Hamsters have no use, other than to be pets, pets that are routine biters. So there’s no temperament issues to worry about compromising through breeding for conformation oddities. After all, most hamsters are so surly that almost no one recommends them for children’s pets these days. I can’t say the same for the golden retriever.
I was once a hamster fancier. I used to breed all sorts of hamsters (all of the Golden or Syrian species– the dwarf and Chinese species were quite pricey in the early 90′s).
I’ve never had one that didn’t try to bite. Never. After a while, I got to where I expected that one would bite me at some point, and I just accepted it as an “occupational hazard.”
I’ve even found hamster conformation standards. These didn’t even exist in the United States when I was hamster crazy.
I’d love to try my hand at conformation breeding, but I don’t want to screw up an animal with a complex brain and social life, like a dog or a horse. Hamsters are pleasingly simple.
As for inbreeding issues, all Syrian hamsters are descended from a single female and her offspring that were captured near Aleppo by an Israeli zoologist named Israel Aharoni. The mother died soon after capture, so all the offspring from that litter wound up populating the whole world with this species.
For those of you who would like a good pet rodent for a child, guinea pigs (cavies) and rats are my top picks, especially the latter. Rats are far, far more responsive than any other species of rodent you are likely to purchase and far less likely to bite. Guinea pigs aren’t bad about biting either, but they have rather dull personalities.