Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Poodles - running out of time


Poodles are so broke genetically that only a concerted international effort from those that love the breed will save it, warns the Institute of Canine Biology.

In a strongly-worded open letter to the Poodle Club of Canada, the ICB urges breeders to stop squabbling over cosmetic issues such as the banning of parti-colours or it will be too late for the breed.
"That breeders could even be seriously considering removing dogs from the gene pool of the breed because they have one copy too many of a recessive allele for a purely cosmetic trait is simply breathtaking.  It reveals a profound and fundamental failure to appreciate the very dire genetic situation this breed is in."
The letter in full:
22 September 2013 

Mary Jane Weir  
President 
Poodle Club of Canada

An open letter to the Canadian Poodle clubs: 
We are dismayed to learn that there is organized resistance to the effort in Canada to remove the disqualification of particolor Standard Poodles and their progeny.  
The Standard Poodle has been the subject of extensive genetic research over the last few years.  The data produced by this work are chilling.  
The genetic diversity of the Standard Poodle has been reduced to the point where the immune system is seriously compromised. Without a competent immune system, dogs have no defense against the pathogens that we all encounter on a daily basis.  Further, loss of the ability of the immune system to distinguish between an external pathogen and its own tissue is being manifested as skyrocketing rates of autoimmune disorders such as Addison's disease and sebaceous adenitis.  These are horrible diseases for which there are no veterinary treatments adequate to restore an animal to normal health.  Genetic research can increase our understanding of the underlying pathology of inherited diseases in dogs, but there is nothing geneticists can do to "fix" this problem.  Many of the genes necessary for a functional immune system in Poodles have been lost from the breed's gene pool, and there is no modern technology that will restore it to proper function. 
At this point, genetic salvation of this breed is going to require a concerted effort by breeders to reduce additional loss of genetic diversity to an absolute minimum.  That breeders could even be seriously considering removing dogs from the gene pool of the breed because they have one copy too many of a recessive allele for a purely cosmetic trait is simply breathtaking.  It reveals a profound and fundamental failure to appreciate the very dire genetic situation this breed is in. 
There is no genetic technology that will restore the Standard Poodle breed to the good health that all dogs deserve.  This can only be accomplished by breeders, who must recognize that time is very quickly running out for this breed.  It is going to require a substantial realignment of priorities as well as an extraordinary level of cooperation among breeders around the world.  Geneticists can provide guidance in this process and there are many that are ready and willing to help.  But breeders need to know that it is possible to break something to the point where it cannot be fixed.  The responsibility to get this right is solely yours.

Carol Beuchat, PhDScientific DirectorInstitute of Canine Biology, USA&Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of California Berkeley, USA 
Jonas Donner, PhDDirector of Research & DevelopmentMyDogDNA, Genoscoper Laboratories, Finland 
Iwona Głażewska, PhDAssistant ProfessorDepartment of Plant Taxonomy and Nature ConservationUniversity of Gdansk, Poland 
Claudia Melis, PhDResearch ScientistDepartment of BiologyNorwegian University of Science & Technology, Norway
Pieter Oliehoek PhD Conservation Biology & Canine Genetics Institute of Canine Biology, USA
CA SharpPresidentAustralian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, Incwww.ashgi.org


Finally, an organisation with two fully-descended testicles has stood up and called it as it is, rather than continue to pussyfoot round breeders with an appeasing grin and much hand-wringing about the need to keep everyone on board.

I am sure that Beuchat and her colleagues thought long and hard before writing a letter that so doesn't pull its punches. It should be hard to ignore given the quality of those signatures.

But there's no doubt that being this outspoken to dog breeders is a calculated risk. I know I won't be the only one holding my breath in the hope that it won't backfire.

That said...

The whole canine diversity movement was started by scientist and poodle lover , the late Dr John Armstrong. Thanks to his teaching (see The Poodle and the Chocolate Cake, written in 1998) and initiatives such as the Standard Poodle Project, the breed has been well-documented genetically. Indeed, Poodle breeders were among the first to embrace the need to reduce inbreeding - and the ICB's online course for Poodle breeders which started this week is, I hear, very well subscribed.

The ICB is also hosting an ambitious effort to create a global pedigree database for Standard Poodles - in fact being overseen by Mary Jane Weir, President of the Poodle Club of Canada (so one imagines she must be party to the above letter).  I'm a huge admirer of Mary Jane. She knows her stuff and has already done so much to raise awareness about the impact dwindling genetic diversity has on the immune system.

I hope the ICB now throws its weight behind a world genetics congress for the breed.

If Poodle breeders could come together now in an international conservation effort to show the rest of world how it's done, it would be amazing. And a fitting tribute to John Armstrong, who cared so passionately about his Poodles and wanted the world to care, too.

194 comments:

  1. Oh blimey, I hadn't realised Poodles were in such dire straits!

    I just hope the breeders sit-up and take notice.There are probably breeders already who are desperately trying to breed more genetically-diverse dogs, but they are outnumbered by those who still think line-breeding (i.e. inbreeding) is the only way to go.

    Whilst the efforts of those breeding for diversity are admirable, the vitriole heaped upon them and others who challenge the status quo, is quite breathtaking.

    I hope they manage to save the Poodle. I hope it doesn't reach the point where, like the CKCS, not even an outcross can save the breed.

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    1. Why not get back to basics and stop complicating things or worrying about hearing your own voice echoing back to you?

      Dr. Armstrong said a long time ago to outcross to the other varieties, i.e., miniature and toy poodles to Standard poodles.
      Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Pederson concur to outcross to the other poodle varity sizes. What is so hard about that? We are so fortunate to actually have TWO other varieties to breed to rather than just look at crossbreeding to another breed. Due to island population genetics, the other poodle varieties (that according to the breed standard only should vary in size) while have different genotypes yet are the same phenotypes except size which is easy to remedy. There are only maybe less than a dozen Standard Poodle breeders that are actually doing this. Other breeders actively try to eat their young or just ignore....certainly do not support them. And this is the first I've ever seen that Mini's are very healthy as a group....according to what study or is just more hearsay from some chainsmoking woman sitting in front of her computer? Several brave souls have noted that on the Standard Poodle project that the ruling clique is more concerned about promoting their own dogs or discussing diversity than actually doing something positive. Many people have been disappointed that they followed some that hold themselves out as "experts" only to be ignored, if not attacked, when they purchased breeding stock and bred according to their directives. It's hard to stay in power as a the Expert Clique if you let in new people. It upsets the power dynamics and unfortunately, it seems that more are invested in their power base as they perceive it, rather than the future of Standard Poodles despite their protests to the contrary. The proof is in the pudding. Many times we hear: It's low COI, then no, it's Wycliffe %, no, no, everyone must do DLA testing. Now it's COI (coeffiecient of inbreeding), oh, no wait, we must study genetics and get a virtual degree in genetics to REALLY know what the we're doing not to produce "a hell of a litter". In the meantime, time clicks by and other people are out there producing "merle poodles" (talk about a "hell of a litter") and then their is slew of regulations in the U.S. that are ready to be put in place that will greatly reduce the genetic pool of all purebred dogs (not a word of that mentioned by ICB). Always follow the money. The scientist, bless them all, want grant money and want to follow the holy grail of mapping the genome, individual breeders are just that individuals usually tooting their own horns, testing companies want you to spend testing money and vets want tests and vaccination money. Graphs show a direct correlation with COI and disease incidence. It'd be interesting to see correlations of vaccinosis and disease or exposure to chemicals or different diets to disease. Has anybody looked at that? In the meantime, Calling out to all brave souls to outcross according to Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Pederson, and Dr. Kennedy's respective studies. And if you are not brave, then at least refrain from attacking those that are braver than you. And don't waste your time arguing with me....argue with the pleading Poodle eyes if you're lucky enough to have some in your home.

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    2. Ruling clique that promotes diversity??? I've heard that high-school mean girl argument before and it's an insane concept. Diversity breeders are the ones normally marginalized and who have been largely ridiculed and attacked - and I don't think I've ever seen the people who have been concerned with diversity since the early 2000s attacking anyone. They are typically pretty low key and in my experience they don't ever say "follow me" - they say "here's the evidence, what do you think?" There are certainly a great many unscrupulous profit-focused breeders who have used the diversity message as some sort of puppy-milling marketing scheme - not unlike the doodle message, and diversity breeders have had to be cautious not to promote that, but the idea that they are either a clique or ruling anything at all is ridiculous.

      Also, nobody has perfect answers. Low COI IS beneficial, low Wycliffe IS beneficial, DLA testing IS helpful, an understanding of genetics IS really worthwhile, but NOTHING is a guarantee, and no one offered one. We are all just trying to struggle along as we can with a really difficult problem. Jeesh.

      If you ever felt slighted, I'll bet it was unintentional. And If you say you are braver than others, why on earth are you anonymous? Come out and try to fix the issues if you have a legitimate gripe.

      Besides, there's only one group of powerful breeders and they are the members of the Poodle Club of America. Like any other group, some are wonderful and others are not.

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    3. My opinion is only one, but I feel that handlers have a lot of power here in getting more diversity intertwined with mainstream breeders. A very large percentage of serious breeders show in AKC conformation (I'm speaking of the US), and will snub any dog that looks different. The few brave souls who are trying to bring diverse pedigrees, and, God forbid, red poodles into the show ring can attest to that. Hell-bent line breeders will swear that outcrossing is more dangerous than linebreeding a line whose issues you know about. I personally feel that knowing issues are in a line doesn't tell you diddly squat about how to prevent or predict their occurrence. Many, many frown upon crossing varieties. Owners of poodles can tell you that minis, toys, and standards are not created equally in temperament, despite the written standard (put forth by PCA) saying they should appear equal. Again, ask the folks who know about colored poodles how crossing the varieties worked for and/or against the up and coming introduction of different colors. To me, the simplest answer would be to not look down on those making an effort to promote diversity but to try to understand the motivation and be supportive in bringing in what little diversity is left. I think most of us do prefer that to outcrossing to another breed. For dogs' sake, the status quo is killing the poodles! It certainly, to me, doesn't seem like it is going to hurt an already endangered breed. Maybe I am wrong. Breeders need to be forthcoming with one another especially about what is happening when they make certain breeding decisions. If crossing mini x standard is creating monsters, be up front! We have to be a bit more (or a lot more) objective & honest with one another and ourselves in order to make changes. Unfortunately, kennel blindness is in huge supply, both in and out of the show ring.

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    4. I have seen the results of 11 different breeders' mini x standard combinations and they are lovely Poodles.
      Inter-variety matings in Poodles used to be done with regularity until about just after WWII for Mini/Stan and to the Seventies/Eighties for Toy/Mini.
      So, this concept is nothing new. Do people here realize Poodle pedigrees are such that:
      All Toys have Miniature and Standards in their pedigree
      All Miniatures have Toy and Standards in their pedigree
      and
      All Standards have Miniature and Toy in their pedigree
      Some of us have these combinations closer in the generations than others, but in Poodles, we all have some of the other varieties in our dogs.

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    5. Perhaps one of the best discussions on this subject was posted to The Standard Poodle Project email group this morning. Many breeders and scientists are working on this situation that afflicts many pure-bred animals - a closed gene pool and how to best proceed. In dogs, the scientists are reportedly learning, (according to Mary Jane Weir's post on The Standard Poodle Project today and at other times) that variation of the DLA haplotype is beneficial. Mary Jane Weir wrote a very wonderful post today -- essentially stating that dogs with heterozygous DLA, meaning those "inheriting two different variations (haplotypes) in the DLA gives an individual dog better odds against infections" and some disease.
      To me, that is a very important lesson for dog breeders. Thank you Mary Jane for sharing your knowledge so willingly and often.
      I think this link I am posting helps people better understand the importance of the DLA and you see some familiar names posted as the researchers (L J Kennedy and N. C. Pedersen). Mary Jane is on a first name basis with these particular scientist researchers striving to help pure-bred dogs and she shares what she learns from them with the everyday Poodle breeder. It probably isn't stated enough, we deeply appreciate all your work Mary Jane Weir!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_leukocyte_antigen

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    6. Julie, DLA testing is useful but not definitive - and, indeed, Genoscoper has dropped it. The issue is some DLA haplotypes appear to be linked to specific diseases - ergo, it might not be appropriate to conserve that particular haplotype simply because it is rare in the breed.

