Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On’

These guys are often quite biology illiterate– especially when it comes to genetics.

And yet they breed dogs and love to lecture everyone on the merits of keeping lines pure, even if logic and common sense say otherwise!

Read this comment:

Judging from the appearance of that one puppy. I don’t think they are first generation border/bearded collie crosses. I’d be very surprised if that’s what they are. The shaggy beard of the bearded collie is dominant to the smooth muzzle of the border collie.

That said double merles actually do appear in purebred dogs, and in some breeds, like collies and Great Danes, they are intentionally produced to increase the number of merles in the litters they produce. The winner of the breed for the rough collie at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show was sired by an eyeless double merle, who may also be deaf.

Double merles, also known as homozygous merles, often have problems with their eyes and ears. They are sometimes born without anything we’d recognize as eyes and without ear canals. Although it is possible for heterozygous (single) merles to have issues with their eyes and ears, they normally aren’t as severely affected as these double merles, which are sometimes called “lethal whites.”

I should also note that people have been breeding border collies to bearded collies for decades– often without any problems at all. David Brian Plummer often used beardie/border crosses to produce his lurchers, and it is well-known that most border collies have some bearded collie ancestry.

So once again simple facts and logic have totally destroyed this bromide from the anti-PDE Faceboo group, your source for paranoid conspiracy theories, crackpot science, and persecution complexes galore.

Now, to be fair, in Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom) refuses to register any puppies from merle to merle breedings, even if they are healthy or aren’t even merle.

But in the AKC, not only are pups from merle to merle breedings allowed to be registered, they are often quite celebrated.

And the mental gymnastics used to defend these breedings over here are every bit as bizarre as the ones used on the anti-PDE Facebook group.

If the KC allowed registrations of puppies from these unions and there were top dogs in the ring that came from these breedings, you can bet the exact same mental gymnastics would be used.

You can bet on it.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

First of all, I am a United States citizen who has watched Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On.

I know what you’re thinking.

It was only recently show on the actual BBC, so how on earth could I have seen it already?

We have our ways. Over at BorderWars, Chris will show you how, and he now has links to the first Youtube uploads of program. These will likely be taken down soon, so I’d get over there posthaste.

Now, there is a lot of good in this documentary.

Well, initially, Jemima Harrison promised to put up a positive and optimistic portrayal of what breeders are doing to solve problems.

And in the case of Fiona, the LUA Dalmatian, she did. Fiona’s breeder is portrayed as the forward thinking breeder that she is, and she  makes a nice point. Not a single one of these dog breeds was created by nature. Their bloodlines are not written in stone, and if modern science says we need to sully the purity of these bloodlines for increased health, we should do it.

The other breeds discussed in the documentary don’t have very good stories.

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel may be utterly ruined. The incidence of syringomyelia in the breed has increased. A large majority of those bred in the UK will be affected by the disorder in some way by the six years old– and virtually all of them have mitral valve disease by the time they are ten.  Carol Fowler, the campaigner for Cavalier health in the first PDE, now says it may no longer be responsible to be breeding any dogs of this breed.  The risks of a breeding producing dogs with these disorders is so high that it may no longer be ethical to produce them. That’s very sad.

And the UK boxer population is going down virtually the same route. Dr. Bruce Cattanach has discovered that juvenile kidney disease in boxers has an hereditary basis, and he was able to trace this disease to a single popular stud boxer. And then he traced it to a single top show kennel in the UK. Because these dogs win a lot of shows, their studs are in high demand, which means that a huge proportion of boxers produced in the UK are going to derive from these dogs. And they are likely doomed to die at very young ages.

And then there’s the pug. I actually learned quite a bit about exactly how awful it is for a dog be bred with such a brachycephalic face. I have often mentioned that these dog have a hard time breathing and cooling themselves, but I didn’t know that the big sinus in a dog’s muzzle is quite crucial to its cooling system.  In normal dogs, this sinus is pretty large, but in pugs, it is almost vestigial, and the dogs cannot cool themselves at all.

