Saturday, 20 August 2011

Will this Toller x litter save the breed?


Hey, pay attention at the back... You're making history!

Well, maybe...

Having focused recently on irresponsibly-bred crossbreeds, it is a pleasure to report an outcross that could not be more thoughtfully-bred - and which offers hope to a breed some researchers say is in real trouble.

Although you may not be surprised to hear that not everyone agrees.

These pups (there are seven altogether, all males) are the result of a planned mating between Tessa, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and an Australian Shepherd dog called Dakota. It is the first stage of a journey embarked on by German breeder Alexander Däuber to restore what he thinks is much-needed vitality to the Toller.

The spark for Däuber was, in part, the publication in 2010 of a paper by Finnish researcher Katariina Mäki who looked at the Toller's genetic diversity.

Mäki found that the average Toller was the equivalent of a full-sibling to any other Toller and that today's Tollers go back to just nine founders (and 50 per cent of them to just two founders). Mäki also found that the breed had an effective population size of just 18.  To put this in perspective, anything below 100 is considered of real concern by conservationists - and anything below 50 considered unsustainable, at least in wild species (although there are some exceptions that seem to be doing well, such as the Iberian Lynx).

Separately, other Finnish researchers found the Toller to have a low number of DLA haplotypes - (just 11 found so far) something that is thought to compromise the immune system's ability to mount a defence against disease, parasites and other foreign pathogens. Worryingly, one very common haplotype, found in 70 per cent of the breed, is strongly associated with imune-mediated rheumatic disease (IMRD), commonly found in the Toller.  Similar to lupus, it can cause persistent lameness, stiffness and palpable pain in joints. The breed is also predisposed to a related steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis (SRMA) marked by a high fever and neck stiffness.  Together, these two conditions have been dubbed "Toller Disease".

Mäki's conclusion - supported by several other geneticists, including Federico Calboli at Imperial College, London and  Professor Irene Sommerfeld-Stur in Vienna (one of the very first diversity proponents) - was that an outcross should be explored.  Their statements supporting the outcross can be downloaded here: CalboliSommerfeld-Stur,  Mäki.

But the news was met with outrage from many in Tollers who vehemently oppose an outcross, feeling it is either unnecessary or would be the ruin of the breed (or both). And they have support from two very high-ranking geneticists: Clare Wade at the University of Sydney, and Danika Bannasch at UC Davis in the US.  Both breed and show Tollers themselves.

"I have been actively involved in research on inherited diseases in the NSDTR for eight years," says Danika Bannasch.  "This 'need' for an outcross is ridiculous. I have no issues with outcrossing when there is a clear purpose and scientific reasons for doing - ie the Dalmatian backcross. Tollers are in very good shape from a population genetics standpoint."

(I have asked Dr Bannasch for a more detailed explanation of why she believes Tollers are in such good shape genetically and will add here when she replies.)

Professor Wade, meanwhile, believes that the breed is being 'targeted' due to Toller breeders' willingness to assist researchers (they have, she says, been very proactive breed in terms of donating DNA and other information). "My observations are that the occurrences of genetic disorders in this breed are well below the norm for high population size breeds, let alone rare breeds. I am appalled that this breed is being targeted simply because the breeders have been open and interactive with scientists," she wrote in a statement opposing an outcross. "Any claims that this breed requires urgent out-crossing are ridiculous and I truly hope that such claims will be ignored."

Really?

Here are the facts re the Toller's genetic diversity:

• Nine founders
• An average kinship of 26 per cent (the equivalent of full siblings)
• Just 11 DLA haplotypes found - a possible indicator of immuno-incompetence.
• Evidence of a dysfunctional immune response in the high frequency of immune-mediated rheumatic disease (IMRD) and steroid-responsibe meningitis arteritis (SRMA), together known as "Toller Disease".

I confess I reserve a special sceptism for scientists who are also show breeders (while also acknowledging that it might also give them special insight in the breed) and find that Wade's claim that Toller breeders are being unfairly 'targeted' verging on paranoia.  I also find myself reacting strongly to words like "appalled" and "ridiculous" - not the measured response one would hope for from scientists.

And, really, why such an outcry? Is the sky really going to fall in - especially given that this outcross is being done with full transparency and with such apparently worthwhile aims?

Australian Shepherd dad, Dakota
Alexander Däuber has gone ahead despite the protests. He even managed to get approval from the German Kennel Club (VDH) - well, sort-of.  Initially, the VDH refused to sanction the outcross, but changed its mind after a high-profile debate on German TV and in the face of the quality of the support Däuber had garnered from the scientific community (Wade and Bannasch aside). However, Däuber felt that the conditions on which the VDH insisted were unreasonable - notably a requirement to run a DNA analysis that would have cost Däuber €20,000 (and which no other geneticist other than the VDH's considered necessary).


Toller mum, Tessa
Däuber has, then, gone ahead using a non-VDH registered Australian Shepherd as his stud dog. (A breeder who allows his VDH-registered dog to be used would risk expulsion but given that only 20-30 per cent of German puppies are registered with the German Kennel Club there was a good choice of non-registered dogs).   Däuber has, wisely, used two older and health-proven dogs for his project - dad Dakota is six years old, with no health problems reported in his previous litters; mum is Däuber's own Toller, Tessa, who will be six in October. Both have been tested (and cleared) for all the health tests required in either breed.


The Toller x pups are now about a month old and Däuber says he has been struck by their vitaltiy. "They were more active in the amniotic sac and they quickly found their mother's teats and began to suckle. Many of the pups in my previous eight purebred Toller litters have been weaker, had less energy and had problems starting to breathe."

Däuber's aim is to try several different outcrosses - believing that the health of the individual dog is as important as the breed. On the cards are Toller x Retriever and Toller X Spaniel litters. He will then breed the best of the pups back to purebred Tollers - and expects to be back to full Toller 'type' within four generations. (In fact, it will probably be rather quicker given how similar an Aussie is physically; fine-tuned working abilities may take longer, though) "My goal is to improve genetic diversity and bring 'new' genes into the population," says Däuber. "I want to breed healthy Tollers with better vitality & fitness."

Däuber's story is being featured in an eagerly-waited documentary - being hailed as "the German PDE" - which airs in Germany this coming Monday (22nd).  Easily-offended purists should refrain from clicking on this link to the TV programme. I am pretty sure it shows Dakota and Tessa "tied", mid illicit union.

Oh, what the hell, let's reproduce the picture here:



And here are some more pix of the gorgeous pups... whose progress you can follow on Alexander Däuber's website here:




© Alexander Dauber

 More to come on the Tollers shortly...



Edit 21/8/11 @ 20.42pm: removed reference to Alexander Dauber being President of the German Toller Club (the club has now disbanded).
Edit 23/8/11 @ 12.40: removed reference to Tollers possibly having fewer DLA haplotypes than other breeds - there are others with fewer - and added clarification/qualification re effective population size.

120 comments:

  1. Good for him. Hopefully once a few more top breeders start doing careful outcrosses, the practice will become more acceptable.

    I can't help but think that in 20-years, we'll look back on this period and wonder what all the fuss was about regarding outcrosses; it'll have become such an accepted norm. Let's hope so.

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  2. I think it is likely that when the Kennel Club have done the analysis of pedigrees for all breeds that the Imperial College researchers did for just ten breeds, and the extent of the loss of genetic diversity becomes known, they will be encouraging some of the smaller breeds to look at outcrossing. The KC have already written to the Irish Kennel Club to say they have no problem with the IKC's current outcross programme for the Irish Red and White Setter (using working red Irish Setters) in order to improve genetic diversity. This breed is numerically small and goes back to only a small number of founder dogs. The KC say that this outcross is in line with their own current policies. Very forward thinking.

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  3. Very cool he has support from the Kennel Club in Germany.

    Wish I can say the same about the ostracized breeders of outcrossed Flat-coated Retrievers.

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  4. "My observations are that the occurrences of genetic disorders in this breed are well below the norm for high population size breeds, let alone rare breeds. I am appalled that this breed is being targeted simply because the breeders have been open and interactive with scientists," she wrote in a statement opposing an outcross. "Any claims that this breed requires urgent out-crossing are ridiculous and I truly hope that such claims will be ignored."

    Oh, she's right. They should definitely wait until the breed is in serious trouble before doing any kind of outcross. I mean, everyone knows there's no value in planning ahead. Proactivity is for wimps.

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  5. Dave wrote: "Wish I can say the same about the ostracized breeders of outcrossed Flat-coated Retrievers."

    In the UK or US, Dave? Would be very interested in hearing more. What have they crossed with - and why?

    Jemima

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  6. "
    And, really, why such an outcry? Is the sky really going to fall in - especially given that this outcross is being done with full transparency and with such apparently worthwhile aims? "

    And this, to me, is the most important question. I don't really see why anyone would be upset about this being done, with the exception of being concerned with "purity." If this outcross is a failure, no one will be forced to use the outcrossed dogs.

    I seriously considered a Toller a few years ago and ultimately decided the gene pool was too small for me to feel good about.

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  7. I know some people will be surprised at what I'm about to say but this is the type of careful outcross which should be able to be reasonably considered in many breeds. Outcrossing simply for the sake of 'increasing diversity' (or making a quick buck)is certainly an issue, especially when the parent breeds are widely incompatible. However, it would appear that, as in the case of the dalmatians, this is part of a long term breeding programme with clear goals. I don't know enough about NSDTRs or Australian Shepherds to comment on whether this is a good match but at least it is being done openly and with good intentions FOR THE BREED. People (breeders as well) tend to forget that with any type of mating there will be some cons as well as pros. E.G. The sire might well have a better ear position but maybe he is a little shorter in back than ideal. It is always a question of weighing up the risks and benefits and only proceeding if benefits greatly outweigh the risks. Simply because a breeding is an outcross between breeds doesn't mean it should be always summarily dismissed. I do wonder though whether this will be followed by some reasonably close breeding to regain breed type?
    Outcrossing, inbreeding, linebreeding are after all, only 'tools'. It is how they are used which really matters.

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  8. Those puppies are adorable. I hope the programme goes well. As long as the breed can still be used for their original purpose, I don't see why there would be a problem with crossing them but I suppose its hard to get through to people who have spent so long breeding and showing a certain breed and are so set in their values and customs.

    I own and show Flat Coated Retrievers so I am very interested in this outcrossing programme concerning them.. What did they cross them with and why? Is this breeding programme in the UK? What problems with the breed clubs/kennel clubs did they encounter?

    I simply must look into this further.

    x

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  9. I have heard of some Toller lines that produce puppies with cleft palates.

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  10. That's a cross (the Aussie x NSDTR) that I'd like to see working.

    It's likely that the F1 pups would be no great shakes as stockdogs (and I understand that the Aussies exported to Europe have been just about exclusively show dogs, not working dogs or from recent working heritage), but some might be fine retrievers.

    What I'd be interested in seeing, though, is how they worked as SAR and detection dogs, or as service dogs for the disabled. I'm sure they'd be dandy sport dogs for obedience and agility.

    Both the breeding stock to create the F2 and subsequent generations and the culls who are the "wrong type" should have a job, for their own sakes and as a selection tool.

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  11. " I do wonder though whether this will be followed by some reasonably close breeding to regain breed type? "


    My thoughts too ...and if this is the case then surely any diversity gained by this outcross will largely be lost by the 4th generation ? ...

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  12. Nope, it doesn't require 'close breeding' to regain breed type, just breeding back into the original breed. That said, the two breeds are similar in type anyway... there should be no problem.

    But, even if there was inbreeding (closer than normal for the breed) it wouldn't reduce the diversity brought to the breed by this outcross, any more than other breedings within the breed.

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  13. It is a crossbreed though and not a pedigree so I can understand the reluctance of the breeders.

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  14. To me the choice of breed to cross with is very strange! If one should do a cross,to me it would be wiser to pick a breed with similar working style. I can't realy see the point of crossing a bird hunting dog to a heerding dog! He might get healthier dogs, but they would not be good as hunting dogs any longer.

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  15. Yes, you have a point Maria. But, if we are to take Bijou's line on breeding in that temperament should be dumbed down to suit the pet market and the showring, then this is a way to do it, by contributing to diversity rather than selecting within the breed, which reduces it.

    Also, to choose a breed with similar working style would most likely result in less contribution to diversity as their ancestors would no doubt have a common origin.

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  16. Didn't realize that the Tollers had such a small gene pool. I regularly encounter at least 4 of them in the area I live. One is from a local litter. I must admit the first time I saw one - a couple of years ago - I thought they were some type of collie, like an Aussie or English Shepherd. I think using ES would make a good cross as they can be excellent hunters. The sable coat is also common unlike in an Aussie.

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  17. I agree with Maria D in that a Duck Tolling Retriever should only be bred with a "Duck Tolling Retriever" if a breeder wishes to produce Duck Tolling Retrievers. (And I own a LUA Dalmatian and support the registration of the off-spring of AKC registered, AKC champion pointed LUA Dalmatian "Stocklore Stiples."
    There is a big difference in the projects to introduce (specifically) the normal gene for Uric Acid metabolism or the breeding of healthy Basinjis by using healthy imported specimins, and this project, one breeder using 2 dogs of (vastly) different breeds (that he happens to own)...
    Both other projects were very well thought out and had "reasonable" breed club board support, vetrinary, and scientific support.
    So I am 2 thumbs down on this particular premature project. Let the NSDTR come up with a "more supportable" and well thought out effort and less contrversial direction.

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  18. Sally
    He owns the bitch, not the stud. For his programme to work he would have to own the bitch.

    All breeds were originally created by mixing different types of dog, so if you break it down, no dog is 'pure'. There is no reason why this outcross could not work, but it will be a matter of trial and error much like it was in the creation of all breeds.

