Thursday, 5 September 2013

Dogs - the elevator pitch



Last year, with little fuss, a bunch of smart dog and conservation people started the Institute of Canine Biology (ICB) - an essentially-online presence designed to act as a conduit between science and dog-breeders.
"The Institute of Canine Biology is an independent, international consortium of outstanding scientists that are working with the global network of dog breeders to manage and reduce the incidence of genetic disorders in dogs."
It's doing that by disseminating research in an engaging way and by offering online courses to dog breeders - both general courses in population genetics, and courses designed for specific breeds.

One for Poodle breeders this month, for instance, includes the latest research into the breed's DLA diversity, a wonderful initiative funded by the Poodle Club of Canada in collaboration with Dr Lorna Kennedy at the University of Manchester.

(DLA analysis looks specifically at genes that code for immune function, of interest to any breed that suffers from immune-mediated conditions as it may provide a way to breed dogs with more robust immune systems.)

The ICB is also hosting The Global Pedigree Project which has the ambitious aim of creating a centralised, free database of the pedigree history of every purebred dog - an international effort that "will bring together pedigree information that is presently scattered among kennel clubs around the world and consolidate it so that the entire history of a breed will be traceable from founders to present day dogs."

The ICB is the brainchild of Carol Beuchat, a biologist and photographer with a lifelong passion for dogs, and she has brought to the party an impressive list of international names.  These include Bob Lacy, a conservation guru who has revolutionised wild animal conservation with two key pieces of software - one that models genetic viability (Vortex); and the other a kind of match.com for managed species (PMx).

I spoke to Bob when we were researching the first Pedigree Dogs Exposed to ask if he might be interested in modelling dog populations. He was, but there was nothing that could be done in time for the film. Bob and Carol have already worked together on a paper looking at the genetic management of Basenjiis (link).

Other interesting names at the ICB include:
  • French geneticist Grégoire Leroy, who has published several key papers on dog breeding, including several looking at vulnerable French breeds
  • population geneticist Katariina Maki who works with the Finnish Kennel Club and is the author of key papers examining genetic diversity in Lancashire Heelers and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (the latter much discussed here).
  • CA Sharp, a renowned lay expert on the genetics of Australian Shepherds who runs the fantastic ASHGI (Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute) - a website offering much to breeders of other breeds, too.  Sharp has been a tour-de-force in Aussies for several years.

The ICB has been up and running since spring 2012 and Carol has just written what she calls an "elevator pitch" on what dog breeders need to know (and what the ICB's population genetics courses cover).

Now it has to be said that it would have to be a very high building with a bloody slow elevator to qualify. But, in a nutshell, this is what it's all about:


1) All the useful genetic variation your breed will ever have was in the dogs that founded the breed. This genetic diversity is finite.

2) Every generation, alleles are lost by chance (genetic drift) and also by artificial selection by breeders, who select for dogs with the traits they like, and remove other dogs from the breeding population.

3) Because the stud book is closed, genes that are lost cannot be replaced.

4) So,  from the moment a breed is founded and the stud book is closed, loss of genetic diversity over time is inevitable and relentless.

5) You cannot remove a single gene from a population. You must remove an entire dog, and all the genes it has.

6) You cannot select for or against a single gene, because genes tend to move in groups with other genes. If you select for (or against) one, you select for (or against) them all.

7) Breeding for homozygosity of some traits breeds for homozygosity of all traits. Homozygosity is the kiss of death to the immune system. And as genetic variability decreases, so does the ability of the breeder to improve a breed through selection, because selection it requires variability.

The consequences of inbreeding (in all animals) are insidious but obvious if you look - decreased fertility, difficulty whelping, smaller litters, higher puppy mortality, puppies that don't thrive, shorter lifespan, etc. Genetically healthy dogs should get pregnant if mated. They should have large litters of robust puppies, with low pup mortality. Animals that cannot produce viable offspring are removed by natural selection.

