Tuesday 19 April 2011

Make way for the mutts - well, maybe

The Kennel Club announced today that it has reinstated what used to be known as the "B register" - a system by which is is possible to bring in "impure" or "unverified" stock in order to enhance genetic diversity.  Using language that is a distinct change of tone, the KC even says that it is "keen to open up its register". 


Well don't get too excited.  There are some hoops to jump through and in truth it's only a small step.

• First, the dog must adhere to the health testing requirements laid down by the Accredited Breeder Scheme (actually, not a huge hurdle as for most breeds there are no recommended or required tests. And even when there are, the dog only has to take the tests; there is - still - infuriatingly -  no requirement for the dog to actually pass them).

• Second, the dog has to run the gauntlet of two Kennel Club appointed judges who will assess whether he or she is a good example of the breed.

• Third: you have to hand over £100 of your hard-earned cash to the KC for the privilege of the application being considered. (And, of course, there are no guarantees.)

• Fourth: even if you succeed, you'll have to wait for four generations down the line before the descendents will be considered "pure".

This is, in fact, the process by which Fiona the backcrossed Dalmatian was registered by the Kennel Club a few months ago. But of course that case was scientically absolutely clearcut and others may be less so - or at least more arguable.

The KC will, I suspect, have to brace itself for protests - and it has given in to these before (famously, over the one-off registration of packhound bloodhounds).   One breeder maintained to me today that she feared the judges assessing the dogs could be put under a lot of pressure to reject the dogs by breeders and breed clubs who vehemently oppose the idea of outcrossing.

But it would be churlish to not acknowledge that this is a move in the right direction. It's just that it is a long way from where we need to be to ensure the future genetic health of our breeds. For that, we need root and branch reform of the way we breed purebred dogs; not just the odd application by the odd forward-thinking breeder.

Ironically, today also marks the publication of the first annual report of the KC's revamped Dog Health Group (set up  a year ago in what proved to be a failed attempt to see off the threat of an independent advisory body). This has lots of interesting info in it for KC-watchers, some of which I will highlight separately, but pertinent to the above is this paragraph.

"Further to the work that the Kennel Club began with Imperial College in 2003/4, the population structures of each breed will now be examined over time, with a calculation of rate of inbreeding (over 40 years) and various breeding dynamics, including an estimated population size. From work done so far, Dr Blott reported that it was apparent that the effective population sizes of at least some breeds were in the realms of rare breeds (<50), but Dr Blott was of the view that there were ways of structuring population strategies to decrease the rate of inbreeding and that tools could be developed to aid breeders’ efforts to do so."

For those unfamiliar with the term, "effective population size" (Ne) is a measure of the  genetic diversity of a particular population/breed/species. When considering wild populations, anything less than 100 is considered criticial by conservation geneticists. Less than 50 - which is what Sarah Blott from the Animal Health Trust is reporting for "at least some breeds" -  is considered by some to be on the road to extinction.

Now,  dogs are not a wild species and we're around to give them a helping hand.  But, really, how bad does it have to get before the Kennel Club fully acknowedges just how serious the situation is in some breeds - and realises that the answers almost certainly lies in a much more proactive effort to bring in fresh blood from outside, not tinkering with breeding strategies within a breed?

It's not as if there's no option. There's nothing to cross a cheetah to in order to save it from oblivion.  But dogs are all the same species and breed boundaries are an entirely artifical construct; something we've imposed on them, very often to their considerable detriment.

What we really need is for whole breed clubs and kennel clubs to fully grasp this nettle and establish proper outcrossing programmes before it is too late.

As, remarkably, the Irish Kennel Club has just announced it is doing in conjunction with the Irish Red and White Setter Club in Ireland.

Now this is to be applauded - an outcross designed as a measure to pre-empt issues down the line rather as a last-ditch attempt to save a breed. Now it ain't a huge leap of faith - the outcross is to working red Irish Setters and not so long ago they were all the same breed.  There is also a precedent in that an outcross was done once before in the Seventies.

The progeny are unlikely to come to a showring near you in the UK anytime soon. The UK show breeders of IRWS don't have much to do with the Irish working dogs and will not be participating in this new initiative. They should, though. Only 90-odd IRWS were registered in the UK last year and the breed has a very limited gene pool.

More details to come...


  1. Call me skeptical, but for some reason, while it is a positive step forward, it won't save the most inbred of the breeds; especially one considers pedigree is only a piece of paper in the grand scheme of things.

  2. Margaret Sierakowski19 April 2011 at 22:34

    Maybe I am more optimistic? I am old enough to remember how useful the old B register was , particularly for the working gundog breeds, in bringing some new blood in occasionally , and even some new improved working traits. In the 1970s the first Irish Red and White Setters born in the UK, from red parents , were placed on the B register until they got full registration in 1978.
    It was a sad day when the B registry was closed , presumably in the misguided interests of breed purity.
    Now the KC has recognised the use of this scheme again, and how it can contribute to genetic diversity and breed health, as well as to improving the working ability of some breeds
    A step in the right direction, and away from hermetically sealed registers, lets hope a few people will use it creatively

  3. The grading-in scheme sounds similar to those used by most livestock registries.

    It is similar to that that has been used by our small single-breed working dog registry since its inception -- which I believe to be too strict, as it combines both phenotype evaluation (not by show judges, as we have none, but by a committee charged with reviewing applications with an emphasis on the dogs' working qualities and temperament traits) and a multi-generation grading in process.

    It may be the "back door" through which US owners with AKC breeds can infuse some diversity in the constricted gene pools. Such things are not without precedent.

    It has the most potential to help breeds that have numerically, as well as genetically, small populations.

  4. The question here is 'FOR WHAT BREED'?

    For breeds that have a high degree of heterogeneity and sizeable enough numbers, this may be fine (if still very timid).

    But what about the dog breeds that are truly rare and inbred?

    This is far too little for them.

    So what's the solution?

    I think the solution for the rare breeds is to declare many of them failures (not all breeds are a success, eh?) and get on with it.

    A BREED IS NOT A SPECIES. There is nothing lost by "delisting" a breed that was cocked up 100 years ago and has been an inbred failure ever since!

    Strike of the Ceszky terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, the Glen of Imaal, and about 50 other "rare" breeds that cannot be saved within the confines of a registry.

    Let's be honest -- the KC would NOT lose a lot of dogs and WOULD gain a lot of credit for bravery.

    "Return the failures" back to the wild.


  5. "Strike of the Ceszky terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, the Glen of Imaal, and about 50 other "rare" breeds that cannot be saved within the confines of a registry."

