Saturday 26 April 2014

AKC sticks knife in. To itself

HBO's Real Sports threw its hat in to the show-ring last Monday night with a 15 minute piece exploring the problems in purebred dogs.

You can watch it here:

There has been the predictable caterwauling from AKC breeders claiming that it was all an animal-rights-influenced hatchet-job - and from the American Kennel Club itself, which has issued a release accusing the well-regarded Real Sports show of  "hiding their real agenda" and of "betraying a promise of fairness and balance" (read it here).

The AKC even stooped so low as to accuse the presenter Soledad O'Brien of hating dogs - as if somehow she would be acting alone and not merely the front-end of an Emmy-award-winning production team that spent some months researching the story.

The basis of this accusation turns out to be that in 2009 the housing co-op where O'Brien lived asked a tenant to leave because of their Neapolitan Mastiff - a huge great, slobbery, gassy beast called Ugo.  The co-op allows pets. The issue in this case was purely this one particular dog. All the tenants  wanted the dog gone, but it was O'Brien, as secretary of the co-op, who signed the eviction order.

Ergo, in AKC-logic-land, O'Brien hates all dogs.

The AKC also released the following video, claiming it proves that Real Sports left vital stuff on the cutting room floor. It of course does nothing of the sort. All it does is show two very uncomfortable AKC reps refusing to answer direct questions while continuing with glassy-eyed insistence that AKC breeders follow a breed standard that ensures "happy, healthy dogs". 

My favourite bit of this (if it wasn't so tragic) has got to be vet and dog-show exhibitor Cindy O'Connor claiming that the Bulldogs she sees in her practice are perfectly healthy.  And yet, as she explains, she is a reprovet - i.e. someone who specialises in fertility problems, artificial insemination and assisted births.

Over 80 per cent of Bulldogs cannot mate or whelp naturally. They are, on average, dead by the age of six. The flat face and wrinkles often cause severe breathing problems and intractable skin infections. They are the No 1 breed for hip dyslpasia. That there may be some that defy the odds and lead relatively sound lives (and of course there are some) can never be an excuse.

O'Connor's defence of Bulldogs - in the face of such compelling evidence of the suffering the breed endures as a direct result of selective breeding endorsed by the AKC and other registries - is a  bona fide disgrace.

I hope one day she'll see it for what is is: a terrible, terrible betrayal of the dogs she claims to champion.

The problem for the AKC - and it will happen every time the AKC is exposed to investigative media scrutiny -  is that however often you repeat the mantra "happy, healthy dogs" (and boy does the AKC repeat it), it is entirely unconvincing when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

Investigative journalists are never going to be persuaded by claims that everything is OK because breeders love their dogs or because the AKC Health Foundation puts millions into health research. Journalists want to see hard data that this love and money has had a measurable impact on dog health.

But of course the AKC is scared of initiating this kind of research in case it confirm the critics' claims. It knows, deep down, that its foundations are built on the sand of unsound science - the idea that you can improve a breed by trapping it in a closed gene pool and selecting for primarily cosmetic features.

And so, when poked, the AKC either defaults to "we're only a registry!" or it cries foul, launching ad hominem attacks on everyone who calls them out on purebred dog health in an attempt to discredit the claims.

It convinces no one but its own congregation - and I choose that word deliberately.

But at the end of the day there is no real driver for change in the US; no one insisting that the AKC backs up its claims that it is in the business of "happy, healthy dogs".

And so we continue on a merry-go-round of accusations and denial with the dogs caught in the middle.

If it wasn't for the fact that dogs are suffering needlessly, we should all just let the AKC die a natural death. It is half way there already with its public image at an all-time low and registrations dropping like a stone.

So what's to be done about this impasse?

I have one suggestion: the American veterinary profession needs to man-up.

Shortly after Pedigree Dogs Exposed aired here in the UK, this headline appeared in the Veterinary Times.

Click to enlarge
This and similar editorials encouraged UK vets to stand up and speak out as a profession. It was this perhaps more than anything else that put pressure on the Kennel Club in the UK to initiate reform  after Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

American breeders insist on seeing the changes as some kind of hideous victory for animal rights activists and they think UK breeders ares nancies for tolerating it. But I have no doubt that history will document the upheaval as a turning point that resulted in a better deal for the dogs - at least short-term. (Long-term, purebred dogs are dead in the water unless much more change is implemented.)

Indeed, it is evident that UK breeders are now some way ahead in terms of understanding the importance of genetic diversity, the damage done by inbreeding and popular sires, the problems associated with exaggerated features. The Swedish and Finnish Kennel Clubs are, of course, even further ahead.

Furthermore, the changes in the UK have not come at a legislative level, as many feared. (We have a Government in the UK that much prefers self-regulation.) Nope, the changes have come because the KC has been pushed into providing better education of breeders and some useful tools, such as Mate Select, to help breeders and buyers make better choices.

Here's one comment from one Bulldog fan on the Real Sports Facebook page, clearly unaware that the Conservatives are currently in power in the UK and that it is, ultimately, impossible to DNA test your way out of trouble within the current breeding paradigm (and certainly not the way she's suggesting it is done).

A final note... the Real Sports piece was a considerable PR coup for Wayne Cavanaugh who runs the AKC's main rival, the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Now Cavanaugh has yet to implement the kind of meaningful reforms within the UKC that will result in real health improvements - and the UKC is probably as guilty as the AKC when it comes to registering puppy mill dogs. But, unlike the AKC, Cavanaugh has at least introduced some changes to his breed standards and he is prepared to speak out despite the fact that it could be commercial suicide.

