Monday, 27 June 2011

Stop! In the name of love!

One of the biggest, baddest problems the Kennel Club and breeders need to tackle is the issue of popular sires ie. top-winning dogs being studded to the genetic oblivion of the breed.  

Today, the Kennel Club took a (small) step in the right direction by making some litter data available via Mate Select (its new online facility that allows you to look up co-efficients of inbreeding and health-test results for individual dogs registered in the UK).

At the moment it is limited to dogs that have health-tested progeny - meaning that there is no data at all for dogs of breeds that do not participate in any KC-endorsed health scheme (and there are lots of them).  But I was able to spend a  happy couple of hours on the site this morning trawling for high and low lights (yep, this is how sad my life has become).

Here are a few snippets:

Vbos the Kentuckian (Jet) the Flattie that won Crufts this year, has had:
69 puppies from 9 litters (real restraint given he was a top winner before Crufts and is 9 years old).

Hungergunn Bear It'n Mind (Yogi) - the Vizsla that won Crufts in 2010 - has had... wait for it....:
577 puppies from 89 litters. (Absolutely outrageous in my view..  this is blatant profiteering at the expense of the breed which only registers around 1400 pups a year. Yogi hasn't just flooded the Vizsla gene pool, he has positively drowned it.)
Araki Fabulous Willy - the Tibetan Terrier than won Crufts in 2007 and who died in December 2008, aged just 7 years old:

266 puppies from 49 litters (again, a lot for a breed that only registers around 1500 pups a year)

•  Beauella Radzinski (Rollo), the Cavalier that was featured in Pedigree Dogs Exposed winning the 2008 Cavalier Championship Show in Feb 2008:
140 puppies from 40 litters

Now this last one was a bit of a surprise as when we last checked - in August 2008 just before Pedigree Dogs Exposed aired - Rollo had had 34 litters. This figure means that even after the kerfuffle we caused by challenging owner Beverley Costello regarding her breeding from the dog after he had been diagnosed with syringomyelia (SM) and the diagnosing vet had told her he should never be bred from, six more litters were registered before the KC pulled the plug on her. (Not, I hasten to add, for breeding from a dog with SM... Costello lost her KC registration rights for not responding to formal requests for information from the Kennel Club regarding the case).


  1. Oh dear me, them poor dogs must of been worn out, in how shorter times were all these litters produced in regards to yogi?? Could some of them be with frozen semen??

  2. again you focus only on show dogs, those used in pauppy farms will produce even more than these poor dogs, but you never bother to look for those ones, indeed such dogs arent even KC registered, so not you target are they?

  3. again an anonymous message from someone, possibly a show breeder, on the defensive over an issue that is actually quite shocking and worthy of discussion.

  4. Anon, these show dogs are in the spot light and owned by people we would hope are responsible breeders, particularly as they have won major shows. What's worrying is that even these people are breeding irresponsibly, let alone those puppy farms producing puppies for money only. Yes, puppy farming has a lot to be responsible for, but if the pedigree and show dogs we hold up as winners and champions aren't being bred properly where is the hope? By bringing our attention to the not so obvious cruelty in irresponsible breeding Jemima is highlighting a problem so easily prevented. The gene pool in so many pedigree dogs is already restricted, flooding the pool with that of one dog is not going to help. It seems obvious what the KC needs to do, whether they will do it is another matter.

  5. Please less of the "sad life" comments about being fascinated by mate select. You are not the only one to have been pawing over this these past couple of days. I agree Yogi's stats are scarey (as are many of his progeny's hip scores) however possibly scarier stats can be found in Slovakian Roughaired Pointers.
    Evar Kaicul at Stormdancer 72 puppies from 10 litters.
    Argo od vitalosa at stormdancer 160 puppies from 19 litters.
    Registration numbers for SRHPs from 2001 to 2010 inclusive a total of 351.
    Where are breeders going with this pretty breed?


  6. less than 2% of any breed is show, so why say they influence the other so much? look at E-pups andy ou will see the vast majority of the people who breed have nothing to do with showing dogs. Are you really telling me these designer breed breeders look for a new stud dog everytime the breed a liiter? or do they use the same one over and over again

  7. The subject of popular sires is not as black and white as has been portrayed here. I have mixed feelings about this as in my own breed, there is a tendancy for breeders to flock to the latest 'in fashion dog' and different regions of the country quickly become flooded with the offspring of this individual. If (as has happened in my breed) you have four generations of 'popular sires' then it is very restrictive to the gene pool and not a good situation for the breed.
    On the flip side of the coin, if there are limits placed on the number of times a dog can be used, it is likely his breeder will only permit close friends to use him and stud fees will become extortionate. For newer breeders, if all the 'best' sires have been used, where then do they turn? To dogs of poorer quality which may not compliment their bitches, or may have less desirable traits? The newer and more 'outside' a breeder is, chances are the less choice they will have. A situation could very easily develop where these people either find it impossible to use a quality dog or have to pay through the nose to do so.

