Saturday, 5 March 2011

Dalmatian diehards would be "disgusted" if Fiona won

Fiona get 2nd in her class at Boston Champ Show in Jan             © Liz Sampson
There are two almost unbelievable quotes in an article in the Mail on Sunday about LUA Dalmatian Fiona competing at Crufts next week.

"It is pretty unethical to allow this dog in a pedigree show. As far as I’m concerned it is an illegal entrant and makes a mockery of the dalmatian breed," Dalmatian breeder Paul Heaton from Yorkshire told writer Val Elliott.

"This is a dog that is not pure-bred. This is a mongrel. You can’t cross a dalmatian with a pointer and say it’s a dalmatian. This is unethical and I’d be disgusted if the dog won," Anne Harcraft, a breeder from Sheffield, agreed.  "The dog is unpure and I do not think it should be shown with pedigrees. I would be really miffed if it won."

An "illegal entrant"? A "mongrel"?

And there was I thinking dinosaurs were extinct.

For more info on just how special Fiona is, see the first ever blogpost on this blog.


  1. Every time I start to feel jolly and expansive and somewhat tolerant of show folk and their "harmless" hobby, they let rip with something like this.

    Gotta hand it to you, Jemima, your prolific commenter "Anonymous" is a very special type-specimen of the breed.

  2. If the dog fits the dalmation breed standard then that makes it a dalmation no matter how it got there. Isn't that what the breed standard is for?

  3. To call a dog that is the result of generations of purposely-selected individuals who bred true to one type a 'mongrel' is just ludicrous. Such people need to open an encyclopedia and look up the meaning of the words 'purebred', 'pedigree', and 'mongrel'... though I find it shocking that individuals who are actively breeding animals never learned such basic concepts in the first place.

  4. It is deeply saddening that "dinosaurs" still exist - and they clearly do - article inaccuracies aside.

  5. Yes, a shame about the inaccuracies in the Mail article. Did, in fact, fully brief writer Val Elliott on the issue so it's frustrating that she's not made clear that the pointer outcross was 12 or so generations ago - not least because it makes it all the more shocking that breeders still consider her impure.

    Inevitably - and as often happens - she also only used a very small part of the quote that I gave her for the article, which was:

    "The Kennel Club's acceptance of Fiona is a triumph for the breed and it is disgusting that the breed club fought it. An influx of fresh genes could help many other breeds that are suffering because of pedigree dog breeders' outdated, and frankly distasteful, notion of purity at all costs. The dogs pay a dreadful price in increased levels of genetic disease; reduced fertility; fewer and weaker pups and impaired immune systems. The enlightened few, like Julie, who put the health of their dogs first are too often treated as pariahs. It is astonishing, but true, that the majority of breeders would rather have sick dogs than allow a single drop of foreign blood taint their breeds."

  6. It is a triumph for the breed for sure and surely it is far better to have a dog or dogs with other breed genes in their background which are healthier and therefore happier, than it is to be so obsessed with purity that the animals suffer?

    I certainly do hope this LUA Dalmation not only gets placed, but also wins best of breed!

    Some breeders need to look at the background of their own dogs and realise that the many purebreds of today are a result of crossing two or three breeds together and breeding the chosen offspring to create a certain type (breed) of dog fit for the purpose it has been chosen for.

  7. (I submitted this comment to the "Mail" yesterday, but it was never printed.)

    This uproar is ridiculous!! Prior to the mid-1800s, "pure" breeding was not considered all that important. Health and function were the driving factors in breeding programs. Pedigrees were not generally maintained. All that changed with the advent of Kennel Clubs and the establishment of stud books and breed standards. The result has been a narrowing of gene pools; setting health problems into breeds and harming the health of our dogs.

    Consider the fact that the modern Dalmation likely derived from crosses that included the now-extinct Bengal Pointer and the English Pointer, and the addition of another Pointer seems logical to help correct the uric acid metabolism problem that exists in "purebred" Dalmatians.