      Jemima

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    7. Jemima,
      Exactly. Agreed.
      But what is thought to be very important at this time in the research, is as I was trying to communicate above, that the DLA Haplotypes inherited from each parent are best when they are not the same haplotype (homozygous DLA) and it is thought that there is a better chance for the immune system to work properly if the haplotypes inherited from each parent are different haplotypes (heterozygous)

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  2. Weir is a poodle breeder. This isn't an outside individual standing up against breeders, it's informed breeders standing up against 'old guard' breeders. And there ARE informed poodle breeders who breed for diversity, and have been since Armstrong's day. You want to do something positive to help breeds and breeders who care about them on your blog rather than constantly banging on about the negative? Consider contacting Weir and ask her for an interview about what breeders involved with the Standard Poodle Project are doing.

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    1. Astonishing. Anyone would think that that wasn't exactly what I wrote.

      But I'm afraid you can't have it both ways.

      If Poodle breeders are doing everything possible, and the breed is still in such a mess, then... they need a new strategy.

      Clearly, Weir is complicit in this letter and she wouldn't have sanctioned it if there was not a huge concern about the negative genetic influence on the breed by those breeders squabbling about colour while Rome burns.

      Incidentally, I've had one private email from someone a bit confused about how removing parti-colours from the breeding pool could have a negative impact genetically. The answer is that breeders are not just removing individuals. They're eschewing or excising whole lines from their breeding programmes.

      Jemima

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    2. Thank you for editing the original post to better reflect the point. I am tired of seeing it implicated that all breeders are idiots ruining breeds. Some breeders have scientific educations, and some are well-educated laymen. The problem is that there is a large majority who either don't understand or don't care, and the majority of dogs bred thus contain a minority of diversity, and the dogs with the majority of diversity are bred in smaller numbers by fewer people.

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    3. Agreed. And I've just tweaked it some more.

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    4. I'm confused. Weir is the one the letter was addressed to right? She isn't a cosigner of the letter.

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    5. I think in spirit she probably is, Anon.

      Jemima

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    6. How is it possible that the "responsible" breeders have "genetic diversity" while others do not? It is the diversity of the whole Standard Poodle population which is important.

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    7. Nothing to do with 'responsible' breeders vs 'irresponsible' breeders as those terms are highly subjective. To some, 'responsible' breeding is only breeding what does well at a show or at a traditional work and binning everything else and any diversity it represents (selecting hard for working ability can be almost as bad as selecting for appearance, and in this breed is difficult considering the drainage of the fens in which they were originally bred to work and the lack of need of the owners to bring in ducks for dinner every day). To others, it's doing every health test there is, even if some do not tell a great deal, and disqualifying every dog that does not meet exacting standards, which can also be harmful when tests like BVA hip scoring recommendations mean that in theory, half the population and the diversity it represents will be lost. Many breeders who are not typically thought of as responsible may have reservoirs of diversity in their dogs, simply because the diverse dogs were not favoured in the show ring and have only survived in the hands of those who do not care about 'show quality'. We need to get over politics and breeders slagging off other breeders and preaching about responsibility if we are to move forward on this, and help breeders to access information to better enable them make informed decisions. As others have said, there are no right and wrong answers, and diversity is needed in breeding strategies as well as in the genetics of the dogs. The more breeders who understand the science involved and all the evidence, the more there are who are likely to make positive, informed breeding choices that will improve the genetic diversity of the breed population as a whole.

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    8. If you look at all of the statistics posted by the Standard Poodle Project you'll see that both COI and %Whycliffe have been declining for the population at large, but not so for show poodles. I'm not a poodle person but know a little about statistics. I'd say this suggests that, apart from the show crowd, poodle breeders are beginning to turn away from inbreeding. Note, the trend began before PDE I. My guess is it's a self-recognition arising in the poodle crowd, perhaps thanks to Armstrong and those associated with him. In the long run, this bodes well for standard poodles. If there is a core group dedicated to maintaining breed health, there is hope. I wish I could see signs of equivalent intelligence from the pug, bulldog, or Frenchie communities. My guess is it can be found in other breed groups with greater or lesser effectiveness.

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  3. Could they be bred with Portuguese or Spanish Water Dogs - they are related already.

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    1. Those gene pools are already in trouble Catherine; they would be a last resort..
      Lucky for Standard Poodles, they have Miniature and Toy Poodle lines in which to acquire some diversity. A Poodle is a Poodle is a Poodle, If you have have been happily bewitched by one in each variety, you know just that. No reason to cross to another breed when one can combine varieties within the same breed.

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  4. I wouldn't really worry to much as the rate at which poodles are now crossed there won't be many left anyhoo.

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    1. That is a perfect example thank you! Goldendoodles are plagued with health problems. No better example of outcrossing.

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    2. And what health problems are Golden Doodles plagued with?

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    3. http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/dog-breeds/goldendoodle#common-health-issues

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  5. Good to see Dr Armstrong getting recognition. I can't think of anyone who has done more to turn a breed around. I hope the more enlightened breeders who have listened are able to succeed.

    I'm no expert here, but it seems like poodles are a fascinationg and unusual case in that the bottleneck that reduced genetic diversity was artificially created by the Fancy well after WWII, and the problem was recognized and education and action on it began relatively early.

    Footnotes:
    * parti-colored were allowed up through around 1960 in most places and are known for centuries, eg., they show up in many old paintings.
    * the UK KC allows parti-colored poodles and a few have been titled in the last decade.
    * The AKC disqualifies them from conformation shows, as does the ANKC (Australia).

    Can someone explain the politics of poodle history? Is the movement to ban parti-coloreds part an parcel of the trend that brought the Wycliff dogs to an overwhelming position of dominance in the show world...and in the poodle gene pool?

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  6. Jennifer, I think you mean the UKC allows parti-colours, not the UK KC? The breed standard here still states: "Non solid colours are highly undesirable and should be heavily penalised." I am not aware of any UK champion parti-colours.

    Jemima

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    1. Oops! You're exactly right. I read UKC as UK KC.

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    2. There's no 'UK KC' -- it's called the KC, and calling it the 'UK KC' should be avoided for precisely that reason.

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  7. I'm waiting with baited breath for the usual head-in-the-sand responses to arrive, despite the depth of scientific factual evidence behind this.

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  8. That's all very valuable, but not as ballsy as it needs to be. To aspire merely to "reduce additional loss of genetic diversity to an absolute minimum" is to aspire only to SLOW the poor Poodle's decline into obliteration.

    It really has to be said in big bold letters, that UNRELATED dogs - meaning almost certainly OTHER BREEDS - must, that is MUST, be introduced into multiple Poodle lines in order to save it.

    We saw it with the breeding of the Bobtail Boxer that crossing with Corgis, of all things, left no visible trace except for the natural bobtail, within a couple of generations: http://dogbreedguide.whosyadoggy.com/?x=4A

    Breeders have to be educated that this CAN and MUST be done! Registry rules must changed to accommodate this, if registries wish to continue having live dogs to register.

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    1. I do not know much about poodles, but I think there are three sizes. Are all three genetically pauperised or could one interbreed here for added genetic variety?

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    2. the 3 sizes are genetically different.. and several experiments crossing minis and standards created a whole new set of diseases... I feel the future is in bringing in a 4rth size Klein from the European countries and bring up size.. since it is already so difficult to breed minis to 15 inches or less there is a wealth of oversized minis to contribute..due to multitudes of mini breeders who finished puppy champions and never bother to tell anyone their dog is oversize as an adult, most mini pedigrees contain the klein size poodle anyway..so just keep selectively breeding to the larger mini to larger mini and before you know it you have 20 inch standards!! out of my last 5 litters only 3 individuals are in size..the largest being 18 inches and 23 pounds.. hell of an agility dog.. and stunning to look at..minis have their own sub set of diseases but at least we dont have a derth hip problems and bloat.. and we do have optigen and cerf for eye diseases which decimated the mini population years ago.

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    3. Which experiments crossing the varieties "created a whole new set of diseases?" I wish people would use real examples as well as understand the lack of power anecdotal information has. Lots of readers just swallow these statements whole.

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    4. Agreed! Science is about observations that are backed up with evidence either for or against your statements/hypothesis.

      Please provide some references. Otherwise it's just an opinion.

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    5. Vickie,
      Your post is only half correct.
      True: we are fortunate to have Caniche Moyen (14" to 18" / 35cm-45cm) around the world and Kleins from Germany to assist in opening the gene pool for Standard Poodles by introducing their blood carefully (as to not create any more bottlenecks on a popular line). That is if they are imported to countries where it is permitted by the country's kennel club to combine varieties of Poodles (known as breeds in some countries and thus cannot be combined without great effort to petition the particular kennel club to permit - this did work in the Nineteen-Nineties with the Finland KC with the help of Dr Armstrong). I think there may be about a dozen Poodle breeders now combining varieties that I have read about in US and Canada.
      False: unless you site/reference the "whole new set of diseases" in a peer-reviewed paper (of which I am certain, if this had actually occurred due to combing varieties within a breed, or in any dog matings, there would be papers a plenty), then it might be best for Poodles that you not post such sensationalism and that you may wish to post a retraction/correction here. There is also the option of posting the studies about the new set of diseases you post prominently above that were brought on by this practice of course.
      To add, since it was suggested by Dr Armstrong in the late Nineteen-Nineties, inter-variety matings in Poodles are done more each year and are recommended by top genomics researchers as a step needed to assist the gene pool in Standard Poodles.
      For those interested, there is a splendid chart 1/3rd the way down this wikipedia site that best shows the size references of Poodles around the world -
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poodle

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  9. There is a similar situation currently going on in the Mastiff community. We have been trying to gain recognition and acceptance for the piebald coat colouring which based on historical evidence is undoubtedly a natural breed colour variation. There are many breeders that support piebalds but many more against them. It defies logic to us as we can’t seem to find any good reasons for the colour bias, except for that it is written in the current Mastiff breed standard that the colouring is unacceptable for the breed. Ironically the creator of the blueprints for the modern Mastiff breed standard considered pieds admissible and equal for purity. The colouring was just omitted when his Standard Points For the English Mastiff were adopted by the Old English Mastiff Club in 1883. Most probably due to a lack of understanding genetics and the desire to set the breed apart from the Saint Bernard...which makes it no less valid a Mastiff colour!

    Sadly the modern Mastiff comes from an even a smaller genetic base than the Poodle, if natural variations of coat colour continue to be unrecognized and regarded as unacceptable within the breed we cannot be serving it’s best interests. It is so good to see canine biologists and geneticists taking a stand for the parti-poodle, hopefully their research will be able to support the forsaken piebald Mastiff as well.

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    1. Post to come about the Mastiffs..

      Jemima

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    2. I think if you look, you will find that the reason for the elimination of piebalds was the Eugenics movement. Their theory of colour breeding was that the only "pure" and "strong" colours were solid black, brown and white (hence the long-time restriction of FCI Poodles to those 3 colours). Spotted dogs were considered "impure" and "weak". Art historians brought to my attention that during the latter half of the 19th century, spotted animals disappeared from many domestic species - horses, cattle, sheep, dog breeds etc.

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    3. My goodness. I didn't know that.

      Jemima

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    4. So the piebald 'impurity' is a breeding meme that arose out of the Eugenics movement continues to exist in dog breeding today....

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    5. Dunno about that: seems to me that most cows, many horses and pigs are spotted.....what about black faced sheep?

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    6. This is terrifying!

      Look at Balyaev's work with foxes. Selectively bred over several generations for tame temperament yet he got piebald coats.They were a result of genetic selection of the endocrine system primarily and the switching on off of certain genes was asode effect of the coat colour.

      Why is that eugenics mentality still at work, depsite the scientific evidence?

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    7. All pedigree breeding is pure eugenics, by definition. They are the ultimate 'designer dogs'. I think we should employ both of those terms more often when discussing these irresponsible pedigree breeding practices.

      On a purely personal note, I absolutely LOVE spotty piebald dogs. Patchy Poodles are a delight.

