Posts Tagged ‘closed registries’

This scene should be part of a population management program for golden retrievers. Source for image.

This scene should be part of a population management program for golden retrievers. Source for image.

Let’s clear the air a bit.

When a dog breed is put into a closed registry system, it has been decided to create a population of animals that has a population genetics structure that resembles that of an endangered species. There is plenty of evidence that many very popular breeds have terrible genetic structures. In a 2008 paper in the journal Genetics, Calboli et al. performed an analysis of ten dog breeds in the UK, using Kennel Club pedigrees to determine effective population size. Effective population size tells you how big the population would be if a random number of individuals were put together that would have the same amount of genetic diversity as the population in question. The general rule for conservation genetics is that anything under 100 individuals is of critical concern.

The results went as follows:

Akita – 45 (effective population).
Boxer – 45
Bulldog – 48
Chow Chow – 50
Rough Collie – 33
Golden Retriever – 67
Greyhound – 17
German Shepherd – 76
Labrador – 114
English Springer Spaniel – 72

Shocking, eh?

Every one of these breeds is a closed registry breed.

All but one have very real problems with genetic diversity. Only the Labrador retriever is out of the crisis zone– and just barely.

If you read the paper, the golden retriever, which doesn’t look as bad, has the worst problems with popular sire effects in its population. Only 5% of the male dogs in the UK population are sires, and for a popular breed, this is a recipe for disaster.

This is because even though these dog breeds have a genetic structure resembling that of an endangered species, they are not bred the way conservationists would breed endangered species.

With endangered species, the goal is to conserve as much genetic diversity as possible.  The Chinese spend countless hours working to maintain what genetic diversity can be spared in giant pandas. Giant pandas, which are actually a primitive bear with no living close relatives left, have no populations for which there can be outcrosses.

You can’t say that about golden retrievers, which would be greatly served with occasional outcrosses to their somewhat more genetically diverse smooth-coated cousins. The differences between Labrador and golden retrievers aren’t that extreme. Both are derived from the same root stock. Both breeds share ancestors in documented pedigrees, and there was a famous cross between a yellow Labrador (Haylers Defender) to the Haulstone line of golden retrievers in the 1920’s.

Not ancient history at all!

If we had a dog culture that was based upon reason and science, this would be a no-brainer.

However, this is not the dog culture we have.

The dog culture we have does two things that utterly gum up the works when it comes to sound population management principles:

1. Closed registries as dogma.

2. Competitive dog breeding.

The former is what creates the genetically compromised population. The latter is what exacerbates it.

Could you imagine the madness that it would be to breed giant pandas based upon a conformation standard?

But that’s exactly what is happening in the world of dogs, and as I’ve noted before, it’s not just dog shows that are causing this problem.  Breeding choices that are based solely on trial performance do the exact same job.

Each generation of dogs that is bred under these conditions loses genes. Some of these genes might be pretty nice to have– like the gene that Dalmatians had for producing urine with normal levels of uric acid. This was actually lost to the entire population of Dalmatians before a pointer was crossed in to reintroduce it.

And it took decades and decades of fighting the closed registry dogma to get these Dalmatians into the breed. Even though they were very, very distantly derived from that pointer that was crossed in, the breed vanguards would not allow in the “mongrels.”

Until it became impossible to say no.

Every single breed in a closed registry system that is being bred with under these principles is at risk for winding up like the Dalmatian. What’s even more frightening is that as these breeds become more and more related through both popular sire problems and “line-breeding,” it becomes impossible to control for genetic load. Dog breeders operate under the delusion that you can just select away from any disease just like you’d select away from poor conformation, which is why they go ape over every genetic test for a disease that comes down the pike.

It’s not that these genetic tests aren’t useful. It’s that they do give dog breeders a crutch to hold onto. You can’t talk about  a better way to manage genetic load– i.e., let in new blood and selectively breed for better gene conservation– because everyone is awaiting the next genetic test to come along.

The problem is that the greater dog fancy is a culture that worships genetic plunder. Most of the effects of such pillage are not known while the pillaging is happening. During that time, a breeder might become rewarded with top winning dogs that may or may not have long lives.

But it is the next generations that the problems with gene loss and reduced genetic diversity start to become apparent. By then the breeder or breeders who plundered the genes may not even be around anymore.

But they have stolen from the next generation of dog owners and breeders.

It’s that next generation who will have to pay the vet bills and watch their dogs die agonizing deaths.

And all because we have contrived up endangered species that we call dog breeds and then bred them in ways that make absolutely no sense.

No one wants to talk about this genetic plunder.

And no one wants to talk about the simple fact that this concept of closed registry breed is really a very new concept. A breed is not a species. And although there are breed differences, when we start talking about breeds that are closely related, the differences become somewhat trivial.

And it is at this point the dog world becomes a dogma– a type of religion.

Breed becomes a faith-based assertion, and the dogs suffer because reason is not the operating force behind the management of their populations.

Dogma is.

Dogma is not good for dogs.




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alapaha blue blood

One of the most troubling delusions of parts of the dog fancy is one that is actually pretty hard to describe to someone not deeply indoctrinated into that particular value system.

I call this delusion “the delusion of preservation.”  It is a belief that if one just keeps the lineages of certain dogs pure, then one is preserving the breed as it was meant to be.

The notion that one is preserving a particular strain through selective breed is not itself a delusion. After all, all dog breeders are in some way preserving a particular type of dog through their breeding choices.

However, it’s idea that by keeping lineages forever “pure”– that is entirely descended from the foundational stock– that one is doing any favors for preserving the strain.

I’ve come across this delusion many times. It’s most common in relatively uncommon breeds, especially those that have relatively more common relatives that could be easily used as outcrosses for the purpose of genetic rescue.

Probably the most blatant example of this delusion that I’ve come across come from this website of a registry for Alapaha blueblood bulldogs. It appears as part of their FAQ:

17. With such a limited gene pool what are the health concerns for the breed?

Answer: The health concerns are like any other large breed; go with a breeder that screen for things such as hip dysplasia (OFA or PennHip), death ness (BEAR), blindness, skin disorders, entropion and such. Also get a WRITTEN guarantee/warrantee, their word is just that, their word against yours!

And last but not least, some ‘idiots’ feel that they have to go outside the breed to get different blood to sustain them but I’ve never heard of a reputable German Shepherd breeder breeding to a Collie or a Rottweiler breeder breeding to a Doberman because he/she thought they looked similar or the gene pool was too thin.

Yes, and we know that GSD’s, collies, and Dobermanns are perfect examples to emulate! Every one of those breeds has many severe genetic problems that have been almost impossible to control within their respective breeds.  Collies have collie eye anomaly, which is ubiquitous in the breed. Dobermanns, GSD’s, and Rottweilers have very high rates of cancer, and Dobermanns are known for their very high incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy.

And I’m not even talking about the severe structural problems that exist in GSD’s. Those are not the result of inbreeding, but the result of so-called reputable breeders being ignoramuses about how a dog ought to move.

In fact, these so-called reputable breeders have done such a marvelous job wrecking these pretty common breeds that one wonders why a rare breed club would follow their lead.

The answer is pretty simple:

This club wants to the world to know that this breed is legitimate.

Legitimacy for a dog breed winds up  meaning a closed registry breed.

However, this is not actually legitimacy. It is madness.

This club goes out of its way to attack a real breed preservationist organization– the Animal Research Foundation— which actually is engaged in preserving working breeds, including the Alapaha blueblood.

The truth of the matter is that although we call the AKC the American Kennel Club, it is really a foreign institution. Its entire way of functioning came from Great Britain, and before it became established here, almost no one paid any attention to closed registries.

We had good working dogs. In my part of the world the main working and hunting farm dog was the “shepherd,” a sort of generalist collie. If a farmer moved his way up to the level of a kulak, he might also keep a few scent hounds to run foxes on a Saturday night ormaybe a setter to point bobwhites. To keep the rats out of the granaries and to tree squirrels, you would have a generalist terrier, usually called a feist.  All of these animals were often crossed with each other. I have known “collies” with foxhound ancestors, and beagles with bluetick coonhound crossed in.

