Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pedigree dogs... the real truth

Most of you who know me understand that I am not a big fan of show dogs and bench shows in general. Dogs were bred to do specific jobs... they have a purpose, a focus that is driven by genetics. Show dogs do not. With respect to the red setter, the gene pool of red setters who are from working stock (those of the National Red Setter Field Trial Club and the AKC registered red setters, plus some isolated others) are bred to do the job of the red setter... and that job is to hunt, find, point and retrieve gamebirds for the handler. With few notable exceptions, the show stock red setters can not do this and have not been able to do this for over half a century.

Show dogs are bred for reasons that I am unable to fathom. Looks, money, personal ego, winning in the show ring, I'm not sure exactly what drives such an illogical passion. It has been my premise for years that this inappropriate breeding of dogs for the bench has been a huge factor in the rocketing proliferation of canine diseases that are found across the various breeds. While the working dogs of this world certainly are not immune to disease, the incidence of genetic diseases pales in comparison to those of the show dogs. I have always been a vocal critic of the AKC and other show-dominated registries for similar reasons. The AKC supports and promotes dog shows. They make a lot of money doing so. They are a closed registry, demanding continuous linebreeding generation after generation, with no hope for a breed to re-invigorate itself by going outside its limited genepool. They tacitly support "backyard" breeding because anyone who breeds as such can advertise their puppies as "AKC registered" (I would run the other direction if that were the sole qualifier for purchasing a puppy). The truth is, show dominated registries such as the AKC have no foundation in contemporary population genetics. They just don't get it.

Now, it turns out, that some folks over in Great Britain do get it. They have aired a very interesting (and sometimes disturbing) show on what's really going on with our supposed "pure bred" dogs. Don't miss this show... its an eye-opener.

Special thanks to the BBC for airing this informative documentary and to the Terrierman blogsite for posting the episodes.

The series is in 6 parts... I will post all 6 over the next few days.

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