9) Mutations of dominant genes are removed from the population if they reduce fitness. Mutations of recessive alleles have no effect unless they are homozygous. So rare alleles are not removed, and every animal has them.

10) Create a bunch of puppies that have a (previously) rare mutation, and the frequency of that bad allele in the population increases, so the chance of homozygosity increases.

11) Genetic disorders caused by recessive alleles don't "suddenly appear" in a breed. The defective gene was probably there all along. Make a zillion copies, and you have a disease.

12) Using DNA testing to remove disease genes will not make dogs healthier (see 2, 5, and 6).

13) The breed will continue to lose genes (by chance or selection) until the gene pool of the breed no longer has the genes necessary to build a healthy dog.

14) At this point, the breed might look beautiful (because of selection for type), but will suffer from the ill effects of genetic impoverishment.

15) The only way to improve the health of a breed is to manage the health of the breed's gene pool.

16) The health of individual dogs cannot be improved without improving the genetic health of the population. Population genetics provides the tools for genetic management of populations of animals.

17) Breeders can improve the health of the dogs they breed if they understand and use the tools of population genetics.



I am full of admiration for Carol for having the energy and commitment to set up the ICB. It's a fantastic, practical resource for dog breeders and others interested in canine genetics - one of several recent initiatives, as it happens, designed to encourage dog breeders to embrace the bigger picture of breed conservation.

The ICB has just launched on Facebook, too - find and like it here.

43 comments:

  1. Yes, certainly something to be praised... but personally I resent seeing dogs with cropped ears, especially when the programme is focussed on health / welfare issues. It puts me off. Yes, I do realise cropped ears are not genetic - but they are very much man made and absolutely unnecessary. I see no reason for tails to be docked either for that matter.

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    1. My fault, Susan... the picture of the dogs in the elevator is from the web; nothing to do with the ICB.

      Jemima

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  2. Really pleased to hear about this resource. Many breeders may not like it, but that's a clear and easy to understand elevator pitch. However, I couldn't find it on the ICB website.

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    1. Carol wrote it and posted on Facebook... hopefully it will make its way to the ICB website, though.

      Jemima

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    2. Ah... it *is* on the ICB webpage.

      Here's the link:

      http://www.instituteofcaninebiology.org/why-take-this-course.html

      Jemima

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  3. I've toodled around their website now, all sorts of very impressive charts and projects, but ...

    I hope I am just missing it.

    Not one peep about crossbreeding.

    The data and their own logic points inevitably to the conclusion that there can be no breed "preservation" without, duh, crossbreeding.

    Yet they seem to treat breeds as defined by the Fancy kennel clubs as a fixed reality, not an artifact of the stupidest human whimsy, and the easiest variable to change.(By anyone afflicted with neither stupidity nor whimsy.)

    So what about this is anything other than a very math-rich way of directing the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic?

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  4. For cross breeding to have a dramatic impact on the effective population size of a breed, mulitple breeds will need to be used due to the small effective population size of most breeds (40-80 dogs for most breeds); and multiple hybrids will need to be incorporated into the breeding population of the breed of interest. Also due to the genetic mutations present in all breeds, choose the out-cross breeds wisely.

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    1. Not necessarily. I have Parson Russell Terriers and there are several FCI, KC and non-FCI, non-KC registries, mainly of working dogs, which we can luckily use here in Austria and still register the offspring. I realise that is not allowed in many other countries.

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    2. Why is that practice not allowed in other countries, when clearly, it promotes essential genetic diversity?

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  5. Or maybe they are being very clever in attracting dog breeders onto their courses in population genetics , and working on changing the way they think. Not by telling them from the start that crossbreeding and opening up the registries is inevitable but by taking them step by step through the principles of population genetics - and by the end, the breeders will have worked out for themselves that they have to change their breeding practices. They currently have over eighty breeders on their all breeds basic class, quite a mix of some old hands from Can Gen who really know it all already and have been putting John Armstrong's ideas into practice for years, and some newer people for whom this is uncharted territory. It will be interesting to see how these newer people are thinking by the end of the course. The tactic seems to be to lead the horses to the river, then let them make up their own minds if they want to drink the water

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    1. I hope you are right.

