Saint Raphael, France (PressExposure) May 06, 2009 -- Nowadays, it seems very fashionable to criticize pure breed dogs. Even the BBC has joined the crowd with a documentary (Pedigree Dogs Exposed) the dangers of pedigree dogs breeding for the health of the dogs. They identify two major problems:
- Selection of pedigree dogs is done on criteria which are unhealthy for dogs. - Two much inbreeding increases the likelihood of genetic diseases.
For the first problem, the solution is easy in some cases: if Cavalier King Charles have got too short a nose which doesnât enable them to breathe properly, the standard must be changed to let them have longer noses. In some cases, like Basset breeds, there are some complaints that selecting them for dwarfism can give them arthritis; but the short legs are not intended for looks, it has been proved useful to have dogs which cannot run too fast, for hunting and even as companion dogs.
Concerning the second issue, the root of the problem seems to lie deep inside the mentality of many dog enthusiasts. The purity of pedigree dogs has been used so much as a marketing trick to sell dogs at a higher price that people donât even bother questioning it.
In the past, pedigree was done by hand by the breeder, there was no database enabling people to search for ancestors of their dogs and no way to check the parentage of a dog through DNA. So, breeders were bringing new blood into their lines by outcrossing with other breeds. As long as they didnât outcross too much and the dogs were still looking and behaving as they were supposed to, customers were happy. For example, at the end of the nineteenth century, the Brittany Spaniel was a little French pointing dog of no special significance, until some English hunters came to Brittany with their very efficient English setters and pointers. The French Brittany owners were very happy to be able to cross their dogs with those English champions (the English had been the first to select pointing dogs on ability). This is how the Brittany spaniel became the number one French breed.
Today, breeders crossing Brittany spaniel with setters or pointers are called âcrooksâ by ninety percent of the pedigree dog enthusiasts. How can the same thing be judged so differently one hundred year after?
What about the Boxer case? Traditionally, the tail of the Boxer has always been docked, for cosmetic and practical reasons. For the last decade, bans on tail docking has been enforced in many countries, including the U.K. A well know English breeder, Dr Bruce Cattanach (http://www.steynmere.com/BOBTAILS.html), discovered that some breeds had a naturally short tail. He started an experiment of passing this short tail gene from one of those breeds to the Boxer. By crossing a naturally short tailed Corgi with a Boxer, selecting a short tailed mongrel, crossing it with a Boxer and so on, he obtained after several generations some dogs which looked like Boxers and were born with a naturally short tail. He succeeded in registering them in the Kennel Club by using a special and difficult procedure to give a pedigree to an impure breed dog (as the first of his line).
The experiment was a success and short tail Boxers with less than one percent of Corgi blood were exported to different countries. Until the German Boxer Klub, which is in charge of defining the standard of this German breed, decided to forbid any Boxer born with a short tail on the ground that these dogs were not one hundred percent pure Boxers. So, a desired trait (short tail) was forbidden on the ground of breed purity. Something seems to have gone wrong, hasnât it?
Another factor is worsening the situation: the regular emergence of new breeds. National pride plays a big role in this phenomenon, each country wants to have its own breed of dog, which is generally a spinoff from another more ancient breed. Once this new breed of dog is recognized, it becomes very difficult, even impossible to cross it with subjects from the original breed. So, recognition of new breeds create numerous small population of dogs whose inbreeding is growing with each generation.
As evidence of the fact that there are too many breeds, there is a quiz on the three hundred and thirteen breeds recognized by the FÃ©dÃ©ration Cynologique Internationale. It enables you to guess the breed from the pictures. This quiz has been shown to many people, including some all round judges (judges allowed to judge every breed), and none of them could recognize all the breeds in âdifficultâ mode, where the identification of a particular breed is to be chosen from the entire list of possible dog breeds. Isnât this proof that there are too many dog breeds around? http://www.braquedubourbonnais.info/en/dog_breeds_quiz.htm