    We owe it to our dogs to open our minds and our hearts and breed with a goal of health and fitness. If judicious outcrossing can improve health and fitness I am all for it, as should every person be who claims to love dogs.
    Here in the US there is a similar stupid AKC rule that a dog born with a patch of color must be disqualified....even though studies show such that having such a patch would reduce the risk of deafness. We'd rather have deaf and disabled Dalmatians than healthy ones. Very sad.

  8. I felt sick at heart when I read the article. Having been born and raised in the UK I know what some UK newspapers can be like and this is definitely bottom of the barrel yellow journalism. Fiona is a beautiful Dalmatian I have had first hand experience with her and her breeder in the USA. I was under the impression that most breeds didn't naturally occur as they are now.

    When I heard that Julie had been interviewed I hoped that maybe the paper would rise to a higher level.

    We have two of these mutts by the way


  9. Jemima Harrison complaining about press inaccuracies------THATS RICH !!!!!

  10. Whether Fiona wins or places or doesn't even get a look is not what matters here. What matters is the fact that she is going to be there showing her heart out! The fact that Julie has put everything on the line to help the breed of dogs she loves speaks volumes about her commitment and character. How lucky the Dalmatian breed is that there are a growing number of dedicated breeders who have picked up the reins and are guiding Bob Schaible's LUA work into the future!

    The dinosaurs will be but a footnote in history.

    Good luck Julie and Fiona!

  11. "the MAJORITY of breeders would RATHER have sick dogs??" wow . If indeed you were misquoted or that is not what you meant .. will we see a retraction in the next issue.. or a clarification?
    As for Fiona.. she is accepted.. showing ..winning and I assume will be bred.. so why the fervor .. what more do you want?
    Tempest in a teapot..

  12. I wasn't misquoted - they just used only part of the quote (which is fine by me). And I stand - absolutely - by the quote. I believe the majority of KC/AKC/CKC breeders would rather have sick dogs than an "impure" one and I base that on the outcry that ensues when outcrossing is even suggested as a possible option. I mean, just how sick do cavaliers have to get? And just look at the fuss over the registration of the LUA Dals in the USA. The breed club even banned discussion of the dogs for 20 odd years. And they're still not recognised. There's a similar fuss bubbling under in Tollers, too. How many outcrosses, exactly, have been sanctioned by the AKC or AKC Breed Clubs in the US? At least the KC here have sanctioned them on a handful of occasions. Bloodhounds were one - although sadly there was a huge fuss about that one, too, with the breed club threatening legal action against the KC. Then there's the bull terriers to mini bulls to try to reduce the scarily high PLL carrier rate and, more recently, some inter-variety matings between belgian shepherd dogs which, encouragingly, seem to be being embraced by the BSD community.

  13. sorry to take off topic, but now I am really curious..what is brewing in Tollers? they are one of "my" breeds, and this is the first I have heard anything..granted my location keeps me totally isolated from other Toller people in RL, but you'd think I would have heard SOMETHING through the online grapevine lol

    I am suprised about the BSD thing, there are breeders who DONT interbreed the varieties? I thought that was as normal as interbreeding rough and smooth collies..or is that not done in some places either? no sarcasm BTW, I was genuinly confused to read that! I know a number of BSD breeders and all of them interbreed varietys without batting an eye.

  14. Will blog this separately as it's an interesting debate. In a quick nutshell: Tollers have low genetic diversity, particularly in the MHC, and the incidence of immune-mediated disorders is such that some researchers argue that an outcross is vital. Others (very well qualified, it has to be said) completely disagree. So two very polarised research camps: USA (Clare Wade) and Finland (Katariina Maki). Meanwhile a German Toller Club (think it's German) have approved an outcross. Will write this up properly when get a mo but googling the above names should bring up the debate.

  15. I see from your picture Fiona is winning her class at Boston, she didn't, check your facts once again. Also this reporter has spoken to some breeders who have made various comments, who are they? No one who has been in the breed for even more years than Mrs Evans has heard of them.

  16. These breeders should be ashamed.

    There is nothing wrong with mongrels.

    There is however quite alot wrong with dalmatians.

    All the best to Fiona. She is a step in the right direction.

