Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Bulldog spirit?

I've been so immersed in finishing the latest issue and attempting to get ready for Christmas that I've scarcely had time to sleep, never mind blog.
Here's a few thoughts and happenings that I've wanted to blog about but have been stymied until now.
What happens now that the pressure to change in time for the BBC decision is off, will the KC still have the zeal to try to change all 209 breed standards? (Of course it is only changing words on a page, inspiring breeders to breed to the standard and judges to judge to it is an entirely different challenge. And in most cases it's just adding a passage that basically passes the buck to the judge to police the health of the breed.)
But the 'worry' breeds plus a few more are being treated like naughty schoolboys and some of the breed people don't like it one little bit.
The KC suddenly playing the strict head teacher has met its first major obstacle. The Bulldog people. I suspect they feel they've little to lose as they are probably already seen as the naughtiest in the class, although the Peke people gave them a waddle for their money.
A few weeks ago, when I was talking to the other KC baddies - the German Shepherd United Front, the chap I was talking to had said that Bulldog people had broken away and I forgot to ask him to explain as we diverged into lots of other interesting avenues.
So how will the KC deal with the Bulldog breakaway? Do they let them walk..? (Sorry my warped sense of humour wants to substitute the word stagger!)
And if they lead will others follow?
Will we end up with what the BBC wanted and for the breeds that really needed to change not being at Crufts, but for completely different reasons?
And when will we at last get the inbreeding reform which would be very much more meaningful than this bickering over words which I doubt will result in any physical improvements. I'm not asking for a flashy ban on incest necessarily - that will have hardly any affect. I want the coefficient of inbreeding to be displayed on registration certificates, for the KC pedigree database to be searchable by anyone and for COIs on test matings to be calculated by the KC system. I want breed average COIs to be obviously displayed and targets put in place so that good breeders can be clear on what they need to do. And we need to limit the number of times a sire is used.
Is it just me or is there anyone really confident that the KC will hit these buttons?
Almost pointless for me to mention that all the above are already features of the Swedish KC registration system and have been for some years.
Wouldn't inbreeding reform have been a better place to start? Who could argue with this? Work up to the nuggety moulding the misshapen breeds back into a more logical form issue after you've stopped the shrinking gene pool problem. Taking each breed separately and devising a plan rather than just changing the breed standard wording in isolation might be a more successful strategy.
In my own breed, I just discovered a litter that had a COI of 38% over 10 generations - out of just over 500 possible relations in the pedigree only 121 were unique - all the rest were repetitions - 65 dogs appearing up to eight times! What's the worst COI in your breed? Do write in! Professor Balding says we should be aiming for 3% or less and over 20% shouldn't be registered at all. But this 38% produced a Champion... so that line will be bred on from.
What's the most inbred Champion in Britain today? Let's have a little festive inbreeding quiz!
Guess that's the one upside of incest, less relies to buy pressies for.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you explain why David Balding thinks we should be aiming for 3% or under rather than 6.25%? Is there a measurable advantage? I have always understood that 6.25% (first cousin) was acceptable and it seems a far more achievable target.

Julia said...

Implementing any health reforms is going to be so tricky. It would be rather absurd if in some breeds there turned out to be two versions - the dogs produced by the breakaway groups, those wanting to continue as before, and dogs breed by breeders who are convinced of the need to reform. Perhaps a bit like the splits there are between the show spaniels and the working types.
It's a pity there couldn't be some blood test to establish how inbred a dog is - or maybe there is?
I agree that the inbreeding is the first thing to tackle.
What would help most would be if the judges were totally convinced, for if they no longer gave prizes to snuffling bulldogs, surely the snuffling bulldogs would gradually disappear?
Also, it would help if the KC refused to register the breakaway GSDs and bulldogs, but maybe those people wouldn't mind.
Incidentally, how does one work out the inbreeding co-efficient? Is there an easy way to do it? I'd love to know my own dog's percentage.
All I know is that, over 5 generations, there are only 29 dogs, instead of 62.

Julia said...

"Taking each breed separately and devising a plan rather than just changing the breed standard wording in isolation might be a more successful strategy".

Beverley, forgot to say, re your wording above, I thought the KC was going to devise a plan for each breed as to how it could be improved healthwise and that it would consult on this with each breed club.
Isn't this the thing that had to be got out before Christmas?
Was I wrong and is it just a slight re-wording of the breed standard?
If so, that would be disappointing.

Beverley Cuddy said...

Each breed club has been sent a list of reported health problems and they are then asked to confirm which ones the club think are actually a problem and what needs to happen next. The list sent for Beardies from the KC showed some really weird things I'd never heard of but omitted some very significant common problems - so be interesting what other breeds make of their lists!
Be fascinating which tests become mandatory and how much emphasis is placed on this consultation exercise.

Margaret said...

I believe that the COI should be published with the pedigree, yet it will have no use if people do not know how to read it and understand it. Also, inbred litters SHOULD be registered, as should the litters of untested dogs. There HAS to be a record kept otherwise many of the bloodlines will be in a bigger mess than they already are. I think that ALL litters should be registered with the KC so long as all of the necessary information is available. Let the pedigree say the COI and Tested or Untested. To refuse registrations would be foolish and not deter puppy farmers or back yard breeders. With the information in plain sight, on the pedigree, then Joe Public can make his own mind up about whether to take the pup or not.

togo said...

Can you explain why David Balding thinks we should be aiming for 3% or under rather than 6.25%? Is there a measurable advantage? I have always understood that 6.25% (first cousin) was acceptable and it seems a far more achievable target.

First-cousin marriages are dysgenic for humans. As far as I know the laws of genetics apply to both dogs and humans.
http://www.isteve.com/cousin_marriage_conundrum.htm
(...)
Being inbred increases the chance of inheriting genetic syndromes caused by malign recessive genes. Bittles found that, after controlling for socio-economic factors, the babies of first cousins had about a 30% higher chance of dying before their first birthdays.
(...)
http://www.parapundit.com/archives/003130.html
In Britain Labour Party MP Ann Cryer commissioned a report that found Pakistani Muslims engage in high rates of consanguineous marriage.

The report, commissioned by Ann Cryer, revealed that the Pakistani community accounted for 30 per cent of all births with recessive disorders, despite representing 3.4 per cent of the birth rate nationwide....

It is estimated that more than 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins, resulting in an increasing rate of genetic defects and high rates of infant mortality. The likelihood of unrelated couples having the same variant genes that cause recessive disorders are estimated to be 100-1. Between first cousins, the odds increase to as much as one in eight.

In Bradford, more than three quarters of all Pakistani marriages are believed to be between first cousins. The city's Royal Infirmary Hospital has identified more than 140 different recessive disorders among local children, compared with the usual 20-30.
(...)

Anonymous said...

I have just mentioned Coi at a Breed Council meeting and asked for exactly the same things Beverly has mentioned The loudest ones round the table didnt know the first thing about it despite apparently discussing it at length
Ours is a very large population breed, although most seem to think this is the same as the gene pool.
Coi s of 30% are common
It seems unless you have been in the breed for " forty years" why is it always 40 ? its bizarre then you know nothing. Apparently publishing COi s in the BRS will confuse puppy buyers, mmmmm not seen many pet owners browsing the BRS have you ?
The very worst thing that came out of the discussion was that nobody wished to learn, or asked a question just simply dismissed the whole idea, it will now never be discussed again at this level, I feel a failure as in the face of such aggresion and ignorance only a few facts were brought to breeders attention.
Keep the COi issue to the forefront , its essential the KC implement this
I need a different approach now..
any ideas ?