Friday, May 26, 2006

Inbred Thinking

Working border collies depend on a performance standard and an open registry.

 When pressed about the poor genetic quality of today's "pure bred" dogs, most Kennel Club breeders parrot the Kennel Club apologia: "We only register dogs, we don't breed them."

In fact, the line is pure bunk. The Kennel Club does far more than register dogs -- it sets the rules that guarantee more and more dogs will suffer serious (and often painful) genetic problems.

The problem, in a nutshell, is the closed registry system. With all Kennel Club breeds, the "founding stock" has always been small in number, and often fairly inbred going in, since breed creation is a product of inbreeding and line breeding to "set" the look of a dog. Because a closed registry never adds new blood, it becomes progressively more inbred over time.

Genetic diversity is never increased in the Kennel Club -- it is only reduced. In practice, it is often reduced quite rapidly due to the fact that show-winning males are in great demand to "cover" as many bitches as possible -- the so-called "popular sire effect."

The result, to be clearly seen by simply comparing 10-generation pedigrees for most breeds, is that many dogs have common male ancestors.

After 25 generations, the genetic overlap within all members of a breed may be complete or nearly complete with every member of the breed traced back to the same root stock.

What is wrong with this? Simple: In the world of genetics, most health-related negative characteristics are recessive. This is true because most dominant negative characteristics result in quick mortality or culling. A negative recessive gene, however, remains hidden and only becomes expressed (i.e. self-evident) when both parents carry the negative gene.

When dog populations are relatively heterogeneous (i.e. genetically diverse) the chance that any two negative genes will combine is low. Result: a dog with a very high chance of being healthy.

In a dog population that is very homogeneous (i.e., not genetically diverse), the chance of two negative recessive genes combining rises in direct relationship to the degree of homogeneity.

The result of two negative recessive genes combining is a real health problem -- the kind of problems we are increasingly seeing in Kennel Club dogs: epilepsy, dysplasia, deafness, congenital skin conditions, heart murmurs, cataracts, polyarthritis, progressive renal atrophy, allergies, hypothyroidism, and Cushing's Syndrome, to name a few.

A closed registry with a small gene pool undergoing a further tightening due to sire selection and overuse guarantees inbreeding and a steady increase in the occurrence of negative genetic issues. There is no getting around this.

The graph, appended below, shows the slow but steady rise in the coefficient of inbreeding among shelties. Similar rising graphs could be produced for most AKC breeds.

Coefficient of inbreeding, 1930-1993, for Shelties, showing trend line.

No population of animals is entirely absent negative recessive genes. Every population of animals contains at least two or three -- bits of fatal code that are "hard wired" into the makeup of the animal. A population of animals that appears to be "clean" is simply one that is still diverse enough that negative genes are not yet combining very often. If a small population is inbred long enough, negative genes will begin to express themselves.

The results of inbreeding are not a closely-held secret. Deuteronomy 27:22 reads: "Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of this mother..." Leviticus offers a similar admonition.

Human history too is a guide. Pick up any book about European royalty, and you can read about the idiot King Charles II of Spain, the product of generations of inbreeding by the Hapsburg family. This is a man whose face and chin were so distorted by the "Hapsburg Lip" that he could not eat without assistance. If his picture (appended below) makes you think of a Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug or Boston Terrier, you are not alone.

King Charles II of Spain -- a product of inbreeding in the Hapsburg line.

And yet inbreeding is not an option with the Kennel Club -- it is required. The option of outcrossing a Lakeland Terrier to a Fox Terrier is not possible within the confines of a closed registry, nor is the crossing of a Curly-coated retriever to a Flat-coated Retriever, or a Greyhound to a Saluki.

Along with an increase in the incidence of serious genetic problems within a closed-registry population, you have other problems that may not be clear to an individual pet owner, but which become obvious to those studying canine demographics: increased neo-natal mortality, shortened lifespans, and increased infecundity (dogs that are sterile or barren). All of these characteristics are endemic to deeply inbred populations, and are showing up with increased frequency in the Kennel Club.

In sled dogs, performance is king, and an open registry has proven critical to preserving honest pulling dogs with stamina, good feet, and heart.

How did the Kennel Club come to embrace a closed registry, and why does it maintain this system?

