Friday 21 June 2013

Wolves and dogs and dogs and wolves

When we were making Pedigree Dogs Exposed, we filmed at the UK Wolf Conservancy Trust near Newbury. We were privileged to be able to film in one pack's enclosure  - under close supervision and with strict instructions on how to act in the wolves' company.

It was a beautiful, frosty early morning -  before the centre opened to the public. Having a young wolf lick your face is an electrifying experience. Every fibre of your body bows in acknowledgment that this is not a dog. Definitely not a dog.

Filming in Feb 2008 - close encounter with wolves
But of course wolves and dogs share a common ancestor and are so close genetically that they can mate and produce fertile offspring.  Every revelation about wolves is of interest to canine genetics buffs because it helps inform our knowledge of/relationship with dogs. And wolves have been in the news this week.

Nature reports a spat between the different teams trying to nail the timing, place and manner of the split that led to the grey wolf on one branch of the evolutionary tree and the dog on the other.
"In recent months, three international teams have published papers comparing the genomes of dogs and wolves. On some matters — such as the types of genetic changes that make the two differ — the researchers are more or less in agreement. Yet the teams have all arrived at wildly different conclusions about the timing, location and basis for the reinvention of ferocious wolves as placid pooches. “It’s a sexy field,” says Greger Larson, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Durham, UK. He has won a £950,000 (US$1.5-million) grant to study dog domestication starting in October. “You’ve got a lot of big personalities, a lot of money, and people who want to get their Nature paper first.” 
The upshot? Hopefully the competition will provide some answers. At the moment, depending on whom you believe, the domestication of the dog happened anywhere between 10,000 and 32,000 years ago.

Also this week, Christopher Landauer who runs the Border Wars blog has written about the Isle Royale wolves - once held up as an example of how inbred populations could thrive; now facing extinction.  Today, this once-proud population sits, cub-less, waiting to die - unless the decision is taken to intervene. It's nature (the wolves have become geographically isolated due in part to an ice-bridge failing to form) but still achingly sad.

A stillborn litter of Isle-Royale wolves
"Inbreeding apologists in the dog world love invoking the notion that wolves inbreed all the time and are just fine and not harmed.  As is clear from the scientific evidence, this once common refrain is nothing more than an unsupported meme that is not backed up by empirical or observational evidence. 
"Scientists are fighting against this misconception because it has major implications on the structure and success of wildlife conservancy programs.  Dog breeders should take note as these same principles are vital for the maintenance and rejuvenation of our breeds as well."

Well written, well researched and well-referenced. Read it here.


  1. I'll add this quote from the excellent article by Christine Mlot for SCIENCE.

    "Inbreeding’s insidious effects

    Now that the wolf population has sunk to an all-time low, with just two remnant packs instead of the historical three or four, this natural experiment in population biology and island biogeography is turning into a grim portrait of inbreeding depression: the reduced biological fi tness that plagues tiny populations.

    At least half of the eight wolves counted in January are female, according to DNA tests of scat, but the researchers detected less courting and mating than usual during their winter survey. The lack of reproduction may be because wild wolves typically avoid mating with close kin—and there are no other options on Isle Royale. Or, the wolves are mating but infertile because of genetic anomalies from inbreeding, or their offspring may not be viable.

    In any case, it’s clear that the wolves are racking up more and more physical abnormalities, probably from inbreeding. A 2009 paper in Biological Conservation reported that 58% of examined wolves had congenital spinal deformities, compared with only 1% of wolves in other populations. The abnormalities appear widespread—they turned up in all 12 wolves necropsied recently—but apparently are not crippling, Peterson says.

    Other observations bolster the argument that inbreeding is eroding the population’s fitness. Researchers have noted wolves with one opaque, perhaps blind, eye. Also, an apparently healthy female died in her den in 2009 after delivering one pup, with her remaining seven pups dying in utero. That had never been documented before in a wild wolf and may have ultimately stemmed from inbreeding, Peterson says."

    1. Chris,

      I love your blog. Good writing. Your posts on the merle gene are the best I've found anywhere.

      I like where you had the guts to point out that the 'best' of show breeders were doing matings which they would raze non-show breeders for. So once again it is who is doing it, not what is being done. That is one thing about posting anonymous comments, they aren't as warm and friendly to read, but everyone is encouraged to judge what is said, not who said it.

  2. 'In Defence of Dogs' by John Bradshaw was a very good read in regards to the differences and similarities between dogs and wolves and the evolution that took place, dividing dogs further from wolves. It's because of these evolutionary differences, the fact that modern wolves have gradually been conditioned through evolution to avoid humans and show no allegiance to them that makes me doubt the reliability and safety of having wolves or wolf-dogs as pets.

    This blog post is an interesting one though; I hadn't heard of people defending the inbreeding by using wild wolves as an example before. It sounds silly.

    1. Jess, I like the phrase "inbred and not dead". The dog fancy does say and do silly things, they are often like crocodiles - deep in denial. How else to explain people breeding FOR health problem?

      I do NOT understand how people can inbreed FOR mutations and extremes, and call that "good breeding". Maybe pekingeseman can explain it to me?

    2. Jess, I don't see why using non-canid species would be a problem for either side of the argument (though not in any way defending the dog breeders who say it's A-OK!) The genetic principles are the same. Sexually-reproducing mammals caught in bottleneck-type situations should be comparable. Not that I know if you *are* saying it's a problem.

    3. Using wild species at all is a problem. No one is deciding which cheetahs get to breed based on how perfect their spots are or even how fast they can run. No one pulls the tiny cubs from their mother, cleans their faces and sucks the amniotic fluid from their throats, warms and dries them and makes sure they get a good drink of colostrum. No vaccinates them, provides antibiotics and nursing care when they are ill, or uses AI to make sure they get pregnant when they lack the social skills to breed properly. No one makes sure their mothers get high quality food and plenty of it.

      Do you get what I'm saying? The WAY domestic dogs are bred is not comparable to what wild species go through in regards to reproduction, balancing and natural selection, and fitness. They are not comparable. Saying that because Norwegian beaver are monoallelic on the MHC and are doing fine, then inbreeding dogs and closed registries are fine is just freaking stupid. One of these things is not like the other.

      Comparing domestic dogs to wild species is intellectually dishonest, period.

      If you are going to compare, and certainly people will compare because there is a large body of evidence that inbreeding depression in small populations is a real thing, and that genetic rescue is a real thing, and gene loss is a real thing, then you should be using the dogs closest wild relative, the wolf. Other species, especially harem breeders or species with an ancient bottleneck, may have greater or lesser inbreeding tolerance, and while the data may be very interesting, it doesn't have much application to breeding dogs under modern technological conditions.

    4. Jess, I get what you are saying, and I agree.

      I tried to make a comment which said what you did, but I couldn't quite nail it with examples like you did, so I deleted it. Well put.

      You are saying that nature kills the weak, kills those lacking the right instincts to survive in their envirnment and to raise their own young. That only the fit get to reproduce. But people are softer than nature and we try to save every one of our puppies and we let the unfit reproduce.

      So inbreeding in wild animals is not comparable to inbreeding in domestic animals because we prevent nature from culling.

      Yeah I understand how something could work better in one environment than another. Never much thought about it but I have saved puppies who would not have made it otherwise. My favorite dog was one who I almost gave up on trying to get him to breathe after he was born. He was the best dog, but what if all puppies started to be born dead and hard to revive?

    5. Jess, I understand what you are saying. We cannot compare the coddling of domestic dogs and the selective breeding for certain traits to the natural selection that occurs with wild species.

      The point I was trying to make was that the genetic principles of inbreeding alone should still inform us a great deal about how genes "behave" in such situations. Take away all the nurture components that you speak of, and we still have nature in the form of DNA. Yes a dog's closest relative may make the *best* comparison, but the basic unit of heredity is the same throughout the animal kingdom and the principles of genetics and evolution are comparable across species. Evidence from other species and what occurs following inbreeding, bottlenecks, founder's effects, deleterious mutation accumulation, etc. should still be taken into consideration.

    6. Survival of the fittest is kind of a misnomer (it is often more like reproduction of the lucky) but the greatest difference between reproduction in domestic and wild animals is WHO gets to reproduce. In the wild, statistically, every animal that reaches adulthood will have an opportunity to reproduce, and they will choose their mates. In dogs, we choose the mates, and we decide who reproduces and who does not, and how often.

      That wild canids practice inbreeding avoidance, probably through kin recognition, is pretty well documented. A wild population like the San Nicolas Island fox has managed to preserve heterozygosity at the MHC, despite being one of the most genetically impoverished animals recognized, due to balancing selection: mate choice, inbreeding avoidance, and natural selection. The foxes avoid mating with animals within a close geographic area, and they cheat on their mates, as well.

      This is nothing like how dogs are bred. The way domestic, 'purebred' dogs are bred is like a recipe for gene loss and for producing homozygosity.

      Yes, looking at wild populations can be informative, but we shouldn't compare them to how dogs are bred, it's like comparing cell phones and rocks. Unless we want to entirely change breeder culture and HOW dogs are bred, and change the modern definition of purebred, which will probably happen at some point after I'm long dead, then we need to look more closely at DOGS and think about breeding DOGS and maintaining diversity in DOGS, instead of trying to distract people with red herrings like inbred beaver or moose. We already know about heterosis, we already know that heterozygote advantage is a thing, why all the blah blah blah? Oh, yeah, dogs are magical and not only does heterosis not exist in dogs, but they can be inbred up the wazoo because they have more chromosomes than mice or humans. (YES, that's sarcasm, and YES, a dog breeder actually told me that.)

    7. I would not call "survival of the fittest" a misnomer. Natural selection will favor certain individuals over others, and those favored individuals that are more keenly adapted to their environment (more fit) tend to have greater survivorship and tend to contribute more offspring to the next generation. Fitness in this context refers to reproductive fitness (how successful one is in terms of effective reproductive output). So all "survival of the fittest" is saying is that favored lines persist due to differential survival and reproduction.