    I don't know what the answer is on this one. 89 litters, I think is too many. However, 9 may be restrained but this is obviously an excellent dog who could contribute an awful lot to his breed, perhaps he should be used a bit more? Possibly a solution would be to individually allocate quotas based on how much a dog could benefit his breed. So a very good example of his breed, who has good results on required health tests and a low(er) COI would have a higher quota than a dog whose father perhaps had been used a great deal or one which had more faults?

  8. so where are these litters? world wide.. or just in your poor little isle? What did the TT die of? could he have been accidentally killed.. or had some bug.. or are we to ascertain from you statement that he died of some mysterious GENETIC disease? Telling just a part of the story is always titillating isn't it

  9. I really do think the KC should limit the number of litters that may be registered by any one stud dog each year. The number of permitted studs should be a defined percentage based on the total number of dogs registered yearly in that breed. My breed (Irish Setter) is still suffering from the impact the BIS Crufts winner Caspians Intrepid had on the breed (who has not been the only popular stud in the breed by all means). Stats show 623 pups regsitered from 80 litters. Small wonder the breed's COI is very high...

  10. Yes, I think they should limit the number of litters a stud dog should sire per year or per lifetime because they need to address the popular sire effect. Yes, this is an issue as there are some breeds with very small gene pools.

    Allowing one sire to flood a small gene pool will not help.

  11. Look at Irish Red and White Setters which produce only about 80 - 90 pups per annum in the UK. One dog has sired 96 pups from 14 litters,a son has sired 58 from 8 litters and a grandson has sired 52 from 6 litters.

  12. In addition to an absolute ceiling based on breed registration numbers, why not link the permitted number of litters to the dog's breed-relevant HEALTH scores (preferably something computed from both his own data and the data of his relatives, as with a ZW score) and longevity?

    If he's "flavor of the month" (or not) the market will drive demand for him (or not) -- attach the brakes to documented health information. Ranging from "I don't care HOW MANY dog shows he's won, he has SM and his offspring will not be registered" to the breed maximum for a completely healthy, long-lived sire who produces healthy offspring. (The dog's initial allowed number can be bumped up or not as he ages and as his offspring's data come in.)

    It would be an incentive for stud owners to exercise selectivity in mates, not breed to any bitch whose owner arrives with money in his teeth. Not only does the stud have organizationally-limited reproduction opportunities, his owner's chances of increasing those opportunities depend on breeding only to healthy, sound bitches from healthy pedigrees, especially when the dog is young.

  13. I have checked on a particular Breed and from 12 well known stud dogs - wait for it - 770 litters were produced and 2035 puppies.

    Now work out the average litter size and let me have your views on both issues please ?

    This is why outcrossing is 99% impossible !

  14. Is this cavaliers by any chance? Although the litter average of 2.64 sounds a bit low.

    To be able to judge it, one needs to know the breed (and its registration figures) and over how many years these stud dogs span.

    Why do you think this makes outcrossing impossible?


  15. I suspect Anon 16:46 means outcrossing bloodlines within the breed, rather than outcrossing to a similar breed. If a small number of dogs are flooding the gene pool, where's your outcross going to come from?

  16. Wow... And they thought backyard breeders were just in it for the money. Guess they better take another look then. I also think the limit would be a good idea.

  17. It does seem that the word 'FARMER' cannot be used once a person becomes the Member of a Breed Club! Sadly, many top show people (also Judges) are just that - puppy farmers who aid and abet the production of hundreds of puppies for money, with little or no thought to genetic diversity or health compatibility ? I suspect, to some - having a sire reach 100 litters is akin to making a first class hundred in cricket ? Its about time that a few sat back and reflected on the damage they have caused to the breed(s) that they claim to love so much !

  18. Ooh, provocative!

    I think it would be rather unfair to compare BY breeders with puppy far, although in some cases, some breeders are blurring the distinction.

    Most of the dog breeders I know breed their family pets. The dogs live in the house or yard, and are part of the household. So far so good. I don't approve of closed-breed dog breeding, but I've no doubt that the dogs are well looked after.

    However, as we all know (I hope), it takes two to tango, and my concern is with the motives of those who have and use popular sires. What possible motive can there be to use a stud dog thirty, forty, fifty times? It can't be for the welfare of their closed breed, because, surely, even the dimmest breeder can see the problem with that, can't they?

    It has to be money. Why else would you continue to breed a dog that you know carries genetic issues likely to cause disease in the resultant puppies? And if you're breeding for profit and ignoring the damage you are causing, how does that differ in principle from puppy farming?

