogs, unless we have clear evidence to the contrary. ‘

    On this topic, I have another question, one that I have asked before and not seen answered by breeders. What exactly do you mean when you say you are ‘improving’ the breed when you select for certain features?

    To be continued...

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  59. Part Two

    4. ‘We would in essence be turning our backs on thousands of years of history to a time where we relied upon hunting and gathering before we uniquely learned to adapt organisms around us for our own benefit. Has mankind been doing it wrong all this time???’

    No, because while humans have indeed been selectively breeding for certain features in animals since time immemorial and with great success, until the advent of kennel clubs humans were selecting for function and nature and man between them culled ruthlessly. The real problems as far as health is concerned set in less than two hundred years ago with the formation of kennel clubs that put into practice the ideology and science of their times by demanding that dogs be ‘pure’ and meet a breed standard based on appearance.

    Of course it is unfair to criticise people for acting in accordance with the values and knowledge of their time and place. The people that I criticise are those living now who cling to outdated ideals that are known to be harmful. The information about the damage caused by inbreeding and extreme conformation standards has been around for a long time; I can find articles going back to the 1950s. Am I arguing that we should turn our backs on detrimental ideas based on the science and social theory of a different time and place? You bet.

    To be continued again...

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  60. And finally, Part Three :-)

    5. ‘Just how far is reform to be taken? If you operate an open registration system which permits regular outcrossing to other breeds, dictate that there should be no reoccuring ancestor in x number of generations and strive to eliminate 'exaggerations' then before too long, there won't really be any distinct breeds of dogs left. There will only be some generic looking creature of average height, coat, build and looks. Is that really what you are aiming for?’

    How on earth does opening up the registries automatically equate to a free-for-all that would result in the disappearance of every single dog breed into one amorphous canine mass? I am frankly getting really tired of this particular leap in logic. An occasional, well-thought out, scientifically informed outcross that is worked out with the help of geneticists and approved by an independent body would benefit breeds suffering from low effective population numbers or outright inbreeding depression. How many should be done? Which breeds should be used? These are impossible questions to answer without proper research into the breed in question and I have no problem saying so. However, if you want a guideline, the Canadian Animal Pedigree Act defines ‘purity’ as 7/8, or in other words, one great-grandparent is not like the others. MacGreevy and Nicholas (1999) state ‘After only three or four generations of backcrossing with selection, the resultant animals will, for all intents and purposes, be indistinguishable from purebred members of the breed.’ Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: a major welfare concern? states that ‘… these worries have been shown to be unfounded by a UK trial that successfully produced a “Bob-tailed Boxer” by crossing a Boxer to a Welsh Corgi, and then backcrossing to Boxer. A fourth-generation animal (3rd back-cross) was registered with the Kennel Club and won prizes (Cattanach 1996).'

    As someone who is more of a working dog person, let me turn your question around. Do you think that breeds are defined by more than their looks? You yourself point out that show dogs in working breeds tend to have softer temperaments that make them more suitable as pets. These softer temperaments make them less able (or unable) to do their real jobs, the ones that their features were selected for over all those thousands of years. If I define a dog by its function rather than its appearance, might I not argue that dogs are thus losing an integral part of their breed make-up and that the show ring is turning dogs into one amorphous, generic mass of pets?

    To me it is very clear. If we knowingly select for features that lead to dogs being unable to run, see, hear, breathe and reproduce freely and fully, and if we knowingly reduce the gene pool to the point that inbreeding depression sets in, we are cruel and irresponsible, no matter how much love and luxury we provide. The current system places ‘purity’ and an aesthetic ideal over genetic health and general welfare. It enforces and perpetuates these ideals, rewards those who follow these them and punishes those who do not. How would you describe such a system?

    The information that demonstrates that this approach is problematic for dogs’ health and welfare has been around, and available, for a long time. Given the accessibility of information in this day of the internet, I have to ask: Is it that clubs and breeders don’t know or don’t want to know?

