New Structures for the Dog Fancy Picture

Very well, then, if we eliminate the closed studbook, how shall we decide what stock to admit for registration? One must begin, of course, with the existing body of registered stock. Thereafter, one way of proceeding might be to strengthen and empower the breed clubs. They should be granted responsibility and autonomy: responsibility for the welfare of their breeds, and autonomy to make the judgments and decisions necessary to fulfil that responsibility. It should also be ensured that the breed clubs are fully representative of all breeders, by making breed club membership a requirement for anyone wishing to register stock he has bred or imported.

The first task of the breed clubs would then be for each of them to determine what sources of genetic inflow might best be employed in their breed. Breeders alone can command the collective expertise to make that decision and it ought to be theirs alone, but the designation of outcross sources should be obligatory, not optional. The Siberian Husky Club of Canada, for example, would have to decide where outcross animals might best be obtained for restoring heterozygosity to that breed; they might decide, for example, that dogs imported from Russia and perhaps even an occasional outstanding individual carefully selected from the present "alaskan husky" gene pool of racing sleddogs (which was derived largely from 1910-era Siberia imports that remained in Alaska) are two logical sources. Breeds which do not have their origins in autochthonous populations would have to seek outcrosses in similar related breeds, as Spaniels (English Springer) and Spaniels (Welsh Springer), or Retrievers (Labrador) and Retrievers (Flat-Coated). They would then have to set up inspection and test-breeding procedures for admitting outcross animals. Once the outcross sources had been designated, selection of candidate animals would in most cases be best left to individual breeders, who might then apply to the breed club for preliminary inspection of their outcross -- which inspection ought not to be excessively rigorous. General soundness, reasonable temperament, proven working ability, approximate size and physique, and acceptable overall type would be adequate criteria, none of the foregoing to be rigidly interpreted. The outcross should then be registered provisionally by CKC, subject to breed club inspection of two generations of its progeny. The registry should remain permanently open to new outcross animals. It might prove desirable to set limits to the number of outcross dogs registered in any given year, proportionate to the overall breed population, in order that small populations not be swamped by excessive outcrossing. Some regulation of the process would obviously be necessary, but the best regulation would probably be breed club oversight and guidance of the process, backed up by CKC supervision.

Advantage should be taken of DNA analysis techniques by using them to monitor heterozygosity and relative kinship in major breeding lines. (It would also be a good idea for the Club to offer DNA profile parentage certification.) This technology already exists and is in use; it is rapidly becoming much more affordable. Limits should definitely be set on inbreeding, preferably by the breed clubs, but CKC should decide maximum allowable limits of inbreeding as a default setting. Only by the outright prohibition of excessive degrees of inbreeding will it be possible to make the transition to a balanced-heterozygote state for purebreds; otherwise old ways will continue through inertia and persistent typological thinking. Assortative mating can and should become the norm for the preservation of type, mating individuals which are phenotypically similar but unrelated or at least not closely related. The Club would have to monitor registrations, possibly performing occasional DNA spot-checks, to ensure that inbreeding does not take place; otherwise many would continue to breed from whatever dogs were in their own backyard rather than seeking breed club advice to find suitable individuals from unrelated lineage.

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