    Why??? There is not, for example, a lot wrong with the Glen of Imaal. Yes, they have late-onset PRA (sometimes so late-onset that dogs which can now be ascertained to be genetically affected can still see perfectly at 11 or 12 years old) - but a recently introduced DNA test should sort that out with a sensible breeding programme. There aren't huge numbers, but that's not because they have fertility problems, rather because responsible breeders make sure that they have suitable homes waiting before breeding a litter. They certainly don't lack genetic diversity - infusions of Lakeland and Stafford blood in years gone by have ensured that. So what's the problem?

  6. I don't think PBurns understands population genetics. It's precisely the rare and inbred breeds that would benefit the greatest and the fastest from such a scheme.

    Does one drop of dye have a greater impact in a drinking glass or in the ocean?

    One can only hybridize one drop at a time, one litter at a time.

    One shouldn't confuse numbers with genetic diversity. A population of millions can carry an effective number of genomes less than a much smaller population if the large population faced a bottleneck in the past.

    The numbers here are of little benefit, mutations don't happen nearly fast enough to turn numbers into diversity, and if those numbers are highly inbred with low diversity, then they will require a huge effort to outcross all over the place to fundamentally change the breed-wide genetic health.

    It will take decades to introduce fresh blood into Labrador Retrievers, with over 100,000 registered per year in the AKC. It won't take much at all to hybridize the Foxhound with fewer than 100 puppies registered.

    "Returning the failures" is also ill advised. Where is the genetic diversity going to come from if not from the last vestiges of old breeds, old landraces? Rare breeds also harbor rare genetic information.

    Until we have a means to preserve and use stored genetic information cheaply, readily available to the hobby breeder, throwing away "failed" breeds on a whim solves no problems.

  7. This is a good move. I am concerned that only show judges would be involved; would they accept a correct 'working type' in a breed? Working types often meet the breed standard though they don't look like typical show ring examples.
    Due care must be taken in infusing unregistered dogs; the lack of a KC pedigree does not mean the dog isn't itself hopelessly inbred! It can be scary enough when considering covering a bitch from a distant county but when you check her pedigree find she is very close in lineage to your stud dog.

    I take issue with he idea that dogs 'pass' or 'fail' health tests. It's not that simple. with hips and elbows there is a range of scores, with hips the advice is to breed below breed mean but in rare cases it may be felt acceptable to breed a dog with a higher score (to the lowest scoring dog available). KC/BVA eyes gives the only pass/fail. The DNA tets (as you know) give 'affected', 'clear' or 'carrier' and all 3 groups could be used in a breeding programme (if the 'affected' population aren't fatally affected!) Turning this complex science into pass/fail would only serve to narow the gene pools.

  8. Good points, Vicky. I too wondered re the judges so asked Caroline Kisko yesterday - who confirmed that the assessors could be panel FT judges. That really is good news.

    Re an unreg'd dog being very inbred - yes, certainly a possibility (although I would have thought not that common). Perhaps we should be adding MHC haplotyping to the tests required.

    I also take your point re health tests - but if the idea is to improve the breed, I think one should have to make a very special case for, say, bringing in a dog with high hip scores (and can you imagine the outcry anyway!) . I also think it would be useful, for working breeds, to see some requirement for a functional/fitness test.


  9. Outcrosses that are done for real health issues are good and helpful, but concerning the IRWS the outcross plan seems to have a different reason. And all things considered it would be more helpful if the KC got together with DEFRA and they loosened the importing dog rules and let puppies in as long as they are under 12 weeks of age- this way the outcross would basically be unneccessary because new blood and unrelated dogs could bebrought in from continental Europe or America. Some plans are just brought into being because a small number of people has different interests. The planned outcross in fact might just help to increase the health issues more. Most of the deseases found in the IRWS have their origin in the IS - and here in the lines that may be used for the outcross. That to me makes the plan a real silly one.

  10. Margaret Sierakowski20 April 2011 at 10:24

    Silvia's point about the difficulties with importing into the UK is valid. If we could bring in puppies at 10 - 16 weeks, I'm sure a lot more breeders would consider importing to widen their gene pools
    The outcross for the IRWS is entirely about widening the gene pool, which is in the interests of the whole breed.
    As for bringing in health problems with Irish Setters. Firstly we are talking about working Irish Setters, not show Irish Setters, who do indeed have a lot of problems that we wouldnt want in IRWS. Secondly the health requirements for the dogs to be used in the outcross exceed what one will generally find in lines of IRWS in Europe or North America, and where what testing has been done is often not available on public record.
    And in North America and Europe it is even harder to find dogs with proven working ability equal to that of the working IRWS in Ireland, that are not closely related to the Irish dogs.
    For example in the US there is just one IRWS with a SH , and she is from imported Irish breeding, not a single MH , and no dogs running successfully in field trial comparable to Irish/UK trials
    Most of the dogs who have had FT success in Europe are from Craigrua, Rushfield, Dalriach and United Spots breeding, so bring in little that is new to the working gene pool.
    Yes by all means bring in more imports, if they meet all the requirements ( all health tests, good breed type and conformation, and proven working ability) and if they will add some diversity to the gene pool, but the gene pool is still so small that it wont be enough long term

  11. I love the idea of a completely open stud book, where individual breeders have the choice to incorporate anything they like.

    The great breeders of the past added a bit of this, that, and the other until they felt the balance was right.........today we have this notion that our breeds have been around since the Ark, which is simply not the case (with the exception perhaps of some sighthounds)

  12. Ah the young typist at BorderWars! For the record, I have a Masters Degree in population science, while I am pretty sure you do not know the difference between genetic drift and Tokyo Drift, which is reflected in your comment. For certain you did not read my post which said this Kennel Club scheme of adding a dog to two is NOT ENOUGH to make a difference with the rare and heavily inbred dogs. Look at what has happened with the Kennel Club Basenji if you think adding a few dogs is enough to change the gene pool dynamics even as you slash and cut at the pool to get rid of bad gene carriers.

    As for labrador retrievers, the problems there are not due to inbreeding (most labs have very low COIs) or to extreme body morphology. Surely you know that? Maybe not, as you also seem a bit confused as to the relationship between the Kennel Club and landrace breeds, thinking that if the Kennel Club delisted a rare and heavily inbred dog (again, let's take the Basenjii) that the landrace would disappear. Surely you know that what has created and kept landraces is not the Kennel Club? And surely you know that the Cesky and the Glen and the other rare and failed breeds in the Kennel Club are NOT landrace dogs? What keeps landrace dogs is the land and the work.