Pugs have such a hard time breathing that many cannot sleep well lying down. They always want to have their heads propped up a bit. The documentary shows the classic Youtube video of a pug falling asleep sitting up, which is something we all think is cute.

But it’s not. The truth is these dogs would like to sleep like normal dogs, but they just can’t breathe properly.

The documentary then shows a German veterinary surgeon who specializes in correcting the various problems associated with the brachycephalic dogs and their airways– which is now called brachycephalic airways syndrome. The surgeon is shown working on a pug. He makes its nostrils larger, and he pares back some of the soft palate in the back of the throat. He opens up the airways more. The same airways that bizarre selective breeding has clogged up.

Even though this film used a lot of recycled footage, I think it was a better documentary than the first.

I think its real strength is that Harrison clearly divided the problems with purebred dogs into the two distinct categories that should not be confused.

One of these is gene loss through inbreeding. I think she made a good attack on breeders who do really, really tight breedings. However, I don’t think that’s the biggest issue. The problem isn’t that these breeders are doing these kind of breedings. The problem is that these dogs exist within closed off populations, and an elite number dogs produces a huge chunk of the puppies born every year. Even if people are  not doing very tight breedings with their own dogs, the dogs within in a breed will become more and more related over time. And all of the dogs within a breed will descend from the same founders– unless you’re talking about Africa basenjis, Tibetan lhasa apsos, and COO salukis, which may not be as closely related to the dogs in the closed registry populations.

I know that Jemima Harrison knows these facts, and she has written about them extensively. I just think that people need to know that inbreeding in dogs isn’t just that people are doing tight breedings. It’s that the systems in which dogs are registered are forcing the populations of these breeds into more genetically depauperate gene pools.

This is what is causing the problems with Cavaliers and boxers in the UK.  Elite stud dogs are transmitting their defective genes into a larger and larger proportion of the breed, which is itself founded from a finite number of dogs. No new blood is being brought in, and the bloodlines are becoming saturated with genetic diseases.

This would happen in any closed or relatively closed registry population.  It would not matter if the dogs were bred for show or for work.  Disease would wind up saturating the population over time.

There was also no discussion of MHC haplotypes in the film, but from my own experience, this discussion tends to be ignored by those who just don’t want to hear it. It is Kryptonite for the closed registry system and for virtually all defenders of very tight breedings. That’s because the only way to keep MHC haplotypes diverse and heterozygous is to test for them before breeding.

And very few people are doing that. The tests are only now becoming available, and as far as I know, only one breed club is actually encouraging its members to do these tests– the Dandie Dinmont Club of America.

You can’t seen immune genes, so they are very easily lost.

And if seeing is believing, then we get to the second category of purebred dog problems:  health and welfare problems that result from exaggerated and unhealthy conformation.

The documentary focused mostly on the problems of brachycephalic breeds, including the pug and bulldog.  The initial documentary covered these problems in greater detail, but the scene involving the German vet opening up the pug’s airways really showed how extensive the problems are with their extreme brachycephaly.

The only issue I had with the film was her call for a big regulatory agency that would oversee  the welfare of all dogs in the UK.

I worry that such an agency would be very prone to regulatory capture.

What would happen if an agency were given teeth to go after bad breeders and this agency wound up being run by people who want to engage in a witch hunt against anyone who intentionally crosses two breeds?

I don’t know what procedures exist to prevent regulatory capture in agencies in the United Kingdom, but the US has very little control over it. Lobbyists regularly wind up heading agencies that they once lobbied for.

So we have to be a little bit careful here.

I think the best way to take these people down is to keep on educating people about what is actually happening within the institutions that claim to be looking out for the best interest of dogs.  The public needs to know that dogs are in a lot of trouble because of the strictures and paradigms that rule them.

And the only way to save them is to ditch the strictures and paradigms.

***

Jose Cruz of the Chatham Hill Kennels has uploaded the entire documentary onto the RDW  Blog Readers group on Facebook, so you can watch it there!

You have to join the group to see the posts and watch the film, but I’ll let you in :).

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: