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The danger of breeding to form


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#41 rushdoggie

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 08:24 PM

A question for those of you with friends who show dogs in AKC, to bring this back to the main topic at hand: do the ethical breeders, those who want to do the right thing by the dogs, make any sort of concerted effort to influence breeding trends?


Sadly, not so much. I don't really know people who show dogs with droopy eyes or brachycephalic faces, but the folks I know who show more moderate breeds are willing to color noses or put on 10 lbs to get the Ch part over with. I have a friend who decided to show her Border Collie in conformation many moons ago, and she couldn't get a point on him at all. She hired a professional handler who was ale to get a few points but it wasn't until she made him a little fat that she got her majors. She she gritted her teeth, did it and when he had the desired Ch before his name, she slimmed him down and went back to performance sports. I asked her WHY on EARTH she would want that Ch when it clearly had more to do with who was holding the leash and the added 10 lbs, and her answer is it was what responsible breeders did. I was sad, but shes very ingrained in the culture and I have yet to change her mind (I'm still working on it).

The only logical answer I can come up with is that in doing so they'd be ensuring healthier dogs but giving up breed ring wins.



Probably.

I understand from my participation on a herding e-mail list that is largely populated by AKC folk that driving change in AKC is not easy, but shouldn't these good breeders be trying to effect change? And if they could bring together a critical mass of breeders working to breed dogs who are healthier and less extreme would it be possible to influence breed ring judging?


I could be wrong, but I don't think its the AKC who trains or sets breed standards. I think its the breed clubs and each breed club could set standards for health clearances if they really wanted to.

When you feel like being frustrated, go read the PDE blog and see the comments from breeders who say "yeah but..." over and over looking at dogs like the bulldog or the Neo Mastiff. Its beyond sad.

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#42 geonni banner

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:16 PM

I know some breeders who have very good track records with their own dogs - they breed Collies, and they choose normal-eyed stock to use for breeding. These people are also very involved in rescue. They are very concerned with temperament and one in particular works really hard at putting good running gear under her dogs. (Collies, especially Roughs, are notoriously poor movers). But she puts the extreme head and skull on her dogs, and does a lot of winning in Conformation.

But they are not particularly vocal with their show-ring peers. People who make waves are frowned upon. It can get pretty brutal. Rumors get started and people start getting shut out. And as show people go, Collie people are pretty easy-going. Try being around Afghan or Standard Poodle people... Yikes!

If you want to win, you have to play the game. And people buy into the "club." They have enormous emotional investments in the show-circuit. Their whole life revolves around finishing champions, making pups and finishing them. Everything else is secondary. Think about that woman in Pedigree Dogs Exposed - the one who lost 2 dogs to that brain disease. She wasn't part of the breeding scene, but she made waves. Those breeders hated her. How much worse it is if "one of their own" starts making waves? They would crucify them.

Word gets around. Judges don't put up your dogs. You can be ruined. For most of these people it isn't like they are breeding dogs that can do a job. If they lose the show crowd they lose everything. The dedicated ones don't just want to make pups to sell to pet homes - they want to breed the "perfect" dog. The one that looks like the illustrated standard. They want a piece of glory, and they really believe it's all for "the good of the breed."


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#43 terrecar

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:37 PM

I asked her WHY on EARTH she would want that Ch when it clearly had more to do with who was holding the leash and the added 10 lbs, and her answer is it was what responsible breeders did. I was sad, but shes very ingrained in the culture and I have yet to change her mind (I'm still working on it).


And this is the crux of the matter. In Dog Wars, the author uses a religious analogy that illustrates the wrong headedness* of this quite nicely. He compares it to faith. And it is like faith, or dogma (or faith in dogma). There is no empirical evidence whatsoever that breeding dogs to a paper standard has created healthy, functional animals ( i.e. that it is the responsible thing to do) and there is plenty of evidence that it has gone horribly awry. But this is what show folk are told, and if we don’t question this ‘received wisdom’, we make some pretty stupid decisions.



*I claim a copyright on that word






#44 juliepoudrier

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 10:58 PM

wrong headedness* <snip> *I claim a copyright on that word

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but using the Google Books Ngram viewer, I discovered that the term wrong-headedness can be found in literature as early as 1805. :lol:

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#45 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 06:48 AM

Huh. That's interesting, Mark. I never use "That'll do" in situations like that, or as any kind of correction (although of course I'm familiar with the term in its "upperclass reproof" sense). Between me and my dogs it has the meaning, "Stop what you're doing, which was a perfectly okay thing to be doing, and return to me."