Cavanaugh is a former vice president of the AKC (and used to co-present the Crufts TV coverage here in the UK).  He undoubtedly "gets it" -  I met him in Washington a couple of years ago and found him a breath of fresh air.

Mind you, I am always rather grateful to meet anyone in the showdog-game who doesn't spit in my face.


  1. The HBO crew were lazy. Bottom line. They actually had a great tale to tell and blew it. The tale is that the AKC is COLLAPSING because it has not reformed.

    Almost everything Cavanaugh said is this piece was a distortion bordering on a lie. Disgraceful. The AKC has an excuse -- a Byzantine bureaucracy. Cavanaugh does not.

    1. Cavanaugh is a great asset to the hope that real change can be implemented for the dogs. He carries his authority of past position within the AKC to the front lines. What exactly did he say that was a "distortion bordering on a lie."?

  2. LOL. Socialist country! LOL

    I couldn't read it after those words.

    So unlike these idiots, I've been to both countries. I was there when it was under "socialist" rule by Tony Blair.

    Uh no.

    The big banks were having more fun in the UK in those days than they were in the US!

    Most of what exists in dogs is a cult. And there are many kinds of cults.

    Even a half-wit like me has "followers."

    I just don't understand it.

  3. In the end, the reason why I don't blog as much as I used to or try to write for publications is that 90 percent of dogs is dealing with a bunch of very secular canine worshiping "religions."

    And if you try to have a conversation with a fundamentalist about why what they believe is crazy, then you'll have a good understanding of what this entails.

    1. Exactly, it is a fundamentalist mindset. The breed standards are treated like gospels.

    2. This is so very true! Trust me, I have tried for years to break thru this fundamentalist mindset but it is like trying to get thru a brick wall with a plastic spoon. The "true believers" hold the status quo as absolutely sacred. Breed standards are revered as if they were an edict handed down by God. Logic and science fall on deaf ears with this mindset.
      Thus bringing about any change from within is nearly impossible.

      It is a shame that they didn't really delve into this much...of course "Real Sports" probably wants to focus more on the sports that their main audience (and sponsors/advertisers) is interested exhibition really doesn't carry as much appeal to their target audience. Yet raising general public awareness (and likely leading to some public outrage) may have been helpful.

      Perhaps we need someone to do a good documentary or two here in the US on our KC issues...hint hint. You up for doing a PDE: US Edition, Jemima? ;)

  4. The reason why I think the AKC fell apart is because the AKC has never been a popular organization with bulk of the American public. It was designed to be like the KC in the UK, but it initially got started among the elite in the US. Most Americans had "shepherds" (generalist collies), hounds of Old Southern, German, and foxhound extraction, American cur dogs and feists (generalist terriers). My family didn't own an AKC registered dog until the 1950's. Before that, they had Walker foxhounds, shepherds, and feists. The majority of dogs in this country have never been AKC registered, though during the Halcyon days of the American Middle Class, a lot of people bought collies and German shepherds "with papers."

    We bred decent dogs without any kind of registry apparatus to tell us what to do, and when the Brahmins of Boston and the Knickerbockers of New York came up with a plan to bring the European-style fancy over here, it was never accepted as a popular institution.

    And now that it adheres tightly to this system of anti-science and elitism it has simply been left behind.

    1. UrbanCollieChick7 May 2014 at 22:10

      People who want a dog and who look at a particular breed, who are also city-dwellers - and that makes up about 80% of the nation in the USA - have limited venues in which to check out dogs live an in person.

      That generally leaves pet stores, shelters, breed rescues and dog shows.

      We need to show people what is wrong genetically with a lot of these breeds, but they also need to know where to go to find a better dog. People need to be led to the other activities. The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge is televised but is not popular enough yet, and people will get the impression they all have to be olympiads to have such dogs.

      Pet stores got the rep for being the source of only cruelly mass produced animals. Many of those animals DO reside in pet shops, but OTOH, I know we've discussed that sometimes the pet store Pomeranian is structurally more sound than that Pom in the show ring, and so on.

      But as it is, people have been semi brainwashed against pet stores.

      Better advertising by shelters could help but we need fewer gluts on one or two breeds like Pit bulls in NYC, Chihuahuas in California, Hounds in Louisiana, could be a start.

      And stop making it taboo to avoid breeding a healthy mix or other dog just because it's not a show dog.

      The "doodle" people breeders are getting enough flak as it is, as if they are all in the same camp, having zero concern for the dogs they breed, looking for a fast buck.

      There's a lot of brainwashing to break down before things get better.

  5. There's a story to tell about the AKC collapsing as an organization, but I don't think it's the important story here or even the important story to save dogs.

    The story to save dogs is making people realize that what has been served to them as superior is actually inferior, what is "ideal" in conformation is actually deformed, that "cute" is actually diseased and that it simply doesn't have to be that way.

    The KC and AKC can disappear tomorrow and it won't matter if people still think Pugs are a good investment, that Bulldogs are OK like that, that pedigree means quality. And that there's some advantage to closed stud books and inbreeding from their end.

    The Peke and the Bulldog are not recent casualties of the deformity game, they have been rather disgusting long before the KC or the AKC opened up shop. It's not just the notion of some show registry that caused those dogs, it's human ignorance, apathy, and malgenics.

    That needs to be battled every bit as much as the structural problems inherent in the AKC.

    I personally think that the AKC will not change, can not change enough, and that something needs to be built up the wake of its obsolescence. Part of that is going to be a better understanding of how historical fads with dogs have been damaging and how they need to be left on the trash heap of history.

    I applaud HBO for using their 15 minutes to make an opening salvo in that dialogue... that Bulldogs are just not OK and that they need to change. Trying to convince the public of the more esoteric and less compelling issues that us insiders often harp on is not going to happen in 15 minutes and isn't going to make for as compelling of an argument for the novice dog owners.

    You're not going to spark outrage over fox terriers being too large, over border collies chasing frisbees over herding sheep, or over whisker trimming for the show ring. These are concerns but they're not game-changers.

    The Cav on the floor writhing in pain, however sends a clear message... this is corrupt and there's no one who should stand for the status quo.

  6. The generalist farm collie, perhaps the most popular dog in America EVER, certainly the most popular of an era, had its rise and fall all without benefit or detriment of the AKC. The show collie didn't replace the working collie, the farm collie went out of favor due to urbanization and gentrification.

    It was a culture shift. The farm collie would not have been "saved" by a perfect registry or even a good dog lobby.

    Well, we are again in another cultural shift (as if they ever stop) dealing with our choice of dogs. And with our without the AKC, the fact remains that teacup toy monstrosity dogs are becoming more popular and they are horribly inhumane. The public desire for mixed bred dogs is high and getting higher, all outside of the AKC or any real governing body at all.

    There are problems there, for sure. And they won't be solved by the AKC getting better or worse.

    And neither will the fate of the Bulldog. Or the Pug. Or the Peke. While a certain momentum is maintained for these breeds by the conformation fadists, they are already fixed in the minds of the public as OK. And THAT needs to change.

    It will be easier without the AKC in the way. It will be easier if people start breeding a healthy alternative. It will be easier if the show crowd has cast-offs that could breathe and walk and mate and birth and even run without human assistance. The public would likely come along for the ride. But it still means that the public needs to realize that the dogs as-they-are is not OK.

  7. "The K.Cs are a just a registry".

    If they were, they wouldn't be in so deep a hole. They have made rulings outside of the registry, so, that claim won't wash.

    They simply won't accept that they stepped out side the role of registry only in that ruling. They offer nothing outside the K.Cs, but have caused an expectation of more. They are not 'Just a Registry", but they accept responsibility for nothing more. They are in limbo.

    As for The K.Cs claims they don't reward extremes over 'Happy, Healthy Dogs" LOL.

    Their rules say " The criteria of a good breeder is a pedigree, and adherence to a breed standard. No K.Cs breeder will breed a dog inelligible for rego.

    Bit of a paradox there I think.


  8. Excellent post. I especially enjoyed the glassy-eyed morons they sent forth to try and parry this long-awaited further drive at them, and them losing spectacularly to simple logic and research.

  9. "Just a registry" Does not pass judgements on what occurs outside its charter.

    "Just a Registry" Can not declare its Foundation unethical with out expecting problems.


  10. BorderWars is the only commentator making any sense here. Theirs is a blog worth following.

  11. Now, now, Christopher... posting anonymously on my blog again?


    1. Hey now! While I'm flattered, this is not a case of sock puppet self flattery. Please check the email and IP address, I didn't post this comment, nor do I know who did, but odds are they don't live near me.

      Nor have I posted anonymously on your blog before or now, as implied. I hate to sound like a stick in the mud, but having already suffered made up offenses and grandeous distortions before, I don't wish to see the haters running with this one... "He stalks Jemima with puppet accounts!" Or the like.

      I'm perfectly willing to defend things I actually do and say. It's tiresome to defend things I haven't done and haven't said, and I can't trust that over the internet the lazy detractors will understand that Jemima is joking.

    2. Bwa ha ha! Never toy.

      As it is I do think the AKC and KC needs to be focused on. To stop others simply doing the same with dog breeding and standards. It will make a difference. The AKC no matter what is still the club of all clubs in America or not?

      If it succumbs completely there will still be the litany of bad breed clubs to deal with.

      As far as I can see the reasons some leave the AKC as it stands aren't necessarily kosher ones the majority of these reasons dont in fact always have the welfare of pedigree dogs at heart.

      We wanna blue bulldog we wann a spotty Dachshund we wanna wanna.

      The AKC seems ultimately willing to change standards to incorporate the we wannas at least thats the impression I get from the myriad of alternative colour lobby breeders besides it still registers dogs with mutilated ears for example.

      However in the process of exposing the mother ship the general public the majority in fact who do want a healthy happy dog get the message.

      Im almost certain no matter what is claimed that the majority of Americans probably still think a pedigree from the AKC is a guarantee of a "pure", healthy well bred animal even if it's from the direst of puppy mills. The majority aren't so caught up in dogs and dog breeding to be the wiser when they just want a healthy happy dog (sic).

      The loopydoodles are simply a fad not that I've got anything personally against them at all but they can be as badly bred as a pedigree dog and many are (I only say loopy cause I know one which is actually a standard poodle crossed afghan and it is loopy seems to want to go in two directions at once). But if this is the way things are going to end up as a rule the message is ultimately the same. Stop in breeding and exaggerations and dont close stud books.

      If Im not mistaken the AKC is already registering doodle type dogs.

  12. Jemima, if the show-dogs-win-glory world had any sense at all, it would gratefully shake hands with you and not spit on you. The survival hope for dogs bred for a sensible purpose, with a pedigree documenting their breeding, in the longer term lies with people like yourself. And Christopher. And Retrieverman. And the journalists who researched and produced the RealSopts show. And some more... like, in all probability, the majority of the reasonably dog savvy public.

    Bodil Carlsson

  13. I saw you made an attempt on the Real Sports Facebook page, Bodil. And so did Christopher. I didn't join in because I thought it totally pointless. Although I have just posted a link there to the blog.

    The answer lies in creating a viable alternative. But that would take enormous time, money and resources and - ideally - it needs to come from a really well-respected insider.

  14. I knew it was pointless. But it seemed as if SOMEONE - apart from Christopher Landauer himself, the horrid AR activist, dog hater, liar etc etc :-) - had to help speak up against this entrenched, arrogant ignorance - just to make the point that theirs are not the only voices. The people who make up the majority in that comment field are deluded. Delusion can´t be reasoned with; for as long as it´s gratified by social (and economical) affirmation within a closed community, it´s oblivious to everything but itself. Yes, it´s more than just a little sickening to read, and try to answer, and try to answer. But one can´t let people like Christopher and others do it all alone! There may be viable alternatives, Jemima, as hopefully more and more serious breeders are starting to realize the double threats of a growing market for crossbred dogs - already well on the way even here, where for many decades people chose pedigree as a matter of course - and possible legislative and consumer rights measures. I think the first steps would have to be taken by a group of breeders from several breeds, as no one person in the dog world is insider or well-respected enough to escape all the morbid crap (sorry) you can see on the RealSports fb page...
    Sorry, something oss here - must post as Anonymous this time.

    Bodil Carlsson

  15. Despairing. What about the actual dogs? The dogs that are suffering? Whilst these people believe and spread their beliefs to other deaf and blind people the dogs are suffering. I don't care if its AKC, UKC, UKKC etc etc. somebody, someone has to stop the over population of dogs and the dogs that are bred need to be respected and their quality of life and those of future generations should be what is being hammered home. Let the KCs boil their heads, it will take time tho' to render them down as they seem to be absolutely huge currently, together with their egos. Either welfare, WWF, rescue centres, PDE, breed clubs, Gvt (god forbid) but something has to stop these people from continuing in their malpractice and I include horses, fish, cats, reptiles, whatever species has a following of "fanciers". Their practices are no less sickening than seeing/hearing about gross negligence and cruelty cases which are deliberately enacted towards dogs/animals. It is time the really bad breeders are prosecuted for negligence and cruelty. I wonder if that "vet" really loves her breed at all, I suspect that the monetary gain therefrom is pushing her fancy of the breed.

  16. The current AKC chairman, Alan Kalter, is a public relations (PR) specialist who seems to think AKC can bluff its way out of its current troubles with nothing more than repeating shallow PR mantras over and over again. It is stunning that AKC thought just showing that out-take video would convince anyone that HBO treated the AKC guests unfairly. All that out-take shows is that AKC has no defense.
    -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

    yup here is a great person to talk about dogs

  18. I just do not understand what the fuss is all about don;t want an AKC dog do NOT buy one.. do not show one.. do not participate in any way. want a UKC dogs ( also known as the "pit bull " registry.).they have hunting trials , beagling, coon dogs, and weight pulls and more.. like that?? then go there.. they are a for profit organization but who cares?/ do what you want to do and leave the rest of us alone..

    1. Just look at the Shar peis, bulldogs, mastiffs, lowchens, pekes, pugs, arab horses, Persian cats, fish all of which have become mutants who suffer dreadfully because of insane human bad breeding. Then you will understand what the fuss is all about. The KCs, regardless of country, who hold the registries and run dog shows for competition are not responsible for the gross misbreeding. However, they do have the power to stop it, they receive huge revenue streams from registering puppies, studs, show licences etc etc, that is where there interest is but if they don't start instigating modification and penalties to people who show dogs at their shows they will bypassed by responsible good breeders. If the UKC is serious about betterment of dog breeding they will need to be honest and open, non profit, and all income should be used for dogs and research. We can leave YOU alone, whoever YOU are but be aware that if your friends are left to do as you want then I fear for the future of dogs. Just remember dogs are living beings with needs, like us, and like us they should be respected.

    2. Georgina, what's wrong with Lowchens? Just curious.

    3. Hi Fran, nothing as far as I know, gremlins took hold of my fingers, should have typed Chinese crested, sorry. Also your comment re "substance" is definitely misunderstood with show people. They mean fat, we mean good bone, good muscle both of which help with deportment thus movement. G

  19. It will be interesting to see, in years to come when certain breeds under the influence of the AKC are bordering on seriously dangerous territory and are an all time low regarding genetic diversity and overall good health, which countries they will come running to when they require the importing of healthy stock ;) I'm guessing we won't be seen as a bunch of "animal activist nut jobs" then!