The adoption of a "closed registry" by the Kennel Club is an artifact of its history, while the continuation of this practice is driven by the economics of dog breeding and the political construct of the Kennel Club.

The Kennel Club was created in Victorian England in 1873, at a time when new theories about genetics were being promulgated by learned men who did not yet have a very good idea of what was going on in the natural world.

As noted in American Working Terriers, the "speciation" of domestic breeds of livestock began with the work of Robert Bakewell in the 18th Century, and the control of sires. Bakewell's work helped speed the rise of the Enclosure Movement, which in turn led to large estates, fox hunting, and the rise of terrier work.

Bakewell had no real knowledge of scientific genetics, and his breeding program was largely limited to the control of sires (made easier by enclosures) and the admonition that "like begats like" and that success was to be found by "breeding the best to the best".

The first stud book to document the breeding of animals was the General Stud Book of 1791 which tracked a small pool of racing horses. A stud book for Shorthorn Cattle was produced in 1822.

As more and more farmers followed the tenets of Robert Bakewell, sire selection became increasingly prevalent and inbreeding and line breeding more common. By selecting the best beef and milk producers, and pairing them, rapid improvements in cattle breeds were made.

When Charles Darwin returned from his five-year voyage on the Beagle in 1836, he discovered new breeds of cattle, sheep and pigeons displayed at livestock bench shows.

Over the next 23 years, Darwin ruminated about the aggressive livestock breeding he saw going on around him, and what isolation (enclosure) and selection (the frequent use of popular sires) might mean if some natural version of this phenomenon were driving the diversity of wildlife he had seen on his travels.

In 1859, after more than two decades of thought on the subject, Darwin published The Origin of Species -- the very year the first formal dog show was held in England.

Formal dog shows grew out of the livestock bench shows held by Robert Bakewell and his followers to display their new stock. With dogs, as with farm animals, it was soon discovered that by selecting types of dogs and genetically isolating them in kennels, homes or yards, and then inbreeding and line breeding them, a great deal of variety could be expressed.

In 1800, there were only 15 designated breeds of dogs, but by 1865 that number had grown to more than 50 and over the next 40 years it tripled yet again.

The rapid speciation of dogs that began in 1859 occurred just as Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, was taking Darwin's work and attempting to generalize it to man.

Both Darwin and Galton had noticed how many people in their own family were smart. Along with Charles Darwin and his biologist father, Erasmus Darwin, there was another grandfather who was a member of the Royal Society, and then there was Galton's own father, who was a banker. As for Galton, by the time he was four years old he could write, read any book in the English language, knew basic math (including the times tables), and had a passing hand in the basic rudiments of both Latin and French.

While at Cambridge, Galton noticed that intelligence seemed to run in other families as well. Students that did well at college had parents and sibling that also did well. From this observation Galton postulated that human intelligence was inherited, and he went to great lengths to test his theory, going so far as to invent important new statistical methods such as regression analysis and mathematical correlation.

Galton was an intellectual whirlwind responsible for advances in meteorology, psychology, and statistics (as well as inventing the silent dog whistle), but like all people he was fallible.

Galton's chief failure was that he did not understand that the elements used to create a breed could, if taken too far, lead to the breed's destruction. With an imperfect knowledge of genetics, Galton argued that "What nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly," by a system he called "eugenics".

Galton postulated that if novel organisms, or "sports of nature" could be found, these sports could be enlisted to create a new breed through genetic isolation and inbreeding.

By engaging in a "positive" system of eugenics, superior individuals could be encouraged to breed more, and by engaging in a system of "negative" eugenics, inferior types could be culled from the line.

This was, to put it simply, Darwin' theory of evolution put into hyper-drive. Surely the direction would be forward, and the road forward would be without end?

Galton's theory of improvement-without-end was embraced by the early Kennel Club. The patina of science -- and a short track record of success on the farm -- lent credibility to the idea of a closed registry of "pure" stock.

On the surface, there was no reason to suspect the seeds of destruction were contained in the closed registry system itself. The work of Gregor Mendel was still undiscovered, and even when it was discovered (around 1900) a true understanding of the nature of negative recessive genes was many decades away.

A winning greyhound is never a bad or boring color.

Conformation dog shows, of course, simply speeded up the drive to homogeneity.
The goal of the conformation show is conformity -- an entire class of cookie-cutter dogs that look as much alike as possible. This is most easily achieved by breeding champion to champion, culling the nonconforming, and then inbreeding and linebreeding to further distill the "type".

As a direct consequence of conformation shows, and the over-use of championship sires, the genetic bottleneck that began with the creation of every dog breed was further reduced.

In the beginning, it was hard for dog breeders to see what was going on. Breeders occasionally had a few health problems in their kennels, of course, but it was hard to see a pattern with so few animals tracked over a relatively few generations. If hip dysplasia, skin infections and cataracts "popped out," it was "just one of those things" and chalked up to a "bad cross" and bad luck.

The idea that the Kennel Club's closed registry system itself was to blame was a deeper thought than most folks were prepared to consider.

On the farm, things took a different turn. The inbreeding of farm stock began earlier than with dogs, but was no less intense.

Because farm herds are large and often kept by families for generations, farmers were able to "tease out" data indicating drops in production, increases in mortality, declining fecundity, and a steady rise in disease and illness.

Inbreeding, which had initially boosted production, now appeared to be reducing it.

Because farmers had a clear "steak and eggs" axis for evaluation of stock, they were ready and willing to outcross to achieve the best results for their needs and their land. Consumers, after all, do not much care what breed of chicken their eggs come from, or what "champion" bull sired their steak.

Through experimentation, farmers discovered that outcrosses and hybrids of two "pure" types produce as well or better, while remaining more disease resistant, more fecund, and longer-lived than deeply homogeneous stock.

What may appear to be a pure Angus (the most common breed of beef cattle in the world) is likely to have a wide variety of cattle genes coursing through its system. In fact, entire breeds of cattle are now kept solely for their outcross potential. On today's farms the cattle in the field may be Brangus (Brahman-Angus crosses), Braford (Brahmam-Hereford crosses), Beefmasters (a cross of Hereford, Shorthorn and Brahman), or any other combination or mix.

Farmers are not alone in favoring a certain degree of heterogeneity. In top winning race horses, a 5% coefficient of inbreeding is considered high. Though much is made of the stud fees paid for the services of retired winners, most of the offspring of these champion horses are not all that distinguished, and lighting is rarely caught twice in a bottle by the same breeder.

Genetic diversity is similarly valued by breeders of performance dogs such as racing greyhounds, working border collies, sled dogs, and working terriers. All of the working versions of these breeds, or types of dogs, are maintained with open registries. It is not an accident that Kennel Club greyhounds are not found at the track, that Kennel Club terriers are not found in the field, that Kennel Club sled dogs are not found on the Iditarod, or that Kennel Club border collies are not found on working sheep farms.

Ironically, it turns out that maintaining a breed and keeping it more-or-less heterogeneous is neither a contradiction nor a difficulty. The trick is simply to follow Mother Nature and to occasionally do true outcrosses to animals that are entirely outside of the gene pool being crossed into. In the case of cattle and chickens, this is commonly achieved by crossing in an animal of similar size and traits, but with a very different genetic history.

It surprises people to find out that Mother Nature does much the same thing. Most people assume a Mallard duck is a Mallard duck. Aren't all Mallards simply clones of each other?

Well, No. You see, ducks hybridize all the time. What appears to be a Mallard may, in fact, have a little Gadwall crossed into it, or a little Black Duck, or even a bit of Greenwinged duck tucked into its double-helix.

In the duck world, where success is defined in Darwinian terms, there are no closed registries. While animals within a species tend to mate with others of the species in the same area, new blood flies, walks or swims in all the time. In the case of ducks, it may even come from across the ocean -- or from an entirely different duck species.

The same effect occurs when young male fox, lions, and wolves are forced out of their natal territories, causing them to travel great distances to find unoccupied territories. A young male wolf sired in Wyoming may travel as far as Oregon before it "settles down" to rear its own family.