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  61. Bijous says: " 'I think the simplest answer is to breed for function and health alone.' no mention of breeding for differences in Character/temperament/appearance etc"

    That is implied in breeding for function. It was stated by me and others that "function" is more than the working ability of a breed, it would include whatever characteristics that are required for that breed to do the job required, be it being a lap companion or a police dog or a flock tender or a flock gathering dog, etc. This would include temperament, size etc. This has been my position all along. No changing of my mind!

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  62. "it would include whatever characteristics that are required for that breed to do the job required"


    Ok then....so what different characteristics does a BSD need to do it's original job that a GSD does not ? ...see I 'm confused here .... you now seem to be saying that in fact BSD,GSD and other breeds are NOT interchangeable - if that is now your stance then breeders surely have to stick within restricted gene pools to retain the sometimes quite small differences between breeds.

    "How on earth does opening up the registries automatically equate to a free-for-all that would result in the disappearance of every single dog breed into one amorphous canine mass? I am frankly getting really tired of this particular leap in logic"


    ...because outcrossing for diversity is a whole different kettle of fish than outcrossing to 'correct' a single problem ...diversity would be lost if all we did was outcross once and then breed back into the same restricted gene pool over many generations ( and don't forget it too many more than 4 generations to get Dalmatians that looked like their breed after the Pointer cross ) .....and if you outcross at every 3/4 generations then you WOULD lose breed characteristics - you know those things that Beth says make BSD different from GSD !

    you may be tired of hearing the 'leap of logic' that breeders make whenever outcrossing os mentioned but then again we're tired of the oversimplistic view that outcrossing would STILL enable us to keep our hundreds of seperate and individual breeds - that's not honest and it's not true !!

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  63. To Bijou

    If, say, it were a tossup between keeping Norfolk and Norwich Terriers as separate breeds, even at the cost of increased genetic disease, or lumping the breeds together to increase their genetic diversity, I would thought it would be a no-brainer. What would you rather have? Ears just so or genetic disease? Miltral valve disease or floppy ears?

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  64. I say a carefully planned out cross for the pug is the only way to prevent this breed suffering various medical conditions related to conformation. Let's say a beagle.
    I've noticed that very few comments are left under any of Jemima's blogs related to extreme brachys (bull dogs, and pugs). Why?

    1. Universal acceptance that these breeds cannot be helped if they carry on as they are??

    2. "Not my breed" so I cannot comment?

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  65. Bijou:
    "...see I 'm confused here .... you now seem to be saying that in fact BSD,GSD and other breeds are NOT interchangeable - if that is now your stance then breeders surely have to stick within restricted gene pools to retain the sometimes quite small differences between breeds."

    Whats with the reading comprehension problem? I have never said that breeds are interchangeable...where on earth did you get that from? Indeed to maintain the characteristics you want in your dog you will have to limit your breeding choices to dogs who have the criteria you want to maintain in your breeding practice.

    My point (and others here) is that the limited group your breeding pool comes from should not be based on the "purity" of a breed (meaning all his ancestors were the same breed and therefore look the same) or by choosing a dog who will help deliver flashy markings that will win in a conformation ring.

    Instead choose from the dogs who have the right set of characteristics that define the function of your dog, be it an ability to scent, move livestock, tolerate children, breathe correctly or whelp naturally. This might mean the dog you breed of isn't as pretty, has the wrong ear set or occasionally, might be a different breed.

    A dog breed is more than what it looks like, or at least it should be.

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  66. Nope - not having this - you change your parameters lke the UK weather ! - come on what is it ? either we breed for function in which case LOADS of different breeds which perform the same function can be mixed together or else they are in fact all different and should be kept that way ...


    answer the question - why does the BSD and GSD have to be separate breeds if your criteria is functionality ?


    "My point (and others here) is that the limited group your breeding pool comes from should not be based on the "purity" of a breed (meaning all his ancestors were the same breed and therefore look the same) "

    it most certainly does if I want to continue breeding BSD specifically rather than a generic herding/guarding type !!

