It’s well-known that I have my own opposition to religious tenet of blood purity that has unfortunately poisoned so much of dog culture.
If it were acceptable that golden retrievers could still be crossed with flat-coats or Labradors and still get the puppies registered with the AKC and the entire FCI system, I’d be all for it. But if you do any crossbreeding within these breeds, the descendants can never be registered as any breed. There use to be an “Interbred” retriever classification with the Kennel Club (of the UK), but now, if you cross a golden with a yellow Labrador, none of the descendants of that cross can ever be registered as golden retrievers, even if they look just like normal golden retrievers.
Not this was not always the case.
In the 1920′s, when both golden and Labrador retrievers were recognized as distinct breeds by the Kennel Club, the Haulstone line of golden retrievers experienced an outcross to a field champion yellow Labrador retriever, FTCh Hayler’s Defender. If you play around on pedigree databases enough, you’ll find descendants of this dog in both golden and Labrador pedigrees.
But right now, an outcross between two breeds is a genetic dead-end, and you cannot use this tool to make improvements on the strains or increase genetic diversity.
I want this tool back in the hands of dog breeders, and I would be willing to buy a dog that looked like a golden retriever but had a Labrador three generations back in the same way I’ll eat a “Black Angus steak” that came from a steer whose great, great, great grandmother was a Hereford.
However, I’ve found that even among “working dog” writers that there is a resistance to outcrossing that so resembles that of the kennel club aversion to it that it’s really quite disconcerting.
And this doesn’t include those who are against all outcrossing.
Some of those who are okay with outcrossing with other breeds, or at least claim to be, are very adverse to crossing things into there own breed.
For example, there is a well-known “working terrier” expert who keeps Jack Russells for groundhog digging operations.
His biggest lament is that Jack Russells are getting too big for the job, and it’s harder and harder to find one small enough to do the work.
Well, there is an obvious solution to this problem.
The Jack Russell is a fox terrier. It’s a specific type of fox terrier that resembles those that were first distilled into a breed in the late eighteenth century, but fox terriers became a global breed. And now there are dozens of offshoots of the family.
One of these is called a toy fox terrier. It’s a toy breed, which isn’t much larger than a Chihuahua, and it’s not technically a working dog, though they are known for their intelligence. They may not be as game as Jack Russells, but they aren’t as far removed from Jack Russells as say a mastiff or a greyhound would be.
All one would have to do is a little crossing with toy fox terriers and Jack Russells, and then one could select for both small size and gameness and have the perfect sized terrier for the job.
The JRTCA even would allow descendants of those crosses to be registered, so long as they were within the JRTCA’s conformation requirements.
But I’ve never heard this terrier writer say anything about the potential of this cross, though I’m pretty sure he’s excoriated the existence of toy fox terriers as an anathema to “real terriers,” which includes only about 4 or 5 breeds and dachshunds, which are actually small Central European hounds, not terriers. (A full-sized dachshund would be something like a Hanoverian schweisshund.)
The Germans had no problems crossing miniature pinschers with dachshunds to make the little rabbit dachshunds that are used to hunt in rabbit warrens.
So why would someone be opposed to crossing toy fox terriers with Jack Russells to make a groundhog specialist-sized Jack Russells, especially when one can eventually get the descendants of the cross registered as Jack Russells with the JRTCA?
The truth is I really don’t think many of these working dog people are as opposed to the closed registry system as they claim to be.
Sure, some of those crosses are going to be too docile to do groundhogs, but in Europe, when breeders cross low drive conformation golden retrievers with higher drive working goldens, they get some pups in the litter that aren’t any good at retrieving.
But they still do it, because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be getting new blood in.
If you want to turn a dog into a ferret, the opportunity is there.
The truth is both “working dog” people and “show dog” people are operating under the same paradigms.
It’s the same old song.
And we have to get out of this mythology on both sides if we are to confront the problems dogs face in a rational manner.