    I think outcrossing in a significant number of breeds would be a good thing for health and especially where there is a small gene pool or limited genetic diversity.

    Anon @ 15.32 makes a good point in respect of potential common ancestry, when it comes to the choice of breed to outcross to. In terms of the working aspect dogs with the desired and specific workability will no doubt be selected for future breeding. There is likely to be a mix of the two styles of working, or just maybe you could end up with a dog good at both!

    Very beautiful puppies and a super looking sire.

    I find this no more controversial than breeding animals that cannot breathe, walk properly or do the job they should be bred for. In fact I think it far LESS controversial.

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  19. So, we have a man who has already proven he can't work with rules or with any of the bodies who've cared for the breed over the past 60 years doing a breeding with two of his own dogs...who will back his "results" as truthful?

    Imo, He's just another backyard breeder trying to make money. Surprised they aren't "Toodles" - he couldn't even use the breed that was approved, or do anything that was approved.

    Bannasch and Wade have done a ton of research. A yellow journalist has no business (oh wait, you do it for money, I forgot) slamming people who give their lives to science and have done so much good.

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  20. cute little mutts.. I am sure they will make super pets for someone.. can't wait to see the next "planned' litters of crosses.. I am sure they will be cute little mutts as well.. no problem with what he is doing.. the world can always use another cute "designer dog' right?

    on another point.. I had to laugh at your "skepticism " on the two people who are practicing scientists and still have the nerve to breed "show dogs' while you support a veterinarian whose bio starts with TV presenter and extends to car builder and whose website tells you to make sure to wash you car before you sell it while hawking DVD's and books.

    "appalled and ridiculous" are not acceptable to you as terms a scientist should use.. but "parade of mutants" certainly rings your chimes

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  21. Not quite sure what relevance Mark Evans is to this particular issue. Although seeing you've mentioned him, you might be interested to hear that he's presenting an upmarket anatomy series at the moment: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/inside-natures-giants.

    The point is, Bestuvall, is that Dauber IS being supported by top geneticists - at least one of equal or greater ranking to either Wade or Bannasch and he has thought carefully about this outcross. And he did eventually win approval from the German Kennel Club in principal (even if in the end he had to do it without them).

    I've asked you a question on the Videx GSD blog, by the way...

    Jemima

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  22. Anon wrote: "Bannasch and Wade have done a ton of research. A yellow journalist has no business (oh wait, you do it for money, I forgot) slamming people who give their lives to science and have done so much good."

    I have a great deal of respect for the work done by both Bannasch and Wade. But it doesn't put them above criticism (and I'm sure they wouldn't want it to). I simply think they are wrong in this instance.

    As for my being paid to cricise them... I wish. This blog eats up a huge amount of time that I could (indeed should) be spending earning money. As you may have noticed, I accept no advertising here. I did get a free review copy of a book the other day, though. Does that count?

    Jemima

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  23. Any idea why Mr Dauber is no longer a member of the Kennel Club, and the Toller bunch he was with has disbanded? I believe he is actually President of Nothing, and not what you write.

    Why did he go forward with a different breed than approved? That doesn't seem to show a serious wish to "save the breed."

    Who will oversee his venture, if it's really more than just a quick money deal, to genetically test the pups and follow their health?

    The latter would be absolutely necessary for any "save the breed" project, versus just selling cute little mutts like so many others.

    When are you going to breed Ms. Harrison? Give it a try - walk a mile!

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  24. I have a toller girl who is six years old and has been ill many times in her life, e.g. she had meningitis at a young age and this summer she got an unexplainable braindamage that has left her with no blinking reflexes and an inability to ever shut her eyes. I still adore her though, and the breed.

    I teach basic genetics to breeders and always stress how important it is to avoid matador breeding and inbreeding and instead try to use as many different individuals as possible. This doesn't always go down so well with some breeder's (mostly those that are frequently seen in the show rings, isn't it strange?). I also have a mix breed at home, which is even worse to accept for some breeders (I haven't bred her myself, but still!). I have never understood why mix breeds are such a threat to some breeders? All breeds have been mixed at some point...

    However, I had no idea though that the tollers were in such deep trouble! A kinship of 26 % sounds unreal, it's almost strange there are any healthy tollers at all...

    Very interesting to see the coulor of the puppies - they all look like liver fawn! So the sire is most likely E/E at the E locus and the mother ay/ay at the A locus (I have always wondered which alleles the tollers had at the A locus). With the tollers being recessively e/e it should be easy to get back that genotype no matter what breed they are crossbred with as it will always show if they have an E/e genotype, so one can easily avoid those dogs when going back towards the true type again.

    Sorry for this long comment, I hope I haven't bored anyone.

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  25. Jemima, I finally saw PDE online, and I was blown away. The demos of how the skulls of the miniature bull terrier and the bulldog have evolved - no, mutated - were all you needed to show, in my opinion. If breeders can look at this kind of evidence, and not see what a cross-section of the rest of the population sees, then they have a problem. We need to stop allowing them to torture these animals for their own amusement. Their hobby causes pain and suffering on a massive scale and they are indifferent because of 'purity' and 'mongrelization'? History is not on their side, and they don't seem to realize that dog shows and dog breeding will go the way of inhumane slaughterhouses, and the wearing of fur. I don't like hard-core animal rights people either - I love my leather shoes - but I'm starting to think reason and science just won't work on these baby Nazis. I've had meningitis, and it was the most excruciating experience of my life. Another set of people condemning helpless animals to a horribly painful and _preventable_ disease DELIBERATELY? Another breed that can't wait for karma to catch up.

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  26. Please understand that the figure of 26% is over 10+ generations - Tollers have a full pedigree back to the original dogs, the current matings are generally at 3% in the 3-5 generation pedigree and still low as you go further out.

    Do not be blinded by numbers until you actually look at them properly. There are lies, damn lies and statistics - you can make them read what you want, and indeed you are.

    NSDTR breeders are not irresponsible, in fact they are mostly very responsible and very open about genetic testing for disease etc. Maybe that makes them an easy target and they should close ranks.

    The German outcross has produced mutts - healthy mutts but they do not move anything forward, there are in fact Toller x Brittany's and Toller x Collies too and all healthy but nevertheless they are crossbreeds/mutts.

    There is no question that within some breeds things have moved dangerously in the wrong direction but please do not target the NSDTR just because it is a new breed that is very open about it's health.

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  27. Linda (of JavaHill Tollers I am guessing?) wrote: "Any idea why Mr Dauber is no longer a member of the Kennel Club, and the Toller bunch he was with has disbanded? I believe he is actually President of Nothing, and not what you write."

    Yes, you're right - just checked with Alexander and the club has disbanded. He explains that the club had in its rules that it would follow the advice of scientists re an outcross - something that became impossible when the German Kennel Club refused to accept the proposals. Faced with a stalemate, the decision - taken by the whole committee - was to dissolve the club. Have amended the copy above.

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  28. Sally, what would you think about the Chinook cross-breeding project, which will even accept dogs that aren't registered as long as they have a four gen pedigree and no health issues behind them?

    http://www.chinook.org/xbreeding.html

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  29. Anon @ 20.20: yes, I agree that going back to founders will produce a high average kinship in all breeds with few founders (ie most of them) and it's good to hear that Toller breeders are being careful re COI. But the fact remains that you're still shuffling a limited number of genes here; the breed has very few founders, very few DLA haplotypes, and an undetermined but nevertheless not insignificant burden of immune-mediated disease.

    I am not "targeting" the breed. I am telling the story of one breeder who has looked at the situation and, having consulted with experts, has decided to try something different. Of course, this first generation litter are not Tollers; but they will become increasingly Tollers as the progeny are backcrossed to purebred Tollers - or at least as 'purebred' as current Tollers which did not spring fully-formed from the ether but were originally the product of mixing and refining. In Canada, which of course includes Nova Scotia, there is a 7/8ths "purebred" rule which allows for a drop or two of foreign blood.

    But bottom line, surely this project is interesting for what can be learned from it, and I believe it is being done with good intentions. No one has to use/embrace the dogs if they don't want to.

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  30. Thanks for correcting that. I hope it was an error based on old info and not Mr Dauber trying to be something he's not.

    And what of the other questions? Surely if he's serious about "saving" our breed, he will be doing extensive genetic testing with outside follow-up on all puppies?

    A client of mine calls the Toller "an Aussie without the bite." besides health, I'll be interested to know what the temperaments end up like.

    Hard also to understand this so-called "stalemate" when a project was approved. Cost him $20,000? My little violin weaps. Many of us have spent far more on our breeding programs! And I'm sure Dr Bannasch and Claire Wade have spent far more on their education and research...they have several excellent articles pertaining to the Toller and health issues published recently, as I posted on the other CanGen list (which I deleted after tiring of seeing the same people snark daily).

    Did Mr Dauber or this other scientist you highly regard read these?

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  31. I find it very interesting that Anonymous 20.20 stated 'The German outcross has produced mutts - healthy mutts but they do not move anything forward, there are in fact Toller x Brittany's and Toller x Collies too and all healthy but nevertheless they are crossbreeds/mutts'.

    Every 'pure' breed started as mixed and progress can never be made by putting the breed above health and stating that which is not pure must be a mutt.

    I think this is a great step forward and many breeds in trouble should follow a similar line. It seems to be done with the best of intentions and an important step in the right direction. It has to be started somewhere.

    It's a darn site better than pushing out the designer dog first crosses and giving them a new breed name with promises on health that has no proof other than 'well it must be'.

    To highlight one breeder and what they are trying to do to improve a breed is not picking on anyone. If you don't shine a light the positive, then you're constantly in the dark.

    Emma

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  32. Yes, an error based on old info.

    The €20,000 that Dauber objected to was for a full DNA analysis - something only the VDH geneticist required. Dauber has done all the usual DNA/health screenings (hips/elbows/eyes/CEA for both breeds).

    I get the impression that Mr Dauber has read everything he can and am certain that would include any articles written by Dr Bannasch and Professor Wade. I'd be interested in seeing them, though, if there's a link?

    I am pleased, Linda, to hear that you're interested to learn about the temperament and health of the dogs in Dauber's project as there may well be something to learn. I think that is the right approach. There is no need for anyone to participate, of course, but why not build a line of communication that allows for an exchange of what could be useful information? (eg if SRMA rears its ugly head in the crosses).

    Jemima

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  33. Genetics seem to be the only "suspect" in any of these conversations, why is no one talking about the environmental factors in health, both canine and human? We'd have to be stupid to ignore the environmental damage we are doing to ourselves and by association, to our canine companions.

    Since the Dalmation backcross project has been mentioned....that is a situation in which the mode of inheritance was known. There is currently no known mode of inheritance for auto-immune disorders in Duck Tollers. Without knowing MOI, it is IMPOSSIBLE to determine or prove whether or not any kind of backcross project is viable for Tollers.

    Toller owners worldwide are extremely open about genetic disorders and have been contributing both monetarily and through tissue/blood samples to a myriad of genetic research projects. I have been involved in Tollers for over 22 years, and am proud of our community and its commitment to health in our dogs.

    I have no idea where Mr. Dauber is going to find the unrelated, purebred Tollers he'll require to move on to his F2 and beyond generations. I believe the Toller community will close ranks on him, as he has no credibility. He has not "carefully thought out" his project, Golden Retrievers were the breed originally "approved", he's now gone ahead with an Australian Shepherd, a breed fraught with it's own devastating genetic problems: epilepsy, CEA, hip & elbow dysplasia, auto-immune disorders, cancer, deafness, MDR1 sensitivity, cataracts, hemophelia, Pelger-Huet anomaly, PRA, von Willibrand's disease, liver shunts. For many of these disorders, the mode of inheritance is unknown, therefore it's impossible to predict or prove the outcome of an Aussie/Toller cross.

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  34. Jemima, the research articles I mentioned I posted on both CanGen lists. If you look back, you're the only one who responded - saying you wondered what the Finnish researcher (Sorry, I can't recall her name) would think of it. Now I'm not sure if I only posted the one on Haplotypes or all, but Hellmuth posted all. They were not solely Tollers, but included Tollers.

    Linda

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  35. This whole discourse is based on errors of fact. There were not just 9 founders of the breed. Col Colwell (first registerant) mentioned that he had over 80 Tollers in his breeding program at one time or another. Of these, he used 12 (not 9) to gain registration in CKC. However, these 9 didn't start from nothing but rather had Coldwell's and others' generations of dogs behind them, a whole wealth of genetic diversity.

    A computation of the COI will lead back to these 12 and no further but in fact the breed goes much, much further than that. In fact, there are some indications that the Toller may be older than any of the other retriever breeds. One writer feels that ancestors of the Toller probably produced the Tweed Water Spaniel...one of the breeds used to develop the Golden retriever.

    Methinks that neither you nor Mr. Dauber have any sense of the history of the breed. If you look no further than 1945 and these 12, not 9, individual dogs, you aren't taking into account the true history nor the genetic diversity of the breed.

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  36. For those who questions crossing a herding dog with a gundog, consider this:

    1) Many herding breeds were crossed with hounds to create curs. All of these are gundogs in their respectable rights.

    2) Prior to the formalization of the Retrievers as breeds, it wasn't uncommon to cross a collie with other dogs with retrieving instincts.

    3) In early America, many farm dogs were dual-purpose herding and hunting dogs.

    4) Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the ONLY breed in the Retriever family with CEA. It's very rare outside collie types. We can infer the NSDTR have had a collie somewhere in ancestry (see point 3).

    So I don't see what's the big deal about crossing in Australian Shepherds? For freakin' sakes, the old Scotch collie was once the go-to-dog for treeing raccoon and squirrels, flushing grouses and pointing.

