Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wonder What Their Coefficient of Inbreeding Is?

People With Ostrich Feet - video powered by Metacafe

The Vadoma or Wadoma are a tribe living in the west of Zimbabwe, in the Urungwe and Sipolilo districts of the Zambezi river valley. They have few contacts with the Bantu majority surrounding them, and are deeply inbred.

One by-product of their inbreeding is that a very rare condition known as ectrodactylism occurs in a substantial percentage of the tribe.

Once the defective recessive gene for ectrodactylism occurred within the tribe (perhaps through spontaneous mutation), it swept through the closed and inbred population, and soon "doubled down" to express itself as "ostrich feet."

Old Testament Israelites knew this kind of thing could occur in inbred populations -- they had seen it in their own goat and sheep herds -- and so it is not an accident that in Deuteronomy 27:22 it says:

"Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother."

While in Leviticus 18:17 it says:

You may not take as wife a woman and her daughter, or her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter, for they are of one family: it is an act of shame.

Well, yes it is.

It is also a very risky practice to embrace in perpetuity as part of a closed registry system.

And yet, people with dog breeds that are riddled with cancer, dysplasia, epilepsy, and cataracts will tell you it's quite fine; that there is a difference between inbreeding within an isolated human population and inbreeding within a closed registry system of dogs.

But of course, it's a lie bathed in ignorance.

The human ego -- the watch spring driving the Kennel Club machine -- cannot undo the laws of genetics.

Mother Nature always bats last, and the rising levels of disease, deformity and defect within Kennel Club dogs is not an accident; it is the inevitable byproduct of the Kennel Club's embrace of the failed eugenics theories of 19th Century England.

But, of course, the Kennel Club could not do it alone.

It also needs scores of thousands of dog owners to continue to try to marginalize obvious defects within their breeds as simple byproducts of "bad breeding" and "backyard breeders" and puppy mills (and never mind if that it is demonstrably not true).

Surely, all we need to do is cull "the bad ones" they say, lighting the funeral pyre and sharpening the ax.

And what's all this talk about Kennel Club eugenics theories resembling those of Nazi Germany?

Surely no one is against euthenizing the deaf dogs that are the inevitable byproduct of breeding for merle and spotted coats?

And what are we to do with all these Greyhounds and Great Danes and Boxers that have the wrong coat color?

Those breeds have such enormous litters -- perhaps it's best if we just put a few of the "wrong ones" to sleep?

After all, those large dogs of the wrong color are so much more difficult to sell, and you know what happens if you give a dog away; they always end up in the pound. Perhaps it's better if we made sure these excess dogs were in a "safe and secure place" right at the beginning? Nothing wrong with that, is there? After all, we are trying to breed good dogs here. We are trying to improve the breed! And we will do it in a humane way -- a little shot at the vets or else a puppy placed in a plastic bag filled with party-store helium. The dogs go over the Rainbow Bridge in their sleep; there is no violence here. We even play Wagner so they remain calm and at peace right up to the end.

It is because we believe in improvement that we believe in breed purity. Purity is the goal. A pure thing is better than an impure thing.

And to make sure that goal is met, we not only keep meticulous birth records to make sure there is no breed mixing, but we also have breed clubs to serve as racial hygienists.

Surely no one is opposed to a little old-fashioned rassenhygiene?

And you know us. You know we are not bad people! We are good people! We care about the future of our breed! In fact, one index of how much we care is how much we are willing to spend at the veterinarians if our dogs get cancer ... or develop hip dysplasia ... or have perpetual skin conditions. We are bonded with our animals. Nothing but the best for them!

But no, we are not going to let our breed decline and become a mongrel breed. We will patrol for purity and uphold the standard: Not a drop of mixed blood will be allowed!


jdege said...

"Surely no one is against euthenizing the deaf dogs that are the inevitable byproduct of breeding for merle and spotted coats?"

Commercial livestock breeders use linebreeding and other forms of inbreeding at least as much as we the breeders of purebred dogs.

The differences:

1. They have no hesitation in strictly culling. Animals that show problems will never reproduce.

2. They don't give a fig for the "purebred" label, and they don't hesitate to outcross.

The Kennel clubs' problem isn't just that they inbreed, but that they never outbreed.

The most egregious was when the AKC refused to the dogs produced by the Dalmatian Backcross Project.

PBurns said...


See "Inbred Thinking" at >>
in which I note:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

"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.