Sunday, 24 April 2011

Good.. excellent... grotesque?

If the following landed in your inbox - as it did in mine recently - who would you guess was behind it?

Or how about this?

Is it me plotting the sequel to Pedigree Dogs Exposed? Or perhaps it's the RSPCA or even the HSUS trying to make a point about "mutant show dogs"?

Surprisingly, it's from the most recent FCI newsletter  - the FCI being the umbrella organisation for more than 80 kennel clubs worldwide (the UK and US being notable exceptions), setting standards and regulating shows. It is, in fact, a progression of a Swedish initiative first published in 2008 designed to alert judges to the need to be careful not to reward obviously-exaggerated dogs.  Then, it highlighted 47 (out of around 300 FCI breeds) that needed attention. Today, there are 46 on the list.

Read the whole thing here - and ask yourself if the AKC - or even the semi-reformed KC - would go into print referring to a Chow with extreme conformation as "grotesque" or admit so bluntly (as does the FCI newsletter) that: "Dog shows and breeding of pedigree dogs are correctly criticized for promoting breed type exaggerations constituting risks and hazards for the heath and soundness of individuals as well as entire breeds."

Wow. Gotta hand it to those Swedes - and, actually, the FCI, too, for its most recent Breeding Strategies which, among other things, recommends... "To preserve, or preferably extend, the genetic diversity of the breed, matador breeding and heavy inbreeding should be avoided. Mating between siblings, mother to son or father to daughter should never be performed. As a general recommendation no dog should have more offspring than equivalent to 5% of the number of puppies registered in the breed population during a five-year period."

Disappointingly, the KC in the UK has yet to issue any guidance regarding popular sires. But one of the direct impacts of Pedigree Dogs Exposed was the decision by the KC  to no longer register the progeny of first-degree relative matings and it is coming under growing pressure to ban  grandparent/grand-offspring matings, too.

In America, meanwhile, you can still mate fathers to daughters, mothers to sons and brothers to sisters and the AKC will still register the puppies - and you can continue to use that top-winning dog at stud as often as you like, and to hell with the genetic consequences.


  1. Ah, yes, the FCI. The FCI who states in their Breeding Strategies paper, "The breeders should keep the breed standard as the guideline for the breed specific features; ANY EXAGGERATIONS SHOULD BE AVOIDED." Emphasis mine.

    Isn't extreme restriction on color and markings 'exaggeration?' Aren't restriction on color and markings that defy the actual genetics 'exaggeration?' Don't these things restrict the gene pool? They certainly don't "promote the health and well-being of the progeny" in the case of the Azawakh.

    "Breeders and breed clubs should be encouraged to cooperate with scientists in genetic health issues, to prevent combination of dogs from lines that will result in unhealthy offspring." HA! Does the FCI actually care about the genetic health of dogs?

    Read for yourself how the French sighthound club, in a fit of pique, is now proposing even more restrictive color in the standard, defying not only the genetics involved in white markings, but also completely ignores the variety colors and markings of the native dogs in Africa.

    And the FCI will let them do it. Color me unimpressed by the FCI.

  2. Yes, I agree - the colour restrictions are often madness. (Thinking of the fuss about brindle in salukis, too).

    But I do think the FCI is more forward-thinking, at least in some respects.


  3. PS: have you lobbied the FCI re the colour proposals?

  4. In your research for this subject how many brother/sister, mother/son, father /daughter matings were done in the USA last year.. or even the year before and how many of those offspring were registered with the AKC? Howe many of those went on to sire or whelp litters? How many products of those breedings were frequently used sires?
    Bans do insure one thing.. that some people will ignore them and fail to support the very organizations that are purported to attempt to correct what they perceive a "problem". The close breedings of relatives that you describe in the pure bred dog world are RARE not common as you and the HSUS and others would like the general population to believe. After all, nothing stirs the public interest like incest. Just look at PDE and the question put to the KC chair.. something on the lines of "would you father a baby with your own daughter.." as if it were the same as breeding animals. Nothing like it to make the mob go wild and get out the tar and feather and that great broad brush you love so well. It was easy to do..just compare a bitch in heat to a human woman..and a man to a dog. People will believe anything.
    Most bans are about small things that affect few people like that above, passed in order to to institute more stringent control in the future that go unnoticed.(proven in your statement about 'growing pressure".. growing pressure from whom? The public? )
    Your statement "the hell with genetic consequences" belittles all breeders who work hard to study their breed and breed healthy puppies. Looks like you will fit right in at the "conference"

  5. Bestuvall wrote: "Just look at PDE and the question put to the KC chair.. something on the lines of "would you father a baby with your own daughter.." as if it were the same as breeding animals."