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  37. Now that I think about it...

    Australian Shepherd and English Shepherd used to be the same dogs before they got split-- dogs to the west were classified as Australian; dogs to the east were classified as English Shepherd. Since the NSDTR are a native breed to the province; it's not incontrovertible to assume the Australian Shepherd is the closest and most readily accessible relative to the NSDTR one can find in Europe without having to import the English Shepherds from abroad.

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  38. As a Toller owner I am dismayed by some of the comments on this thread. I abhor the manipulation of dogs for asthetic/show reasons, however this is not the case in Tollers. The Toller community as stated above is a concerned, proactive, health conscious one. It is a fact that there is wide variance in the interpretation in the breed standard. I don't show my Toller, but chatting so several judges it is a relief to hear that the last thing they consider is aesthetics.
    I chose a Toller as it was the right thing for my family. A predictable temperament was essential in deciding what kind of dog to get - something which couldn't be reliably predicted with a rescue. Tollers have some health issues, that is true, but vastly less than many other breeds.
    The German outcrossing is the action of a man who believes he knows better that the vast majority of experts in the breed, and done without the consensus of the community. As such I anticipate it will go nowhere. Most of us prefer to understand the full story (For example why is it that Tollers with good variance of Haplos have been struck down with SRMA?)
    The current situation is one of emerging evidence. At the present time the Toller community is being proactive and open in its attempts to understand the health of their dogs. I am afraid that lashing out at the community can only be to the detriment.

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  39. I was surprised by Herr Dauber's comment, 'Däuber says he has been struck by their vitaltiy. "They were more active in the amniotic sac and they quickly found their mother's teats and began to suckle. Many of the pups in my previous eight purebred Toller litters have been weaker, had less energy and had problems starting to breathe."' I have bred over 120 Toller pups and have always found them to be extremely active, noisy, latching right on, and suckling enthusiastically. Puppy vitality is not an issue in this breed.

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  40. The toller breed is derived from the English red decoy dog, which has some ancestry with the Kooikerhondje but is primarily related to the collie family.

    Tollers get Collie Eye Anomaly-- the only retrievers that get this disorder.

    http://www.dogsincanada.com/the-red-decoy-dog

    The dogs don't share much ancestry with the other retrievers. They have NO relationship to Tweed water spaniels, except for what little golden retriever was crossed in when the breed numbers became low.

    A dark-colored golden can do tolling retrievers to lure in ducks, but tolling is not a myth. Ducks can be drawn in by a dog cavorting on a bank.

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  41. OFF TOPIC


    Meredith said...

    "Jemima, I finally saw PDE online, and I was blown away. The demos of how the skulls of the miniature bull terrier and the bulldog have evolved - no, mutated - were all you needed to show,"

    LOL.. Meredith.. if you had really watched you would know that it was the Bull Terrier.. not the Miniature Bull Terrier skull that was set to screeching creaking ( or something like that) Bull Terriers are not 'tortured"by their head shape.. I suggest you read the posts to jemimas "expose" on this blog about Bull Terriers where she makes all sorts of erroneous assumptions about the breed.and the posters set her straight..I know.. I have Bull Terriers..

    By the way leather is just fur with the hair removed..and it was the Nazis who took animal ownership to the animal rights side of the field..they did not allow Jews to own pets.. and made animal rights paramount to human rights.

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  42. I think it's great that this project is being undertaken, however I'm not sure I would have used an Aussie for the outcross just because there are certain health issues specific to herding breeds that can be hard to get rid of (e.g. collie eye anomaly, MDR1 status, issues with the merle gene etc). I have a lot of friends that breed/own Silken Windhounds, a new breed who's founders included Shetland Sheepdogs, and one of their biggest issues, IMO, is having to deal with MDR1 and now CEA.

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  43. So this guy has bred weak puppies that have had problems starting to breathe when born... which he blames on the breed itself. OK, we see the same phenomenon in my breed - ignorant people refusing to see that they are breeding poor dogs, instead they want to cross breed to correct the "problems". Guess it is much more fun than being responsible, i.e. removing the inferior dogs from the gene pool, do some research and start over with healthy dogs. Lots of people seem to want to be breeders but few want to do the work.

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  44. To the Chinook question, yes, I agree with bringing in healthy Chinooks who meet breed standard, who have 4 gen paper trail, who do what the breed was bred for, but who lack registration status, if that helps the breed increase genetic diversity and health.
    I am not against supportable "back-cross" programs when needed and scientificly supported. Breed enthusiast support is important, and the selection of "type" (all considerations) maintained.

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  45. I have no personal issues with the crossbreeding programme, if the dogs are health tested and pups are healthy and the breeder is taking responsibility for the offspring then for me, that is what dog breeding is more about. Healthy dogs that don't end up in the dog pound being someone elses problem. It will be interesting in time to see the outcome... I'm not sure the Toller community will ever accept it but lets wait and see what happens.

    UK Tollers are in the main very healthy, SRMA is reported but my understanding is that it's still quite rare? 2-4 dogs a year? and it is treatable. Almost always there is an environmental trigger, often vaccination, flea/tick/worm treatment and seasons in bitches and usually occurs in young dogs under 18 months old. To my knowledge there has never been a paper published proving this disease/syndrome/illness is hereditory? some other breeds and cross breeds suffer with the same illness also and again no real link, or known reason for this to occur? I can't think which breeds now, I'm sure someone else will know. The Toller community is very close knit and freely share health information because they are passionate about the breed and strive to produce healthy dogs. The majority of breeders in the UK work together to discuss health issues and the way forward. If there was a 'test' available to prevent illness such as SRMA Toller breeders would be among the first out there getting their breeding stock tested right away! You will never have the 'perfect' breed out there and even parents that have excellent health results (in any breed) can have a throw back in an offspring somewhere down the line even if the grandparents/great grandparents have excellent health tests too. You can only go with the information you have to hand and if breeders continue to health test for diseases that can be tested for they are doing their best.

    In my opinion the Kennel club should be doing much more? They should make it compulsary that no puppy can be KC registered unless the parents have been health tested for everything recommended! How ridiculous in this day and age that testing is available for blindness and hip dysplasia etc yet the KC still allow breeders to register puppies that could go blind or be crippled because their parents aren't health tested? Oh yes, but they have a pedigree and the KC earn money from it!! Shouldn't these be the ones that need educating?

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  46. From Bijou’s comment 07:03

    " I do wonder though whether this will be followed by some reasonably close breeding to regain breed type? "


My thoughts too.

    I find your concern about retaining type really interesting given that you have no problem breeding away from the breed standard when it comes to temperament:

    Temperament
    WARY, neither timid, nervous nor aggressive (my capitals).

    Taken directly from the KC breed standard for the BSD:
    http://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/services/public/breed/standard.aspx?id=5111.

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  47. Sally, you weren't paying attention:

    From the Chinook Crossbreeding Program:

    ""Dog zero" must meet the following four criteria: It must have a four generation traceable lineage with no known hereditary health faults. It must be a purebred dog selected from a breed purported to have contributed to the development of the Chinook, be a working breed of dog or be an unregistered working dog with a documented four generation pedigree. If purebred, it must possess a registration number from a recognized registry. It must be a good specimen of its breed and possess no major faults."

    Dog Zero is NOT a Chinook. That's the whole point. Do you withdraw your approval now?

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  48. Meredith, could you email me privately please... jem@pedigreedogsexposed.com

    Jemima

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  49. Having read all 3 papers,Calboli, Sommerfeld-Stur and Mäki (highlighted in brown, above) I see they are all very out of date, mentioning only 5 haplotypes found. Prof Wade's statement mentions 11, more than double their assumption. Surely we should move to have these distributed throughout the breed, before we attempt an outcross with another breed. I would be interested to know the totals for other breeds, if we have the fewest known in any breed, as stated in your blog.

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  50. Jo-Anne, yes, the statements by Calboli, Sommerfeld-Stur and Maki re haplotypes are now out of date - and I now have some new info re the number of haplotypes in other breeds indicating some breeds may have fewer than the 11 now found in Tollers. Just digesting/checking this and will amend/edit tomorrow as well as add the response just in from Dr Bannasch.

    Jemima

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  51. Before I start, I need to correct both Jemima and Eric J on how many dogs were registered in 1945. I referenced both "A Breed Apart" by Gail MacMillan and "The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever" by Alison Strang and Gail MacMillan, and the actual number is 15 registered in 1945. Alison's book pictures 12 of them, and Gail's book shows the original letter from the CKC. I suggest that Jemima reads both of these books before commenting furthur of the history of the breed.

    Now, to bring up another point, the basenji breeders imported unregistered dogs from africa to diversify the gene pool and help fix the genetic problems in the breed. The question I pose, is why didn't Alexander Däuber do the same with the unregistered tollers of Nova Scotia? Why did he jump right to an outcross? There were only 15 tollers registered in 1945, NOT only 15 tollers bred in 1945. Granted, these dogs may not be what we're looking for, but not one person so far has looked into them.


    "4) Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the ONLY breed in the Retriever family with CEA. It's very rare outside collie types. We can infer the NSDTR have had a collie somewhere in ancestry (see point 3)."

    Exactly, if the farm collie is what original brought in problems such as CEA, why on earth would Alexander Däuber then bring this breed back to a breed thats know for that disease? I don't feel the toller breed is in need of an outcrossing, but if it did, the aussie would not have been the breed I would have picked.

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  52. In Sweden they have an "old" crossbreed project in clumber spaniel and it is well documented:
    http://clumber.net/avel-halsa/rasvardsprojekt/

    We here Finland have an older project with schnautzer and pischer. Here is an link to english info: http://www.germanpinschers.co.uk/All%20About.html

    And I know now litter of pont audermer spaniel and barbet cross has born and I think there will be more rcrossbreeding projects in other breeds.

    I find them very intresting.

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  53. think it's great that this project is being undertaken, however I'm not sure I would have used an Aussie for the outcross just because there are certain health issues specific to herding breeds that can be hard to get rid of (e.g. collie eye anomaly, MDR1 status, issues with the merle gene etc). I have a lot of friends that breed/own Silken Windhounds, a new breed who's founders included Shetland Sheepdogs, and one of their biggest issues, IMO, is having to deal with MDR1 and now CEA.

    While I may not have chosen the Aussie for crossbreeding to a retriever, either -- hey, it's not my project, nor my breed.

    MDR1 need not be a problem. Breed to a normal/normal DNA-tested animal. It's a cheap cheek swab test.

    Merle cannot sneak in, as it is an autosomal dominant. The sire is a red tri. Merle not an issue.

    CEA -- there is now a genetic test for both affected and carrier status (which addresses the problem of carriers and "go-normals"). Even before the DNA test, it was possible in some cases to clear "on pedigree" if one did one's research. About 1% of Aussies (in the US, country of origin) were affected, 10-15% carriers.

    Aussies are not Shelties, and this outcross program is not a surreptitious designer dog development project.

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  54. The British Kennel Club has a scheme to allow unregistered dogs to be granted registration, (the pedigree is notated for several generations in the offspring) for health tested, unregistered dogs that look like their breed,(looks and temperament are assessed by 2 top judges), but have unverified breeding.
    Perhaps one of the unregistered tollers could be registered in UK, (if they are not from the same original founder stock in the breed,) and crossed with registered tollers to improve diversity? It would take the co operation of the owners of the unregistered tollers and some finance and organisation from others in the breed to send the dog to UK for assessment, but should be possible to achieve.

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  55. This is an interesting move, and I can see why the Aussie was chosen in terms of similar conformation and dissimilar health problems but....what does crossing a manufactured herding dog with a decoying/retreiving dog do for it's future as a working dog? Though 'type' would have been lost for longer wouldn't using golden retrievers, kooikerhunde, red cockers etc help keep more gundog instinct in the breed?
    Vicky Payne

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  56. Red cocker ie golden cocker? Hopefully not. They are known for cocker rage. Why would you want to introduce that into a breed?

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  57. While I am less opposed to outcrossing as some purebred lovers, I am very opposed to this out cross for a number of reasons. Yes, the tollers have few founders, and yes most of those first registered founders were related, making Tollers more inbred than a lot of other breeds, and yes tollers often have high ICOs compared with other breeds, I would like to point out that most breeds only look at a coefficient for 5 generations, while tollers often look at a coefficient for 10+ generations, often times back to the first registered dogs.
    However, I would like to point out that Mr Dauber has based his justification for this outcross on a flawed health survey from 2002 (too small of a population was used), and the fact that MHC research is new and should not be the be all end all factor for making a breeding choice, although it should be considered.
    I would not however used an breed that has many of the genetic problems the Mr Dauber has stated he is breeding away from, such as autoimmune diseases like Addison's, or even a breed that carries two lethal semi-dominant traits, Merle and Bobtail that Tollers DO NOT carry at all. I would have like to see Mr Dauber consider a cross with an unregistered Toller from Nova Scotia or more of a landrace type dog like a farm collie that does not carry the merle factor or bobtail.
    Right now all Mr Dauber has done is create a litter of crossbred dogs, and if he carries on with his program he increases the chances of introducing two traits that are known to be deadly in utero, decrease litter size, and carry life long health problems.

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  58. Anon, the issue of dominant traits from the outcross breeds has already been addressed. The simple answer is not to use dogs that have these. There is a very slight risk of cryptic merle in the ASD but really, the major benefit to the breed is massive in comparison to this. If Mr Dauber has done his research into the pedigree this can be reduced to almost nothing.

    Whether Mr Dauber has based his justification on any particular survey or MHC research is immaterial. The fact remains that increased diversity of the MHC increases the overall health of a breed.