      Every animal in the wild that reaches adulthood will definitely not have the opportunity to mate. Due to dominance hierarchies seen in species diverse as tropical birds to zebras to wolves, a small percentage of males actually mate. Many female social carnivores never mate, either.

      Yes, wild canids practice avoidance of breeding with kin. As far as I know, this is true for all mammals. Upon reaching maturity, either males or females typically disperse from their natal range. This puts in place a geographic barrier to inbreeding prior to any kin recognition occurring.

      I was never suggesting we should compare wild populations to *how* dogs are bred. All I was saying was that of course we need to examine other cases of inbreeding, regardless of species - how else can we possibly consider ourselves well-informed on how genetic variation, inbreeding, etc. work? Wild species inform us on the "good" things that happen genetically - inbreeding avoidance, for example, so yes, we should look at the flipside as well. Dogs don't work outside the principles of genetics.

      I whole-heartedly agree that we need to look at how we are breeding dogs with very critical eyes. At the same time, domestic (owned) dogs are not subjected to the harsh reality of survival on their own. They are provided with food, their coat is kept up by their owners, they receive vaccinations and other health care, they are provided with lodgings well within their thermal neutral zones (well, I don't know about northern breeds in hot climates...), etc. The degree to which we interfere with dog breeding and ensuring the babies survive *is* extreme. But given the fact that they will not be subjected to natural selection to the same degree as wild species, do you think it would be desirable to "let nature take its course" to the degree that it might happen in the wild? There is definitely a very prominent line in my mind separating say, AI in dogs that can't mate naturally, and helping clean puppies or bottle feeding if the mother rejects them. I think purpose here is very important to keep in mind. We are raising dogs primarily for pets, not to be able to survive in the wild. They do not need to be "groomed" to the extent nature would take it - indeed, that would begin the genetic journey back to their wild roots.

    8. Wolves can NOT be dogs in sheep raising country, and I say that as a person who believes that wolves are dogs.

      Everyone reading this knows what a dog is and what a wolf is. We are only arguing the scientific relationship between them. The answer to that question affects the status of both wolves and some breeds of dogs under future laws. So whether one wishes to see the wolf as a dog may depend on how they want future laws to go.

      Scientifically, I'd call the wolf a dog - or "once was a dog".

      But I would NOT call dogs wolves. Like a setter is a dog, but not all dogs are setters.

      I would best guess the wolf like a breed of dogs but more like in a different cluster of breeds - like a cluster of dog breeds called "terrier", a cluster of dogs called "bird dogs", the different types of wolves would be dogs but not in any of those clusters, instead they'd be in their own cluster.

      But if claiming a wolf is a dog would mean they could be kept as pets, then until great changes are made in the legal rules and until cultural habits undergo huge changes for the better, then I will say "a dog is a dog, and a wolf is a wolf" in that respect.

      However, should the wolf be declared a dog, then I will happily say the fox is one too, irreguardless of whether they can reproduce with dogs. If this sounds too whimsical for scientific classification, let me say that science only writes down, records, the family tree of how evolution happened across time. It is people and their laws who look at that family tree of canine type animals, and who decide where the legal term "dog" will be put.

      As for foxes: even though I know that they are not dogs, not wolves, only foxes, and I have been told that foxes are more a dog than a cat. My own opinion of the behavior of foxes, and how they fit into our homes and society would place them in the role of a cat - besides that their odour is feline not canine. Like a cat wearing a coat of dog fur. That is not scientific. It is an observation.

      It uses practical reasoning to say that tame foxes should be legally reguarded similarly to cats. And that helps people who are not suited to a pet fox from getting one. They are beautiful but they are not really behavorially similar to dogs, I am NOT an authority, but I'd say it would be closer to a pet cat. As to where the Russian tame foxes fit into this - I wont even guess.

      But where the boundries between different blends and divisions of animals are, depends on what criteria we use to decide where to draw those lines. Scientific dividing lines are not going to work as well as practical ones as a basis for laws about pets. So, based on that, the wolf is no longer a dog, but the fox is a cat - except scientifically - but we aren't really trying to focus on the scientific angle, are we?

      Can anyone else say that clearer for me?

    9. Jess, your comments are comically ignorant.

      Yeah you can compare wild species to domestic animals for the simple fact - genetic bottlenecking.

      Doesn't matter if it's a GSD which started being screwed up by idiot breeders in the 50s when roachbacks were considered good. If a GSD sire with a poor back breeds 1,000+ pups as sometimes happened with the "top quality" dogs.... and each dog breeds 20+ pups afterwards that means THAT ONE MALE can contribute the roachback gene to every single GSD alive for example.

      That'd be the same in nature. If a population is isolated without outside influence they'd all be inbred.

      Maybe if you looked up nature & inbreeding you'd get the connection.

      Doesn't matter if it's nature or humans doing it, isolated genetic bottle necking destroys a species.

  3. Inbreeding is not nice.

    In dogs we see how this leads to the doubling up of harmful mutations, producing puppies who suffer, often need surgery that their people can not afford [like throat surgery for bulldogs and pugs], and who die young.

    This might or might not be what is causing the problems with the Isle Royale wolf packs.

    The moose on the island there are not suffering the same health crashes that the wolves are. This might be because they started off from a larger group. It might be the founder effect - the moose who moved there might not have carried harmful mutations. It might be because coyotes killed the weaker calves, just as wolves now thin the number of moose by killing the weaker ones.

    It might have nothing to do with genetics. There are many variables there.

  4. On the dog / wolf question: it is a sexy argument but you'll never get one final answer because nobody can ever take the observer out of the answer in the soft sciences.

    Are dogs wolves? People are quick to say that their dogs are little wolves.
    Is a wolf a dog? People will often say "no". A wolf is a wild animal, their dog is not.
    It is all in how one sees the facts.

  5. Did you read about the rare red wolf of the southestern USA? Wildlife people got a new tool - DNA testing. So they HAD to use this new tool. They found that many of these red wolves had genes from other canines - so they killed the red wolves they thought weren't pure enough.

    The red wolf isn't doing too well now. Duh.

    Remember that "breeds" of dogs are a newer idea. The original dog probably moved in and out of human camps like the dingo did.

    1. I had heard that there was evidence of red wolves being descendants of gray wolf/coyote matings, but are you saying the fish and wildlife agency/ies purposefully killed some of the population just because of this? Source please!

    2. Merrie, after that bit about JJJ, I can understand you wanting a source, but it has been years ago. I don't recall if the wildlife people were state, local, federal, or private.

      The issue of hybridised wildlife predates the internet. Wild raptors being one that I recall a teacher lecturing about. It seemed that people had been taught to think in terms of species, but nature has a blurred way of looking at mating. Wild life laws WERE based on species so the mixed animals were seen as unpure or taking up habitate and resourses that pure endangered animals could use. Now people and laws have more understanding of the flow between related species or subspecies.

      Some people still try to see each difference as a new seperate gene pool.

    3. Red wolves are actually not what was claimed to be.

      Genome-wide analyses revealed that they are wolf/coyote crosses, just with a bit more wolf in them than typical Eastern coyotes, which are also coyote/wolf crosses. All of these came about when wolves became rare and had to mate with coyotes because they were the only ones there:

      I think we're wasting a lot of time and money on this "species."

    4. Merrie, I looked up a source for you.

      And it reads worse than you would guess.
      I googled "red wolf hybrid cull". I have heard that two people can google the same search words but get very different results based on what they have clicked on before, so maybe you can get better or worse sources than I did.

      I clicked on the html cach of the PDF of this one:

      According to that source, red wolves were being killed because they are wolves. Then the goverment decided to save them. The red wolves left lived along the gulf coast near the border of Texas and Louisiana. But there were coyotes there too and it looked like the boys and girls were partying together a little too much, so rather than let the two groups assimilate, the remaining 'pure bloods' were trapped for a captive breeding program where they could be kept from mixing with coyotes.

      About 400 hundred red wolves were trapped. But people "saw the taint of coyote blood in many.""They culled away dubious wolves until there were just 43".

      Then "managers" culled a 2nd round and "destroyed the animals suspected of being hybrids"until there were only 17 left.

      Not the way I would have done it, if it were up to me.

      Then, according to the above source, the red wolves were released in N.E. North Carolina on a penninsula - so they wouldn't mix with coyotes.

      That source said that this was BEFORE there was a test to tell which were pure, so I guess they just went on looks?

      I would guess they could have just stopped killing the red wolves and left them where they were. There numbers were down due to people, not that the 400 red wolves weren't doing okay.

      Remind me of this if the government ever offers to save me.

    5. Merrie,

      According to Wikipedia: "In 2007, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there were 300 red wolves remaining in the world, 207 of those in captivity."

      It seems that the captive breeding program started with just 14 red wolves who were chosen for breeding.

      They must be getting inbred by now. maybe they should outcross them to coyotes?

    6. So in this one case, wolves would rather mate with coyotes than inbreed.

    7. Retrieverman, are you now argumenting in the same way of thinking that goes around in the pedigree dog world?

      If two "species" have fertile offspring they are the same species, so why would we humans interfere? Conserving what we have is not natures way I think...

    8. About the Red Wolves,

      They could have painted a number with non-toxic paint on the sides of the 'impure' red wolves, so to not re-catch them, and just taken the 17 red wolves which they wanted into captivity.

      If they had done that, then there would still be Red Wolf coywolves along the gulf, and that would have had no effect on the release of the future captive red wolves into North Carolina.

      Applying this lesson to the future of High Profile Breeds like the pug, peke, bulldog, neo, and others.....

      .......the various kennel clubs worldwide could apply two separate approaches at the same time:

      1. the gradual education of breeders and puppy buyers, and changes in the judging and Standards towards a healthier and fitter version.

      2. the quicker, more fun - less painfull espeially to the people involved, method of controlled outcrossing, which allows change even in very tight gene puddles where little variability remains,

      encourages breeders who are doers to have creative input far beyond what any kennel club could bring into reality,

      allows those breeders, who are using the outcross tool, to be part of the hybrid community in their breed, to become the ones in controll of the hybrid future of their breed,

      permits common mutations to be weeded out without further inbreeding,

      assures that a variable emerging product [puppies] has an array of choices and directions to aim for

      gives an end product [puppies] who can be much improved over the original stock.