    Would you like to explain, Jan, in what way you think it is not the same as breeding animals?

    And Bestuvall wrote: "(proven in your statement about 'growing pressure".. growing pressure from whom? The public? )"

    Actually, Jan, the pressure comes from the science... as detailed in the Bateson report (

    "In many human cultures first cousin marriages are commonplace. Relationship in such a marriage is 0.125 and the ill-effects are generally small, although much debated (Bittles, 2008). However, when repeated generation after generation, previously unsuspected ill-effects of inbreeding can emerge. Compared with a first cousin mating, the genetic risk associated with a grandfather-granddaughter mating, often used in pedigree dogs, is doubled, and where cumulative inbreeding has occurred the genetic risks increase proportionately."

    And he advised: "Avoid very close inbreeding. Grand-daughter mated with grand-father is too close in my view."


  6. as far as frequently used sires.. or close might want to note here that with the introduction of mandatory castration laws so prevalent here in the USA we also then decrease out availability of using siblings for breeding programs. If a sire is found to have a genetic problem Dr Bell suggests using a sibling who does not have the problem to carry the same genetic material minus the problem but alas.. this is many times impossible due to laws ( supported and introduced by in many case by HSUS and other animal rights groups) that mandate castration of dogs sometimes as early as four months. A conundrum? Not to the animal rights groups.

  7. Perhaps you might answer my questions first. How many of these matings are done in the USA? How many were done in England? How many puppies are/ were registered in the AKC/KC books that were of this type of breeding and how many went on to produce any more litters or become frequently used sires.?
    Sir (is that his title)Bateson has every right to his views. Close breeding can be discouraged without bans as can most things( in my view).. note he said 'avoid".. not ban..

  8. Im the UK, less than one per cent of matings were actual first-relative matings and I imagine the figure is about the same for the US. In the UK, that made for around 2500 puppies a year the projeny of either a mother/son, father/duaghter or full sib mating. The AKC registers six times more puppies a year than the KC. Presuming a similar figure of one per cent, that would make 15000 puppies a year the projeny of first-degree relative matings.

    If you have precise figures for the AKC, I'd be interested in seeing them. I've never seen them published.

    That they are not very common should make it easy for the AKC to restrict them - and it would send out an important message regarding inbreeding - which would hopefully impact on the many more thousands of AKC registered dogs who are the COI equivalent (ie 25% or more) of a first-degree relative mating or closer.

    As it happens, I agree that a one-off grandparent/grandchild mating in an otherwise outbred pedigree is probably OK, but I believe the science fully justifies a ban on first degree relative mating.

    Hopefully, you can now answer my questions. I am not trying to catch you out - just genuinely interested in why you think that it is unacceptable for a father to have a child with his daughter but think it is OK in dogs (I mean genetically).

    As for your point re mandatory castration limiting diversity - absolutely, I totally agree with you (and have said so strongly on my Purebred Paradox post).


  9. Ms. Dykema knows perfectly well that the AKC never has, and never will, publish statistics on consanguinous mating such as those she demands you present. Such data on inbreeding would be easy to collect and promulgate in this day of databases, but it is clearly not gonna happen.

    AKC isn't even publishing its swan-diving registration stats any longer. They used to give actual numbers when they would release annual breed popularity rankings. After several years of those numbers revealing just how irrelevant the registry is becoming, and how fast, they not only disappeared from the annual press release, they were Winston Smithed off the website for past years.

    I've seen an alarming number of AKC pedigrees for dogs belonging to training clients that featured first-degree inbreeding. Even when the inbreeding is for the dog before me, the owners frequently do not understand the pedigree, and actually do not know that their dog's parents were brother and sister. A very few who questioned rather severe inbreeding in the pedigree were uniformly reassured that "it's not inbreeding, it's linebreeding, and all good breeders do it."