  20. My comment magically disappeared on that video comments on YouTube. How rude.

  21. The AKC should seriously begin addressing the need to preserve diversity within breeds. Currently they are only looking after the wallets and purses of blinkered breeders who chase show ribbons at the cost of ever-degrading canine health. Given the low levels of diversity present in so many AKC breeds you'd think they would at least stop penalizing dogs for their coat colours but sadly this is still not the case, as was so clearly evident by their recent handling of the case of the two purebred American piebald Mastiffs.
    The AKC says they don’t discriminate against purebred dogs on the basis of colour alone yet they will not register 'miscoloured' dogs accurately and willingly offer to DQ (disqualify) them, preventing them from being shown and turning ‘responsible’ breeders off wanting anything to do with them. How can they not realize that this effectively reduces diversity within a breed?
    To disqualify a piebald dog simply because it carries one extra copy of a recessive allele (that can be tested for!) is so unnecessarily damaging to a breed that exists within the confines of a closed stud book. Also the AKC must know that many purebred dogs are already very closely related to each other yet the advice an AKC officer recently gave one our friends was that it was ok for her to breed a daughter back to her grandfather. They did not even recommend that she first check her inbreeding coefficients!
    In the UK, the Mastiff is listed as a Category 3 breed by the UK Kennel Club. This is the highest rating for dogs that have visible conditions or exaggerations that can cause pain and discomfort. We’re not sure what the average lifespan is for the Mastiff in America. Some American Mastiff breeders boast of having Mastiffs that have lived past ten years of age while others have said they are just not a breed that is meant to live long. They describe them as beautiful, fast burning candles. I personally know of so many Mastiffs that have died young, many before their 5th birthdays. My husband and I used to film and produce our annual Mastiff Club specialty shows: in each year’s productions we always included a tribute segment for the Mastiffs we knew that had passed away. What really started becoming evident to us was the high number of Mastiffs being put up for awards in the show ring one year and then being featured in our tribute segments the following year.
    A representative of our longest standing Mastiff club here in Australia stated in a video interview with us that the average lifespan of the English Mastiff was now around six years or less. This sad statistic doesn't even shock anyone these days. Instead it seems to cater well to show breeders wanting to dispose of their non-winning stock. Pretty soon the average lifespan of our Mastiffs will be down to 3 years without anyone batting an eye lash. If a Mastiff hasn't won a ribbon by the age of 3, then I suppose in the minds of the show crowd, it might as well be dead.

    1. Bravo Jill. I wish there were more dog breeders with views like yours, here in Australia.
      When I started out with a rare breed, the "founder" of the breed here wrote on a breed forum that I should not breed with a particular dog, simply because she had too much white on her. No matter that she has good conformation, beautiful temperament, excellent results on all her health testing and was from completely new lines in the country. I was gobsmacked that anyone could be so limited in their thinking and bred from her anyway!!!

  22. I made an attempt to engage some commentors at RealSports FB, but gave up - it was just too inane. First, what's so terrible about supporting animal rights? HBO is not PETA, relax. What's wrong with wanting what's best for our pets, with wanting them to be the healthiest they can be? We write about pet health, fitness & problem of pet obesity. After that obese Lab won at Westminster we did a series of posts and I was shocked at the venom with which it was received. While obesity may not be as severe as the problems with the bulldog, pug, etc. it's in some ways worse because it isn't genetic, it's lazy owners 'fattening' up the dogs to have 'substance'. Interestingly, a few of our followers are breeders of Chesepeake Bay Retrievers - and those dogs have been able to maintain their health & vitality (and a normal weight). They tell me that it is due to the breed club holding the line against the extremes that some breeds have allowed to take control.
    I agree that Vets here in the US need to step up. Unfortunately, not sure that will happen - just in our niche (pet obesity) vets rarely broach the subject because they don't want to offend their clientele. At the end of the day, kudos to HBO for making the attempt. AKC continues to be an embarrassment and the dogs continue to suffer.

    1. Show dogs having 'substance' to hide faults, so it's harder for the judge going over the dog to detect them. Who knows what the dog's shoulder is like under all that flab?

  23. Both the AKC & UKC have a lot to be desired imho, writing as someone who runs a large International Leonberger Database. I have sent several requests to UKC asking them to help us with absolutely NO response. At least the AKC has an online database even though one has to buy the pedigrees. BOTH registries pay no attention to validating import pedigrees, especially the AKC who refused point blank to follow up on fake pedigrees even though I provided them with absolute proof.

    1. The frigging AKC is brainless when it comes to imports. I brought a couple girls with me when I moved from Oz to the USA. I had to do a couple hundred dollars worth of paperwork to get international pedigrees and then get them transferred to the AKC. Somewhere in the small print was a stipulation that DNA had to be filed if you want to breed from an import. I missed reading that bit of fine print and had to delay registering the litter while I went through the charade of sending a DNA sample (charade cause there was absolutely nothing to prevent me from filing a cheek swab from some other dog instead of my own . . . or for that matter, filing my own DNA and saying it came from my dog). They registered the litter after receiving my swab and the $$. Then some months later I got a letter saying there wasn't enough DNA on the swab to do the test. I have ignored their request for a further sample and they have done nothing. Quite independent of the DNA sample problem, after considerable expense getting the Australian pedigree transferred to an International pedigree and getting the International pedigree translated to AKC, they lost all the information. My puppy buyers have ended out with pedigrees that don't list the Australian side of their pedigrees.
      In my book this reads as bumbling incompetents who don't know how to manage a database and are more interested in pulling in money than maintaining a proper registry.

  24. Wow, nice little dig at socialism at the end there from Anne M Hier. Though given her grammar and syntax, I suppose I can assume her brain is more oxygen starved than her bulldog's.

    1. maybe when you are a published author you can criticize ..until then who cares what you think..Anne has more knowledge about dogs than you have in your little finger. perhaps you should reads her books. easy to find excellent reading

    2. Anon 07.30 I hate to bust your bubble but just because someone is a published author it does not make them an authority or even credible. Has she published in peer reviewed journals where scientific rigour is the order of the day?