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  67. Bijou:
    "Nope - not having this - you change your parameters lke the UK weather ! - come on what is it ? either we breed for function in which case LOADS of different breeds which perform the same function can be mixed together or else they are in fact all different and should be kept that way ..."

    Oh, Bijou, I think you definitely have reading comprehension problems. I have not changed my parameters once, yet you keep jumping out to "gotcha" me by misrepresenting what has been said. Its getting tiresome.

    "answer the question - why does the BSD and GSD have to be separate breeds if your criteria is functionality ? "

    Because they have differences in temperament, size and functionality, depite your coninued arguments that there is no difference in a GSD and Terv other than they way that they look.

    "it most certainly does if I want to continue breeding BSD specifically rather than a generic herding/guarding type !! "

    This has been explained to you ad nauseum. Breeding for function will not eliminate breeds. If this were true, there would be no working Border Collies, Beardies and Aussies, only an amalagam of generic driving dogs. This has not happened. If you still don't get it after all the information that has been presented here, I cannot help you.

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  68. Define breeding for function ...- are agility, obedience, shutzhund , fly ball or heelwork to music acceptable functions ( but presumably showing is not ? ) - or are they simply canine hobbies that you approve of .....

    Of course if you mean breeding only from dogs that perform their ORIGINAL function then we'll be working with a miniscule gene pool in most breeds !!!!

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  69. Consider the same chain of thought applied by others on here would mean to rid the world of Sickle Cell Anemia, all the African/Middle Easten/ Mediterranean carriers of the condition would have then be "Crossed" out to other races to ensure the disorder was wiped out. The condition is a recessive genetic disorder with approx 2% of children in Africa born with it and estimates of carriers being from as low as 1% up to third of the population across Africa. Question - What would you do to stop this, if the question is simple in dogs, why not man too?

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  70. Hi Sarah and thanks for your (as always) detailed and balanced reply.

    Inbreeding - I think it is very important to set out this definition. Certainly I would agree (as presumably would most breeders) that breeding first and second degree relatives constitutes 'close inbreeding'. However, it is reasonably uncommon to breed this closely these days and very uncommon indeed for this to be done repeatedly. Most breeders practise 'line breeding' where the common ancestor(s) are mostly four or five generations back. It is perceived to be a far more refined breeding tool than blunt close inbreeding and would also not come under the definition of 'inbreeding' which you have provided - between first and second degree relatives. It is absolutely crucial to differentiate between the two practises because restrictions on the former are unlikely to be controversial, whereas restrictions on the latter is another matter entirely...

    Any selective breeding (natural or artificial) is going to involve inbreeding to some extent. If a certain mutation produces a beneficial trait, then the individuals exhibiting this mutation are most likely the ones to reproduce and it is logical that they will be reasonably closely related. A trait become homozygous or 'fixed' in a population through this method which is how distinct species and breeds develop. Without employing inbreeding it becomes a much longer and more random process to bring about the desired result, if it happens at all. This explains why (close) inbreeding is frequently used to create a new variety. Once a variety has become established (homozygous for the important features/reliably breeding 'true') then inbreeding is less important. It is then down to 'fixing' the more subtle aspects, which is where line breeding comes in. There will be individuals which display desired characteristics to a greater extent than the majority, for example, outstanding working ability/longer coat. In order to (hopefully) replicate these traits in subsequent generations, line breeding back to this ancestor is employed. The ultimate goal is to produce an animal which is 'prepotent' - will pass on distinctive characteristics to the majority of its offspring no matter what type of mate it has. If a ruling was passed which prevented any shared ancestors being present in say 5 generations, for a start numerically smaller breeds would struggle to achieve it, but before long the subtle differences between the distinct 'lines' in a breed would disappear. This may sound very trivial and irrelevant to those not involved in breeding, but it could have negative consequences which outweigh the simple plan of increasing genetic diversity. Where distinct lines exist within a breed, it is possible to use these to improve a certain point which may be lacking in other lines. It is also possible for owners to chose between different sub-types. (Doesn't have to be aesthetic, just as easily temperament, health, working ability etc). If a prohibition on line breeding was introduced, there would be little motivation to carry on for many because breeding would become an entirely hit and miss affair.
    Inbreeding does of course also bring to the fore any undesirable recessive problems which otherwise may become hidden within a population. It is necessary to strike a balance between maintaining a reasonable amount of genetic diversity in the variety and retaining sufficient control over what is likely to be produced from each breeding.

