Posts Tagged ‘Border Wars’

Great post at Border Wars.

Also check out the post debunking some dubious scholarship on Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever COI’s.


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If only Timothy Treadwell had only focused on his relationship with red foxes, he probably would be alive today. I found his relationship with these very habituated foxes far more interesting than his bizarre anthropomorphism of Alaskan brown bears (which aren't grizzlies).


I don’t know if anyone has read a better review of Grizzly Man than this one, but I haven’t.

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It would take just 50 random ISDS border collies to reconstruct Wiston Cap.

No popular sire problems in BC’s?

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White tigers are heavily inbred. All descend from a single individual, and a lot of them are born with deformities-- like this poor cat.

Christopher Landauer has taken on various myths about the virtues of inbreeding in a series of five posts.

The are pretty good, so check them out.

These are all refutations of some of the memes that are passing in the dog blogosphere.

Dog culture does not reward diversity.

And while we can agree that diversity should exist for diversity’s sake, it does not mean that it should be ignored in our discussions about the long-term viability of Canis lupus familiaris.

It should be noted that a wide variety of animal keepers are much more concerned with genetic diversity than dog people are.

VMS Professional Herpetoculture is a major producer of reptiles for the pet market. It has a very well-written and extensive learning center on its website that includes several lessons in genetics, including a discussion on inbreeding and a discussion on hybridization. These discussions are very applicable to dogs, but unlike dogs, there is no strong cultural sense that one must maintain purity at all costs. Crossbreeding different subspecies and even different species is fun and entirely acceptable in the pet reptile business. The inbreeding discussion even suggests that certain strains and color phases that are produced in captivity might be suffering from an inbreeding depression.

All of it is worth checking out, if for no reason than the attitude of the herp culture is the exact opposite of the dog culture. It is true that everyone wants to breed in the neatest new color mutation, but at the same time, captive reptile gene pools are much more finite. People are concerned that inbreeding could hurt the long term viability of their chosen species.

Of course, we dog people have been spoiled. Our species is relatively genetically diverse, and until persecution pushed them to the far reaches of the northern continents, we always had a chance to bring in “wild blood” from wolves. We can get away with things that would never be tolerated in most species.

However, even other widespread domestic animals are being crossbreed. Cattle breeders have long understood the importance of heterosis. These traits have had a real effect in terms of market price:

When all factors are weighed, the crossbred cow gives you the most benefit. By contrast, the stockman who is merely trying to take advantage of hybrid vigor in the calves (using straightbred cows and bulls of another breed) gains less impact on profitability. Calf weaning weights for crossbred calves are five percent more (and yearling weights four percent more) than straightbred calves. The research study in the 1990’s that came up with these figures showed that a straightbred cow with a crossbred calf earned an average of $23.37 more than if she had a straightbred calf. But a crossbred cow with a crossbred calf netted $116.88 more than a straightbred cow with a straightbred calf. This is one reason a number of producers went to crossbred cow herds.

The market says crossbreed!

Of course, the demand for marbled Angus beef has meant that the market is now demanding animals that are close pure black (Aberdeen) Angus cattle.

But many of those have Hereford crossed in somewhere close in their pedigrees.

It is instructive to read the two links I provided with the literature that Christopher is critiquing.

The attitudes are entirely different.

That’s because dogs have a greater immunity to market forces than beef cattle do. People will spend a fortune buying unhealthy dogs that are of very little real economic utility, simply because the “pureness” of their breeding confers upon the animals a higher status. A cattle strain that doesn’t produce marketable beef isn’t going to be bred from. But we can breed dogs that die at age 5  and can’t whelp naturally. That’s because people will continue to buy those dogs, regardless of health. The novelty of the breed confers upon its owners status.

(Of course, we can have breeds without having a closed registry or a Potemkin open registry system. But that’s a different discussion.)

Dogs also are derived from a widespread, genetically diverse ancestor that also backcrossed into the population at least several times in the history of its domestication. There are only so many opportunities to bring in new blood for exotic snake species– especially if it is Australian. (Australia banned the export of its native wildlife to private owners.)

So many herp breeders are always looking for new blood. New blood is scarce in relative terms, and the long-term viability of the captive strains depends upon it.

That’s something dogs haven’t yet faced, but their long-term viability is threatened so long as we think that purity is always a virtue unto itself.

It is less of a self-defining virtue than diversity is, for diversity has several important qualities.

Not the least of which is how important it is for the immune system.

But that’s very hard to explain to people who think you can inbreed for health.

Maybe in the short run, but in the long run, it’s a killer.

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Ah, remember when we were told that Wiston Cap had nothing wrong with him and that there have been no other popular sires in the border collie?

Well, Christopher Landauer analyzes Wiston Cap’s contribution to the pervasiveness of collie eye anomaly in border collies.

He also finds that there are more popular sires in the bloodline besides Wiston Cap, who isn’t even the number one sire.

Please note that he’s not saying that the disease originated with that dog.

What he’s saying that such overuse of this dog has made it possible for that disease to be pervasive in the border collie.

Here are the OptiGen numbers on the pervasiveness of CEA in the various collie breeds.

Compared to North American shelties and Australian shepherds, CEA is a bigger problem in the border collie than one might suppose.

The popular sire effect exists in border collies, and it has been detrimental to them.

These are simple facts.

No screeds can change facts.

Only listening to evidence objectively can help us change things.


Please note that I am not selling anyone’s dogs on this blog.

Christopher is a breeder, but he is selling the dogs on their own merit.

All I am doing is promoting his ideas and calculations on this blog.

These calculations simply shatter the myths that trial dogs are inherently healthy because they are trialled and that border collies are not subject to the most-used sire effect.

These are just myths.

I would have expected this from the AKC fanatics.

But I did not expect such denialism from working dog people.

See earlier posts.

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