    And if Mr dauber has done analysis of MHC haplotype of the ASD, then I'm sure he will have chosen a dog that contributes to the Toller MHC diversity, avoiding the haplotype that has an association with Addison's. This is an individual dog issue, not a breed issue.

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  59. Cocker rage was caused by close breeding for colour in show lines and forgetting that even show cockers have a need to do a job. Some behaviourists even doubt that 'rage' was any more than the wrong people and the wrong dog living together. I know of no working type gold or red cockers with so called 'rage' so yep, I'd use red/gold cockers. Obviously, I'd choose nice ones! How narrow minded to declare all dogs of a certain breed and colour would share the same problem. ANY dog used in any breeding programme, outcross or otherwise should be mentally and physically sound. I didn't think that needed re-iterating!
    Vicky Payne

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  60. The point is, according to real experts (not some newer breeder who was mad he didn't get his way), Tollers do NOT need outcrossing!

    This is nothing more than a ploy to make more money from the puppies, and leave it to Jemima to help him.

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  61. Out of interest, what haplotypes do the two dogs have?

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  62. As a professional geneticist I regard the cross as unnecessary primarily because at the DNA level tollers look much the same as every other dog breed. It is well known that recorded pedigrees are frequently in error and basing the measurement of existing diversity purely on pedigree analysis (which ignores the inherent flexibility of the genome) is telling only a part of the diversity story. The truth is in the DNA and the DNA says that Tollers have a great deal of genetic diversity remaining in their genomes.

    I am opposed to a crossing scheme because unless there is one region of the genome that will be targeted by the cross (as in the case with DalmatianxPointer) then the genes crossed in with this first outcross will slowly disappear as they cross back to the NSDTR in each subsequent generation. There will be no lasting effect. It is regarded here as a "considered" outcross. But I see no evidence that the Australian Shepherd will have any greater genetic value than any other toller. Yes the first generation may exhibit hybrid vigour (although I find the comments of Herr Dauber puzzling based on the strong vigour of most toller pups I have seen). But even this will be reduced by 50% with each successive cross back to the toller until at the end the dogs with Australian Shepherd will be little different than every other purebred toller born now.

    It should also be noted that effective population sizes can increase. All it takes is for all the breeding animals to be represented in the next breeding group by one male and one female offspring. Because the toller population size has expanded I expect the effective population size is higher than reported by Maki who used a linear approximation for the rate of inbreeding through a curve that clearly showed no increase in inbreeding coefficient at least in the past 10-15 years. If that portion of the curve had been used to estimate the effective population size, then the value obtained would have been substantially higher.

    Finally every one of us carries at least 50 lethal recessive genes. I believe that it is better to deal with the problems that you know and can test for than to introduce new unknown lethal recessives. Because toller breeders care about their breed and have been proactive in collaborating with researchers to address the genetic problems in their breed they are in a very good position with respect to having tests developed that they can use to plan matings. The toller breeders are in my eyes "model breeders" and I would hope that all dog breeders would aspire to be as thoughtful as they are when planning their breedings.

    I do own one male toller as well as a labrador retriever. I chose a toller precisely because I was impressed with the care and attention payed by the breeders to their breed.

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  63. "I am opposed to a crossing scheme because unless there is one region of the genome that will be targeted by the cross (as in the case with DalmatianxPointer) then the genes crossed in with this first outcross will slowly disappear as they cross back to the NSDTR in each subsequent generation. There will be no lasting effect."

    ...I'm not a geneticist that this is exactly the point I was making earlier - if the aim of outcrossing is to increase diversity then you simply cannot then breed back into a single breed gene pool without further outcrosses every few generations - and if you do outcross with this frequency then not only will you lose breed type and traits but you run the real risk of introducing problems that the original breed did not have ...most Toller folk breed as ethically as they can and the breed is one that shares information openly - it's ironic that this very openess makes them the target for blogs like this - it seems that if you lot truly want change then you'll need to do a lot less finger pointing and a whole lot more LISTENING to breeders and breed clubs - Toller breeders are against this outcross for good reasons- why dismiss this with the oversimplistic view that it's all about notions of purity ?

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  64. Clair, I accept that if this to be the one and only outcross into the Toller breed, there will be very little lasting effects on diversity. But surely if the MHC haplotype region under scrutiny is targeted, and by this I mean a good proportion of the breeding population haplotyped, then the new haplotypes (assuming they are new) introduced by the Aussie can be used to facilitate greater heterozygosity at these loci?

    Looking at the finding of Hughes et al(2010), there was a higher frequency of one particular haplotype in diseased dogs and perhaps more significantly, diseased dogs were more likely to be homozygous regardless of their haplotype. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20136772

    I know there have been more haplotypes found in the breed since this study, but surely, this alone should be reason enough to introduce new blood so that breeders choosing to avoid haplotype homozygosity in their breeding plans will also have more chance of avoiding increasing COI levels.

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  65. Katariina Mäki25 August 2011 14:47

    I have made a few studies on canine genetics before, but this with Tollers is the only one raising such strong ambitions and opinions. For me it is very hard to understand why a single outcross is believed to do so much harm and is condemned by so many people, while it is permissible almost everywhere in the world to mate for example sire to its daughter.

    As a professional population geneticist I know that most closed and genetically small populations, like many dog breeds, would benefit from careful, planned and frequent outcrosses. Dog breeds should most of all be examined based on health data available. This tells us much more about the state of the populations than any DNA or pedigree-based study so far. Genetic mechanisms of inbreeding depression and natural selection are far from totally understood; there is so much we do not know yet. It is impossible to totally reveal these things and their effects in any study, whether based on pedigrees or DNA.

    Many dog breeds have genetic problems with a frequency that is very high compared to "normal", for example human populations. I consider this as inbreeding depression resulting from founder effect and accumulated coancestry. A few examples from Finland: frequency of CEA in the Rough Collie: approximately 64 %. Frequency of hip dysplasia in the German Shepherd: 35 %. Frequency of hereditary cataract in German Pinschers, 17 % at minimum. It is an autosomal recessive, so affecteds and carriers make altogether more than 50 % of the population. In the UK Tollers, frequency of the otherwise rare SRMA: 9 % (report by Foale in 2009). Dog breeds have been developed from a small number of founders, whose genetic contributions in today's populations are very uneven. Since the populations have been kept closed, the alleles of the founders have subsequently got enriched in the populations.

    My study on Tollers and Lancashire Heelers gave just two examples of dog breeds. For example studies by Leroy and Calboli give much more. I estimated the effective population size as a mean of the whole time period. It was indeed comforting to see that the mean coefficient of inbreeding (COI) did not increase anymore in the last 12 years. As written in the paper: "In the NS, rate of inbreeding has become slower during the recent years, however, indicating that the situation may have been somewhat improved. Breeders are today better informed about the dangers of inbreeding, and most of them avoid mating close relatives. However, with the very high kinship value, it will not be possible to maintain the inbreeding level steady in the long term".

    The increase of inbreeding during the 1970s was so rapid that the estimated effective population size was only four This is a genetic bottleneck, explaining the finding that 55 % of all variation observed in the Tollers born in 1999-2008 come from only two ancestors. To compare with the Heelers in the same study: the number of dogs in the studied population was 4782 (the number of Tollers was 28668) and two of the most influential ancestors contributed only 29 % (this is of course high percentage as well) of the genes of the dogs born in 1999-2008.

    Pedigree records contain errors, of course. But the errors rarely have a one-way effect. Besides errors that affect by rising the average COI, there are most probably also errors lowering it. In addition, in COI calculation, dogs whose parents are not recorded in the data (founders) are assumed to be unrelated to each other. This has not necessarily been the case in the data I used. So "true" pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients may be even higher than in my study. By the way, Leroy et al. (2009) compared pedigree-based estimates with molecular markers using their own data and concluded that if pedigree-based estimates are based on deep and correct pedigrees they are better measures for breed history and genetic variation than molecular tools.

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  66. Katariina Mäki25 August 2011 14:48

    Also MHC (DLA) diversity in Tollers is very low; the same situation can be seen in most breeds that have been studied. There are 11 different haplotypes found in Tollers so far, and the three most frequent ones are carried by more than 70 % of the dogs in three countries. Genetic variation can also be assessed using other molecular markers than DLA, but as far as I know, DLA markers measure the variation that is important to fitness and viability of the animal. Most other markers measure mainly neutral variation.

    I do not see the point in waiting for severe problems to start before making any outcrosses. Crossing should be frequent in all closed populations in order to _prevent_ problems.

    What comes to genetic testing, in practice it is impossible to test for every single harmful allele. I do not believe that gene testing will save the dog breeds, although they are a great help. But 50 tests per litter? Just think about the costs.. It is far easier to win the battle against recessive lethals by maintaining a genetically large population with a constant gene flow. This will keep the frequencies of the lethal recessives low. That is also the way the Nature does the job. It is not about the number of harmful alleles, it is about their frequency in the population.

    Toller breeders are indeed committed to their breed, as are also breeders in many other breeds. I hope they are getting the right information that allows them to make the best decisions for their dogs and the whole breed.

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  67. I am somewhat amazed at the positive responses to this cross. I have had 20 years of vitriol against my Corgi x Boxer cross for every reason imaginable, but I kept it going as I felt that to give up - and so failing - I would damage the leverage it gave to the concept of breed crossing for health reasons. So the seemingly easy acceptance of the Toller cross is perplexing even if done for a different reason.

    However I had great difficulty achieving what I did with just the one gene to be transferred. It really needed more than one individual to succeed fully. I am therefore quite sceptical about this Toller effort to increase the diversity across the whole genome. I think this needs to be done at a scale only possible at KC level with several crosses perhaps involving several breeds, and then there would be the yet trickier part of keeping the diversity while somehow getting back to breed type. That numbers of people might independently attempt this is frightening; it could result in no more than a mongrel mix-up.

    I am sceptical for another reason too. It almost seems that the Toller cross was done to resolve the high level of inbreeding but if there is no consequent problem of the inbreeding, to my view, the need for the cross does not exist. Is the breed impaired by the inbreeding? Frequencies of certain defects have been presented but I have seen nothing on the distribution across the breed (is the whole breed at risk?) and any indication of the inheritances. Everything seems based on a 'belief' that there will be problems even if there are none as yet. If there are indeed problems now or clearly looming, yes, go ahead or at least experiment and see what difficulties there are. But let this be done in an organised controlled way and on a scale commensurate with that needed.

    Finally, there was a question on unneeded puppies in my breed cross. This was no problem when one presented the objective. Potential owners were told what the cross was all about. There was annual get-together where everybody met together with their dogs of different generations to observe progress It was a tea-and-cakes gathering in the garden and all were made to feel part of a research study that all could, and did, boast of participation. I still have contacts with many of the owners although the early dogs are long since dead.

    Bruce Cattanach
    www.steynmere.com

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  68. Still waiting, what haplotypes do these two dogs have, or were they not tested

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  69. Meant to answer before. Did ask Mr Dauber this and he says he was advised by Hannes Lohi to DLA test the next generation - ie the pup or pups he breeds back to Tollers (and of course the Tollers themselves). Mr Dauber says they didn't see the need to DLA test Tessa and Dakota. (Think I might have done, though - even if just out of curiosity)

    Jemima

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  70. So Maki thinks we should cross frequently in order to "prevent problems"?! Seriously? How about all the other problems you'd introduce?

    Obviously Maki's issue is she doesn't care for breeds. Fine, leave them alone to geneticists who are doing current research AND have proven they truly love and understand the breed!

    I see Jemima has yet to publish Dr Bannasch's response. Waiting for her errors and misstatements to become "truth" even though not true? You really missed your calling - in politics!

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  71. How polite, Anon. Yes, do now have Dr Bannasch's response. It's long so - as flagged above - I will do another round-up Toller post rather than add to the above as those who have already read this post may not re-visit. Delay is due to busy life (film to make; rescue to run) and that I'm waiting for a response from other researchers.

    Jemima

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  72. "Meant to answer before. Did ask Mr Dauber this and he says he was advised by Hannes Lohi to DLA test the next generation - ie the pup or pups he breeds back to Tollers (and of course the Tollers themselves). Mr Dauber says they didn't see the need to DLA test Tessa and Dakota. (Think I might have done, though - even if just out of curiosity)
    Jemima"
    Has anyone else gotten a face palm moment from reading this. After all the whole point of Mr Daubers experiment is to increase haplotypes in Tollers. Considering that there is a history of farm collie possibly the same ancestors as Aussies, it would seem like a good idea to DLA test both dog and bitch just to make sure you are not doubling up on haplotypes and doing a redundant breeding.

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  73. Yep, got to agree Anon. Just a little more than curiosity I think should be involved here. I think I would have put DLA haplotyping along side health testing as priority, given that haplotype homozygosity increases the chances of Addison's in the Toller.

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  74. "Has anyone else gotten a face palm moment from reading this. After all the whole point of Mr Daubers experiment is to increase haplotypes in Tollers. Considering that there is a history of farm collie possibly the same ancestors as Aussies, it would seem like a good idea to DLA test both dog and bitch just to make sure you are not doubling up on haplotypes and doing a redundant breeding."

    How can you double up? Tollers came from a very limited stock.

    Australian Shepherds was part of a huge landrace spanning from the coast of California to Nova Scotia. Except somehow 5 or so decades ago, all the ones to the west were registered as Australian, and all the ones to the east as English.

    Also Australian Shepherds are not as bottlenecked as the Tollers are. The Aussies have more founders behind them; the Tollers don't. So yes, they may share the same ancestry and are derived from the same landrace, but they don't share the same founders which established the breeds.

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  75. Beautiful puppies, I wish the breeder luck. I am not shocked by the fact that the breeder finds them vigorous.

