Saturday, 11 May 2013

Flatcoats - the outcross challenge


A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a well-spoken chap called Nick who runs a shoot in Scotland. He was looking for a young Flatcoat x Labrador bitch to pursue a family tradition. His father before him used to having working Flattie/Lab crosses and said they were the best gundogs he'd ever had.

Nick contacted me because I run a rescue specialising in retriever crosses. But of course I rarely know the ancestry of the dogs and just because they may look the part doesn't mean they can do the job.

Most of our dogs have some collie in them; many have a strong retrieve instinct, but they often have a less-than-soft mouth. And despite the world and her mother always calling anything black and long-haired a Flat-coated Retriever cross, the truth is that most are not. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I haven't had a single Flatcoat cross through my rescue since I started it six years ago. We have had several golden retriever crosses (which are often black) but there are so few working goldies now - not the best breed if you want a dog to work.

Of course, you can occasionally find flattie x lab crosses advertised on Epupz and the like. But they are usually pet-bred. Who knows if they would work?

Nope, what Nick really needs is a dog bred specifically for his purpose. And the call was timely as I've been thinking a lot about exactly this cross.

Flatcoats have a problem - a big problem - with cancer.  Every line is affected by it and not a week goes by that I don't hear about another young Flatcoat dying of what has become the scourge of the breed.

Despite breeders' best efforts - and they are in the main a health-conscious lot who are fiercely protective of their breed - I believe there is no way out of this within the breed. The Flatcoat gene pool is just too bloody small; too many lines blighted. I also believe that the issue here may be as much due to an immune system compromised by inbreeding as to specific mutated genes passing on a deadly inheritance. For previous posts on cancer in Flatcoats, see here and here and here.

And so I believe an outcross is needed and that a cross to the Labrador is the obvious choice.

Flatcoats were interbred with Labradors post World War II to boost numbers (and genetic diversity) when the breed almost went extinct. They share a common ancestry and a common working purpose.

Now many working Labrador folk find Flatcoats too, well, independent in the field - and the working Flatcoat folk diss Labradors as being too like automatons. But they aren't all that different. Not really.

There is no way that the Flatcoat or Labrador breed clubs will stomach such a cross, though - not officially.

So I'm going to put the cat among the pigeons and act as a matchmaker on behalf of Nick (and others I know who would be keenly interested in such a cross).

If you have a fully health-tested Flatcoat or Labrador with proven working ability that you would allow to be used in such an outcross - or if you would like to contribute your thoughts and/or wisdom to the idea outside of this blog, please contact me: jem@pedigreedogsexposed.com.

And if you're in the the US... see this.

109 comments:

  1. "I am pimping for mongrel puppies."
    This is the real step into the Future of the dog breeding. Bravo :)

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    1. I edited that bit out, Matus ;-)

      Decided to be less apologetic.

      But, yep, in effect that's what I'm doing.

      Jemima

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    2. I think you missed the point here, Matus. This is not breeding for a silly "breed" name and some easy money for puppy farmers. This is breeding for dogs who'll be able to do a job, have a place to do that job and live long enough to apply several years worth of training.

      Oh, and not break anyone's heart with a cancer diagnosis at 6, 7, or even 2.

      The assistance dog folks here in the U.S. (Canine Companions for Independence, for one) have long bred Labradors to Goldens to get a strong, smart, stable and capable dog to assist those who use wheelchairs.

      Search-and-rescue people here have also used purposely bred crosses. The modern sports of flyball and agilty also have their purpose-bred crosses.

      Breeding healthy, sound and health-tested dogs for a reason other than a quick buck is just as legitimate for working dogs as it is for the show ring. In this case, to get a dog with all the attributes of the Cancer Retriever with a better chance of being able to work with the dog you love for more than six or seven years.

      Bravo? BRAVA, Jemima.

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    3. Hi Gina - am I right in thinking that they cross breed Jack Russells and Border Collies in the States for agility? The Border Jack? How does that temperament work out I wonder!? Probably fabulously healthy and physically robust though given the working line history.

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    4. The "border-jacks" are commonly created to get "height dogs" for flyball teams.

      There's no attempt, that I know of, to go beyond the F1 generation. What is called a terminal cross in livestock breeding. That is rather more literal in the case of sheep and cows. For dogs, the offspring are simply not bred/neutered and employed in the sport.

      And I was just suggesting to a SAR teammate that she might consider a golden x Lab guide dog "washout" for her next partner. Not because they make superior SAR dogs, but because one that didn't make a guide or service dog because of too much drive and energy would have enough ooomph for SAR while also fitting in to her household.

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    5. Don't be apologetic, Jemima. Distilled down to the basics, every breeding is an experiment. A litter or two of crosses is *nothing* compared to the massive breeding experiment that is 'purebred' (according to KC definitions) dog breeding.

      F#@k'em if they don't have the balls (or the brains) for it.

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    6. Gina and Jemima are right. Closed stud books are a dead end, and the flat coat is doomed without outcrossing. Breed dogs for purpose, not beauty pageants. Hell with the kennel clubs, they are for profit and will register anything without even basic health clearances.

      BC/JR cross would not be the dog for me. I dont need an ocd bouncing off the walls killer.

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    7. We were blessed with a lab x collie x NZH. This boy was one in a million smart steady, trustworthy, safe, biddable, confident everything you could and would want on a farm and was even working cows on the day he fell fatally ill. My boy had it all and gave his all, I hope these devastating illnesses can one day be solved coz my Charlie boy has left a big hole in my heart.

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    8. Cyn- my thoughts exactly about crossing Collies with JRTs. why on earth....? For the sake of agility? The dog will be a pet for most of it's life and temperament and health is the most important thing. I think my mutt is quite possibly a mix of these breeds and she is hard work. We have to work on relaxation with her everyday....she is also lousy with other dogs too. Not the sor of dog to be breeding IMO. OCD killer! Lol!

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    9. I really do disparity with those with their collie / x in sedate town type homes, go spend a day with a hill farmer and see what these dogs really are capable of and they have to do in a days work, jeez really?!

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    10. Bit confused Heather??? We have loads of texel x b f Leicester, welsh x Suffolk sheep not to mention the blond Aquitaine x british blue, limousin x b blue cattle and a whole bunch of Heinz type of each species also, you know bit of this bit of that, frankly those who eat meat would be hungrier without them!

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  2. Well, if somebody feels it will produce a gundog that does the job he wants it to do, why not? Sprockers are two a penny nowadays. I can remember some very good working clumber/springer crosses carefully bred to produce a spaniel that had a bit more speed than the clumbers but calmer than the springers. And I have met some setter/Labrador crosses on a Scottish estate that are said to be a good all round gundog. Somebody breeds Bavarian Schweisshund crosses in Scotland currently. If it is done with careful thought and planning and for a clearly defined purpose, it makes sense. That was how dogs used to be bred before the days of kennel clubs

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  3. One of the litters should totally be named Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shprintze, and Bielke.

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  4. Love the plans! This is going back to what these dogs were bred for in the first place, working ability and soundness! Anyone that points the finger with the accusation mutts are being created in this instance are evidencing the the fact that they have lost the forest for the trees, or should I say they have lost the dogs for the current dog sport/breeding/show world.

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  5. Good luck Jemima. Let's hope this catches on with a lot of other breeds too! Please keep us posted on how you get on.