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    8. Same problem in Shar Peis. Two "traditional" coat colors, which you can find pictures of from early days, are "Irish Spotted" and "Flowered". The flowereds are totally cool, and distinct-to-the-breed pattern. Both are non-standard. The Shar Pei breed is in complete shambles, starting with far less genetic diversity than even Poodle, with it's own, special and widespread deadly disease, Familial Shar Pei Fever. The heads are in the sand with this breed, too. Look at the show line-ups. Despite any solid color but white being accepted, you will never see anything but fawn and black, and black only rarely. And the wrinkles are incredibly profuse, despite the fact heavy wrinkling is linked to disease...vanity wins again.

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  10. My mum-in-law used miniature poodles for agility. They're the sweetest little dogs and she wouldn't ever change their personalities, but they've had so many health problems over the years that she'd never buy one again. In fact, her younger dogs are rat terriers because their stock is much hardier.

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    1. The miniatures are very long-lived, though - as a new paper from VetCompass reveals... post to come shortly.

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    2. Oh, long-lived for certain! But not necessarily healthier.

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  11. Please give credit to the members of the Poodle Club of Canada: they have supported Dr. Kennedy's investigation into Standard Poodle DLA , have accepted the results of both Kennedy's and Pedersen's research and voted to remove the disqualification from partis as part of the effort to preserve what diversity remains in the SP gene pool and to prevent Miniatures and Toys from traveling further down the same path. They are educating themselves; 5 enrolled in Duke University's first year online genetics course, and 3 are now taking the ICB courses.
    I give full credit to those long-time breeder members of the Club who have taken heed of the findings over the last 3 years and have acted to change course and breeding practices.
    The opposition was organized at PCA's National this spring, and tactics have included mass membership applications (over 60) to change voting patterns; a telephone and email campaign to change votes and the filing of a class-action lawsuit. This opposition has resulted in the CKC requiring a re-vote on the changes proposed to the breed standard. One factor which does not occur in other jurisdictions is the oversight of all purebred breeds by Agriculture Canada, which requires that breeds registered in Canada be healthy and sustainable."Purebred" in Canada is defined by federal law as a 7/8ths pedigree.

    There is no easy solution to increasing diversity within the SP gene pool; the geneticists are meeting this weekend at Tufts to discuss ways and means. The problem is that
    1. we don't yet know enough about the immune system to be certain of ways to improve it.
    2. the fear is that a number of the immune-mediated diseases are "fixed" ie, the healthy forms of those genes have been lost, so you can't cure the problem by one outcross. The moment you cross back into the SP gene pool, you re-add those disease genes into your mix.
    3. In Canada all Poodles are one breed, and the recommended cross is to the next smaller size, which studies have shown is a separate gene pool; unfortunately, immune-mediated diseases are being increasingly reported in Minis, which argues that the same process is happening there. There are pockets of diversity still existing in SPs, and bloodlines have been isolated and prevented from being absorbed into the mainstream gene pool by the Standard Poodle Project; numbers there are very few. Related breeds themselves are also in trouble and turn up disease such as Addisons frequently; they may not be any improvement.
    5. some highly inbred bloodlines cannot be outcrossed; if a breeder tries to do so, they produce "litters from h**l"; how do we know when such a bloodline which has reached a form of stability needs an outside cross and how do we do it?

    These are questions which must be answered by geneticists and breeders together - worldwide. One thing the research studies have shown is that Poodles are a truly international breed. Action has to happen in the UK and Europe as well as North America.

    Yes, I am a second-generation Poodle breeder and also a member of the Standard Poodle Club here in the UK. I credit the late Shirley Walne for discussing with me an alternate method to the accepted practices of inbreeding and linebreeding. It took a few years, and the stark contrast between Vulcan and Wycliffe bloodlines in my own kennel when faced with parvo (before a vaccine) but I did learn!

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    1. MJ, also interested re this: "In Canada all Poodles are one breed, and the recommended cross is to the next smaller size, which studies have shown is a separate gene pool; unfortunately, immune-mediated diseases are being increasingly reported in Minis, which argues that the same process is happening there."

      BUT different DLA haplotypes, no? If the immune issues in either breed are, as suspected, due to lack of diversity, surely there is some potential in an outcross (several) to Minis?

      Jemima

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    2. DLA haplotype #1 is the most common in all 3 sizes; a number of others are shared. The PCC has not yet submitted sufficient samples from Minis and Toys to compare properly. It looks as if the distribution of the haplotypes is the main difference, along with extra haplotypes not so far found in SPs. However, DLA is not the whole immune system and should not be considered a sufficient test of diversity; we need that "whole genome test"!

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    3. Agreed.. which is where Genscoper will come in, yes?

      Jemima

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    4. Jemima
      That is always my question too. The best I can tell is that N. C. Pedersen has done or is closest to a publicly-offered, genome evaluation for Poodles.. . .
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poodle

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    5. Interesting... thank you for that, Julie (and good to "see" you again... feels like quite a long time ago now that I got thrown off CanGen...)

      Jemima

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  12. Thank you so much for this comprehensive explanation. Interested to read this:

    "some highly inbred bloodlines cannot be outcrossed; if a breeder tries to do so, they produce "litters from h**l""

    Presuming you mean outcrossed within the breed? How does it manifest - and how well documented is it? I have heard it from other breeders in other breeds too and always wonder if it properly stands up to scrutiny.It doesn't make much genetic sense to me.

    Jemima

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    1. Actually, it is a well-known phenomenon in genetics. Dr. Noor of Duke explained that a few out of many inbred lines achieve stability (those are the surviving lab mice strains). Their overall vigour is less than the truly outcrossed, but in a protected environment (vet care etc) they are acceptably healthy. However, if something challenges that stability, bringing the bloodline safely to a new sable state is very difficult. He did not explain why these bloodlines exist in genetic terms.

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    2. Understood, MJ, but the stability (if unchallenged) achieved in very inbred mice is different, I think, to what's being suggested here. AFAIK there is no dog breed that is anything like as inbred/'purged' as an inbred laboratory mouse - ergo, I remain sceptical and ask for a definition of "litter from hell" - a functional or aesthetic hell? A tenet of farming is to cross two independent, inbred strains to produce a vigorous/high yield first-gen cross. Genetics is genetics. Why would this not work in Poodles? Any geneticists reading who could give input here?

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    3. I agree: but what does "litter from h**l mean? Healthwise or from the perspective of show poodles?

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    4. Let's ask Richard Dawkins....

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    5. See Jemima's post 13.31.

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    6. Sometimes an outcross works really well, and sometimes they seem more disastrous. When you consider dog breeding in reality, and not in theory (where it's really easy to demand change from breeders) and you are the one to raise and place 6 to 12 puppies, how willing are you to take a chance on a total unknown? Is it more responsible to breed to a known quantity when your experience is that you will have healthier puppies overall, or should you outcross based on theory when you have seen some outcrosses fail miserably? Most breeders feel responsible for a lot of little lives and the experiences of all those owners who will love them.

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  13. I put a link to this blog on my FB page, and got a comment " I don't think this applies in the slightest to poodles in the UK." Now I don't know much about poodles in the UK, anybody like to reply to this?

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    1. Read Weir's post on this blog. 'One thing the research studies have shown is that Poodles are a truly international breed. Action has to happen in the UK and Europe as well as North America.'

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    2. Pedersen's first published study on the Standard Poodle compared populations in the US and UK with respect to SA. He found no difference between the populations, except that the UK population was slightly more inbred. Kennedy's work sampled over 400 SP and SPxMP from US, UK and Europe. She found a few haplotypes were more prevalent in the UK than in the US, but basically no real difference. Leroy in France found similar warning signs in his study of the French Poodle population. Both researchers suspect that any diversity still to be found will be in Eastern Europe and among long-time breeders who have "done their own thing" and not bred to the popular show dogs. A decade or more of searching SP pedigrees worldwide for the Standard Poodle Project has not really turned up any new bloodline since 2008.

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    3. UK poodles total shambles with huge number of breeders ignoring and breeding from SA and Addisons producing lines without a care

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    4. Hmmm. Bob Grundy, above, has posted here above to say that SA is virtually eradicated in the UK Poodle population. So which is it?

      Jemima

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    5. SA was shown in Pedersen's study to be either fixed in the breed or environmental in nature - no way to know which since they can't find any genetic difference between the dogs with SA and those without. There has clearly been a rise in autoimmune diseases of all types however, though SA seems less of a concern now than it once was. The rate of autoimmune diseases IN GENERAL should be more of a concern than which autoimmune disease has cropped up.

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    6. Nearest I can find to hard info on this question is the SPC's SA Open Registry, recording test results. There are no doubt poodlers beyond the SPC's purview and maybe there the picture is different, but the last positive SA test on the registry was in Jan 2012. To me, that makes "virtually eradicated" much nearer the truth than "huge numbers".

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    7. Just because none has been recorded in one registry doesn't mean they don't exist! You'd have poll veterinarians and poodle owners to find out if it's been "virtually eradicated." And of course, there are always those poodles which are "subclinical" and those show any obvious symptoms. It is certainly possible that it is purely environmental, and if SA has truly been eradicated from the UK, that would be very important information to let the researchers at the AHT know - they did an initial important study that said they found no simple genetic cause for SA. Nevertheless, a malfunctioning immune system could be triggered for different diseases by different triggers.

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  14. Truly saddened to read this.

    From the Standard Poodle breed standard from the UK KC website.

    http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/standard.aspx?id=4097
    Colour
    All solid colours. White and creams to have black nose, lips and eye rims, black toenails desirable. Browns to have dark amber eyes, dark liver nose, lips, eye rims and toenails. Apricots and reds to have dark eyes with black points or deep amber eyes with liver points. Blacks, silvers and blues to have black nose, lips, eye rims and toenails. Creams, apricots, reds, browns, silvers and blues may show varying shades of the same colour up to 18 months. Clear colours preferred. Non solid colours are highly undesirable and should be heavily penalised.

    Why oh why do they focus on this insignificant nonsense? What is the definition of 'penalised' in this context? Breed standards are far too subjective and open to questionable interpretation which clearly is detrimental to the dogs in the wrong hands.

    If these dogs were not 'shown', this wouldn't really be a problem would it? As a pet owner, why would you care that the dog didn't have a solid coat ??

    Jemima, is it possible that you can do a post in the future on which breeds of dogs are actually considered genetically healthy and have a possible future of survival?

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    1. Great idea for a post. Tough, though... I'll put it out to the floor...

      Jemima

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    2. Dogs which are selected for function!

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    3. Which pedigree dogs are selected for health and temperament over looks? BCS? JRTs?

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    4. Even *Dogs which are selected for function* are in trouble too. ISDS regisered Border Collies are in trouble and even some farmers will *line breed* (dad to daughter) their unregistered dogs cause *he worked good* -- which is equivalent to the COI pickle that the poodle is apparently in.

      Another issue is *popular sire* effect which is the pickle the Golden Retriever is in. I think I read somewhere that only 5% of males in the breed are in the pedigree. Imagine the overall COI on that!!

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    5. Many of us select our PRTs for function here in Austria.

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    6. Saluki have the most variation of DLA Haplotypes I have read - something like 22 - more than wild canids.

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    7. I would love a post on which breeds are genetically healthy and why. With an effective population size of just 43, COIs commonly above 15%, and most show lines leading back to one popular sire in the 90s, I'm betting the Whippet isn't going to be among them...

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  15. If there are lines with very distinct and different types within a breed, and one tries to cross them, the results can be very unpredictable, with a hotchpotch of characteristics that just don't add up to a harmonious whole. Suppose you cross a line that produces very big dogs long heads with another line that produces small compact shorter legged dogs with shorter muzzles, you might get some long backed dogs with short legs, and top and bottom jaws of different lengths - could be a disaster. If I'm outcrossing , I'm looking for dogs that are different in pedigree but not too different in size and type. That's very simplicistic, its actually more complicated than that

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    1. The Gaussian curve..but is that such a disaster for the F1 generation if diversity is achieved? Example at hand: designer dogs.