  17. Thank you for the correction, Anon - have amended the caption.

    I have no idea who the breeders are that Val Elliott talk to. Are you suggesting there is no resistance within the breed club to Fiona being registered/shown?

    If so, that would be very good news. Perhaps now she is registered there is more acceptance than there was before?

  18. Who is no one? I no of the breeders, Though the name was miss spelled Anne HORSCRAFT, Member of NEDC breeder of 1 champion.


  19. Correct me if I am wrong, when a "new breed" is accepted into one of these registries, and I am right that this is their purported sole purpose, there is usually a period of time which lets breeders include their founding stock, after which the books are closed to these dogs. This founding stock may or may not be pure bred
    Now if these foundation dogs are impure in anyway, why would the any breed club say their dogs are purebred; pedigreed, yes. but purebred?

  20. Let me translate that for you:
    "It's only acceptable to have every dog in our breed susceptible to a disease that humans describe as excruciatingly painful for the sake of "purity" as this breed (which probably wasn't even refined in Dalmatia) was handed down pure from god."

    "We like them deaf."

    "They're ancient! And no, we don't like them just because they have a unique coat pattern, that would be shallow! You know that the pattern is VITAL to their jobs."

  21. Just because the lady quoted is a member of NEDC doesnt mean she speaks for the club.

  22. I breed dogs. I show my dogs. I have handled dogs to Best in shows at Championship shows, made up many champions, and done most of what can be done in this hobby.

    These quotes do NOT represent what myself, my friends or anyone I know thinks.

    This is hype and spin and its just ridiculous.

  23. I assume when you write out crossing you are actually writing cross breeding between breeds or non breeds. Is that correct? You are suggesting that by bringing another breed .. say a Cocker Spaniel and breeding it to a Cavalier there will be some sort of benefit to one breed or another? Or that finding a "healthy"( what ever that is ) rescue dog that looks like a Cav and breeding it to a Cav will somehow be better for the breed? Is that what you are writing.. and if it is can you please tell us how many "outcrosses" you have personally produced and whelped and what benefits you have ascertained from same. Do you consider inter variety mating the same as out crossing? ( using your description meaning breeding one breed of dog to another)
    Thank you
    PS.. is there a reason to continue to write about Fiona other than to incite.. she is here.. accepted.. showing, doing some winning and will be bred.. what more do you want ( dare I ask)

  24. Marion Mitchell7 March 2011 at 21:04

    I believe that Jemima wants what those of us who have LUA dalmatians & those who support them want, acceptance by the Dalmatian Club of America I doubt that will happen but acceptance by AKC most probably will. Fiona is the LUA ambassador to the world & many countries are watching . Breeders in Europe have expressed a desire to incorporate an LUA into their breeding, however until they are AKC registered it can't happen. Unless there is a "Julie" in each country willing to break down barriers as she has in the UK.

  25. "I believe that Jemima wants what those of us who have LUA dalmatians & those who support them want, acceptance by the Dalmatian Club of America "

    ....but acceptance by the Dalmatian Club of America has NOTHING to do with Fiona showing at Crufts - this is the UK - our KC accepts her - most Dally breeders accept her - she is being shown - so WHAT is all this nonsense about ? ...apart from another cheap attempt at pre Crufts show bashing !

  26. Why is "acceptance" by the Dal Club of America so important to you? If the dogs are healthier.. better.. who cares what the "club" thinks? Isn't that the point of this blog.. the health of dogs.. Groucho Marx said it best;
    'I would never join a club that would have me as a member".. so forget about it and just breed your dogs.. do as you please.. why worry, lament and complain?.. start your own club if you must. No one is stopping you.. as is often said here.. those who breed for "rosettes' are those who want sick dogs.. so why would you want acceptance by such a stupid horrible group?
    Is there something that is attached to the sperm and ova of an AKC dog that makes it so desirable to European breeders that they would forgo health for "papers"? Why not just ship your dogs.. or their semen in either direction and say .. Hey I am breeding dogs that have LUA and look like Dalmations.. I am sure you would have lots of buyers..
    Meanwhile I will wait for the author to respond to my questions instead of someone else since they were directed to her.