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  6. Sorry, but there are so many other good gundog breeds who will work well I don't think it is morally right to suggest or carry out such a mating. It seems to undo everything I thought was being advocated on PDE, 1) that there are too many dogs being bred, 2) a huge percentage of those dogs are medically challenged. It seems to be the same argument of crossing show type with working type within a breed (Irish Setters for eg), ultimately the genetic pool is going to run out. Years ago I had a lot to do with flatties and most of them died from ca. The BIS at Crufts happening at the time it did when flatties were just establishing themselves again, was catastrophic. It was brought to the attention of the money spinners and the breed has been bred to "extinction". They are such a lovely, lovely happy breed, stoic and solid friends and I loved the ones I knew, even though they weren't mine. From what I hear about the health problems in labs, many and grave, to do such a mating is just going to make another heartbreaking cocktail. If Nick wants a new puppy/dog that is going to work for him, I am sure it would not take much to test out one of the rescue dogs with a qualified gundog trainer, and see whether it would be suitable. I can't believe that you are seriously condoning such action. When a breed is "spent" it cannot continue and to suggest that the weakness within that breed that is causing it's extinction be passed to another generation isn't kind, it really isn't, please, please don't do it.

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    1. Did you even read what you wrote above, much less what Jemima wrote about this plan?

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    2. Georgina stated - "1) that there are too many dogs being bred,"

      This is an unsupported opinion.

      There are NOT ENOUGH dogs being bred by breeders who put effort in and care.

      We need MORE breeders and MORE dogs from those types of breeders, and those can include crossbred and muttbred dogs (fan of the Alaska Husky here - mutts).

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    3. Actually I own gun dogs, we also had a lab x (previous post but still worlds greatest dog) Charlie could and would do everything the GSP and cocker can do, and work livestock, the lab x wins hands down, the steadiness in the lab out ways by light years the hard headed ness of the gsp and cocker........ Lab x all the way for me, not experience flatcoats but in no way ready for more heartbreak!

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    4. Heather, perhaps you would like to let me know which part of what I wrote above bothers you and what your interpretation of what Jemima wrote about this plan, and it would be appreciated if it wasn't quite so rude.

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  7. Jemima, have you considered the Wisdom Panel DNA screen for any of your mutts? Just swabbed my mutt but think the blood test would be a better sample than a cheek swab. It"s more like a parlour game than anything else and only 90% accurate.

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    1. Why are you telling me what mean? I meant what I wrote. 90%

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  8. Georgina, I fear you have misunderstood all that PDE is about. Come to think of it, I feel you are labouring under misconceptions re selective breeding and genetics too.

    PDE is not, has never been, and never will be, about the extinction of purebred dogs (whatever my detractors maintain). It is about embracing all the tools now available to us to create *healthier* purebred dogs. This may not be possible in some breeds, but it should be possible in many.

    I do not think that too many dogs are being bred. I think that too many dogs are being bred *badly".

    Any outcross would have to be done with a lot of care. It is a given that you have to know as much as possible about the health and working pedigree of both sire and dam. If you do - and both dogs are clear of the testable known health issues in their own breed - a first generation cross has every chance of producing a good, attractive,healthy and functional mix. Hybrid vigour is not a given but it's this first generation cross where you're most likely to get it. It gets more complicated with the next generation/s, but the demands are no more difficult, really, than breeding any two dogs together.

    IF you had read the links above, I believe the predisposition to cancer in Flatcoats is due to a compromised immune system caused by homozygosity in key areas of the genome. An outcross should resolve this - at least for that first gen.

    Re the idea of testing a rescue dog... sure, you may get lucky, but selective breeding done well is something *amazing" and to be celebrated, not trashed. The problem is that it has been discredited because it has been abused.

    Is this a way to genetically invigorate the flatcoat? Theoretically - possibly. In practice? Who knows.

    This, of course, is just a baby step - just one (or possibly more) litter.

    Jemima




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    1. I think I discussed this already with others in previous articles. Its the old moral argument of letting a very bad line, possibly pass on its damaged genes to the next generation.

      There a risk of this no matter what, simply because genes are complex and RNG is RNG no matter how you slice it when the whole point of two sexes is for sperm to be as diverse in results as possible (while still stable). However, when a relative small sample-size breed is quite literally at the point of over 50% for guaranteed cancer, that is quite insane. Hybrids will obviously have less risk than pure, but the risk is still very heavy.

      And lets be real for a second. Do you honestly think enough breeders will STRICTLY go by your guidelines in looking at every gene and bloodline they can to keep that risk at the absolute minimum? Hell no. Not with this culture, even after the documentary. Purity in purebreeds are like a touch of God to most, and those that go against that are ostracized from getting those hybrids registered, making the complication even worse for finding quality mates.

      To answer "Who knows" then say its basically just a test ground for a possibility (by it just being a baby step), seems morally wrong to me. Unless there is good reason, a good population, a more moderate risk, a more willing registry, it is not worth all the destined failures as the price for a semi-misguided attempt to save a breed simply for that goal alone, rather than for low-risk quality job dogs that do the job just as well (in the similar ballpark).

      To parallel, this is like getting a bucket of water to somehow put out a house that is almost completely on fire. Any sane citizen knows just to let it go, that freakin iPad inside still isn't worth it! Again, like my last post, its ALL for the novelty of a breed's identity. Its 'being'. Rather than for its function as both a default healthy and job-well-done dog.

      Just let the freakin breed die out. If you want to save the few left with truly good genes through outcrossing, fine, get that baby out of the house on fire, but let them go down a road that is not destined as still a "flatcoat", with many roads that lead to cancer in future generations. If I had my way, those few good ones would be outcrossed to maybe only 1/6th flatcoat by the end, to preserve function. I'd throw any standard of image or "flatcoatness" out the window though.

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    2. Food for thought, SkyArk.

      Yes, over 50 per cent of flatcoats die of cancer. But it is not the case that 50 per cent of flatcoats die *young* of cancer. So if you take out the expected older deaths from cancer (that are common across all breeds and in us too), the attrition rate is not quite so bad.

      As you probably know, this is also *my* breed. Blind devotion? It may be.

      But I do love it with a passion and believe it's worth a try. And I do have access to people who know both working Labrador and flatcoat pedigrees intimately and who I hope will be prepared to give input.

      Jemima

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    3. People with all types of horrible diseases still live fairly good lives, maybe to 50-70 years, which is amazing, considering some of them (Diabetes and strokes being in my own family). And I thank those who deserve in lengthening it, but to ignore the problem, saying its only a year or two less, is the same attitude that inbreeders and extremist show-dog breeders use. Its just one more line in the same family, it won't make a difference! Oh, it would be fine if its nose is just a little bit more flat!

      Right....

      To let such a disability continue when it is easily shown to not be needed in a dog's natural death, and that we have the power to push out that extra year or two, so that it may get more out of its life, but don't use it, simply because we want to preserve its identity as something we want in of itself, is what I personally hate.

      I'll even play against my own bias for the wild form of dogs, wolves, which if anyone remembers, I so commonly loved as a model for bigger brains, less defects, and more efficient body. However, it is undeniable that its identity as a creature to breed purely, or with just one or two outcrosses, is absolutely stupid. The wildness and instincts will get them killed, or make their own lives, and their owner's lives miserable on a domestic level, especially as family dogs. And I detest it being a novelty simply for what it is as a "cool half-wolf dog".

      These things (wolves, flatcoats, charles spaniels, etc...) have to be done right, and with good support for proper guidelines to follow throughout. I absolutely hate when breeding is done with sacrifices, just for a novelty. Its to me, as bad as puppy mills, with bitches used as birth machines. "Necessary sacrifices" is their owner's mindset. Same here, those who die prematurely, be it at 2 years or 7 years, when you know it can be 11 years or even 14 years without cancer, are just another necessary sacrifice to save a novelty do to personal affinity.