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    2. It can be if the mismatches are ones that effect health. In Holland Lops in rabbits the mismatch in head shape can cause such severe over and under bites that the animal would need their teeth clipped weekly to stay in good health. Not sure if you have ever clipped teeth on a rabbit but it gets old very quick. Experienced breeders are careful which lines they cross and will tell folks they mentor what to watch for in outcrosses..

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  16. But what you're referring to here are mostly cosmetic issues, Margaret (well, with the exception of the muzzles, and I do understand that there are different genes involved) and one would have to weigh up the effort/cost of breeding back to the type you want versus the benefit of the extra diversity. Almost by definition, greater diversity is going to bring with it more variety in terms of looks. Personally, I think we need to lose some of the transfixion with type. I suspect MJ is referring to health problems, though..

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    1. No - I am also saying (and to judges as well) that IF diversity is desirable in the dog's genome, then "cookie cutter litters" are not something to aim for. Especially in an all-round versatile breed like the Poodle, many different geographical and working types would have developed; past the basic requirements of a sound body and mind, those types should be considered legitimate. We already know that some of our bloodlines excel at herding, but won't look at a bird - and vice-versa. You just have to look at the art history to see differences.
      In Ibizan Hounds, at least 5 legitimate types exist, each coming from a different terrain and island; to recognize these differences is not the end of the world!

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    2. Dorothea - let's say that "responsible breeders" as a definition now includes an awareness of the need to preserve genetic diversity.

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    3. As I suggested in a later post, the movement to disqualify partis probably takes its origin from the Eugenics movement. The original UK standard disqualified them in 1885/6. (They had been shown in previous years). Eugenicists were very prominent in both the KC and the Poodle Club. Despite disqualification, I have been told that major UK kennels bred them - Vulcan certainly did; I saw the last Vulcan parti in 1971. There was an effort to re-introduce them before WWII in the UK - classes were held, but the War stopped the effort. Unfortunately, Poodle breeders have had it drummed into them since day one that the parti was an abomination and that breeders of partis were only in it for the $$(which, in many cases especially in N Am was quite true). Nevertheless, some breeders soldiered on for the love of the colours and patterns, and it was these breeders who ultimately caused the patterns to be recognized by the UKC as a separate division. I am told that harlekins in Germany now have CH status within the country.
      The Wycliffe story is quite separate; Jean Lyle bought good stock from good breeders, and "lucked out"; the first generations of Wycliffes were outstanding- excellent structure, fronts to die for, good temperaments, good coats - everything a breeder could ask for. We all bred to them, because they were way better than anything else available at the time, including the dogs from Bel Tor (in my opinion). What was she to do and where was she to go? The geneticists of the day told her to inbreed to preserve what she had, and she did for 10 generations. But her inbreeding wouldn't have mattered if her dogs had been so-so in quality - the whole Poodle SP world wouldn't have bred to them in that case! It was Dr. Armstrong's research showing the genetic bottleneck thus caused *and* his paper showing that COI (10 gens) over 6.25% showed evidence of reduced longevity (inbreeding depression). It was the PCA of the day who gave him a platform to reach breeders - and the breeders responded by reducing COI over the next decades. It was Pedersen, Kennedy and Leroy which showed that our efforts had not been enough. (Interesting to note that a couple of high COI and high % Wycliffe dogs have turned up rare haplotypes in our Study.)

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    4. Herefords disqualify white "linebacks"; Jacob sheep are a rare breed, Most thoroughbreds are the basic colours. Only the Gypsy Vanner and the Appaloosa are spotted - and they are both "plebian" breeds. Check out a history of the "spotted horse" online.

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    5. Everyone thinks they are "responsible" breeders but few, I am sorry to say, understand simple Mendelian genetics, let alone population genetics. I include myself in that category and am going to take the Canine Biology Institute course. BTW, I with the enormous proof reading help of Prof. Sommerfeld-Stur, have just translated their article on why we need to know about and implement population genetics for our PRT breeders to be added to our new breeding rules.

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    6. Primarily health - production of multiple immune-mediated diseases which are not prevalent in the parent strains. My own crossed two inbred bloodlines which had no common ancestor for 6 generations (COI 1.9% in 10 gens). Both parents healthy with bloat known on one side and Addisons on the other. The 3 litters produced AD, SA, IBD, 2 cases of HD, 2 cases of bloat, epilepsy, allegies and an unknown immune collapse which killed. Sire and dam had not produced (nor had siblings) these diseases when bred elsewhere. Temperaments were excellent, structure acceptable, survivors were long-lived.

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    7. "Eugenicists were very prominent in both the KC and the Poodle Club" big statement so lets have some proof give some names and to which branches of the Eugenics movements did they belong, or is this a Harrison style of view it sound good so it must be true, with no proof to back it up?

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    8. I would love to see this study done on wolves or coyotes. They are breed by natural selection and when I look at a pack they all have very similar traits.

      I fear this will become the new fad and that everyone will proceed carefully. Being from a science background I know the important decisions should not be based on one study.

      I find it interesting that the Wycliff line had incredible fronts but that is now a major flaw in a very large number of poodles. Clearly all the bad fronts did not come from the Wycliffe inbreeding. Bad fronts and other issues often come from kennel blindness. Breeder education is most important now.

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    9. Does not MJTW's comment of 15:26 cast doubt on Jemima's of 13:31 that mating two separately inbred lines is a "tenet of farming"? The results of that mating were a disaster, diseases that we're told are due to inbreeding cropping up in offspring with 1.9% CoI. Maybe we need a more sophisticated measure of inbreeding than the CoI (Wright's formula) based purely on sire and dam's common ancestry. What exactly is it that we're trying to measure here?

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    10. Mary Jane T. Weir 15.07:

      If the Poodle breeders have spent the past few decades trying to reduce the COIs, and still the Poodle is in dire straits, where does that leave other breeds? Many breeds have continued to linebreed dogs with high COIs. Most show-bred Whippets in the UK and Europe, go back to Hillsdown Fergal, who sired Pencloe Dutch Gold, another popular sire. The majority of show-bred Whippets have COIs >15%, many are pushing 25%, and a few are 30% (over 10 generations). Auto-immune diseases are also becoming more prevalent. The average COI in the UK is 10% (brought down by the pet breeders), and it has an effective population size of just 43. The Whippet population may be fairly large, but I'd be amazed if it was as genetically sound as most of the show breeders would have us believe. We are starting to see serious health problems previously unheard of in the breed.

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  17. Jemima, you know me well enough to know I don't breed purely for appearance. But even in the outcross programme for my breed, which is primarily about ensuring the genetic health of the breed for the future, we looked also for red Irish Setters who were not only healthy and functional, but also similar in size, weight . body shape and heads to our red and white dogs, and avoided dogs who are very different in type. I wouldn't want to use a red dog to breed with an IRWS that is very disparate in type, however healthy and however diverse the pedigree, just as I wouldn't breed two IRWS together that were extreme examples of different type for example we do have some IRWS that are rather spaniel like in appearance , while mine are longer legged and shorter in the back. Its not just about show winning type, a good dog breeder also has an aesthetic sense of what is well proportioned , balanced, harmonious , and an understanding of what is functional. Breeding very different types together to get the lowest possible COI with a disregard for anything else isn't good or intelligent breeding

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    1. 'Breeding very different types together to get the lowest possible COI with a disregard for anything else isn't good or intelligent breeding'

      Interesting statement - I think there is far too much focus on type. And 'intelligent' dog breeding is surely about looking at what nature and scientific evidence teaches us about what is genetically healthy in a species. A human construct, such as the breed standard, is based on opinions as far as I can see.

      You may have an idea of what is well proportioned, balanced and harmonious but where is your evidence that what YOU happen to think is genetically and physiologically sound ?

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    2. Well although I've challenged Margaret on this, at the end of the day we are surely looking for a balance between aesthetics and health? Individual interpretation is fine, no, as long as it doesn't compromise welfare? I've always thought as purebred dogs as living sculptures; I don't think we should deny the aesthetics involved or looking to remove that element. We are not breeding robots.

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    3. 'Individual interpretation is fine, no, as long as it doesn't compromise welfare? '

      Agreed Jemima. But individual interpretation is by and large open to misinterpretation/abuse, depending on the individual's opinion. Great if you have a progressive and scientific breeder who is able to balance this with an eye for the sensible aesthetic, not so good if you don't.

      Breed standards need a more progressive and modern reinterpretation to reflect what is truly important...it's selective breeding that is important, not pedigree breeding. Function not form. Having coat colours in breed standards harks back to eugenics.

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    4. I'd also think that breeding dogs with a long back, short legs etc., would bring some health issues to the puppies. I do think that there is definitely a case for outcrossing to bring diversity...but personally I do think that it needs to be done with "like" breeds /dogs or what is the point? We'd be just as well doing away with pure bred dogs and let the breeds in the genetic bottle neck die out and start again. We don't want that do we? The obsession with colour is a real sore point with me. Some of the stories I heard about tri-colour dogs not working as well as "standard" coloured dogs would have made me laugh...had they not been coming from breeders who don't even bother to work their dogs. I remember reading an article once about a US Standard Poodle kennel who more or less flooded the gene pool over years. I can't find the link now but it was absolutely fascinating reading. Does anybody know where I can find it please?

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    5. I disagree, partly at least. I went out hawking some years ago with a man who had an American red setter. She worked like a dream...and looked like one. These dogs are selected purely for function and all gundogs can be used:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Dog_Stud_Book
      "The FDSB registers dogs of all breeds, but is primarily for pointing, flushing, and retrieving breeds of gun dog. Among some breeds, such as English Setters, the FDSB will register the dog in its particular breed as well as the particular line within the breed such as the Llewellin Setter. Many dogs are registered with the FDSB as well as with other registries and with kennel clubs."

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    6. Dalriach, is there anywhere on the internet I can read about the outcross programme for your breed? I'm interested to see what's being done. Outcrossing may become necessary in many breeds.

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    7. Dorthea
      I just sold a Standard Poodle pup to a longtime falconer that plans to train her to work with his Harris Hawk.
      I know you from the Cangen list and will report when/if his plans come to fruition.
      BTW, the pup is less than 30% Wycliffe and although that may not help her hunting performance, it could have other implications and makes my post to you on topic

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  18. "well proportioned", "balanced", harmonious", "type", "understanding of what is functional", "appearance", "longer legged", "shorter in the back", etc are all terms used by breeders breeding to an appearance standard. This standard may or may not be the same as what the breed club has currently set; but it is still breeding for appearance.

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    1. Agreed. And it's subjective to the point where your idea of 'well proportioned' could be completely different to my own interpretation. Look at the GSDs topline for example....'well proportioned' 'shorter in the back' if you want it to look like an amphibian.

      I think breed standards that stipulate appearance on coat colour, eyecolour, pigmentation etc. isn't exactly ethical. Why should those features matter?

      Shouldn't the function (e.g. small pet dog, suitable for living in the city) or the work of the dog be the main stipulation of the breed standard?

      I am a complete sucker for a Miniture Poodle btw. They remind me of lambs and I just go nuts when I see Beagles too. It is a very primal feeling when we go all gooey over how a dog looks. But not at the price that they are having to currently pay.....their immediate health and future survival as individual breeds.

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  19. Most pet buyers want dogs bred to an appearance standard; they want a dog that looks like their favorite breed. If they like the appearance of pugs most won't buy a beagle because they are healthier. What they want are dogs that are bred to an appearance standard AND a health/temperament standard. What they don't understand is the appearance they like may be tied to health issues.

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    1. And pet owners seem to keep getting what they want too, despite the evidence that points to all these various health issues. Where is the joined up thinking? It's missing.