Sorry for the hijack.

Eileen, I simply change my tone to convey the use (correction or simply it's time to stop an okay activity). I use "that'll do, here" when I also want a recall.

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#46 mum24dog

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 11:04 AM

A question for those of you with friends who show dogs in AKC, to bring this back to the main topic at hand: do the ethical breeders, those who want to do the right thing by the dogs, make any sort of concerted effort to influence breeding trends?

I ask this because I have a friend who loves bloodhounds and wanted to raise them, but she was concerned about the (what she considered to be) excessive numbers of dogs with persistent eye infections resulting from breeding for drooping eyelids. She said she could find dogs with "tighter" eyes, but of course those dogs weren't desirable because they couldn't win in the show ring.

So, if there are breeders out there who love and care for their breeds and they know that there are also serious health issues associated with that breed--issues that can be ameliorated, at least somewhat, by changing breeding practices, why aren't they doing it?

The only logical answer I can come up with is that in doing so they'd be ensuring healthier dogs but giving up breed ring wins.


It's what our local Bloodhound pack did -

http://www.vlhunt.com/about/the-three-counties-bloodhounds

No longer eligible for the show ring but they can now do the job they should be able to. Which is more important?

It's a great sight to see them speeding across the ground and leaping field boundaries.

#47 juliepoudrier

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 11:59 AM

^^Too bad more don't do this. I think there's just a huge divide between being concerned about the health of a breed and doing something about it and wanting to stick around and win ribbons and not cross the pwoers that be.

J.

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#48 terrecar

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:34 PM

^^Too bad more don't do this. I think there's just a huge divide between being concerned about the health of a breed and doing something about it and wanting to stick around and win ribbons and not cross the pwoers that be.

J.


Absolutely. Whenever ones ego or pocketbook is tied to their dogs, no good thing can come of it.

#49 terrecar

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:16 PM

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but using the Google Books Ngram viewer, I discovered that the term wrong-headedness can be found in literature as early as 1805. :lol:

J.



LOL! I don't know if I should be crushed or relieved :P

#50 Donald McCaig

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:44 PM

Dear Doggers,

Ms. Rushdoggie writes,



"I could be wrong, but I don't think its the AKC who trains or sets breed standards. I think its the breed clubs and each breed club could set standards for health clearances if they really wanted to."

That's what the AKC would like you to believe. In fact their Board approves/ or disapproves/ or edits all standards (they disapproved the AKC parent club's Border Collie standard and adopted the Australian KC's standard instead.

Donald McCaig

#51 rushdoggie

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 08:58 PM

Dear Doggers,

Ms. Rushdoggie writes,



"I could be wrong, but I don't think its the AKC who trains or sets breed standards. I think its the breed clubs and each breed club could set standards for health clearances if they really wanted to."

That's what the AKC would like you to believe. In fact their Board approves/ or disapproves/ or edits all standards (they disapproved the AKC parent club's Border Collie standard and adopted the Australian KC's standard instead.

Donald McCaig



Well, there you go.

I made my assumption based on the Dalmatian Club of America's refusal to recognize the LUA Dals a few years ago despite pressure from the AKC to do so. The club voted and said no, and the AKC couldn't make them. I have also heard of a similar issue related to a breed club making rules reated to the CKCS and the brain disorder.

BTW: The DCA has since voted again and they now will allow the LUA dogs to be registered.

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#52 terrecar

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 09:57 PM

And then there's this (please don't click if you don't want a .pdf file) letter from an AKC director to the Chihuahua Club of America: Steven Gladstone Letter regarding the merle issue.


The thing that bothers me about the "complete education on merle" link to his website,** is that his facts are wrong. According to the latest research I've read, Mm merle Dachshunds showed a significant increase in auditory dysfunction (54.6% for MM, 36.8% for Mm, with all mm (control group dogs) normal.