  27. It's not just papers. How well do you know the FCI system and rules in EU countries?

  28. bestuvall, Do you honestly not comprehend how an outcross could make a breed healthier?

    Here's a link that may help:

    Note that the link discusses only autoimmune problems related to lack of immune system diversity. Another benefit of crossbreeding would be to bring in dogs who are not either carriers or affected for breed-specific genetic disorders.

    Jemima does not have to have done an outcross herself to know that they can be beneficial. All biologists (and many regular people) have this understanding. With all due respect, it's pretty basic science.

  29. But what happens if the outcross brings IN a genetic defect that was not there previously?

  30. Yes .. you beat me to it.. out crossing ( breeding two or more breeds together) is a way to be diverse.. AND a way to increase can easily bring in carriers.. or affecteds.. It is an age old problem that should be looked at breed by breed by BREEDERS.. not the general public who glom on to any anthropomorphic statements like "incest breeding" and then proceed to make it against the law.or to make such breeding unregisterable. silliness at its very best.. frightening at its very worst as the amount of these types of breeding were minuscule
    to begin with.. but it makes for good headlines.. FATHER BREEDS DAUGHTER..then you find out it was a dog..Does it stop those few breedings.. you tell me.. I would say no it does not.
    As I have said.. the Dal is here.. is being shown, doing some winning and will be bred and the pups registered.. is there more? It appears there is.. Acceptance.. you already have it.. but it seems to be not enough.. it must be acceptance by ALL it seems.

    Annie, I do understand.. I also understand that it works both way..and that there is no "magic bullet' to be gained by indiscriminate out crossing ( meaning cross breeding between breeds of dog.. not inter variety breeding)

  31. Marion Mitchell8 March 2011 at 22:04

    bestuvall said...
    Why is "acceptance" by the Dal Club of America so important to you? If the dogs are healthier.. better.. who cares what the "club" thinks? Isn't that the point of this blog.. the health of dog

    I thought I had expained that. The LUA's are not registered by AKC the so called leading registry because DCA has been fighting it for almost 40 years even thoough the AKC Health Board has said after the the science had been looked at and deemed t be correct also that the LUA's are Dalmatians They are registered with UKC which is not accepted in Europe or in the UK. The kennel club made an exception because of the health issue.

    There are only about 100 LUA's in the world and we need more diversity in the gene pool which is why we need acceptance. It looks as if the AKC willl register our dogs this summer over the heads of the breed club because the science is correct the dogs look like Dalmatians act llike them in every way and are now as "pure" as their " AKC brothers " DCA has been completley reprehensible by telling lies about our dogs that they don't look like dalmatians that they look terrible that their spotting is awful you name it our dogs have it. This may have been true for the first couple of generations but we are now at the 15th and DCA has been arguing about this since 1981.

    I wish there was a way I could show you photos of my babies.Lyra is 2 and Will will be 4 in June. Will is liver and spotted just like Fiona I guess there is no way to put ohotos on the blog right Jemima?

    We know we will never gain total acceptance by everyone too many people are stuck in the past don't or won't understand genetics. There are breeders in the USA that woud use an LUA but since they can't be shown in AKC events they are holding back until they are registered. The only way to stop the rumour mill is to get our dogs out so breeders can see that they are beautiful dalmatians

    Sorry this is much to long but I am passionate about this

  32. bestuvall,

    Have you read anything at all about genetic diversity issues in wild animal populations? My guess would be no. NO ONE who has even the most basic understanding of science would recommend against increasing the genetic diversity of an animal population through outcrossing because "it would bring in new diseases."

    Here is an article discussing the problem of inbreeding among people in London who emigrated from rural Pakistan:

    "...up to half of all marriages within these communities are estimated to involve first cousins.

    Medical research suggests that while British Pakistanis are responsible for 3% of all births, they account for one in three British children born with genetic illnesses."

    Would you recommend that the Pakistanis continue to marry their first cousins, in order to avoid "bringing in new diseases"?

    The laws of genetics apply equally to humans and animals.

    You seriously need to do some reading on science and genetics. Come back to the forum when you're up to speed and can contribute something of value to the discussion.

