Patrick and I tend to go on about how the closed- studbook model of breeding and breeds, a relict of the 19th century’s imperfect understanding of genetics, is deleterious and dysfunctional, but I haven’t said much on it here. Reader Mike spies and I recently had an interesting discussion on this matter,and he gave me permission to post. Mike first:
“Dogs bred from FDSB registered animals have provided excellent, successful
hunting and trial dogs for about 100 years.
On the subject of inbreeding – this is often confused with line breeding.
Combined with rigorous culling and intelligent planning, line breeding
produces fine, sound animals that are largely free of genetic problems.
Further, the overall quality of a line breed litter is more likely to be more
predictable and consistent (pup to pup) than a litter produced by a pure out
cross – the genes combine in more predictable ways. Line breeders do out cross
– to other line bred, but less related dogs to inject proven new blood into
their breeding programs.”
“I know these things and agree to a point. But you CANNOT breed forever in a limited pool without deleterious genes being expressed– a real outcross is needed once in a while (not necessarily constantly). If you outcross type to type is better of course.
“(I know this a bit from 50 years of breeding pigeons, where the generations go faster and mistakes are less heartbreaking. But also, what — ancient– academic training I have is in evolutionary, genetic, and population biology.)
“And: the situation is also different with the saluki- tazi (taigan aboriginal Afghan) meta- population, which until recently stretched from north Africa to Mongolia and consisted entirely of working dogs. Now, show breeders have ruined (most) western salukis and (almost all) western “Afghans”, with their silly hair. Worse, the rise of nationalism in Central Asia has made several nations there decide their local race is a “breed” and close studbooks. My extremely functional Almaty pair are too closely bred for my liking , which is why I am welcoming to the Ukrainian southeast tazis and the similar Russian ones, even though they are not quite as perfect. I am taking a long view.
“But so much– I know this is a digression– is being lost. Ten years ago you could still get tall black intergrades of the tazi and taigan populations in Kyrgizstan. I’d kill to have such a dog, but the state is discouraging their breeding, never mind export, because they are not ‘pure”. AAARGH!
“But the principles of outbreeding expressed in the essay will work for — call them tazis–because there is still a considerable and remarkably physically and mentally consistent working population– for a little while anyway– and they are from such a large area one can find good ones thousands of miles apart. I may outcross eventually to both Arabian and Kurdish dogs ( I know a female from Iran who is the same Turkmeni type as my Ataika!) I should add these are all hunting dogs owned by friends in California, Virginia, and here in NM.
“I should add that– with the exception of a pretty- well failed one- time attempt in basenjis– the saluki, to the horror of show people, is the only breed that the AKC lets bring in “Country Of Origin” dogs. I know several HUNTING saluki people salivating for my dogs’ genes!
“The breeding programs that produce many of the finest examples of sporting
breeds are carried out by informed small scale breeders who test their dogs in
competition, constantly winnowing parents for the traits they desire. They
breed the best examples that they can find. Many could be labeled ‘back yard
breeders’ – a term that implies an unscientific, uninformed, and haphazard
approach to breeding. – a not-quite-a-lie for the media and the uninformed.
The finest dogs that I have owned have come from such breedings. The bigger
the breeding operation, the more difficult it is to produce a quality puppy.”
“Agree completely. My bird hunting pal Omar here in town has had three excellent pointers from two local breeders as good as any I have ever seen. And I am a backyard breeder myself, as are my friends mentioned above. I think we are the true conservators.”
Soon: another “meta- population”: flock guardians from Wyoming, Mongolia, and more…