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Genetic diversity in Kennel Club Dogs

Donald McCaig

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This is such an awesome article and truly exposes the pitfalls of line breeding and overuse of popular sires as opposed to outcross breeding. I fully acknowledge that the KC, AKC or ANKC seem to be top heavy with those who are breeding for purposes contrary to a given dogs authenticity. What confounds me is that the "concept" of pedigree becomes maligned in the process.
Why is a pedigree only considered to be used for evil and not good ? Does a pedigree not also serve to make such breeding evident and therefore avoided ?
I apologise for often referring to WL Sheps in my comments but prior to my BC this is where most of my experience lies. The commonality is the passion for a working breed to remain exactly that. The founding father of the GSD breed Cap't Max von Stephanitz said, "let my shepherd always remain a working dog for anything other should be considered an abomination."
Oh lordy, would he turn over in his grave if he could see what has happened !!!

In my neck of the woods and in WL GSD world, the best of the best WL breeders are registered with ANKC. Breeders who supply Police, Army, Airforce, Corrective Services, Service Dogs and serious dog sports such as Schutzhund as well as family pets. All of the before mentioned utilise the required traits in accordance with Cap't Max's description. It is the pedigree that supplies the only recorded evidence of the dogs authentic traits. A serious WL GSD enthusiast wouldn't dream of buying a non ANKC / non-pedigree dog.
The pedigree also highlights how easily inbreeding can happen in the absence of a pedigree. e.g. I had a male WL GSD. My cousin in another state thousands of miles away had a female. The pedigree's reveals that my dogs grandfather is my cousins bitch's father. Hmm, we wouldn't breed would we ? In the absence of the pedigree some people might.
I can examine a pedigree and see if or when a Show Line might have got into the mix.

I acknowledge that BC world is different to GSD world and that the US situation is different in respect to AKC dogs automatically being considered mutant but I think it is a shame to throw the baby out with the bath water i.e. I don't think "pedigree" should become a dirty word.
My BC is ANKC registered with a pedigree. The pedigree and the "linked" breeders register enables me to know his diversity, authenticity and his ancestors achievements (most importantly breed specific achievements) etc for many generation back. Would he make a show dog ? Not in a million years I'm proud to say ! I know that his parents and grandparents were hip/elbow scored, which is no guarantee but nevertheless a good place to start. I know what DNA testing has been done on the parents.
And certainly not least of all it tells me of the breeders goals and breeding ethic.

I am glad that ANKC doesn't seem to represent quite the same thing as AKC otherwise I'd have all sorts of trouble finding a dog.
As a newby to the breed and unavoidably removed from WL BC circles I could never trust or rely on word of mouth recommendations or inner circle knowledge. God forbid that I could never experience the joys of BC ownership because all ANKC dogs were wholly and solely considered mutant. We do have Working Dog specific registries (not including GSD's) but they are "state" situated and so non-mainstream that the average person wouldn't even know they exist let alone go to them as a starting point.

On another thread Chene put forward the idea of some kind of "Breeder Registry". I totally understand her view. Not an opinion based register but one based solely on facts. I realise that the contention towards AKC is such that such a register may never be linked to the AKC but it could still be promoted as it's own entity and be brought to the attention of many more people. I am grateful for the strong affiliation between the "Breeder Registry" and the ANKC as it helps to create awareness from the start. The SL v WL subject quickly comes to the fore with anyone being conscientious about purchasing a dog.

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"Pedigree" isn't a pejorative term, "KC pedigree" is the issue.


National KCs, whatever they may claim, are about form rather than function or why would they spend so much effort on breed standards that have nothing to do with what a dog can do or even with health.


My youngster is first and foremost an ISDS pedigree dog but he is also dual registered with the KC for sport purposes. (It's not such a big issue here to have a dual registered dog.) Do I consider him a KC pedigree dog? Absolutely not.


If working line breeders of any breed without a register of its own think registration with their national KC is of value because it is the KC then that is a slippery slope. If they are just using the KC for their own purposes because they have no option while still maintaining a separateness from the ethics (or lack of same) of the KC then I can hardly criticise without being a hypocrite.

