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Pedigree Dogs Exposed, from the BBC

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I have to run so only have time for a quick reply but the show not only demonstrated exaggerated phenotypes which Wendy et al., are apparently talking about, but also high percentages of selected disease in certain breeds.

 

Here's the way it usually goes -- humans have more known individual inherited diseases than dogs. The incidence however of these (overall) is much much lower. Individual purebred dog breeds tend to have less inherited diseases than humans but higher incidences of the ones they have. Much higher due to inbreeding. Incidences of some genetic diseases in certain breeds is so high as to have nearly every dog in the breed affected. Some of these are devastating diseases. I think the program stated 50% at at age five and pretty much all cavalier king charles spaniels had heart disease by age ten. This is from inbreeding.

 

Frankly, inbreeding often does get people the short term results they seek. Long term it's a recipe for gene pool disaster. If people want to inbreed they will do it no matter how well the argument against it is presented. I've been an active part of presenting the best argument I can against it for well over a decade. I'm tired. If people really want to understand why it's bad, they will find out themselves, one way or another.

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By inbreeding so intensely, they've quickly painted themselves into a corner that they can't get out of.

 

Actually they *can* but the will have to go outside their closed genepool of "registered" XYZ breed.

 

And there lies the rub. They can't...or they won't.

 

And then there's the problem that the "form" they are so obsessed with maintaining is actually unhealthy and/or a deformity. A non-brachycephalic Pug no longer "looks" Pug - to them, to the people that buy them.

 

They need to breed out...and then remarket the newer (older?) healthy version as what people want.

 

Good luck to'em eh?

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Kudos to those that made this video series. I loved the reporter who was very point-blank with these breeders and such. Talking about the Bassett Hound ... and hearing the judge not be able to explain the purpose for the wrinkles just made me cringe. And talking about how the one pug was a champion despite all of its issues made me think of the show bred Border Collie here in Idaho that is CEA DNA "affected" yet he is a show champion. While this hardly compares to the painful disease those poor Cavaliers were suffering from, it's still the same concept.

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I just found this through the other thread and I finished watching and I can't even find words. It's so eye-opening, I just hope it gets out there and people can see what they've been buying into.

 

The breeders absolutely astounded me with their knowledge and their judgement, or lack of, more like it.

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I can tell you that among the dogs we have collected, it is difficult to find dogs who do not share grandparents, and that the number of truly "unrelated" dogs by this measure is maybe 25% of the sample we have collected so far.

 

Melanie, that has GOT to be sampling "error." I should think your pedigrees come from a relatively limited circle of people who are interested in supporting your research or have a particular health/behavioral problem in their dogs. In any case, among the pedigrees that come my way, it's way easy to find dogs without grandparents in common. The only exception would be within a particular puppy mill or its satellites.

 

--Eileen

 

 

All that said, the other breeds we have looked at are WAY more inbred than Border Collies.

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Well yeah, like I said, I don't have a comprehensive survey of Border Collie diversity in that our sample is mostly made up of elite working dogs, given that the bulk of the samples we collected (blood) were at events like Soldier Hollow and the Finals. But it isn't biased for the reasons you speculate -- it's not that they are only from my friends, or from folks who have health or behavioral problems in their lines. I would say that the vast majority of the Border Collies we have sampled have no major health or behavioral problems, other than noise phobia.

 

Given that most people who have spent some time looking at pedigrees of good dogs will quickly learn to recognize many names, it is probably safe to say that many of these names come up in many pedigrees and that by any standard elite working Border Collies are somewhat inbred. I do think that it is perfectly possible that the elite working dogs make up a smaller and more limited gene pool than the entire breed. Luckily there are still breedworthy Border Collies out there, outside of this "circle," and we have no administrative strictures in place that disallow us from breeding to them.

 

But like I said, even with all that these Border Collies are incredibly outcrossed compared to the other breeds we are looking at. We are looking at a couple of extended families in a couple of breeds. The extended family we have for Border Collies looks like a normal family tree -- the branches keep diverging, even though all the dogs descend from a single bitch. The extended family we have from another breed... whew. It looks like a spider web, with so much inbreeding that it choked at least one computer program our stats collaborator tried to use to death. The program simply could not handle the number of inbreeding loops that were in this family. Mapping it out gave me nightmares and headaches.

