More on Closed Registries

Population geneticist Federico Calboli is a frequent and outspoken commenter at Q. I sent him the material below even before I blogged it. Here, with his permission, are his thoughts. As he is not affiliated with any breeding organization his freedom from bias is clear. If you believe that simply picking from two healthy parents will guard against the defects revealed by the ever- shrinking gene pool, you should read this.

Sadly, most people who follow this blog already know these things, and those committed to the 19th century fallacies of “pure breeding” are standing around with fingers in their ears hollering “LALALALALALAI CAN’T HEARYOU!!!” Still, you never know who you might reach. Take it away, Federico! (Emphasis mine)

“Assuming one is trying to produce pedigree dogs that are healthy (i.e. health is the phenotype we select for), the advice [in post below] is sound. 

“The elephant in the room (which is touched in the intro when landraces are mentioned) is that, no matter what, closed registry breeding will kill a breed, sooner or later.  Later if the advice in the document is followed, but that’s no silver bullet.  Keeping dogs cost money (no matter how little, it’s always more than 0).  Even in the ‘let’s just breed for health’ dreamscape, keeping the largest possible effective population would be quite costly.  Who pays?  This problem just by itself means that sooner or later genetic variability will be lost.  In the best case scenario this is a slow whittling away, but there is never any putting back in a closed registry model.

“Hence why either you breed for function (dog X does job Y well enough, dog X is a breeder, end of), and ‘breed’  becomes a synonym with ‘function’, or you need something else.  Hence why I recommend to reduce the number of breeds, merging similar one (say, all retrievers together, all sighthounds together) AND to have open registries. Merging breeds would increase genetic variability while keeping some guideline in terms of looks and function.  Open registries (keeping note of all ‘half bred’ animals, and fully registering those with 3 out of 4 grandparent registered, or something like that) would guarantee gene flow after the first ‘enrichment’ through breed merging has happened. 

“To cut it short, no matter how well managed, sooner or later closed registries will spell doom for a breed.  Having said that, there is more to say about canine health, but that’s for another email.”

6 thoughts on “More on Closed Registries”

  1. …..And HA!!!!! I just discovered a NEW WORD! The password on my last comment was "embitch", if you can believe it! So, does that word mean to provide someone or oneself with a breeding female dog, or possibly to provide the forum/opportunity for someone to complain(in a nagging manner) about something, or both? Anyway, it is a great new word–"EMBITCH"!….L.B.

  2. ….and that last comment of mine makes no sense because THERE ISN'T a comment I posted before it on this post–except I DID post a long-winded(pecked, actually) response that either #1: I goofed and didn't send it properly; #2: I sent it properly but someone on the other end accidentally deleted it; or, #3: someone on the other end PURPOSEFULLY deleted it–which I really doubt, since I didn't cuss or insult anybody personally, and this blog is always open to discussions of various opinions, controversial as they may be! Perhaps it will appear later, found and posted? If not(sigh), I'll try to peck it all out again(but my right index finger is getting very tired…..) …L.B.

  3. Never say never, Steve!!! Ha! No doubt it is #1, which I was afraid of(sigh). Why is it that I screw up on the LONGEST responses that I send????? A Murphy Thing I suppose. I'll try to "recreate" that post again here soon–especially since you HAVE provided a forum for all of us to embitch ourselves…..(perhaps responses are automatically deleted if they are so long they strain a computer's capabilities?)….L.B.

  4. ….Okay, let's try again–maybe there's an AKC Conformation Show afficiondo in our work computer office monitoring and deleting my messages(I sent ANOTHER long-winded effort that also apparently didn't reach you a coupla days ago–it's Saturday, so the office computer police should be off today…..) "Blasphemy", Jess? Yes, I speak it FLUENTLY!(and we all know YOU practice it!!) Okay, I stole that(and paraphrased it somewhat) from Errol Flynn's portrayal of Robin Hood, but it applies nicely here! I agree so much with all of this–we modern humans need a NEW(but really just back to the original methods) philosophy–and PRACTICE involving dog breeding, and I think breeding broader TYPES, rather than individual, highly inbred BREEDS, is the way to go–for health AND ability, and to prevent that overly exagerrated "breed blindness" that exagerrates breed characteristics to the point of deformities. Any breed that has still existing landrace relatives should be considered very LUCKY to have these outcrosses(instead of shunning them, as some Saluki people do). Even some AKC people HAVE realized this and are TRYING to go this route–the Basenji people have done better than most, actually reopening their stud books and bringing several bunches of dogs from Africa to cross into their terribly inbred show lines. Some Dalmation people have been TRYING utilizing Pointer blood, but meeting with much resistance. But the notion IS out there, and is growing–let's hope it becomes THE new/old way to breed dogs in the future! We need to get some famous celebrities doing it to make it popular with the general public! The Retrieverman's mention of recombining the Retriever breeds makes perfect sense, and reminded me that I am old enough to remember(and was exposed to "backward" country folks that still thought that way) of when all our American Tailhounds(i. e.–"Coonhounds") were thought of as ONE TYPE of dog(at least by many hunters), and color varieties of them might appear in any litter. They'd be referred to as "Blueticks", "Black-And-Tans", "Redbones", etc., just as a COLOR variety, but not as a SEPERATE BREED! The color seperation in to various breeds is a fairly recent thing among these hounds, historically. It will no doubt eventually cause problems limiting the gene pool if it continues. I would vote they should just be identified/bred as "American Trailhounds" with 6(or more!) color varieties. The Catahoula people allowed their "breed" to have ENORMOUS variety in size, conformation, and even specific functions(herders, hunters, guards), and if you wanted a specific TYPE of Catahoula, you went to someone who bred that type, and let them help you select a dog(a leggy, rangy, deer dog, as opposed to a stockier, shorter-coupled herder/guard, for instance)–this is just the most sensible way to breed dogs, I think. And then, there is the ULTIMATE outcross…..(let's see if this message goes through first, dangit, before I laboriously try to peck out another rambling comment)….L.B.


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