What is true for ducks is true for a lot of animals. Not only will individual animals often travel great distances to find unoccupied territories, they may also cross the species barrier as they do so. A wolf will mate with both a dog AND a coyote, while finches leap across the species barrier at the drop of a hat. A spotted owl will freely mate with a barred owl, while most amazon parrots freely cross breed. A lion can mate with a tiger and produce fertile offspring, and an African elephant can cross breed with an Asian elephant. A muskellunge will cross with a northern pike, and a sunfish will cross with a bluegill. Trout and salmon species readily hybridize. Many species of hawks and falcons will also cross the species line, while a buffalo will cross with a cow. Just last week a hunter in Alaska shot an animal that turned out to be a cross between a polar bear and a grizzly.

The point here is not that trans-species outcrosses are common, but that even between distinct species Mother Nature often runs her train "loose on the tracks," and a considerable amount of genetic wobble is allowed.

Mother Nature allows outcrosses because she values heterogeneous genes, while she punishes homogeneous genes by "culling" animals through a process of dwindling survivorship (neonatal mortality), shortened lifespans, and infecundity.

The facts outlined here are not closely held information and are supported by sound science. Why then has the Kennel Club not changed its policy?

The short answer is economics.

The Kennel Club is a huge money-making bureaucracy dependent upon selling people on the "exclusivity" of a closed registry and a scrap of paper that says a dog is a "pure breed". So long as people are willing to buy Kennel Club registered dogs that have predictably higher chances of serious physical impairments than cross-bred dogs, the Kennel Club (and Kennel Club breeders) have little motivation to change the way they do business.

Let me hasten to say that the Kennel Club is not filled with evil people intent on doing harm to dogs. It is, in fact, filled with regular people who are different from the rest of the world only in the degree (and the way) they seek ego-gratification and are status-seeking.

This last point is import: the Kennel Club is not primarily about dogs. Dogs do not care about ribbons, pedigrees, titles, and points. These are human obsessions. The reason a human will drive several hundred miles and stand around all day waiting for 10 minutes in the ring is not because of the dog, but because the human needs that ribbon, that title, and that little bit of extra status that comes from a win.

Each to his own, but let us be honest about what dog shows are about -- they are about ribbons for people. The dogs themselves could not give a damn.

It is unfair to fault individual breeders and breed clubs for the failures of the Kennel Club, as these smaller units are powerless to change the larger whole.

Breed clubs are small and largely impotent by design. Because the Kennel Club does not require breeders, pet owners, or even show ring ribbon-chasers to join a breed club as a condition of registration, these entities remain small, underfunded, and unrepresentative.

Breed clubs, like dog shows themselves, are also steeped in internecine politics and dominated by big breeders and people who over-value "conformation."

It is only by conforming to the AKC system for decades that anyone can hope to move up in the AKC hierarchy -- a situation that guarantees intellectual and bureaucratic inbreeding.

In the end, the AKC is a closed registry in every sense of that word. It continues to embrace the failed genetic theories of Victorian England because it is incapable of serious reform within the Club itself.

Is there a bright light anywhere? Yes and no.

Back in 1922, Sewell Wright, a famous early geneticist, devised a method of calculating a coefficient of inbreeding (COI). Under Wright's system, inbreeding coefficients ranging from 0% to 100% defined the percentage of a dog's genes that might be homozygous (note that this is a probability equation).

The equation was neat and discrete, as such things went, but incredibly complex and cumbersome in practice. Without mathematical training, an enormous stack of pedigrees, and at least a week's worth of hand calculation, a 10-generation coefficient of inbreeding was impossible to calculate. As a result, Wright's coefficient of inbreeding (COI) was not much used.

The good news is that in the modern era, thanks to the advent of the personal computer and the internet, it is now much easier to build a 10- or 20-generation pedigree using list-servs, email, and ready-made software.

Sadly, few breeders seem willing to do even this work -- and even fewer are willing to do what is right. Breeders hell-bent to make it in the show world continue to inbreed their dogs and consumers continue to buy their cast-offs, completely ignoring the fact that 25 percent of the time they are buying a heath care liability -- one that may cost them many thousands of dollars in veterinary care in a just a few years time.

On the positive side, more and more breeders are testing their dogs for hip dysplasia (OFA), eye problems (CERF), and deafness (BAER). Unfortunately, testing and culling alone are not a curative for genetic problems. In fact, culling large numbers of dogs from a gene pool only serves to further reduce the size of the gene pool. So long as you are operating within a closed registry, the engine of disaster is still on the tracks ... and only increasing its speed.

