Wednesday, 1 April 2015

KC report reveals plans for new crossbreed register



A document leaked to pedigreedogsexposed by an insider at the Kennel Club reveals that the KC plans to extend its register to provide ancestry data for all dogs, whether purebred or crossbreed.

The Kennel Club does, of course, already register crossbreed dogs on its Companion Dog Register, but this does not include pedigree data. This new move is the first step to a database which will allow people to track their dog's ancestry regardless of their dog's provenance.

The confidential report makes no bones about the likely opposition. "Many KC breeders feel very strongly that the KC should be the preserve of purebred dogs only," it says. "However, there is much to be gained from embracing responsibly-bred crossbreeds."

The report goes on to spell out the benefits:
  • it is important that the Kennel Club is seen as a modern, inclusive organisation, representing all dogs.
  • an increasing number of responsible cross-breeders produce health-tested puppies that deserve our support
  • pedigree/health-test information for crossbreeds is of clear value to both breeders and buyers.
  • an inclusive register detailing a dog's ancestry regardless of breed will be particularly useful in the outcross projects that are necessary in order for some breeds to survive.
  • registering crossbreeds will provide an additional revenue stream for the Kennel Club
The report even discusses the possibility of recommending that the conformation show-ring is opened up to the more recognised crossbreeds such as the Labradoodle and Cavapoo - but admits this may be for the future.

A company search reveals that the Kennel Club registered the Kennel Crossbreed Club as a limited company on 20th August 2008, suggesting the move has been on the cards for some time. This might mean that crossbreed dogs will  be KCC-registered rather than KC-registered - a small sop perhaps to the many breeders who will object to the KC legitimising crossbreeds.  I would imagine over time, however, that this is a distinction that will be lost.

The report finishes by stressing that the announcement will need to be handled with tact and diplomacy to prevent alienating core breeders.

The move is not a complete surprise. During a chat with KC Chairman, Steve Dean, on the way back from the recent DogHealth Workshop in Germany, Professor Dean mentioned the desire of the Kennel Club to be "more inclusive".

But may I be the first to offer my congratulations to the Kennel Club for this forward-thinking initiative. It's a bold move and makes sense - not something I say very often about the KC.

23 comments:

  1. That would be a first !

    The Kennel Club actually wagging it's own tail ....as opposed to having it's tail wagged by it's members ?????

    If only it were anywhere near the truth....on such a day as today !

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  2. Better, but still not good enough. Still fails to acknowledge that domestic wolves (dogs), like all animals, need to outcross to avoid inbreeding depression, and that closed gene pool purebreeding is a slow, sick road to extinction. Acknowledging crossbreeds is better than ignoring everything non-purebred, so this is a step in the right direction. But they're still following an outdated mode of breeding, and treating dogs as clay-like objects to be manipulated, instead of as sentient animals to be respected.

    I don't know the stats for the UK, but at this point 80% of dogs in the US are bought, while only 20% are rescued. Millions of quality dogs' lives are in jeopardy, and these people are quibbling about who gets to join their club, and just how arbitrary and freakish their dogs should get. It's ridiculous. Again, I applaud this move, but ultimately it's still just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. A few more decades of breeding practices like today, and many of these dogs will be too sick to do anything, and just go extinct. The dog fancy needs to get with the times, and understand what genetic science has revealed over the past century. We need a more fundamental change in dog culture, and accept that what we need is dogs (and other animals) with high genetic diversity, not inbred ones that seem to match some arbitrary breed standard.

    I suppose the business and cultural interests at play here are quite large, and all this talk of reform may not be well-received. But we have to say it anyway until the dog fancy listens, and stops denying biological realities.

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    1. Agree 100%. I think the KC have more to worry bout than their core breeders.

      I for one think its a terrible idea and am not applauding for the very reasons Gaddy already mentions.

      Im not prone to using foul language at all but this once it encapsulates neatly everything I want to say in one word. Why fuck up even more dogs?

      All the KC are doing is seeing the rise in popularity of the cross breed over the pedigree and seeing how they can best take advantage of the situation. It's got nothing to do with the welfare of dogs.

      I never thought in a million years but I would agree (for completely different reasons) with the objections from the KC's core breeders. On this one I would. Absolutely.

      Leave cross breeds alone, concentrate on fixing what's broken instead.

      I believe any value left in pedigree showing dogs is confined to their possible (if any) use as crossing material and the better that material is the better for everyone not least the dogs of course.

      Its not an accident that most true working dog breeders are not vaguely interested in their dogs being recognised or registered with the KC, even the AKC, whoever.

      None at all.