  6. Are dogs tame wolves or are wolves feral dogs?

    1. Jemima, I assume you mean that it is like we do not descend from chimps, and chimps do not descend from us, we both descend fro some long ago ancestor.

    2. "Tame" and "feral" have quite specific meanings which don't apply in this case. If you tame a wolf, it doesn't become a dog and feral dogs are distinct from wolves.

    3. Jemima, perhaps it was silly of me, and when I stop to think of it, maybe it is one of those "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" questions, but I was trying to point out, that while people say "Dogs descend from wolves.", it is possible that some now extinct animal gave rise to dogs then died out, then some dogs went feral and, over time, evolved into present days wolves, hence "Wolves evolved from dogs".

    4. I can't find a better link then this but there was a study thing done with foxes and it showed that domesticating foxes changed their physical appearance. Quote: " A much higher proportion of experimental foxes had floppy ears, short or curly tails, extended reproductive seasons, changes in fur coloration, and changes in the shape of their skulls, jaws, and teeth. They also lost their “musky fox smell.”

      Domestication entirely changes an animals so it would be sort of crazy for us to think wolves are just feral dogs. Feral dogs are actually called pariah dogs like my Carolina Dog Brandi. UKC(?) lists her breed in the sighthound/pariah dog group. If you mean stray dogs when you say feral know that they are different. Carolina Dogs haven't been domesticated until recently, before they basically lived in South Carolina and hunted for their food, and bred with whatever dog they decided to. People have taken them into their homes and domesticated them recently(ish).

      Dogs are a SUBSPECIES of Wolves. Grey(?) Wolves are Canis lupus and a dog is the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris.

      Sorry my sentence topic keeps bouncing off the walls, I must be a bit hard to follow. Sorry if I'm not making much sense.

    5. Hi Daniela, The "lost their musky fox smell" is interesting. I have read that while the breeders were selecting only for tameness, that tameness was caused by selecting for a different biochemistry. I guess it makes sense that their scent changed too.

    6. Daniela, Nova has a great hour-long special available on Netflix in the U.S. called Dogs Decoded. The filmmakers visit the captive breeding facility for silver foxes in Russia and they interview scientists about how breeding for tameness also results in dog-like physical traits.

    7. I guess this means I gotta go to my boyfriend's house now and use his Netflix lol. It sounds very interesting thank you.

    8. I have an M.S. in Zoology. I'll give some non-technical definitions off the top of my head which may help:

      Wild - An animal in its natural physical state, and still living free in nature. Unchanged by humans. Example: A deer living in the forest.

      Domesticated - an animal whose relatives may still be found in the wild, but who is now differentiated from them mentally & physically. Domesticated animals take many generations to produce, and are often selected for the following traits: friendly to humans; friendly to conspecifics; willingness to mate with any same-species partner provided by humans; increased production of milk/meat/fur/wool, or increase in behavioral repetoire that helps humans (hunting or herding dogs, etc.). Example: cow, sheep, dog, horse, lab rat, etc.

      Feral - An individual domesticated animal that has left the care of humans and is living in the wild. Some feral animals are born in the wild, but are still considered domesticated, because they have the physical and behavioral characteristics that were selected for life with humans. However, the animal will no longer will approach humans, and isn't dependent on them. Example: feral cats that hang out near barns but flee when people approach.

      Tame - An animal that has the identical genetic makeup to other wild animals, and which may have been born in the wild, but which has been raised with humans to the point where it is not as fearful/aggressive of humans as a member of the species would normally be. Example: tigers, chimps or bears raised as movie performers. Parrots are also in this category, as they have never been domesticated. Parrots were still taken straight from the wild and sold as pets in America until 1992, for example. So the parrots that are their offspring haven't changed enough in 3-5 generations to qualify as "domesticated." (Maybe in a few hundred generations...)

    9. The way you say that last bit bother me a little. Tigers, chimps, and bears may not be fearful of people but since they are still known to attack people.

      My comment is based on the ASSUMPTION, based on my interpretation of what you said, that you meant animals raised as movie performers and animals trained to perform in circuses and places like Sea World. To me performing in movies/the circus/ and at Sea World is essentially the same sort of thing, but maybe that isn't what YOU meant.

      There are plenty of documented incidences where animals in the circus attack the people training them. See here list of captive orcas that have attacked/been aggressive/etc.

      I'm only saying this because I am entirely unsure if you are suggesting the tamed wild animals working in movies etc. don't attack. But maybe that isn't them being aggressive? I wouldn't know and that is why I question what you said, I'm simply trying to understand what you were trying to say.
      If I interpreted what you said in entirely the wrong way then I apologize.

  7. What would happen if someone left a variety of small purebred dogs on a tropical isle with plenty of water and mice and trees to keep feeding the mice? Say, pugs, mini dachshunds, chihuahuas, and other little dogs. What would you find if you came back 40 years later? Would they sort themselves into one health breed? Or would they all die off? Would they be sickly like the Isle Royale wolves? Assuming they had warm weather, water, and plenty of mice.

    I'd like to think the natural way would yield a healthier breed, but I don't know.

    1. Feral dogs the world over seem to have reverted to one "wild type" that works - generally of moderate size, short light-colored coat, slightly curled tail.

    2. I'd guess you'd get something that looked like a kooikerhondie.
      it's the nearest breed in shape , coat and size to our first mutt. he was semi long coated gold/red with a black mask, so I could see a mix of long haired dachshund , chi and pug being similar to him.

    3. "I'd guess you'd get something that looked like a kooikerhondie."

      No, not at all. The typical pariah/feral dog isshorter coated, sandy coloured and resembles the dogs in this image:

    4. The ones that are capable of feeding and reproducing without human aid will thrive - so you'll probably get a small feist-type dog within a few generations, eventually becoming a typical pariah dog.

    5. Forget the tropical island part, what if we did this in Britain? or any other country, even if it isn't an island.

      What if people kept on breeding toy breed dogs as always, but a new 'group-breed' was started, going along with the traditional breeds?

      What if we let toy breeds go on as always but if a toy sized dog won an obedience title he would be eligible to dual register in a Smart Little Doggies group (t would have to have a better name)?

      Then he could have his puppies registered in his own breed if he was bred with another dog of his own breed - just as always. But if his owner wanted, he could be bred to any other toy sized dog, of his own breed or another breed - provided that they were both obedience degree winners, and then those puppies would be eligible to enter into the dual registry when they earned their obedience title.

      This could be done with medium and large breeds too. And crossbreds and mutts with obedience titles could enter too, becase in the end there will be a number of "little dingoish looking dogs"

      Feed back please. Anyone find any faults with this idea?

      The idea would allow maximum outcrosses within a size range. And since some selection is always used, the selection would be for puppies bought by people looking for good obedience prospects, who actually earned an obedience degree, and who were bred to another obedience winner.

      I like the idea. If you don't, tell me why not? Do you think it would work or is it a stupid idea?

    6. Crossbreeds and dogs of unknown ancestry can already be registered on the KC Activity register, to compete in Obedience or Flyball or Agility.

    7. Hi Mary,

      Thanks for the information. If the KC allows the crossbreeds and mixed breeds to enter, then all they have to do to start a skill based breed is to start a new breed admitting in those dogs with an obedience title.

      If they have insisted that crossbreeds and mixed breed dogs be sterilised to enter, that would have to change as it would not be possible to get any breed started from sterilised foundation stock.

    8. I'm not quite sure I get your point. The dogs on the Activity Register don't need to be neutered, but how could they possibly be interbred carefully enough to become a 'breed' - a definition of which is a creature whose offspring have a predictable likeness to its parents - whilst still being alike enough to their current breeds to be on the Breed Register? As it stands dogs can be on one register or the other, but not both.

    9. Hi Mary, to answer your question:

      If the KC already registers mixed breed dogs who are NOT neutered, and they record their wins, then with a few weeks of paperwork and someone to review the legal and business angles, they could easily create a series of SKILL BASED breeds.

      A "skill based breed" is just what it sounds like - a breed based on what it does, not what it looks like. The dogs are divide by and clumped together by their proffession, not their long dead ancestor's profession or by their phenotypical appearance.

      This is the real way that dogs have been breed for most of history, except, of course that some body forms are required for each type of work - to be a useful fox terrier, the terrier must be able to fit into a foxhole, to be a greyhound that catches hares, a dog must have long legs, and so on.

      A sled dog is a dog which is employed at pulling a sled, a sheepdog works with sheep, a birddog is a dog that hunts birds, a lap dog is small enough to sit on your lap - each dog is grouped by what he really does not by what he looks like nor by what his long ago ancestors did.

      A Cocker Spaniel who herds sheep well is a sheepdog or shepherd dog.

      Most dogs today are pets, companions, showdogs, or watchdogs.

      But you could have a skill based breed named "Sportsdog". And you could have a breed called "British Tracker" which would just mean the dog, and the required number of recent ancestor's all passed the requied test.

      A flyball dog isn't a breed. But if a dog wins at flyball, his parents and grandparents were good at flyball, and he bred to a bitch who is good at flyball and comes from a line of dogs who are good at flyball, then could you call their puppies "flyball puppies"?

      Would it matter if they were Golden Retriever, Whippet, Border collie, Jack Russell Terrier, Poodle, and Spaniel mixed? If you want a dog for flyball, what you care about is that he is good at flyball.

    10. Having lived in a bunch of developing countries around the world and read articles about pariah dogs, I can answer this:

      They will eventually end up as 30-45 pound, short-haired, prick ear, solid tan dogs with tails that curl over their backs. This is the natural state of the domesticated dog when humans take away their breeding control.

      If you started with a bunch of unhealthy breeds like Pugs and English Bulldogs on the island, I think they would die off relatively quickly. Other small breeds with speed and agility (Papillons, Chihuahuas, many terriers, Dachshunds, etc.) could likely subsist on the mouse diet long enough to turn into the typical 30-45 lb. pariah dog.