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  76. I have been involved with Tollers since 1974 and got my first one in 1976. I bred, showed, and competed in obedience trials with my Tollers. I trained them in field, one in tracking and one in agility. I live in Canada and I am a CKC Life Member.

    This is a pile of nonsense. Keeping the breed PURE, carefully researching pedigrees to create more genetic diversity and breeding only the healthiest Tollers to each other is a better way to resolve any issues in Tollers. Adding another breed, especially a tricolour Aussie, just makes it worse. You add in another whole genetic complex of diseases and breed flaws.

    Setting aside the health issue (which is wrong anyway; Aussies have just as many health issues as Tollers), every pup in this litter has a dark mask. That is not allowed. Every puppy has sable colouring. That is not allowed if it persists. These are nothing but mongrel pups.

    Aussies carry a gene for bobtail. Tollers must have a long thick tail. Aussies are bred for herding, not hunting ducks and retrieving from the sea, lakes or rivers. This is absolutely certain to weaken the Toller's innate tolling, hunting and retrieving abilities.

    I have to wonder if this kind of crossbreeding has already been done on the sly, since chocolate and chocolate tricolour Toller pups have been born in Europe, yet to my knowledge none were ever born in Canada, home of this breed! I have suspected for some time that something else was secretly added (probably Border Collie). A few generations later, ethical breeders could be unpleasantly surprised by unwanted and unexpected colours and traits suddenly emerging from Tollers they believed to be purebred, but which in fact were not.

    The vitality issue is also crazy. Maybe any lack of vitality in this person's previous litters was due to improper selection of breeding stock. I didn't breed a lot of Toller litters, but all my puppies were very active from birth!

    I believe the people who came up with this crazy scheme simply wanted to cash in on the "designer dog" craze, or wanted to add more colours to the breed and then push for a change to the breed standard down the road.

    Re: health, Tollers are probably tested at least as much as, and maybe more than, most other breeds. This skews the stats. Take some sample breed that is seldom tested, and bingo! No PRA, no dysplasia, just because no one looked for it!

    I also wonder when the genetic information came from when compiling these stats about inbreeding and relationships. Were Tollers from different countries and from totally different strains compared, or just Tollers in Europe, or just Tollers in Germany? That also changes the stats.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. This was an ill-conceived plan from the get-go and I hope no one else tries to change Canada's beloved Toller to suit their own ideas.

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  77. Retrieverman said "The toller breed is derived from the English red decoy dog, which has some ancestry with the Kooikerhondje but is primarily related to the collie family."

    There is absolutely no evidence of this. The British piper dogs were just mutts trained to lure ducks into nets. They were not retrievers or hunting dogs, except maybe by accident if some of these mutts happened to have those traits.

    The Kooikerhondje is not a retriever. It is just a decoy dog. And it looks nothing like a Toller.

    Tollers are certain to have northern type dogs and/or Native pariah dogs in their genetic background, since we know for a fact that Native people in Nova Scotia were already using small red dogs to toll ducks and geese when white settlers arrived. The more likely crosses made with these Native dogs to create modern Tollers are farm collies, plus at least one Chesapeake Bay Retriever (the Chessie cross is fact; I saw the original pedigree myself) and possibly Beagle, although that has never been proven, only whispered about.

    The breed is not descended from Goldens, as there were already Tolling Retrievers working on the east coast of Canada at least 50 to 100 years before the Golden became a breed. There is possibly a Cocker cross and possibly (though doubtful) an Irish Setter cross around 100-120 years ago. Nor is it likely that the Flatcoat was involved in the breed's development, but maybe a St. John's Water Dog was.

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  78. Terry McNamee wants to ‘[keep] the breed PURE’ and goes on to say:

    ‘Tollers are certain to have northern type dogs and/or Native pariah dogs in their genetic background…The more likely crosses made with these Native dogs to create modern Tollers are farm collies, plus at least one Chesapeake Bay Retriever… and possibly Beagle… There is possibly a Cocker cross and possibly… an Irish Setter cross [and] maybe a St. John's Water Dog…’

    What ‘purity’ would that be, then?

    Is it me or is it the cognitively dissonant that cannot see the ludicrous logical flaw here?

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  79. Sarah said...

    "Is it me or is it the cognitively dissonant that cannot see the ludicrous logical flaw here?"

    I made this comment on another blog (http://smartdogs.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/outcrossing-and-essentialism/) but it is applicable to Sarah's comment as well.

    IME, typically with the people who feel the need to tell me how very awful, greedy, or just plain stupid I am for crossbreeding, the objection is very much based in creation mythology. Of course ‘my’ breeds are very old, as types, older than most ‘breeds’, so they carry a lot of mythological baggage. I have been told, quite seriously, that Salukis have been PURE since 7000 BC, and we know this because there are pictures of dogs that look Saluki-like on the Egyptian tombs (even though our Western idea of ‘Saluki’ is based on a small number of dogs from a hundred years ago, a snapshot in time.) The Afghan people usually keep quiet, interestingly enough.

    Younger breeds also have a creation mythology, where the dog is created by the combination of different types and magically becomes something else (when it breeds true, it takes on another form, transformation.) Mythology is just another form of religion, and not only does religion have no requirement to make sense, it has built in provisions for the punishment and reviling of unbelievers.

    I think the objection to crossing breeds has less to do with the breed as ‘art’ (that is what showing dogs is about, separating the wheat from the chaff within the breed, emphasis on minutiae) but with magical thinking, the breed has come from ordinary (mixed) origins and transformed into something pure and different (purebred.) Thus the emphasis on ‘improving’ the breed, or continuing the transformation (differentiating it from other breeds.)

    To add to this today (11/5) a cross-breeding would be seen as returning the breed to it's ordinary (impure) beginnings, undoing it's transformation and forcing the breeders to 'start over' and 'regain' purity. This stands out as another instance of cognitive dissonance, since the objective for every 'responsible' breeder is to 'improve' the breed, or continue it's transformation into an ever more pure form.

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  80. Oh, come on, Sarah. No breed is pure if you go back far enough. We are talking about crosses that happened 150 or more years ago with Tollers. How many breeds were "pure" 150 years ago? I know there was one Chesapeake cross about 90 years ago. Any crosses to Cockers, Setters (maybe) or anything else took place 100-150 years ago. The Northern blood is through the Native dogs. The Beagle cross may have happened around 60 years ago but that is still speculation, and the breeder who may have done it passed away many years ago.

    In 1860, the Doberman hadn't even been dreamed of. The German Wirehaired Pointer didn't exist. Most modern breeds were in flux.

    After two world wars, many European breeds used crossbreeding extensively because the number of purebreds was so low. Do you consider all those to still be mixed breeds? Yup, guess so.

    We don't need to do that kind of crossbreeding with Tollers because we already have a large population spread around the world, and there is plenty of diversity within the breed already.

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  81. Oh, so it is TIME that confers purity on an animal. Silly me. At what point specifically does this canine equivalent of transubstantiation occur? Ten years? Fifty years? One hundred years? Can you back this interesting theory up with any science?

    As for your razor-sharp observation that I believe all dogs are ultimately mixed breeds, yes, you are right about that (and you make this point yourself though you try to negate it with the interesting, and I believe unsupportable, time argument). Having said that, it doesn’t follow that I don’t support the development of dogs with recognizable characteristics to perform specific functions. I just don’t get precious about upholding a scientifically unsupportable notion of purity over the maintenance of good health.

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  82. Clearly Sarah, you don't believe any animal is purebred. Gee, even people aren't, considering that we may still have Neanderthal genes kicking around in some of us! And we are genetically closely related to chimpanzees too, having descended from the same distant common ancestor, making us even less "purebred". You are talking extremes that make no scientific or logical sense. Breeding for purity is the same as natural selection, only people instead of nature are doing the selection.

    I don't know why I am bothering to explain this, but here goes.

    Purity in the way it is used to denote "purebred" in animals or birds is achieved by breeding like to like over many generations until they breed true. "Breeding true" means that when two of the same type and general behaviour are bred to each other, their offspring look and act like them. It is the number of generations of continuing to breed like to like, not the number of years, that is important in creating a breed that reproduced itself in a predictable manner.

    You can achieve mice or rats that breed true to a specific type or trait much faster than cats, because rodents at an earlier age and produce more generations in the same period of time. Likewise, you can produce cats that breed true much faster than horses, and horses much faster than, say, tortoises, assuming you wanted to create a new breed of tortoise (not that anyone would want to, as far as I know).

    A Great Dane bred to a Great Dane produces Great Danes and only Great Danes. A Great Dane bred to a Collie produces a mix of the two that is neither Great Dane nor Collie. The next generation, some pups may look Collie, some may look Great Dane, but generally most, if not all, will look like a mishmash. In following generations, any of them can reproduce traits or a mixture of traits of either breed.

    If you want a Collie that will herd sheep, adding Great Dane blood may bring in genes that cause the future generations to hunt and kill sheep instead. It's not just looks, it's also temperament, innate behaviour, trainability and so forth that can get skewed by crossbreeding.

    This happens in the wild too. If a polar bear breeds with a grizzly bear (thanks to global warming, this is actually happening), the offspring is neither griz nor polar. If you are trying to protect both species as separate species, this kind of crossbreeding is a disaster.

    You seem to think that "purebred" equals "unhealthy". Yes, purebreds have inherited defects. Guess what. SO DO MUTTS. But with mutts, you have no idea what nasty genes may be lurking in their ancestry, ready to emerge with the wrong breeding. At least with purebreds, breeders know what diseases to watch for, test for them, and try to breed away from these defects to produce healthier dogs (puppy mills excepted).

    Different breeds have different sets of health issues, and good breeding practices is reducing and even eliminating them, one disease at a time. It is now possible, thanks to a new DNA test, to breed Tollers that do not carry and thus cannot pass on the gene responsible for progressive retinal atrophy (blindness). But the PRA gene in Tollers is not always the same as the PRA gene in a different breed (there are several version of it). Crossbreeding adds a whole new set of problems and increases the amount of testing that has to be done to detect inherited diseases that did not previously exist in the target breed. After a few generations, suddenly there is a whole cocktail of health issues that weren't in that breed to start with, all introduced by the crossbreeding that was supposed to make things better!

    Since you are only interested in mongrels, leave the Tollers alone. They are doing just fine without nonsensical ideas about "improving" them with ill-planned crossbreeding.

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  83. Terry McNamee,

    Working to reduce or eliminate health issues within a breed, one disease at a time, will result in a gradual (or rapid) loss of genetic diversity. This will cause an increase in new diseases, including various cancers and autoimmune disorders. You may find these articles helpful--

    http://people.ysu.edu/~helorimer/inbrimmune.html

    http://dogdimension.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=shared:populationgeneticspractice

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  84. You can have PURE or you can increase genetic diversity in a population.

    You CANNOT have both.

    if you cannot understand that, then mere mortals are powerless to explain it to you.

    Funny how our ancestors were capable of creating consistent functional types via selection, but in the present day, we must be considered incapable of this feat.

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  85. Nice to read a very logical, well thought out post Terry

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  86. Terry McNamee said...

    "You are talking extremes that make no scientific or logical sense."

    BWHAHAHAHAHA! Talk to a biologist or geneticist (and not one involved with the purebred dog world) about dogs and purity sometime. Be sure to mention 'backcrossing.' They will laugh you out of the building.

    "Breeding for purity is the same as natural selection, only people instead of nature are doing the selection."

    BWHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, veeeery logical and well thought out. You might want to read this (you, too, anonymous):

    http://desertwindhounds.blogspot.com/2010/12/closed-registries-dogs-in-handbasket-to.html

    Natural selection is NOTHING like the selection process in the West. Nothing. The closest thing is dogs is the selection process that dogs bred under 'primitive conditions' are produced under. The Western selection process does not create or preserve diversity; it can't, unless explicit controls are maintained from the start, like those used in conservation of rare species. Dog breeders frequently fool themselves. They're quite good at it.

    I'll use one of my own breeds as an example, since the concept is easily transferrable. Take Salukis, born in the UK from 1990 to 2002. That's a little more than 1500 dogs, with 22 generation pedigrees. These dogs have 59 founders. Salukis also have the most variation in DLA genes, 31 different haplotypes. Sounds like they should have lots of diversity, right?

    Wrong. Here's a breakdown of the top ten founders for those Salukis:

    21.49 Sarona Kelb
    11.11 Malik-el-Zobair
    9.13 Hama of Homs
    7.14 Zobeida-el-Zobair
    4.46 Jaffa
    4.31 Sarona Reshan
    4.18 Jack of Jerusalem
    3.72 Sheila of Amman
    3.70 Amherstia Omara
    3.55 Hosha el Bahrein

    If the genes from those diverse founders had been preserved, each one would have roughly the same percentage of founder impact. Fail! But that was a long time ago, and breeders were ignorant, and knew not what they did. Those 31 different DLA alleles that Salukis have? Well, about 70% of the Salukis tested were homozygous for at least one haplotype. So much for that diversity.

    There's no excuse for modern breeders to not understand how this kind of information impacts their breed. There's no excuse for complacently blathering about "leaving our breed alone!' There's no excuse for not planning for the future.

    Invest in genes for the 'purebred' dog! They're not making any more of them!

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  87. I don’t know why I’m bothering either, Terry, but here goes.

    To add to what Romany Dog, Heather and Jess point out (and I’m assuming you’ve read or plan to read the articles provided):

    1) You do not understand the difference between ‘breed’ and ‘species’.

    Here is an explanation of the term ‘species’ from a reliable source:

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/VA1BioSpeciesConcept.shtml

    Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) are different species. However, like lions and tigers or horses and donkeys, they are closely related enough to interbreed occasionally and produce hybrid offspring.