  19. I think this blog is all one sided yes ok these dogs have been bred a awful lot and the CKCS one after being diagnosed shouldnt of happened BUT what about the other breeders have you not looked into it to make sure the dogs owner has been giving them health checks to make sure that the pet is fit to stud ? My cav has mated 6 times already this year and has had 16 pups from these litters BUT i make sure my male is health checked before a mating and make sure the female goes to the vets before a mating can go ahead.Alot of breeders are doing this these days yet this blog seems to just show the worst of all of the pedigree dog owners puppy farms should be targeted more which put a strain on these breeds you need to look at the people that make a effort to look after there pets rather than the bad people out there.
    I know because i've said of the matings you'll straight away be " you've done it for profit " NO ! I make sure my dog comes first aswell as the bitch to provide healthy puppies for the next generation so we can help stop all of the problems that are involved in the breeds.
    Cross breeders are the worst and it's them that in my belif need to be targeted the most " oh wow its a labradoodle can i have one " i belive these are the worst of all cross's but that may be because i own a standard poodle myself,Cross breeding is the one way that totally affects the life of a dog with the health problems of the poodle and health problems of a lab combinde together make the worst possible combination people breeding cross breeds and even BUYING THEM are the worst people ever by lowering the dogs age and wont be giving them the full potential of life.At least people who are using pedigree dogs like me and many others i know safely and effectivly are trying to lower the health problems as much as possible and help expand the life of the dogs.

  20. I'd be interested in hearing what health checks your Cav has had, Tamara? And what checks do you insist the females have had before mating?


  21. My guess Tamara would be opposed to anyone crossbreeding even if they did the health checks.

    Actually, heterosis is a reality in dogs.

    It's not a guarantee, of course, and not all crossbred dogs are going to be healthy-- and there are some purebred dogs that are really long-lived and hardy.

    But as an aggregate, crossbreeding reduces the probability that any dog resulting from the union will be homozygous for a deleterious recessive. Many genetic diseases are recessives-- some are simple, many are more complex. And it also produces dogs that have diversity within the MHC genes. Those two factors are what drive heterosis, and are also why we should be concerned with genetic diversity in domestic dogs.

    And when the people try to defend the MHC issue, it is quite laughable. Do you people realize that dogs are not cheetahs or rodents? Do you realize that the study that showed the inbred Island foxes with the great MHC diversity also showed that the female foxes were selecting mates with different MHC genes in what is called "balancing selection"? Exactly how are dogs doing balancing selection with their mates in a closed registry system?

    You cannot breed out all the bad diseases in domestic dogs. You can select against them, but that eventually causes problems. You wind up selecting against other genes within the population when you do this, and selecting for others, which results in the dogs suffering from even more disease. It is a game of whack-a-mole. In the end, the only way to stop these problems is to work for greater genetic diversity within breeds. The issues with popular sires and the closed registry system need to be addressed. Science says both of these are major animal welfare problems.

    But the pure-blood religion just doesn't care.

  22. not sure if my last comment has processed but i'll check back tomorrow if not i'll gladly reply again

  23. Hi Tamara - no didn't come through so please do try again.

  24. Purebred breeding is not the answer. I've read where people take their dog for a health check before breeding, but does that include testing for genetic diseases in both the dogs being mated? I've been around breeders& they just get vet checks for appearant health, not genetic health. Labradoodles were created for a right reason. Many blind people who could have their lives enhanced by a seeing eye dog, were allergic to dogs. A labradoodle was created to bred the working stability of a lab with a standard poodle for the poodle's intelligence & coat-non allergic coat. It wasn't until people suddenly hit the "fad" of having to have one that messed this up. Look at the english bulldog pre 1900, there is a healthy, active, working dog. Look at the english bulldog today, a weak,wheezing animal that can't even breed by itself. Look atthe "Lassie" type collie vs the true english,working collie. Big difference in health & intelligence. I've had purebreds. I checked out the breeders,their breeding practises, & the health of their dogs before I purchased. I've had & currently have crosses. I have healthy, intelligent animals who won't be breeding as they are fixed. I fix my animals as I don't want to breed.I just want healthy,happy,intelligent companions & that is what I have. I support purebred breeders who breed for healthy, intelligent dogs who can do what the breed was originally created for. I'm looking at some of the english working collies, not the Lassie collies. I have been around those breeders & I got frustrated with dumb,unhealthy dogs who met the current show standards. I don't like the puppy mills, the folks who breed just for profit & don't care what they're breeding,or those who stud their dog out time after time after time. I mean, is your dog truely contributing to the breed or is he being studded because he came from a "good" bloodline & people think he's pretty. I'll take a random bred mutt then, thank you.And I'll fix him, let folks tell me how great he is, & then when he passes on,I'll go to the kill shelter & adopt another dog. I have a heeler/ australian shepherd mix & a heeler/ border collie mix. Both of these girls are intelligent, healthy, active, & great companions, no pedigree needed.The only papers they've ever had were the ones they were housebroken on.