 

I'm not saying that the problem in Border Collies is nearly as acute as in other breeds, or even necessarily that it is a problem. What I am saying is that all dog breeds are inbred and that it is (1) a matter of degree and (2) a matter of what breeders are willing to let slide when selecting the next generation. Unfortunately, in breeds that are primarily evaluated in the show ring, it seems that breeders are willing to let very serious genetic defects slide in the interest of winning Best in Show. Fortunately for us, dogs that are not viable are also automatically not breedworthy because a dog that can't breathe, or has cerebrospinal infections, or cannot whelp naturally is of no use to anyone who wants a functional working dog.

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Maybe, but the difference is that if they weren't inbreeding, they'd have some way to fix the dogs that they have.
Oh, they could just as easily paint themselves into a corner without inbreeding, save that it'd take longer. The necessary breeding programs to wreck the dogs as badly as they are, would, in a non-inbreeding scenario, require a much larger pool of malformed animals to support the program. Finding healthy stock to outcross would be still be a challenge.

 

I'll certainly agree that inbreeding can be a very dangerous tool, though, and affords individuals the power to do great harm relatively quickly. Of course, used judiciously and selectively, it can be a tool for good, too.

 

That all said, I stand by my point that it's attitudes that are the problem. Even with line breeding and inbreeding, the dogs didn't get to this state overnight - It took many generations to reach this deplorable state. It's been attitudes that have driven it this far, and only attitudes will push the pendulum back the other way.

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Well, no, because despite the fact that their breeding practices are causing these esoteric and often flat-out bizarre genetic defects to become widespread, in most cases (Rhodesian Ridgebacks notwithstanding) they are not specifically selecting for those problems. Boxer breeders are not selecting for epilepsy. Cav breeders are not selecting for syringomyelia. They are ending up with these problems BECAUSE they inbreed heavily and have a founding population that unfortunately had the variation for these disorders in the bag already. And also, sadly, because they are too vain, and therefore lack the will to select against them.

 

Every dog breed has scary genetic defects lurking around in it somewhere, but if the breeding population is large enough these defects remain rare. Inbreeding leads to the expression of these problems because (1) they have very few founders, and if the founders happened to be carrying around this rare scary genetic variation you are shit out of luck, and (2) inbreeding increases homozygosity across the entire genome meaning that disorders caused by or in part by recessive variants are more likely to be expressed. Eventually you end up with a population of virtual clones who are a composite of the unhealthy founders you started with. And then you end up with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. (Never mind the brain thing, mitral valve defects are so common in that breed that their normal lifespan is something like 7 or 8 years. That is totally unforgiveable in a toy breed dog.)

 

In some ways the expose was a bit unfair, because I am willing to bet there are more breeders within every breed who try to select only healthy animals for breeding -- in other words, there have to be more than one or two Cav breeders out there who care. Not every breed ring exhibitor has horns on her head, and many of them truly love their dogs and would not wish such pain upon them.

 

The problem is that they are hamstrung by the system within which they operate, and that stepping outside of that system leaves them in a dog fancy wasteland with no community to be part of. There are breeders out there who are doing it -- for example, Basenji breeders who are using unregistered African dogs to increase the size and health of the American Basenji gene pool, and Dalmatian breeders who are outcrossing to Pointers to combat defects in uric acid metabolism that are ubiquitous throughout the breed.

 

http://www.africanbasenji.com

http://www.dalmatianheritage.com

 

It's difficult to go against the flow in any dog community -- it's hard enough to do it in Border Collies (reference the limited registration discussion again). I cannot condone the types of breeding practices that are found in the "dog fancy" and known to produce seriously unhealthy animals, but I understand why some breeders might find it difficult to try and break out of the broken system they are part of.

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By inbreeding so intensely, they've quickly painted themselves into a corner that they can't get out of.

 

Actually they *can* but the will have to go outside their closed genepool of "registered" XYZ breed.

 

But then it wouldn't be "the sport of purebred dogs." :rolleyes:

 

So what are we doing to prevent this in Border Collies? Do the ROM programs (ISDA and ABCA) allow for any high standard working sheep/stock dog to ROM as a Border Collie? Do we still allow Beardies? Beardie Crosses? Dogs of any another breed that exhibit charactericis of a good working Border Collie and potential to contribute to this breed? If Joe Public Farmer shows up with a Pit Bull showing good eye and power, and winning Opens - would we take it in? Is it *really* ability first...or ability with proper papers?

