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Dog breeding myths

Those "myths" and their "debunking" are so common as marketing tools for breeders that it overshadows any accuracy these writings may contain. Breeders of crippled breeds who don't care about the well-being of dogs love using those arguments all the time. Anyway, for those actually interested in health and welfare of animals, here's a website to browse through: [url=http://vets.tv/]British Veterinary Association[/url] [size=18]One particularly interesting video from BVA:[/size] [url=http://vets.tv/video.php?vid=115&cid=]Vets speak out[/url] Ladies and gentlemen, start your braingines.
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  • Ok gentle reader - some more food for thought and discussion. I lumped all the myths into one topic to keep but can split them off to different topics if needed... There is some good info here that should generate some nice discussions. written & prepared by JP Yousha THE MYTHS: Myth#1. Purebreds are "weaker" than mutts. Mongrels display more genetic faults and inherited disease traits than any one breed. There are endless sets of statistics to prove this idea is a myth, but they never seem to convince anyone. This is probably due to the combination of the following: a) Sick and crippled mongrels are less likely to be counted as they are less likely to be among the living, let alone amoung those dogs taken to vet clinic for expensive care. b) No owner (breeder/vet) ever attributed a disease to a mongrel's breeding. c) The "Ugly Tourist" syndrome: many healthy pets live quietly on, while one sick Irish Setter or a GSD with hip dysplasia gets more than their share of the focus. Add to this that the better made pets are actually much harder to find & buy for the average pet owner, who sadly tends to, despite all good intentions, to buy from the uninformed if not ourright uncaring breeder. d) It is romantically inticing to think Nature does a better job of taking care of Her Children than corrupt man does. The fact that "she" doesn't look after any of "her individual children" is obvious only to those who study nature carefully. Sickness, death & dying is just exactly how nature winnows out the numbers to an acceptable level; cruelty by our standards is a standard event in nature-as is suffering. Nature's idea of "controlling" disease is to let the afflicted individuals be born, suffer and die. Myth#2. Inbreeding is bad; it causes sick and unstable dogs. This goes with the idea (also erronous) than inbreeding doesn't occur in nature. Man's cultural taboos on inbreeding is largely behind all these myths. Inbreeding (linebreeding) & outcrossing are essentially neutral tools used to effect certain ends. It is certainly true that such a thing as inbreeding depression occurs when there is a loss of diversity amoung (some particular) genes in some individuals sometimes in some species, but there is also such a phenomena as outbreeding depression that occurs when you "mess with" a 'good' set of genes by introducing "new blood" into a breeding program. All this is demonstrated in wild as well as zoo populations as well as various domestic animal breeding programs. The point is you just cannot point & say "inbreeding is bad, outcrossing is good;" nature is never than simplistic. Bad breeding decisions often end in sick & unstable animals, but even the best breeding program has individuals who may fall ill. Along with this is the problem of confusing heterozygosity with heterosis (hybrid vigor). The latter is a first generation trait that occurs ONLY in the offspring of two individuals who are themselves from pure(in)bred strains; heterozygosity is a term that relates to whether a given individual has two or one kind of gene (alleles) at any given gene location (locus). The two terms don't even relate to the same level of discussion, and a hybrid is not necessarily "better." Having information on the actual animals in question is what is critical & no formula can replace that all important criteria. The results of any breeding demonstrate the skill (& luck) of the breeder. One of the most inbred lines of dogs in the world has the lowest breed incidence of hip dysplasia and the highest success rate as superior companion dogs--the seeing eye German Shepherd. Which is NOT to say "inbreeding is good;" the old breeder's saw about having to do an outcross every few generations is based on the observation that continuous inbreeding over generations can result in "inbreeding depression;" a phenomena, assumably, having to do with having too much similarity (homozygosity) among certain genes (such as immune genes). The point is one simply does not make breeding or buying choices based on single criteria or "cookbook" formulas--random outcrossing is as deadly as blindly linebreeding--smart breeders make careful selections every generation. Myth#3. If it is a genetic trait & you have the gene, you are going to get the disease, etc. associated with the trait. This is probably one of the most commonly held & terribly wrong notions people have about genetics. Innate does not mean fated. Having a gene for some trait may be a LONG way from having the trait expressed; you won't get sick necessarily just because you have a gene for a disease. Genes don't "cause" disease; the expression of them may. Of course "carriers" are best identified & eliminated when possible from the breeding stock, but such ideal circumstances may not be available & it's critical to recognise that genetic traits are not like a scarlet letter that brands someone as a "defect," just as it's critical to recognise that we all (& all our dogs) carry defective and even lethal genes. The key, again, is selection: selection as a breeder for what defects are tolerable (i.e. those cosmetic or