    The term ‘breed’ comes from animal husbandry. Here’s an explanation from a reliable source:

    http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/

    Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and Australian Shepherds are different breeds. They are the same species: Canis lupus familiaris.

    The term ‘breed’ is analogous to ‘race’, not ‘species’, and if you read old books on dogs, you will indeed see the term ‘race’ used to refer to dogs. While I agree that interbreeding between species is generally not considered to be a good thing, I don’t think you really want to go down the road of saying the same thing about race, do you?

    2) Your point that mixed breed dogs suffer from genetic disorders is also limited in its capacity to hold water. Most of the genes that cause these disorders are recessive. While these disorders will certainly appear in good old mutts, in mixed breed dogs the chances of two individuals who carry the same recessive gene mating is much lower than the chances of this happening in a closed population of limited numbers of closely-related individuals. Read up on remedial genetics – my science teacher in my perfectly average Canadian high school covered this in when I was in Grade 9.

    4) By saying that I am only interested in mongrels you demonstrate poor reading comprehension. Do a Google search on the terms ‘eisegesis’ and ‘exegisis’ and then read what I said again. To help you out: I simply recognise ‘breeds’ as the artificial constructs that they are and refuse to buy into an outdated, detrimental social theory that is no more supportable when applied to dogs than it is when applied to humans. This recognition does not mean I do not value different breeds and want them all turned into an amorphous mass of mutts. The occasional, sensible outcross to increase genetic diversity and therefore genetic health overall will not be the end of a breed; closed registries ultimately will be.

    4) Leave the (supply your favourite breed here) alone? I think you mean ‘leave those of us who want to apply the detrimental theories of a past era alone to run the health of the dogs we claim to love into the ground.’ I would be happy to, except that you are not applying your theories to Cartesian automatons that do not feel pain or suffering.

    Your argument is neither logical nor well-thought-out. It is a mishmash of misinterpretation, fallacy and downright factual error.

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  88. Natural selection means that animals (or anything else) with desirable characteristics that aid in survival live to pass on their genes. Those with undesirable characteristic that do not promote their survival die sooner, and either produce no offspring or produce fewer offspring. Basically, nature acts as the "breeder", selecting in favour of genetic changes that are good for species survival.

    Breeders select for desirable characteristics too. Dogs with undesirable characteristics are neutered and do not reproduce. Those with desirable characteristics are allowed to breed and pass on their genes. The only difference is that the selection process is done by people according to their criteria instead of nature's criteria, and the animals not selected are neutered rather than dying.

    Re crossbreeding, the Basenji people returned to the Congo and brought back native-bred Basenji dogs with no registration papers to use in their breeding. This added diversity without altering the breed type or behaviour. They went back to the source. They did not cross Basenjis with Whippets or Jack Russels or spaniels.

    If the Toller truly needs more genetic diversity, it can be found in Nova Scotia. There are people who have been breeding Tollers for generations but whose dogs were not included in the original registration process. These dogs are from different Toller bloodlines and should provide some new blood, if that is needed. This would be a far better solution than adding herding dog blood. There is a precedent for this with the Canadian Horse.

    Preserving diversity in a breed is the job of the breeders, and if they are not doing that, this is wrong. I have maintained for decades that Toller breeders (back when most were in Canada) needed to find registered Tollers from more obscure bloodlines to use for the occasional litter instead of breeding over and over to a single stud dog just because that dog was a big winner. At the time, no one listened.

    As for what you said, Jess, I would love to know the genetic diversity in animals located in isolated environments like the Galapagos, Madagascar and so on compared to individual dog breeds. I think most of those inbred animals were doing just fine on their own until loss of habitat, hunting and other human activities put them in danger. Cheetahs are a prime example of this.

    I see that most people here are not bothering to sign their names. Is that because no one dares stand up for what they say?

    Frankly, I think people should worry about their own breeds instead of targeting others. I wouldn't presume to lecture a Saluki breeder on how to improve that breed!

    Tollers are the only breed of tolling retriever. They are unlike every other breed in the Sporting Group in appearance, tail carriage, colour, markings and behaviour. Finding an outcross breed even somewhat similar that doesn't already have more genetic problems than Tollers have is pretty much impossible.

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  89. Since I'm Not Very Nice, and I just happened to have the Maki study on my hard drive, I pulled the founders and their contributions. Remember that once the stud books have closed their doors, no new genes can enter. Uneven founder contributions can almost entirely negate the diversity contained within the founding population. Popular sires, very few dogs from each litter being bred, all of these things reduce the genetic base of the breed.

    "A reference population, including the females born between 1999 and 2008, was defined for genetic analyses for each breed. Average depth of the pedigrees known for the reference population dogs was 12.9 complete generation equivalents in the NS."

    Majour of Schubendorf 27.9
    Goldie of Schubendorf 27.4
    Green Meadows Tawnee Wakon 12.2
    Bidewell’s Flip (unreg) 10.2
    Bidewell’s Lady (unreg) 8.6
    Robie Surf Of Glencoe 7.9
    Green Meadows Molly Of Acadia 1.4
    Collier’s Magnum Load Dory 0.6
    Cabottrails Belle Of The Isle 0.5
    Hyflyer’s Foxy Roxanne 0.3

    Wow, over fifty percent of founder impact comes from just two dogs. Golly gee, Terry McNamee was right when she said Tollers are "doing just fine" and "there is plenty of diversity within the breed already."

    (Smell that? That's sarcasm.)

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  90. Interested individuals can check out this excellent commentary on another Toller study:

    http://www.astraean.com/borderwars/2011/10/coi-how-many-generations-are-enough.html
    http://www.astraean.com/borderwars/2011/10/academic-fraud-in-toller-research.html

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  91. Terry, I don't think you can cite isolated wild populations to support continuing to breed within a closed gene pool. They are subject to extremely strong natural selection and natural selection is ruthless in culling/not allowing the weak, unfit and unadaptable to breed. This is much tougher selection that neutering a Toller that in a breeder's eye doesn't make the grade and this, in the main, keeps wild populations fit. (I know of one, rather controversial, breeder who comes close to this. His dogs live outside; they whelp in dug-outs; there is NO support for failing puppies; no artificial or assisted mating - and the bitches get to say yes or no to their mates.)

    Nevertheless, isolated populationsthey are by no means immune to the effects of inbreeding. Here's one ref:

    http://bi154.dhcp.ttu.edu/extinction/keller+waller02.pdf

    Inbreeding effects in wild populations
    Lukas F.Keller and Donald M.Waller

    "Whether inbreeding affects the demography and persistence of natural populations has been questioned.However,new pedigree data from field
    populations and molecular and analytical tools for tracing patterns ofrelationship and inbreeding have now enhanced our ability to detect
    inbreeding depression within and among wild populations.This work reveals that levels of inbreeding depression vary across taxa,populations andenvironments,but are usually substantial enough to affect both individual and
    population performance.Data from bird and mammal populations suggest that inbreeding depression often significantly affects birth weight,survival,
    reproduction and resistance to disease,predation and environmental stress. Plant studies,based mostly on comparing populations that differ in size or levels of genetic variation,also reveal significant inbreeding effects on seed set,
    germination,survival and resistance to stress.Data from butterflies,birds and
    plants demonstrate that populations with reduced genetic diversity often experience reduced growth and increased extinction rates.Crosses between
    such populations often result in heterosis.Such a genetic rescue effect might reflect the masking of fixed deleterious mutations.Thus,it might be necessary to retain gene flow among increasingly fragmented habitat patches to sustain populations that are sensitive to inbreeding."

    The cheetah is a very poor example to support your position, btw. They are extremely vulnerable because they have so little genetic diversity. A single bout of cat flu could wipe out an entire population. In a more diverse population there would me a more diverse response allowing some to survive. If we had all been as genetically similar as the cheetah at the time of the Black Death, it could have wiped human beings from the face of the earth.

    Great that the unregistered dogs in Canada are being considered, though. This is clearly a very good option for the breed and you're lucky that you have them as a potential genetic resource.

    Jemima

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  92. Terry, you're quite the enigma. On your own blog you profess that Halloween trick-or-treating should be done away with because times have changed and it's not the bucolic event you remember from your youth.

    Hasn't time passed the Toller by too? Why should they stay exactly the same, heck, why should we stand by and watch as they get worse?

    You're also quite upset that you have had to change your computer hardware but you refuse to buy new software for it, so you're left with a system that just doesn't work right because you're too enamored with old code.

    Why are Tollers any different? They're the genetic equivalent of running 80s code on a modern machine: every generation bits of code break.

    Why do you think we should do away with Trick-or-Treat because it's obsolete but you think we need to enshrine an obsolete breed because it's "pure"?

    The truth is that the people who started a stud book on Tollers didn't have enough founding dogs to continue a healthy population. They were really doomed from the start if you want to keep to the pedigrees only. That mistake already happened, and you're really eager to continue to allow it to harm your dogs.

    And for what purpose? What is so valuable in that purity? In all the time and activity you've claimed to have invested in Tollers, it doesn't appear that you've ever even used them once for their supposed historical purpose: to aid a hunter in shooting ducks.

    Nor are they particularly exceptional in any of the new venues you are pursuing.

    So why can't you tolerate a few F1 crosses, then some F2 back crosses, and some F3s that would be 75% Toller and probably extremely typey?

    No one is asking any Toller breeder to create an F1 and stop there, replacing the Toller breed with first generation crosses. I don't think you have the slightest grasp of how crosses work in the real world and how surprisingly fast you can return to type and have an animal that is indistinguishable in all the ways you'd hope from your original stock but can bring in much needed diversity in the areas that are vital but have no conformation or temperament component.

    In the 40 years that you've been in the breed can you say that you've improved anything? How are Tollers better now than in the 1970s?

    Do you think it's a victory of the breeders that you've taken a small and relatively unknown breed and made them a poster child for auto-immune disease?

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  93. One more piece of reading material for Terry McNamee. It discusses the effects of isolation on a wolf population.

    http://www.admin.mtu.edu/urel/news/media_relations/849/documents/1.pdf

    Like Jemima, I too am glad that you very sensibly advocate using unregistered Tollers in the breeding programme. However, if they are closely related to the registered dogs (ie from the same founding stock), this is a good starting point only.

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  94. Correction: F3s would be 87.5% Toller, F2s would be 75% and the F1s would be 50% Toller.

    Also, there is no threat of BOBTAIL showing up in Tollers from any Aussie that was not a natural bobtail themselves. The gene is semi-dominant meaning that if the dog doesn't display the trait, it doesn't carry the genes at all.

    Also, if the sire did have a natural genetic bobtail, only 50% of the offspring would inherit this trait, there are virtually no homozygous bobtail dogs. You also never need to TEST for this to weed it out as well, since any dog that carries one copy of the gene is visibly bobtail.

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  95. Terry McNamee said... (exhibiting a degree of ignorance that is appalling. Luckily ignorance is fixable. Stupid ain't.)

    You obviously didn't read my link (I track my hits) about how dog breeding is NOTHING like natural selection, so I'll bring a relative bit over here:

    ::::So, what gives? Why do some species with no diversity survive and thrive, and others just keel over? First, you need to look at whether the population has been historically diverse. If it has undergone a bottleneck in the distant past, like the Cheetah, it may well have evolvedinbreeding tolerance in the intervening time; it has evolved to tolerate inbreeding and does not experience depression. Deleterious genes have been purged from the population, those animals simply not surviving to reproduce, or the founder population may have had very few bad genes to begin with. Second, you look at the environment. If the animal is living in an optimal environment, it may not need diversity, it has evolved (there's that word again) an immune system adequate to whatever the environment can throw at it. How well a species tolerates inbreeding is extremely variable and dependent on a lot of factors. No wild species lives in a vacuum, it is continually responding to the environment and the pathogens it encounters. A species in a fairly static environment would need less diversity than one in an ever-changing environment where new pathogens are encountered on a regular basis. In the latter case, this is called coevolution, and it could account for the diversity in the MHC that we see in most species.

    Coevolution is basically a never-ending race between evolving pathogens and evolving hosts. Given a sufficiently large population, coevolution will maintain a large degree of diversity in the MHC. Pathogens come along, the hosts with the greatest fitness respond to the pathogen, and those host genes become prevalent in the population. New pathogens arrive, or old ones change, and the host with genes specific to those new or different pathogens becomes the fittest, so previously rare genes become more common. Extremely fit genes may persist for a long time; there are HLA genes that predate the split between humans and chimpanzees. It's a very dynamic system. Hosts which may have evolved in an environment with limited pathogens, where they didn't need ultra diverse immune systems will be vulnerable to newly introduced pathogens. Like the island foxes and canine Distemper. Or Tasmanian devils and DFTD. Species with limited diversity, like Cheetahs, and the Norwegian beavers, may be stable now, but a novel pathogen that their immune system is not adapted for, and cannot adapt to, may spell doom for them. Or at least a very bad time, like the island fox.

    In the process of researching this article, I reviewed a bunch of species that lack diversity but are apparently thriving, or at least surviving without intervention. Moose, mountain goats, beavers. Not a single one can be honestly compared with purebred dogs. Dogs are not subject to natural selection, balancing selection, or coevolution. No one stands hip deep in a lake, deciding which male beaver gets to mate with which female. No one picks only one or two foxes from each litter to carry on the next generation. Even in species which lack diversity and have adapted well to that lack, the consensus regarding conservation is clear: what diversity there is should be maintained, using all the available genetic data, including the MHC. Continued reduction of diversity, loss of genes, serves no conservation purpose and may reduce fitness. The function of background genes, genes not belonging to the MHC, to the immune system should also not be ignored. The animal needs to be considered as a whole, a product of it's environment and adaptation to that environment, not just as an expression of this gene or that gene or this other set of genes.