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    2. I may be wrong and stand to be corrected. But... the standard poodle was designed as a water dog/gundog/general purpose. They needed to be waterproof?, strong?, athletic, good temperament? reliable? Probably for generations those were the desired attributes until some twit decides that they could make glamorous, outstanding showdogs. So the main emphasis becomes deportment and COAT. The discomfort the dogs have endured to attain those desirable KC dictated descriptions has closed the mind of the breeders and blinded what they are breeding for, they choose a "dog on the shelf, to be shown as desired" as opposed to an intelligent, engaging, attractive dog with multipurpose attributes. Of the SPoos I've known that has been what has been so appealing, their willingness and their intelligence. What does it matter if the coat is flecked, brindle, patchy, what? The only undesirability is that the KC, and it was probably the UK who laid down the standard, have dictated solid colours only, tho' shades of same are acceptable. Today we are talking in today's speak because we now know what the damage is that has been done to most, if not all, pedigree dogs. Twenty/thirty years ago the good breeders were striding for type and quality, now we know these are not so desirable because that has caused the genetic catastrophe. We didn't intend to do that, we were just lead and prepared to be lead because in those days we were ignorant, as were our leaders. I think JH will be able to go breed by breed and reveal the same disastrous effect on purebred dogs and I refer to the genetic topic which for me was the explanation of all explanations that all living things are doomed to die out, another form will be evolved by cross breeding and it is for this reason that I see no alternative but to scrap the dog breed standards, rename them as "dog types", forget dog showing in it's present form and persuade the KC that they really have to reform, rethink, readapt and help as many dogs alive today and in the near future with medical advancement funding and stop the present nonsense, because that is exactly what we are seeing, damaging nonsense.

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  20. Could I suggest a visit to the UK Particoloured Standard Poodle site, very interesting and informative, they seemed to be referred to as Phantoms.

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    1. Georgina, phantom is one of the color types in parti color poodles. Phantoms have a dark body color with lighter points.

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    2. Thanks Michelle, nonetheless all of the colour varieties are gorgeous, and provided that they are healthy that is all that matters. Hopefully JH will be able to continue to keep us all informed about the shambolic state in all pedigree dogs because if we know what is going on then collectively we can try and get a resolution, with health and quality of life being the ultimate goal.

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    3. Thinking about type - "Type" has long been set in the Poodle breed. I was told long ago that type is what you see that sets breeds apart. If you can tell it is a Poodle, it is exhibiting Poodle breed type.
      Type definition is usually the written breed standard, but the exact definition of breed type for any given breed even with the same standard in another decade can be very subjective as it can change with fads within the interpretation of the breed standards.
      I have done a bit of outcrossing with good representatives and not seen breed type lost. Perhaps reintroduced to a few decades past in the look of the offspring, but that is not always a bad thing (especially for my tastes). Would possibly call that a loss of modern breed type or style, but not a loss of breed type. There is plenty of modern day type to bring it back in a program, in an INSTANT, if we get the science to help go that direction too and it is desired.

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    4. Georgina, right on! I´ve thought many times over the past few years, seeing good breeders striving to maintain general health and temperament stability in a breed that was once renowned for intelligence and will to work, whilst others breed for unmanageable amounts of coat and near-microphthalmic eyes and no more - yeah, the "dog on the shelf"! - ... I´ve thought that if I were twenty years younger, I´d go over to Ireland and Wales, and pick up two or three of the best dogs I could find and the best dogs dog-knowing owners would let me buy... and I would help restart my breed. After all, that´s what mr Shirley, founder of the KC, did, right? He started with that working Irish farm collie known as Trefoil. Who am I to turn up my nose at what mr Shirley thought good enough? :-) So I´m not twenty years younger, alas. My comfort is that some of the people who are young enough to try are beginning to see things in dog breeding in a different light than they used to do. The closed studbook, gene pool restricted populations called "pure" breeds may be going out the door in the years to come, but the dog types will be with us in the foreseeable future... because we will go on needing them.

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    5. Hi Bodil, hopefully the younger generation will learn from the mistakes my generation made when breeding and showing dogs. They are enlightened because of the proof of the "sick" pedigree dogs and the "programme of 'uninformed' breeding" that created that catastrophe, there are many more opportunities to learn, either from lectures, television, internet and hopefully information from open, honest breeders. But any doubts these days can be researched further by DNA tests etc. Sites like PDE where concerned dog lovers with years of experience can exchange views is another tool for them to use. I guess ageing is the pointless part of living in many ways because if we knew when we were younger what we know now how much better it would have been for ourselves and more importantly our dogs. For me it is necessary to stay positive and optimistic for the future of dogs and trust that dogs will become healthier and like you say maybe not in the form of a breed but as a type, a type that is healthy and happy. Coincidentally, today I met a lady who had what I had assumed were two Wolfhounds, but after we'd been talking for a while, she told me that they were not Wolfhounds, they were a Standard Poodle and Great Dane cross! I was astonished, they were a repeat mating, one was 3 years old and the other was 1, and they were identical bitches. Seemingly she'd had 2 males previously from the same breeder and they had been healthy, active and long lived.

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  21. My guess is that, for poodles, the color issue has played a role in narrowing the genetic base, but that other factors in conformation breeding have played a larger role. Labradors have similar, and somewhat tighter color restrictions than poodles (ie, only three solid colors for Labs), but the range of body types accepted in Labbies is wide: from lanky to tanks. Standard poodles I've seen at shows seem to have very uniform body type, and you don't encounter many working poodles.

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    1. Jennifer,
      From my view, the main reason the Standard Poodle showdogs look cookie-cutter is because on average, more than 50% of their (15 generation) genetic make-up goes back to the same 5 dogs of the 1950's.
      The dogs produced with under 40% of those founders in their 15 generation pedigree are truly different in many ways, which is obvious and often welcome to those that know Standard Poodles well that have more diverse pedigrees as such.

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    2. STOP STIRRING STALE SOUP!
      Find more diverse pedigrees to incorporate - if you still can. Lucky for Poodles to get such important information publicly discussed.
      Now, action will speak louder than words for the gene pool.

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  22. I find this information really surprising as in my veterinary career I've generally found poodles of all sizes to be really healthy and long lived, it seems in spite of being in a genetic bottleneck!
    VP

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  23. Jemima, a friend forwarded a link to this blog entry. It made my day. Good on you.

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  24. This is a pile of garbage being printed by someone that is not a genetic expert. please remeber you cannot beleive everything you read on the INTERNET. The genetic pool is much healthier then it was, breeders are far more educated. There is no magic gene pool that is going to save the breed. It is about health testing and encouraging breeders to be transparent. Instead of wasting time and money on this focusi on developing a genetic test for addisons and SA!

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    1. Where is your evidence that the 'breed is much healthier than it was,? And if it was truly genetically healthier, why the insistence on developing screening tests to detect genetic diseases!? Kind of contradicting your rationale....

      Delete
    2. I am not sure why anyone would disagree that a test for addisons is not necessary? Addisons affects 1000's of mixed breed dogs that have never been subjected to a breeders manipulation. With a test it could be controlled and hopefully eliminated. In the lest few decades testing has become available for so many genetic diseases which allows responsible breeders to avoid developing these diseases in their lines. Therefore it makes sense that the breed would be healthier. The problem that may never go away is bad breeders that refuse to health test for everything or breed poorly structured dogs.

      I often wonder if the focus on health is magnified by the fact that we are left with a few horrible diseases that we cannot control.

      When my very young standard poodle developed cancer I spent 100's of hours researching. What shocked me the most is the very large majority of dog affected by the same cancer were mixed breeds. Not designer dogs but mutts from decades are street breedings, etc.

      It is important to remeber other breeds and mixed breeds often do not document illnesses as well as caring dog owners. This can make it look like a breed is very unhealthy but in fact it is equally healthy or in better health then other dogs. Poor food, vaccines and other poisins are the cause of so many health issues in dogs.

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    3. Rocket Star wrote: 'When my very young standard poodle developed cancer I spent 100's of hours researching. What shocked me the most is the very large majority of dog affected by the same cancer were mixed breeds. Not designer dogs but mutts from decades are street breedings, etc."

      So what kind of cancer was that, then?

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    4. It was osteosarcoma in his jaw. I was devastated.

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    5. I posted a reply earlier not sure where it went?

      My SP had osteosarcoma in his jaw. It is a hideous cancer; I never found an affected dog that survived so I chose to not treat him and spent the last 2 weeks of his life doing everything he loved.

      I was devastated.

      Delete
    6. Sorry about your loss. You sound surprised that your dog developed cancer but it is the biggest killer of all dogs whether mutt or pedigree.

      What's the comment about owners of mixed breed dogs or other breeds not necessarily being 'caring owners'? It depends on your definition of care. Perhaps just not as obsessive about illness or health issues perhaps? My mutt probably gets more time and money spent on her than the average dog. But on training classes, toys, doggy rally activities, great nutrition etc. Not vet bills. She's a mixed breed dog so I don't worry about her health because I have no idea about her genetic history. So, whatever will be will be. But I certainly take great care of her and I personally consider it a blessing that I don't worry that she is going to develop some breed specific or type specific genetic disease. But she could develop cancer tomorrow, but so could any dog. It seems pedigree dogs come with a heavy disease burden. Mutts definitely have some advantages in that regard.

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    7. A horrible way for your dog to die, Rocket Star. You have my sympathy. But I can find nothing to support your claim that the "majority" of dogs that suffer from either osteosarcoma or osteosarcoma of the jaw are mixed breeds.

      Delete
    8. A quick google search came up with this:

      http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/saortho/chapter_74/74mast.htm

      'The breed of dog is an important factor in determining the incidence of osteosarcoma. In the study by Kistler,(21) the German shepherd had the highest incidence, followed by the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, boxer, Irish setter, Labrador retriever, Doberman pinscher, and collie. However, when these data are compared with the relative risk of a dog of any breed developing osteosarcoma, the Saint Bernard has a relative risk of l2.77 followed by the Great Dane (7.27), golden retriever (5.27), Irish setter (4.34), Doberman pinscher (4.03), and German shepherd (2.52).(39) These findings are similar to those of Tjalma.(45)'

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    9. There is a test that breeders can use to detect auto-antibodies to the thyroid gland. If the dog tests positive, then it shouldn't be bred, because the immune system is already compromised. This suggests an increased risk of the dog's offspring developing an auto-immune disease. However, very few breeders use this test.

      Delete
    10. A dog that tests negative for anti thyroglobulin or anti T4/T3 when he's young (2-3 years) may still may go on to develop auto immune hypothyroidism later in life.

      Also, in human beings, there are acceptable low levels of these antibodies that don't necessarily cause a disease burden. It depends on the test, the specificity, sensitivity and what normal range has been assigned.

      Delete
    11. Fran: Could you please provide references to the "test that breeders can use to detect auto-antibodies to the thyroid gland". I think many people are unaware of this.

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    12. Jennifer, the article below is where I got the information from:

      "The animal's blood is tested for the presence of antithyroid autoantibodies. Any dog that has such antibodies circulating in the bloodstream, could potentially develop thyroid disease, and/or be vulnerable to other autoimmune diseases because his or her immune system is compromised. Responsible dog breeders use thyroid prescreening as a very important tool for selecting good breeding stock.

      Common Canine Autoimmune Diseases:

      As stated, Lymphocytic thyroiditis, is the most common MHC related autoimmune disease in dogs, and as such actually serves as a marker for susceptibility to a myriad of other autoimmune diseases. Some of these are:

      Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA),
      Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (IMTP or ITP)
      Autoimmune thyroiditis (hypothyroidism)
      Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease)
      Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE):
      Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
      Myasthenia gravis"

      I believe the test is TgAA, but it can be hard to get a lab that understands what you're testing for, some assume you're testing for something else.

      http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/your-dogs-health/major-histocompatibility.html

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    13. There is no test for Addison's or SA because they haven't found a gene or set of genes that cause them after many years and several teams searching. They are likely to be either environmental or fixed in the breeds. Compare this to hip dysplasia, for which researchers have been looking far longer.

      Delete
    14. Agreed
      Great blog once again.
      Wish though it stated STANDARD POODLES as having the genetic bottleneck - that is the confusing part. Poodles overall are in better shape then most, as in N America we can breed the varieties together.
      Parti-colors are seen in all varieties of Poodles and reportedly needed to hold onto possible rare haplotypes, The genetic bottleneck that has caused the average STD PDL to be influenced 50% by 5 dogs of the 1950's is variety specific to Std Pdls. It is cause of great concern since publicly discussed back in 1998.