      Look, I'm not against keeping purebred dogs mostly purebred in identity. Novelty can have great value, especially with function in mind and I can understand the risk involved with any set of bad genes being past on, so that in the long-term, given good thought, it might be lessened. In fact, that is a norm for any species on any level, including you and I, when we see our own problems yet still want children. But most of the extreme example breeds on this blog (which are here precisely for that), simply are at an end of me saying, in my own mind, "this is too far". Too few sample populations. Too few breeders willing. Too few that care to put such an effort. Too much risk. Too many necessary sacrifices in the road ahead.

      If there were a few thousand flatcoats with good genes, which could be used and accepted for register after an outcross or two, then yes, I would say go for it. Risk happens no matter what, but that doesn't mean we should never walk down a staircase for fear of falling and breaking our back (which is possible, however small a chance). But given the repeated critical state I've seen on this blog and other sites, its just a very sad state.

      I'm still having trouble believing it could be so bad as over 50%. God, if that was the default state for all humans simply born to die like that, at least 10% of lifespan taken away on average.... Even AIDS hasn't progressed that far despite being incurable.... At least we are smart enough in culture and mind to know not to pass THAT on. But cancer? A-okay it seems.

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    4. SkyArk, you raise some very interesting ethical points.

      I don't know enough about Flatties, but it's possible that there are lines where the dogs live to be at least 10 before dying of cancer. If you outcrossed using a 6 or 7-year-old bitch (i.e. one that had already managed to live half its life without succumbing to cancer), with long-lived ancestors, then you stand a good chance of breeding healthy puppies. With the Labrador, you would avoid any lines where the dogs had died of cancer.

      Remember, she's breeding from the healthiest, long-lived stock she can find. She's not limited to something akin to 'studs that have the correct topline because her own dog's topline needs improving'.

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    5. @Fran My problem doesn't lie with the first generation (besides the sacrifices), but the totality of effort required (and any other sacrificial hiccups along the way). You need at least several hundred non-inbred healthy low-disability risk individuals to sustain a viable diverse population, within a stable subset grouping (in this case, a dog breed) or species as a whole. If not, then well, you might as well all be brothers and sisters that are at high risk of starting another bullshit cycle of progressive corruption from one or two popular genetic trash studs winning a show.

      The task is gigantic and complex. To the abstract mind it is hard to comprehend a hard number, so I'll give you a soft comparison. Imagine a construction project to build a skyscraper, except there are only maybe 20 individuals doing everything, financial, taxes, planning, contracting, construction, decoration, and real estate. Even better, each individual does their own thing, how they want with only a vague outline of what to do. And the project will at least take two decades to full completion.

      Rarely is there an overwatch, especially by government regulation for breeding in specific ways, which may be a good or bad thing. Point is, its hard to agree, and monitor each other's progress and adherence to any guidelines aside from some paper with names and numbers and some words of trust. And as we all know by now, some breeders lie out their ass, or are simply ignorant that that stud they used is utter shit, to put it bluntly. The title of this article is accurate, if a huge understatement as a "challenge".

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    6. And then there's the old Chinese saying that a journey of 10,000 li begins with a single step. A few experimental out crossings won't have much effect on the population's gene pool, but if they go well, they may help break down the barriers that allow gene pools to get too narrow.
      As for "let the breed go". There are enough breed faithful that that is not going to happen.
      In this case the genetics is of the disease is unknown. But if the cancer risk is high because of high homozygosity in the DLA, outcrossing should be effective. It would help pedigree dogs in general if prejudices against deliberate outcrossing were toned down. Our retrieving breeds are barely 150 years old, and there was a lot of outcrossing until the Second World War. I'm not waving the flag for hybrid vigor and willy-nilly crossing. But a breed that has come through a bottleneck with problems has a need for help. The purists need to relax on this. It should not be a big deal. If the KC is too prissy, how about another registry? Who knows, maybe the KC will prove flexible if the subject is approached in the right way.

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  9. And I have understood that, PDE is I had thought, totally in favour of pedigree dogs and their continuance, on my part that has never been in doubt. I am a bit surprised that you don't feel that too many dogs are being bred regardless of background, especially when you save and ensure the best outcome of many dogs that would have had a potentially horrible life. I am not averse to cross breeding, but I am averse to using one breed that is struggling to survive and another that also has many and increasing health issues. I don't know the answers, I am certainly not medically aware, I definately am not a scientist, but I do love dogs, have spent a lot of time with many different breeds and enjoyed the different aspects of each and their relative benefits and skills. I understand what you are saying about the natural instincts in each breed and it would be dreadful to lose such a beautiful breed, like the English Setter and many others. It may be more prudent to really research flatties, particularly those that are worked, and there might just be a pocket of unaffected stock, surely somewhere in the World there must be some healthy flatties. I guess in conclusion, if anybody was going to ensure that the resulting litter of a crossbreed was going to be undertaken, then you, with your knowledge and integrity, is the person to bring it about. One thing that may be worth investigating are black irish setters as a potential cross with a lab first generation, then flatcloat second generation??? Sorry if I annoyed you, I'll try and shut up and just read and resist the urge to comment.

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  10. You didn't annoy me, Georgina. All thoughtful views are welcome here.

    I have heard of black Irish Setters but haven't found any. And I think there's a small problem with an outcross to Setters: a variable retrieve instinct. I also - personally - believe that today's flatcoats are often too setter-like already. I like the idea that Labradors have some potential to maintain/restore some substance.

    Jemima

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  11. The big bad evil Kennel Club would be highly likely to allow you register these puppies, providing you could put a csae forward for carrying out this mating for proven scientific welfare reasons. They have said so on many occasions and you will remmeber that they have already allowed such programs in the past. No doubt you would consider this a bad thing as to fail to do so would mean giving the KC some credit and that would NEVER do!!

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  12. I give the KC some credit fairly often.

    Would they allow me to register the pups? Possibly.

    Not entirely sure why I would want to, though.

    Jemima

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    1. Surely you would want to register the pups so that their introduced 'good' genes could gradually be spread throughtout the general flatcoat population, like the LUA gene in dalmatians. If it's not to benefit the breed (and that means KC approval and ultimate registration) then it's no better than the shortsighted "just one litter from Bessie because she's so sweet and would have lovely puppies" mindset that fills the rescues.

      By all means do your cross for good scientific reasons and to benefit the lovely breed, but to justify it as being good for the breed when one person just wants a single working dog is ludicrous.

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    2. "If it's not to benefit the breed (and that means KC approval and ultimate registration) then it's no better than the shortsighted "just one litter from Bessie because she's so sweet and would have lovely puppies" mindset that fills the rescues."

      Nonsense. Go and read the link on the Mackenzie Project at the end of the article. Growing out the results of such a cross may be helpful to pinpoint the genetics involved in cancer risk in Flatcoats. Comparing the genetics of the crossbred dogs that DON'T develop cancer to Flattcoats with cancer, comparing the genes of crossbreeds that do develop cancer to their cancer free littermates...there is a wealth of information to gather from a such a cross.

      Relatively easy development of DNA tests for simple recessive or dominant diseases has made some in the fancy forget the concept of test breedings. IMO, test breedings of the kind talked about on the Mackenzie Project page are going to produce a lot more information that that search for the 'Flatcoat cancer gene' that's been going on forever and produced what? Pretty much nothing.

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    3. My God, do you really want to go back to the Dark Ages of test matings, involving real living puppies, to learn about problems? What do you suggest doing with the 'failures'? You can't home them with stooges so you must ethically keep them yourself or use the traditional method (contrary to KC regulations) and kill them.

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    4. There are no "failures." We're not breeding for longer or more lush coat, a shorter muzzle, or for more white. There will be no "bucketing" of a dog because of a "mismark" or "incorrect" coat color, or because the animal is deaf.