Within the Kennel Club, two breeds of dogs stand at polar opposites when coefficients of inbreeding are examined, and both of them are terriers [Marsha Eggleston, report on "Genetic Diversity" to the AKC's DNA Committee, 2002].

The Bull Terrier may be the most inbred of Kennel Club breeds, having first entered the Club with relatively few individual members and having, since then, been split into two color phases (colored and white) and two sizes (miniature and standard).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the "Parson" Russell Terrier. The "Parson" is a new entry to the Kennel Club and has benefited greatly from the large and diverse gene pool (and open-registry) of the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) from which most of the AKC dogs were only recently drawn.

The JRTCA remains the largest Jack Russell terrier club in the world.

The genetic diversity of the JRTCA is not an accident -- it is mandated. Under JRTCA rules, a dog cannot be registered if it has a Coefficient of Inbreeding of 16% or greater.

This is not a particularly low coefficient. Out-crosses to non-Russells are quite rare in the JRTCA, but such outcrosses are technically possible -- a genetic parachute individual breeders can use if needs arise -- or if a particular cross may be salient in order to increase the working traits (size, nose, voice, gameness, tractability) in a particular line. The progeny of such an outcross may or may not be registered with the JRTCA, depending on the look of the dog.

Some controversy has arisen over whether the Parson Russell Terrier and the JRTCA dogs are, in fact, the same animal with different names. While some folks continue to quibble over the status of individual dogs that may have been dual-registered at the time of the split a few years back, there can be little doubt that there are now two distinct breeds. Not only are there two registries (one of which is closed and locked), but there are also two breed standards which only partly overlap. With the absence of small dogs, and an "ideal" AKC dog listed as 14" tall, the average Kennel Club animal is quickly getting larger, and as a consequence it is quickly losing utility in the field.

In closing, it is worth recounting where "race improvement," through eugenics, took Darwin and the rest of the world.

It seems Charles Darwin was interested in maintaining the 'genetic superiority' of his own bloodline and so he married his first cousin. From this marriage, Darwin produced ten children.

Of Darwin's four daughters, one girl, Mary, died shortly after birth; another girl, Anne, died at the age of ten years from Scarlet Fever; while his eldest daughter, Henrietta, had a serious and prolonged breakdown at age fifteen.

Of Darwin's six sons, three suffered such frequent illness that Darwin considered them semi-invalids, while his last son, Charles Jr., was born mentally retarded and died nineteen months after birth.

Of Darwin's adult children, neither William Darwin, Elizabeth Darwin, Leonard Darwin or Henrietta Darwin had children of their own -- a startling high incidence of infecundity.

Of the three children that grew up reasonably unafflicted physically and mentally, Leonard Darwin went on to serve as chairman of the Eugenics Society (serving from 1911 to 1928) where he used the value of his father's name to lecture the world about "good breeding."

He too married his first cousin.

It was the Eugenics Society, under Leonard Darwin, that popularized the "Great Idea" of improving man through selective breeding and encouraged a program of state-sponsored negative eugenics.

Model laws, popularized by the Eugenics Society, advocated the mandatory sterilization of the retarded and the feeble-minded. Within a few decades, Europe was rounding up of entire classes of "mongrel" people of "low breeding" and shipping them off to be disposed of in the ovens.

Through it all, the Kennel Club has held fast, never wavering from its closed registry system, and never doubting the value of an aggressive system of eugenics centered on looks and appearance alone.

Never mind that science, data, or experience has shown that a closed registry serves neither human utility nor canine health.

Never mind the dog.

The dog, after all, has never been what what the Kennel Club has been all about.


Anonymous said...

One word: Brilliant.

Simply brilliant. Thank you for an outstanding article.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting into such clear and informative words thoughts that many of us have been thinking... I truly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I second the motion. Brilliant indeed! Such clarity!

Anonymous said...

Very well written, I really enjoyed it - keep up the great work!!

Retrieverman said...

The bull terrier became inbred for all of those reasons, plus a few others.

The first standard bull terriers all came from Hinks's breeding program. They were a mixture of the English white terrier, the white bulldog, and the Dalmatian. Originally, these dogs HAD to be white.

For a time, they wanted to start breeding dogs with an egg-shape head .That's not so hard to breed for, but considering that you're breeding from dogs derived from bulldogs, it's not where your starting point is.