In Kentucky and Virginia, curs were more common than shepherds, and the ancestral cur is actually the proto-smooth collie. In Georgia and the Gulf Coast states, these curs were often mixed with other things– perhaps even the merle herding dogs from France or a bit of the old southern wolf subspecies. In those states, the cur was a bigger dog that usually was yellow with or without a black mask or some merle variant. Today, these dogs have been split into breeds which are impossible for me to keep up with.

This merle cur dog was often bred to another generalist working dog that was common in this part of the South. This is the farm bulldog, a creature that likely derives from the ancestral stock that gave us both English mastiffs and bulldogs. This dog was used to guard the estate and manage often very wild livestock in much the same way the curs were used.

And even now, it’s a very common practice to breed merle curs to bulldogs for hunting purposes.

And that is the most likely origin of the Alapaha blueblood. It’s a bulldog/merle cur cross.

Of course, saying this is an absolute heresy because many dog fanciers who own this sort of dog are under the delusion that these dogs derive from Spanish war mastiffs, which is nothing more than a flight of fancy. Spanish colonization in this part of the world was intensive, but it was never as extensive as that of England and later the British Empire. There might be a tiny bit of Spanish blood in these dogs, but the Spanish were not coming over in vast waves to settle the South. People from the British Isles clearly were, though, and they came decades after the Spanish were forced back down into Florida.

Also, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but this kind of dog cannot live on its own in the wild in a subtropical climate. There have never been any wild bulldogs or mastiffs that have evolved anywhere in the world, much less a subtropical climate where the dog simply couldn’t keep itself cool or free of parasites. So the chances of Spanish bulldogs surviving on their own in the wild in the decades between when the Spanish were driven out and the vast waves of Anglo settlement began in the South are very, very low. It’s a romantic delusion if there ever was one.

So this kind of dog wasn’t living in the South for hundreds of years as a closed registry breed.

It was just a regional variant of the bulldog/cur– one that had a lot more bulldog than cur blood.

And the ARF is allowing outcrosses to other farm bulldogs into their recognized strains of Alapaha blueblood, which is, of course, why they are being so viciously attacked in the FAQ.

The ARF is actually engaging in true preservation breeding. It is keeping the genetic diversity of the strain alive. It knows you cannot preserve any biological entity, be it a rare domestic dog breed or an endangered species, if you simply ignore the genetic diversity of the breeding population.

This is why the dog fancy continues to fail dogs.

And the desire to emulate this failure in rare or working breeds is perhaps the most baffling aspect I’ve seen.

This delusion of preservation is something that must be openly challenged. Otherwise, nothing will be preserved at all.

Genes will be lost.

And dogs will continue to suffer.







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A tricolored retrieving setter, perhaps very similar to the type Benjamin Franklin imported.

A tricolored retrieving setter, perhaps very similar to the type Benjamin Franklin imported.

On Facebook, a friend of mine posted this bizarre rant from a purebred dog breeder:

“I DON”T call freedom a choice to do whatever!!!!!!… Don’t get confused….. Ben Franklin worked for freedom— but he worked at having a purebred Gordon setter brought from England and bred them.. to preserve something special. the Freedom was to have a choice to own a dog so let’s get this Freedom of Choice thing straight… where did you all go to school???? what happened to parents teaching their children the real meaning of this slogan??? .. not to breed mutts/designer dogs on a whim and to see how much money you might get …Dogs were bred for a purpose for a certain breed to have that characteristic…. Ben and all the rest of us spent millions of dollars to insure something true and honest…. how dare you or anyone else decide to take our Freedom of choice away from US..it is not ok to breed this way.. it shows lack of purpose, lack of loyalty.. lake of knowledge and lack of you wanting to spend money to support a breed to insure it’s Freedom to exist…. you might as well say we have the freedom to poop on the street…or anything else we choose to have the freedom we feel like doing…..”

Well, freedom to choose means the freedom to do whatever. I don’t know how you can twist the meaning of the words to mean to change the meaning to fit whatever totalitarian delusions that one might have. It’s like the people who tell you they are for freedom, but at the same time, they tell you that this country is based upon Christian values.

Those two things do not compute!

As I’ve noted before, the dogs are one of the many ersatz religions that no exists in this post-Christian culture in which we now live. I am fine with the decline of organized religion, but what has replaced it is not a culture of reason.