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Yup. And you can have a pedigree without having a closed registry or inbreeding, and while still having outcrosses. The Irish Kennel Club, for instance, 'outcrossed' red and white, and red setters because the gene pool was just getting too small. Nothing about the idea of 'recording ancestry' precludes the idea of 'not breeding like to like within a closed gene pool'

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Dear Ms. Jule,


Er, isn't the ANKC the australian equivilant of the Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club? If so . . . they've "recognized" the Border Collie longer than either of the other big dog show clubs and, in fact, when the Collie was recognized, many breeders imported Australian show show stock. The AKC based its Border Collie breed standard on the ANKC.


In the early 80's, when I visited Australia (and the Border Collies at the Melbourne AgEcca) no Border Collie breeder could give me the name of a single working Border Collie person though Border Collies and Border Collie x Kelpies competed at noon in the main arena at the 3 sheep trial.


At that time there was no Australian working Border Collie registry and the working Kelpie registry and Yard Trial were in their infancy. Te Border Collies I saw, if they were registered, were registered with the ISDS.


I'd appreciate information on how things have changed in more recent years.


Donald McCaog

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I didn't think I had suggested for a moment that there was any value in the KC pedigree simply because they are the KC, but quite to the contrary. The very point I was trying to make was that in the absence of a specific Working Dog Registry pedigree for a given breed the Australian equivalent to the KC is the only accurate and comprehensive record we have and therefore is highly valued by serious enthusiasts of such dogs who are committed to keeping their dogs authentic to their origins.
I tried (clearly unsuccessfully) to explain why. Only through the ANKC registry could I have access to the GSD database that showed nine generations of my dogs history. ANKC will notate any official service roll and the usual dog sports but they refuse to acknowledge the Schutzhund (now IPO) sport which is ludicrous as their is no other single sport that can compare to IPO in respect to the dogs authenticity, being a shepherd/minder is only part of the picture.
They do however allow imported dogs to bring their credentials with them including IPO and be recorded on the pedigree. The highly breed appropriate sport of IPO is condemned by the ANKC.
I have personally never read an ANKC "standard" in respect to any dog or breed I have owned so I can't comment on that. The product of it's practices are unavoidable to the eyes at times but I don't want to read about it, it is irrelevant and has no value. And no I also don't consider my dog as meeting ANKC 'standard (whatever that is) but he is nevertheless has an ANKC pedigree because that is the only one available and it's better than nothing.

I think you have misunderstood. I did not suggest, ' recording ancestry' precluded ' not breeding like to like within a closed gene pool' My point was that the 'recorded ancestry' can reveal exactly what has transpired. You have a far higher likelihood of poor breeding and inbreeding without such knowledge.

Dear Mr Donald McCaig, Er, er,
yes I think I fairly strongly elude to the ANKC being the KC equivalent in the second line.
Yes I'm sure "show stock has been exported from Australia just like show stock comes into Australia from all over the world. I wouldn't know really and I am talking about Border Collies not show anything. No doubt WL's also travel internationally, one would hope so. Which Morons developed 'standard' and which Morons copied them doesn't make either Moron less of a Moron. It has nothing to do with WL Border Collies.
Yes you are quite right in the eighties there was no WL BC registry. The Australian Working Border Collie Registry was established in 1996.
Doesn't surprise me that you couldn't find a BC Breeder that could head you towards a working BC person if indeed they even knew what you were talking about. Very much a niche group in those days I would imagine and very likely that no formal records were kept of any type.
Back then, the Australian Working Sheep Dog Association probably had a bit to do with Ag Ecca, the emphasis was no doubt on "Working Sheep Dog" rather than only breed specific, a BC x Kelpie, Heeler, Koole, or any mix thereof that had the goods would get a go.

When looking for my BC I could have gone with an AWBCR dog but to do so I would have to take a dog sight unseen simply due to location which is not something I have ever done. In the past I have travelled from one side of the country to the other to look at dogs but it's not something I can now do. As I said, I was too far removed from the right circles to be well advised.
My other option was to take a pup from a local litter who's parents I have watched working dairy cattle on farms I pass bye almost daily for several years as well as their forefathers in the area over the past 26 years. Awesome dogs to watch and you get to see them often as the dogs have to run some herds twice daily along the side of the main road and cross them to get to the dairy.
I preferred to go with the local pup and wouldn't you know it, it was an ANKC registry. Before buying I checked the situation out and found that many WL BC breeders were registered with ANKC. I talked with many breeders about their "ethic" and while most are horrendous this did not prove to be all. WL breeders are loud and proud about it and can back their words with evidence.