They also bred for several different sizes in this breed. There were toy bull terriers that were less than ten pounds in weight. To breed for that you have to stratify the gene pool.

Then Britain banned ear cropping. To breed for erect ears, they had to do a lot of intense line breeding and some inbreeding.

The first modern bull terrier, Lord Gladiator, was born in 1917. As far as I can tell, all bull terriers and miniature bull terriers descend from him. He had no stop on his head.

Then, the English white terrier went extinct, mainly because it was universally deaf. It was discovered that their white coloration was associated with their deafness. The Bull terrier people in Britain saw the writing on the wall, and allowed for "colored" dogs to be developed. To do this, they actually did breed out of their registry, bringing in Staffordshire bull terrier blood.

However, this didn't solve the genetic diversity problem. Staffie/bull terrier crosses don't have the triangular eyes and the real egg-shaped head of the white show bully, so they had to line breed to get colored dogs with white bull terrier conformation. In the US, this problem was made worse because the poobahs of the AKC's bull terrier club didn't want the colored dogs in their registry. So a compromise was made-- in the AKC ring, we'd have two different categories for the bull terrier.

At some point, someone decided to breed bull terriers that were downfaced, which also required this sort of inbreeding and line breeding.

Because these dogs have been in the fancy for such a long time, they have made it so that they are heavily inbred.

I've read their club literature on this, and I've laughed. They found some geneticist who said that their inbreeding coefficients were fine.

Now, when I was about 16 or 17, this was THE breed I wanted. I read everything I could find about them. I don't think I'd really want one now.

Sanja said...

Brilliant! Brilliant!

An excellent summation. I have never before had it explained to me just how this inbreeding thing worked nor how inbreeding is best alleviated. I have read occasional references to the fact that Idita-doggies have become brutally inbred over the course of barely thirty-five years. Not to mention just how the AKC was such a blight upon dogdom. I never knew the stuff about 19th century English livestock breeding, or those ooky details about Charles Darwin's offspring.

Now then, how might this coefficient of inbreeding be applied to humans? It is well-known that the vast majority of britons who suffer from genetic disease are Paki immigrants. Here in the U.S. the Amish (roughly 40,000 Old-order Amish are descended from a party of about 200 immigrants in the mid-1700's, not to mention the fundamentalist Mormons while we're at it) also suffer disproportionately from inbreeding.

Miley said...

Great stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I cant wait to read more from you.
This is really a great blog.

heavenly treasures

Dave said...

Good stuff. The kid can write. And he knows the facts.

houndcastle said...

Very well written I simply love the work.I have bred dogs for performance and field work and I totally agree on various issues brought to light,I like pure breds very much but the dogs that I like seem to lack the gameness or "grit" as is often called by some hunters. The point is that I and a friend did some out crosses on the "running dogs we had,We were laugh at by the pure bred group,but in time they were buying our crosses and also we were taking them to the cleaners on performance also.If you know what you want go for it you might succeed.

Janeway69 said...

You did a great job with this and I agree with soooooooo much. Two points I want to bring to the surface are that HD screening hasn't done anything to eliminate HD. So many dogs screened who pass still get it down the line. This MIGHT be genetic. But some dogs get it long after they've been bred. If you COULD determine how many dogs got it, and left them out of the gene pool, you would cut the available genes remaining even further, causing a new issue to arise. Also Dogs Naturally has a great article on the evidence between distemper vax and joint issues. In short the virus remains in the joint and causes the body to develop various forms of autoimmune diesases where the body attacks its own collagen. There are science journal references in the article, making it worth a read.

Anna said...

THIS is why I chose a landrace rather than a true purebred when I was looking for a working livestock guardian & personal protection dog. The genetic diversity of the Central Asian Shepherd is *huge*, with variety in type depending on the environment in which that type is found. The gene pool in the US is small, but the gene pool in Central Asia is enormous, & the dogs are still legitimate working dogs where the emphasis is on working ability, not pedigree. The ONLY thing pedigree is good for is to give you some idea of what a given cross may produce in the pups. If it looks like a Central Asian & acts like a Central Asian, it's a Central Asian, regardless of what its parents were. And on the flip side, to all these breeders who are hung up how many famous dogs are in the pedigree, if it doesn't act like a Central Asian, it is NOT a Central Asian, regardless of how it looks or who its parents were. This is why I'm looking to a non-FCI country for my next import. It ensures a 100% outcross with an inbreeding coefficient of 0%.