    Sheila Atter offers up more of the fail that has kept her own breed an inbred and genetic mess. The first fail is the notion that the Glen can be "saved" by simply cutting away a gene pool through testing, and the second fail is to suggest this is a diverse pool. In fact, no staffie or lakeland cross has been added to the Kennel Club stock since the day this dog entered the KC. Could you find dogs to cross into a Glen? Sure, but who wants a Glen? The KC dog is too large to work and it has failed as a pet, for whatever reason. One thing is for sure: the Glen has not failed because there are too many "responsible breeders". No Kennel Club dog has ever failed to become popular because of an overabundance of ethics on the part of breeders. Surely that's a joke?


  13. Margaret Sierakowski20 April 2011 at 12:40

    Patrick, What do you think of the Glens that are still registered with the Irish Kennel Club?
    To me, they look quite a lot smaller and certainly have smaller heads than the ones one sees in the show ring in the UK. I dont know anything about the working ability of the IKC registered Glens though.
    With working and field trial setters, if we dont breed within KC rules and register our dogs with the KC, we cant run our dogs in field trials. With working gundogs in the UK, probably the best working and field trial dogs ARE overwhelmingly KC registered. I know it is very different with terriers and sheepdogs, where most people wouldnt look in the KC registered stock for a good working dog

  14. Margaret Sierakowski20 April 2011 at 13:12

    And I would add to the above that the Irish Red and White Setters in Ireland and registered with the IKC are still at least 90% genuine working and FT dogs, even if the numbers and gene pool are relatively small. I dont see any problem in doing an outcross to keep the breed fit, functional and alive in Ireland (or anywhere else where they want to keep their setters fit and functional)

  15. "The first fail is the notion that the Glen can be "saved" by simply cutting away a gene pool through testing"

    No, it is your 'fail' Patrick. The whole point of DNA testing for PRA is that it is no longer necessary to 'cut away a gene pool'. Rather it is possible to SAFELY use dogs that are carriers and even affecteds in breeding programmes, in the knowledge that puppies will be bred that are AT WORST carriers, but will never go blind. Instead of reducing the gene pool, it is a way of maintaining as much diversity as possible, whilst increasing the overall health of the breed.

    "One thing is for sure: the Glen has not failed because there are too many "responsible breeders". No Kennel Club dog has ever failed to become popular because of an overabundance of ethics on the part of breeders. Surely that's a joke?"

    No. It's not a joke. When late-onset PRA was discovered most Glen breeders cut their plans back very considderably. That was the main reason why numbers, certainly in the UK and mainland Europe, dropped quite considerably. With the discovery of the gene mutation responsible for the problem (research funded jointly by the small number of breeders and the KC charitable trust) a more active breeding programme can be undertaken. "Who wants a Glen?" Well there are those in the UK who promote the working Glen very actively (notably Stephen Holmes) and there would appear to be little difficulty in selling puppies as pets, so my answer would be 'Quite a lot of people!'

    "Sheila Atter offers up more of the fail that has kept her own breed an inbred and genetic mess"

    Inbred and totally lacking genetic diversity - yes. But healthy, of good temperament, making a superb pet, well regarded as a working terrier in his homeland - if it ain't broke, why fix it?

  16. Margaret Sierakowski, I cannot speak to the gene pool of the Irish Glens other than the working ones, of which there are very few as the dog was (in the real world) never a true dirt-working dog, but a turnspit dog that was brought into the world of badger baiting (which, it should be said, is very different from badger digging). I have a short history here >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2006/11/strong-dog-trials-where-fancy-leads-to.html , but suffice it to say that people still dig badger In Ireland and all over (legal or not) are not using Kennel Club registered Glens (or any other breed) anywhere, but fells, patterales, Jack Russells and a few borders. The working Glens I know of in Ireland ARE smaller and look, to my eye, a bit like an mixture of an old (not show) Sealyham with a strong dash of Wheaten tossed on top. In fact, I would not be too suprised to find out that's what they were! A lot of working dogs are crosses looking for a name. I know one fellow who says he has "working Sealyhams," but the dog actually looks like a poodle. No matter -- the dog does the work, and the work defines the dog. Folks can call them anything they want ;-)

  17. Charles Henderson20 April 2011 at 15:15

    I suggest that we wait for the details of the Irish Kennel Club's outcross programme for Irish Red and White Setters before voicing firm opinions. We wait to see what arguments and evidence, including COI data and independent scientific analysis, is made public by the IKC to justify the programme.

    It is not correct to say that UK exhibitors of IRWS will have nothing to do with the working lines in Ireland. It is fact that in the last year two bitches and one male from IRWS working lines have been imported into the UK by active exhibitors/breeders of IRWS. Further, one IRWS bitch was taken from the UK to Ireland to be mated to a working IRWS and has produced a litter just registered by the UK KC. These imports and their progeny will be watched with interest by many UK exhibitors who are quite capable of keeping an open mind.

  18. Sheila Atter says the Cesky is a digging dog somewhere? Right (:: cough cough ::). Where? Not in England, Scotland, Ireland, the US, Germany, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Switzerland, or anywhere else INCLUDING Czechoslovakia. There are more pictures of the Loch Ness monster than there are of working Ceskys! And does Ms Atter dig on her own dogs (digging is still quite legal in the UK)? No, of course not! You know what dog they use to dig with in Czechoslovakia? Jack Russell, Patterdales, dachshunds, and small Jagd terriers, same as everywhere else!

    As for the mysterious era when Glen of Imaal and Cesky terriers were popular, it never happened. The Kennel Club data for the last to years is here >> http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/download/5671/10-yearly-Breeds-Stats-terrier.pdf and I will let others cull through the old KC numbers if they can find them. These are gene pools that were closed with about 20 dogs or so, and those gene pools have never been expanded and the dog was never very popular. It started out small, inbred heavily, and then fizzled down to the basement.

    Yes, I fully agree that you CAN breed PRA carriers with manageable risk, but ONLY IF THE REGISTRY IS LARGE ENOUGH. The problems occur when a registry is very, very small as is the case with the Glen.

    Now, to bring it back to my original point, in the case of the Glen and the Cesky, the ONLY reason for these dogs is as pets or workers. Neither are workers. As for pets, do we really need more "pet breeds" when any dog in the pound will do on that score? I am NOT against people owning whatever dog they want as individuals (let freedom ring), but the POLICY question is whether the Kennel Club should spend a huge amount of time and energy propping up market failed, non-working, inbred wrecks so that people like Ms. Atter can collect ribbons. I would argue no, and she will argue yes. That's the question, and that's the difference of opinion on the matter. My point is that I do not think the road to salvation for the Kennel Club is by trying to preserve market-failed breeds like the Cesky, the Dandie Dinmont, the Glen of Imaal and all the rest. Put them back into a "development" box where outcrossing is allowed without too much restriction, and where Kennel Club ribbons are not awarded at all. Then we will see who will stand for the dogs and who will stand for the ribbons.

