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Re: Dogs - the real poop

Poster: "Stephanie M. Thorson" <smt2@st-andrews.ac.uk>

On Wed, 26 Feb 1997 linneah@erols.com wrote:

> longevity and intellegence, a carefully selected mutt can't be beat.  The health 
> problems that occur in pure bred dogs is due to the inbreeding it takes to create 
> and maintain the breed.  Big dogs are prone to dysplasia, other breeds to 
> deafness and other health problems.  Though I love the romantic-ness of the 
> pure breeds, they all started out as mutts.

Leaving aside the problem of "all breeds started out as mutts" issue,
which Corun and Eogan have already addressed, I'd quibble a bit with the
assertion that the health problems in purebred dogs are a result of
inbreeding.  Purebreds do have a potentially smaller gene pool from which
to draw, but most breeds of any age - even Goldens, which are less than
200 years old - have a large enough gene pool that "inbreeding" is rather
less of a problem than the general public seems to think it is.  Most
breeders tend to keep their lines bred on related or similar stock, but no
more or less so than, say, breeders of Arabian horses, and most of us make
a point of making clear and distinct outcrosses into other, unrelated
lines within the breed every 2-3 generations to keep the gene pool open. 

"Inbreeding" has a bad rep, but it's not necessarily an unmitigated evil. 
All "inbreeding" does is reduce the size of the gene pool, and really all
that does is reduce the number of traits which are available in any given
generation.  That's not necessarily bad - it can reduce the number of
undesirable traits as well as desirable ones.  The real reason that
"inbreeding" can be a problem is that we don't generally know all the
traits that are available in a given genetic stock, and can't breed around
them, or eliminate dogs which, while they are phenotypically normal, are
genotypic problems, from the breeding stock.  There is a canine genome
project underway - maybe in 15 years breeding dogs will be made easier as
a result.  <shrug> We'll just have to see. 

Stephanie M. Thorson			|  SCA: Lady Alianora Munro
Dept. of Scottish History		|  Clan White Wing
University of St Andrews		|  Tarkhan, Khanate Red Lion

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