      Every single one of the dogs produced by the McKenzie Project here in the U.S. will be at LEAST as healthy as a registered flat-coated or Labrador. And I have almost 100 people who have signed up for the puppies for LIFE, even though they know they will have to follow an above-and-beyond care protocol and scrupulously report any problems of health or behavior. That's easily more than 4 times the number of homes I anticipate needing.

      These people are not "stooges." They know what they're getting, support the effort and are proud to take part. And even the general public would be delighted to have a well-bred cross-bred from a breeder who raises and socializes them properly. Heck, people have been buying puppy-mill "hybrids" (Labradoodle, Puggle, etc.) at higher costs for years already.

      The Dark Age we will be endeavoring to leave behind is the one where it's "normal" for 50 percent of breed to die at young ages because we have to maintain the "purity" of the breed and the "integrity" of a closed registry and ever-smaller gene pool.

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    5. Gina is considerably nicer than I am. You should thank her for such a nice and informative comment.

      If cancer was a simple single gene disease like, say, juvenile cataracts, test breedings would not be need to be done to find the gene behind it. It is relatively easy to isolate the genes behind simple recessive or dominantly controlled diseases and develop a test nowadays. Test breedings aren't needed.

      Cancer is a genetically complex disease. They've been looking for 'cancer genes' in Flatcoats for long time, haven't found any yet. Time to (wo)man up and start experimenting. (Far more time, effort, and money has gone into the search for genes behind cancer in humans, and how many cancer gene tests do YOU have available to you?)

      Or do you think the 'responsible thing to do is to wait for that big discovery while more dogs die young? Hmm?

      I am a breeder. I could not stomach burying young dogs, over and over again. That's not responsible breeding to me.

      "Every single one of the dogs produced by the McKenzie Project here in the U.S. will be at LEAST as healthy as a registered flat-coated or Labrador."

      Money quote. I don't see why this is so hard to understand for some people.

      "The Dark Age we will be endeavoring to leave behind is the one where it's "normal" for 50 percent of breed to die at young ages because we have to maintain the "purity" of the breed and the "integrity" of a closed registry and ever-smaller gene pool. "

      ::STANDING OVATION::

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    6. "The Dark Age we will be endeavoring to leave behind is the one where it's "normal" for 50 percent of breed to die at young ages because we have to maintain the "purity" of the breed and the "integrity" of a closed registry and ever-smaller gene pool. "

      Another standing here.

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    7. "The Dark Age we will be endeavoring to leave behind is the one where it's "normal" for 50 percent of breed to die at young ages because we have to maintain the "purity" of the breed and the "integrity" of a closed registry and ever-smaller gene pool. "

      "::STANDING OVATION::"

      Me too. Bravo Gina and Jemima - and Jess and all the other breeders who put health before purity.

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  13. I find this quite interesting. About a year or two ago, i came across a breeder who was breeding FCR with Goldies and then breeding back to the FCR. I've looked everywhere since for this breeder as i was really interested in reading more about their lines and goals but i can't find the site no longer. I think i came across them on E-pupz and from what i remember they had all the signs of being ethical and responsible breeders. Dogs all looked identical to FCR's. Would love to hear an update on whether Nick is successful in finding a suitable match for his dog.

    Louise

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    1. Would be very interested in knowing more about this endeavour/breeder.

      J

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  14. Four words: American working golden retrievers. Not hard to come by either.

    Many of them look like actual old-style flat-coats.

    Labs will give you smooth coated pups in the F-1.

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  15. Something like this one wouldn't be bad: http: //retrieverman.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/tank.jpg


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    1. That is a stunning-looking dog, Scottie.

      J

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  16. There are quite a few working goldens in Germany right now. I was actually quite surprised at how many I saw over there.

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  17. Maybe working Goldens are "extinct" in United Kingdom, but there still plenty of working kennels in Germany and Denmark. We have lots of working Golden Retriever kennels in Canada or United States as well.

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    1. Goldies also suffer from high rates of cancer, though - unless the working Goldies are less blighted?

      J

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    2. How cancer is caused genetically is not yet understood since it seems to be transmitted through polygenetics. It is probably best to contact Genoscoper for advices.

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    3. Cancer is in golden retrievers, but the lifespan of the dogs is pretty much up for debate. I think the GRCA's health and longevity survey, while certainly groundbreaking, was pretty limited. It was based almost solely on dogs belonging to members and was put online in 1999, when the country wasn't nearly as wired as it is now. That means the sample came from tightly bred dogs belonging to fanciers and other club members. Because the only nonmembers contributing information were those who came across it online in those days, it's likely that it included mostly people whose dogs had died at early ages.

      I would really like to know what the real cancer incidence is the breed and have it put in perspective. Cancer is the number one killer of all dogs in America. Are golden retrievers really more likely to get it?

      I've known golden retrievers that lived well into their teens and died of cancer at that ripe old age. Surely, that sort of death from cancer would be something we'd expect.

      My guess is we really don't know what the cancer incidence is in the breed. We just have such a diverse breed, and there are so many of them, that it's very difficult to keep track of them

      My big advice for all of this, whether you use whatever breed for the outcross, is to use a very old, very healthy stud dog, one that is at least 10 years old. 12 would be even better.

      I'll just say that after reading all the literature I can find on the issue, I can't say whether they are that cancer prone or not.

      That's one reason why I've wondered why these dog cancer studies don't look at dogs that are very well-established as cancer dogs, particularly boxers.

      I had a golden that made it to 14, but she was accidentally bred by a boxer. The cross pup died before she was 11, due to osteosarcoma, which also took her father.

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    4. Retrieverman says: "My big advice for all of this, whether you use whatever breed for the outcross, is to use a very old, very healthy stud dog, one that is at least 10 years old. 12 would be even better."

      I can see the logic in this, but we know from human studies that the sperm of men over 30 starts to deteriorate. A child is far more likely to suffer from mental health problems (ADHD, autism, schizophrenia), the older his/her father is. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/08/31/3305848.htm

      This is logical when you consider the skin of a 25-year-old man compared to that of a 55-year-old man. Skin cells and sperm are replaced at a similar rate. The trouble with using an older sire, is the quality of the sperm has probably deteriorated. Perhaps it would be better to use a younger stud dog with long-lived parents?

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  18. At least here in the USA there are a great many hunting retriever kennels producing very nice non registered retrievers that are a mix of flatties, chessies, and labs. You can also find a few kennels producing springer/clumber mixes as well for hunting purposes.

    As a hint, real hunters don't check for AKC paperwork. They check for hunt photos and hip scores on parents. The rest is pretty self selecting.

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    1. Hunting goldadors are very common in the US.

      And there's this dog from Northern Ireland that I think was a goldador:

      http://retrieverman.net/2011/08/30/the-rough-shooting-retriever-from-lough-neagh/

      Golden retrievers derive from the same root stock as flat-coats. You can trace most flat-coats and goldens to this dog, which was a top sire in the 1880s: http://retrieverman.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/zelstone.jpg

      He looked a lot like black golden retriever of the conformation type! You can also find lots of dogs with names that definitely refer to black dogs in golden retriever pedigrees. (Many are quite politically incorrect!)

      You can also trace golden retrievers to curly-coated retrievers in the foundational pedigrees, and later on, there was at least one outcross to a yellow Labrador, FTCH Hayler's Defender.

      These dogs were all interbred at one time. In fact, the majority of retrievers were never kept pure until the twentieth century. Everyone did crosses, and golden retrievers weren't even a breed, nor were Labradors. There originally were only two basic types registered: a wavy-coat, which was almost always a feathered dog but sometimes included smooth coated ones, and a curly-coat. Most of the mandarins in the mandarins in the early retriever fancy in the UK wanted black dogs and black dogs only, but there were always liver and yellow/gold ones.