    To be continued..

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  71. Part 2
    Moving onto to 'exaggerations' now. The quotation "any features which have the potential to cause suffering should be actively selected against (and not simply avoided)" illustrates my point exactly. To follow this thinking to it's logical conclusion, dogs shouldn't be bred with drop ears (spaniels, hounds etc) because it predisposes them to ear infection and they shouldn't be bred with long hair (afghans, shih tzus etc) or non moulting (poodles, bichons etc) because they might get matted and develop skin infections. It is the 'potential to cause suffering' which is so ambiguous - just about any anatomical feature could be so described under certain situations - refer to the whisker trimming post comments. (I will point out for those who haven't read the report that the authors appear to take issue with just about every 'deviation' from wild type that exists, from toy dogs to those with curled Spitz tails so I'm not being flippant with these assumptions). It isn't desirable to produce dogs that struggle to lead 'normal' lives but equally it isn't necessary that every dog born should be able to run for 1/2 mile either. Some potentially harmful characteristics such as drop ears and long coats are only an issue if adequate care isn't being taken of the dog. Is the potential for having a neglectful owner sufficient reason to avoid these features?

    As far as improving a breed is concerned, it depends on the breed as to how it is answered, but generally breeders are (supposed to be) working towards producing an ideal type as described in the standard. Improvements could be anything from producing a steadier temperament, to better head shape, to better working ability. The premise is that the perfect dog has never been born but the better it fits (NOT exceeds) the description in the standard, the closer it is to achieving perfection. It may be that improvements are being made to issues which have crept in - e.g. excessive coat length or faulty construction so it is not necessarily a unidirectional process.

    As for opening up registrations, this is a thorny issue. Permitting a small number of careful out crosses as you've described isn't a major issue, isn't universally abhorred by breeders and in the long run isn't likely to result in the annihilation of breeds I agree . However my point was that regular out crossing to other breeds, especially if combined with the other areas we've discussed (prohibiting line breeding and avoiding any 'potential harmful' features) would inevitably result in a generic type of dog.

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  72. Part Three!...

    On to your final point which is a very reasonable one to make. I like to see dogs that are capable of succeeding in both confirmation and performance events as this demonstrates that not only is the animal a good specimen of breed type but is also sound in body and mind (and adds an extra dimension to the dog's existence). However, it must also be borne in mind that increasingly dogs have to shoe horn themselves into a small slot in modern life. Displaying overtly their breed characteristics (stamina, tenacity, high prey drive etc) isn't really acceptable anymore and we place huge demands on pet dogs that aren't really compatible with their original functions so in this respect, it may be necessary that dogs resemble their ancestors in a visual way only. Human nature being what it is, appearance is often a primary consideration when choosing a dog (or partner!) and this isn't ever likely to alter.

    It is a myth that breeders pursue purity for the sake of purity. Maintaining distinct breeds and lines within breeds is important primarily so that the outcome of a breeding can be fairly accurately predicted. From producing an farm animal which develops rapidly for the table to one which is likely to succeed in guiding the blind to one which will excel as a sheepdog to one which exhibits desirable characteristics for the show ring.
    I would argue that for a great many dog owners, keeping the predictability that is provided by the 'current system' is paramount.

    There is always room for improvement: preventing overuse of popular stud dogs, reducing excessive exaggerations (which are not called for in the standard anyway), complete openness as far as heath problems are concerned as well as limiting the activities of commercial breeders and traders of course! But this MUST be balanced against preserving our many beautiful, distinctive and individual breeds for the future. Trying to initiate change via an antagonistic approach is likely to be counter productive but contrary to popular belief, most breeders do have the knowledge and desire to produce dogs that are as healthy as possible - owning a sickly, short-lived animals isn't in their interests either! .