      Any idiot can get a book published. The world of dogs is notoriously unregulated in both breeding and behaviour and various 'gurus' and 'experts' have been conning gullible average dog owners with their books based on their experiences, which are rarely cvross referenced and are often just their own opinions.

      The rest of us are seriously onto these people and there is nowhere left to hide. Thank heavens for blogs like these where people can be held to account.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I also hate to burst your bubble but one book does not a successful author make. Also book is not books plural. She's also written for magazines and I am quite familiar with her work. I do however not agree with her and don't see why someone with degrees in art and law is all that more qualified to comment on dog breeding than someone with a degree in any other topic that has absolutely nothing to do with science or animal husbandry. Owning and breeding dogs equally does not make you an expert on dogs - it makes you experienced, perhaps, but not necessarily knowledgable.

      Genetics research has extensively proven that inbreeding is not conducive to the health of a species - yes, it can exclude some illnesses from a line (dog or otherwise) but increases the risk of many other conditions including malformation of the interior and exterior of the body, increased risk of heart failure, inherited mutations when such mutations are not excluded and lack of resistance to disease.

      And finally, you clearly have no way of knowing how much I, or anyone, knows about dogs. Three lines of fanboyism do not make a convincing argument.

  25. The clubs can be absolutely awful. If breeders have high ethical standards, their dogs will mostly be ok, and the next generations will be headed in the right direction. The clubs can be fantastic. There will still be sh#t breeders.
    So long as breeders classify their litters as "show quality" vs "pet quality" there is a problem.

    1. "So long as breeders classify their litters as "show quality" vs "pet quality" there is a problem."

      I agree with that last statement 100%. Foremost a dog should be "pet quality" to qualify it to get anywhere near a show ring. That is it should be a dog free from exagerations, health problems and in- breeding. Suitable to be kept as a pet and suitable to live a normal life as dog.

  26. I think the idea of starting a new breed club, based on purpose needs discussion.

    I know there are problems with such a proposal, but none insurmountable.Unless we allow them to be. New breed registeries pop up all the time, for other species without the dramas being predicted here.
    .ie. funding: there are crowd funding sites, welfare and govt grants, initiatives and of course, fees for joining and registrations etc.

    The real cost is in the data bases and organization.Creating a registry is not hard, or financialy out of reach in itself....


    Creation of such a registry is not hard in itself. Getting it right,and attractive is.

  27. With regards to understanding the importance of preserving genetic diversity within breeds I don’t believe the UK Kennel Club is ahead of the AKC. From my own experience in fighting for the recognition of the piebald coat colouring in the Mastiff breed I find the UK Kennel Club is behind the AKC in its support of breed diversity. The AKC at least does not allow breed clubs to put discriminatory statements (with regards to colour) in the breed standards they put out. In the breed standard that the UK Kennel Club puts out for the Mastiff, they clearly state that excessive white is UNACCEPTABLE. They could make it a fault (like the AKC has required the Mastiff Club of America to do) or they could offer it a DQ (disqualification) but instead the UK Kennel Club chooses to stamp out colour diversity in the Mastiff entirely. At this time we are not even sure what other traits colour may be linked with in the breed!

  28. In Australia we follow the UK Kennel Club breed standard for the Mastiff and because it considers excessive white unacceptable and does not specify piebald in the breed’s list of registerable colours we cannot place our pieds on Full Registration. They may not be shown, bred from or exported. The purebred Mastiff gene-pool in Australia is so tiny and the UK Kennel Club policies are ensuring that we make it even smaller. In our attempts to correct this predicament we’ve just gotten tangled in a web of registry and breed club protocols and procedures.
    The UK Kennel Club says they can’t help us, it’s the breed clubs that provide the list of allowable breed colors. Ok fine, so over a year ago we presented a case for the recognition of the piebald coat to both custodian breed clubs in the UK before their last AGM’s. We sent them a letter requesting piebald recognition, extended pedigrees for our piebald Mastiffs, DNA test results confirming their breed purity and the presence of the piebald gene, case studies on coat colours, historical references to pied along with pictures and pedigrees of pied Mastiffs from other countries together with some of their DNA test results. We also gave both club copies of a video we created featuring a segment on pieds wherein England’s respected Mastiff author and judge, Mrs. Betty Baxter admits to pieds occurring in the breed while David Hancock, England’s great canine author and historian, (advisor to the Natural History Museum on their canine displays), talks about their authenticity in the breed. Our video featured not only our own pieds but also pieds bred by other registered Mastiff breeders here in Australia.
    So far all we’ve gotten back from the OEMC (Old English Mastiff Club) in regards to the matter are slanderous remarks from their club’s chairman that were published in their December 2013 newsletter. We know they just had this year’s AGM on April 6th but if the matter of pieds was brought up they haven’t bothered to tell us about it.
    The MA (Mastiff Association) hasn’t held this year’s AGM yet but we just received a letter from them stating that no one on their committee is prepared to write a motion for pieds to put to the AGM. They said if we join their club we could put forward a motion ourselves in 2015.
    It would have been nice if they had informed us of this last year…sigh.
    In any case it hardly matters anymore. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that there is no hope for our beautiful purebred pied Mastiffs (and not just with regards to their coat colours!). We just don’t want people to believe the UK Kennel Club’s hype because in reality their policies do not support diversity within breeds. The AKC’s policies although not ideal are at least a little more intelligent. The UK Kennel Club may make themselves look good by asking breed clubs to submit a list of colours for registration which are known to occur in their breeds, whether desirable or not, but they do not offer any penalty to the breed club’s when they don’t comply with this request…..and they also choose not to register colours accurately! An undesirable breed colour only gets referred to in KC pedigrees as ‘Colour Not KC Recognized’. How does this help anybody trying to preserve diversity in their breed and breed their dogs well?