 

I can't speak for the ISDS, but there is no requirement in ABCA that a ROM dog be a border collie by descent, and as one of the directors who would be voting on ROM applications I can say that I would not take that into consideration one way or the other. However, that said, the ROM standard is a high one to meet, and I don't think there would be many outside the breed (or any pit bulls) that would qualify, because we have bred to produce working stockdogs and folks in other breeds by and large have not.

 

Right now I would say it doesn't seem that we have too much to worry about. Of course, as is true with any breed, our dogs are inbred as compared to random breeding, but there is a relatively large amount of genetic diversity in our breed, we are not encountering a lot of genetic problems widespread in the breed, and genetic research is rapidly providing us with ways to deal with the undesirable recessive genes that have cropped up. Also, we do not breed to a physically distorted appearance standard, and we test our dogs with physically demanding work. That's not to say we don't have health problems, but they're not of a nature and extent to threaten the continued viability of our breed, unlike many of the breeds featured in the video.

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Melanie, that has GOT to be sampling "error."

 

Oh, I just realized that my first post about the level of relatedness in our Border Collie sample was unclear. I was not saying that 75% of the dogs we have share the same grandparents. What I was saying is that only about 25% of the dogs we have do not share any grandparents with any other dog in the sample. Hope that makes sense.

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I've found this thread, and the BBC video, intensely interesting and disturbing at the same time. I don't know much about genetics, but it's a topic I love to read about. Thanks for all the great discussion guys, it has helped flush out a lot of the points made in the the video.

 

Edit: content removed

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Well, no, because despite the fact that their breeding practices are causing these esoteric and often flat-out bizarre genetic defects to become widespread, in most cases (Rhodesian Ridgebacks notwithstanding) they are not specifically selecting for those problems. Boxer breeders are not selecting for epilepsy. Cav breeders are not selecting for syringomyelia. They are ending up with these problems BECAUSE they inbreed heavily and have a founding population that unfortunately had the variation for these disorders in the bag already. And also, sadly, because they are too vain, and therefore lack the will to select against them.
Actually, they are actively selecting for those conditions - by deliberately choosing stock that contain the defective qualities, in order to obtain the qualities they admire. Cav breeders are actively selecting for syringomyelia, in that they're not aggressively selecting against it, even at the cost of of some other desireable traits. Instead, they knowlingly continue to breed for it in not selcting out those dogs whom have it. Ditto the Boxers, the Dalmations, the Rhodie breeders, and so on. And don't discount that breeders aren't actively seeking the very specific defects that make these dogs so crippled. Look at the Old English Bulldog. Look at the Pug. Look at the modern Dachshund! Look at the show GSD - the judges are actually defending that horror as 'correct!' The breeders of those breeds consider those very defects to be desireable!

 

For that matter, look at the progress of the AKC BC - Working ability going away fast, and who knows what fad will strike next? In every case where working ability has been discounted in favor of conformation, the results have been at very best neutral, and most often deleterious. I can think of NO case where conformation-only breeding has improved a breed's ability to perform as it was intended.

 

Conformation-only breeding, and the attitudes that drive it, are the root cause - Not the tools that they're using, or (misusing!).

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OK, fine, whatever. I give up. (If Eileen finds this to be a useless post she is more than welcome to delete it.)

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Ack! don't give up Melanie! I'm finding your information extremely useful (and others too of course) - I'm funneling some of it to another forum I'm on with lots of supporters of show breeders. I'm stunned to find some of the same platitudes coming out of the "mouths" of people I kinda respected, as those BKC people, when faced with the facts in this documentary. Some of them didn't even watch it and are saying those things! The KC mentality is indeed in lockstep.

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I finally got around to watching it, and frankly it made me want to cry. I can't understand deliberately breeding known problems. Genetic "accidents" happen in breeding, sure, but to deliberately perpetuate known problems like in the Cavalier is reprehensible (and I had no idea the ridge on a ridgeback's back was a mild form of spina bifida--if you've ever known someone with spina bifida you wouldn't even dream of taking the chance of creating that in a living being). Yuck.