  33. "It looks as if the AKC willl register our dogs this summer over the heads of the breed club"

    ...there you go then - you do not need acceptance by the club ...form your own club, show your dogs and breed them - but I'm still puzzled why this was a Daily Mail article and a subsequent blog in the first place - Fiona's non acceptance by the American breed club has nothing to do with her being shown at Crufts'a non story ...or a piece of mischief making perhaps ?

  34. Annie: are you the new arbiter for this blog? If not I will continue to post..
    Humans are not dogs although they can actually use dogs to study human disease thank goodness.... as for inbreeding in London.. I thought that was common practice already..LOL
    Darwin married his first cousin.. go figure.. so did Enstein..that stupid man..
    yes I would say that Pakistanis should avoid out crossing to Ashkenazi Jews..and that Cajuns should probably think twice about marrying and out crossing to the Ashenazi as well as French Canadians.
    also the rate of genetic defects in marriages between first cousin ( not outlawed anywhere in Europe, Canada or Mexico) are only slightly higher ( 2-3% as compared to 4-6%) than marriages between non cousins.and the reality is that the marriage of first cousins in common practice in many parts of the world.. and has been for generations.. little to do with actual birth defects but much more to do with the political and social aspects of humankind... but we are writing about dogs here.. not humans.
    I am not recommending that YOU don't diversify as much as you want to in your own breeding program..
    I am happy to report that the study of the canine genome has helped millions of humans already and I am sure will be the case in the future.

  35. Annie said...
    "...up to half of all marriages within these communities are estimated to involve first cousins."

    That might be the case but I dont know of anybody that does repeat cousin to cousin matings in the Dalmatian world. Close matings are now banned by the Kennel Club but even before the ban it seldom happened in Dalmatians.

    I dont think your comparison stands up.

  36. Then you no very little anon!
    take a look at this pedigree. their are hundreds
    just like it!

  37. Anonymous wrote ...

    "take a look at this pedigree. their are hundreds just like it!"

    Thats a very sweeping statement to make - can we see the evidence to back it up?

  38. Sorry, take the 'e' off the end of that web address!

  39. Anon wrote...

    "their are hundreds just like it!"

    Thats a bold statement!

    Do you have any evidence to back it up?

  40. bestuvall,

    Again, please do some reading on genetics and inheritance. Genetic diversity is never a bad thing.

    And now I'm going to head over to another blog to argue with someone who believes the earth is flat. LOL

  41. "Do you have any evidence to back it up? "

    The World Wide Web!

    I gave you 'evidence' for your sweeping statement,
    "I dont know of anybody that does repeat cousin to cousin matings in the Dalmatian world." And that Evidence was far more than cousin to cousin!

  42. Yes! I believe everything on the WWW as well.

    My comment was about REPEAT cousin matings as thats how the COI is increased.

  43. bestuvall,

    Here is some more information about the deleterious effects of inbreeding:

    A poodle with a COI of under 6% will on average live three years longer than a poodle with a COI over 25%.

  44. One more very informative link--every dog breeder should read this.

  45. The best methods for ensuring the health and diversity of any breed’s gene pool are to: 1) Avoid the popular sire syndrome. 2) Utilize quality dogs from the breadth of your population to expand the gene pool. 3) Monitor genetic health issues through regular health surveys. 4) Do genetic testing for breed-related disorders. 5) Participate in open health registries, such as CHIC ( to manage genetic disorders.

    Jerald Bell DVM Tufts.. the rest of the article can be found anywhere on the web..
    as long as "outlaw' close mating we will never have the ability to do 'test matings' that have been successful in weeding out many canine disease in specific breeds..We should be grateful to pure bred dog breeders that they have worked so hard to breed healthy happy dogs with known assets and attributes. The glass truly is half full..

  46. Marion Mitchell10 March 2011 at 17:01

    Just one more comment then I'll shut up. Unfortunately the gene that allows Dalmatians to form uric acid stones is fixed. You can't breed it out. All dals have the propensity to form stones except the LUA's and UU's. I know some people do not understand this even within the breed & seem to think that you can use dogs that come from a line that to their knowledge have never formed stones. It doesn't work that way.