    The source of the dogs with first-degree inbred pedigrees were about evenly divided between frank puppymillers and show breeders. For some reason, there seem to be a great many terriers that are highly inbred in my unrepresentative sample of client's dogs; particularly striking as I don't see a large proportion of terriers as students overall. Scotties, Westies and wheatens stick out in my mind.

    But I'm sure it's okay, those breeds don't have any health problems.

  10. That was a signifigant reason WHY I choose the breeder I did when we got our puppy. No close "line breeding" allowed. And she outright stated her frustration at the breeders who do it, or who knowingly breed dogs with genetic problems in order to get a particular "feature" that they are convinced they want.

    My inlaw's Chow looks more like one of the ones in the middle thank goodness, that smushed muzzle drives me nuts.

  11. It's hard to think of any real way to legislate against breeders, judges and buyers who don't, won't or can't see how their decisions affect their dogs without adversely affecting those who do. Pedigree, cross or mongrel ALL can suffer if people a) breed poorly b)rear poorly and c) buy poorly. Change MUST come from within if we are to have healthy dogs both physically and mentally. Education is the key. The chow picture really should make people both in and out of the breed stop and think. If it does then so much the better. Good breeding is about more than in-breeding, out-crossing, line-breeding; it's about knowing a breed and being honest about it's good and bad points and knowing how to make breeding decisions which improve the outlook for the breed (or crossbreed, or unregistered type).

  12. "Read for yourself how the French sighthound club, in a fit of pique, is now proposing even more restrictive color in the standard, defying not only the genetics involved in white markings, but also completely ignores the variety colors and markings of the native dogs in Africa."

    The FCI is the blanket organisation for its different mambers.

    I believe that the construction is such that national breed clubs are under the auspicies of their national kennel clubs. I do not believe that the FCI can mandate what the French Azawakh Club does or does not do.

    Read the Statutes of the FCI:

    And the judges' code:

    and decide for yourself whether the FCI puts more emphasis onn the health and welfare of dogs than other registries.

    Furthermore, not only Sweden but most member countries of the FCI have accepted the
    European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals which was first published on 13.XI.1987:

  13. bestuvall wrote:
    "Sir (is that his title)Bateson"

    Correct is Sir Patrick Bateson.
    In formal protocol Sir is the correct styling for a knight or a baronet (the UK nobiliary rank just below all peers of the realm), used with (one of) the knight's given name(s) or full name, but not with the surname alone ("Sir James Paul McCartney", "Sir Paul McCartney", or "Sir Paul", but never "Sir McCartney").

  14. Jemima sez: "PS: have you lobbied the FCI re the colour proposals?"

    I am quite sure the German/French groups who are most 'on the ground' with this stupid little move are in contact with FCI. However, SLAG actually proposed crossing Azawakh with Sloughi to increase diversity, rather than loosen up the standard to accept those dirty impure imports (which makes no sense to me at all, but I find that the Pure Blood Brigade often makes no sense.) You know I am an active cross-breeder, and even I find that beyond the pale. This is not a situation where common sense is going to prevail. It's political.

    FCI is a bundle of contradictions and they take a lot of criticism for their dealings with 'patron' countries and standards. They are not immune to politics. For instance:

    And Shar Pei

    They also don't enforce their own regulations (admittedly, I don't know how they could, and I am death on the regulation of dog breeding nitty gritty, which should be up to the breeder), but, see for yourself:

    FCI certainly allowed Germany to change the Boxer standard to DQ dogs with 'naturally stumpy tails,' you know, those mongrels with the bit of Corgi blood. Their relatives with tails are okay, though. I wonder what the FCI Scientific Committee makes of that.

  15. In Europe, it is not the FCI or the respective national K.Cs that own the breed standards, as is the case in the UK, but the breed club of the breeds' country of origin (i.e. if it is a British breed, the FCI recognises the KC as the owner of the standard). Normally, only the owners of the breed standards are allowed to change these, and any such changes will be imposed on the national bodies after the FCI's standards commission has ratified them!

  16. Ms. Dykema knows perfectly well that the AKC never has, and never will, publish statistics on consanguinous mating such as those she demands you present.
    says Ms Houlahan

    Actually I did not know this.. but thanks for letting me know that I did

    Jan ..Posting as anon because Google won;t let me sign on