      With small dogs, they tend to get larger every generation unless you put some very serious breeding controls on them. My current dog is a Papillon that is 12" tall, despite having parents that were 10". In Parson Russell Terriers, my previous breed, the ideal male is 14" high, but to get that size, you breed him from a sire that is 10" tall and dam that is maybe 12" tall. If you breed a 14" dog as one of the parents, you end up with a 16" offspring.

      As you can see, the toy breeds would probably not stay small for very long. I would anticipate that in about 10 generations, the island dogs would be over 30 lb.

    11. To Anon 25 June 2013 02:54

      "A flyball dog isn't a breed. But if a dog wins at flyball, his parents and grandparents were good at flyball, and he bred to a bitch who is good at flyball and comes from a line of dogs who are good at flyball, then could you call their puppies "flyball puppies"?

      Not really, in the same way that a dog descended from a long line of show dogs isn't automatically a show dog.

      I think you might be muddling the words 'breed' (eg cocker spaniel), 'type' (eg spaniel), 'group' (eg gundog) and 'activity' (eg show, or flyball, or field trial etc)

    12. If the dogs were living on mice, and on a small island, they probably wouldn't get as big as 30-40#.

    13. Hi Mary,

      Let me try to clarify. There are 3 time-based ways of viewing the world:

      1. The Past. This is based on past experiences, and things read or heard in the past. This is a reasonable viewpoint, after all, the present is just a flickering moment, gone nearly as it arrives, and how can a person learn fom the future as it isn't here yet? Most of the time, older people reason from the past, because their past has so many experiences in it.

      2. The Present. This is what IMO, PDE is trying to get people to use. To get people to push away the romantic veil of history from blurring their vision, and just simply see what is right in front of them. But many people are not able to 'switch gears' and see in present tense.

      I had a science teacher once say that if he could just teach as to see, the sememster would be a success. I went up to him after class and asked him what he meant. He wasn't able to explain it very well, but I wrote on the first page of my notebook something like "Learn to See". But I can see, everyone there could see. What could he mean "Learn to see the plants"?

      Then I knew a man who was studying art. His art teacher told them they needed not just to look at art, but to see it. He insisted that art, not science, was what taught 'seeing', he even had me read in a book about how an artist sees the world differently and how if you want to be good at art, you must learn to see the world through an artist's eyes. Sound familiar? That's because just about every profession says the same thing.

      The key is to see the object in front of you without any of the veils of the past or of illusion.

      In dog breeding, you need to be able to see the dogs "anew". You can learn to do this.

      For a moment, forget what you 'know' about dogs. Look at the dogs like a child would. Like you are a child from a country with only street dogs, never having seen a purebred.

      "Why are his ears so long?"
      "What happened to his face?"
      "Will his eyes pop out if I pet him?"
      "Do you cut his hair off and sell it?"
      "Which other dog chewed off half of his tail?"
      "What terrible evil does he do that you make him live in a crate?"

      Resist the urge to lie to the child, because you will only be lieing to yourself.

      His ears are NOT long so they can sweep the dew.
      His face is NOT like that because it would help hold onto a bull.
      And it isn't his fault that you make him live in a crate instead of training him right.

      See the truth. See the truth in front of you if you can. Call it like it is.

      3. The Future. We all have to use our future sense some of the time. When you think about the past and future at the same time, that is called "planning". But what if you need to break away from the past? Then you must turn your back to the past, and look into the future with both eyes.

      "Skill based breeds" or "dogs with professions" is seeing what we can do. Seeing where we can go in the future. It has NOTHING to do with what dogs were or weren't. It isn't even about seeing them as there are. It is beyond that. It is about seeing what we could be doing now, to make next year better.

  8. Just find it interesting that Jess, Jemima, and I are the only ones who post with our names and links to our thoughts. I'm all for the certain clarity that anonymity can provide, but I think it is a sad statement about the dog breeding culture writ large that people who agree feel the need to hide their identity else they face persecution from their peers.

    And of course, that goes further. It's not just the freedom to comment on our writing, it's the freedom to support us in the community, to talk with others about our ideas, and heck to buy our dogs or sell us breeding stock.

    It's a twisted culture we're all living and working in. And it's unfortunate that by speaking out and using our real names we become lightning rods for insecurity and hatred too. But heck, at least we're honest and unafraid and more people will see that we're unbroken by the attacks and join us.

    1. Chris Hi. Sometimes I feel that freedom and the Isle Royal wolves have something in common. Freedom isn't just freedom from government and religions telling people what to do, it is about children being taught and shown that other people have a right to their own way of thinking and their own conclusions.

      I have Jemima and her Pedigree Dogs Exposed film to thank for some of that freedom of speech. But freedom of speech can not just be a piece of paper, it has to be happening in the real world or it becomes just a bunch of unicorn words. From my own experience, I'd say that purebred dog breeders have been one of the worst groups for insisting that nobody contradict their dogma.

      Before PDE, people would...well let's not get into that, I will just say that both I and my computer had trouble. Now maybe I am just one more of "those people" who just don't understand how wrong it is to breed dogs who aren't show dogs. sarcasm.

    2. I think the responses re the JJJ debacle underline the passion people feel about pedigree dogs. The people who were trying to put across a balanced judgement were shot down and sworn at which is what it is, but worse than that are that they seem to accept that a misrepresentation whether intended or not is acceptable in the dog world. That sort of attitude opens up the whole ethics within the pedigree dog world from breeding, husbandary, showing, etc etc. The pomposity, the arrogance and the control of another species with this sort of mentality is tragic and we are now aware of the consequence to that species, suffering and eventual extinction. I have pedigree dogs, I love my pedigree dogs but since reading PDE when I bought my latest addition, a charming little working cocker, I was much more aware and enlightened as to what to avoid. It sounds stupid of me, I showed for 40 years, but I was in that "culture" whereby showing was everything, aka the pursuit of beauty/excellence. I had some disasters both purchased and one dreadful litter, I didn't repeat the experience and during all of that time I only had a very few litters so that I could carry on showing. Laughable really, when I look back on that time I feel so foolish, my dogs had good and healthy lives, I and they were lucky. Today, in my breed, it is shambolic, greed rules the day and the breed is, in essence on it's knees. There are huge attempts at health research but whilst ever long established breeders continue to breed on disrespecting the breed and ignoring known traits within their bloodline, the crash is going to come sooner than they expect. Hence this topic on wolves, it is fascinating and again I personally will understand so much more because of the intelligent, well written presentation. I really hadn't appreciated that to get diversity within a species that the resulting product will suffer, aka pugs, dachs, ridgebacks, dalmations (I have a 14.5 yr old rescue), etc etc just because we, humans, find it cute, appealing or whatever. I had accepted that breeds were breeds and had always been thus, I really hadn't given any thought to how they came about, apart from the obvious, terriers, hounds, gundogs etc and that they were created for function but exaggeration of function is a whole new idea to me. So thank you, I will read on, learn more and try and keep quiet and hope that some of rude, coarse people don't discover my comment on this topic and de-rail it as they finally did on another site.

    3. Yes, probably fairly safe on this thread...;-)

      Thank you everyone for the interesting and thoughtful comments/discussion in response to this post.


    4. Georgina, don't feel bad. You got suckered into a sub-culture which was not as advertised.

      Then it was like the boiled frog. It got worse and worse, but ever so slowly, a little change downward each year. Until suddenly you looked up and thought "How did we get here?".

      And you looked at the dogs and said "OMG what happened to them?" and people around you had no idea what you were talking about. And when you tried to explain, many of them just got confused, some of them thought you were nuts, but some of them got that flicker of understanding in their eye - before they quickly pushed the idea out of their minds and snarled like a rabid animal at you.

      Then they denied ever understanding what you had said all whilst arguing about what you said in a manner which they could not have done unless they did understand you.

      If you stayed around the dog show culture you might have found several people who understood what was happening, but they accepted it. They suffered fools gladly, and played in a sub-culture which they themselves called "stupid really stupid". They were like lonely sheepdogs hanging out with sheep, knowing that one can't make a sheepdog out of a sheep, but you have to hang out with something.

      If you left the sub-culture without finding the knowing members, you might have found other ex-members looking a bit sad along the ring. They might have left showing under a dramatic flash of understanding, or drifted away from the sub-culture for other reasons, and then quietly reflected upon the truth of what they had been into, but return to the shows to meet old friends who still turn up at the shows and who still do not understand.

      I would guess there to be many more ex-members than members. But many exes left for other reasons.

      I feel that my understanding has advanced me from sheep to sheepdog, but people still in the show sub-culture seem to feel it is more like I went down from breeder to werewolf. And they seem to avoid understanding as if it is contagious -which all memes are.

      I think that is the generic version of knowing ex-members.

    5. Georgina,

      I wouldn't say that some people's ethics allow for hoaxes, because hoaxers often laugh when found out. I feel that the core of purebred dog show people is a sub-culture which reacts badly to any expose of their culture, or any questioning of their dogma.

      It is like The Standards are books of their bible and questioning the purity of their methods is like insulting religious icons. Their anger is not like that of people of other hobbies or sports - at least not when sober.

      Like if I say that I like collecting photos of flowers that I have seen, or drying flowers, and someone says "that's a stupid hobby", I'd just say "I like it." and think they were a bit insensitive. Maybe I might respond that watching sports wasn't much of a hobby either, but I wouldn't get all hateful about it.

      People who breed suffering dogs are often real touchy about criticism.

    6. Chris,

      Many people never or almost never comment on blogs they read. On one non-dog blog which I read but never commented on, I was told to start commenting or quit reading as they didn't like lurkers. Hey, it was a subject I enjoyed reading but had no desire to comment on.

      Other people who write blogs simply hate to be bothered with any comments at all. Their comment section is just to correct errors.It is like they should have a header over their comment section saying "Shut up and lurck".

      A few people only approve comments that are praise or agreement with them.

      And many bloggers love big fights in their comment section to boost numbers. A few seem to set up situations to get big messy trainwrecks which readers come to watch.