 

I found the original vs. modern comparisons fascinating and probably the most compelling argument that the dogs that were once bred for a purpose are certainly no longer suitable for that purpose, no matter how modern breeders and judges try to wish it to be so.

 

J.

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Actually, they are actively selecting for those conditions - by deliberately choosing stock that contain the defective qualities, in order to obtain the qualities they admire. Cav breeders are actively selecting for syringomyelia, in that they're not aggressively selecting against it, even at the cost of of some other desireable traits. Instead, they knowlingly continue to breed for it in not selcting out those dogs whom have it. Ditto the Boxers, the Dalmations, the Rhodie breeders, and so on. And don't discount that breeders aren't actively seeking the very specific defects that make these dogs so crippled. Look at the Old English Bulldog. Look at the Pug. Look at the modern Dachshund! Look at the show GSD - the judges are actually defending that horror as 'correct!' The breeders of those breeds consider those very defects to be desireable!

 

I actually wondered if they weren't indirectly selecting for syringomyelia in Cavs. After seeing the disease in action on that video and hearing the description of it, I kept looking at the skull structure - very high, domed, inflated forehead, short muzzle, bug eyes. It's not really a head that seems to scream well-proportioned skull structure, shape, or size. And since the program did do a good job of showing how KC progressively selects for extreme shapes compared to what the breeds used to look like, I bet they select for weirder skulls with every breeding. As the brain is probably approximately the same size and shape it used to be before, well..

 

I also now understand why a person I met at the park was so defensive of her Rhodesian the other day. I said, "what a beautiful dog, looks like it has a lot of RR in it." She said, he's all RR, just doesn't have the ridge. "But they ALWAYS have the ridge," said another person who was chatting with us. "NO, he just doesn't have one," she kept insisting with a firmness I now totally get. What a beautiful, well-mannered dog! I can't believe anyone would knowingly make a choice to cull it b/c it DIDN'T have spina bifida. :rolleyes:

 

edit - pet peeve typo fix

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I have worked with wolves for over 25 years, hands on experience/obeservation with both wild and captive. Wolves have in place behaviours to discourage inbreeding.

They are extremely territorial.

When a wolf is between the ages of 1 to 2 years of age it leaves its home territory. The Alphas, mom and dad encourage it leave, in no uncertain terms.

 

The difference though is nature culls the weak. Most wolves die their first year. I would say over 60 % Of starvation, parasites and being territoirial. If a wolf was inbred, and was weak it would die. I suppose if it wasn't weak and the breeding concentrated some ability it would survive and then pass it on.

 

In another thread I told the story of a GS show dog breeder that thought the wolves had poor conformation. When she asked an intern why they were built like that he told her they would die if they didn't have the most efficiant conformation for their place in the wild.

 

I know from watching ranchers breed dogs when I was a kid for working stock they would outcross if they thought it would improve the pups ability to work in whatever capacity.

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The KC responds

 

This is a webcast. Mind you the information provided in Pedigree Dogs Exposed is well-researched and backed by excellent, reputable sources. There is quite a bit of misinformation being spread by the KC and KC breeders in an effort to discredit the PDE program.

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and I had no idea the ridge on a ridgeback's back was a mild form of spina bifida--if you've ever known someone with spina bifida you wouldn't even dream of taking the chance of creating that in a living being). Yuck.

 

Spina bifida also causes the Australian Shepherds (and some cat breeds) tailed to be "bobbed" (born with anything from no tail to 3/4). Because the deformity is on an appendage the dog is physically fine.

 

However since they can't dock in many countries now, in order to keep the "true Aussie look" (sarcasm intended) there are European breeders deliberately inbreeding on dogs with the defect in order to get the bobbed tail to occur as much as possible.

 

of course when you over do it by "accident"...then you start getting no tail....then the spina bifida finally moves up the spine to the actual back and you get the open spine condition you see in humans.

 

On purpose. Spina Bifida. On. Purpose.

 

Back to Melanie - I think you and Tranquilis are both right. And Denise. We are all on the same page here and all imput is important to read. Because we have a "breed" we are dealing with an inbred population based on limited founder dogs. We have not, because of determined breeding for function, sunk to the problems in the KC breeds. We don't have too. Just be continuing to reward functional viability we combat it stronger than any other breed I'm aware of.