      Even on old Cangen, there were those who could manipulate all the numbers, cite all the studies, and still convince themselves that more testing and purifying and purging would save the day, if only everyone did it -- and that "purity" was not only a virtue, but the highest virtue.

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  6. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!! So clearly put, by people who know what they are talking about.

    I was waiting for point #18 though, when they inform breeders that the main tool of population genetics is, and has to be, introducing unrelated dogs ('breeds') into a line. And on a regular basis. I wonder when they are going to break it to them?!

    After lots of good education, I expect - gently leading them towards the inevitable conclusion. Excellent stuff.

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  7. I love the idea of a comprehensive pedigree database. Especially if people can search it ...or make downloads and push them through statistical software, eg. as Christopher does from time to time for border collies in the Border-Wars blog.

    Not sure what to think about the courses. They could be good or they could be some dumbed-down bums-on-seats invention to up enrollments and bring in $$. It would be good to see some sort of syllabus. The 17 point list covers the points educated breeders make to one another and many of us already know. Are they going to teach any modern genetics as applied to dogs, eg., so the interested can begin to read technical papers on discoveries related to the genetics of specific cancers, epilepsy, dysplasia etc., or are these going to be lumped into the 'too hard' bin labelled 'polygenetic'? Are they going to teach any genetic modelling, or is it all math-free? Will it help us get full benefit of publications coming out of the Dog genome projects.

    I'm disappointed that their 17 points say nothing about Limited Register. Use of the Limited Register takes most of the pups from most litters out of the pedigree breeding population, often because they lack the extreme characteristics needed to win shows. Eg, a pedigree pup who fails to show signs of a flat face will be ejected from the pedigree breeding pool by putting it on Limited. You can't model population genetics in pedigree dogs without considering the 'Limited'.

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    1. All of the points you are all raising are covered in the class. What's been posted here is the skeleton, there is so much more covered in the class itself. I have taken the class and HIGHLY recommend it!

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    2. What about the field of epigenetics which could be the key to the polygenetic diseases like epilespy?

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    3. See:

      http://www.wiringthebrain.com/2013/01/the-trouble-with-epigenetics-part-1.html

      http://www.wiringthebrain.com/2013/01/the-trouble-with-epigenetics-part-2.html

      for a good review of epigenetics from the perspective of neurophysiology.

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    4. or

      http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/13-grandmas-experiences-leave-epigenetic-mark-on-your-genes

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  8. I say stick this to the Kennel's faces repeatedly. I want to see their reactions.

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  9. Jennifer, the limited register does not exist in all countries, here in Norway for example it is not even allowed to neuter dogs unless there are serious health reasons.

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    1. That's because Scandinavia appear to be entirely sensible when it comes to all things dogs! :) Breeding, behaviour, ownership - you guys set the standard.

      The rest of us have some way to go....:(

      I think this is an awesome resource and puppy buyers need to be empowered to shove this in any breeder's face and see if they measure up to what they really all should be aware of and taking steps to seriously address.

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  10. Norway, Sweden and Finland seem to be way ahead of the pack in terms of good breeding practices! It's good thee are enlightened places in the world.

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  11. I hope this truly is an independent group. I took genetics 101 long ago in college, as well as molecular genetics and a few other things, but if you don't use it, you lose it, so I could stand a bit of review.

    If you are not a breeder but a very interested person, will they let you sign up? I am going to inquire. I have limited funds for something like this though.