John said...

One correction regarding the registries for racing (and coursing) Greyhounds: they are in fact closed registries. The National Greyhound Association (NGA)in the U.S., National Coursing Club (NCC) in the UK and the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) in Eire will register Greyhounds registered with one of those other registries, but will not register Greyhounds registered with the AKC or KC. The racing Greyhound and coursing Greyhound gene pool is not small, and they are not as affected by as small a number of "popular sires" as is the case in the show world, but the stud books of those working/sporting Greyhound registries are in fact closed.

John Parker

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Hi Patrick,
I'm delighted to find your blog and I shared your article on my Facebook page. I'm still in Egypt and I still have my original Rat Terrier bitch who has been with me for about 18 years now. As I'm in my mid-60's now, my daughter has asked me please not to breed RT's' as they are too long lived and she doesn't want to inherit a ton of them. I currently have 7 of my breeding here living out their lives on my farm and they range from ten to nineteen years of age and are still very active. I really appreciate your article as I've always been in favour of breeding to work rather than for looks. When my daughter in the US wanted to finally get a dog of her own, she went for a RT as well.

Jerri Blackman said...

Hey Patrick,

A new book out you might like:
A Matter of Breeding: A Biting History of Pedigree Dogs and How the Quest for Status Has Harmed Man's Best Friend
by Michael Brandow
Published February, 2015, here's a website that featured the book:
Jerri Blackman
Tucson Librarian

PBurns said...

Copy arrived yesterday. Review coming. It's good!

Jerri Blackman said...

Cool. Can't wait to hear what you think. I myself went from breeding show German Shepherd Dogs to working GSDs to not breeding at all, but instead rescuing and training for various types of work. Just joined the Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue organization a couple weeks ago, and my current foster is a Red Heeler mix mom who looks like a Coydog. Whelped her litter of 5 by unknown dad(s), and the VIGOROUS pups are now 2 1/2 weeks. Already up on 4 feet and barking and growling.

mereworth said...

While for the most part I agree with you about the inbreeding in purebred dogs, the one point not touched upon is that prior to DNA testing becoming available it was not unheard of for breeders of purebred show dogs to quietly crossbreed to other breeds to improve certain points and to add genetic diversity to their stock.

Case in point - Welsh Terriers, a breed I was involved in for 20 years. Welsh Terriers started out with a very small gene pool and if left as it was at the start, the breed would have died out long ago. But, oddly enough, it seemed to do quite well. How? Because breeders in the past had no issue with going behind the barn and breeding their bitches to Wire Fox, Irish, Lakelands or other scruffy terrier breeds. They would keep bitch pups out of the cross and breed them back to Welsh dogs and the result would be indistinguishable from purebred Welsh. And the paperwork would not be an issue as they would simply register the crossbreds as being by and out of other registered dogs in their kennel.

Were my own Welsh genetically pure? Hell, no. I would get "ghost Wire" pups in litters where you could see silvery markings on them when they were first whelped, where with a little genetic push would have resulted in the white markings you find on Wire Fox. I also know one European breeder who routinely crossed to Irish. How do I know this? He told me. So my "purebred" Welsh had both Wire and Irish in their breeding and I had no problem with that.

This sort of crossing has gone on in other breeds as well and would be going on today if it weren't for DNA testing being used to verify parentage.

Curtis said...

I think you should differentiate between "show" kennel clubs and "working dog" Kennel clubs AKC is SHOW UKC is for working dogs as well as the PTCA- sure they have a bench show or confirmation but the most important to these clubs are trials and hunts that test the working ability of the for inbreeding and inbreeding coefficient -if you line breed a dog that cross will produce pups with the traist of the parents 'amplified'- This includes all good traits but also all undesirable traits
Most dogs have too many faults for linebreeding so its overused but for those dogs with a great many desirable traist and few faults then linebreeding is a perfect way to maintain and improve a line ( regardless what god says in the Bible )

Just my personal opinions of course

Thanks for writing