fashion) and which are not (i.e. those deadly or costly). Myth#4. If the environment affects the course of a disease/trait, then that proves the trait is not genetic. This is the twin of myth #3 & just about as common. Environment is PART of the genetic inheritance of a person or dog: a certain enviroment is necessary for each and every gene to get "turned on" & expressed. They work TOGETHER, not in opposition. For example, if a dog with genes for hip dysplasia is fed carefully with low protein & low calcium and kept from any real exercise, this dog may express the genes later and with less obvious original bone changes than the pup who eats a ton & runs around unsupervised. Both will end up with arthritis, likely, & both EQUALLY are going to pass on their genes for this crippling disease to their offspring. The first dog is just less "honest" about what sort of genetic parent he really is. Diet & supplements can mask the effects of disease & even control them--think about adult onset diabetes which is usually controlled wholly by diet. But disease controlled by environmental manipulation isn't a cure & the offspring of dogs who need enzyme supplements, for example, are going to display the same kind of pancreatic insufficiency their parents did, even if none of these animals are ever properly diagnosed and their genetic defect isolated or even admitted. As Richard Dawkins says: "A gene's meaning is context dependent." Myth#5 Genetic means congenital. People still confuse congenital and inherited. Inherited means acquired (genetically) from the parent(s). Congenital means present at birth. Congenital problems can be inherited. But many inherited diseases are not obvious until the animal is mature. That is EXACTLY why we still have problems getting rid of them. Myth#6 You can buy/breed a dog without undesirable genes. This puppy buyers often demand and some breeders even will promise. Every dog alive likely carries some undesirable traits. In the breeds where this has been systematically studied, every breed individual is likely to carry for 3-5 unwanted traits(gene load). The question is less rather IF you will accept unwanted traits, than WHICH you will decree as most undesirable & which you (and your dog!) can accept and live with. Crooked tails or missing teeth sure beat heart disease and hip dysplasia---all are inherited. Which, if you had a choice, would you choose to carry in your line or have in your dog? This is rather hard for folks to swallow as they believe in myths#3-5 & think your genes are you destiny and that anything genetic is some sort of scarlet letter. We all need to learn a bit more of how biology really works & discard our erroneous ideas not based on the evidence of nature.
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    • nice post waiting for the bandog responses. i am no expert but from what i have learn is that bandog is a mongrel into the making of a pure breed troy
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      • :D excellent post :D food for thought which i find totally enlightening inspirational and truth :D of course many would argue and or protest but this surely is a reality check :D
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        • I want to see DOCUMENTED PROOF on Myth 1 Not some breeder for profit BS, I want a UNIVERSITY study and I will tell you why. I may be new here but I have had all types of dogs from 4000.00 purebreeds to pound mutts, I would venture a guess that from 1987 to 2000 I "rescued" over 70+ dogs plus I always had "house" dogs, different and separate (with 3 exceptions) from my house dogs.Plus I have had dogs in my life forever from say 1963 to present. I always took in the big bad dogs that no one else wanted so I have a lot of hands on with different breeds including bandogs ,wolf hybrids,pits, rotts, GSD,dobie, neo,presa,Doge B, and every dog I just mentioned I had at least 2 of them, plus many huge dogs that were rare enough 20 years ago that know one new what thet were..I think I had a SA B, and at least 1 Russian giant shepard type (which I was told was used in a wolf programn) Since I am far from rich, and got 0.00 in dog vet help, I am acutely aware how much owning different breeds costs. I never had any of my mutts develop hip d, but all 3 of my GSD did as well as 2 of my 4 Dobes and 1 of my 5 Rotts. I never saw cancer in a mix buy lost a very expensive neo, and a super rottie , english bulldog,1 gsd, and a standard poodle. ( all cancer in last 6 years which makes me wonder) I had a Doge B, and a JBJ AmBD,and a EBD all suffer from acute sinus problems due to poor draining. Meanwhile my hybrids and bandogs and junk yard mixes were THRIVING and most lived long enough to die because it was their time. Meanwhile I do help train a bit and have seen 1 year old Cockers going blind(3), boxers that need to eat baby food because of bad stomachs (2), deafness in a GSD,Dalmation,french bulldog, all less than 2 years old. A Irish setter that was phyiscally unable to hold his bowels, 2 Rotts and a RRB and 5 AST (2 rednose +3 blues )that were born with holes in their hearts and 1 neo with the same. All the above dogs were "pick of liiters" Show winning parents or weight pulling winners..I would venture a guess that cheapest dog of the bunch was at least a grand and NONE were bought at a mall or puppy store all went to noted breeders, and all were offered some kind of refund, but for christ sakes whos going to give away a dog that they raised as a pup most of owners used $for massive vet bills. My 2¢
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          • This sounds like a great defense for those who have ruined many breeds with faulty breeding practises. Wouldn't be surprised if they print it and use it as a poster in their kennels :roll: Yaj.