      These breeds are all very new and were made distinct only by politics.

      To me, it would have made sense to have kept them interbreeding varieties, because the original difference among golden, flat-coated, and Labrador retrievers were less than those separating the three types of dachshund registered by the FCI.

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  19. I had a couple of very interesting chats with the AHT at Crufts. One of the things I asked about was a hypothetical outcross to another breed. From memory, I was told that doing just one outcross was insufficient to help the breed - the outcrossed litter just ended up as the equivalent of popular sires, rather like Fiona the Dalmation. At least several litters from unrelated dogs needed to be produced and every so many generations, the dogs were crossed back to another unrelated outcross (possibly using a different breed), thus regularly injecting new genes. [If any of this information is incorrect, the error is mine, not the AHT's.]

    I don't know enough about Flatcoats and Labradors to comment on the cross, other than neither would be a breed I would choose on health grounds. I would definitely want the Labrador's hips to be PennHIP scored, rather than using the far less accurate OFA. What are Flattie's hips like?

    I suggest registering them with the KC. It may encourage others to outcross once they see the results. :)

    If the cross does go ahead, do keep us updated. I'd be very interested to hear how the puppies work out in the field and what their health is like. I'm not convinced an outcross to a single breed (especially one that's already been used in the Flattie's past), will be sufficient to significantly improve the health of the Flatcoat. There may have to be a few other breeds used further down the line.

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    1. Fran, in the UK we don't use either the OFA or PennHip scoring system; we use the BVA scoring method, where a score of 0:0 (giving a total of 0) is perfect and 53:53 (giving a total of 106) is the worst possible.

      http://www.bva.co.uk/hip_scheme.aspx

      The Breed Mean Score (BMS) of the labrador is 14 with a median of 10; the Flatcoat has a BMS of 9 with a median of 8.

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    2. Mary, how accurate is the BVA hip score? If it was really accurate, surely we would have eradicated hip dysplasia in the various afflicted breeds by now? I suggested PennHIP because it is a lot more accurate. As a comparison, a dog can score low on OFA, but still be high on PennHIP.

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    3. Fran, you can never eradicate HD because it's not merely genetic (and even if it was, a dog is more than a pair of hips!); incorrect food and over-exercise are also major factors. Anything below a total score of 20 is considered functionally normal.

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  20. Genuine working golden retrievers are not entirely extinct in the UK, there is a breeder near me in NE Scotland, whose dogs work picking up on local shoots. They don't look much like the show golden retrievers, much leaner dogs , dark golden in colour, and a smoother more waterproof coat, unlike the heavy plush coats of the show ones. And very fast moving and athletic, they are nearly as fast as a working setter. There used to be some in N.Ireland too, but since Albert Titterington stopped breeding them, I'm not sure how many there are left over there

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    1. Dalriach, some fifteen yeras ago I ran into a woman training her dogs on the local Working Dogs Association club house outside a tiny town in the north of Sweden. I stood watching, as the dogs - which I couldn+ t recognize - were so attractive: deep golden colour, moderate coat, muscular chests and shoulders, powerful jaws... lively, but balanced and intelligent-looking. So eventually I asked, Waht are these? The woman looked really hurt for an instant, then said: "These are true Golden working dogs!" I felt terribly ashamed. Now, living in the southern half of the country, I was waiting outside a shop with my Rough Collies - large, muscled, moderately coated, normal-sized eyes, lively and intelligent dogs that can track wild boars and chase off fox and badgers... And these youngsters come up to me, asking curiously: "Nice-looking dogs, those. What are they?" :-)
      Ten years ago, in Wales, I saw true working collies, Welsh sheepdogs, and true dog people working with them. I wish I had more active years left, so I could use a couple of them to "outcross" - and all the KC:s in the world be damned. A good working Collie is worth more than their approval.

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    2. UrbanCollieChick7 June 2013 at 15:43

      AMEN!!!!!

      I hope to get to Wales and see the Welsh Sheepdogs up close one day.

      They covet their dogs, but do you think they would be open to using some of their dogs for outcrossing in collies and collie descendants?

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  21. The AHT are right that a single outcross mating will have little or no lasting effect after three or four generations of breeding back. The Irish Kennel Club have recognized this in their outcross programme for Irish Red and White Setters, using working red Irish Setters. The plan is to allow several matings, preferably using dogs with pedigrees as diverse as possible, and the programme has no fixed end date . It could be ended when the gene pool is considered to have expanded enough to ensure a healthier future for the breed - or the registry could be left open to allow occasional outcrosses in the future , a more radical solution. At the moment , its hard enough to get people in the breed to accept outcrosses at all, let alone having an open registry for a longer period or indefinitely

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    1. >The AHT are right that a single outcross mating will have little or no lasting effect after three or four generations of breeding back.

      This is not necessarily true. Assume an average litter of 6, where 2 dogs are suitable for breeding. So the F1 generation with 50% "new" genes will have 2 breedable dogs that produces 12 F2s with 25%(average) new genes. Thats 4 F2s producing 24 F3s with avg. 12% new genes. You have 8 F3s producing 48 F4s with avg. 6.25% new genes. And so on.

      You can see that while the new genes each of the new generation has is halved, the number of dogs with those new genes is doubled each generation. Not all of these dogs will have the same news genes. By F7, each dog will only have an average of 0.9% new genes. But there will be 128 breeding dogs and they won't all have the same 0.9% of new genes.

      I don't know how to calculate the actual % of new genes so many generations in, but the first generation is easy enough. An F1 has 50% new genes. 2 F1s will have average of 75% new genes. You can imagine picking 50 balls out of a bowl with balls numbered 1-100. If a second person picks 50 balls out, the chances of having picked the exact same 50 balls or having picked the 50 balls that have not been picked is exceedingly low. On average, the second person will pick 25 balls that has already been picked and 25 balls not yet picked. This means the two person combined will have 75 different numbers. So we have 50% new genes on an individual level but 75% new genes on the population level. By my calculations(I can't be certain it is correct) for the F2 generation, it's 25% new genes on an individual level, 56.25% on a population level(4 dogs). These numbers are only for the 2 breeding dogs per litter and not the entire F generation.

      So the numbers on the population level shrink too, but it's less drastic than looking at the numbers on the individual level.

      All these assumes no selection.

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    2. Anon 23:22: Breeding from only two outcrossed dogs, means you easily run the risk of them becoming akin to popular sires. Lots of people use them in their breeding programme to inject new blood into their lines, which is great for the first generation, but for the second and third etc, you find that most other dogs have these outcrossed dogs in their pedigree.

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  22. I've read research on a link between vitamin D deficiency and cancer in humans. Has anyone tested the vitamin D serum levels of Flatties with cancer? Perhaps their diet is deficient, they don't absorb it sufficiently, or they require higher levels than other dogs to remain healthy?

    http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/health/05-09VitaD.asp
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301111656.htm
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060912100027.htm

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    1. Fran- Most people in the UK are either Vitamin D deficient or insufficient. It's the lack of exposure to sunlight.

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    2. True, but for half of the year, there isn't sufficient sunlight to manufacture vitamin D and the body cannot store it for the duration of winter.

      I don't know what the vitamin D levels are for dog food and whether they're too low or of the kind that's not easily absorbed by the dog's body. (For example, on paper calcium carbonate can look like a good calcium supplement, but it's very poorly absorbed by the body.)