What has replaced it is many irrational, tribal cults which allow people with totalitarian impulses to act out their pathologies on others. It’s one reason I’m not a joiner. I love dogs, but I’m very dismayed and continually disappointed by dog people.

So in that crazy rant we have several claims. We have the hilariously irony-deficient claim to be a champion of freedom while telling others what to do, and we have a claim from history that could at best be called a delusion. And at its very worst, we would have to call it an utter misrepresentation of the history.

The claim is that founding father Benjamin Franklin imported a Gordon setter from England, and the implication is that he imported a closed registry setter that comes in only black and tan.

Of course, that type of dog didn’t exist when Ben Franklin was alive!

The Gordon setter, which should be called the Scottish setter, is actually derived from the old crouching setter of Britain, a dog that was the quintessential British fowling dog that  would crouch before game birds hidden the brush or corn. A hawk would be flown over the birds to keep them from flying and a net would be thrown over the crouching dog and the hunkered birds.

This type of dog became very popular in British Isles during the early modern period, and it was also sent to the colonies in North America in droves. In America, we developed this setter dog into a sort of HPR, which we would use to point grouse, retrieve ducks from cold water, and track wounded deer.

In Britain, there were many, many different strains of setter, of which only a handful remain. The Dukes of Gordon did breed a type of setter in Scotland, but it is laughable to assume that this was a closed registry breed.  All records of the setters of Gordon kennels I’ve read from that time period talk about the dogs being tricolored, black, white, and tanned like a Dobermann.

And it was well-known that the in the eighteenth century, the 4th Duke of Gordon was always breeding his stock to those of other nobles.

In his excellent Gundogs: Their Past, Their Performance and Their Prospects (2013), Col. David Hancock mentions that this fourth Duke of Gordon coveted the blood of Thomas Coke’s setters, and it was Coke’s setters that were the foundational stock for his particular strain. I have seen no evidence that Coke’s setters were anything other than the more typical predominantly white setters that were always common in England. (Coke’s estate was in Norfolk, nowhere near Scotland).

It is also well-known that Gordon setters have a bit of collie blood, which is always mentioned in all the historical texts of the breed, but no one seems to acknowledge what this means. It means that the Gordon setter as a working gun dog didn’t become a gun dog through being a closed registry breed.

It became a great gun dog through the continuous desire to innovate. This desire to experiment and innovate is what made British Empire the world’s leader in agricultural improvement.

As soon as closed registries were established, this ability to innovate and experiment was taken away.

And we all know that Benjamin Franklin was among the leading intellectuals of the world at the time. He was clearly a man of science and reason, and if he could read and understand the modern concepts of population genetics, he would be among the foremost opponents of this closed registry system.

He imported a British setter because they were great gun dogs. They became great gun dogs because the British were willing to innovate and experiment with bloodlines.

It is that freedom that should be celebrated and encouraged in the world of dogs, but unfortunately, it goes against all the totalitarian impulses that exist in the dog world that has since developed.

For the sake of the dogs, dog breeders should be reading up on the science and understanding the real history of their dogs.

They shouldn’t be wasting their time with pointless myths that are ultimately harmful to the animals they claim to love.

But that means that some grand poobah of yore was wrong somewhere and that modern breed mandarins might have to be humble and accept that they cannot control everything that goes on with their breed.

The first idea that must be trashed is that closed registries and blood purity for blood purity’s sake are ultimately good values. Unfortunately, that is the basic religious tenet of the modern dog fancy, and  it is almost impossible to have a rational discussion with people who adhere to such poppycock.

It is this religious belief that is causing so much misery in the world of dogs– higher incidence of inherited diseases and winnowed away gene pools are not good things.

And it is also stymieing innovation.

We could be producing better working dogs for a variety of tasks if only it were acceptable to cross strains. Imagine West Siberian laikas that natural retrieve because of a golden retriever that was crossed in a few generations before. Imagine a cocker spaniel-sized Labrador that easily fits in a canoe that got its small size from a simple outcross to a small working spaniel.

It is this kind of freedom in the world of dogs that we should all be fighting for.