      Each person with a blog is different in what they want or allow in their comments, so no matter what type of commenter a person is, there will always be several blogs who just aren't a good mach for them - so they lurck reading but not writing.

      People don't know what type of reaction they will get from strangers.

    7. Hi Anon 18:10, exactly right but the damage acted out on dogs is disgraceful and like you say the breeders in the culture will continue, their breed will disappear and they will turn their sights onto another breed, not really because they love dogs but because there is money to be made and that is the rotten truth that surrounds the dog world today. I have just looked at my breed's puppy list and puppies are being sold for £850 in the main. Ten puppies and wow, they scoop £8.5k minus expenses and they continue to bleat that having a litter of puppies is a loss making adventure! Would they read and understand this topic, no, because of exactly what you have stated above. They don't need to learn anything because, of course, they are experts and know everything about dogs and dog breeding that is to know - in their opinion. Thanks again.

    8. As someone who posts anonymously: It's partly that, but it's mainly because in public debate I feel very strongly that the argument should be made to the debate and not to the person (ad hominem). Arguments to the person devalue the discussion. Posting anonymously gives one the liberty of a naked opinion not attached to an individual, and arguing with an anonymous person allows freedom from prejudices and punch-pulling one might feel inclined towards where the opponent's identity known. I post on fora more biased towards the other side of the argument too, and I try to maintain the middle ground, or I play the gadfly, however you prefer to see it. I don't think my identity is relevant or important anyway (does it matter if I'm a millionaire writing this in a mansion, or some tramp writing it on a stolen laptop using someone else's wireless connection?). Where I get the option to be anonymous and not wear a sex, class, political persuasion, etc. I take advantage of it.

    9. "not really because they love dogs but because there is money to be made and that is the rotten truth that surrounds the dog world today."

      BVA hip score plus biopsy while bitch is under: anything from £250 up. Last vet gouged me for over £400
      BVA eye test: £50
      3x genetic tests @~£70 each £210
      Progesterone testing: £200
      Fill car with diesel: £50
      Stud fee: £500 or more
      Ultrasound: £25

      If bitch not pregnant, no profit at all. Otherwise:

      Whelping box, bits of kit for whelping, vet bed, etc.: Anything from £500 up.
      Rubber mats so pups don't slip on laminate: £30
      Cleaning products: £20
      Pen to stop pups eating computer equipment: £80
      Secure garden fencing so pups don't escape: varies depending on DIY expertise and initial state of garden
      Panacur for bitch and pups: £40
      Shots, health check, etc.: £30 per pup
      Food for bitch and pups: £300
      Advertising: £60

      The above assumes no complications with delivery and no requirement for veterinary assistance either with conception or birth.

      Income: assuming 8 puppies, keeping 1, 7 puppies for sale @ £700 each = £4,900.

      Profit = £2,845 minus tax. Assuming one litter a year, can probably help pay for food and other expenses of breeder's own dogs. Some of the things like the whelping box can be reused for subsequent litters. Hip scores and DNA tests only need to be done once per dog, but there is a maximum of 4 litters per bitch and most people won't breed their bitch that often anyway. This also takes no account of the time and work and 'man hours' spent researching pedigrees before the mating and the effort that goes into socialising the puppies. If pups get exported there is a whole load more stress for the breeder, who often has to deal with getting the pups on the plane and sorting out crates and transport requirements.

      (Incidentally, I agree with the comments about many in the show brigade reacting violently to criticism and denying health problems exist. It's called *groupthink*)

    10. Some people do make big money raising puppies. That is why there are commercial breeders or puppy farms.

      And other people let their dogs run loose on the ranch and let the bitch dig a tunnel in the ground to have puppies - if the puppies live, they will see them in a month or two when the pups come out of the den - and if not, well, just call it another type of health test.

    11. Hi Georgina, what do you think could have been done to save your breed?

      I would like to read comments about how to save the Isle Royale wolves or any crashing dog breed.

    12. "Just find it interesting that Jess, Jemima, and I are the only ones who post with our names."

      Huh? Since when is "BorderWars" a name? That's just as anonymous as "Anonymous."

    13. "Some people do make big money raising puppies. That is why there are commercial breeders or puppy farms."

      Undoubtedly. But this is not because of breeds or conformation showing. It's because Joe Public can't be bothered to educate himself before he buys a puppy. If customers would be more responsible, these situations wouldn't be able to continue.

    14. There is aways some selection factor in every animal species, if there was not, we would have streets filled with dogs.

      We are the selection factor in dogs. Many puppies are saved at birth by their breeder, then taken to the vet so he will kill them, or killed by their breeder when they are a few days or weeks old because they flunked a health test, or didn't look like they would be good show dogs.

      We are like wolves to the dog, the dogs are like the moose. We thin their herd. Who thins the dog herd the most? People who produce puppies who are unfit to be good pets.

      Oh the vet actually does the killing, and the owner is the one who turns the dog in to be put down, but selling a puppy who will grow to be a large hyperactive dog dooms most owners to failure.

      People produce puppies who wont fit into the homes they are sent to live in. A puppy who will grow to be snappish is sold to a family with little children and their visiting friends.

      A terrier puppy is sold to people who are always on the go and not home much. He barks. They can't keep him quiet when they aren't home.

      A pensioner spends his savings on a puppy, then finds that he can't afford the medical repair bill that this puppy will need or the continuing cost of maintaining a dog with health problems.

    15. Hi Anon 3:15, thanks for your query. What could have been done? Firstly self restraint, people who own stud dogs should limit the use of their dogs instead of cashing in and because the world has "shrunk" ie transportation and AI a dog's genes can spread universally. Each stud dog owner should have respected their fellow competitor and more importantly the breed. When one bloodline is supremely successful we now know it's catastrophic especially if the owner behaves recklessly with their breeding programme. This is where I would want to include the other person who responded to my earlier comment about money generation from dogs. Nobody, absolutely nobody needs to breed a litter a year. At most (preferably longer) it should be every three years unless there was a tragedy. People who breed a litter a year are doing it for income because no-one, but no-one can possibly show more than one puppy at any one time and breeding for a new show puppy is the excuse used time and time again to justify this dispicable fact. Dog ownership/showing is a choice and to own a dog one has many considerations, time, food, health checks, housing, vets, kennelling,etc the person who responded cannot offset those expenses to justify breeding puppies, because that is breeding for MONEY, not interest, not love, not for the benefit of the bitch/puppy. If one is breeding puppies for sale, the sale of goods act presumably means that the product is fit for purpose, and to reassure oneself that the puppies are as well and happy as possible that is what one should do, whether keeping a puppy or for someone else. Also, of course, as time passes, litigation is going to rear it's head and thus breeding a litter and then selling a puppy that has a health issue lays one wide open to being sued. You then enter the realms of running a business because you are breeding to order, or retailing for profit. Simple as that, in my humble opinion. The KC have a huge responsibility in this regard and they have the power and should feel the protection towards dogs to stop this trading. Sadly they won't because they are one of the biggest benefactors from dogs, they have generated and keep huge sums of money that should be ploughed back into rescue, health, education, and control of breeders. It would be good for dogs if there were more people who selflessly put themselves forward in defence of dogs, I wish I was braver and less sickened by what I have seen and learned these past few months. The thousands of mistreated dogs who end up in rescue is tragic and it is these dogs that should be receiving a lot more consideration and to do this the Government will have to start to legislate to restrict dog breeding if dog breeders are unwilling to self regulate.

    16. Hi Georgina, thanks for replying to my query.

      I thought that letting each adult person to have one litter per year would be reasonable, but a friend with Chihuahuas said that 2 puppies per litter was common, but one puppy per litter was common too, but it was rare to have three surviving puppies in the same litter.

      But a person raising Great Danes, with 8 - 10 puppies per litter, hardly needs a second litter, if none of the puppies in a big litter look worth keeping, then the breeder did something wrong.

      I believe the difference in outlooks amoung dog breeders is between kennel owners, and dog owners who see their dogs as family. You wouldn't expect a new baby in your home every year, why would need a new litter of puppies every year?

      Which method is best? People have been using the eugentics method, or some variety of that method, and in many breeds it has failed horribly and left some breeds so pained and inbred it is wondered if their breeds can survive or if they are doomed.

      With a home cottage type breeding program, limiting each home to one litter per year, if a breeder makes a mistake it only affects that one litter. And it increases genetic variability, especially if female dogs are limited to one litter per year, and male dogs limited to one or two litters per year.

      But people who produce puppies as livestock can't live off the income of one litter per year.

      And show people are not always accustom to the idea of just breeding their "best to the best, and hoping for the best" even though that is a very common expression.

      I favor the idea of all dogs passing some type of test in obedience, field, dog sports, or show before being bred. Not that they have to be a champion in obedience, but all pet dogs should be able to walk on a leash in a park with other dogs, play nicely if let loose in the park, stand still and let himself be groomed by a stranger without biting, and stay put whilst his owner goes to the loo, and to come whenever called even if there s something exciting like a cat, squirrel, other dogs, or meat dropped on the ground.

    17. "Nobody, absolutely nobody needs to breed a litter a year. At most (preferably longer) it should be every three years unless there was a tragedy."

      If you have dogs of a bloodline that is unusual for the breed and in danger of being lost, and there are other breeders who want puppies from these dogs in the name of diversity, it is perfectly reasonable and good for the breed to have a litter a year in my opinion. Some breeders will also co-own pups from litters where they don't have time or room to keep a puppy, if the pedigree is something they want. There are also complicating factors. If one wishes to keep from a bitch, one would normally want to have the puppy to keep towards the end of the bitch's breeding lifespan. It is risky to wait until a bitch is 6 years old or older to breed from her for the first time. She could suffer dystocia or other complications. Usually, if you are intending to breed your bitch, it's advisable to plan her first litter when she's 2 or 3, even if you don't keep a pup. That way she should cope better with another litter when she's older. Also, the KC has decreed that if your bitch was produced by AI, she must produce a litter naturally before they will register a litter from her produced by AI. This means that if you want to import semen and there is no stud dog in the country you think is worth using on her, you must breed a litter you have no need for before you can breed the litter you want.

