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Would like to explore the modern practice of breeding dogs with anyone that may be able to contribute their opinion or facts.

It seems to me, (and I am in no way a professional on this subject) that most of the recognized dog breeds that have been around for more than 150-200 years has developed many health issues,and lost functionality (such as physical ability, defensivness, agressivness, herding, etc).
My observation is based mostly on research of working breeds, and comparing them to the common breeds. When I say working breeds, it refers to 1-2 generations removed, not 100 years ago or a tiny percentage.
Take the Azawakh for example, a 8,000-10,000 year old breed (have maintained the same look and function). Tough, rugged, extreem physical endurance, heat tolerance, stable temperment, and very few noted health issues. I think the extreem environment, demanding job, poor diet, and extreem culling have maintained functionality despite being an ancient breed. Compare that to most AKC recognized breeds.
Then the Catalburun Pointer from Turkey, a more recent, and obviously inbred dog. (Has a split nose) Is noted for being rugged and tough, fast and with strong endurance considering build. And with almost no health problems. This argues against the closed gene pool argument with modern practices. I feel it is again the extreem environment, tough culling, and demanding job.
Then as with most giant breeds today with the multitude of health problems and short lifespan. Compare that to the Malakli or Kangal ( of which I have personal raising experience). The Malakli, 33-40 inches tall, weigh 160-260 pounds. Lives 12-14 years, with some having pups up to 12-13 years old. Can run up to 36 mph, can run for 2-6 miles a day. Can jump, fight, kill wolves. Pull 7,000-10,500 pound rolling loads. Has a strong defensive nature with a low prey drive (allows them to double as a livestock guardian). Have few health problems, digestive issues, or joint problems. I feel this is because of the ingrained practice of keeping only the best pup out of a litter, killing all the dogs that show weakness or inability to work. Having to survive on a horible diet (barley mash and tomato paste or watered yogurt). And the practice of breeding to the males that have proven their abilities (killing wolves, fighting) for 6-10 years. And the harsh environment they live in.
I understand that few of us are willing to kill all but the best pup. Most do not have the situation to be able to test them as strong, or willing to let them suffer and subsist on a poor diet. But what beside the show ring could we do to maintain the functionality of the dog breeds in our care. I do not believe breeding for extreem looks benefits them.
Sorry for the length, but this is something that has bothered me for some time. I will put a picture of a Malakli male. Look at the structure, muscleing, and substance. I can only imagine that many of the big lazy breeds of today looked similar in the past.

 

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keeping only the best pup out of a litter
disagree. this is common practice and it's full of fail. the reason is that the more animals you eliminate from the gene pool, the tighter the gene pool becomes which results in a higher probability of heritable issues.

the BETTER approach is to keep all the OVERALL good dogs from any litter and breed them to other OVERALL good dogs. gradual improvement is superior to fast and furious grasping for the best of the best. balanced ideals are key.
 

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Zim has it right on, imo.

And true working breeds, even though their 'show ring' lines tend to drift towards fashion rather than function, still have groups and breeders who still breed them for their original purpose. You can still find hunting-bred Airedales, Dachshunds, Jack Russels, Red (Irish) Setters, etc etc. They still exist, often very unchanged over the last 100 years, even if their show-line relatives have changed a great deal. As long as the job exists, so will the working version of a breed.

The sad truth is that for many old breeds their work is gone, so they can only really be preserved as 'museum piece' breeds and show dogs.
 

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Umm American showline breeders may not "kill all but the best pup" but they DO usually keep the dog that they feel is the best in the litter for themselves, and the rest (or the majority) are not used for breeding. Both practices are essentially the same thing as they lead to the same result (only the best dog getting bred). So your argument is kind of flawed if you're suggesting that the problems with purebred (well bred, not BYB) dogs are due to breeding that is not selective enough.
 

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The sad truth is that for many old breeds their work is gone, so they can only really be preserved as 'museum piece' breeds and show dogs.
the problem with this is the idea that preserving a breed means sticking religiously to the idea that the original function is the highest ideal.

you can retain the original function..or you can retain function. the difference in wording is slight but the implications are profound. and what im suggesting in no way at all calls for deviating from type.

Working Bred Pit Bulls retain their original type and temperament. they however have begun a process of adaptation to newer and more relevant functions. this is a very healthy thing for a breed...even if the original purpose of the breed was totally harmless.
 