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    15. Lots of money can be invested more wisely and a different direction taken if that Poodle to be reared for breeding tests as having a weak thyroid at age 1 or 2 years of age. Careful not to run during heat, soon after vaccinating or other big stress (like young male near bitch in heat).
      Very good advice to run the thyroid testing through OFA criteria.

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    16. Fran: Thanks for providing references. I find it confusing that the source you cite is from the AKC Health Foundation, and that it makes no reference to the problem of homozygosity in the MHC. In effect it ignores the potential effects of inbreeding (line breeding) on genetic diversity.
      I admit to being a dilatante (sp?) in this field, not a proper geneticist. But there's dissonance in being directed to consider the MHC without mention of the possible consequences of loss if diversity.

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    17. Jennifer: You are right about the article. It doesn't mention anything about inbreeding or homozygosity in the MHC. Is there a reliable genetic test for the latter, or are breeders still reliant on statistics?

      The following article gives a little more information about the TgAA test. How easy it is to obtain though, I don't know.

      https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/docs/Canine_Thyroid_Testing.pdf

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  25. A better approach might be for PCC to focus on teaching breeders what a breeding quailty dog is. Unfortunately poodles are often judged on hair in the conformation ring. Straight fronts have become the norm in this beautiful breed. Articles like this may led some breeders to believe that some new "gene pool" will somehow fix what is wrong with their line. All this money would have better spent on having someone like Helen King do an indepth study of the dogs currently being bred. I know that there is dozens of dogs being used that are not breeding quality. Just because you spent huge money on a pup and did health testing anf may have been lucky enough to get a conformation title it does not mean your dog is breeding quality.

    The physical structure of a dog is the number one concern when breeding, health and temperment are a close second. Despite a low COI% a dog may have multiple relatives from lines affected by addisions. Therefore the low coi% dog has an equal chance of developing or passing on addisons.

    Secondly PCC should be encouraging transparency in health problems. Do not just say "Put it in the PHR" show members how to do it; try and identify some mentors that can walk owners through the process and explian what it means to the breed.

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  26. Hate to disappoint Ian Thompson, so hark to the head in the sand. Does this evidence show that SP's are unhealthier than other breeds, or merely that their problems are better documented? Last I heard poodles have a healthily large breeding population, low average CoI, and longer life than most pure breeds.

    OK that doesn't really answer the point, which is more about the way things are going than where we are now. Assuming the geneticists are right (their evidence does not yet sound conclusive), then long-term poodles, and most other pure breeds, are doomed. My wife and my breeding aims are twofold. 1 - at least get noticed at shows, even if we win nothing. 2 - attract caring pet owners for the (great majority) non-show quality pups. Item 2 depends much on reputation; that will go down the pan if our pups don't live decently long and healthy lives. I recently heard from a guy who'd bought a pup - in all senses of that phrase - from an Australian puppy farmer. Diagnosed with addison's at 6 months, she went on to develop further problems and her meds now cost $5400 a year - at least. She's a labradoodle, not a poodle, and her case is far from unique, though most folks' finances dictate that rather than lifetime meds, the pup they've fallen in love with gets PTS. If the day ever comes when we see a significant risk of doing that to one of our buyers, we'll quit dogs and go breed stick insects or something.

    Trouble is, looking to avoid doom, we're getting mixed messages. A few years ago Sebacious Adenitis appeared in the UK; the Standard Poodle Club's health officer displayed sufferers at our shows, and publicised where we could get screening tests before breeding; result, SA is virtually eradicated here. Now we're told that by breeding out such diseases we clobber the genetic diversity - you can't win. I'd consider crossbreeding, but most poodlers - my wife included - will have none of it, and can you blame them? Cavadoodle, cockerpoo, collipoo, think up a daft name and someone's bred a dog to fit. That craze hugely inflated puppy prices, and by the laws of economics when prices go through the roof, ethics go out the window. Every affliction of each ancestor breed is now found in labradoodles, for example. Crossbreeders often give their pups pedigrees; believe them if you like, no registration to back them up.

    As for parti poodles, on what we see at agility meets, they have a bright future here though to my eye most of them look unattractive so we shan't be breeding them (see item 2 above). Prognosis? As things are, yes there are problems but they look manageable by careful breeding. If and when that changes, as I said, we'll quit, and if others think the same way the poodle will go extinct, leaving the field clear for the doodlers - horrible thought!

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    1. Mmmm, Bob Grundy, point 1, "at least get noticed at shows even if we win nothing". This ethic could contribute to why pedigree dogs have become so exaggerated and ultimately damaged. Perhaps you would like to clarify what you mean. My feeling is that pure bloodlines are on the way out and there will have to be crossbreeding resulting in dog breeds as we know them becoming less and less and dog types becoming the norm. That is not bad, it is just change. Some dog types will be stronger as seen in street dogs where there seem to be some sort of uniformity, even tho' they can be seen in different towns even different countries. Maybe because that type can survive thus self perpetuating. The grossly inflated prices charged for "made up breeds" by breeders should be stopped. Because crossbreeding needs to be undertaken carefully, all health tests continued on both breeds involved, as it will be the only way in years to come that dogs will survive in some form of type. People who breed for money need to be removed from the scene and let those who love dogs and want the best are given an opportunity to "control" health and welfare issues within dogs.

      Delete
    2. Bob Grundy raises valid points. If you check lifespan data on the Finnish KC database, you'll find standard poodles live around a year longer, on average, than most of the retriever breeds. The COI's on the Poodle Project website are very high (see references in JH's blog post), but does appear to be declining (less so for show dogs). And we don't have much to compare those COIs with, as most of the COI presented don't go far back 15 generations, and, thus, are artificially low.

      Delete
    3. Clarification for Georgina. Mostly our dogs are apricot coloured: that gene doesn't seem to go with the judge-pleasing dense coat, so we aim to catch the eye in other ways - angles, movement, etc.
      As for crossbreeding, I'd have to first find a suitable breed, then convince madame. No good telling her we could invent a silly breed name and make a fortune selling non-selected pups, she shares Georgina's disdain for money-breeding. Any ideas, anyone?

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    4. Here's an idea. How about not giving a flying fig about what colour the dog is and appreciate that there is a pet buying public out there who simply want a physically robust, emotionally and genetically sound pet!

      Delete
    5. Thanks Bob, now I understand, I wasn't sure what you meant. What the answers are and how it is to be resolved is going to be a fascinating revelation but it needs to be strict, thoughtful, professional, organised. People like JH who doggedly keep prodding and ruffling, will help dogs enormously, but it is going to be a slow, hard slog before the breeders and the authorities understand what is happening.

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    6. But why do we need 15 gen COI calculations? According to an expert (http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/101122) "going beyond five generations to calculate COIs is just a theoretical exercise that may be euphoric for a scientist but it has no practical relevance to the present day breeder".

      Why is the pedigree dog world in such bad shape when we have this sort of geniuses teaching other people about genetics.

      Delete
    7. Anon 23:04. Any 'expert' who says five generations is sufficient is a phony. See:
      http://www.border-wars.com/2011/10/coi-how-many-generations-are-enough.html

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  27. At the rate the individual breeds are going, even an outcross to a different breed won't be able to save them. If you breed two sick dogs together, even if they are different breeds, their offspring won't be healthy.

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  28. In the past, AKC has allowed breeding in dalmations to pointers to help eradicate kidney disease, and Basenjis brought over from africa by Ann CLark and damara bolte, were allowed to deepen the basenji gene pool. IF IF IF a breed of similar characteristics could be found, that would not add to the growing pile of diseases, then a challenge could be done. However, I am of the mind set that poodles are not the only breed in trouble, and I cannot help but go back to my earliest experience in dog breeding, that of my own mother, who bred collies on the farm. In the late 1950's before the advance of commercial dog foods and WAY before the advance of so many vaccinations.. in fact the only vaccine our collies ever had was for rabies. Our dogs were fed what we ate.. grown on the farm pasture raised beef pork chickens and veggies that would be considered organic in this day. They drank milk straight from the cow,home made cottage cheese and buttermilk. Yard raised chicken eggs and duck eggs. And of course the occasional wild caught critter. The collies lived to be ripe old 18 to 20 year olds , still working the cows until they dropped dead. There is a lot to be said against commercial dog food and over vaccination contributing to the demise of our dogs, proof in the correlating diseases in humans with immune mediated diseases on the rise, from outside sources not from inbreeding!!! So, why not do some research in the TRIGGERS for the immune diseases,like the works of Dr Dodd and Dr Schultz.. I think the fact that 2 OFA excellent parents bred together CAN produce hip dysplasia, and 2 Clear SA dogs can still produce SA offspring, and Auto immune thyroid doesnt necessarily show its face in breeding age dogs, tells us it is not JUST doubling genes..there are outside factors at play. Yes we have bottle necks in all breeds of dogs and cats, and John Armstrong was way before his time..but there is way more to this story than DNA sequencing..we KNOW for a fact that GMO's came into existence a long time ago.. GMO corn was being grown here in my county in the early 70's and already in the food chain...evidenced by signs on the crops that said experimental Pioneer Plot... It really doesnt matter how many DNA tests you come up with, if we are not nurturing ourselves and our animals with biologically appropriate food and water it is all for naught anyway.
    I honestly feel, that we as a planet are doomed unless the governments of the world are forced to stop experimenting on every living entity.Perhaps now would be a good time to bring out some of that frozen semen and do some testing on that DNA.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent post. I read 'Pukka's Promise' and Ted Kerasote raises a lot of the same points you do regarding nutrition and vaccinations. We've screwed it up.

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    2. I second that, all relevant points. I have only ever vac puppies and not boostered. My dogs were shown and I think this helped their immunity systems because in a day they would be exposed to more "germs" than a unshown dog would probably meet in a lifetime. I had friends who were vets and even way back then they knew it was unnecessary to boost. My vets here agree too and offer blood tests to check levels. The only time my dogs have been boostered was when I had to go into hospital and they had to go to kennels who insisted on vacs. My vizla who had been tip top, started coughing within 48 hours and developed a heart murmur, a spaniel started fitting for a short period. Most of my friends who have pure and crossbreeds religiously booster every year, and their dogs are forever succumbing to some health issue or another, skin, tummies, breathing allergies. They are fed on premium dog foods but your comments on feeding are so relevant and introducing these "chemicals" into our dogs is another contributor to the poor health in so many dogs, regardless of background.

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    3. I agree with you Vickie, however, I know good, honest, reputable breeders who feed their dogs a raw diet, give only puppy shots, don't use chemical flea products, and dogs they have bought in (not bred themselves), are still coming down with AI diseases.

      However, most beef and lamb in the UK, including organic, is grass-fed and then fattened on grains, and feeding grains depletes the meat of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Organic chickens, whether for eggs or meat, are fed soya-based growers/layers pellets. The difference between a commercial, organic egg, and an egg laid by pastured poultry that are not fed growers pellets is striking - the yolks from pastured poultry are naturally bright orange.

      Therefore, the food we feed our dogs, even raw-fed dogs, is likely depleted of nutrients.

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    4. I would be enormously grateful if the conversation here is *not* diverted into a discussion about the perils of either vaccination or commercial dog food. There is precious little proper data to argue the toss and it always ends in tears.

      Jemima

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    5. " I think the fact that 2 OFA excellent parents bred together CAN produce hip dysplasia, "

      This is used as an excuse for many Illnesses , why should we bother even trying if occassionally two healthy dogs produce a sick pup .
      Thats like saying why bother breeding black dogs as reds turn up occasionally , lets just breed all reds!

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  29. Perhaps the "perils of either vaccination or commercial dog food" stem from the declining genetic health/diversity of our dogs. Breeders have unwittingly concentrated genetic mutations which make our dogs more susceptible to food allergies, adverse reactions to vaccines, etc. Instead of focusing upon specific diets and less vaccination we should be focusing upon healthier dogs that don't require specific diets and less preventative medication to thrive.

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    1. Could I just say chicken and egg syndrome. Are some of the AI probs in dogs because of the food i.e. growth hormones, antibiotics, crop sprays. Ironically like the damage done to dogs are all human engineered. I do have a sneaky feeling that if we were "organic" all of us including our pets, farm animals etc etc would be much healthier. But I don't let the bad breeders off the hook but in conjunction with the above everything becomes much more complicated. Sorry Jemima, I just wanted to add this caveat.