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    1. If you want to refresh your genetics, I highly recommend the Douchy podcasts...which they recommend in their course materials list. These were produced for high school biology in Victoria, Australia, and do have a sort of teen-age flavor to them (I can't say I love the music, though the lyrics reinforce the message of the lecture). But they are easy to follow and scientifically correct and pretty up to date. Good things to play when driving, ironing, house cleaning, shelling peas, or whatever.

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  12. Given dog overpopulation, anyone that suggests that there needs to be more dogs in the pool of breeding animals has rocks in their head. It is not the total number of breeding animals that is a problem, it is the disparity in the use of individual animals.

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  13. Overpopulation is a myth. No question, there are too many dogs that nobody wants. In my area, shelters are flooded with pit bull crosses and poorly bred pits. But finding good homes for desirable breeds is not a problem.

    As has often been noted in PDE, the Scandanavian countries tend to have policies that favor widening the breeding pool for pedigree dogs and lessening popular sire syndrome. This does NOT lead to a lot of unwanted dogs.

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  14. Then as a breeder, trainer, and user of working dogs (herding and LGDs) I have rocks in my head; because in order to keep viable gene pools we need more and more genetically diverse working dogs in these gene pools (non-working dogs don't count).

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  15. Jennifer, "overpopulation is a myth" really? Staffs and pitballs deserve just as much of an opportunity to have loving safe homes to share with people who love them as any type of dog. With the very rare exception, never a bad dog always a bad owner. If these staffs and pitballs had been bought by dog loving individuals whose first concern was their training and wellbeing then these breeds would not be so maligned. It is the type of people who own and mistreat these dogs, then can't be bothered with them, that produce the fearful aggressive dog. And believe me Jennifer if you were kicked and beaten, cigarettes stubbed out on your coat etc etc then you too would bite before letting a human hand anywhere near you. They display mainly fear aggression not aggressive behaviourial traits. Over population is huge, the number of puppies being brought into the UK from Eastern Europe in vans is frightening. They avoid all checks because they are classed as commercial goods and consequently waived thro'. What happens to these puppies after they have passed their cute stage, assuming, of course, that they haven't suffered horribly and died as a consequence. All for money. There is a huge overpopulation and breeders must restrain themselves. Whichever, whatever happens according to the points above, breeds of dog are going to disappear anyway because of the genetic restriction and even crossbreeding will delay the process but I guess, every species on the planet is going to disintegrate if those facts are correct, including human beings. It seems to me that research is pointless, the only thing humans can do to be kinder to dogs is to stop breeding from dogs that we know suffer because of our "preferences" and concentrate on breeding dogs that are fit for the purpose of having a full and happy life. Pedigree/purebred anything apparently is going to become a thing of the past, I am not saying it is good or bad, I despair of dog breeders who breed for money.

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    1. Some good points Georgina. The only problem with the Pit type dogs in the US is that most have been selectively bred for gameness to fight other dogs. i.e. not aggression per se, but for their hard wired response to dog fight. The reaction is a predatory response, which absolutely is not aggression. The predatory nature to want to fight or kill another dog is truly terrifying and to selectively breed with that in mind makes these dogs unpredictable as pets. Aggression does tend to arise out of fear but Pit type dogs tend to be selected to be not aggressive to human beings as they need to get pulled out of dog fights etc. without biting their humans. Therefore, these dogs will tend to put up with a huge amount of abuse and have good tolerance for humans and our weaknesses in handling them and that is what CAN make Pit Bulls and their mixes absolutely fantastic family pets! - provided they end up in the hands of compassionate and understanding owners who have the knowledge and experience to not set these dogs up to fail. How many people want to take on a family pet that requires that amount of work though? Given the dissonance at hand regarding animal behaviour, it's no wonder these dogs struggle to find homes.