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    3. Supplements aren't necessary if you have a high quality commercial dog food and a healthy dog I would have thought? Vitamin D3 supplements are in the dog food I use and D3 is the preferred form over D2. The best way to produce it is direct sunlight of course but if a dog has a genetic predisposition to cancer or has an auto immune disorder such as SLE I would have thought that I would be beneficial to see if additional supplements may help?

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    4. Red herring. If vitamin D were the problem, all breeds would be affected, and house dogs most of all.

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    5. Jennifer, not necessarily. Husky breeds can suffer from zinc deficiency despite an adequate intake from their food, because they don't absorb it very well. Which is why I suggested checking the serum levels of vitamin D, so that poor absorption can be ruled out.

      http://www.huskyresources.co.uk/zrd.html

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    6. Not necessarily; some breeds have genetic mutations (such as dalmatians with their inability to convert uric acid into allantoin) which doesn't affect all breeds. It's possible that flatcoats also have a breed-specific mutation.

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    7. Cancer kills more dogs than any other disease. It would be silly to rule out Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor at this stage due to the complexity of the inheritance and nature of cancer as a disease. Mutts can also die of cancer too. Not necessarily at a young age, but they aren't immune to cancer by the fact they have relatively more genetic diversity than a Flatcoat.

      Are there any oncogenes associated with cancer in Flatcoats or any other breeds?

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    8. Could I just input here, if lack of vitamin D is a contributory risk factor, doesn't quite gel does it? If that were the case then one would assume that any Flatcoated Retrievers bred for generations and that live in a sunny climate would be much healthier with lower cancer levels? Does anyone know the state of health of Flatties say in Australia, and the bloodlines they derive from? Presumably if there is a high UK influence it would affect the results? Just a thought.

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    9. The point is Georgina that Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for cancer has a bit of a hung jury and the work has mostly been studied in humans. There is observational evidence that suggests that people with higher serological levels of Vit D have lower rates of some types of cancer. There are also some randomised clinical trials that have looked at the effect of higher vitamin D intakes on bone health and have correleated that these higher intakes may reduce the risk of cancer.
      Don't forget more than 1 in 3 people will develop this disease in their lifetime, most dogs die from it too.
      Don't rule causative factors out with a lack of evidence either way!
      No stone should remain unturned.

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    10. "Dietary vitamin D dependence of cat and dog due to inadequate cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D."

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7843559

      It seems their thick coat prevents them from synthesising vitamin D from sunlight and therefore they need to obtain it from food.

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    11. Nice find Fran. What about BARF diets? They advocate raw eggs don't they.

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    12. Raw eggs are a common addition to raw diets of all kinds actually. Unfortunetly there's a distinct lack of studies on raw diets in general to find out how much it helps with things like that.

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  23. For what it would cost to undertake a mating flatti/lab, the guy who has mentioned the working goldies/flattie crosses in the USA would be my first point of contact. To import one or two of those puppies, from different gene pools or as wide as possible, and then breed back to a flattie after a couple of generations and then working goldies in the UK would hopefully start to establish a type of new retriever that is healthier. But if the true intent is to breed for ability rather than beauty, if the resulting new retriever was bit off (colouring, body, head) then so be it. Even a munsterlander introduction could be good, it seems to me in my ignorance, that curiously as wide a gene spread as possible needs to be undertaken initially to try and dilute the current health issues whilst establishing the new type which may be a bit wonky visually, but is healthy and fit for purpose. Just like I assume they did generations ago but in the pursuit of purity the breeders (we) became blinded about health issues such that we are at today's crossroads.

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    1. Crossing a poodle with a labrador is not an intelligent outcross; it's just a money-spinner for people who don't care about the health or future of breeds. An outcross to bring in more diversity would involve looking for a breed to cross out to that came from similar origins (of the same landrace the breed descends from) in order to bring in complementary genes so that the progeny will best approach the form and function the breed was intended for. For poodles, related retriever breeds with curly coats like the Irish Water Spaniel and Portuguese Water Dog would be the obvious choices to bring in diversity. For Labradors, breeds that would meld well might include the Curly Coated Retriever, which has a similar body type, and the Newfoundland, with which it shares some ancestry.

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  24. I don't know if any of you have read Ted Kerasote's new book on dog health, but he found that the Navajo in southern Utah were breeding Labradors to coonhounds to have multipurpose varmint and bird dogs.

    My grandfather bred elkhounds to collies to make good treeing dogs, and before that he bred a collie to a foxhound to make a good deer dog (which were illegal to be used). His favorite dog was an elkhound crossed with a "miniature collie." The dog looked like a wolf and hunted everything from rabbits to raccoons. He would also herd stock.

    This notion that we didn't breed working dogs before we had a concept of breed isn't just untrue, it's poisonous.

    Throughout history so many dogs were used as retrievers, including greyhounds and terrier/beagle crosses. The Russians still use West Siberian laikas and Karelo-Finnish laikas (Russian Finnish spitz) to retrieve ducks.

    The idea that you have to have papered dogs to do the work is just plain silliness.

    There is no biological entity called a flat-coated retriever, a golden retriever, or Labrador. There are, however, cultural constructs that say they are distinct entities.

    But they aren't really that distinct. Every one of them shares ancestry. They've all been crossed with each other.

    Why not let them cross every once in a while?

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    1. Retrieverman - I am reading Pukka's Promise at the minute....

      You are so sensible in what you are writing here of course. There is an awful lot of nonsense to do with registered dogs and pedigrees, most of which is of no benefit to the health and welfare of the animal. Outcrossing to some people is an act of heresy. Their reaction to this reflects their lack of understanding of evolutionary success and genetics.

      Fascinated to hear about the Collie/Foxhound cross as a deer dog. Why were they illegal?

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    2. I agree that there is a lot of nonsense and snobbery within the pedigree dog world. However, the breeds do exist and have done for centuries and to have done that they must have been healthy. It seems to me it is because the World has shrunk, frozen sperm, relaxation of borders, money and transportation have all heavily contributed to the destruction of pedigree dogs. So much so that crossbreeding is going become the norm, there will need to be a registry of dogs used because there would be a high risk of interbreeding. Labradoodles could well be a case in point, my friend has one and he is gorgeous. Fortunately he has paperwork that is "his pedigree". The other day she called me because someone wants to use him at stud and what did I think? The first thing I asked was where did she come from and did she have any paperwork? The answer was no "pedigree" but that her owner would ask the person she got the bitch from, she was a rescued dog. Lo and behold, the bitch came from the same breeder as my friend's dog. My friend hadn't thought to ask and was on the point of allowing her dog to be used until she had spoken to me. Now the litter may have been ok, but it was high risk in reality. The thing that made me angry was that the person who owned the rescued bitch was prepared to use "any dog" without any research and that she was even contemplating a litter at all. But it does underline that a registry of crossed litters will need to be kept, otherwise in a very short space of time the genetic pool problem rises up again. The IRWS mating is interesting and underlines that whatever strategy is adopted it needs to have a much longer future than the comparatively short span experienced within that breed.

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    3. Georgina stated - "However, the breeds do exist and have done for centuries and to have done that they must have been healthy."

      This is incorrect. Most breeds brought in outside blood as necessary and were not locked into a closed stud book until after the war. The idea they were 'healthy' as 'pure' or closed stud book breeds for Centuries does not hold up.

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    4. Georgina, the breeds will come to their inevitable conclusion if sensible outcrossing continues to delude pedigree dog breeding. Breeding for domestic purposes should absolutely be selective and records should be kept. It's not rocket science though is it? But given the lack of legislation and regulation in the dog breeding world, expecting people to hold up to ideal standards when it comes to breeding is a bit unrealistic. It's not like the KC are going to rush in and take the sensible lead an promote and encourage sensible outcrossing.....educated and sensible people will have to take into their own hands. Jemima is doing a great things here. Ted Kerasote too.

