Friday, June 28, 2024

Terrier Type and the Preservation of Variation

Back in 2013, this show dog publication turned up in the mail.

I had not heard of this one before, but I vaguely recall green-lighting the reprint of an old piece from the main web site on how to train dogs to do go-to-ground.

I like the title -- TYPE is what terriers and all working dogs should be. Where the world went wrong, in my opinion, is in the creation of breeds which are simply too fine a point on the pencil.

Maintaining a breed within a narrow morphological "standard" requires too much emphasis on looks, which means too little attention is paid to health and work.

Pointers and Setters are a type.

Molosser or "butcher dogs" are a type.

Herding dogs are a type, as are stock-guarding dogs, running dogs, and sled dogs.

Sure there's a lot of variation within these types -- variation in color, coat, size, head shape, and even working traits. 

But that's the point.

In the preservation of variation, you tend to preserve the long-term health of the breed, and you also preserve the variety needed to work different things in different locations and for different purposes.

I am not saying that breeding has to be random within a type, but I *am* saying that when the world started splitting Norfolk and Norwich terriers into two "breeds" simply because one terrier had an ear up, and the other had an ear down, bad things were just around the corner.

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