  19. Whether re-opening the B register will 'save' breeds is actually beside the point. What it will do, and this is the important thing, is give the individual breeder the CHOICE of using an unregistered dog, with the ultimate goal of including it's offspring in the main registry so that other breeders will have the choice of using them as well.

    I am curious, though as to what SGHC thinks of this; I have heard some interesting things about politicking in regards to getting desert bred Salukis registered in the UK, and this would take that out of their hands, as long as one could find two open minded judges.

  20. Originally, retrievers existed in four basic categories: "the Labrador" (St. John's water dog, which came in both smooth and feathered coats), the wavy-coat (long-haired St. John's water dogs, regular Newfoundlands, and both crossed with either setters or collies), and the curly-coat (St. John's water dog crossed with a regional water spaniel, of which there were several breeds), and any dog that retrieved, beagle, collie, terrier, greyhound, mongrel, anything!

    Harding Cox and Sewallis Shirley both fought the foundation of a specialist club for retrievers, preferring to remain a performance-bred breed with a very open system. Many retrievers that were actually working on estate shoots were as outbred as any lurcher or Alaskan husky today. However, there was a tendency for the dogs of that "Newfoundland" breeding. Harding Cox also fought the splitting up of the flat-coated retriever, which he had always crossed with Irish setters to refine them, into the golden and flat-coated retriever. But the golden people were pushing that their breed was from Russia and was truly unique-- not just a color variety of the wavy/flat-coated breed. That split on color would save the golden when the flat-coat fell from favor after the First World War.

    It was only after the Second World War that these dogs became closed registry breeds, but goldens and flat-coats were fully split by 1916. The arrival of new blood from St. John's water dogs in the 1940's was the last new blood that was added to the Labrador retriever (at least officially).

    BTW, according to K9Data, the COI's on Labradors, at least those that are bred by various specialists in the breed, isn't anything to brag about. http://www.undeniablegoldens.com/COI.html

    Of course, the breed itself isn't that inbred, but the lines being held by specialists who post pedigrees on K9Data are getting more and more inbred. If we had only that data to go by, it would be very bad indeed. That golden retriever number hasn't changed much, which tells you that COI is something that is taken more seriously in that breed.

    Both of these dogs have enough pet line dogs that they might not need an open registry, but I'm not so sure that we can maintain even those breeds within a closed registry system.

    But those smaller numbered breeds might be greatly helped with new blood coming in. I don't think it does any good to bash breeds and talk about how happy you are for the dogs to go extinct. That doesn't help one little bit. It alienates people and creates extraneous controversy-- and don't we have enough controversy in dogs at it is?


    Cesky terriers were not bred to be earth dogs. They were bred to be above ground hunting dogs, and the founder of the breed was in Communist Czechoslovakia and didn't have access to all of these dynamic bloodlines we have in the West. It was not meant to be an earth dog, which is why no one is "digging to them."

  21. Now offense Scottie (aka "Retrieverman"), but you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Yes Horvak was a great pretender (as are Cesky owners to this day), but he not only dug foxes, but the standard for the breed calls for specific chest size measurements so the dog can get to ground! Welcome to Cesky 101!

    The Cesky was created, in fact after Horvak dicovered (in the 1930s) that Scotties could not get to ground!

    But, of course, show ring pretenders and pet people generally lose sight of what's needed in a working dog, and that's what's happened with the Cesky as with so many other dogs.

    You might take a look at Ms. Atter's own text here >> http://www.ceskyterrier.co.uk/section214987.html

    To quote:
    "Any terrier which is destined to go to ground must have a comparatively small, easily compressed rib-cage, and the Cesky Terrier is no different...."

    She then goes on to explain how it went all to hell:
    "Coat texture is very important. The Cesky Terrier must have a silky coat with a metallic sheen and a slight wave. Cottony, woolly, wiry and frizzy are all incorrect. Grooming and presentation should enhance the terrier, giving it the elegance which is so desirable in the show ring."

    There you have it -- a dog with a coat totally unsuitable for work, strapped to a chest size supposedly designed to work... and all made up out of a cross of two breeds that were a wreckage when Horvak got to them, and the cross is ugly to boot (obviously as matter of opinion, but clearly one that is widely shared as this is NOT a popular breed anywhere).

  22. PBurns, if you have such a degree, how come you are entirely unable to address any of the points I made?

    I suspect it's because one can get a degree in Demography and never take a class in Biology. One might spend their time studying "Ammerican Immigrant Experience" and "Family & Household in Comparative Perspective."

    One reason I suspect that you spent your time on the Social end of the Science spectrum is that you consistently misuse the term "gene" on your blog. In fact, in the many thousands of posts you never once use the correct term "allele" at all and the only time it even appears is in a quote from a news magazine!

    Genes are not recessive, Paddy, only alleles are. So you might have studied "population science" but you do not display a detailed understanding of genetics in your posts.

    The rest of your observations in rebuttal have nothing to do with anything in my comment, nor anything I've written about really. I've _never_ advocated the destruction of breeds through using Genetic Testing as a means to exclude dogs from breeding. I've always advocated management not rapid eradication of disease.

    And, I've discussed Genetic Drift, Recessive Alleles, and Inbreeding in detail and accurately on my blog. If you have a specific critique instead of some baseless bluster, do tell.

  23. The LUA Dalmatian example brought up by Jemima in this post is a perfect example of my point. One single outcross was enough to sustain one kennel's line for many generations. I'm sure this kennel alone has produced more dogs than some small, rare breeds.

    So let's consider it that way. The LUA Dals have been saved from one pernicious disease by just one single outcross. But this won't save the entire Dalmatian gene pool. The entire pool is much larger, and genetically it'd probably be advisable to repeat an outcross several times to different dogs, injecting the new blood at different points and times into the pool.

    If we did something rash like require all Dalmatian breeders to outcross to the LUA kennel, we'd be creating a brand new popular sire effect. But if allowed other breeders an easy, documented path to keeping their existing lines in the system and supplementing them without taking the risk of "will my blood ever come back into the stud book once I go down this road" I think we'll see more people doing this.

    Small breeds are like an individual kennel, they can be hybridized easily and quickly. A few generations and we can even return to "type" in a manner indistinguishable from "pure" lines.

    Give breeders more freedom, more options, and who cares if YOU think they're wasting their time on some pet-only non working foo foo breed? It's not as if the Kennel Club has to do the heavy lifting here at all, all it takes is a stroke of a pen and the same job they already do! Register dogs in a book.

    If someone wants to save the rare breed, no one else need suffer from it.

    And, you know, this is a better plan than "get a cat" or "adopt a rescue."