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  73. Bijou,
    ' .....and if you outcross at every 3/4 generations then you WOULD lose breed characteristics - you know those things that Beth says make BSD different from GSD !'

    I agree that one solitary outcross would not do the trick to increase diversity but where did you see me quote or say that an outcross should be done every 3 or 4 generations? That accusation is not true and not honest, which is why I find it so tiresome. Please go back to my previous post and read what I actually did say.

    Let’s forget about that loaded term ‘purity’ for a moment. The main objection to outcrosses seems to be a genuine fear that the physical characteristics that distinguish the different breeds we love will be compromised. The implication is that these characteristics are set in stone and will never change. Yet if you look at photographs of many breeds from the 1880s and compare them to dogs of the same breed today, there have indeed been significant changes in their features. These changes were engineered by humans selecting for certain physical characteristics for aesthetic purposes and this practice seems to be generally acceptable amongst clubs and breeders. So, even assuming for a moment that what you say about outcrosses having some effect on appearance is true, what is the problem? Why are some pretty major changes in appearance for the sake of aesthetics acceptable whereas potential minor changes that result in steps taken to improve health are not?

    Let’s look at the alternative: no outcrossing. You want to continue to breed only within a closed gene pool. To do so and avoid inbreeding depression, you need to prevent the loss of genetic diversity. If you don’t, inbreeding depression becomes inevitable. Even if you stopped all inbreeding and linebreeding, how are you going to do this, bearing in mind that most pedigreed dogs are never bred from and those that are are already related to some degree? I repeat my quotation from Carboli et al: they concluded that the inbreeding effective population size of the 10 breeds surveyed ranged from 17 to 114. This is in a study that used the records of 2.1 million dogs. They also concluded that ‘…many breeds [had lost] >90% of singleton variants in just six generations.’ There is no reason to believe that the situation is much different in any of the breeds not included in the study and many breeds are already displaying higher than average rates of compromised health related to genetic problems. Ask the pet insurers. Here’s a question I haven’t heard answered by proponents of closed registries: If you refuse to allow outcrosses, how are you going to stop this dramatic loss of genetic diversity and top up your gene pool in order to maintain and improve genetic health? What is your solution and can you back it up with any science?

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  74. One final thought - then I think this is enough from me(!)

    Nothing is going to be resolved unless those on all 'sides' are prepared to listen and accept that their opponents may have valid points to make. As long as individuals and organisations remain entrenched in their own certainities there will never be any changes. Critics of show breeders need to allow for the fact that livestock/plant breeding based on the principals which they are condemning has endured for hundereds or even thousands of years without major catastrophe. It is most certainly not a 'recent evil' perpetuated solely by dog breeders to win a rosette.

    Equally, dog breeders need to conceed that certain beliefs and ideals may be outdated and that other factors than traditionally important ones need due consideration. They must also be prepared to examine and justify the reasons and consequences of their actions and open minded enough to alter their plans if necessary.

    Ultimately balanced outcome needs to be sought to the problem.

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  75. Julia,

    'contrary to popular belief, most breeders do have the knowledge and desire to produce dogs that are as healthy as possible - owning a sickly, short-lived animals isn't in their interests either!'

    In my experience, owners and breeders of purebred dogs accept poor health and shortened lifespans as part and parcel of owning the breeds they own. I spoke with a woman recently who has always owned bouviers. She said they commonly live anywhere from seven to nine years. Most of hers have died of cancer, with her last one dying of autoimmune disease at age seven.

    So, what are bouvier breeders doing to combat the problem of sickly, short-lived dogs? I don't know of any breed where lifespans are increasing--in fact the opposite is almost universally true. And I would be curious to know what you believe breeders are doing, and what knowledge you believe they have and are using, to solve this problem?