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    5. "However, the breeds do exist and have done for centuries and to have done that they must have been healthy. "

      Wrong. The idea of closed gene pools directed by breeding to a 'standard' and kept by 'kennel clubs' is about a hundred years old. The registries have been truly closed for about half that time. Some breeds still accept country of origin dogs from countries with NO registries and NO kennel clubs.

      The modern definition of 'purebred' is a genetic experiment being carried out on a massive scale. There are many species, including dogs, that have open registries, where apparently purebred animals, usually from multigenerational backcross breeding, are registered as 'pure.' This allows for a continuous slow trickle of 'new' genes, and because such registries have rules in place for acceptance of such animals, it takes an extraordinary amount of dedication and planning for breeders to bring in new blood. It is not some fly by night operation where 'anything goes' and breeding will result in 'nothing but mutts.'

      The idea that we can only have 'breeds' within closed registries is bullshit. Dogs of various types have a long history; closed registries do not. The closed registry and 'improved breeding with standards' that we know today is just a blip in the long history of the dog, and came about as much due to Victorian eugenics ideas, social climbing and class prejudice, and conspicuous consumption, as due to the desire to 'breed better dogs.'

      The closed registry system is based on a foundation of bullshit, and that foundation has started to crumble.

      If you would like to read a criticism of the way the modern dog fancy view 'breeds', specifically in relation to the Saluki, a VERY old type, click here. Relatively few modern breeds were actually made up wholesale. Most were simply 'refinements' of older types, breeders picking a few examples as 'typical' and inbreeding on those individuals. Another example here.

      The original definition of 'pure blooded' simply meant that the animal breeds true. It had nothing to with the animal having a paper pedigree showing many, many generations of 'pure' breeding. The modern definition of 'pure' is a vile corruption of the concept that can be laid directly at the feet of the Victorian Toilet Science of 'breed improvement and standardization.'

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    6. no matter.. you can cross and out cross and in breed and do what ever to maintain "hunting dogs" until you are blue in the face. you can cure cancer in flatcoats and make all of the sporting/gun dogs hips 100%. Your cross bred pariah dogs?? sure why not but as long as Jemima and others keep supporting the animal rights groups the need ( or desire or even the legality as mentioned) for a purpose bred dog used for hunting will be eliminated. California just banned hunting bears and bobcats with any dog. Now the need for coonhounds, walkers, Plotts and the rest are becoming more and more narrow many hunters who had kennels of wonderful healthy dogs have had to give them up as they now face a life with hunting dogs as "pets" HSUS has tried to out law coursing in many states and now the dogs chase old plastic bags ( soon to be outlawwed as well)instead of turning a rabbit because this sport is "cruel"
      Sportsman are just beginning to realize that these groups care NOTHING for dogs and could really give a rats ass if your pure bred or cross bred dies of cancer. gets run over or is made extinct .. THEY DON"T CARE
      terreriman has dogs that he says kill vermin guess what THEY DON"T CARE they want you and your dogs to STOP KILLING OTHER ANIMALS.. if that means you have NO MORE DOGS.. guess what THEY DON'T CARE
      England has already banned hunting with hounds so where is the need for hounds that hunt..? Deer hunting with dogs is illegal in many places.. Guess what who needs a deer hound if it can;t hunt deer unless you want the dog as pet? and if that is so then why do you care how it "works"
      Get a clue people you little chat here is already MOOT in many places and the list is growing

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    7. None of these retriever breeds is that old, and they have all been heavily interbred with each other. You can't say they have been "pure" for centuries. Anyone who has ever looked at the foundational pedigrees of these dogs can tell you that.

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    8. “Our goal is to get sport hunting in the same category as cock fighting and dog fighting.” (Bozeman Daily Chronicle.


      “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” (Full Cry Magazine, 1 October 1990).

      "The entire animal rights movement in the United State
      s reacted with unfettered glee at the Ban
      in England ...We view this act of parliament as one of
      the most important actions in the history
      of the animal rights movement. This will energize our e
      efforts to stop hunting with hounds."
      Wayne Pacelle, CEO, Humane Society of the US (HSUS), London Times,


      Wayne Pacelle quotes.. I think it quite a joke that Kerasote who advocates for free roaming dogs and using dogs for hunting claims to support the HSUS.
      Your discussion is not even important.. the use of dogs as vehicles for hunting other animals will come to a screeching halt bit by bit by bit and then who will care what you do with the dogs.?

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    9. Anon 02.17 it would appear you have little knowledge or experience of farming, unfortunately the population of some animals need to be controlled/reduced (some dogs are great at helping with this) this is so food can be produced successfully so that you may eat!!!

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    10. Anon 02.05 may all your chickens be ravaged by foxes, may all your crops be eaten by birds and rabbits etc and may your home become infested with rats, when you and your family are starving you will realise that the world demands balance...............

      Whilst your desire to protect all animals may be admirable, maybe you should check out what retrievers do.......yep they retreive quarry that has been shot! This blog is not an avenue for you to spout off about hunting its about health and welfare in purebred dogs, so go and rant elsewhere and stop forcing your views those of us who are here for dogs.

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    11. I understand this.. these AR people do not .and sadly those like Jemima who support them do not either.. nor do they really care. they do not want dogs used in any form of hunting or exterminating vermin and they are also very active in the UK.. fox bait is better than hunting?
      The point is this.. all of this debate is a moot point if you can not longer breed dogs for the purpose to which they were intended

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    12. It is the fox hounds that are now redundant, the HPR's, retrievers, spaniels etc still play a very active roll, with vermin control by the terrier who can be an awesome rat catcher.

      I won't argue that animals shouldn't be mutilated for human entertainment/sport, but those with blinkered eyes must understand that if some animals were not kept under control we would very quickly have a food shortage with huge prices for food and our cities, towns and homes will be plagued by rats etc. There are plenty out there that enjoy a wild rabbit or pheasant for their supper (tis not the nosh for me) I personally don't have a problem with a dog helping me keep these things in check, it's certainly not the end of the road for the gundog they also make the most wonderful pets and deserve to be bred with health and vitality.

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    13. yes now fox hounds will become extinct or redundant as you so carefully put it.. meaning no longer necessary so who will bred them? very few if any.. so one breed down and many more to go for the RSPCA/HSUS that his blogger supports .
      you still do not understand.. these people do not believe in "vermin control" as hard as that is for you to understand it is true.. they see purpose bred dogs are no longer fitting into todays lifestyle and are doing everything in their power to erase to purpose bred animal.. for hunting for food and for any use at all
      It actually is the end of the road for gun dogs to be used for the purpose for which they were bred and to that end the end of a purpose bred dog which is what we are discussing here..
      anyone can bred a pet so why bother to breed a dog that is purposely bred to do a job like hunt.
      You don't seem to see the total picture.. fox hounds first.. the rest next .. talk about "blinkered eyes"

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    14. Not sure the rudeness is necessary and I am most certainly not blinkered.....................it is simply not likely that shooting will become outlawed anytime soon!

      "Anyone can breed a pet" as you so put it is exactly why there are these problems in purebred dogs not just the purpose bred ones by the way, in my view the pug serves no purpose but has many many problems so why should we bother????............ummm!!!!