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  96. :::So what, you're wondering, do foxes and beavers and their genetic diversity or lack thereof, and how they got that way, have to do with purebred dogs in closed registries? Doodly-squat, that's what. It's intellectually dishonest to compare dogs to wild species. Dogs are not wild animals, they aren't subjected to the same selection pressures as wild animals, and their relationship to humans is nothing like that of a wild species. Even if you wanted to persist with that argument, it doesn't fly, because if we look at dogs across the species, they are very diverse. This current diversity argues for historical diversity as well. Closed registries are atiny blip in the long history of the dog. Technically, modern purebred dogs are closer to Florida panthers, with limited carrying capacity in the environment and limited access to unrelated breeding partners, than they are to Scandinavian beavers, which were basically left alone to succeed or not.:::

    Dogs under the selection process of the vast majority of Western breeders cannot replicate the same sort of selection that wild populations undergo. If you are really open to knowledge that will advance your understanding of maintaining a healthy population, you will go and read the rest:

    http://desertwindhounds.blogspot.com/2010/12/closed-registries-dogs-in-handbasket-to.html

    There is more than one study out there of small populations that show more heterozygosity than can be expected from random mating. These animals are choosing their mates in order to maintain heterozygosity. Dogs CANNOT DO THAT, BECAUSE WE CHOOSE THEIR MATES FOR THEM. They also cannot coevolve in response to their environment.

    Terry continues: "If the Toller truly needs more genetic diversity, it can be found in Nova Scotia. There are people who have been breeding Tollers for generations but whose dogs were not included in the original registration process. These dogs are from different Toller bloodlines and should provide some new blood, if that is needed. This would be a far better solution than adding herding dog blood. There is a precedent for this with the Canadian Horse."

    You Toller people keep harping about this and yet, no one seems to have the balls to just do it. Why not?

    And she further blathers: "Frankly, I think people should worry about their own breeds instead of targeting others. I wouldn't presume to lecture a Saluki breeder on how to improve that breed!"

    I'm not going to use the M word, Jemima, even though it is richly deserved. Terry, what we are talking about here is population genetics, which apply across *species*. It DOESN'T MATTER what breed it is. It applies to all of them.

    And frankly, I would be thrilled to be able to talk honestly with other breeders about genetics and problems associated with closed populations. Unfortunately, Terry, most of them are like you, they put their hands over their ears and shout LALALALALALALA! My breed is fine, go pick on someone else!

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  97. One other thing you don't seem to get, Terry--when you outcross to a different breed, it is not difficult to find a specimen who does not carry whatever genetic diseases are common in that breed. The benefit of increased genetic diversity FAR OUTWEIGHS any perceived threat of bringing in new diseases.

    Do you think the founders of the Toller breed were as paranoid as you are about bringing in genetic diseases from other breeds? Apparently they were not, as they used several different breeds to create the Toller. Maybe they had a better grasp of genetics than you seem to?

    And also, pretty much everyone here is using their real identity so I don't know what you mean by that comment!

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  98. You people with your statistics forget that the good breeders who went before you didn't have genetic testing available. They tried hard to breed healthy dogs without these modern tests.

    "In the 40 years that you've been in the breed can you say that you've improved anything?"

    I was supposed to do this myself, breeding a handful of litters, while others bred hundreds of Toller puppies and did repeated crosses of the same sire and dam as many as five times?

    I waited years to breed my first litter in order to learn as much as possible first. I only bred a few litters because I did not agree with flooding the world with Tollers. The only health testing available then were hip x-rays, and my first Toller was OFA #DTR-5-T.

    I tried to find healthy, quality dogs from outcross bloodlines. But registered bloodlines were lost when no one made an effort to keep them going. I was advocating 30 years ago for the need to keep different bloodlines alive, but ALMOST NO ONE LISTENED. Don't blame me for what other breeders failed to do!

    "Dogs under the selection process of the vast majority of Western breeders cannot replicate the same sort of selection that wild populations undergo."

    Why would we want to? Our dogs don't live in the wild. Nature selects the fittest for a particular environmental niche. Breeders decide which dog is the fittest for living and working with people. Different selection for different environments and different purposes. It's still choosing the animals that are fittest for that purpose, whether it's the best cougar for hunting deer or the best dog for herding sheep.

    "You Toller people keep harping about this and yet, no one seems to have the balls to just do it." I am not breeding dogs right now, so it's not up to me. It is up to today's breeders to decide here in Canada IF THIS IS NECESSARY, then petition the CKC to create a pilot project, then find suitable dogs.

    We don't need a breeder in another country who is new to the breed deciding he or she is the one that knows what is best for Tollers. Such a decision should never be made without having extensive input from breeders in the country of origin or development. But that is what happened in Germany. The breed to use for crossing was poorly chosen. First choice, the Golden, was turned down (Goldens have more health issues than Tollers). It would have been a poor choice regardless. But choosing an Aussie, and not even a self red, but a liver tri, was a really bad choice.

    "I too am glad that you very sensibly advocate using unregistered Tollers in the breeding programme. However, if they are closely related to the registered dogs (ie from the same founding stock), this is a good starting point only."

    When Tollers were registered between 1959-62, only a few breeders and bloodlines were represented. The core breed was much more diverse than the foundation stock would indicate. Those unregistered dogs are still being bred as they always have been. These were working dogs, not show dogs. Some Toller breeders and owners undoubtedly thought that registration was just a "show" thing, so they didn't bother. Read Gail MacMillan's book A Breed Apart if you are at all interested.

    I am tired of arguing with people who don't own or breed Tollers and most likely have never even seen a Toller or a Toller tolling ducks. Why you people are crusading so hard to change a breed that you have no real interest in simply mystifies me.

    I don't appreciate being called stupid and ignorant and being laughed at by people who, for all I know, have little or no real-life experience breeding dogs. Have you experienced the heartbreak of breeding two healthy dogs tested for every hidden genetic problem you can think of, only to end up with a diseased or damaged puppy being born?

    And especially I don't appreciate being ripped into by people who hide behind an alias or are afraid to say who they are.

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  99. "And also, pretty much everyone here is using their real identity so I don't know what you mean by that comment! "

    Who is RomanyDog? Who is BorderWars? Who is Sarah or Jess or Anonymous? Yeah, you guys are using your real identities. Not!

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  100. "Who is RomanyDog? Who is BorderWars? Who is Sarah or Jess or Anonymous? Yeah, you guys are using your real identities. Not!"

    Click on their aliases. Many of these people have their own kennel websites or blogs. Some of them even have photos of themselves up in the "About" section or in the galleries. In fact, if you click on mine-- you will see my own blog.

    "I am tired of arguing with people who don't own or breed Tollers and most likely have never even seen a Toller or a Toller tolling ducks."

    When a person start owning multiple dogs, both pure and mixed, throughout their entire life with a family where everyone seems to have a dog, one begins to realize how nebulous the differences between the breed of dogs when it comes to temperament and performance. People who specializes in one, two or three breed don't realize this.

    "Why you people are crusading so hard to change a breed that you have no real interest in simply mystifies me."

    Have you ever thought about the fact we might be interested or our family have or used to have them? Personally, I have vested interest in the Tollers because my family likes them, and I almost owned one myself. It is rather disconcerting when databases and anecdotes of pet-owners are the opposite of what the breeders say. It is even more disturbing when people who are not afflicted with kennel-blindness [ie. Katriina Maki] confirmed our worst nightmares.

    "Why would we want to? Our dogs don't live in the wild. Nature selects the fittest for a particular environmental niche. Breeders decide which dog is the fittest for living and working with people. Different selection for different environments and different purposes."

    Actually, no, dogs live in-between world. Half between the human environment and half in nature. That is the function of a working dog, or anyone with an outdoors hobby. There are many breeds who only thrives because their owners NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE. This is not particularly useful to people who were nostalgic about a family pet and discovers the breed wasn't the same as they remember.

    The fact people are having issues with choice of a tricolour liver seems to indicate they don't have a solid grasp of Mendelian genetics which is crucial for any animal hobbyist.

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  101. "Who is RomanyDog? Who is BorderWars? Who is Sarah or Jess or Anonymous? Yeah, you guys are using your real identities. Not!"

    LOL. If you click on my name you'll be taken to my blogger profile which includes my e-mail address which IS MY NAME. It will also direct you to my blog and website which contain both my name and my address and my phone number. Other people have no trouble finding this information, I know, I GET THE CALLS!

    If you google Border Wars you'll find my blog on the first page of the results.

    I don't know why you'd think I'm hiding behind any sort of anonymity. I used BorderWars as my avatar because it advertises my blog, which you're welcome to read. I have several articles about Tollers.

    As for Romany, Dave, and Jess, I've had contact with all of them and they are hardly anonymous. And they all use their real names too! And they all write smart things online and I'll bet in 2 clicks or less you could probably find their home phone numbers too.

    I'll forgive you since the dates you quote mean that you're perhaps a little old to have grown up with computers, but I wouldn't go around making nasty accusations before you do even a modicum of fact checking. Come on now, our names are all HOTLINKS. All you have to do is click.

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  102. Terry McNamee blurts…

    "You people with your statistics forget that the good breeders who went before you didn't have genetic testing available. They tried hard to breed healthy dogs without these modern tests."

    How hard they tried is irrelevant. We're stuck with the mistakes they made out of ignorance. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. We can start working to fix those mistakes utilizing the principles of population genetics. Or not.

"Don't blame me for what other breeders failed to do!"

    We're not blaming you for anything. The sense of guilt you feel comes from yourself. We're talking about genetics, which is something every breeder should be able to converse easily about. Your blog says you are a journalist, you should have the skills to do this kind of research easily. Why is it that you insist on playing the victim instead of addressing the issues at hand? Why do you refuse to look at the links provided so that you can actually have a discussion instead of being defensive?

"Why would we want to? Our dogs don't live in the wild. Nature selects the fittest for a particular environmental niche. Breeders decide which dog is the fittest for living and working with people. Different selection for different environments and different purposes. It's still choosing the animals that are fittest for that purpose, whether it's the best cougar for hunting deer or the best dog for herding sheep."

    So now selective breeding by humans ISN'T the same as natural selection? Please, please, PLEASE read up on population genetics(Romany Dogs posted the link upthread, it's an easy read and packed full of information) and the concepts of coevolution. Please read the article I posted. These concepts are absolutely necessary to understand how our breeding choices affect the genes of our dogs, beyond what we can *see* and beyond those diseases that we can actually *test for.*

"I am tired of arguing with people who don't own or breed Tollers and most likely have never even seen a Toller or a Toller tolling ducks. Why you people are crusading so hard to change a breed that you have no real interest in simply mystifies me."

    Tollers are just a symbol of the greater problem of closed registries and genetic problems in dogs. The fact that you've been told that and still deny that isn't all about 'picking on your breed' is telling.

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  103. Terry continues...

    "I don't appreciate being called stupid and ignorant and being laughed at by people who, for all I know, have little or no real-life experience breeding dogs."

    No one called you stupid. You are most definitely ignorant, which is not an insult. I'm ignorant, too, there are tons of things I don't know, which is why I have a perpetual pile of books and papers to read. Realizing that you are ignorant and remedying that is to be lauded. Do you want to be lauded? Do you want to be able to discuss this issue with real give and take, or are you content to sit within your circled wagons, wrapped in the comforting illusion of being a victim?

    "Have you experienced the heartbreak of breeding two healthy dogs tested for every hidden genetic problem you can think of, only to end up with a diseased or damaged puppy being born?"

    Yes, as a matter of fact I have. I happen to be a breeder, and I have made some mistakes out of ignorance and hubris that caused suffering, early death, and a guilt I will carry with me forever. I have also owned dogs that suffered from immune system issues including allergies, autoimmune disease and early cancer. I am not stupid enough to believe that I will ever produce dogs that are *perfect* in the health department (we are talking about biological systems after all) but I did decide to educate myself as much as possible so that I can stack the desk as best I can for the puppies I produce. As a breeder I am constantly learning and researching.
    
"And especially I don't appreciate being ripped into by people who hide behind an alias or are afraid to say who they are."

    Please click on my name. It will take you to my blog http://desertwindhounds.blogspot.com/ Since I know you have no interest in really educating yourself or seeing where your fellow commenters are coming from (still no hits on my article, even though you've commented here), I'll post a brief bio here. My name is Jess Ruffner-Booth (google it), and I own Azawakh and Afghan hounds, and own and breed Salukis and Saluki/Afghan crosses and backcrosses. I have owned sighthounds for more than fifteen years. I have written on breeding legislation, genetics, and the history of the Afghan hound in the West, and I am public about my cross-breeding activities.

    For my trouble I have been harassed on mailing lists, via e-mail, in a breed club magazine, and here on the PDE blog. I am constantly defending myself. Ripped into? Please.

    I'm sorry you feel that you're being 'ripped into,' but you are a symbol of the willful ignorance, complacency, magical thinking, and fear of science that plagues the dog breeding community and is making it something of a laughingstock in the greater animal breeding world. Whether this Toller/Aussie breeding is the 'right thing to do' is completely irrelevant to the bigger picture.

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  104. "I'll forgive you since the dates you quote mean that you're perhaps a little old to have grown up with computers."

    Which means those who HAVE are still at that age where they have little life experience to fall back on and are also at an age where they know everything.

