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Posts Tagged ‘improperly coated Portuguese water dogs’

This dog is a Portuguese water with an “improper coat.” Those who have bred goldendooles know that it is possible to produce something very similar when breeding two goldendoodles together. The trait is an obvious recessive.

Portuguese water dogs with “proper” coats have the classic poodle or barbet-type coat.

However, this particular dog  (“Asta”) was used to create a genetic test for the trait. She just happened to belong to a geneticist, who bred her to a normal male who had been known to produce puppies with this coat type.

The litter produced two puppies with improper coat, and through examining the DNA of these puppies and other Portuguese water dogs of both coat types, the researchers were able to find the actual genetic basis associated with this coat. Through this discovery, a genetic test for the coat was developed, so that breeders could know which dogs carried the recessive improper coat.

Now, this is somewhat problematic.

All PWD alive today descend from 25 founders.

To cull a dog from the gene pool just because it possess this recessive trait is not the best thing for the population structure of this breed.

Further, the gene that controls this recessive trait is an important regulatory gene, and there are 30 other genes that lie in close proximity to it. One research scientist warned about using this genetic test to select against the trait:  “Removing this variant of the gene from the breeding population would remove a tremendous amount of genetic diversity in the breed. This would be very dangerous.”

But we now have the genetic test for the trait.  No one wants to produce these dogs because they shed as normal dogs do. They don’t look like classic PWD, and they certainly don’t conform to the standard. If anything, they clearly show some relationship between the poodle-type water dogs and the retrievers– they look like smaller St. John’s water dogs with long hair. No purebred dog breeder wants his or her breed to remind anyone of their target breed’s possible or imagined relationship to another breed.

But if you breed from good standard PWD that carry the trait, you will produce these puppies.

So what is to stop breeders from culling dogs that carry this trait?

Nothing.

Unless the improper coat becomes part of the accepted PWD standard, chances are very high that enough breeders will stop using carriers to cause real problems in the breed.

Of course, not all breeders are going to test for improper coat, but within this breed, there is very proactive movement to produce healthy dogs. They do their genetic tests and health screenings.

But that could be a blessing, for it is possible that within the breed at large, there are enough educated people around to understand why one must breed from carriers and why one must tolerate the odd puppy that looks like a flat-coated retriever or border collie.

However, I still think may take standardizing the improper coat to prevent possible damages that might result from breeders making a mad dash away from breeding carriers.

The carriers are vital to the long-term viability of this breed.

This isn’t a health condition. This is a cosmetic issue.

And surely we’re intelligent enough to understand that you cannot sacrifice the whole health and viability of another breed for something that superficial.

This breed could be doomed by our knowledge.

It can only be saved by having wisdom.

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