ETA: Sorry that link didn't work. Here is an article on it with a link to the letter: http://www.thedogpre...adstone0801.asp


**Unkind ridicule edited out.

#53 gcv-border

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 10:47 PM

Well, if one is unsuccessful in "breeding to form", there is always the surgical option (said with tongue in cheek :rolleyes: ). As an example, my friend who owns whippets told me of a whippet that was excused from the show ring because it had fake testicles. Kudos to the judge for detecting the fakes, but I just don't get why anyone would bother (except to get a ribbon) to get fake testicles for a show dog. If the show ring is supposed to be where the best breeding dogs are chosen (I know, I know - conformation only, Blech!), why take the trouble to show a dog that would be sterile? (My understanding is that a cryptorchid is essentially sterile?)

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#54 beachdogz

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:39 PM

Which came first - the chicken or the egg? Which came first - the AKC or unethical breeders? I'm not defending the AKC, however, if it didn't exist, you would still have unethical breeders. Saying that the AKC ruins dogs is not quite accurate. People ruin dogs...and the main reasons are 1. greed and 2. ego. Look at the "designer dogs" (ugh, I despise that name). No AKC registration, no fancy show titles, and people are flocking to them and paying huge amounts of money. Why are they bred? Greed, pure and simple.

I actively participated in the whole show ring experience. I can tell you that people that show can be unethical in both showing and breeding. There are fixed shows and people do alter their dogs. Dog shows are basically comparable to human beauty pageants, where contestants are judged on appearance (no matter what the pageant says.)

The problem is that there is no black and white to dog breeding. One person who believes they are ethical can be found unethical in the eyes of others. A BYB who does not show and strives to produce a good, healthy, even tempered dog will be found unethical by others. That's why dog breeding is such a gray area. I'm sure there are breeders of stock dogs who are not AKC affiliated and yet are also thought to be unethical. It happens in all aspects of dog breeding.

I have always believed that when a person's livelihood depends on animals, many times decisions that are made can be detrimental to the animal in deference to the bottom line. For instance, boarding kennels that contract disease should close to stop the disease. But closing would mean a loss of income, so they remain open and infect other dogs and spread the disease. When people rely on breeding dogs for income (or when people pour an enormous amount of money into dogs and dog shows), many times it is the animal that will suffer the consequences, whether it is through health issues or poor judgment placements of puppies.

I can tell you this: back in my AKC days, I watched the Border Collie people with great interest. I was aware that there was a huge fight going on to keep the BC from becoming AKC recognized because people feared losing the working ability, and I was your biggest cheerleader. There is nothing more beautiful than watching a dog do the work it was bred to do, whether it is a sporting breed, a working breed, or a herding breed. And I can remember when I found out that BCs had lost that battle - it really saddened me. I do not have to mention the sporting breeds that have lost their hunting instinct and could never hunt in brush with the massive feathering they are shown with. Anyone who believes that AKC recognition and working ability can co-exist in the same dog is kidding himself. History has proven that.

I do not live on a farm nor do I raise sheep. Years after my GSD time, I thought I'd like to own a BC. I came upon these boards and garnished some information. My first two GSDs were bought through the newspaper from two BYBs. Then I purchased from a breeder I believed to be ethical and I still believe that. My dogs had wonderful temperaments, no major health issues, and lived to 12-14 years. So I, of course, started looking at Border Collie breeders. I never would have even thought to look to rescues, simply because I had never done so before. But the more I read on these boards about rescues, the more intrigued I became. I now own two rescue BCs because of the information I found on this site. These boards have been immensely helpful to me in understanding my dogs and the breed in general. I could have looked for a discussion board that was geared more to pet homes or sport homes. But the knowledge gained from people who believe in the true existence of this breed is really invaluable.

So from a person who started out with AKC roots, no, breeding to form is not in the best interest of any breed...especially since people tend to make their own interpretations of what that form should be.
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#55 Grizel

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:05 PM

Here is a question to call on everyone's creativity. If conformation breeding was no longer done, how should dogs be bred? Not all breeds have a necessary function that they could be tested for.

I always thought pet buyers were particularly poorly served
by conformation breeding, and I've wondered what type of system would better meet their needs.

Any ideas?

#56 beachdogz

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:09 PM

Here is a question to call on everyone's creativity. If conformation breeding was no longer done, how should dogs be bred? Not all breeds have a necessary function that they could be tested for.

I always thought pet buyers were particularly poorly served
by conformation breeding, and I've wondered what type of system would better meet their needs.