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But what beside the show ring could we do to maintain the functionality of the dog breeds in our care.
Functionality is not tested in the show ring, and is therefore not maintained thru showing. I would argue that at least for some breeds, functionality is degraded by the show ring.
 

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the problem with this is the idea that preserving a breed means sticking religiously to the idea that the original function is the highest ideal.

you can retain the original function..or you can retain function. the difference in wording is slight but the implications are profound. and what im suggesting in no way at all calls for deviating from type.

Working Bred Pit Bulls retain their original type and temperament. they however have begun a process of adaptation to newer and more relevant functions. this is a very healthy thing for a breed...even if the original purpose of the breed was totally harmless.
I'll tell you this, the Guide Dog Labradors are some of the finest, and Lab-iest, Labs I've seen.

Then the Catalburun Pointer from Turkey, a more recent, and obviously inbred dog. (Has a split nose) Is noted for being rugged and tough, fast and with strong endurance considering build. And with almost no health problems. This argues against the closed gene pool argument with modern practices. I feel it is again the extreem environment, tough culling, and demanding job.
This is actually a contradiction... if you're inbreeding, you have a closed gene pool. If the dogs are "rugged and tough... with almost no health problems" that is an argument FOR a closed gene pool.
 

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I hear these arguments often because my breed is the German Shepherd. If a breeder is only breeding for the AKC breed ring, the dogs that often win are not, IMO, the best representatives of the breed. The American Ring desires too severe angulation at the stifle and the emphasis is all on "gaiting." Most of the dogs I see are gaiting long.. too long. I also think they have over emphasized neck length and other structures that I think make the dogs sometime appear whispy. Soft dogs have also cropped up as winners in the ring. The GSD used for breeding should not be 'soft' in temperament or fearful. This is my opinion only!!! American show breeders will disagree.

There are breeders of the GSD who breed for their original purpose.. herding. My last GSD, sire and dam both imported from Germany, herded cattle on my farm. I never bred her. She has great hips and lived to be almost 14. She was versatile.. and after the cows were sold and I was no longer a farmer she became my Dad's Hearing dog. She was all that the GSD was bred to be.. and she was born in 1992.

I currently own a female American line dog that would herd if I had the opportunity to get her doing it. She has been out on stock and is very good. She is a well built dog but is actually underangualted at the stifle and has less bone that I would like to see. Still.. she is a free and floating mover with a very efficient trot and could go all day. She was bred for the AKC show ring but I spayed her and she is doing AKC obedience.

My young dog MAY be my first venture into breeding these dogs. Her sire was imported from Germany and he dam is sired by an imported dog and she has German lines. She is a show line dog.. but the dogs behind her have working titles in addition to show titles under the German System. IF she health tests and titles I will be breeding her. She is the 2nd best puppy from a three puppy litter. Why take the 2nd best? The best puppy is long haired (Germans now recognize them as of this month). This was an outcross litter.

The German Bred dogs have "show line dogs" and "working line dogs" too.. and they look different and, often, behave differently.

I think that while a tough life doing the work required will separate the good dogs from the bad most dogs no longer have a job (the ABCA won't register a Border Collie if you register it AKC.. as they want to keep the breed true to its original design.. herding). The German system for German Shepherds requires a dog to get a Schutzhund 1 working title OR an HGH herding title before the dog can be bred/accepted in the German registry. Of course, the dog must also pass the Breed Survey and have the right temperament. If everyone were honest, this system would probably make for good, solid dogs. Problem is.. people are not honest, and there are such things as "mid night trials" and other methods to "get a Schutzhund 1" so the dog can go on and show and breed.

Now.. my breed, bred for tending loivestock, doesn't have much work anymore. The GSD can still find work because the breed does well at protection work. There are other breeds that need to find "other work" because they were bred for something not done anymore... like dog fighting (yes.. I know.. still done illegally but I think you get my drift). This is not to say the dog fighting breeds cannot find other contests (such as weight pulling) that test the breeds structual soundness... but the question then becomes does the 'new job' fit the conformation of the dog as originally designed? Other breeds.. like Rhodesian Ridge backs.. were bred to hunt lions.. what physical and mental test can they be put to here in the US?

I know what you mean.. cull by either design or by environment.. and only the strong survive to breed (Evolution with human fiddling). I would like to see more breed organizations require some sort of title for the dog to show they can work in addtion to winning a beauty pagent...