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            • I am not taking a stand on what is better, I am reporting what I have seen 1st hand. I do think that when breeders try to breed so close to AKC standard that defects occur.Anyone could just as easily breed a Neo with a bad heart to a Blind pit and say they have a bandog..just do not be surprised that the pups might not be what you expect. And I do not think its the little guy breeder either who owns a nice papered male and hooks him up with a papered female across town..( which IMHO produces the best dogs)I think its the people who LIVE for shows ( I know they love the breed, but wonder how much breed love they would have if pups were only 200.00...not 4000.00++) Let me ask you all when did a normal owner/trainer last win a Major AKC show...aiiiiiiiiiiiiiint happening folks all blue bloods old $/ celebrity owners ..unless u do not watch the shows..Lassie and Rin Tin Tin could not place in todays ring...let alone Petey or Nipper. I use people for my proof not all of us can play pro ball, and neither can some of the pros kids ..being fast or tall or being able to jump high is not manmade its god given, I think if Bill Cosby bought a 400.00 papered anything his dog would be at westminster on TV and have a stud list in waiting.
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              • A very interesting read and I agree. Mutts I have owned I hardly ever had to take them to the vet, well not as often as pure bred dogs. I think a lot of problems stem from breeders not health testing their breeding stock and when looking for new sires or females as a breeder over the years the amount of breeders you approach who never tested their dogs definitely outweighed the ones who did. This used to limit you to few choices and I for one am glad of the internet where information and proof of testing is readily available now at the click of a button. Yes people can falsely doctor documents but with homework on your breed of choice, you should be checking all claims before purchasing and hopefully with doing that you are less likely to encounter the problems so many seem to endure.
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                • [quote="YP Yousha"]Myth#1. Purebreds are "weaker" than mutts. Mongrels display more genetic faults and inherited disease traits than any one breed.There are endless sets of statistics to prove this idea is a myth, [/quote] [quote=NickD]I want to see DOCUMENTED PROOF on Myth 1 Not some breeder for profit BS, I want a UNIVERSITY study [/quote] :lol: Right on! :) I wanna see those endless studies too....I assume they were all funded by national grants from the NSF or NIH??! :lol: :roll: That's probably very high on the priority list for the government to clear the conscience of show breeders. :lol: [quote=yajnesh]This sounds like a great defense for those who have ruined many breeds[/quote] Exactly!
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                  • Those "myths" and their "debunking" are so common as marketing tools for breeders that it overshadows any accuracy these writings may contain. Breeders of crippled breeds who don't care about the well-being of dogs love using those arguments all the time. Anyway, for those actually interested in health and welfare of animals, here's a website to browse through: [url=http://vets.tv/]British Veterinary Association[/url] [size=18]One particularly interesting video from BVA:[/size] [url=http://vets.tv/video.php?vid=115&cid=]Vets speak out[/url] Ladies and gentlemen, start your braingines.
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                    • [quote="crnosrce1"] [url=http://vets.tv/video.php?vid=115&cid=]Vets speak out[/url][/quote] A must see!