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    2. It's a no brainer!

      Exactly the same reason it is so frustrating to read that some pedigree dog advocates are ploughing money into developing genetic screening tests for 'diseases' that wouldn't exist if the breeding practices were sensible and sound in the first place.

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    3. If AI problems did not have a genetic component (i.e. inbreeding) then all dogs exposed to the same environment would develop the same AI problems.

      The question is do we want to only focus on treating the symptom (AI problems in individual dogs) or also address the cause (declining genetic health across all breeds).

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    4. Intelligent and sensible people tend to address the root cause to ensure that the same problems don't keep re-occurring.

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    5. It's best to back up your sneaky feelings about stuff with evidence Georgina. As far as I am aware, there are no long term studies on dogs or humans on the health benefits of eating organic food.

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    6. We would certainly be healthier without drugs, vaccines and antibiotics as the sickly ones would not have got past infancy

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  30. Search the literature with these terms: inbreeding depression chemical stress
    and you'll find several articles that discuss how inbreeding makes species more susceptible to environmental stresses including chemical stresses.

    For example:

    Genetic variation, inbreeding and chemical exposure—combined effects in wildlife and critical considerations for ecotoxicology
    A. Ross Brown, David J. Hosken, François Balloux, Lisa K. Bickley, Gareth LePage, Stewart F. Owen, Malcolm J. Hetheridge and Charles R. Tyler
    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 November 2009 vol. 364 no. 1534 3377-3390

    "Inbreeding—matings between closely related individuals—can have negative fitness consequences for natural populations, and there is evidence of inbreeding depression in many wildlife populations. In some cases, reduced fitness in inbred populations has been shown to be exacerbated under chemical stress."

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  31. What is happening wrt to VetCompass? Are they collating data on the health of the different breeds?

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  32. If the Standard Poodle is in such trouble, despite being numerically huge, it does not bode well for other breeds. Auto-immune diseases are becoming more and more prevalent in Whippets, but many breeders still trot out the line that there are lots of Whippets and the breed is healthy...

    I would be very interested to learn more about the genetic research that has been undertaken on the SP. Wereabouts can I find this?

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  33. I wish all breed councils had a Mary Jane Weir as president...

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    1. Why don't breed councils have a scientist or geneticist on board as protocol?

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    2. Actually, the lady who is the chairman of the Standard Poodle Club (the British equivalent of the PCC) is also involved in the Standard Poodle Project and provided a large number of samples to assist with research. They both seem to be very sensible people who seem to spend a lot of time leading horses to water. Diversity breeding is steadily gaining ground and we have representatives in the US, Canada, the UK, and some in Germany and France.

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  34. So, Julie, you are saying that continued breeding of mini to standard will not introduce the mini issues of PRA/PRCD, LCP and the mini seizure problems? You can control this How exactly? Who are the breeders... you said 12.. that have done these crosses, for how long,how many pups produced and lets see the testing please? I would love to see the pedigrees and pictures!!! I am so excited!!! What is the size range???

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  35. With the massive rains we have had here in the Pacific Northwest, I finally had time to sit down and read the blog as well as every single comment with great interest.
    We have had six standard Poodles. Two are unhealthy (one with severe IBD, bloated and torsioned, was tacked, then bloated TEN more times, she can’t handle even one tiny piece of ANY kind of animal protein or she gets violently ill, her canines grew through the roof of her mouth and caused all kinds of issues, she has seizures and an unexplained neuropathy that has rendered her rear end nearly useless– she is now 13 1/2. She is HIGH Wycliffe). Her numbers are COI 10 - 22.5%, COI 15 - 30.1%, Wycliffe -68.45. She has littermates and half siblings with SA, AD, HD, same bite and more.
    The other unhealthy Poodle we have of the six is out of a mini/standard bitch and she was sired by a standard Poodle. She has Legg-Perthes, chronic pancreatitis, retinal dysplasia and severe allergies (food, grasses, dust, mold, human dander, etc.). Her COI is not low (9% for 15 generations – 5.7% for 10 generations). Even with her issues, I would not hesitate to get another mini/standard cross but would do a lot more research on the mini before doing so! It is not enough to use a different variety, one MUST do major research before introducing that variety. There will always be risks no matter what breeders do. Breeding is not for the faint of heart! I applaud their bravery in trying new things to help the breeds!
    We have three standards that are so far (knock wood!), extremely healthy and cast iron in what they can eat. One is a 1:1 with a COI 10 -15.9%, COI 15 - 22.9%, Wycliffe- 54.81. She can eat anything! She is 11 now and had her first litter at 7. The litter had 9 puppies but one was stuck in the birth canal and died. The bitch had to have a C-section. Her puppies are 4 now and so far all healthy. Only time will tell, but so far they are healthy. Their sire has a diverse pedigree COI 10 - 4.3%, COI 15 - 8.5%, Wycliffe = 39.42 and the parent of a 4:4 (not sure what his DLA is). The four year old puppies from these two are COI 10 - 4.0%, COI 15 - 10.7, Wycliffe - 47.12. There are healthy dogs with high COI and Wycliffe and unhealthy dogs with low COI and Wycliffe. We need to look at the big picture.
    I think what breeders are trying to do regarding the improvement of health is fabulous. I think we need to look at breed standards to see which breeds have the fewest restrictions and how healthy those breeds are. When I was breeding dogs back in the 1970s, Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis and other breeds with few restrictions, were very healthy. I always felt that the more standards restrict colors, the fewer choices we have, structurally and immune wise. It is so silly to restrict color in dogs! Dogs should be chosen on merit of health, structure, temperament and performance, not color!!! Breeding for color (red to red, brown to brown, black to black, etc.) will only limit choices further.
    I would like to add that health is not the only thing that threatens purebred dogs today. The structure of most top winning Poodles (as well as other breeds) is horrible. These dogs do not even resemble the original dogs of their breeds. I recently looked at a number of Poodles in the breed ring from the Regional and I was shocked at what I saw! Everyone is so worried about fronts, but their rears were absurd! Poodles have become caricatures of their former selves in the name of “type.” It is not enough to preserve the health (although that is the most important!), breeders MUST try to get back to the Poodle as it should be, not those ridiculously built coat racks in the show ring we see today. The croups are miniscule and that shelf that sticks out behind those dogs is getting worse and worse! Pelvises are shorter than ever, but it is the front that fools people on movement. The greatest front on the planet means nothing if the dog has no engine behind! Sorry, I could go on forever about this.
    Thank you for these discussions.

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    1. So true Helen.. if a poodle cannot swim and pick up a duck it no longer represents the reason the breed exists in the first place.

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  36. One further thought. JH says it is a "tenet of farming" to mate two separately-inbred lines, while several others (MJTW included) describe the results of doing so as a "litter from hell" (see 13:31 and 15:26 on 26th above). Perhaps there is a clash of cultures here. Farmers are less squeamish than we townies and closer to nature: MJTW viewed her litter (detailed above) as a disaster; while a farmer might have cheerfully bred from the healthy survivors, shrugging off the others as collateral damage. If so, then going that route we must expect things to get worse before they get better. Any farmers care to comment?

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  37. What type of farmer would you like to hear from; those that breed for production (breed based upon function: mothering, growth rates of offspring, disease resistance, meat qualities, etc) or those that breed for show (breed for looks: winning in the show ring)?

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  38. I breed birds -- ducks, chickens, geese, turkeys. Significantly, the birds I breed are rare breeds. I breed them mainly to keep the breeds alive, rather than for showing or for production. In birds we have a different system to dogs, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Each breed has a breed standard, but there is no closed studbook, or indeed any studbook. If you are in the market for birds, you have to educate yourself on the breed standard to ensure you buy something that is a fair representation of it, and you take your chances when buying stock from separate sources and hope it's not closely related.

    What happens in most rare breed farms to some degree is that the farmer acquires stock that may be related or unrelated, to what degree is largely unknown, and due to the complication of sourcing a new cock/drake/etc. and removing the old one, the line is inbred for some generations as a result of retaining female offspring and putting them back into the pen with the sire until the sire dies of natural causes or predation. This is not actually significantly different to what occurs in the wild in many animals. The farmer may then acquire another male from an outside source, or if this is not possible, add a related male sourced from the offspring of the old one. Eventually, if the flock is inbred for long enough, you start to see effects of inbreeding, such as poor egg fertility, peeps dying in the shell before turning into position to hatch, hatchlings that struggle to hatch by themselves, runts that fail to thrive, unexplained high mortality rates in birds before they reach maturity, etc. At this point, the only way to improve the health is to bring in outside stock. In the case of some breeds, the population is too small and outcrosses must be made to other breeds. The outcrossed birds in the first generation do not generally have any of the positive attributes of either parent, and do not meet the breed standard of either, but when they are bred to other outcrosses or to birds of the parent breed, traits start to re-emerge and can be selected for, and the breed type is recovered over a few generations.

    The number of generations it takes to recover varies depending on the breeds used. Some breeds are very similar in type and tend to be compatible. For example, many breeds of turkey differ only in colour. Outcrossing one of these breeds is likely to mean that the first generation is an incorrect colour, but the correct colour is easily recovered and selected for in the next generation. Other breeds have characteristic body shapes and factors like egg colour that will take many more generations to re-establish. Surplus birds that are unhealthy or do not meet the breed standard are easily disposed of by slaughtering and eating, or at the very least, by slaughtering and using as dog food. The equivalent would be unconscionable in dog breeding.

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    1. Thanks Anon, a most interesting sidelight on the question. Food for thought here.

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  39. In the 30's through 60's it was common practice in large breed breeders to cull litters at birth. It was felt that A there were only so many pet homes B the drain on a bitch to raise 10 or more puppies was unconscionable, there fore litters were often culled to 6 or 7..C culling for genetic defect apparent at birth, and many breeders color culled.
    Today, breeders go to great lengths to save every pup they can. Sometimes mother nature is smarter than humans.

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    1. While such culling reduced numbers, I doubt it lead to genetic improvement as compared to modern practices because:
      (1) from a modern breeder's perspective, desexing, or putting on limited register, is culling. The genetic reason for a cull is to take the animal out of the breeding pool; desexing is equivalent to pts
      (2) An early cull is not a good way to weed out the unhealthy. Undersized or less vigorous neonates often grow up to be as healthy as littermates. Often they are small/weak because they had a less favorable position in the womb. And you can be sure that pedigree breeders would use an early cull to get rid of cosmetic defects, especially mismarks, and favor extreme conformation as evident at birth, eg., large head, short nose.

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  40. We breed sheep for production. Inbreeding decreases animal size and disease resistance. Since our income is directly related to animal size at the point of sale after 8-10 months of growth anything that slows growth or decreases animal size decreases our income. Decreased disease resistance also increases our costs in labor and chemicals to treat for disease. Genetics also play a role in ease of birthing, number of animals per birth, and mothering instincts; our ideal breeding ewe is one that delivers and raises large twins on her own since the ideal reduces our costs. Any ewe that falls short of this ideal is likely to be removed from our flock.

    In our flock, a ewe that produces lambs analogous to the "litter from hell" would be culled and none of the surviving lambs would be kept to prevent those genetics from being added to our flock.

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    1. So your cure for inbreeding is not to inbreed in the first place. You too have a breed standard - your ideal - but apparently no trouble achieving it without, putting you in the happy position of being able to discard completely a disaster litter. But for those breeders who, in their quest to meet the longer list of requirements on a pedigree dog breed standard, have ignored your wisdom and overdone the inbreeding, the way ahead offered here seems to lead through hell.

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    3. Yes, the way forward offerred here for overdone inbreeding would seem like hell to the KC following: diluting the genetic purity of their breed.

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    4. Our breeding goal, standard, (for our sheep and our Border Collies) is based upon function not looks; inbreeding can still occur with function as the standard. However, the effects of inbreeding will adversely impact function earlier than inbreeding will adversely impact looks. For example, working Border Collies will not function well with Brachycephalic Syndrome.

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  41. I breed livestock & dogs, we breed cross breed or breed up dorper lambs for meat. Why because they do better & thats our bread & butter.