Any ideas?


I've thought about that, too. Because some breeds were bred to be companion dogs or lap dogs. And I don't know the answer to that.
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#57 terrecar

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:45 PM

Here is a question to call on everyone's creativity. If conformation breeding was no longer done, how should dogs be bred? Not all breeds have a necessary function that they could be tested for.

I always thought pet buyers were particularly poorly served
by conformation breeding, and I've wondered what type of system would better meet their needs.

Any ideas?


I don't think dogs should be bred for companions at all, as radical as that might be...Not while shelters are euthanizing healthy, adoptable pets.

#58 terrecar

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:52 PM

The problem is that there is no black and white to dog breeding. One person who believes they are ethical can be found unethical in the eyes of others. A BYB who does not show and strives to produce a good, healthy, even tempered dog will be found unethical by others. That's why dog breeding is such a gray area. I'm sure there are breeders of stock dogs who are not AKC affiliated and yet are also thought to be unethical. It happens in all aspects of dog breeding.


Very well said.

#59 Diana A

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:06 PM

I've thought about that, too. Because some breeds were bred to be companion dogs or lap dogs. And I don't know the answer to that.


I think that is where a lot of the sport breeders could be of use for the other breeds. For example there are a few breeders who breed lines of obedience/agility papillons. I'm sure there are similar lines in many breeds. Those breeders I think could produce good pet dogs because (1) there is no driving force for a particular look so less temptation to preserve harmful physical attributes, (2) the demands of the sport activity would limit most of the detrimental extremes, (3) dog sports do at least require some degree of decent temperament, as opposed to conformation dogs, and (4) most sport dogs are pets so the breeder is going to hear about it if he/she is producings dogs that make lousy pets. So no, dog sports are not really true 'work' in the sense of existing for gain beyond the mere enjoyment of the activity, but they are a much better breeding criteria in my opinion than the conformation ring.

An interesting side note - I was looking at a picture of Old Hemp a week or so ago, and thinking how he was almost the spitting image of a dog I used to own until I lost her last year. Old Hemp was born in the late 1800s. He would not look out of place at a stockdog trial today. So I find it interesting that while no attempt has been made to breed the ISDS/ABCA dogs to an appearance standard, they have remained pretty much the same as they were over 100 years ago. Now go back and look at bull dogs and other breeds from the late 1800s. Many of them are very different and their 'old' versions would really stand out today as being different. So while I know the appearance doesn't matter, I do find it interesting that the ONE thing the conformation ring says they do (preserve the appearance) they actually do a pretty crappy job at. Whereas breeding for function in the border collie has preserved appearance without even using that as a breeding criterion.
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#60 Sue R

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:37 PM

An interesting side note - I was looking at a picture of Old Hemp a week or so ago, and thinking how he was almost the spitting image of a dog I used to own until I lost her last year. Old Hemp was born in the late 1800s. He would not look out of place at a stockdog trial today. So I find it interesting that while no attempt has been made to breed the ISDS/ABCA dogs to an appearance standard, they have remained pretty much the same as they were over 100 years ago.

I'm not sure I'd agree with this - when I think of the great variability in appearance that I have seen in dogs. But, then again, the majority of historical dogs would fit pretty tidily within the majority of current-day working-bred dogs, so perhaps you are right. JMO, and certainly not from any expert point of view.

Now go back and look at bull dogs and other breeds from the late 1800s. Many of them are very different and their 'old' versions would really stand out today as being different. So while I know the appearance doesn't matter, I do find it interesting that the ONE thing the conformation ring says they do (preserve the appearance) they actually do a pretty crappy job at.

I agree totally with this - you can see it obviously in comparing photos of show-ring winners from just a rather few decades ago to today's winners. You can see it in other species that are shown - anyone remember the short-legged, blocky cattle of the fifties or sixties (more or less), then the long-long-long-upsloping cattle of the seventies or eighties (again, more or less), and now a more moderate build.

I think that, in general, whenever you judge by subjective means, there will be a tendency towards extremes - particularly in something like dog shows where certain traits may have great appeal to the general public, whether they are beneficial or not to the dog itself. I don't think anyone has to look far at all to find numerous examples of this.

Whenever you get into judging by conformation, the "standard" will always be influenced by whatever the trend of the moment is because it is all subjective.
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