 

I think it was geneticist Susan Thorpe-Vargus that said eventually to be able to survive most purebreds would have to outcross to other breeds.

 

Eileen, thanks. I know the chances of a non-stockdog breed, a non-Border Collie, meeting the ROM requirements are very very slim. But the fact that we keep the door open is important.

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Speaking of lame, I'm watching the KC interview now. I agree with Denise--it's a lot of smoke and mirrors. And in the end I think nothing will be done, especially since they do nothing but dance around the issue of how to prevent breeding for extremes. Bleh. :rolleyes:

 

J.

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The KC responds

 

This is a webcast. Mind you the information provided in Pedigree Dogs Exposed is well-researched and backed by excellent, reputable sources. There is quite a bit of misinformation being spread by the KC and KC breeders in an effort to discredit the PDE program.

I'm almost afraid to open that... Considering some of the KC officials quoted in the original were actually claiming that reputable scientists weren't putting 'much science' in their reports, without citation to support such bold assertions, and in light of the judges defiantly defending crippled dogs as being conformationally 'correct,' well, I fear my blood pressure is going to get a workout.

 

@Lenajo; There are preferences and prejudices within the BC world, but everyone agrees, I think, that the highest standard is 'ability to work stock,' and all else is secondary. I believe you are correct; so long as working ability is the paramount consideration, the breed should be fine.

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Because I can't watch, I'm reading some of the articles on the KC website defending pedigree dogs and they are quoting from their webcast. This "Fit for Function, Fit for Life" slogan (I'm not sure if it's in their response video, but it's described on the KC's website) is bulls**t. In the BBC video, the Basset Hound judge couldn't confidently answer why the skin rolls were functional and why they would need them in work. The skin rolls are NOT fit for any function, and certainly not fit for life. This bulls**t could apply to why the Cavalier needs such a small skull, to why all the flat-faced dogs need such a flat face, etc. The KC has completely brainwashed everyone into thinking that the breeds they have created (or ruined) are "fit for life", ugh, it just makes me so angry.

 

Actually, speaking of the flat-faced extreme in English Bulldogs, someone at my work recently bought a CKC English Bulldog puppy and was told by the breeder that his pup is very correct in his conformation because of how exaggerated his underbite is. He said the same thing as the breeders in the BBC video, that this is so that they can latch onto a bull's face and still breathe. I actually bought it, I mean, it sort of makes sense. That is, until I saw the BBC video and the picture of the 1800's bulldog. I had no idea how relatively jaw-y they were back in the day. And to top it all off, his puppies were born through a Caesarean Section which in his eyes, makes them very valuable.

 

This all just drives me crazy..

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On purpose. Spina Bifida. On. Purpose.

 

Does anyone know if the ridge is always characteristic of spina bifida? By which I mean, if it made itself present in another breed, would that be what it was?

 

I ask because years ago some friends bought a yellow lab puppy off a BYB and the pup had a ridge like the Ridgies do. I presume this is even why they picked him. He was plagued with health problems throughout his life, including eventually being euthanized for a really rare bone fungus that he picked up in Arizona that their other lab did not ever become affected by.

 

I think what was most eye opening for me about this show was that while I tend to know quite a bit about dogs, I had no idea that the Ridgeback's ridges were caused by this. I knew about the heart problems in Cavs (I adores Cavs and part one of that video just made me cry) but I'd never heard of the too-big brain thing in the breed. The sheer amount of things I DON'T know about what plagues purebreds is shocking to me.

 

The KC breeders do not shock me in the slightest, unfortunately.

 

RDM

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But they are fit for their function. That function being to move around a conformation ring, being extreme examples of extreme breeding, and lining the pockets of the KC and breeders.

 

The problem is that their current function (above) has nothing to do with their original function. To pretend otherwise is ludicrous at best. Granted, some of those functions have gone by the wayside (how many Ridgebacks are needed to fight lions?).

 

And there's the rub for BCs. If we can't preserve the function, we'll not preserve the ability. And i use the word ABILITY rather than BREED very consciously here. I don't believe we can preserve the *breed*, as in all BCs with papers are/will/can work sheep. Not gonna happen. But if we don't work to preserve the ABILITY, we're screwed.

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