  24. Chris, there isn't an LUA "kennel" or "line" in the conventional sense because the progeny have been bred back to 'normal' Dals. Great care has been to also breed for diversity and, indeed, the process has eliminated pretty much all but the LUA gene from the original pointer. There can't be a popular sire effect from the addition of a single gene.

    Hopefully someone more intimately involved with the project will chip in here, but one of the beauties of the Backcross Project is that it has been done, managed and monitored so incredibly carefully. I am not sure how much appetite there would be to do other outcrosses given how many generations it took to perfect the spotting. For better or for worse, there are still a lot of Dal purists who don't want the LUA Dals sullying their stock, so a slow infusion from the existing backcrossed stock may be the best bet on several levels - at least for this particular issue.

  25. Margaret Sierakowski21 April 2011 at 09:31

    I've speculated quite lot about what the longer term effects of an outcross are . I can see the value of single gene being changed as in the Dalmatians or the bob tail boxers which has long term benefits, but how much the more general benefits of an outcross last beyond four or five generations is questionable. After four generations of outcross and breeding back, the dogs being bred are something like 94% "pure" and 6% from the breed used in the outcross. So rather than doing several outcross matings fairly quickly under an outcross programme , is it better to do just a single outcross breeding , then do another one every four or five generations, and so on?
    Comments are very welcome from people who understand more about genetics than I do.

  26. Why DO we keep arguing with Mr Burns? In every post he displays his ignorance about even simple facts. There has been no such country as 'Czechoslovakia' since 1992 - the country is the Czech Republic. The creator of the Cesky Terrier was Mr Horak - not 'Horvak'. Whether the CT is 'ugly' is, of course, a matter of opinion - but not one I personally subscribe to.

    However, there are important points here. As Retrieverman points out, the CT is not really a go-to-ground dog, although Horak was a great badger hunter in his youth. In later life he regretted the unneccessary killing. Today the CT is used mainly as a blood scenting dog - tracking deer or wild boar that are wounded, so they can be shot by the hunter. It is still used for this purpose in both the Czech Republic and in the UK. To quote Mark Elliott, a well known deer stalker in this country, "Lexie (his CT) is the best dog I have ever used for this purpose"

    When the CT (or any dog) is presented in the show ring of course exhibitors take the trouble to style the dog to show off its best points - the working dogs usually have their furnishings cut short (this is a breed that doesn't shed) and the body coat is left to grow, giving warmth and protection to the dog in the cold forest - or even underground.

    No Mr Burns, I don't go around killing other animals willy-nilly and I try not to break the law, so I don't dig to my terriers. That's not to say that they don't have the instinct to work. You may be on the same wavelength as PETA and HSUS in dismissing the benefits (to both human and canine)of dogs as pets, but they are considerable - and even though you deride it so much, yes I do get pleasure from exhibiting my dogs in the conformation ring. As that great terrierman the late Barry Jones often said "conformation and working ability are inextricably linked" - a dog with poor conformation will still have the instinct to work, but his poor structure will handicap him underground - so show ring evaluation does have a purpose, even for the working dog.

  27. I should perhaps add that the current IKC planned outcross for the IRWS, unlike a previous sanctioned outcross twenty years ago, doesnt have a time limit set on it. Last time there were several outcross matings to red dogs in a relatively short period which was limited to three years. This time they could do it the other way, one or maybe two matings, then wait to do another one after four or five generations.
    I'm not saying this is the way it will go, but would be interested to know what geneticists or people with experience of outcrossing would do?

  28. Yes Jemima, I agree with what you said. My point is simple, that a single outcross was enough to cleanse an entire sub-population of the disease. The LUA Dals can be seen as a subpopulation of all Dals. We might even *think* of this subpopulation as a small breed.

    To eradicate the uric acid problems in the entire breed would require either further outcrosses OR the eventual case that all clear dalmatians in some manner go back to that one cross.

    I do not contend that a popular LUA sire problem exists now or will exist. It's easily possible that such care has been taken and there have been so many crosses to other Dalmatians that there is now a very diverse population with the healthy allele.

    BUT, this is a long process. This supports my initial comment, that to cleanse a small population is fast and easy, to cleanse a large population requires either a LOT of time or many different injections of new blood all over the place.

    But for new blood to be effective breed wide, it has to saturate the breed, even if we're only concerned with one allele. The degree to which it helps is proportional to the degree to which it penetrates the pool.

    Again, my point was not that Labs are inbred wrecks. My point is that if we identified a problem that we needed to look outside the breed to fix (like uric acid issues in Dalmatians, i.e. there wasn't a single normal Dalmatian to turn to and we HAD to outcross) it would be much more difficult to eradicate or manage the disease in a large breed than in a small one.

    PBurns seems to suggest that we just give up on small, rare, and non-working breeds to save resources and time or something. My observation is that it is these breeds where we are likely to see the fastest benefits and find breeders most interested in using the appendix registry.

    It doesn't need to be a perfect solution, or solve all the problems, but it is a tool that can be used to "save" endangered breeds. PBurns might not want one, but to each his own.

    I'd rather see another example of some silly little "pointless" breed being brave and breaking the "purity" wall than see some large more healthy breed that can "work" follow a pattern of behavior that has lead to the genetic detriment of many other breeds.

    Throwing it away when it's broken is not a solution I would adopt. And if there are breeds out there that have only a handful of breeders, let them lead the way or let them perish, but I think they can serve as examples of the benefits and detriments of such a plan. I'd like to see it in action.

  29. I look forward to seeing what happens with this especially in some breeds badly begging for new blood for health like the case of the doberman.

    This breeds purpose is still well in existence but sadly form, temperament, and health is so badly found wanting that no military, police, private firm would bother use these dogs over the mal, the dutch, or the GSD even though a global need for patrol dogs is ever present. After all why put the work into a dog only to have it drop dead at the prime of life due to congestive heart failure.

  30. To add to the discussion here are two articles worth reading.

    The first deals with how population size and effective population size are two different concepts that we need to appreciate.


    Of note: "a population of 1 billion can be far more genetically homogeneous than a population of 1,000, if, those 1 billion only recently expanded from far smaller populations."

    This is why rescuing rare breeds isn't as simple as breeding more of them and making them popular again.

    This applies to dogs. Border Collies are easily a top 10 most popular dog in the US, and I'm sure they are likewise a popular breed in their native UK. Registration numbers for both UK registries seem very stable, as are the US numbers, thousands of new puppies per year in the UK, and around 30,000+ new puppies in the US.

    But what is their effective population size? 8!


    "Effectively the genes of only 8 of the founder dogs determine the genes in the current population."

    "A little extra explanation for those puzzled which those 8 'effective' dogs are. They do not exist in reality, we cannot point at these 8 individual dogs. You should think of it as an amount of genes spread over all dogs. Many dogs have the same genes and only very few different genes are present in our dogs, only an equivalent of 8 dogs. That is what 'effectively' 8 dogs means.

    Another way of looking at it is, suppose that we would have 8 founder dogs with differences in their chromosomes. We let them mate with each other randomly to produce a new generation of 25000 pups. This new generation will have the same genetic diversity as the current ISDS population. In this example we can point at the 8 effective dogs but in reality we cannot, the chromosomes have been selected over many generations from many dogs."

    Working dogs in open registries are not immune from bottlenecks and current numbers of dogs don't tell the whole story.

  31. Margaret Sierakowski21 April 2011 at 11:47

    "Conformation and working ability are inextricably linked"
    Well, yes, but I can tell you that in working gundogs its not usually the conformation approved of in the show ring by judges and exhibitors that enables the dogs to work.
    In setters you will see dogs in the show ring who are too big and overweight, are too long in the back, overangulated, have too much front chest , too much coat, long low set ears , over long necks, and small round feet . Then compare these to the working setters ...........
    Now compare the conformation of show spaniels and retrievers to the working versions.
    Possibly less variation found in the HPR breeds?

  32. I'm afraid I have little (well actually, no) experience of gundogs, working or otherwise so I can't comment. One of the problems with allrounder judges is that they don't always understand the importance of those attributes needed for work. Here in the UK we do have a tradition of breed specialist judges and certainly in the breeds with which I am familiar that do still have a purpose as workers (Border and Parson Russell Terriers as well as CT) specialist judges will give great weight to specifics such as size, coat and pelt quality, spannablity and dentition, that are important to the working dog.

  33. Jesse says breeders should have a "CHOICE of using an unregistered dog...".

    And of course they do now, and always have.

    The DEMAND, however, is that the progeny from these dogs be allowed to be shown in Kennel Club shows (they can be shown in non-KC shows now) and sold at a "Kennel Club premium."

    But is that what most people want dogs for?

    Is the purpose of the dog work or pet.... or profit and ribbons?

    You see, that's what a lot of this debate comes down to.... the choice has always been there. The true working dog community and pet dog community has been excercising that choice for a heck of a long time and without a lot of windup!

    But do I agree with Jesse, that the Kennel Club should completely change its closed registry policy? YES! Because if they did that, some of the dogs would be healthier, work might be returned to the forum, and some of the exaggeration would be ameliorated.

  34. Yes, Sheillah Attur haz made a substantive comment -- my typos are serious. It's these three inch boxes! As for her breed being an "all rounder" I have a picture of this "can retrieve, can blood track, can go to ground" dog here >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2005/02/cesky-terrier.html The picture says it all if you have actually spent time in forest and field. Can this dog "blood track"? Sure. Blood does not move! In fact, any dog can blood track, but there are breeds that specialize in it, and they tend to be hounds. Of course, there would have to be blood to track, but Ms. Atur appears to a bit squeemish on that score. So I guess her dogs are not blood tracking either? Perhaps she could soak a rag in anise and drag it through the woods for her dogs? Been done before!

    As for Ms. Atrur's breed being a great dirt dog, I simply quoted her! Would she like me to send her picture of Horak digging? Or would she like instruction on how to dig fox without killing them? I have pictures of that too!

    As for young Chris at BorderWars, do you actually have a degree in Biology? Where was that earned? Oh, you DON'T have a degree in biology? Okkaaaaaaay. Got it. Have border collies, but never trained one to work sheep, but this 20-something is giving lectures to Don McCaig about that. And now you are a biologist thanks to wikipedia. Yahoo!

    What Chris is missing is that the problem is not a single disease in dogs, it's the problem of a closed registry, a small gene pool, and a small pool in terms of numbers of dogs. It's all three that make for the problem, not any one of them alone. So long as the number of dogs remains very, very small and the pool is essentially closed (as it will be in this new scheme), and the numbers are small, nothing changes. A single pregnant rat on an island can give birth to a lot of healthy offspring over time because the numbers get very high and genetic drift creates variablity on its own. In fact, almost all island species are derived from single or single-pair colonizers!

    A gene pool of only 20 dogs (many KC breeds are less) that has created a "universe" of 130 dogs or 500 dogs is NOT going to have its gene pool turned around by the addition of a few dogs and a return to the closed-pool and dominant sire system of the Kennel Club show ring. Yes, you may wash out a single bad trait (a twisted tail), but other negative recessive traits come in because the gene pool has not really gotten much wider and the numbers are so small that natural variability has not had a chance to work its way in. And, of course, the gene pool is essentially closed. Are we saying that the Dals, with the addition of a single five-generation outcross, is now an "open pool?" I think not!

    Of course, for anyone who really works their dogs or simply wants a good pet, all of this is irrelevant -- they have ALWAYS been able to add any kind of dog they want to their gene pool and have. It is only the ribbon chasers and the dog dealers and puppy peddlers who want to sell at a "Kennel Club premium" who think they CANNOT outcross a dog, because for them dogs are not about performance OR health, but ego and wealth.

    And yes, for Ms Attur's benefit, let me say that I do agree that there is nothing (in theory) at odds with show and work. I used to show border terriers back when rocks were soft. But shows are not to be taken too seriously, are they? (Note: Ms. Attur and I may disagree on that!) In my opinion they are certainly NO reason to inbreed a dog to genetic failure or embrace contrived standards that lead to pain and suffering. Again, Ms. Atter and I may disagree on that. Of course, a lof of people WANT a rare breed, and that is especially true in the show world. And you know why? Less competition! Compete in the ring with Fox Terriers and you are not likely to win, but the odds go up quite a lot in a field of five or six dogs!


  35. PBurns, to your point that "the problem is not a single disease in dogs," I never claimed as much.

    I've addressed small gene pools, closed registries, and lack of genetic diversity on my blog several times. I brought up the EXAMPLE of the LUA Dals and an outcross program to combat a single disease because that's something that has actually been done.

    There are plenty of examples of registries and breed clubs spending money on research and instituting schemes to combat single deleterious recessive diseases. There are not nearly as many examples of programs to bring in new blood just for the sake of diversity and heterosis.

    You now co-own a show dog and you have expressed interest in breeding it in the future. So, in all the pedigree research you have done for Pimp Daddy, can you tell us when the last time someone bred in a non-JRT into his gene pool to bring in diversity or help breed out a disease? What percentage of non-JRT is Pimp Daddy? Do any of his lines go back to "new" blood or do they all dead end in the founding population of the registry?

    I'm guessing that you wouldn't buy an inbred dog, but how far can you take a COI calculation back? How many ancestors do you even know for your dog? Or perhaps your praise for the wonders of the open JRTCA registry is more theoretical than practical. If few or no people are using the "open" JRTCA registry to bring in new blood, why do you praise that registry and ridicule the appendix scheme outlined here?

    Are you going to bring in new blood should you choose to breed him?

    The ABCA is theoretically an open registry, they do have a ROM program. But few use it and even fewer use it to bring in non-Border Collies. I can think of a single notable example of a Bearded Collie that was ROMd. Other than that, there are perhaps one or two dogs ROMd according to the minutes of the ABCA leadership meetings, and those dogs are typically already Border Collies. The ISDS has a ROM program but again, few use it and rarely if ever for non-Border Collie blood. The only noticeable increase in blood in the ISDS lines is from recently repatriated foreign BCs under their newish associate program. But again, these are already BCs and already from the same gene pool.

    I agree that a gene pool of any size can not be magically refreshed while maintaining any sense of "breed" by a single outcross. The genetic tree must be "refreshed from time to time," not just once. But why do you suppose that waves of new blood won't work their way into gene pools under the new scheme?

    I can see the LUA Dal blood making small waves, but those waves are sufficient to end a breed wide disease. This is a good thing. And perhaps when the breed is not ruined by this, future breeders will also bring in new blood for other reasons. More color on the head perhaps to combat deafness? A breed of similar structure but with better temperament to stave off personality issues?

    The point is that there should not be institutional barriers of such difficulty to bring in new blood. And even with open registries there needs to be a cultural revolution in the way dogs are bred, period. I don't see evidence for widespread utilization of outcrossing in any purebred registry, working or non.

  36. PBurns, your litany of ad hominems only highlights the weakness of your preparation to combat my factual observations with other facts or logic. If your degree prepared you so well, why is it that you can't provide concrete rebuttals to the actual points I made?

    Small breeds and small gene pools are more amenable to outcrossing solutions. This is simple. The lack of political will of some breeders to do so, is another issue entirely. No solutions will work for people who won't try anything except the same failed modes of the past.

    As for my own education, I don't think it's lacking in this department. Not only did I score a perfect 5 on the Advanced Placement Biology exam as well as a perfect score on the SAT II subject test in Biology--all before Wikipedia was even founded--I also taught Biology professionally all four years at Stanford through both Princeton Review and Regency Review. During the course of my Engineering studies I also took and aced courses in Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

    But you seem oddly fixated on "pedigree" here Patrick, probably because your dog can't hunt. That is to say, your claimed expertise in population genetics (errrr... "science") hasn't resulted in you being able to form an argument in the language of poulation genetics nor even attempt to rebut mine.

    If you'd actually read the many posts I have on my blog regarding genetics, you might learn something. You might also see nice pictures of me training my dogs to work sheep, just for fun. We're going again next Wednesday in fact, I'll be sure to take photos for you. It amuses me that you must make up lies like "his dogs have never seen sheep." And I challenge you to find one post or comment anywhere where I give Donald McCaig a lecture about how to work sheep!

    I've given McCaig evidence based rebuttals, and none of it has to do with sheep training techniques. Rather, his statements regarding the Border Collie gene pool and the health of certain popular sires. What I said is true and documented.

    You claim to be a "Terrierman" but what professional hunt organization or club employs you to flush game for their mounted fox hunts? I don't recall seeing a photo of you being followed by men on horses wearing red jackets with a slew of hounds. If it's work, who is paying you? Nor do I recall seeing you being evaluated in any formal sense at all. How do we know if your work or the work of your dog is any good by any other standard than your own opinion?

    Have you ever bred a dog? Have you ever done an outcross between dogs from different gene pools from different registries? Have you ever taken advantage of an open registry to bring in new blood to that registry that wasn't there before?

    I have.

  37. To go back a step or two...Jemima- I am always thinking on my dog walks....

    Hip scoring pass/fail. I find hip scores a fascinating subject! In the UK we have very detailed info on our dog's hip conformation if we take the time to look and understand. We advise breeding from dogs 'well below the breed mean' but we actually have no idea what we are aiming towards. Yes, every dog with 0-0 hips would be great....but it isn't going to happen. And it doesn't actually need to. It would be nice to know at what hip score the dog would have significant pain earlier than 'normal'. The figure would likely be different in different breeds (we have already considered that 'dwarf' breeds may have different hip biomechanics). Without such data a 'pass' or 'fail' can't be applied to hip scores. Other countries have different scoring systems and dogs can have 'good' hips with scores I would consider not very good in the UK!

  38. PBurns sez:

    "And of course they do now, and always have.

    The DEMAND, however, is that the progeny from these dogs be allowed to be shown in Kennel Club shows (they can be shown in non-KC shows now) and sold at a "Kennel Club premium.""

    You can certainly work outside the registry system if you choose. I have, and do, with my crosses, which will never eligible for registration in any registry. However, if you do want the greater world in your breed to benefit, you must work within the registry system.

    The desert bred Saluki population in the US existed separately from the AKC population until the SPDBS was recognized as a domestic registry by SCOA. A petition of members was signed to make that possible. Now those dogs can be bred to AKC registered dogs, their offspring registered, and benefit the larger gene pool, including the breeders in countries who want access to desert blood but have no way to get such dogs recognized. I am sure there are people who wanted desert bred dogs to AKC registerable in order to show them, but I am not one of them. I don't show, and I own two Gen 3 dogs, to be bred to my other Salukis, and their offspring to go into my cross-breeding program.

    I also own a Tazi, registered as a Saluki with UKC, and perhaps through this B registry her offspring may go on to be registered as Salukis in the UK.

    Working outside the registry in a rare breed does nothing more than create small, separate sub-populations. The Azawakh will go into the AKC Miscellaneous class this summer, something I'm not terribly thrilled about, but now Azawakh from the US will be recognized by all other FCI countries and can be incorporated into their very breeding. A substantial portion of those dogs AKC-FSS registered have African blood behind them, which will be beneficial to the extremely small world wide gene pool. Certainly we could just keep our unregistered African Azawakh to ourselves and thumb our noses at the registries, but that wouldn't benefit the dogs as a whole.

    Unfortunately, the established dog world of shows and closed registries is much like the Matrix; most people are not ready to leave. At this time, one cannot simply say "Hey, I've got a better idea!" and expect a substantial portion of the breed to follow. This creates a bottleneck and doesn't ultimately benefit the dogs.

  39. Unfortunately, the established dog world of shows and closed registries is much like the Matrix; most people are not ready to leave.

    Interesting thought.

    I count myself lucky to have been, essentially, born outside the Matrix, though I am no kid.

    That's more and more people every year. I think the long-term (warning, buzzword alert) paradigm shift will come not from "fanciers" abandoning their illusions, but from new individuals who never partook of them.