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    2. I think you two need to look at the date Jemima wrote this. Nearly had me, as I thought not only will they then be the biggest registry in the UK for puppy farmed purebreeds, but also the biggest registry for puppy farmed crossbreeds.

      I think though on a monetary note and the fact that the KC are canvassing the government for control of all dog breeding, that what Jemima has said in jest maybe maybe become true in the future. Please if there is a God, don't ever let the KC control all dog breeding.

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    3. Despite the date... I don't think I'm far off the mark. It's an obvious move for the KC. Now actually, if it's just a *register* I think it's a good idea - and I can't see how the KC is going to trap crossbreeds within the death knell of a closed stud book.

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    4. Not sure science is behind you. Wolf populations are subject to geographical isolation. There is very little data on the degree of inbreeding in wolves in the wild, and modern wolf populations don't provide good evidence because their distributions and behaviors are highly disturbed by human activity.
      Good that the KC is moving toward keeping pedigrees on X-breeds. But lay off the distorted claims for scientific evidence.
      The one thing that is different with wolves (compared to dogs) is that natural selection is effective . . . and populations that got too unhealthy due to inbreeding or any other reason were and are likely to die out. In the longer term, that may actually happen to some breeds of dogs, even with the unnatural selection imposed by human owners.

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    5. Wrong. Wolves naturally avoid incest and seek out unrelated mates, sometimes migrating hundreds of miles to find one. We know that the timber wolves in Isle Royale, Michigan became ill and died off from inbreeding depression, at levels similar to some strains of domestic wolf (dog breeds). Yes, more data exist for domestic than wild wolves, but we know from countless animal species that inbreeding leads to illness and eventually extinction. Selection for fitness (both natural and artificial) are important, but so is genetic diversity, and as long as dogs are isolated in their little purebred gene pools, they're just going to keep getting sicker. Furthermore, what we call "extreme breeding" is really just genetic disorder that some people for some reason desire (these conditions typically have clinical names). When people are born with these conditions, it's a tragedy. When dogs are born with them, they get a blue ribbon. It's madness.

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    6. BTW - There's nothing wrong with having different types of dogs that look and act differently (as long as they tend to be normal and healthy). What's wrong is having isolated genetic ghettos where nobody can get in or out, and watching those stuck there languish as they accumulate more and more genetic disorders.

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    7. You say wolves avoid incest. But at what level? And what about the situation where the option is inbreed or don't breed? An 'island' (not necessarily isolated by water . .. .perhaps by mountains or any other sort of barrier, including simple geographical distance) population will often inbreed with cousins or second cousins with little or no discrimination. That can result in a very high COI. Same sort of inbreeding as we see with CKCS. The Isle Royale wolves are inbreeding at levels far above the worst inbred dog breeds. We don't know the extent to which their problems are inherent in inbreeding or an artifact of chance . . . .inbreeding on lines that have serious problems.
      We do not know from countless animal species that inbreeding leads to illness and eventually extinction. Please provide references for this. (My PhD is in biogeography and I've taken graduate courses in island biogeography. I am many years out of date, but I seriously doubt that there is any research to support your statement . . . it would be expensive and there isn't a lot of money available).
      The most interesting case I've heard of is the dwarf grey fox populations on the Catalina Islands off the coast of California. These were reduced to around 6 individuals through an epidemic of distemper in the 1970s. They have rebounded and genetic analysis seems to show that they are doing fine re., DLA heterozygosity. Not to mention the various cases where a few rats/goats/possums/rabbits/pests arriving on a remote island have reproduced and ended out with a healthy but highly destructive new species in a new environment . . . all stemming from very small founding populations.

      If you're really interested in this I can find references.

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    8. Jennifer, You might want to catch up on the research on the wolves on Isle Royal in the Great Lakes. A recent analysis of genomic profiles show a narrowing of the gene pool as a result of reduced frequency and duration of ice bridges between mainland and island. The ice bridges are the traffic route for wolves to get to and off the island, allowing for genomic exchange and diversity. Without the ice bridges, no traffic, no genomic exchange.
      The predator/prey dynamic on Isle Royale is a classic of island biogeography, so data from the past are readily available. The prey spp are thriving now in ways that do not follow patterns of crashes and recovery in predator/prey dynamics. It correlates with the increased level of inbreeding in the wolf population though.
      It is likely that park management will intervene and take selectively trapped wolves off the island and introduce new, unrelated wolves, to keep the Isle Royale wolves going strong.
      Link to a popular summary of recent research, with link to original paper:
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502204701.htm

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    9. What begions as an open register ends as a closed one and a messed up show mutt.

      Cockadoodle today some sad pedigree dog tomorrow.