      With regard to Staffies in this country, well as we know, they are absolutely fantastic dogs – full of fun with lots of drive and incredibly loyal and loving. As you know, they have suffered due to looking a bit like Pit Bulls and therefore will attract the sort of yucky person who wants to make them yucky too. It’s why breed banning is highly questionable IMO as the yucky people will tend to just move on to another type/breed of dog to temperamentally and physically ruin…

      It is possible to help a dog who has problems with learned aggression. The older the dog is though, the more chances he will have had to practice the behaviour and the more entrenched the neural pathways and behaviour patterns will be established. Genetics also plays a big part too, but the environment is crucial to shaping a dog’s behaviour for the better. How many people who ‘love’ dogs understand canine cognition and behavioural adjustment training though? Loving a dog, in the way humans tend to anthropomorphise their pets is simply not enough to help it learn to trust human beings again and to function in a world where they simply don’t understand the rules. The dog has to be taught using the principles of animal learning behaviour. Kind, fair and effective training plus enormous amounts of time, commitment, consistency and patience. Not easy really….

      http://www.aspca.org/blog/firsthand-report-massive-dog-fighting-bust

      One has to be pragmatic. We need to breed pet dogs that aren't hard wired to want to kill other dogs (or attack people for that matter!) and we need to understand that although no kill shelters are wonderful in their commitment to the lives of these dogs, they do keep dogs alive that perhaps may be better off over the Rainbow Bridge. I truly understand why people don't want these sort of dogs, but I also feel desperately sad at the fact that there are a lot of people who want a pedigree dog who either can't or won't take the time and energy to truly understand canine nature and work in the interests of the animal at hand. I would question the moral fibre of a person who wants a Bulldog because they love the way they look but can't be arsed to exercise a dog properly, for example. And they wouldn’t think of going to a shelter to see if a dog is suitable for their needs because they absolutely want a pedigree puppy. Pedigree dog breeders have created and reinforce that demand……it is morally questionable and ethically unsound to breed dogs to feul that type of demand.

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    2. Georgina, if dogs are purely the product of their upbringing, then why do puppy books tell you to run from any litter where the dam shows sign of aggression? Temperament is inherited - we know this, just look at the differences between the various breeds!

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    3. Hi Fran, I think I had slipped in the caveat that with the rare exception most dogs are wonderful. There will obviously be a damaged dog (whether inherited, birthing problem, or environment) that would make that particular dog too dangerous in our social environment. Anon 11:27 sadly I agree with all you say and you have expressed exactly what I couldn't find the right words regarding Pitbulls. And your words should be used many times in highlighting the dangers of introducing the wrong breed into a household. Sadly I also agree that rather than languish for years in a "no kill" shelter it might be kinder to let the dog go and Mary is witness to how awful that decision must be. If only humans could restrain themselves and really consider what their responsibilities are when either breeding a litter or buying a puppy. And many people have made the point that regardless of how often people are told to buy from a private breeder, see the parents, get the puppy vet checked etc they ignore it. It's as if the pyb breeders, puppy farmers etc etc are using the sick, pathetic puppy as a sales tool, "buy this puppy because it is sick and only YOU can make it better" and people are overwhelmed by what they see before them. They believe that they are the person who will save it or, of course, the others who will think "that's cheap I'll have it" neither attitude helps pedigree puppies or the private breeder who has spent hours and money on their much loved dogs. I am in no doubt that there lots of good breeders, but as previously stated they are swamped by the greedy bad breeders. I have a 14.5 year old dalmation who I rescued when she was 8. Seemingly she was savage, hated other dogs and children. In reality she was totally misunderstood. My vet had refused to destroy her and kept her for 3 months at the surgery hoping to find a new home, they understood her too. My Irish was absolutely delightful with her and within a short period she relaxed and 6.5 years later she is still by my side, sharing her life with a terrier and a spaniel. She had been bought by the wrong family with the wrong intention so Fran is quite correct if only people would think more before buying any dog.