  40. Sorry, I'm all in favour of an intelligent discussion - but those that have to descend to pathetic childish jibes because they don't have sensible answers really aren't worth bothering with.

  41. But just for Mr Burns' clarification:
    1) I have absolutley no problem whatsoever with hunting animals for food, nor with killing vermin (foxes, rats or, in certain circumstances, badgers) with hounds or terriers - and have done both. I do have a problem with those who kill animals that are doing no harm for so-called 'sport'.

    2) Here in the UK there are at least as many if not more Cesky Terriers being shown on a regular basis than either Smooth or Wirehaired Fox Terriers - indeed the Smooth is on the KC's list of vulnerable native breeds, so even the jibe about not wanting competition doesn't hold up I'm afraid.

  42. Ms. Atter, the 10-year numbers for The Kennel Club's registrations (for terriers and all breeds) are available here >> http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/1128

    As you can see Fox Terriers and Cesky Terriers are not in the same time zone in terms of registration numbers (and neither are in the same planet at Labs). For those who could not be bothered to go to the link the 2009 and 2009 numbers for cesyks were 28 and 34 dogs (both sexes). Pretty good odds for Crufts there! With wire foxes, the numbers were 763 and 604 (oops, that's a lot of dogs!) and for smooth foxes the numbers were 178 and 133.

    Good to hear you hunt Sheilah.... not required of course, but since you do, are you using your dogs to retrieve birds and blood track? Love to see those pictures!

  43. Jesse, you write: "Working outside the registry in a rare breed does nothing more than create small, separate sub-populations."

    I would argue the opposite.

    The separate sub-populations are in the closed registries in European countries where the dogs do not have too much of a function most of the time, are divorced from the land that made them, and where the gene pools are often based on a handful of dogs. The orginal populations of most landrace breeds are still to be found in the lands these dogs came from, and for many of these breeds the landrace version is larger in both terms of numbers and gene pool and they are generally still working to boot. As you know, land race dogs are generally created in some type of geographical isolation and for a purpose. Those purposes, and that geographic isolation, has not changed too much. The desert parts of Mali, Niger and southern Algeria are not too much more accessible than they were 80 years ago -- and some parts are actually less acessible due to the Tuareg revolt. This is not to say the dogs are common or falling off of every bush. Were they ever? In Islam, dogs are considered unclean, and can only be owned if they are to be used to hunt. What that means is that desert dogs have always been rare (as hunting is rare all over) and there are very few outside dogs to mix with. But does the Azawakh still exist in Mali? Sure, same as the Basenji exist in the Congo, Cameroon and Benin, and the Border Collie in Scotland and the working terrier in Wales. What defines a landrace breed is not paper, but general appearance, place and function.

  44. Showing your ignorance again Mr Burns. Numbers registered have little to do with numbers exhibited. The Cesky Terrier is often shown well into veteran - BOB CT at National Terrier this year, the most important show in the UK for terriers, will be 10 years old in 6 weeks time. She topped an entry of 46. (In 2006 she was BIS at the Club show in the Czech Republic from an entry of 72 - I think Jemima can confirm that she is still fit and active.) At the same show there were 51 SFT and 36 WFT. For comparison, the figures at this year's Crufts were 48, 74 and 59 - the CT entry was affected by the fact that most of last year's pups were a couple of weeks to young to go to Crufts - otherwise there would have been something between 50 and 55, about the same as the last two or three years.

  45. I am curious, PBurns, as to why you keep getting my name wrong, when the proper spelling is quite clear. It's Jess, no 'e' on the end, thank you. Short for Jessica.

    I said: "Working outside the registry in a rare breed does nothing more than create small, separate sub-populations."

    PBurns sez: "I would argue the opposite."

    And you would be wrong. We are, after all, talking about the dogs that exist in the Western world of shows and registries. Not the country of origin dogs. I'm not too worried about them. I do not get worked up about the changing role of the Saluki in the ME, and the subsequent changes to the breed there. I do not get worked up about the Kennel club revolution going on in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. I don't even care if cross-breeding is going on in the native populations. It's certainly not their responsibility to maintain primitive conditions and traditional rearing practices just so romantic Americans can point to the so-called 'pure' Saluki, or Tazi, or whatever. I am also not so delusional as to believe that I am 'preserving' Saluki, Afghans, or Azawakh, since the simple act of removing the dog from it's native land and the selection process associated with it changes it irrevocably. What I am worried about are the closed gene pools in the West, the weird things that breeding for show ring competition does to the dogs, the lack of knowledge and truth about the origins of the Western populations. I have, for the most part, Western dogs. That means I value the contributions that native dogs can make to the Western population in regards to hardiness and genetic diversity. They are also a very good lesson, for those willing to learn, about what our own Western dogs were, instead of what they've become.

  46. PBurns sez: "The separate sub-populations are in the closed registries in European countries where the dogs do not have too much of a function most of the time, are divorced from the land that made them, and where the gene pools are often based on a handful of dogs."

    I am well aware of this, owning not just one, but three breeds with country of origin populations, with the entire Western population based on a small number of founders. I can even tell you how many of those founders actually had an impact on the current population, and I can tell you that any dogs imported from the countries of origin can have only a very small genetic impact now. Still, I think it's a worthy endeavor to have a process whereby native dogs can be registered and make a greater, though still small, impact on the current and future Western populations, for those breeders that choose to use them. I am not old enough to have been involved in shaping the Western population of these breeds into what they are now. I am pleased to see younger people getting involved in 'my' breeds who are skipping the whole 'dog show scene' because there are greater numbers of native dogs available, greater knowledge of the dogs in the countries of origin available instead of politicized and manipulated breed 'histories', and greater interest in the dogs as they *are* instead of as the show fancy in the West has made them. I did not, have ready access to that kind of information when I got into Afghans and Salukis, and my early impressions of the dogs were shaped by what information I could get, much of it romantic nonsense.

    PBurns sez: (lecture on landrace and Azawakh snipped) What defines a landrace breed is not paper, but general appearance, place and function.

    I know what a landrace is. That is why I have no qualms about using Salukis to add speed and reduce coat in my Afghans, even though I get e-mail labeling me a horrible person because "Salukis have been pure since 7000BC." That is why I have no reserves about breeding my Tazi bitch to a Saluki, even though I've been written up as a menace in a breed club magazine for even daring to think such blasphemy.

    If these 'breeds' are to be maintained in the West as naturally as possible, as close to their landrace origins, at least in appearance, and hopefully in function, as possible, the Western population cannot be subdivided into registered and not registered. Register them all, and let the breeders use them, or not. To keep native dogs imported TO THE WEST out of the registered population serves no useful purpose.