..but even then.. you won't eliminate the irresponsible breeder.. the BYB who just puts two papered dogs together and sell the puppies without a thought to XRays for health or temperament testing and so the genetic issues are still there.
 

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Functionality is not tested in the show ring, and is therefore not maintained thru showing. I would argue that at least for some breeds, functionality is degraded by the show ring.
The show ring does not degrade dogs in any way, When I enter Haweye in the show ring I am not putting him at risk of loosing his bite on cattle I am not putting his potential offspring at a disadvantage just because thier daddy did some conformation or has his Ch. What degrades a breed are the breeders who think that conformation is the only and best way to evalute their breeding dogs.

Hawkeye is still a rough and grippy cow dog, that doesn't change because show him in conformation.
 

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(the ABCA won't register a Border Collie if you register it AKC.. as they want to keep the breed true to its original design.. herding).
This is incorrect, actually. They will remove ABCA Registration if the dog garners a championship.
 

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The show ring does not degrade dogs in any way, When I enter Haweye in the show ring I am not putting him at risk of loosing his bite on cattle I am not putting his potential offspring at a disadvantage just because thier daddy did some conformation or has his Ch. What degrades a breed are the breeders who think that conformation is the only and best way to evalute their breeding dogs.

Hawkeye is still a rough and grippy cow dog, that doesn't change because show him in conformation.
^^^^^^^^^^^^ this is so true. Seen it in with Quarter horses!!

This is incorrect, actually. They will remove ABCA Registration if the dog garners a championship.
I stand corrected. The ABCA tried for years to keep the BC off the AKC breed list because of the bolded part of what Keechak said.
 

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Elena et al make a good point.... dogs in working dog competitions are bred to maintain the strengths of the breed. I would venture that herding dogs, scent hounds, retrievers, and many of the sight hounds (working salukis and Afghans, etc.) maintain or exceed the original vigor of the breed.
 

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I, too, agree with what Erin said in the bolded. My focus with Mogwai is NOT just conformation. My focus with Shepherds is NOT just conformation. I exhibit in conformation because it's FUN, and because I can admit that it does my ego good to have "one of those beautiful dogs". But I'd also like to put Mirada through the BH, and DEFINITELY get her working on sheep!!!! I'd like to put an HX on her (if not an HC). I just have to find someone willing to give us lessons (people do not want to work GSDs here from what I've found...just Aussies and BC's...hoping for better look in PA/NJ).

The stud dog I'm looking at should add a lot of what I'm hoping for in terms of a more solid temperament and better drive. I'm still trying to find other boys with titles behind them (seems a near impossible feat at times), but from what I saw of this particular male, if the owners DID anything with him other than specialing, he'd have his CD and his Started titles with no problem. Most unfortunately, they don't, and so if Mogwai is bred to him, I'll have to prove that the talent is in the puppies.
 

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^^^^^^^^^^^^ this is so true. Seen it in with Quarter horses!!
(Slightly OT) And HOW!!!! There are way too many QH breeders breeding QH's for Halter that are not even so much as broken to ride, never mind demonstrate any working ability.
 

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I hear these arguments often because my breed is the German Shepherd. If a breeder is only breeding for the AKC breed ring, the dogs that often win are not, IMO, the best representatives of the breed. The American Ring desires too severe angulation at the stifle and the emphasis is all on "gaiting." Most of the dogs I see are gaiting long.. too long. I also think they have over emphasized neck length and other structures that I think make the dogs sometime appear whispy. Soft dogs have also cropped up as winners in the ring. The GSD used for breeding should not be 'soft' in temperament or fearful. This is my opinion only!!! American show breeders will disagree.

There are breeders of the GSD who breed for their original purpose.. herding. My last GSD, sire and dam both imported from Germany, herded cattle on my farm. I never bred her. She has great hips and lived to be almost 14. She was versatile.. and after the cows were sold and I was no longer a farmer she became my Dad's Hearing dog. She was all that the GSD was bred to be.. and she was born in 1992.

Of course, this makes me wonder why conformation is all about looks if the breed isn't all about looks.

If "holding to the ideal of the breed" also means the breed can do their true purpose and function, why is that not part of conforming to the breed's ideal? Isn't that what conformation is supposed to be about?

And why do breed standards want things that would actually detract from the breed's ability to perform their function? That makes even LESS sense. Not to mention preferring certain colors if color isn't a part of function. Reminds me FCI that wants only white cotons. Why? So they can look like Frisés and Maltese. Color is of no importance to the Coton's "function" (since they aren't working dogs I put "function" in quotes) so why does it matter?