  29. Very disappointed and sad to hear that you have had no success (as yet) with recognition of your pied Mastiffs. I signed your petition which was circulating around at one time.

    So you are not going to continue to breed with the Pieds? I know Kennel Clubs regard it as a sin to breed with unregistered dogs, which it seems your Pieds will now be. That is such a waste and such shame.

    All this short-sightedness and stupidity by the kennel clubs and many breed clubs is so damned tiresome. I guess the only way they will change is if there is a ground swell from the member base, from the bottom up.

    Actually, there are now many spokespeople and caring breeders who want to see our breeds survive and thrive in the long term, all around this planet. Why can't we all unite under one global organization? Turn it into a concerted, world-wide movement? There is such power in numbers united for a specific purpose, especially given that the internet provides the medium for a strong message to be heard everywhere these days. The weight of numbers.....

    Okay - apologies if I am living la-la-land, but I despair that real positive change won't come quickly enough to save our beloved purebred dogs.

  30. Jen Willshire1 May 2014 at 02:24

    Leila thanks so much for signing our petition, we had directed it to the UK Kennel Club because the breeds clubs had been non responsive but UK Kennel Club ignored it and referred us back to the breed clubs.
    We don’t want to join the Mastiff Association just to be able to put forward a motion for pieds. With no one in the club even willing to put forward a motion for their recognition, any motion we put forward as members would almost certainly be defeated. Our core beliefs and interests are most likely already too far removed from those of the MA membership anyway. If we join a club, it should be one that we can thrive with harmoniously and always be enriched by. It’s not just the MA we don’t want to be a part of; we no longer wish to be members of any Mastiff breed club that blindly follows a rigid standard to such a degree that it damages the very dogs they profess to protect.

    We vowed to put in the best effort we could to have our pied Mastiff's coat colours recognized in their breed and we do feel satisfied that we have done this now even though our efforts have been unsuccessful. We’ve learned so much along the way and are so very grateful for this. We’re not going to let our pieds die out, they just will not be able to contribute anything to the purebred Mastiff gene-pool. It’s sadder for them than it is for us: colour diversity is really only the tip of the iceberg of what constitutes diversity in a breed. If breeders want to produce Mastiffs that can breed naturally, birth naturally, be free from disorders and diseases and live comfortably until at least ten years of age, then they will need to get back healthy levels of diversity. Until they do this it is they, (and their dogs), that will suffer the most.

    A united global organization of caring breeders who want to see our breeds survive and thrive in the long term is a wonderful idea which we would fully support. However, the diehards who subscribe to the current model seem to need more evidence that their ways are harming their breeds. It so sad to acknowledge but we honestly feel that things for them (and their dogs) will have to get worse before they get better. If only they could see with clearer eyes.

    1. I think quite honestly pied dogs are the least of the mastiffs problems as Jen says just the tip of the iceberg. From what I see they need an urgent injection of functionality and athleticism, vigour which can only come from outside the gene pool, completely outside. Its so sad to see a large dysfunctional dog, a mess of its former self lopping around a show ring barey coordinated and dead to the world. Its not even ornamental anymore never mind functional.

      Aside I don't think pied dogs are much of a terrific idea. The debate about pied dogs being included in the Boerboel mastiff for example has being ongoing since almost the beginning when they were formally recognised as a breed rather than type, in itself a bad move. Being recognised as a landrace has been rather more beneficial. However the issue of colour caused a split an ongoing split in breed clubs, which has worked quite well in keeping them out of the KC at least, but there are now three breed clubs. Luckily except for pied and black dogs most can be registered with all three at the same time. If Im not mistaken dogs can be "appraised" tested and be included even if they aren't registered with any of the three registeries. Maybe the mastiff club needs deconstructing.

      However on the subject of piebalds as such they are prone to skin conditions and cancer as seen in pied staffies and pitbull types and the like. I lost one to cancer and it was too horrible and sad. This issue is of course especially pertinent to Australia where good pigment is essential not only around the eyes and lips but under the belly and arm pits ears and nose.

      Might I suggest using a good boerboel to enhance your dogs vigour. It doesn't really matter who the progeny are registered with. Boerboels carry old English mastiff in their distant past imported during the gold-rush and used to gaurd diamond mines but also a lot besides than can only be beneficial.

      Failing that a corgi as used in the Boxer. Anything would help even letting them go extinct might be a better option.

    2. River P... an interesting post... but could you provide some references please to support the claim that pied mastiffs are prone to skin conditions and cancer? I had a good look when I was writing about pied mastiffs and couldn't find anything to suggest they were more prone to problems. Poss I missed it of course!


  31. I don't know about pied (English) mastiffs suffering specifically from skin conditions and cancer mostly because there aren't that many around. Im not even sure what they look like I will look them up. But certainly pied mastiff breeds do suffer.

    Pied dogs like staffies and the like do have a definite genetic predisposition to skin cancer, though.

    This information I got from my vet who had to put down our English pitbull who sadly died of the most horrific skin cancer at around about eight years old. It spread like wild fire right across her belly. He saw many such case in dogs in Australia.