    Yes, I am new to this blog stuff. Excuse me for not understanding the world of blogs. I know more about dogs than blogs. Enough, I have spent too much time trying to explain things to people who don't want to hear or even consider that there are other points of view. I am not opposed to a strictly regulated cross if there are sufficient reasons. But this one was ill-conceived and done without consultation with people who have been breeding Tollers since 1970. (No, I am not one of them because I did not get my Toller until 1976 and did not breed right away.) Failure to consult with true breed experts was simply wrong on all counts.

    --30--

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  105. " I have spent too much time trying to explain things to people who don't want to hear or even consider that there are other points of view."

    Jemima, Dave, Jess, and I (and plenty of other people who comment on this thread) all run blogs that are open to comments. I don't know how that makes any of us averse to considering other points of view.

    For myself, I _have_ considered your point of view, I have read your responses and I have even held some of those beliefs in the past. Don't you see that since we have all read and RESPONDED to what you have to say, that it requires we consider your position?

    Perhaps you think that your argument is so pure that if we only understood it, only heard it being said, that we'd all agree?

    " I am not opposed to a strictly regulated cross if there are sufficient reasons."

    How much regulation does your breed club ever enforce on other breeders? Do they prevent father x daughter breedings? Do they have any cap at all on the COI of a litter? Do they prevent dogs from breeding that don't pass health tests? CEA? Hip Dysplasia?

    I'm curious why you're so scared of these nebulous "other diseases" that might be brought into your breed pool MORE, many times more, than you are of the rather prevalent and serious disease you already have!?

    I welcome you to read my Inbred Mistakes series, which includes analysis of this poor argument that you have made (all those scary disease that our dogs would get if we allow them to cross breed!). That's blaming outcrossing for the problems of inbreeding. No one is asking you to outcross once and then inbreed the heck out of the puppies... that sort of defeats the purpose.

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  106. "But this one was ill-conceived and done without consultation with people who have been breeding Tollers since 1970. (No, I am not one of them because I did not get my Toller until 1976 and did not breed right away.) Failure to consult with true breed experts was simply wrong on all counts."

    Isn't this a political argument, not a biological, scientific, or welfare argument?

    Basically, this guy didn't "pay his dues" with the grand Poohbahs in the breed, so he's evil and we need to close ranks against him?

    He didn't kiss the right ring? Feelings are hurt?

    You do realize that this is a logical fallacy, no? An appeal to authority. Never mind what the merits of the argument or action are, they go against someone who has a tile or some social power, so THERE!

    Do you not also realize that this is a poor way to run a breed? If there is an extant problem in a breed, was it not created, exacerbated, or sustained by those same people who you want to give their seal of approval? Isn't that also the reason that such people are likely to down play problems and avoid accountability?

    Is not the problem of popular sires created by these people? They get political power, push around their influence, get their dogs lots of ribbons and then show favor to the people who use their stud dogs?

    Is this not also how all the top show/trial people end up narrowing the gene pool because all their dogs are highly related?

    There's almost always few breeders who have influence and power and thus too few dogs are used versus the number that would allow for a conservation of genetic diversity and long term breed health.

    And isn't this also why things rarely change until the old guard DIES?

    There's a lot that experienced breeders have to offer us, but there are also very serious systemic problems caused by the sort of thinking that you're advocating.

    I welcome you to read my posts on Tollers. If you have good arguments on why I'm wrong, then I'll consider them and update my view.

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  107. Terry McNamee said...

    "Failure to consult with true breed experts was simply wrong on all counts."

    These would be the same breed experts that say, "Our breed is fine, we have lots of diversity! Leave us alone!" and yet are conspicuously, and suspiciously, silent when confronted with the same information I gave you about founder effects? That don't have even the hint of a suggestion regarding breeding to preserve what little diversity must still exist in the breed? That don't put up any other defense except for this nebulous 'diversity' and "Our dogs aren't ALL diseased?" (Planning for the future seems to be a particular challenge among that mindset.)

    These are the people who are supposed to be consulted regarding the future of the breed?

    I'll tell you a little story, Terry, and I know you won't bother with it because it's about Salukis, but there are lurkers and most of my comments here are for their benefit.

    Brindle is a big controversy in Salukis. There are actually people who believe and spread about the idea that if brindle is widely accepted, almost EVERY Saluki will eventually be brindle, because it is caused by a dominant gene (each puppy in a litter with one brindle parent has a 50% chance of being brindle.) Because brindle can 'hide' under black, or under e/e red (dogs that are e/e cannot produce black pigment in their hair, and thus can be brindle but not show it), brindle can SNEAK UP ON YOU and will infect your entire kennel!

    I kid you not, people actually discuss this in the serious tones that should be reserved for things like heart problems, and cancer. People who are experienced breeders. People who should be able to understand how a dominant gene works, and how easy it is to eliminate. People who should be able to read and research a pedigree to avoid undesirable traits. People who are 'breed experts' and 'experienced breeders.'

    One individual actually said that brindle being a show ring DQ in the UK keeps the breed 'pure.' (Never mind that statistically, 50% of that brindle dog's siblings won't be brindle, and can thus sully the gene as they like with their impure genes. The presence or absence of a single gene does not denote 'purity.')

    These are the people that I, as a novice breeder, am supposed to be looking up to. These are the people I am supposed to go to with questions about breeding. I am supposed to hang on their every word and drink in their wisdom. If they don't understand how a simple dominant gene works, how can I trust that they understand anything else about the technical side of breeding? How do I know that they don't base all of their breeding experience on mythology and superstition and "we've always done it that way?"

    These are the people in whose 'capable,' 'experienced,' 'expert' hands the genetic future of the breed rests. Would you give them that much power?

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  108. Terry McNamee accuses me of being afraid to say who I am.

    Sarah is my real name and I use it consistently when I comment. It provides enough information, along with my writing style and reasonably consistent opinions, to make me recognisable to those who read and contribute comments here. This space is about ideas, not individuals, so I make no apologies for protecting my privacy by not providing a surname. I have no reason to do so: I do not have a blog or webpage, nor do I do social networking. Any reader who knows me personally will recognise me and if you do not know me personally, my surname is none of your business. Why would you want it? It has nothing to do with the validity of what I say.

    I certainly respect the right of others to hold different ideas and have crossed swords here with people for whom I maintain a great deal of respect. I do not respect wilful ignorance. I make no apologies for my opinions or criticisms of poor arguments. This is a public space and everyone, including me, enters at their own risk. If you can tear apart my arguments and provide proper evidence from reliable sources to support you, go ahead. In fact, nothing would make me happier as I appreciate being made to think and do research.

    Nobody is criticising anyone in the past for putting the knowledge of their time into practice. What I, and others here and elsewhere, criticise is the resistance of today’s breeders and clubs to accept what today’s hard data are telling them loud and clear. That is wilful ignorance.

    You ask ‘why you people are crusading so hard to change a breed that you have not real interest in…’. You do not seem to be able to see that not all of us put dogs into neat little breed boxes. It doesn’t seem to occur to you that, while we may have preferences about the kind of dog we live with, some of us love all dogs.

    Tell me, Terry, if you were walking along a street and saw one of my Belgian shepherds lying on the sidewalk, bleeding and suffering after being hit by a car, would you walk past on the grounds that it wasn’t your breed?

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  109. There are actually people who believe and spread about the idea that if brindle is widely accepted, almost EVERY Saluki will eventually be brindle, because it is caused by a dominant gene (each puppy in a litter with one brindle parent has a 50% chance of being brindle.) Because brindle can 'hide' under black, or under e/e red (dogs that are e/e cannot produce black pigment in their hair, and thus can be brindle but not show it), brindle can SNEAK UP ON YOU and will infect your entire kennel!

    That's funny. It is almost verbatim what the show GSD folks say about "letting sable into your kennel."

    Notice that almost all GSD show dogs are black and red or black and tan. Working GSDs are predominantly, but certainly not exclusively, sable.

    Someone is selecting for color, and someone doesn't give a shit about color. Because there are 100 more important things to select for.

    This is not limited to show-dog partisans. The English shepherd had one historical registrar who preached that the "true" ES was black and tan. Another commercial registrar gets her panties in a bunch when people "cross the colors," because if you breed a black and white dog to a black and tan dog, you may get some solid black dogs, and that just won't do. Solid sables are also a no-no. "Because I said so."

    To which I say, WTF does the dog's color have to do with his working ability? And: later, bitches. We have a Club registry now that serves the working dog, not some registrar's wallet and whimsy.

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  110. WTF does a dog's colour have to do with anything? No doubt some oddball will come along in a bit to say that the Portsmouth Water Spaniel needs to have a black flash to make the seagulls think it's a rock or something, but that nonsense aside, what does it matter?

    If we accept, as we must surely do, that very few dogs work these days, then we have to look at how we produce dogs that will be pets. Consumer choice comes into play, as it does already, and that is every bit as dangerous as breeder fancy. If you see dogs as brands, then brand marks become important. A decent spine is less marketable than a stupid ridge up the back or skin flapping about everywhere. Consumers will pick by colour, and that has implications. Far better, surely, to massively relax breed types, accept the glorious range of colours, and use that tremendous variety to sell dogs on their own merits, rather than their conformity to some idea cooked up 100 years ago.

    (btw, sorry, my posting could do with polishing and developing, but I don't have time.)

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  111. "WTF does a dog's colour have to do with anything?"

    Sadly, I'd estimate that the vast majority of genetic knowledge in the breeding community has to do strictly with coat color genetics. Many breeder websites have long discussions of how this color comes from this combination of genes, blah blah, but few if any of them talk about how diseases are inherited.

    When the two intersect, such as with merle and the blindness and deafness that can follow with a single and especially a double dose, you often get very accurate and definitive statements on how the color is inherited and outright denial and intentional "we just don't know" statements about the concomitant disease.

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  112. What is the evidence that heterozygous merle causes deafness and blindness, Christopher?

    Jemima

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  113. Sorry to have derailed the discussion into color with my anecdote. I hoped nobody missed my greater point: the breed 'experts' may not be the best people to decide how to deal with shrinking gene pools.

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  114. “Prevalence of Deafness in Dogs Heterozygous or Homozygous for the Merle Allele” by G.M. Strain, et al.

    There are problems with the study (not a huge N, dominated by Catahoulas which can be MM and appear like M, etc.) but they did show that even a single copy of the Merle gene is correlated with deafness.
    ==================================
    Deafness prevalence for the 153 dogs was 4.6% unilaterally deaf and 4.6% bilaterally deaf; 9.2% total were affected (Table 1). For single merles, 2.7% were unilaterally deaf and 0.9% were bilaterally deaf; 3.5% total were affected. For double merles, 10% were unilaterally deaf and 15% were bilaterally deaf; 25% total were affected. A significant association between hearing status and merle genotype (1/merle, merle/merle) was observed (w2 P 5 .0001, Fisher’s exact test Po.0001), with double merles more likely to be deaf than single merles.
    ==================================
    I'd love to see a study that looked at merle, piebald, Irish white, and harlequin, and did so by dna testing parents and entire litters. Also with a large N (number of dogs observed).

    So far, I haven't found one, and I don't see any of the breeds with these genes funding one, but it appears that the more white you have on the dog (knock out white, not just very light eeRed), the greater our chances for problems.

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  115. "Tell me, Terry, if you were walking along a street and saw one of my Belgian shepherds lying on the sidewalk, bleeding and suffering after being hit by a car, would you walk past on the grounds that it wasn’t your breed? "

    That is unfair and nasty.

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  116. Way late to this party, but I just want to comment that Australian Shepherds are actually a smart breed to outcross to. The breed has a lot more genetic diversity than most and many are still bred for actual work. The genetic problems known in the breed are mostly either (a) easily tested for, or (b) associated with the merle gene, which is not present in the Aussie used in this cross. An advantage for purposes of maintaining Toller breed type is the easy availability of bb (red/chocolate/liver) dogs to avoid crossing in the B (dominant black) gene. Many Aussies are natural retrievers so rebuilding working behavior will not be as difficult as it could have been.

    Totally unrelatedly, I have a student with a high drive, intense, AKC Gr. Ch. Toller bitch who just gave birth to her second litter a couple of days ago. Seven puppies were born, two died quickly, and a third was weak, but has rallied. I enjoy working with the dog as she's bright and eager, but what I've read about sickly litters is sure ringing a bell right now.

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  117. Jemmima - Did you see that he is now planning a Welsh Springer Spaniel x Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever litter?

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  118. Any updates as to how this is going?

    Although I believe using a herding breed was a mistake (not sure how soft Aussies mouths are, which is obviously essential for the toller and not exactly a trainable trait), temperament is good.

    I'm a massive advocate of improving genetic diversity before you get the sad state of affairs that is the cancer ridden golden and don't see the problem with outcrossing. No one says these breeds HAVE to become registered, we should try it and THOROUGHLY inspect temperament, working ability and disease markers/gene abnormalities/haplotyping. Only if the cross is unmistakable from the KC reg stock and if the dog is a stable with a good personality should the breed be registered. Worse case scenario, healthy dogs don't get registered but have good homes but we've all learned enough to allow us a more successful outcross. Best case scenario, we have a beautiful breed with impressive health stats. Any toller owner who knows a dog who's had SRMA must surely support this (although maybe not this specific cross...)

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  119. While an outcross for Tollers may indeed be necessary, using an Australian Shepherd to increase the gene pool in Tollers seems absolutely absurd. It would be more wise to outcross with breeds that were meant to do the same type of work, (or very similar, since "tolling" is pretty unique to the Tollers). Why not a Golden, Lab, Flatcoat, chessie? Whereas this Australian shepherd produced puppies very similar to the Tollers in phenotype, what kind of work will they be able to do? I would prefer to dilute the phenotype of the dog due to outcrossing and KEEP the dogs' abilities out in the field.

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  120. How about using a light or golden/red sable English Shepherd with a Toller?

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