I don't get it.
 

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^^^^^^^^^^^^ this is so true. Seen it in with Quarter horses!!



I stand corrected. The ABCA tried for years to keep the BC off the AKC breed list because of the bolded part of what Keechak said.
Further clarification. They'll remove ABCA registration for ANY conformation championship title. Doesn't have to be AKC at all.
 

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Thanks Laur. Knew I'd forget something.
 

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Of course, this makes me wonder why conformation is all about looks if the breed isn't all about looks.

If "holding to the ideal of the breed" also means the breed can do their true purpose and function, why is that not part of conforming to the breed's ideal? Isn't that what conformation is supposed to be about?

And why do breed standards want things that would actually detract from the breed's ability to perform their function? That makes even LESS sense. Not to mention preferring certain colors if color isn't a part of function. Reminds me FCI that wants only white cotons. Why? So they can look like Frisés and Maltese. Color is of no importance to the Coton's "function" (since they aren't working dogs I put "function" in quotes) so why does it matter?

I don't get it.
It's said often on these boards I know, but I feel like you can't blame the breed standard, just the breeders who are breeding extreme dogs and the judges who are putting them up. Most AKC breed standards leave lots of wiggle room.. they may provide some ratio/length/angle information but certainly not for every bone in the body. In the GSD AKC breed standard for example, there are no numbers for the description of the hindquarters except that the upper and lower thigh should form a near-right angle.

(This is excluding things like color BTW.. I really have no comment on that except that certain breeds are likely permitted only in some/one color because that's the only color that they come in and if they were another color it'd imply a genetic mutation (possibly harmful?) or the introduction of a dog NOT of that breed to the gene pool. Cotons for example. Do they even come in any color except white?)
 

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Of course, this makes me wonder why conformation is all about looks if the breed isn't all about looks.

If "holding to the ideal of the breed" also means the breed can do their true purpose and function, why is that not part of conforming to the breed's ideal? Isn't that what conformation is supposed to be about?

And why do breed standards want things that would actually detract from the breed's ability to perform their function? That makes even LESS sense. Not to mention preferring certain colors if color isn't a part of function. Reminds me FCI that wants only white cotons. Why? So they can look like Frisés and Maltese. Color is of no importance to the Coton's "function" (since they aren't working dogs I put "function" in quotes) so why does it matter?

I don't get it.
A breed show is a beauty contest. That is all it is. It does not matter if the dog is not appropriate temperament wise. What happens is (using the GSD as an example) someone brings a dog in the ring that has a longish neck.. and the dog does well. Maybe the judge comments on the elegant neck. Next thing you know... they are all breeding for a long neck.. and it tends to get longer with time.. and accentuated because the longer necked dogs do better in the ring.

Next thing is gaiting. The dog is supposed to have a smooth ground covering trot. Someone brings a dog in the ring that is more angulated than the other dogs and when the dog gaits out.. he flips his toes up a little and the trot is very stylish. The trot is not as efficient, but it looks pretty.. and pretty soon other breedeers want that trot.. so the breed for more angulation... and so forth.

In all of this, original function is lost and other traits such as disposition may go right out the window. But the dogs are winning in the show ring....

There are a few breeds that have so been bred for beauty that the brains and structure have gone quite haywire. Irish setters.. bred for longer coats and narrower heads.. that no longer can do any sort of hunting... Standard Collies with weak muzzles because a longer nose was more stylish.. and the list goes on.

OTOH if the dog needs to meet a preformance standard AND a breed standard, the object is to produce dogs that have the structure and the brains for the job. As previously stated, the German System for GSD breeding and registering embraces this. Problem is, someone will have a pretty dog and want to breed that dog.. and the dog does not have the temperament but they have the money to advance the dog.. and Voila! The Midnight Trial is born..

In the Quarter Horse there are Halter Champions. ALL the horse can do is be lead around the ring for judging. The horse is over muscled and has tiny feet and a pretty head.. because that is what wins.. and that is what sells. When I was in that industry I would see the Stallion Issue and it would have Halter Champions listed for stud and they would sometimes say things like "and he Rides!" to say the horse cactually was broken and being ridden.. maybe even competing in Western Pleasure. A horse that is a champion cutting horse would not win a halter class.... and halter horses cannot cut cows (or even do team penning).
 
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