      "I favor the idea of all dogs passing some type of test in obedience, field, dog sports, or show before being bred."

      The KC Good Citizen scheme is great for this. :-)

    18. > Huh? Since when is "BorderWars" a name? That's just as anonymous as "Anonymous."

      LMAO. The profile linked from every comment has my full name at least twice. My e-mail which is listed is my full name. At the bottom of every post, including the one linked to here by Jemima, is my full name and at the top of every post is my first name. The ABOUT link on my blog which is visible at the top of every single page also leads to a clear stating of my full name and a photo.

      My blog is also hosted at my kennel address which if you dig should include my phone number and is registered to my home address. So yeah, totally anonymous.

    19. Hi Anons 19:32 and 00:08. Lots of valid points, I had to read them both twice because they were interesting and thought provoking. Inevitably there are going to be exceptions to the rule, regarding the number of puppies per litter. I was focusing most of my comments towards show breeders so a bit of tunnelled vision, probably because I showed for many years and with the sickening revelations of the past few months, it is where the most damage to a breed occurs. During my show years I met some really lovely, genuine dog lovers who, like me, just enjoyed showing and an occasional litter, their pet dogs as pure escapism. But there were also the hard bitten, competitive breeders, at the time I was blind to them, but not now. I researched through the year books and the catalogues and it was alarming to find so many puppies bred and the income generated. Total disregard for the breed, just their own self glory and MONEY. However, or for whatever reason a litter of puppies is bred there will have to be constraints either self regulated or to be successful, an outside body will have to regulate/intervene. But the cheats will get around it because the financial aspect is what drives their involvement in dogs because it certainly, definately, isn't love or respect. In essence there are too many dogs being bred for money universally, not for their welfare or well being, just money and it has to stop. The point about breeding from unusual/rare bloodlines is valid, but the people who breed for money will not use them, their arrogance and self belief is so powerful they won't "stoop that low". They don't care about the breed they just want the money. It is why some of the pedigree dogs are suffering so badly, it's wicked and immoral. JH's ethos on keeping dogs is a beacon that is pale grey at the moment but as time passes it will come to blind us and it will be a revelation. Dogs regardless of their background, need our kindness and consideration, most of them were bred by humans and if we want to play god in that regard then we should follow through. Every action has a reaction and we choose to interfere with another species and it's future and we need to slow down NOW before it is too late. Dogs love being part of our homes and lives, they embrace our lifestyles, they forgive our shortcomings, they just accept whatever we do to them, for them, but we have to remember we chose them, they may not have chosen us if circumstances were different. In essence we excercise our right to choose and be free, but our dogs cannot and we shouldn't forget it.

    20. Hi Anon 936,

      A bad sell takes two, the buyer who should not bought, and the seller who should not have sold.

      But the buyer usually has little experience in knowing which puppies are healthy, or how they will grow. Some sellers are inexperienced too.

      But dog breeders who have raised and shown dogs for years, should be held to a higher standard of honesty, because they should understand what they are doing better than a person who sells puppies because a male dog jumped his garden fence, or a person just wanting to buy a pet.

      One says things which are not true because he is repeating what he was told was a fact, the other lies to sell more puppies or to get more money for them.

      It might nice if people became more honest with each year that they were dog breeders. But people are what they are.

    21. Hi Anon 23:07, spot on. Honesty, openness, transparency should be the human mantra for selling anything, especially a live, young, vulnerable creature. We have all had experience of buying something we know absolutely nothing about. Buying a car for instance, we see, we like it, we buy it. We don't in truth, well most females anyway, don't have a scooby about how it works, provided it is pretty and starts that's just fine by us. The same thing applies to people buying a pet, if they are new owners, they rely on the breeder, supplier's honesty, and buy the puppy. If they see a dirty yard and smelly containers, they may think that this is the norm because they have no experience. They should do their research but a lot of us don't aka the car. Now the established breeder, because their main interest in their dogs is money driven after a period of time when selling puppies they become immune to the puppy, they see the litter as objects, pieces of hardware for sale to anybody. They preach that they care but they can't because they wouldn't breed so many puppies in the first place, there is no grey area, it is black and white. The person who tried to claim expenses etc is so typical, shameful really. One could take the view that if they weren't breeding puppies and making money then they wouldn't offer any welfare for their dogs. The dogs would be just pieces of furniture that happens to be in the house, the only difference being that it needs food and walks otherwise it can be ignored. Any population that hits rock bottom cannot be saved in essence. It becomes a cruelty case almost because of the pain and suffering for the animals bred to bring it back "up". An animal that has any deformity or illness that is made to breed is so cruel, to be in so much pain and discomfort and barely able to support itself, a bitch that has to carry and whelp puppies and then rear them is an horrendous thought, the poor bitch, I do hope that whatever the species in this state is given due consideration and compassion. As JH has pointed out, if people continue to breed from dogs who have real conformation problems, they really must look at themselves and understand what they are perpetuating. They should cover their nose and mouth with a thick cloth and then run around with a sack of potatoes on their back, with a stone in their shoe, then they would understand what dogs who have breathing/conformation problems experience, day in day out etc etc. Unrelenting discomfort, suffering. How I hope they review their position, but they won't because they are so entrenched in their arrogance and self belief.

  9. I'd have to go back a year in the blog to find my multitude of comments on this topic, but I'll sum it up again here: Dogs ARE wolves, specifically, as a sub species made through domestication, altering its brain, behavior, genes and body through a complex, and at least unnatural way I suspect.

    All wolves are scientifically canis lupus or "Grey Wolves". This is termed a species. Though the definition of what a "species" is in question, a general code to stand by is that they can successfully make fertile offspring.

    All dogs are scientifically canis lupus familiaris, or "Domestic Dog", which in my opinion is almost redundant, though some dogs that survived in the wild are becoming more feral again like Dingos.

    But is it becoming a new species? Yes, definitely, but terms are not absolute in the natural world. Even the whole graphic tree of life is in question once horizontal gene transfer was studied enough. So the term is relative, but to have some semblance of common language to not confuse ourselves when talking among each other on related topics, it is best to have some sense of order to it.

    Just saying, for example, that 99.9% of all DNA in us as humans is the same, may be correct, but its obvious some of us make very different altercations, not the least of which are life-threatening genetically inherent-ed disorders. Not to mention the newly discovered importance of RNA, and the topic of junk DNA puts yet other pressures for what actually matters in life-shaping. It makes it very confusing to say the least for the general population to understand.... So simply pointing out that wolves have a more than 0.1% difference in DNA from dogs is nearly moot.

    As a last point, I do hope they make good progress in these studies, so that my argument can be proven or soundly shown as false. The reports of abuse in using these funds for other non-scientific purposes makes me a bit queasy though. Even the most honorable person can think twice when given that much money to use....

    1. Dingos technically aren't classified as feral dogs. Their scientific name "Canis lupus dingo, a subspecies of grey wolf separate from the familiar common dog, Canis lupus familiaris". Technical feral dog breeds are considered pariah dogs, all Pariah dogs are feral But not all feral dogs are Pariah dogs :)

      I figure since THIS IS Pedigree dogs exposed we might at least use the pedigree classifications lol. The UKC classifies sighthounds and pariah dogs in the same group. The group consists of the:Afghan Hound, Azawakh, Basenji, Borzoi, Canaan Dog, Carolina Dog, Chart Polski (Polish Greyhound), Cirneco dell'Etna, Greyhound, Hungarian Greyhound (Magyar Agar), Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Pharaoh Hound, Podenco Canario, Podengo Portugueso, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Silken Windhound, Sloughi, Spanish Greyhound, Thai Ridgeback, Whippet, Xoloitzcuintli"

      Sorry for being so lteral. I totally get what you are saying I just compulsively had to correct you about the Dingo thing :D

    2. Daniela, I see dingos as feral dogs because they are not native to Australia but came there in canoes. People wouldn't have brought a wild dog with them in a canoe.

      But I undestand the feeling of a need to express whatever we have been taught. But the same time, I also feel the need to talk about things where what I have been taught doesn't match with what I can see now.

      So even if the powers that be disagree with me I will question words that don't match up with my own experiences, reserving the right to change my opinion when someone elses ideas seems wiser than my own.

    3. SkyArk, I'd group dogs with wolves scienticically too.

      But in common lingo I think that when people ask if dogs are wolves, they really mean, if they get one as a puppy will it grow up tame like a dog?

      And the phrase "tame like a dog" means different things to different people.

      I have had neighbors whose dogs I would not call tame. A tame dog sees people as one of his own kind. He may bark at you or he may greet you. He may very aggressively try to scare you away from his turf.

      But a dog who stares at you like a lion would, especially if he drops his withers like a cat towards a bird, and then silently rushs you - that is a dog who doesn't see you as a member of his own species.

      I would say that most dogs view people as other dogs, some dogs view themselves and us as both people, some wary dogs view themselves as zebra living amoung us well fed wolves - they never really trust us, but some dogs view themsleves as a lucky predator living amoung stupid sheep.

    4. Daniel, I wasn't referring to dingos as domestic dogs, as they are merely a sub-species on its own that was started from domesticated dogs becoming more feral again. I didn't want to complicate an already complicated issue though, so I left out that reference.

      Dingos are a very frustrating topic that must put dog-breed namers in a frenzy. They were started off as unwanted or escaped dogs in a place that originally did not have any dog population (only around 10,000 years ago), but then they DID mingle/mate with natural wild canis lupus species. So its basically a hybrid of domestic dog with grey wolves relative to that region. The whole debate is exactly how this happened. Were "wolves" already there? Why are they so genetically close to some specific dog breeds? What the hell do you classify a sub-species when it mates with other sub-species and becomes a sub-species (canis lupus dingo) on its own? Its stupidly complex, and I didn't want to bring that up too much. For all I know all this info is false and they just happened to parallel an evolution of close genes into looking like dogs but with feral behavior.