    1. I would hardly call the "Lassie" collie a dumb dog. In fact, according to Stanley Coren, in his book about the intelligence of dogs, "Lassie" ranks, I believe, number 16. Not bad when you consider how many different dog breeds there are. Also, how many people nowadays have a flock of sheep to herd? Not me. Not anyone I know. I want a gentle, loving pet, and I can tell you that my "Barbie" collie fits the bill perfectly. He's smart, gentle, beautiful, well behaved. He is a joy to be around. Lassie or Barbie, if you will, fits my needs a whole lot better than an overly driven border collie would. So, let's stop bashing Barbie. The rough collie does its modern day job of being an excellent pet and companion a whole lot better than a high drive border collie could.

  25. ok so mayby labradoodles help out people with allergys to dogs but why not just use a poodle i know and have seen tv programs on dogs helping blind people just as well as a lab ???
    To answer the question earlyer stated my Cav has had his eyes,heart and has had the SM testing done to help lower the risk of any genetic problem being passed on,i'm saying lower the risk because no test can be 100%,Females i wish to have the same before mating if they truely care about the breed this is to also try to keep the risk of any genetic problem being passed on.
    I also do get them to take a health check a day before the mating as i take mine also to make sure both pets are fully healthy.
    Everyone sadly only looks at the bad breeding like you are stating Retrieverman but at the end of the day if you look into this most of us breeders try to stay away from inbreeding as do i,With the cavs i know of one line that i most definatly must stay away from because of the health problems and blood line but i do not wish too state the name on here i'm sure if you do your research you'd find out.
    But this can happen in any dog breed ? Are you telling me you in-breed ?
    Jemima i think if you want to make a real diffrence to this a new organisation should be brought out to work along side crufts to hire people to come around and check the animals so they arn't getting covered in hair spray,talcan pouder ect it's wrong and inmoral also to check the dogs health and if not up to scratch ban them from showing that day.
    Somebody needs to work along side the kennel club to help provent the problems happening.I was at a dog show today and all of us that own cavs and even check eachothers dogs to see if there is anything we can see health wise that may be affecting them,like my ruby bitch, she had runny eyes today and somebody pointed it out just to keep an eye on it yet i know she suffers from hayfever.Stupid way to describe it but really i think you should be working with the people who really care and love there animals and provide a service that will help us out on this hell hole because i dont see why you just in my opinion focus on the bad rather than the good.

  26. I fully agree that it can be a major threat to any breed to rely on the same stud dogs time after time. A lot of breeders tend to use champion stud dogs in the hope of improving their stock: it is only too human!
    In view of this propensity, instead of, or in addition to limiting the number of matings per popular sire according to the rarity of a particular breed, how about producing more champions in the UK, for instance by creating a champion class for the dogs who have already been made up, and/or by limiting the number of CCs per dog, so that other deserving dogs can be made up as champions, and used at stud?

  27. "To answer the question earlyer stated my Cav has had his eyes,heart and has had the SM testing done to help lower the risk of any genetic problem being passed on,i'm saying lower the risk because no test can be 100%,Females i wish to have the same before mating ..."

    Having a bit of trouble parsing this "prose," but I believe that Tamara is indicating that she has had three health tests done on her stud dog (she does not state what the results of these tests may be) and that she prefers that the bitches to whom she stands her male have same. She does not state that she requires this as a condition of the breeding.

    Six times just this year, which is about half over? And no problem with that because?

    Given that she has the genetic sophistication to discern that crossing two dogs of different breeds will inflict all the genetic diseases enzootic to the parent breeds on the offspring, I am slightly worried.

    Then again, Tamara thinks that people who buy Labradoodles are "the worst people ever."

  28. 'Labradoodles' (ugh at the ridiculous name) were admitted to be a failure by their own creator, Wally Conron

    If poodle or labrador breeders wished to open the stud books and improve the genetic diversity in the breeds, these breeds are not a compatible or appropriate choice to combine. The labrador has a smelly double coat that sheds heavily and the poodle has a relatively odourless coat that sheds little but needs grooming to prevent matting. Combining them can produce any combinations of the two, such as a double coat where one layer sheds and the other grows continuously (a dog that mats so heavily that the only way it can be maintained is by shaving it very short) or a sparse, mangy-looking single coat that also sheds. Both breeds also can suffer from hip dysplasia. Seriously trying to improve a breed's genetic diversity would involve using dogs of different breeds but a similar type with compatible coat and build. 'Designer' mongrels are just a get-rich-quick fix for people who don't care about genetics or improving dogs.