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    4. Let's keep emotion and lecturing out of this and stick to population genetics

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  16. Responsible breeders are not the problem; they will take back a dog they have bred if the owner can no longer look after if for whatever reason. It's puppy farms, 'status breeds', and people breeding 'designer' crossbreeds, neither of which benefits the gene pool of pedigree dogs, that are causing the problem. Careful breeders will not breed a litter unless they have a reasonable number of buyers on the waiting list and have a sensible expectation of being able to sell any over that. It's equally important for puppy buyers to educate themselves and to support breeders who are trying to do the best for their breed, and to be patient and understand there may be a wait to get that diverse puppy. (For perspective, this post is by a breeder with a scientific background who became so because of a love of a breed and concerns about diversity within it, who has signed up to one of the courses)

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    1. It's FINDING these breeders though. I don't think breeders realise just how difficult it is to find a reputable breeder and be confident that person is responsible, and not just answering the pet buyer's questions in the right way.

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    2. From a breeder's point of view, I see so many buyers who make no effort to locate responsible breeders. The buyers either fall for the cute puppy face or for a slick website. After they have the pup they then show up on breed specific forums looking for help with their problems. So few show up in the forums before they buy their pup.

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    3. We need EVIDENCE. Continuing Professional Development for example. Let me see your certificate from appropriate genetic courses; allow your practices to be audited; keep up to date records; breeding standrds that are not just about looks; make the COI a realistic standard in itself etc. The KC Accredited Breeder Scheme for example, how is that maintained and upheld? Who inspects the breeders regularly? How do we know what they are doing is correct? Which standards do they work to?

      Prove to me you are a good breeder with sound evidence that you are breeding dogs with the caveat of sound health and temperamant as paramount.

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    5. I don't know that there is any certificate for the course, but my own breeding dogs are all health tested far above and beyond what the Assured Breeder scheme recommends, and they have achieved the KCGC Bronze Award or better, and one of them is a therapy dog. I also participate in international discussion groups about diversity in my breed and take part in scientific studies with my dogs. In my opinion the Assured Breeder scheme is largely irrelevant to the health of the breed as a whole, as its focus is primarily on phenotype health screening, overreliance on which has been shown to damage the gene pool and have little effect on reducing incidence, let alone eliminating these diseases. There is a dog currently doing well in the show ring who is the offspring of half-siblings from very common lines. This is allowed under the KCAB because the siblings had two phenotype health tests each. All very nice for the people who decided to breed these half-siblings together, but not what I'd consider to benefit the breed myself.

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    6. http://www.dogadvisorycouncil.com/puppy/Breeding%20standard.pdf

      This looks fairly comprehensive...

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    7. The DAC document is set up to make the whole process capable of audit - referencing documents such as SOPs etc. If I was in the market for a pedigree puppy then I would take this document along with a whole bunch of questions, based on the standards written down in the document. This would serve as my own audit. I could then compare the breeders in a systematic and objective manner, working to this breeding standard.

      A breeder with nothing to hide should be more than willing, heck, even happy to comply in this process

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    8. Please do ask breeders lots of questions. A good breeder should not be offended by sensible and reasonable questions (obviously, be respectful and polite rather than accusatory/rude), and will be happy to answer. If you ask a breeder why they are breeding, their answer should demonstrate enthusiasm and care for the long-term preservation of their breed, and not be something along the lines of 'because I like puppies' or 'to sell nice pets to people'.

      I have seen this document before. It has some valid points, but is written more with large-scale commercial breeders who use kennels in mind, and as such some of the requirements are unworkable to any practical degree for small breeders -- the stipulation that bitches in heat must be kept in an entirely separate building from dogs, and that bitches lactating or close to whelp should not be allowed contact with other dogs. It is not harmful for a bitch who is lactating or due to whelp to be in the supervised company of the breeder's other dogs, and neither is it harmful for a stud and bitch to be kept apart in separate rooms within the same house, as long as they both get plenty of attention separately.

      #24 this is facile. Breeders who seriously care about diversity will research COI for far more than five generations. I use a computer program to calculate COI for fifteen generations, and also look at the influence from common ancestors farther back.

