Let’s have a good look in the mirror. Is the breed slowly dying? Illnesses take more and more dogs out of breeding, and very soon all dogs have the same common ancestors – even known carriers of illnesses. We have to get a grip if we want to keep the breed alive. There are catastrophes ahead.
In our country the registrations sunked to a deep hollow – only 29 new registrations last year (2012). And it will be worse, as one of the most productive breeders is gone now. The others live by the same rules as they have been for the last 20 years. If someone has a new import, let’s use him no matter what. If he is suitable to that particular bitch doesn’t interest anyone. Anything goes!
Or – the thing I hate the most – internet breeding. Let’s just pick a stud dog from the internet. Oh, he looks so marvellous in the photo, nice and well trimmed (and dyed, fixed & photohopped). Of course I have never seen him, let alone touched him. I don´t know a slightest thing about his temperament, health, his history, his ancestors. I haven’t seen him moving, which by the way tells everything about how he is built. But he sure looks cool in the photo.
And some countries are still very much into old school breeding – even 50’s style inbreeding. Well, that may have been a good thing in the past when the population was uneven. Now it is purely dangerous. Every time a breeder linebreds back to a famous, popular sire in the predigree, he throws away a valuable set of alleles that cannot be back. All dogs have bad alleles, even the big names. You may get the beautiful arching neck of that winner, but you will also get his crooked tail, his bad eyes and his bladder stones. The things we never talk about.
In the past decades people were proud about their dog carrying Mick Michael genes. Sure – that dog was able to produce great offspring with almost any bitch. That´s why he was bred to everybody. A genetical bottleneck! You can compare the situation to an island where the population has to survive: there is only one stud and all the puppies are sired by the same stud. The modern bottleneck of today that the breeders have squashed this breed through are some other very popular sires. In the U.S. you can see a lot of very handsome dogs, but most of them are children and grandchildren of the same few specimen. It is very hazardous. Every dog carries 3-5 lethal alleles – it´s a fact.
People still believe this is a very healthy breed. Relatively speaking it is still true, compared with many other breeds. But we must fight to keep it like that. We have had PRA and cataract (HC) cases in Finland from the same famous sires that fill out the litter baskets all over the world. A German breeder said: ”Oh, we don’t have any problems with eyes in my country.” All right, but do you have the eyes checked even though you use the same lines? ”Well, no.”
You don’t see the illnesses by just looking at the dog. You need to have cold facts. Have your dogs eye-screened. Have the vet check the patellas, the urine. And after everything is done you will unfortunately just know the present status of your dog, not what he carries. Not what he may pass on to his puppies. Not what happens next year. Most hereditary illnesses are recessive. To display in a specimen, a dog has to have two copies of the same allele, one from each parent. If you are lucky, that is. In many cases the illnesses have much more complicated pattern of inheritance. And very often the illnesses show up in later point of life. The dog may have a dozen litters by that. That is why it is not recommended to use very young sires. And just an example: there was a German sire who had 81 litters according to a well-known Dutch database. If the mediocre litter size in the breed is 5 puppies, he had over 400 puppies. This is not breeding – it is just making money in a breed you say you love.
And last but not least: the stupid fighting, jealousy and hatred among the breeders all over the world. Get over it. Think about the breed. Don’t just think about the next litter you will have in your whelping box (and sell to idiots, because you want to dock all the tails which makes the puppies useless in Europe). Have a wider look.
Useful link: http://pawpeds.com/pawacademy/general/purebreddog/