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    15. You are trying to insert a red herring. we are not discussing pugs or their health issues The point is that yes anyone can breed a dog to be used as pet. Terriers are rarely used to catch rats these days as we have other means to control vermin. No one really needs to shoot birds do they? So why the need for setters or spaniels? Duck or waterfowl hunting? not banned YET but it si coming Dogs are already banned for hunting deer or stags, so why the deerhound or the wolfhound? coursing sight hounds for live rabbits or other game is against the law so why do we need greyhounds, whippets or lurchers?. you cannot use dogs on badgers in many places so why would you need a Fell or a Jack or a Patterdale The window is narrowing for the use of dogs to hunt and in the end it will be the extinction of many gun dogs along with others caught in the animal rights trap of no more hunting with any dogs.
      Not being rude just pointing out that you scenario of
      ."it is simply not likely that shooting will become outlawed anytime soon!" is not seeing the whole picture of teh agenda of the animal rights groups.

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    16. I can see the whole agenda of you as an animal rights activist very clearly indeed Mr I'm going to remain anonymous and pretend I'm something I'm not, are you ashamed of yourself????

      I don't give a shit for you or your agenda the hypocrisy stinks lets save fox coz he's soooo lovely.......oh no that spaniel you have loved for years no lets get rid of those they have no purpose as pets.....doh

      Shooting vermin will not be outlawed it is the most efficient and environmentally friendly form of pest control which is a necessity doh! whilst on this subject, a terrier reducing the rat population is much less harmful than leaving poisoned bait down.....doh again! obviously even the idiots in government recognise this...........deal with it !!

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  25. Interesting figures that Anon 23.22 gives for the effects of a single outcross mating. Back around 1990 the Irish Kennel Club allowed a previous outcross for Irish Red and White Setters. Four matings were done. Only one of the four matings produced descendants who are still here in the breed beyond the fourth generation (and this mating has been influential for the field trial dogs in Ireland, something like Anon described in the theoretical model ). The other three matings produced no descendants beyond three generations. So they had no effect on the breed. That was because breeders were selecting the best working dogs to breed on from, rather than breeding to get the maximum genetic impact from the outcrosses - and they considered the best working dogs came down from just one outcross mating. Maybe also the breeder who had that successful line was also somebody with the tenacity to carry the programme through

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    1. I wrote a long post down below that somewhat touches on this. People breeding for work ability also miss certain points regarding how their way, tends to cull a lot of individuals from gene pools.

      I had someone ask, even AFTER I said this, "But WHY would I want to breed a dog that does not work?"

      Apparently if you are not the BEST working dog, are are not a worker at ALL?

      I'd even keep a lousy worker or so-so once in awhile. NO one really knows what genetically contributes to that great work ethic in a dog, which humans value, and which is also subject to individual need and whim. THere are lines within breeds valued for tendencies with shades of difference.

      Some Border Collies are better on sheep, some on cattle, some on differnet TYPES of sheep, etc. People pick what they aim for sometimes just based on these differences alone.

      Dogs not bred if they don't have a micro-specific skill set, remove valuable genes from the breed.

      And then many dogs today are bought as companions for dog sports, etc, and spayed/neutered and kept out of the gene pool as well.

      Still MORE genes removed.

      That's a lot of genes!

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  26. The gain from an outcross varies depending on the problem and the outcross. Obviously, if the problem in homozygosity in one locus and the outcross introduces a missing allele, there is an immediate cure for a problem. Whether breeders will adopt the cure is another problem.
    With high frequency of cancer in a narrow gene pool, there's good reason to think outcrossing will help, across the board, in the genetics of immune response, including ability to resist cancer. Theory doesn't always work, and serious scientific testing would require a lot of dogs be bred and a lot of pups monitored for many many years.
    However, if suitable dogs, valued for working qualities rather than show qualities or pedigree, are used, I don't see that there's much cost. People will want the pups. As Retrieverman and others have pointed out, crossing of retriever breeds has a long history, and often produces highly functional dogs. If dog people had resisted outcrossing 150 years ago, the wonderful influence of the St John's water dogs would never have made it into the gene pool and we wouldn't have all the wonderful breeds we have today.

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  27. This small study found a carcinogen in canine fur. The carcinogen is produced when meat (especially chicken) is sujected to high temperatures e.g. the extrusion process in kibble. It appears to be easiest to find in black dogs, as it concentrates in black fur. I wonder if it has the potential to be an early warning cancer test?

    http://mercola.fileburst.com/PDF/HealthyPets/Turesky-Article.pdf

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  28. It seems very difficult for one breeder to save a breed, but a club could do so using only an ink pen. Just re-write the standard so that the breed is called "Retrievers" , then list Labs, Goldies, Flatties, and each of the other retrieving breeds as varieties.

    Nobody would have to cross out of their variety if they didn't want to, but those who did want to would have their puppies pedigreed and papered - as "Retrievers, Internationally bred".

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  29. There is an accidental flatcoat lab cross on epupz from health tested stock

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  30. I commend you for putting the outcross proposal out there and supporting it in full view online, for good reasons!

    This isn't retreiver related, but just as an example of the short sightedness of some, I spoke privately on FB with a breeder of working kelpies and Australian koolies, about CA in kelpies. There does not seem to be a database with a count yet that one can confidently say shows a percentage of prevalence of CA in kelpies. It probably isn't all that high in fact, but there is arguing as to whether or not many breeders have CA in their lines and just cull and then refuse to acknowledge it.

    To that end, I stated that in any gene pool where people are strict about keeping things "pure", sooner or later you will dead-end the gene pool.

    The breeder refuted the idea. She said there were enough kelpies to prevent disease. She was more concerned about breeding for work than for health it seemed, and she said that it was unethical to breed and sell working kelpies as such if one ever outcrossed at all!

    I replied, if strict purity is ALWAYS adhered to, it may take many generations after we are gone, but sooner or later there WILL be problems. Embracing the possibility of outcrossing is simply about taking in the bigger picture and thinking long-term.

    Also, I mentioned that individulas are culled from gene pools all the time as pets who get spayed/neutered, or because some workers are not considered the best of the best! This doesn't help matters. The pool always gets smaller if you don't cross other dogs or keep more individuals.

    And what good is working ability if the dogs become unhealthy?

    And how is keeping health in mind unethical? If you are honest about what you are breeding and selling, where is the lack of ethics?

    Same breeder decided some "Koolies" are not "pure", but large investigation had many if not most Australians saying this was never about "pure" dogs to begin with. Koolies descend from collies and German "Tigers" which were bred solely for work, and as folks did not pay attention to the lines, colors, etc until recently, purity was not an issue. In effect, with few line exceptions, the breed has been crossed to various collies ( BCs), kelpies, etc, and has become a landrace, with the only threat to health being the tendency to keep merle dogs.

    Why do I bring this all up? Because it's an example of how people still seem to uphold this modern notion of purity as the end-all, be-all goal for breeding. And even some of those who claim to be for working dogs have drunk this cool aid.

    So I applaud anyone who sees the forest through the trees, and puts it out there.

    It's early on yet, but there seems to be an outcrossing revolution coming to SAVE breeds and types, and I'm happy to be on board.

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  31. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1R9Fl7n6_A&sns=em

    We've been doing an outcross for some time now. Starting the selection for another litter of F1b and F2 litters for 2014 and adding Springers and Weimaraners into the mix once we've selected some F2's down the road.

    It's certainly been interesting thus far.

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  32. Pleas add a link to the mckenzie projec that works.

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  33. Jemima Harrison Have you heard of the Chatham Hill dogs? They are breeding FCRs with Cockers. They also allow yellow FCRs. http://chathamhilldogs.com/The_Retrievers.html The breeder also breeds Long haired Weims. They breed for blue Weims also!. Exclusively for long haired Weims that is.
    They mention in passing LUA Dalmations and Bobtail Boxers
    (which I found here) http://www.boxberry.net/page4.asp

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  34. I have a gorgeous flat coat x springer, 9 this year and as fit as a fiddle. Looks like a flatty but working springer size and face...

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