So anyway, I simply tried to share what goes on in my neck of the woods and clearly failed to adequately explain myself. No need to take a tone with me Donald (' Dear Ms Jule, Er.)

Thank you to all with whom I have enjoyed communications and I won't bother you further. I'll just pack up my apparently mutant dog (because clearly it couldn't be anything other) and just "bugger off"as we say in Australia. Bye

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That is Donald's normal form of salutation (Dear Ms., Miss, Mr.). I don't think it's meant to be offensive or patronizing. Quite the contrary, I think it's meant to be polite. But of course you can't stop someone taking offense.


I understand that in a large country it was easier to stay local with dogs you could see, but I think the whole idea of dogs registered with the "local" KC gives some of us the jitters, mainly because of the history of the KC and what it does to working dogs. That's the point I believe Donald was trying to make. When the AKC recognized border collies, there were working breeders who dual registered because they thought perhaps they could influence from within. They soon found that they couldn't.


Obviously if what you saw on a daily basis is what you liked and wanted for yourself, then ultimately who the pup was registered with, or whether it was registered at all, probably didn't matter. That's always the case on an individual level. Where the problems come is in the wider perspective: what the kennel clubs stand for, what their practices result in, and so on. And that's where these conversations usually become problematic.


If the working dog folks are keeping their lines "pure" within the greater KC registry (a subregistry of sorts) then individual breeders and buyers do have the benefit of the information on an X-generation pedigree. I would guess by now, though, that the working registry would be able to supply pedigrees going back at least four generations? The problematic part for me would be the fact that by keeping those working dogs within the KC--that is registering them there--the breeders are financing the activities of the KC, most of which are pretty much in direct opposition to maintaining the original purpose (or the ability to actually do what the breed was meant to do, and at a high standard). That would be a big sticking point for me, just as it is here where I live.


Maybe it's different in Australia--I don't know. From what you describe, it sounds as if your breeder registered out of convenience more than anything else, but understand that for many of us, KCs represent the ruination of many breeds (as you acknowledge with the German shepherd), and I personally would take a dog from any registry but that, sight unseen if need be (happens plenty here because of distances, too, though of course the working border collie world is small enough that we do often know of each other--or know someone who knows the breeder/dogs in question, and the internet has made sight unseen a thing of the past, though of course seeing in person is always a preferred choice). The working registry here does include some limited information on testing on the pedigrees, but for me, the most important thing is knowing the breeder and the dogs behind (and to the sides of) the pup in question. I would like for the "big stuff" to be tested for, but honestly I don't want to pay a fortune for a pup (for example, here a started dog goes for roughly the same price as a KC registered puppy) that may or may not turn out to be the type of working dog I need. So I am more on the "I'll pay less for the pup and give up the security of multitudes of tests" in order not to have a huge investment up front in something that won't be able to show me its true value/potential for at least a couple of years.


For me, personally, here in the U.S. I would take an unregistered, untested (that is, medical testing) working bred dog over anything registered strictly with the AKC. I actually got one of my best working dogs when a friend of mine called to tell me about an accidental litter that had one smooth coated female available. I agreed to take her just because I knew who the parents were (and their relatives) and knew the pup, once trained, would probably suit me. I think I saw one picture of her before she arrived at my doorstep. She's going on 10 years old now and I will be very sorry when I have to retire her. Everyone has different comfort levels, but in the case of supporting a KC vs not, I'd be willing to give up access to certain information if that was the price of not going the KC route. Honestly, I have yet to meet a KC-registered, conformation bred dog that I would call useful for anything but the most basic farm work or at the highest levels of trialing. As I said, the situation may be different where you are, but this is the reality for those of us in the U.S. and so it colors our responses in threads like this one.


ETA: Oops, just saw where you said you were leaving. I hope that's not the case. We often disagree here, sometimes heatedly, but we can always manage to learn from one another too. If you've been here long enough, you also come to recognize the different personalities and styles of communicating and so are less likely to be offended by folks who are not actually trying to be offensive.



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