    This is obviously anecdotal evidence however having grown up in Africa this was quite common in a number of even unrelated pied and white dog breeds there like pointers, Maltese poodles, bulldogs, great danes... we also lost a pointer black and white from skin cancer when I was a child so I am it must be said particularly biased.

    It doesn't have to be genetic and is obviously exacerbated with global warming and pointers might have some genetic issue but in fact anywhere there is exposed pink skin is in fact a problem. Dogs love to sun bath, if there is sufficient hair cover it's less of a problem in some areas of the body as white reflects well enough.

    Why make a dog breed possibly even less functional than it already is?

    Besides when you start breeding for pied colour distribution on white to include specific pigment distribution you open another can of worms just look what is going on with the Harlequin great Dane, also a mastiff.

    Its not just Dane or Pointer specific as i said. Dogs without sufficient pigment are prone to cancer allergies etc full stop. If its just a black and white dog with good hair cover it probably won't be as susceptible to UV. However pied mastiffs could also certainly end up being kept as a separate strain of the English mastiff bred very closely to fix certain colour patterns. Like great Dane colours in America with all of the resulting problems not least the in fact continuing chronic shrunken gene pool.

    Its not going to be often that a breeder is going to use a piebald mastiff if they are keeping fawns or brindles so Im not sure it widen the gene pool significantly. In fact one breeder in the boerboel example I was using earlier has split from the boerboel as a breed completely and now calls his pied boerboel by the breeders name only and not "boerboel" at all. However he can safely do this as the boerboel stud book including his is not closed like the English Mastiff's is.

    While UV might not be such a problem in the UK (it is for people of course spending summers in the Algarve) it is certainly in many parts of the world where mastiffs are kept.

    Mostly I find it interesting that someone in Australia of all places should be pushing for the recognition of pied mastiffs. Not such a good idea IMO.

    Wouldn't black be an even better idea as long as its skin was black too. The dog might get a bit hotter but it won't die as a result of skin disease, it's too horrible for a dog?

    Opening the stud book to new blood would be far better idea all round IMO.

    Its a bit difficult editing as you can't see the whole post so apologies for any repetitions

  32. Having read your piece on pied mastiffs, I don't agree that puppies should not be destroyed if they are born that way. Im not sure how many are born that way but they deserve a full happy life same as any other puppy.

    I still wouldn't intentionally produce them as gorgeous as they look.

    If on the other hand they became a separate breed and the stud book was open to include other breeds ensuring correct pigmentation and diversity.....why not?

    I don't have an opinion on their registration with the KC, rather not at all fawns brindles included. I don't think dogs should have completely closed registries. But it does seems idiotic not to be able to register them if they are frequently found in litters already.

    Some pied dogs also found disfavour with Boerboel breeders because they look exactly like large short haired Saint Bernards much more muscular athletic and robust of course but still it wasn't the look they liked.

    Piebald horses are also not so much favoured because they often have pink noses which cause problems in Africa getting burnt easily and are prone to warty like encrustations. Greys are fine as they usually have black skin.

  33. I meant of course I don't agree on puppies being put down. But there is that ruthless element in dog breeding.

    Breeding within closed registeries is already so fraught. Anyway we can assume the gene pool for pied Engish mastiffs has been happily in the breed of non pied mastiff doing no damage since the creation of the breed if pieds are so regularily born as claimed.

    However isolating that pied gene pool in individual dogs then consoldating it with pied to pied matings then selecting for specific colour distribution, back crossing and line breeding with them doesn't mean the pied dogs would be still be as "healthy" as the whole coloured gene pool where before pieds lingered silently. Far from it as far as I understand.

    To me anyway its the "healthy" bit that lingers in my mind because the entire breed is not healthy to start.

    They have lost functionality, slab sided lumbering slow and unhealthy within a closed gene pool? Isn't the best place to start isolating and consolidating anything.

    Almost sure it's a recipe for disaster because new "blood" isn't going to start dropping out the sky suddenly.

    For what its worth and i dont agree with dog showing and closed pedigrees but everything born should be shown and registered, the cripled the entropic the dysplastic the completley blind etc. For everyone to see.

    Piebalds are not a disease, at least as in as far as we don't know yet within the limited gene pool.

  34. There are loudmouths who blame the BYBS, but clearly there are major problems with many of the standards, judges pick dogs like the no nose Peke for Best In Show, and show breeders frequently are not breeding for health or temperament.

    We and the dogs would seem to be better off letting pet owners breed the dogs who are good pets. It seems to be an improvement.

    Yet, I fear that some type of leadership might be needed just because the situation is so messed up. But dog people are a diverse lot, divided into many camps who don't agree with each other enough to be all under the same tent.

    I can't think of any rabbit to pull out of a hat which would make everything better quickly. But progress is being made, even if it is sometimes a three steps forward and then two steps back type of progress.

  35. Within the last 16 months, we lost our beloved Neopolitan Mastiff to bone cancer this year. She was 7 years old. We also lost a German Shepherd to a grand mal epileptic seizure and another to DM. I am through with pedigreed dogs. Breeders continue to breed dogs with major health problems. No one cares but the owners who are emotionally invested in their animals. I don't even mind the expense but to hear that of course mastiffs are prone to bone cancer and of course GSD's are the number one dog to get DM. What is wrong with the breeders who continue to breed animals with major genetic flaws? I know many other people who have also had dogs die at a young age will all kinds of major health problems. The AKC should either reform or be forced out of its business of encouraging breeding of animals to unhealthy standards or without any regard to the rampant health issues that so many breeders regard as "normal"