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  42. UrbanCollieChick4 October 2013 at 14:28

    What about an outcross to Barbets?

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  43. It's very sad to see the genetic situation poodles are in, since all the standard poodle breeders I've met are quite serious about breeding for health. Yet weak immune systems, poor teeth and bad eyes have become an expected norm in all sizes of poodle. Increasingly neurotic/reactive temperaments is another big issue. I can count the number of SP's I've met that I'd consider healthy on one hand. (and now that I think back on it, 3 out of 4 of those dogs were 'disqualified colors' -either phantom or parti)

    I'm quite happy to say, however, that I have a great poodle... well, about 70% poodle anyway. People are quick to dismiss Australian Labradoodles as some sort of disgusting status symbol trend, but if a breed is a genetic wreck, why not let it change with the times?

    I'm hesitant to recommend them, since popularity is a surefire way to destroy a breed. But by looking at a new poodle cross breed I was able to find a really healthy non-shedding dog with a low COI (2.5%, 7 generation), great instincts (retrieving, scenting, flushing) and an amazing temperament that is biddable, clever and bombproof. I simply could not risk sinking two years of daily training into creating a working dog that might turn out to have immune system issues or a poor working temperament.

    If poodle breeders really want to save the standard poodle, changing to an open stud book (allowing outcrosses to unregistered and closely-related breeds) and a more role-descriptive standard might be the best path. Decades of leading-edge breed health monitoring in the current system isn't resulting in healthier dogs... just delaying the inevitable. People love poodles enough that I'd be shocked if striking out the closed-stud-book policies would result in a hit to popularity.

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    1. Afraid popularity is already here. There are dark rumours of poodle breeders struggling to find buyers, who let their pups' hair grow, redact the pedigree and call them labradoodles - whereupon they sell like hot cakes. Sure yours isn't one of those?

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    2. What you have is not a poodle, or an 'Australian labrad oodle' but a mongrel sold to you under a daft marketing term. Mongrels are lovely dogs, but by buying one, presumably not from a shelter, you have done nothing to help a breed or help breeders trying to improve the health of a breed. The person who bred your dog did not make a contribution to the gene pool of a breed in doing so. COIs of 2.5% or under calculated over 7 complete generations are perfectly achievable within the poodle breed, without any outcrossing at all. I am sorry that the poodles you have met have had health problems, and indeed any dog can have a health problem, but if you had researched harder, you would have found poodle breeders (or breeders of plenty of other interesting breeds, if you didn't want a poodle) who put health and diversity before other considerations.

      Outcrossing to related breeds is a perfectly good idea, but sadly it is being utterly discredited by people crossing poodles to breeds like Labrador Retrievers that aren't related or compatible just to make novelty puppies to sell. Breeders who want to outcross for the benefit of the breed, and register their puppies under the relevant registry, face a hard battle with the status quo because of an unwelcome connotation with large numbers of people lining their pockets this way. Please, if anyone reading this is considering buying a poodle or 'something like a poodle', do your research and support a breeder who is working to benefit the breed in the long term (and this includes outcrosses to related breeds, as long as they are being bred for use in a breeding programme to improve the health of the original breed), or help a mixed-breed dog from a shelter. There are several breeds that share history with poodles and have varied appearances and certainly ones who have non-shedding coats if this is what's desired, and no reason to fall for mutt-breeder marketing guff.

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    3. I read many posts and think it is crazy to limit the gene pool based on color. Another interesting post from Institute of Canine Biology
      http://www.instituteofcaninebiology.org/7/post/2013/10/a-bit-more-about-poodles.html

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  44. I have always been fond of poodles, sorry to read that the breed is heading for the glue factory. Breed extinction because of snobbery? Why do show dog breeders flock to breed to the same show winning lines? Why do they inbreed on winners instead of outcrossing for health?

    I'd guessing that, except for those who still truely believe that a show winning dog is better than a family winning dog, show breeders breed because they want to win or because they want to own a dog who they feel will be seen as "better". Sounds snobby, doesn't it?

    If there were no dog shows, people woud breed what pleased them and the families who want one of their puppies: A healthy dog who makes a good pet.

    But what to do about popular sires, except curtailing dog shows?

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  45. I like what Anon 28 Sept 1846 said: Stop Stirring Stale Soup.

    Or as someone else above said: Sometimes a breed is so full of a fault or faulty gene, that all the dogs of that breed have that problem, and so if a person wants a puppy who will grow up healthy, they must buy a hybrid puppy.

    Apparently this is how the public sees poodles in the US. I have met more pet cockapoos than pet poodles. I have met oodles of different types of doodles. Labradoodles, Golden doodles, Shepherdoodles, Dane Doodles etc.

    Of couse if someone mates two Airdoodles together, that's NOT a hybrid, it is an inbred crossbred, but some misguided people try to do that to establish a new breed. But the whole point of hybrid breeding is to blend two unrelated lines to produce an uninbred dog with hybrid vigor.

    I like the idea someone mentoned above, where Canada accepts 7/8ths pure as the tipping point where they are "pure". But that goes back to working for years to improve your line. Most dog breeders aren't farmers anymore. They no longer see their dogstock as a herd they inherited down from their great grandfathers, and which they will leave to their great grandchldren.

    I favor my idea of resorting the breeds into new groups and labelling those breeds as varities within a breed - one gene pool but shown seperately.

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    1. "so if a person wants a puppy who will grow up healthy, they must buy a hybrid puppy."

      And if everyone does that, and the breeds go extinct, where do we go after that? Breed the 'hybrids' to other ones from parents of different breeds, and keep doing that until eventually you run out of options and have to mate together two dogs that have the same ancestor somewhere behind them, and therefore don't have a COI of zero, and the risk returns? If breeds we know disappeared tomorrow, in 100 years time, we would likely have similar problems, but we would have fewer 'breeds' and they would probably not be much use for anything, and there would still be things like popular sires based on convenience and cheapness, and because only a few people are going to bother keeping a stud dog, if not aesthetic or functional reasons. It's seen as a cheap and easy short-term option, because you don't have to do any research. If you use a dog of another breed on yours, you can just pick what's nearest and cheapest and the COI will be low, but there's no sustainability in it. People who breed breeds who do it properly, do a lot of research and can often go to great lengths and personal expense analysing potential matings on computer programs and importing dogs and semen from abroad. It's not an easy solution, but it's better to put in the work to sort out the breeds we already have and come up with information to help people properly maintain them, than it is to mess around making 'new breeds' that are only going to end up in the same position.

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  46. Standard Poodles are such wonderful dogs with so much to love about them. I have never been attracted to Dog Shows and although I know many are, I just can't bring myself to watch them. What a business! I have always thought that the dogs have incredible patience to just "be" there-especially the poodles and all the grooming time needed. I was visiting a Poodle breeders site in an effort to get to know the breed and get information and was rudely booted offt of the Blog as I owned a poodle mix. Oh well. I was disappointed as they did have some good info.

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  47. I don't have time to read all the responses, but there is nothing prohibiting the breeding of particolor poodles should people have legitimate reason to believe they have something to offer. There is only a prohibition on showing them. That would seem a very minor consideration if the breed is in as much trouble as its detractors claim.

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    1. Well, the majority of breeders seem to breed for the show ring it seems.
      There are some poodle breeders that breed for hunting, some which breed for excellent pets, but the show ring... is overwhelmingly popular as people use that to rate the worth of the dogs they produce.

      I really hate the showring and its efforts for perfection. Its ridiculous.
      The show ring is like any other "sport" in that its what they breed their dogs for. I think a lot of breeders would potentially feel lost without the showring to breed for.

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  48. As a poodle lover and not a breeder, may I say that health and resistance to disease should be the number one thing breeders need to work on. I have no idea how this would work.
    I have had 4 poodles in my lifetime. One was a pet shop miniature poodle who was the only pup left after her mum and litter mates were sold. The pet shop was leaving her to die because she refused to eat. I bought her even though they advised against it and said they wouldn't refund my money when she passed. I brought her to the vet and he said she wouldn't survive. I fed her human baby pablum mixed with meat baby food on the tip of my finger until she could lick on her own. Not only did she survive, she thrived, and led an active, happy life. My Annie lived to be almost 21 years old. She had a stroke shortly before her 21st birthday and had to be put down.
    My adopted miniature poodle Sandy was from what people call a "backyard breeder"; just a mum who bred poodles for extra money. She had health problems (eyes and thyroid) had to be put down at the age of 12 because of mouth cancer. My 3rd, a standard poodle named Mac, was purchased from a reputable breeder with papers. I love him dearly and his disposition is great; he's affectionate and sweet but he's had so many health problems, including IVDD at the age of 8. He had an MRI and surgery on 1 of the discs in his neck, but they could not fix another that was problematic, and now, 4 years later, he is having issues again. He also had repeated skin problems since he was a puppy. He will be 12 this summer, and is on steroids, tramadol, and gabapentin. He can still walk, thank God, but his activity needs to be seriously restricted. He has cost upward of 20 thousand dollars in vet bills so far (half of that was for surgery and an MRI...we had to drive 4 hours to find a place that could do the procedure and stay out of town for a week).
    Benji, my 4th, a toy poodle, whom I also adopted so don't know where he came from, had no serious health problems until his senior years. He'll be 16 this month and requires 3 different types of eye drops, 3 times per day because he has glaucoma. He is also blind and needs his food pureed. Other than that, he is healthy and pretty active for his age.
    Poodles are the ONLY dogs that don't trigger my allergies and asthma, male poodles can even lick me without causing a reaction (for some reason I break out if female poodles lick me). I love poodles; they are my favorite breed, and it breaks my heart that they are in trouble, genetically.
    I know lots of other poodle moms, and none of us care about showing our dogs. I know that's a big thing for some people, but really, most people just want healthy, happy companions. It seems ridiculous to not allow color varieties if it will help the breed. Someone in the comments mentioned breeders who don't care about showing dogs who unknowingly create diversity...do you have any names? Those are the breeders that I'd like to buy from in the future.

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  49. Ethical Preservation Breeders test for everything we possibly can. What is out of our control despite contracts, is the number and frequency of vaccinations given and food fed which all can and do affect the health of the dog along with early spay /neuter which has had some very interesting detrimental results from UC Davis recently. ...poodles are not the only breed that have health issues.We cannot predict auto immune disease and we do know that some are affected by too frequent vaccines. It is true some breeders dont care about showing. But the Best breeders are members of specialty clubs and parent clubs ( or all breed clubs)that sign that code of ethics and register the testing they do for all to see.They carefully screen the potential buyers, make sure a potential owner understands the needs of the breed. An ethical preservation breeder is PROUD to display the testing and provide copies unasked. Although many line breed, just as many do judicious out-crossing too. My last few litters have been less than 2% COI which takes great advantage of the gene pool which grows increasingly smaller each year. Health and Temperament should always come first...Look for breeders who display the health testing, and have dogs earning titles other than Conformation Champions.Many of my dogs that have been sold as "pets" have earned obedience titles at high levels and agility titles which characterizes tractability and tractability, not to mention many who do pet therapy which requires stable temperament and testing before getting the credentials to make therapy visits. It is these breeders, by showing in various events, and participation in clubs, who help support the funds going out in research grants to identify diseases and giving us the tests to eliminate disease.The AKC Health Foundation and the Health Foundations of parent clubs(Poodle CLub of AMerica is one) Raise vast sums each year to give to these institutions that help us be better breeders.Backyard breeders, puppy mills contribute nothing to this research.Several large corporations also give funds.The research benefits all dogs and some benefits human research.All parent clubs and most specialty clubs will help steer interested buyers to ethical preservation breeders.Yes, you will pay more from these breeders than out of a newspaper or some online seller..but what you get in the end is lifelong support, take back contracts, low vaccine protocol and holistic feeding, puppies not sold at a young age,and generations of health testing.If none of this is of interest to you, then rescue your breed of choice...or adopt from your local shelter.All dogs deserve forever loving homes.

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  50. As for poodles of color,(ie parti etc) although they cannot be shown in AKC CONFORMATION events, they can be shown in all other AKC events and UKC events including conformation and have their own UKC parent club. There are many dedicated Parti breeders that are very conscientious in health testing.

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