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  76. You really need to talk to a wider range of people Romany Dog - the Bouvier life span is between 10 - 15 years with the average age of death being around 12 years - this is typical for a breed of the Bouvier size and weight.

    What are Bouvier breeders doing to improve the health of their chosen breed - well quite a lot actually - here's just one example http://www.bouvierhealthfoundation.org/ and there are mnany other similar initiatives world wide not to mention the breed database to help breeders select dogs with good health test results etc.

    Contrary to what you would like to believe pedigree dog breeders care passionately about their breeds - it is overwhelmingly the pedigree dog breeder who health tests, funds reserach and compiles accurate records to inform other breeders - what we WON'T do is throw the baby out with the bathwater !.

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  77. Where's your longevity data coming from, Bijou? The survey on the BHF website shows that the average age of death is 10, not 12.

    This not a bad age, granted - but interesting that the oldest dog in the survey was 19 - very impressive, and showing the capacity to live longer.

    Cancer very definitely a problem in the breed - claims the lives of 44 per cent of them (high compared to other breeds). Other main issues are bone/skeletal, hair/skin and reproductive.

    Re babies and bathwater, the point Sarah, Romany Dog, I and others keep trying to make is that you are in danger of doing exactly that by not thinking outside the box a little more.

    Jemima

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  78. Thank you, Julia, for another highly informative and thoughtful response to my comments and questions. I am going to start with an apology – it is the end of the semester and I am in the midst of marking hell, so there will be a bit of a lag before I respond. I am truly not ignoring you – I just want to give your response the consideration it deserves.

    Having said that, I would like to comment on your ‘final thought’. You are spot on. Whatever stand we take on an issue, we all need critics and outside opinions to make us think about what we do and whether or not it really is the right thing. Lack of challenge leads to flabby thinking, ignorance and complacency. Disagreement is not the problem – defensiveness, antagonism and vitriol are.

    We who take the time to participate in the debates that take place in this blog space all love our dogs passionately. We are arguing about how to keep them healthy and happy in all their diversity. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t be bothering Respecting this is not a sign of weakness.

    Thank you Jemima for providing so much food for thought and a space to discuss and debate.

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  79. "Where's your longevity data coming from, Bijou?"

    from the UK bouvier club http://www.bouvierclub.co.uk/

    "The life span of a Bouvier is from 10 to 15 years. If that seems too long a time for you to give an unequivocal loyalty to your Bouvier, then please do not get one! "

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  80. Thanks Bijou. I have learned to treat lifepsan estimates written on breed club websites with a large dose of salt.

    The author of the 1992 article (almost 20 years old!) in which the 10-15yrs estimate appears makes no reference to any data and I suspect is just a semi-educated guess. Certainly, the survey data from America from 2005 post-dates it - and that gives a mean lifespan of 10.

    The UK Bouvier Club website has no health info on it at all - not even a link to the Bouvier Health Foundation website. No link either to the 2004 KC health survey findings for the breed either (which found median longevity of 11.3yrs - NB small sample size)

    Like the US survey, the UK survey shows that cancer, reproduction, muscoskeletal and cardio the main concerns.

    http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/download/1523/hsbouvier.pdf

    I also note that despite the both surveys finding that HD/arthritis is an issue in the breed that just three Bouviers were hip-scored in 2010 (with a breed mean of 18). US figures show that 15 per cent of Bouviers are dysplastic and only six per cent have excellent hips. (Compared, for instance, to the Belgian Sheepdog - only 3 per cent dysplastic and 33 per cent graded excellent).

    It might be (I hope) that the UK Club is being more proactive on health behind the scenes - if so it would be good to see it reflected on the Club website. As it stands, it is a poor shop-window for the breed and does not inspire confidence re health matters.

    As regards lifepsan - again,10 to 11 is not bad (and, actually, the KC survey included 18 yr old dog which is pretty impressive - echoing the US survey findings that these dogs have the potential to live a really long time); I just think it is important to give accurate info where it is available.

    Jemima

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