      #16 Genetic tests are great. If used correctly, you will never produce a puppy with the disease and you don't need to discard any dogs and lose any more diversity in order to do that. But "Where such tests provide a score, no dog should be used for breeding if their score is worse than the average published for the breed."? I have had concern about this sort of recommendation for some time, and the course the original post was about actually does bring this up. This is a phenotype test, which means it tells you little about the genetic makeup of the dog and whether the genes or something to do with the environment have caused the phenotype, and tests such as this are very weak at eliminating or reducing such conditions. If breeders are only allowed to breed from the better half of the population, the other half will be unable to pass on their genetics, and that means that half of the genetic diversity within that breed will be lost, and will continue to be lost as long as that guideline is followed. This is extremely damaging to the long-term health of a breed overall. That doesn't mean that these tests shouldn't be done and shouldn't be used to make an informed decision, however, and incidentally all my own dogs have thus far tested as better than average on such tests.

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  17. Anon 17:34 you are quite correct, but the trouble is the good breeders are being defeated by the greedy breeders. The good breders are swamped out of the market because of excessive, sick, cheap pedigree puppies. I had my breed for 40 years and during that time only bred 5 or 6 litters because I only had the litter for a new puppy to show on. It never occurred to me to have a litter for money but it obviously did to others in my breed. When I look back through the records and see the numbers of puppies bred to one bloodline, genetically that has proven to be disastrous for the breed. But the breeders who did it and still are doing it don't give a flying fig, but if one tots up the unearned income derived from that source it is huge, in one case £32,500 over a five year period. If that isn't running a 100% for profit, untaxed income stream business I don't know what is. It is the main reason for the deterioration and decline of pedigree dogs pure and simply. The KC should be acknowledging the breeders who restrain their breeding plans but they won't because the good guy from their point of view is the person who churns out the puppies and thus swells their income stream from registration/transfer/etc etc. Their position is compromised because theoretically they are in business for the care and protection of dogs but on the other hand their desire to accumulate funds from an easy source overwhelms them and they have become blind as to why they were established. If the points outlined above are correct then in the immortal words "we are all doomed" regardless of species????? There is no point in researching anything because death is inevitable and avoidable. However, what is avoidable, is to stop inflicting "exaggerated, cruel, breed "points" onto innocent dogs because they cannot lead a happy, healthy, normal active life. Everyone go back to square one and rethink our strategy, together, as one, in unism and boy would the dogs benefit from that strength and energy that we could invest in their wellbeing.

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  18. Good Luck, but I don't think it will be like trying to lead a horse to water, but more like trying to jump a team of blinkered mules over fence.

    If you try to tell some breeders how to produce healthier pupies, you will hear comments like: "If I breed them to have a muzzle, they wont really be pugs", "But a patch of reversed hair on the spine is what makes a Ridgeback a Ridgeback","If my Doxies don't have loooooong backs and short legs, they wont be Doxies".

    Then too are the "Not one drop of impure blood..."people. Remember the decades long fuss about barring healthy Damatians because of one Pointer outcross long ago?

    So long as dog shows glorify one dog over others, there will be a stream of breeders buying into what they are led to believe, and people tossing the winners money for one of their special puppies.

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  19. Such a pity that so much dog politics can get in the way of 'pure' dog appreciation! All this info sounds a little familiar to some of what I have read about Schipperkes and the national shows that occur here. Both my dogs are tail-less, (not born that way!) because of the 'standard', I asked if my first dog, just a couple of weeks old then, if they would leave her tail insitu, but apparently they took it on day 3 of her life. Such a shame! Now of course this is illegal and Schipperkes are allowed to keep their tails, and such cute little tails they are! The Border Collie is such a gracious and stunning looking animal. Great post!!! Looking for large dog breeds for families Wondering what large dog breeds are good with kids or would be good for apartments Find out here A complete list of large dog breeds

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