    5. When you say ". . . this info is false" are you referring to the scientific classification of the dingo er scientific name (not sure what makes more grammatical sense) or something different?

      If you are talking about the breeds of dogs that the UKC lists under the pariah dog/sighthound group then I understand your skepticism. I myself am not entirely sure pariah dogs and sighthounds are grouped together. The Carolina Dog for example is a primitive sighthound that has been unchanged by humans until recently.

      according to the dictionary Pariah dog is another term for pye-dog. "pye-dog [pahy-dawg, -dog] Show IPA
      an ownerless half-wild dog of uncertain breeding, common in the villages and towns of India and other countries in east and south Asia.
      Also, pi-dog.

      1860–65; pye said to be < Hindi pāhī outsider"

    6. According to the Dingo Discovery Centre " Pure dingoes can never become 'domesticated' while they remain pure. They are genetically locked into their primitiveness. Similar to what has occurred globally with wolves, coyotes and other wild canid species, which are all able to interbreed, only by crossing with domesticated breeds can the integrity of this genetic blueprint become impaired. " they talk about the origin of the Dingo on this site if you are interested. (I didn't get my first post on Dingos from here so my info might be different)

    7. "They were started off as unwanted or escaped dogs in a place that originally did not have any dog population (only around 10,000 years ago), but then they DID mingle/mate with natural wild canis lupus species. ???" Canis lupus, in Australia? The only mammalian predators south of Wallace's Line were marsupial...before the dingo came along.

    8. I don't study dingos specifically, that's why I said my info might be false. But there is one thing I can laugh at in what dingodiscovery said. "They are genetically locked into their primitiveness." That's the most ironic conclusion I've heard in a long time. The whole point of studies like these is, in the long run, to find out exactly how wolves were transformed into domesticated dogs without any previous dog to breed with. Wildness in any species is the default, so to say it can't became domesticated because of that.... What? Did domesticated wolves bred with other wolves to get dogs? Then where they hell did those "domesticated" wolves come from? Its like saying reptiles couldn't have become mammals simply because there were only pure reptile blueprints. The Silver Fox Experiment proved without a doubt that we can domesticate with only pure "wild" counterparts. It just takes a long time. 10,000 years is far more than enough for a lot of intermingles with dogs and dingos to go down.

      But enough, I don't really care about dingos specifically. I'll just end it here. Like I said, I didn't want to complicate the issue with sub-species classifications like with dingos, but it seems obvious you want to talk about it. Just do it with someone else please.

    9. I'm sorry I was just trying to answer your question geez.

      You answered my origional statement and I didn't entirely understand your answer so I asked you to clarify what you meant. I said what I said because I was trying to see if we were on the same page of if we were have a misunderstanding. If I really wanted to debate about it I would have researched it a lot more thoroughly.

      A couple Anonymous posters questioned what I said so I was clarifying myself so they could better understand what I meant.

    10. boo spelling errors I meant "see if we were on the same page or if we were having a misunderstanding." instead of "see if we were on the same page of if we were have a misunderstanding."

  10. I have done some fairly extensive study into wolves. In my region (Pacific NW) we are just in the last few years seeing the wolf packs return....dispesinghundreds of miles from the Yellowstone & Idaho wolf restoration project wolves which I have followed since it's beginning.

    While it is true that wolves in the wild do inbreed to a certain degree they also outcross quite a bit in the wild as well due to their far ranging territories (that may overlap with other packs) and due to new genetic specimens via wolves dispersing from other packs and forming new packs or joining other existing packs. This is fairly well documented behavior observed in our region...with wolves moving on from one pack to another. Doug Smith, David Mech and others have written more on this.

    Only in captivity,in VERY isolated packs or in areas where the viability of gene pools are threatened by over-hunting, is the degree of inbreeding so high and gene pools so small. Typically such situations are often engineered by human encroachment and further compromised because prey selection by human hunters most often results in the taking of the strongest and heartiest of genetic specimens whereas natural pack losses usually effect the weaker (and often genetically inferior) specimens. This "over-harvesting" of wolves by humans not only limits the size of the gene pool, it also often compromizes the viability of the gene pool.

    In the isolated Isle Royale wolves, as with captive packs, there can be no genetic diversity...but this is an anomally, not the typical natural design of the species life cycle. In nature, in most wild packs, there is much more genetic diversity due to dispersing wolves.

  11. I visited a Morgan horse breeder decades ago, who was inbreeding his stock. First generation looked good, sound with lots of breed type but the more inbred they were, the more obvious the faults. There is the issue of one offspring (normally) vs many for dogs but still...seeing such obvious negative results really stuck with me. Even though I was pretty much a snot nosed kid (yeah, a LONG time ago)

    1. Hi Mona, nothing like seeing it first hand.

      People say that you can see health problems in cats in a few generations, but maybe it is the same in dogs but we overlook their pain or problems and call them cute.

  12. Jemima,

    I don't remember any wolves in PDE, what part were they in?

    How did you read the wolves? Did they look at you as part of their pack? a member of a rival pack? a member of some species not there own? dinner for wolves?

    Were they friendly like a bird dog? Aloof? Scary? Would you trust them enough to let a child in with them?

    Did you get to go in with adult wolves? Will you be going back? Did they have good show dog gaits?

    I know you might be busy so if you don't answer, I understand.

  13. There is some recent thinking that the dog ancestor of the Dingo is a much more recent arrival in Australia, 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

  14. Regardless of what came first and why animals in the wild do or don't inbreed - the fact is - when man gets involved in changing the natural course of breeding - the opportunity for mutations to thrive and continue to produce new mutations becomes a norm as breeders chase the all-mighty dollar brought about by breeding for specific "breed types" within a specific breed. Unfortunately, the breed, no matter it's origin is forever changed. Breeders, as a whole, don't know the first thing about genetics - and yet - they inbreed onward - waiting for the new mutation that will create the new "money maker" and notoriety that comes with it.

    But alas - as in the Chinese Shar-pei breed; perpetual inbreeding to produce new and more exciting "breed-specific types," has brought about mutations that produce dogs, which die far too young from painful, debilitating, grueling and completely unnecessary diseases. And, it's only getting worse.

    I do need to mention that there are responsible breeders who purpose to keep from perpetuating this horrible plight brought upon the breed. However, even their lack of genetic knowledge doesn't ensure protecting the Shar-pei from such a deadly fate!

    Hopefully, before it's too late for what's known as the "Western" Shar-pei - breeders wanting to save the breed - rather than exploiting it - might choose to breed these Shar-pei with what is referred to as the "Traditional" Shar-pei. Traditional Shar-pei, as a whole, do not have the life-altering and deadly diseases that have been brought about by "selective" inbreeding!!

    As aforementioned, in my opinion - when man gets involved - it really no longer matters which came first; the wolf, the dog or the dingo - unless it motivates man to reverse any damage it's done by manipulating the natural course of evolution.

    1. I agree with your sentiments, but your science is off. Mutations that might affect show value are so rare that they can be ignored. It is estimated that the total number of mutations in the human genome is only about 70 per generation. (1) This includes neutral mutations. Mutation rates seem to be similar for all mammalian species (2). The calculations require a lot of assumptions and extrapolation, but any way they are done, the genome mutation rare is very low. It is reasonable to think
      The problem is concentration of past deleterious mutations through inbreeding and loss of diversity.



    2. Hi Jennifer, I agree that one of the main problems in dog breeding is just as you posted:

      "The problem is concentration of past deleterious mutations through inbreeding and loss of diversity."

      But mutations do occur in animal species every year. In the wild, major mutations are often fatal or prevent social and reproductive success for the animal. But breeders of domestic animals, especially pet animals, often love new mutation of form or colour. Goldfish have show varieties, pigeons have show varieties, cats have show varieties - I saw a magazine this week at the store with a curly eared cat on the cover, and loads of dog breeds are based on mutations.

      One of the more easily correctable problems in dog breeding is when people breed FOR mutations, like Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders breeding FOR the ridgeback. They could easily have two varieties in their breed, The Ridged, and The Ridgeless. Just a little change on a piece of paper, and a few brave people to try it out. Then they would be "allowing" the mutation, instead of breeding for it.

      Much of what I recall from the PDE film was about show dog breeders breeding FOR harmful mutations. These problems could be corrected, sometimes very easily with a few words added to a show standard, as in the case above with Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

      The other problem which you mentioned, inbreeding and the side effects of inbreeding, are not always visible, and so it is harder to educate dog breeders about this problem, so I am glad you mentioned it as it is a very harmful habit which some dog breeders practice.

    3. Has anyone confirmed that these things are NEW mutations, rather than recessive genes or complexes in some complex pattern of inheritance that just show up from time to time? I'd bet the ridge on the ridgeback was in the gene pool long before the breed was named. Ditto many other "mutations".

    4. Has anyone confirmed that these things are NEW mutations, rather than recessive genes or complexes in some complex pattern of inheritance that originated from mutations in the distant past and just show up from time to time due to chance combinations? I'd bet the ridge on the ridgeback was in the gene pool long before the breed was named. Ditto many other "mutations". For example, both bob-tail and Merle genes are lethal recessives. They appear in many breeds and in species other than the dog. I believe the bob-tail gene is also found in the Manx cat. Deleterious recessives can survive in a genome for millions of years, and can be passed on from one genome to another as species evolve.

    5. The ridge has been seen in village dogs, aka "Africanis".

      The Rhodesian Ridgeback descends from European dogs crossed with village dogs. It's easy to imagine a dog combining the best of both worlds - large size and hunting drive of the European dog; combined with the surefooted, sturdy, heat-resistant native.

      If some of the crossbred dogs also had a novelty ridge, that would of course be what the human eye seeks out. Just like certain colors become "signatures" - it's popular in the beginning stages of breed development, or one very successful dog has the trait (like sable and white rough collies - one of the first highly successful show dogs was a sable. Part of the reason the dog was so notable was that sable was not a common color).

    6. I suspect that the majority of traits people are referring to here are caused by recessive alleles, and not necessarily mutations. True mutations are fairly rare, but recessive alleles are not. Such alleles could exist in the genome for a long time and only rarely surface, but the frequency would be increased through selective breeding.