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                      • [quote="Wolf"][quote="crnosrce1"] [url=http://vets.tv/video.php?vid=115&cid=]Vets speak out[/url][/quote] A must see![/quote]I did, and I must agree!! Great source, Mike! :) I wonder now how experts like JP Yousha would respond after seeing this... :lol: Probably that vets don't know sh!t about dogs :lol: I mean, how dare they compare breed specific traits to genetic disease..... :roll: Calf born with Chondrodysplasia: "disproportionate dwarfism, a short vertebral column, abnormally short legs, a relatively large head with retruded muzzle" Pug puppy: How ... ehm... "cute"....!? :wink: Dan
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                        • Seeing how JP Yousha has more hands on experience than any of you, the groupthink bashing of her paper is understandable. Anyone who thinks that mutts never develop health problems needs to have their own heads examined. BTW: There is no such thing as a "ruined" breed. There is good and bad in everything including dogs (humans too.) The mutt propaganda is a straw man argument. I know of plenty of mutts who have developed PRA, HD, Cancer and who died from bloat. Sh!t happens people. Get over it. Want a dog that will live for forever, buy a stuffed animal or an oil painting.
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                          • Pillowpants, what is your opinion of inbreeding and line-breeding?
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                            • [quote=nunubug]Pillowpants, what is your opinion of inbreeding and line-breeding?[/quote] All are required tools in the breeders repertoire.
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                              • Nice video. Thanks for the link Mike. The speaker quoted some lines for some standards and the thing that occurred to me is this. The Standards in their purest interpretation selects for aesthetics rather than function. However, when they are interpreted for shows and breeding they are exaggerated and .. slight wrinkles are ideal - hummmmm, more wrinkles are better, max weight becomes the average, max height becomes a few inches more, big becomes massive, aggression becomes distruct or aloof.. etc.. In many of my posts I preach adherence to the standard and that is contrary to the speaker - but adherence would at least limit the freaks to some extent since "culling" is no longer performed by man and is not allowed to occur naturally. Nice Vid and lots of info on that site. [url=http://vets.tv/video.php?vid=117&cid=10]This follow on video[/url] does a great job on the breed clubs. One thing I found missing was the responsibility of "judges" in directing the market by their "selection" for traits in the ring.
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                                • Oh my goodnes.. in listening to the video I linked above (at about the 24 minute mark) I heard about the law in Scotland that if an animal is treated surgically for any ailment the vet is duty bound to neuter or spay it. Further on the older panelist lady stated that she told prospective clients that any Bulldog that had to deliver puppies by C-section must be spayed immediately after at her practice. They shold also address males which must be "harvested" for AI because they cannot breed naturally.
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                                  • [blockquote]All are required tools in the breeders repertoire.[/blockquote] Ok cool but there surely must be some point where the breeder draws the line and has to introduce a carefully selected outcross? I am sure you agree that that taking line and inbreeding to extremes (in either direction) can have negative results? Everything in moderation and all that?
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                                    • [blockquote]One thing I found missing was the responsibility of "judges" in directing the market by their "selection" for traits in the ring[/blockquote] Good point. I have always felt that jugdes play a central role in determining fads within the dog breeding scene. If they selected winners based more on health and movability then surely the supersize me trend will die. I am not knocking physical confirmation as standard used in dog shows. There must always be some degree of that. However, it obvious that judges favor more substantial specimens and while it is the right of breeder to intrepet physical standards as they see fit they are all pandering to the more substantial standards of the judges. In doing so they try and outdo each other according to size, weight, wrinkle etc. This further adds to the super-size me spiral. 
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                                      • [quote="Astibus"][/quote] This picture really upsets me.. How awful! :cry: The video posted above is very interesting and she says some things which really make you think about which turn today's breeding takes.
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                                        • Well mongrels definetley are more naturally healthier than pure breeds because they wont be proned to any genetic diseases I know this from keeping mongrels and pure breeds and other people who have kept both say it too. My grandfather loves German shepherd dogs but dosen't want to get another one as the one he has now is slowing down due to his bones in his hind quaters same as the previous one he had. He dosent want to get another one because it too heart breaking seeing them die at such a young age. I think some laws must be introduced in making sure dogs are healthy before breed. For example I'm thinking of breeding my neo mastiff but thats because shes very healthy and I have x-rayed her to find that she has very good bone structure. I have been told that they have introduced theese laws in Germany.
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                                          • [quote1255050631=closecombat] mongrels definetley are more naturally healthier than pure breeds because they wont be proned to any genetic diseases. [/quote1255050631] Complete nonsense and utter BS.
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                                            • [quote1260071774=NickD]Not some breeder for profit BS, I want a UNIVERSITY study[/quote1260071774]There are university studies proving Global Warming, and 25 years ago we had university studies proving the coming of the ice age. Are they both right or both wrong - or neither.
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