    The best thing to do to really understand all of this is to go to If you do you will see my guy Will on the top banner of the first page Fiona is to the left of him. When you see them in the ring they look very similar

  47. Well, I've looked on the www and I can't find those 'hundreds' of pedigrees showing close inbreeding in the UK.

    Youll have to help me or I might think they do not exist.

  48. "Well, I've looked on the www and I can't find those 'hundreds' of pedigrees showing close inbreeding in the UK."

    Umm, Anonymous, you know that by definition, all Dalmatians are quite closely related to each other? How many foundation dogs and bitches does the breed have, and how many times there's been an outcross since 1950's? You do realise that the situation of modern Dals resembles what you'd get if you put a man and a woman on a remote island that nobody ever visits and came back in a hundred years to see how their descendants have fared.

    Do you know what a COI% is? If not, I suggest you look it up, and then start investigating the COI of modern Dals, let's say eight or ten generations back.

  49. rantahiekkaa said...
    "Umm, Anonymous, you know that by definition, all Dalmatians are quite closely related to each other?"

    Do I? How do you know?

    Another sweeping statement without proof.

    And YES I do know what COI is but that wasn't my point. I was querying where the "hundreds" of pedigrees were.

    Do you know what the breed average COI is for Dalmatians registered with the KC in the UK for the last 12 months?

    If so then please share.

  50. rantahiekkaa said...

    "Do you know what a COI% is? If not, I suggest you look it up, and then start investigating the COI of modern Dals, let's say eight or ten generations back."

    Where on the scale do you think a COI of 13.3% over 10 Generations fits?

  51. Just to avoid confusion, 13.3% is not th eaverage COI for UK dals but is the COI for a LUA Dalmatian, NOT Fiona!, with the Pointer appearing EIGHT times in the pedigree. I have the name but feel it is inappropriate to publish here.

    And yes they are out there so this story of he pointer appearing in the X-generation needs to be qualified by how many times it appears in total.

  52. If you enter a Dalmatian name ito the KC's Mate Select web page it gives the breed average COI for Dalmatians in the UK as 6.0%

  53. I have just been playing with MateSelect and frankly it's not very useful in regards to COI. If the dog has an import behind it, it only includes the three gen ped that the import needs to be imported, not the complete pedigree, which gives a false COI.

    I am getting some big discrepancies, as well. For example, a Saluki I looked at comes up with a ten gen COI of 19% in the PawPeds database; Mate Select doesn't tell me how many generations it uses, but gives me 10%. A COI on the complete pedigree is 23%.

    Their breed averages in my breeds are way off, as well, and do not tell you how many generations they are using. They give Salukis as 6.4%, when a world wide survey done in 2004 gives an average over 22 generations for the current population of 19.66%. I don't have a UK average but for Germany over 22 generations the average is 22.77%.

    In Afghans, it lists 3.5% for the breed average. There was a survey just done, and for dogs born from 1998-2008 in the UK, the ten generation average for 2,178 dogs is 9.06%. For 24 generations it is 17.82%. A far cry from 3.5%.

    I got loads of 'dog could not be found,' even with the (hopefully) correct name or registration number. The name having to be absolutely correct is very, very limiting, btw, as there is sometimes some very creative spelling going on in pedigrees.

    A nice idea but needs some work to actually be useful, IMO.

  54. Lets not kick the KC for at least doing SOMETHING!

    They cant give a COI if they dont have the pedigree information and it is a fact that the more generations you use to calculate COI the greater the COI will be.

    It is really not unusual for it to need the name spelling correctly!

    Lets look on it at a start of a 'work in progress'. Do any other KC's provide a similar resource?

  55. The article is a bit simplistic.
    The "backcross project" as it is known is primarily to breed out the uric acid and kidney stone issues rather than the deafness.
    I dont believe that breeders would rather have the sick dogs , rather the AKC is more of the problem for not accepting them , Still they are available , and my next and future spottys will be backcross if I can find one.

  56. This is outdated now. LUA dalmatians are in very high demand these days. The dalmatian community is coming leaps and bounds to reduce HUA and deafness problems.