      Is this the April fools day moment because if it is I've been had well and truly, LOL

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    10. >We don't know the extent to which their problems are inherent in inbreeding or an artifact of chance . . . .inbreeding on lines that have serious problems.

      Lol. You can't be serious. That's like saying Russian roulette is not inherently dangerous. If you die, it's just bad luck

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    11. Sarah Jansen: I read Isle Royale studies regularly at the primary source: http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/ There is no question that inbreeding is leading to local extinction on Isle Royale. One case does not prove a rule, and extrapolating this one case to pedigree dogs as a whole, a group rarely as inbred as Isle Royale wolves, needs to be done with much caution.

      I am not in favor of inbreeding. I am in favor of science. When I see people blowing one data point up to represent the whole of zoology, I cannot resist playing devil's advocate. I keep asking, what COI is ok. No one ever answers. We simply don't know. Inbreeding inhibition has been documented but there are also documented cases of species with inbreeding preference (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23182684 ). Within the canids, there has been little if any research on the frequency of inbreeding of animals who are related as second cousins or more distantly.

      Theories of speciation suggest that genetic isolation of very small populations is very important for evolution.

      Anon 6:47. Bad analogy. There's a big difference between saying Nature plays Russian roulette and advocating we play it.

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    12. Jennifer:

      Your question seems to be: Can one extrapolate from the inbreeding depression of an island population of canis lupus lupus to the effects of inbreeding on ‘island’ populations of canis lupus familiaris? In many ways, populations of pb dogs are island populations, though the barriers isolating them are not physical. Wolf and dog are varieties of one species, not different species. So I am not sure what you mean by extrapolating to different species. But is it even necessary to compare the two?

      There is plenty of research money to analyze populations of pb dogs but it’s not within the framework of island biogeography. It is due to the high level of genomic uniformity and the high incidence of diseases with high heritability in many pb dog populations that millions of money go into biomedical research to study heritable conditions in pb dogs. Pb dog populations serve as a model for other species, esp. our own, where such level of inbreeding is not found. The question of biomedical researchers is not, does inbreeding lead to homozygosity lead to expression of deleterious recessives. They know inbreeding has led to these problems, making purebred dogs such fabulous model organisms. And even better, supplied for free in large numbers by the fancy!

      Yes, we know that allopatric speciation happens. Among the things we do not know is how many times this actually happens successfully. In other words, how many times does a small population that has become geographically isolated go extinct? Unlike populations of pb dogs, these populations are under the pressures of Natural Selection.

      And: Your question of “what COI is ok” is not one that you can answer with the methods of science. What you can get with a large pool of data is a correlation between COI and vital statistics such as longevity and litter size. It is possible to analyze a correlation between COI and the incidence of a specific heritable condition, even differentiate within age cohorts. Collecting the data and analyzing them is a matter of science. Deciding where you make the cut off and say this is not ok is a matter of ethics.

      Sarah Jansen, B.Sc., PhD

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  3. It does not seem like an inconceivable thing to me. After all there are other animal registries (horse, cat, cattle) that register crosbreds, so why not dogs?

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  4. Where does the evolution of the dog come into play? Man is evolve into bigger heavier taller... Is it right to expect that it's out of 100 years ago is going to look exactly the same now? I don't know anything that's the same 100 years ago as it is now.

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    1. Humans size is more to do with enviromental changes such as diet and the fact that populations have become less inbred.
      If we left dogs to evolve with very little human interaction, as you see village dogs around the world, you end up with a very generic type, which has been roughly the same for hundreds of years.
      Grey wolves have not changed in the last hundred years and probably not in the last 1000 years and more. In evolutionary terms a 100 years is not even a wink of an eye and it is one of the problems with pure breeding.
      Take the Pug for instance. In less than a 100 years they have flattened their faces so such an extreme that the rest of the anatomy in the head, has not caught up. The nasal chamber among many other problems for regulating temperature in a dog has almost gone in them, but has not been replaced by another way of regulating temperature. As humans we have flat faces and our flat faces have taken millions of years of evolution and we regulate are bodies temperature by having sweat glands, which dogs don't have.
      I think you need to look out your window and you will see little has changed with animals over thousands of years, that have been lucky to of not been meddled with by humans. Start looking at birds in the garden, the Robin, the Black bird and the Wren to give but a few, all but exactly the same as a hundred years ago.

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  5. Either you have developed a sense of humour Jemima, or you have been had in an April Fool joke yourself.

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    1. I'm quite funny in real life. Honest.

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    2. Good one! You caught me ;-)

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  6. Hooray! Sense prevails - potentially. Many thanks to the articulate, clear-minded proposer of this initiative.

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