    7. Hi Jennifer,

      The search term I think you are looking for is "spontaneous mutation". You can also google "new dominant mutation".

      There are many examples of spontaneous mutations in DNA. Often the DNA strand gets twisted and is not aligned correctly, resulting in an error which causes a mutation. Once this occurs, it is then inherited from parent to offspring.

      Most of these mutations will be recessive or partially so. But once you find a doubled up mutation, it is difficut to know how far back the mutation occurred.

      It is easier to spot dominant mutations, if neither parent has it but the offspring does have it, then it is a spontaneous mutation. But remember that a mutated allele maybe dominant but not expressed. The Merle color is a dominant gene. It merles black coat color. But it wont be seen on a red coat pattern because there are no black hairs to merle, but the gene is still there and may turn one or both eyes blue.

      A good example of spontaneous mutation is when two people with regular leg lengths produce a baby who is a dwarf. The dwarf gene is dominant, so how did this happen? No, the mother was not having 'a little' fun.

      Most human dwarfs come from regular sized parents. They get their single dominant dwarf gene through spontaneous mutation. But dwarf people can pass this gene onto their children. When two dwarfs marry, some of their children may get two copies of this gene and die at birth.

      In dogs we seemed to get these double dominants to live, producing whole breeds of dogs who bred true for this dominant gene, which would usually be lethal in the double dominant. Sadly, these dogs often suffer serious health problems.

      It would be possible to accept dwarf bassets along with foxhounds, as two varieties of one breed. By not breeding two dwarf bassets together but with a regular legged foxhound, you can breed for the dwarf condition without getting the double dwarf condition like seen in bassets.

      It seems that the heterozygous bassets are not usually as extreme. Someone who reads French and understands hound genetics could look into it better than I can, my knowledge of bassets is only theoretical.

  15. Is it not possible to take into the island one outside wolf every few years? That would probably keep the necessary genetic diversity for the population to be viable.

    1. Wolves kill other wolves viciously when encroached upon in territory.

    2. If this were true, all wolves would be heavily inbred. Yes, it should be possible. In past decades, ice bridges allowed this to happen in cold years. It's becoming less common for ice bridges to form, and thus new blood is not being introduced naturally.

    3. Without trying to research a whole topic just to post a comment, let me say that I understand that a large grown grey wolf male did come over the ice about 16 years ago.

      There is a photo of what might be him and some other wolves in an article about the Isle Royale wolves at in the June 15 2012 issue - you can google it. The photo shows what might be the Old Grey Guy Wolf, the one who came to the island in 1997, as larger and heavier muzzled than the local wolf pack. It is my understanding that he enjoyed good reproductive success and that many of the islands wolves are now inbred on him as well as the original wolves.

      The same article also mentions reseachers finding a radio collared wolf and two other wolves in a mine shaft with water in it. Maybe they drowned.

      Maybe they jumped in the well because of some inherited flaw, or followed natural inpulses, or maybe a hunter came to the island to kill wolves and then tossed their bodies in the mine. I don't know.

      Places where mining has been done often have toxic chemicals near them, and these can poison the water. But the spine abnormalities seen in Isle Royale wolf skeletons are believed to be from inbreeding.

      Why he was not killed by the other wolves is not known. Maybe he was just too much bigger, more vigorous, and stronger jawed? Maybe the local wolves were too weak to fight him? Maybe the female wolves just loved him on first sight? Maybe the other wolves watched him and said "This wolf can hunt! and happily welcomed into their pack?

      Whatever, it worked and it didn't work. He got in, he bred, his cubs had cubs, but it seems like it was too little too late to save the population.

      What about bulldogs, pekes, and pugs?

      The problem about introducing new wolves to Isle Royale is believed to be that you would have to keep getting bigger stronger wolves each time. Unless male fighting is not so important to selection as female choice.

      With High Profile Breeds it is a totally different situation except that both groups have bottlenecked breeding into condictions difficult to breed out of by using the estabished breeding methods. With the High Profile breeds, people are asking if it is worth the bother to try to save them. The problem isn't with how to guide the breeding on a better path, but how to get people to agree to change.

    4. I never said it was impossible, just that when there is an established territory it is much harder to do. Intermingles are common, but are mostly in areas that are neutral.

    5. With the world warming up,the only answer would be to CONSTANTLY replace degenerate old packs with new, vibrant packs(as needed.)

  16. Hi Boxer, I think SkyArk is correct and the "interloper" would be killed on introduction. The other negative in this regard is that I have learned since being on this site is that if a bloodline/species has reached the end, it is terminal, literally. Some very sound comments were made that by trying to save one breed/bloodline/species by introducing another bloodline won't necessarily start an improvement, but will weaken the strong new genes from the new bloodline, thus the new population is carrying genes that one part didn't have until mixed with the "terminals". I think the consequence is that though delayed for a period of time, the new population is doomed. I, like most of us, would feel compelled to try and save the desired breed/bloodline/species but the practicalities of achieving same may not be worth the suffering of the sick animals produced when trying to save the "whole". It is a sad thought, and I do wonder how long it will be that the breeds we see and love today will disappear from our lives.

  17. How about they collect semen from an unrelated male wolf from a zoo etc., shoot an island wolf bitch in heat with a tranquiliser dart, inseminate her with the semen from the foreign wolf, and then release her again when she is out of oestrus?

    Loss of diversity is simply increased homozygosity. It isn't terminal and won't destroy an outcross, as long as the endangered line is outcrossed sufficiently before being allowed to breed back into the dying line (the genetic balance needs to be well over 50% from unrelated outcrossing in the new population, so you need to do a lot of outcrossing and you need a lot of individuals to outcross to who are as different to each other as possible. Of course the problem here is that once the population has reached this critical point, in order to save it, so much new genetic material has to be introduced that what you end up with isn't really island wolf any more, but generic wolf from elsewhere with island wolf flavouring. The same problem will be faced by breeds if they get into the state where a lot of outcrossing needs to be done for them to survive -- it will take a lot of outcrossing and a very long time of managing a stable population of dogs who probably will not look and behave like the breed before there can begin an extremely slow and careful effort to select for the phenotype again.

  18. I don't buy this argument. Where's the evidence? The interloper known as 'Old Grey Guy' made it to Isle Royale in 1997 and sired a lot of pups. Without his contribution, the population would probably have hit the rocks a decade earlier.

    True, outcrossing dilutes but does not eliminate deleterious genes. But dilution, followed by selection, may do the trick. After all, in the wild, to keep equilibrium, on average, each mated pair will have no more than two offspring that survive to reproduce. Pup mortality is always going to be high, and pups with less viable genes (your 'sick' pups) will go first.

    Natural selection is cruel. If all pups survived, pretty soon it would be hunger doing the thinning instead of disease.

    Introducing outside bloodlines would at least give natural selection more good genes to work with.

    1. P.s. as for the details of how to introduce new blood, here's an interesting quote from someone who keeps and breeds wolves: "
      Wolves do not readily accept new pack members. Usually only the
      dominant pair are allowed to mate in a family, though there are
      exceptions to this thought. How do they keep from in-breeding in the

      Many times, shortly after the pack has ceased carrying food to the cubs
      at about 5 to 7 months and they are following to rendezvous points, a
      cub will get lost and its howling and crying will attract cubs from
      other packs. This is the time that strangers are more readily accepted

      and the cubs bring in these strangers and due to intermingling of scent,
      they are usually accepted. It is at this period that the cubs are the
      most ingratiating, also, and this helps them to be adopted." Source:

  19. Using outcross as a tool to improve a breed just takes common sense and a little know how.

    But writing up plans on how to use this tool wont be so easy, because each person already understands only how they have been breeding, plus what they learned from reading authorities in their breed, and listening mostly to show based breeders.

    And some of that is how we got to where we are now. Change is based on the leaders seeing what is wrong and blazing a new path for others who are going down the wrong road.

    Change has to start with a good sized group of dog people who can see the obvious faults in front of them, not people repeating all the old ideas which are not working.

    People can learn to see the faults in their dogs. PDE the film showed this to people, teaching them what they didn't know before. But some dog people just wont admit that their breed has health problems and that they need help in learning a better way to have healthier puppies.

    1. Exactly. Some people see change as a threat to their power and their status as opposed to an opportunity to learn, grow and in this case do what is best for the future health and wellbeing of the dog as a species. Odd isn't it?

      These people will be left behind while the new generation of more educated and smarter dog breeders work within a more refined and ethical framework based on what we understand from science and nature. because change is in inevitable. Resistance is futile. Things usually have a habit of working out for the best and indeed it is these very 'change - resistant' people that the dog breeding world will be better off without.

    2. Hi Anon 1903,

      I enjoyed reading your comment. But then I felt guilty for enjoying it. I really want to bring as many people as possible into a better future.

      Some dog breeders are profitting from the current situation - either with money or the thrill or winning, or sometimes with feelings they have of pride being in shows.

      Maybe they would change but maybe only if they guessed that a new situation would be better for them. Not what is best for people buying one of their puppies, the dogs themselves, their club, or the future of dog lovers. I don't blame them for their attitude. But if they breed sick or emotionally unfit puppies, that's just wrong.

      But other people are young in their hearts, and willing to look at the world in new ways, and make changes which will make their community and country a better place to live.

      And living where the puppy you buy has high chance of expensive and heart-hurting health problems is depressing if you but one and love him. And wouldn't everyone want their country to be the one known for producing the best dogs? Otherwise it is like if your local teams lose all the time.

      The direction of the tides of change are good. But I'd rather more pople swim with the tide than get drowned by it.

    3. Anon 19:03 here. I'd rather more people swam with the tide than drowned with it too. Of course I would. I want what is best for nature. But you can't change people - you can only show them the light and the way. It's up to them to swim or drown. Egotism is the problem.

  20. Pedigree Dogs Exposed – Three Years On was finally broadcasted in Finland! (but for some reason it was broadcasted in the middle of the night)

  21. because that is when the nutters are awake and tv spots are cheap.