So… there’s so much controversy in the Pure Bred Dog world about the health of pure bred dogs. You can’t turn a corner without hearing such and such is wrong with this breed, such and such is wrong with that. It’s quite sad, actually, and as we all know us humans have created the problem.
So lately I’ve been wondering what people thought about fixing the pure breeds. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), and probably the United Kennel Club (UKC) as well, to be a registered pure bred dog both of the puppy’s parents have to be registered pure breeds. I don’t know how far back this goes, but I’m betting pretty darn far back.
What if your registered dog… maybe now called a Registered Member of the Breed, instead of a Pure Bred (as Pure Bred states that the dog was Bred Pure… and maybe in the future he’ll not be Bred with “Pure” blood lines…) could have other breeds mixed in once again, to improve the health of the breed.
What would you do? Would you take the Doberman Pincher, and breed some healthy sight hound into him? Would you take the collie and cross him with some greyhound maybe?
Do you think it’s actually possible, with this method or any other, to fix the genetic problems of a specific breed, maybe even adding in some mixed breeds? Or do you think the Canis lupus familiaris is so far gone that he has no hope at all?
9 thoughts on “How Would You Fix The Purebred Dogs?”
Cynthia, this is a subject near and dear to my heart! I don’t know if your post was triggered by reports that the BBC has been pressured into not broadcasting future Tufts dog shows because of “inherently unhealthy” breed standards or not. But that’s what awakened me to the subject.
IMHO, this is *largely* (not to say exclusively) a creation of the animal rights agenda: “prove” that purebred dogs are inherently unhealthy, get public pressure to prohibit purebred dog breeding, showing, etc., and then follow up on “span and neuter everything that breathes”, resulting in “no pets at all”.
Yes, it is true that there are breed standards, and especially breed fads, that create dogs that have medical problems. A handful of parent breed clubs stand on their “rights” to design a dog whose eyes pop out of their sockets and hang down the dogs’ muzzles pretty frequently. But most parent clubs work very hard to ensure that their standards don’t have or encourage such problems. And there will always be individuals and cliques who insist on breeding to this or that fad to the disadvantage of the breed (the needle-nosed Collies of 25 years ago come to mind, as do the over-angulated GSDs of roughly the same timeframe).
But the truth is that most serious dog fanciers truly want their breed(s) to be as healthy and sound as possible. We all know (don’t we?) that Shelties were derived from the Toonie dogs of the Shetland Islands, but achieved their present appearance through a series of very strategic Collie crosses early in the 20th century. That doesn’t mean that Shelties are not “purebred” now, nor does it suggest that Shelties would be improved by further Collie crosses, much less crosses with Borzoi, Newfies, or Affenpinchers.
I would disapprove heartily of any effort to make a blanket rule that said crosses of a particular sort, or prohibition of crosses of any sort, are the only solution to various ills. I believe that, *in general*, it would be easier to clear up any breed’s particular problems by more careful breeding within the breed than going outside, but I’d also agree that some problems may be so deeply entrenched that going for a cross might be the only practical solution.
In short: I don’t think that purebred dogs, as a class, need “fixing”. I think there are problems that should be fixed, but that’s not the same thing. And “registered member of the breed” makes me uncomfortable!
Hi Jim! I really appreciate your comment! Actually I think you are one of the first people I’ve ever heard say that Pure Bred dogs are not actually ‘broken’ (though they have not said that exact word.. that is my interpretation).
I have a friend that talks a great deal about how the Health and Structure of the Doberman has gotten horrendous over the last few years. Even their lifespans are getting shorter and shorter. Though I do agree with you that truly good breeders take care to only breed healthy dogs, still I wonder if it’s working or not?
I think Shelties and Collies seem to be two of the healthiest pure breds out there!
The well financed animal rights movement is working overtime to persuade people that purebred dogs are a cesspool of unhealthy, genetically defective cripples owned and forced to reproduce by the scum of the earth, dog breeders. The fact that you hear so much of that “line” is testimony to their success. In fact, the vast majority of purebred dogs live long healthy lives. Purebred dog breeders donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to veterinary hospitals for research into finding cures for health issues in dogs. They spend a great deal of time and effort in screening for genetic disorders and studying pedigrees to put together the best breeding possible to get healthy, intelligent, sound, long-lived dogs.
Here is a blog posting that you may find interesting:
By and large, after years in purebred dogs (and with a breed that has a long official list of problems to watch for) I still think the problem lies with pet buyers. If the person looking for a puppy insists on OFA, CERF, and the other alphabet soups before getting a puppy from that source, the demand for miller puppies vanishes. Those are the chief source of problems for our “purebred” dogs, and since a good many of those are not in fact purebred, it rather shoots the theory of hybrid vigor (scientifically disproven). Most of the breeders I know are out to breed the best to the best, and “best” means healthiest, not just prettiest.
Of course, that means trying to educate the public, which is far easier said than done. “No Dog Owner Left Behind”?
Note: I’m currently a GSD person, but was raised by collies. Love your site!
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I think that no matter what if there is interbreeding and all sorts of pure breds and non pure breds that it will still be screwed up. Who knows what weird mutations or changes happen in the genetics when you interbreed.
I can actually see both sides of the argument. On one side are people who really love their dogs and are steep in the pure breeding lifestyle. On the other side are people who believe that pure breeds run real risks. Their point is that would pure bred exist if it was not for human intervention. Are we upsetting a natural balance?
I can see both arguments but dont have an answer.
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Nice article, it’s an issue I worry about as well. I agree that a large part of the burden for fixing this problem is on stopping the puppy mills who are cranking out “pure breeds”. The breeders who are carefully crossing beautiful, healthy dogs aren’t the problem. That being said, some recessive traits can be brought into play by not mixing up the genetic pools. Hope to see more good discussion!
The thing I love about sourcing a pure bred pet is that you absolutely know what you’re going to get.
The sizing and aesthetics are known, the temperament and personality are known and their needs (such as very active dogs needing lots of activity versus couch potatoes) are known.
This all makes for a happy dog and a happy owner because their lives togetehr are somewhat predictable and the owner has specifically chosen and animal he or she knows will fit into their lifestyle.