But unfortunately, too many “freedom lovers” in the world of dogs really don’t want it.

It crosses their fundamentalist beliefs, and they will having nothing of it.

But like all bullies, they ought to be put in their place. Totalitarians have no use fighting for freedom.

Freedom means freedom to do as one would like, and don’t be fooled by the demagogues who apparently can’t understand that simple fact.


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Halfghan hound.

Jess has a wonderful post at DesertWindHounds.

She shows how the dog fancy’s inability to adapt to scientific facts and its desire to tarnish and harass those who don’t tow the party line on dog shows/trials/blood purity are ultimately going to be its destruction.

The animal rights fascists are pushing any number of draconian laws at both the state and federal level. They are using ideas that have currency among the pet owning populace, but because the dog fancy stubbornly holds onto its various traditions and shibboleths, it cannot effectively answer these people. Instead, it goes tars anyone who wants to fix with the label “animal rights activist,” which means that no one listens.

Not listening is perfect fodder for the AR’s, who then feed off it all.

The extreme AR’s want to ban all pets ownership and all domestic animals– and if they can’t do that, they can stop people from breeding animals for a purpose.

They know they can’t do it by passing a law that has that objective at the top of the list.

Instead, they Trojan horse it with laws that are supposed to “ban puppy mills” or “stop bad breeders.”

Everyone hates puppy mills.

No one is going to write a defense of puppy mills.

But we need to find ways to effectively fight animal cruelty, but in trying to stomp out puppy mills with laws that use sledgehammers against all breeders, we ultimately come up with another problem.

As you know from reading this blog, the domestic dog has a lot of problems.

These problems are only going to be solved if dog breeders are given the freedom to  use the tools they have, and they need to have freedom to operate outside of official breed registries.

You start legislating dog breeding in this fashion, and you could wind up with a situation in which only dogs from approved registries and of clearly defined and recognized breeds can be kept for breeding purposes. You think that can’t happen?

Well, it’s happened in many continental European countries.

They don’t have as many issues with puppy mills, but they have closed dog registries that will remain closed forever.

Closed registries and the dog competition system, which rewards breeding from “elite” sires, will ultimately result in very  depauperate gene pools– which means more issues with diseases that result from an inbreeding depression and those that are inherited via deleterious genetic mutations.

We want to stop puppy mills but not at the expense of shutting every door that could lead to genetic rescue for so many dogs.

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To begin with, we absolutely must open CKC [Canadian Kennel Club] stud books, in every breed, to new genetic inflow. There can be no long-term genetic health in small populations such as our registered breeds without the periodic infusion of new genetic material. The one big “sacrifice” we shall have to make, if it is really a sacrifice, is to abandon racist attitudes and the concept of rigorous breed purity. We must recognize that first of all, a dog is a dog, species Canis [lupus] familiaris, and that is his true identity. He is a dog first, before he is a Siberian Husky or a Foxhound or a Doberman; breed identity is subordinate to species identity. We must stop treating breeds as if they were species, abandon the rigidity and narrow typological thinking which has heretofore characterized the canine fancy. We must recognize that dogs are unique individuals and that there is no positive value in trying to create groups of dogs which are all clones or photocopies of a type specimen represented by a breed standard. This should not be too hard, since breeders and judges have never been able to arrive at agreed and consistent interpretations of breed standards anyway. Why, then, should we pretend that a standard, which as it now exists evokes a different imagistic interpretation in the mind of each individual breeder and judge, describes a single ideal type?

Canine breeds can and should be differentiated, bred and maintained on a dynamically balanced, heterozygous population basis without restriction to a closed, historic founder group. The closed studbook and the breed purity concept are, from a genetic point of view, simply unnecessary. Indeed, as we have seen, from the standpoint of maintaining a genetically healthy limited population, they are thoroughly counterproductive. Where is the logic in submitting each and every CKC breed to a registry system which guarantees ongoing, progressive genetic degeneration, loss of species vigor and hardiness, and saddles every breeder with the unwanted, unhappy responsibility of producing more and more unhealthy, flawed stock as time goes by? The notion that genetic disease can be controlled, much less eliminated, by screening programs and selection has not been borne out by general experience. Those who promote such a notion are engaging in a cruel, self serving deception. It may be that a breeder can sometimes improve his odds against producing defective stock in a given mating by screening the parents, but experience has proved that screening will not solve our genetic problems in any wider sense. Despite generation after generation of “clear” stock, bloodlines can still produce more and more affected animals. That is because our problems are inherent in the closed studbook/incest breeding system. In order to restore genetic health we shall have to adopt a different system.

Jeffrey Bragg, founder of the Seppala Siberian Sleddog and noted thorn in the side of the pure-blood for pure-blood’s sake cult that is the modern dog fancy.

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The following account appears in Rawdon Lee’s A History and Description of Modern Dogs (Sporting Division) (1894):

Sir Everett Millais ultimately found that through inter-breeding [sic] the Basset-hound was deteriorating in many respects, and, with the idea of improving his appearance and size, he looked out for a cross. He says:

“After inbreeding for nearly twenty years, it was obvious that the English Basset required fresh blood, primarily because the general mass of hounds were below the average in size; secondly, because there was increasing difficulty in breeding and rearing them; thirdly, because barrenness was becoming very prevalent; and fourthly, because when reared they succumbed through constitutional causes to distemper in a most alarming manner. The question, having determined to make the cross, was, what hound to use which would give us the points we desired, and give increased stamina to the breed. “I chose the Bloodhound, firstly, because the head of the Basset should resemble that of the Bloodhound; and secondly, because from my experimental work with Beagles, I knew that the question of a return to Basset formation in legs was but a matter of one or two generations. There therefore remained simply the question of colour, and this I was certain would come back very speedily.

“The first cross was between the Basset-hound Nicholas and the Bloodhound Inoculation, and the puppies were produced artificially by the method now known as ‘Insemination.’ Twelve in all were born, and they were all anatomically nearer the Basset than the Bloodhound, but in colour they took after the dam. These were Basset-Bloodhounds.

“The next cross was between Champion Forester and one of the above litter, viz., Rickey. There were seven puppies born, six of them were tricolours like the sire, and one black and tan like the dam. They all took after the Basset in anatomy, and were 3/4-bred Bassets with 1/4  Bloodhound.

“The next cross was between Dulcie, one of the above litter, and Bowman. There were four pups in the litter, three tricolours and one lemon and white. They cannot be distinguished from purebred Bassets. They are naturally hounds containing 7/8 of Basset and 1/8 of Bloodhound.

“The next cross was between one of the above litter and the Basset-hound Guignol. Here six puppies were born, four tricolours, one lemon and white, and one black and tan. They are perfectly indistinguishable from pure Bassets, and are composed of 15/16 Basset blood to 1/16of Bloodhound.

“The result of this set of experiments has brought about animals which cannot be distinguished from pure Bassets, and they can be used throughout the breed to bring in the trifling quotum of fresh blood necessary without damaging or altering the existent type in the slightest degree.

“Now, in going through these various crosses, it will be seen that in the first we get half-bred hounds taking mostly after the Basset in shape and the Bloodhound in colour. In the second cross we have a return to Basset colouring, and greater approach to the Basset in every way. In the third cross we get pure Bassets, and in the fourth the same, with what might be expected, one case of atavism to the Bloodhound in colour.

“We have, however, something more. I have said that one most desirable object was size, and when 1 stated that most of the hounds one meets with are below the average, I place the average at such hounds as Fino de Paris, Fino V., Fino VI., and Forester.

“These have been the four great sires in direct descent and those most used, and it will be acknowledged, that with a few exceptions, few of their offspring have equalled them in size and bone. By the use, however, of the Bloodhound cross, both the third and fourth crosses are equal in size to Forester, and in addition we have the required points.

“It is, in my opinion, a mistake to call such hounds as the third and fourth crosses by the name of Basset-Bloodhounds, for this name applies only to the first cross. The third cross has only 1/8 of Bloodhound in it, and the fourth 1/16; in other words, is an animal a Basset-Bloodhound, whose greatgrandmother or great-great-grandmother was a Bloodhound? I think most breeders would not pay very much attention to such relationship as this, and would call their animals pure Bassets. At least such is my intention. It would take a very good man to tell an Octoroon in the human subject, and I would defy him to pick out a cross below that. Why should we do so in dogs? Of course, in crossing one must expect a case of atavism now and then as is seen in the fourth cross, but by such phenomena as these, we are able to add a new colour to those now existing in Bassets” (pg. 344-346).

Now, this argument exists today in two rather notorious cases:  The Dalmatian Backcross Project and Bruce Cattanach’s bob-tailed boxer experiment.  Like the basset-bloodhound outcross, these two projects involved the introduction of foreign blood. The Dalmatians were crossed with a pointer to produce Dalmatians that did not have the uric acid defect that so plagues the breed, and the boxers were crossed with naturally bob-tailed corgis to produce boxers that have naturally bobbed tails.

Neither of these outcrosses has been well-received. The Dalmatians can’t be registered as Dalmatians with the AKC, even though they have only minute amounts of pointer blood, and the German boxer fanciers (and the FCI) amended their standard so that only docked bobtails were in keeping with the standard. (Of course, tail docking is now illegal in Germany. Except for the stuffed one, all the boxers I saw in Germany had tails.)

It is interesting that the bassets with bloodhound in them became widely established within the breed, as Millais points out.

That did not happen with the modern day examples.

The  bloodhound outcross with the bassets was done to alleviate what appears to have been an inbreeding depression.  The only breeds I know of that have had outcrosses to stop problems with inbreeding are the Cesky terrier and the Chinook. In the Cesky, those dogs that have the outcrossed Sealyham blood are called “Line 2 dogs,” which distinguishes them from the original Line 1 dogs that were developed from a Scottish terrier bred to a Sealyham in the 1940’s in Czechoslovakia. And the Chinooks have such a stringent outcross plan that very few outcross dogs have been registered.

It seems in the case of the basset hound that the outcross was successful. Had they stayed on this road, the British basset breed probably would have gone extinct.

Of course, I don’t know why they didn’t add blood from the French basset breeds. There are many different breeds of basset in France, some of which, like the Artesian Basset of Normandy, look like English bassets.

But they wanted the bloodhound head.

So the bloodhound was chosen.

Ah, just like the corgi in the bob-tailed boxers.

An outcross for conformation reasons.

Too bad the boxers didn’t get the same treatment as the bassets.

Shouldn’t naturally bob-tailed boxers have as much right to be considered boxers as modern bassets with bloodhound heads have the right to be called bassets?

Double standards?

You betcha.


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Jess at DesertWindHounds discusses the importance off genetic diversity in the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC),  a gene family that controls immune responses. In dogs, it’s called the Dog Leukocyte Antigen (DLA) system

It’s very important that everyone in dogs understands these concepts.

In fact, it’s very important that everyone interested in conservation of endangered species or in breeding any kind of animal has a full grasp of the problems that can happen with reduced diversity in the MHC.

This angelfish website also partly discusses the MHC. Unlike Jess’s post, it is pro-inbreeding, but the author recognizes the need to bring new blood in.

The problem with dogs is we are operating within a closed registry or a Potemkin open registry system where new blood is not easily brought in.

And with virtually all Western breeds, all individuals within a breed are derived from the same founders.

The is the big problem with line-breeding, inbreeding, and using just a few sires  per generation within a closed registry system. At some point, the breed becomes too homozygous within the MHC/DLA, and it’s screwed when a really bad disease pops up.

My guess is we’re going to hear a lot about the MHC in the near future. Many success stories of recovering endangered species are going to turn into disasters.  Some species have recovered from a very low founding population, and that means that they don’t have much variation at all in their MHC.

That’s bad.

And there is one animal right now that recovered from intense persecution in its homeland. It was eventally protected, and its numbers grew.

But now because of a communicable disease, it may very well go extinct. As a species, it has low genetic diversity and very little variation in the MHC. If it does become extinct, it will be this compromised genetic diversity that ultimately does it in. If it had more diversity in its MHC, then some individuals might have a some immunity to it, but thus far, all have been found to be highly susceptible to this disease.

I’ll reveal that animal and its disease  tomorrow in a longer post.

Until then, read this post and get a good understanding of what the issues are.

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