Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Closing In On It...


When I think about our relationship with dogs, I truly feel our two species are meant to be together. 

Feel free to credit God for this coupling, or Nature, or my Great Aunt Harriet. Why we're together doesn't matter much to me, I'm just grateful for my dogs.


Dogs were designed to comply with human needs. They change shape, attitude and athletic ability within generations to fit into our lives and our laps. Petting a dog releases serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin, and decreases our levels of cortisol. Dogs experience the same chemical release we do, so they’re all over the petting deal too. They are the Narcissist's dream, a real genie in a bottle.



Bloodhounds - 1910
Bloodhound - 2013
The ability to morph into the dog of our dreams is because dogs possess uniquely malleable DNA that allows specific genetic traits such as size, temperament, snout shape, tail length, etc. to be easily altered by selective breeding. Dogs lend themselves to genetic manipulation for lots of reasons, including their large number of chromosomes — 78 (humans have 48) — and their inability to stop us from setting them up on blind dates.



Pug - 1850


Pug - 2013
Combine this with dogs unending devotion to the human race and we were given a species we can change to fit our needs within a few generations. I don't have a problem with this, like I said, I think this is how things were supposed to work.
We began to get breeds within the species early on. Sight hounds, guard dogs and a few fiesty lap dogs were the first. Then the spaniels, bloodhounds and herding dogs appeared. All of these breeds, even the lap dogs  developed with a purpose (foot warmers).


German Shepherd Dog - 1895

German Shepherd Dog - 2013


Things didn’t get crazy until the introduction of the Victorians. The Victorian era was an intellectual mess. Theories abounded without the science to support them. The weight of religious beliefs, Darwinism and class distinction led to an age of justification (this is where my opinion comes in).
Bull Terrier -- 1900

Bull Terrier - 2013

“Survival of the fittest,” a phrase often credited to Darwin, was actually coined by English philosopher Herbert Spencer, who first used it in his 1864 book, “Principles of Biology."

Darwin’s theory of natural selection is that "only the most well-adapted individuals in a population will survive and reproduce."

 Spencer's phrase took into account social factors like wealth and power. Spencer believed that individuals who possessed these traits were more fit, and hence, more likely to survive.


Golden Retriever - 1912

I'm completely confused. When did hydrocephalus become
a desirable trait?
Golden Retriever - 2013

This became the mantra for the Victorian era, justifying the suffering of the poor because they were unfit for a better life. Form became more important than function.
I know, I know, what does this have to do with dogs, or better yet, horses? Bear with me, I’m moseying down a trail here that should take me full circle.


Labrador Retriever - 1908

Show Labrador Retriever - 2013

Here's an interesting twist. In order to still be able to use Labs for hunting, they are breeding these.
Champion Field Labrador - 2013
During this same time, those wily Victorians created dog shows. Imagine how exciting it was to find out how easy it was to create breeds with in the breeds. New breeds sprang up like crazy, along with rewards dependent on how each breed met a criteria based on looks.


Basset Hound - 1900
Basset Hound 2013

This was a perfect forum to prove the rightness of class distinction. If it was pretty and cost a lot of money, it was better.


Boxer - 1900

Boxer - 2013

We haven’t quick messing with our breeds since. It is almost impossible to find a breed that looks anything like it's forefathers. We tweak, and mess around and in the process have created dogs that can't hunt, dogs that don't guard, dogs that won't herd and dogs can't breath, walk, or live for more than eight years without cancer.


Rough Collie - 1878

Rough Collie - 1910

This deaf and blind blue merle collie sired, not one,but two of the collies
in this years Westminster Dog Show, including the winner.
He is what is throwing the current, desired collie.

Personally, I’m thinking we are all nuts.

There is another theory on the evolution of dogs gaining momentum.
The thought is that dogs did not evolve from wolves, but from dogs, a species in themselves. 
Even though dogs share 98.8 of their DNA with wolves, there are differences the science guys can't quite sort out.
One is that dogs and wolves don't cross breed by choice. Yes, it happens, but at a very low percentage.
Another point, the one that peaked my interest, is that when dogs are allowed to breed without human intervention, they turn into these:



Not these:




I'm not even going there. My poor head is banging. I'm sticking to my original thought though, we had better hope we still have some of those pariah dogs around when all our careful, responsible breeding collapses like a St. Bernard with advanced hip displasia. If we keep it up, we're going to have to start over.

57 comments:

Jill said...

How can people who supposedly love dogs be so wilfully blind and ignorant to keep breeding those crippled German Shepherds and those crinkled up Pugs? To say nothing of the mini-skull Cavalier King Charles and all the rest.

And the meat-looking QH.

painful.

Mustardly said...

I'm glad you have come to the conclusion that dogs came from dogs and not wolves. When you think about it is it not obvious? (This is supposed to be rhetorical and not patronising :) I'm writing this on the bus and my writing skills are deserting me) Wolves and dogs undoubtedly come from a common ancestor but wolves have had all that time to evolve as well. Contrary to popular belief humans did not evolve FROM chimpanzees but our common ancestor developed into several different populations. One of these became humans and another chimpanzees and another became gorillas and so on.

This is one of many reasons why I think basing any dog behaviour theories on wolf studies is seriously flawed. It can provide clues (like why dogs love licking our faces) but I am definitely of the opinion that dominance theory is total bullshit.

Cindy D. said...

It sort of looks to me like the hounds "standard" hasn't changed much over the years, comparatively at least.

Can not imagine why it is acceptable for any breeder to bred a dog that is genetically blind or deaf, or how that dog made it into the show ring. Guess that blows away my belief that show dog breeders are becoming more conscious about health and functionality as well as looks.

As far as the labs go, I'll take that show lab over that field trial lab, any day of the week. The show lab can probably hunt, (most can) but I'd bet money that the field trial dog will be crippled by time he is 5.

That is just my personal opinion.

Mustardly said...

I'm glad you have come to the conclusion that dogs came from dogs and not wolves. When you think about it is it not obvious? (This is supposed to be rhetorical and not patronising :) I'm writing this on the bus and my writing skills are deserting me) Wolves and dogs undoubtedly come from a common ancestor but wolves have had all that time to evolve as well. Contrary to popular belief humans did not evolve FROM chimpanzees but our common ancestor developed into several different populations. One of these became humans and another chimpanzees and another became gorillas and so on.

This is one of many reasons why I think basing any dog behaviour theories on wolf studies is seriously flawed. It can provide clues (like why dogs love licking our faces) but I am definitely of the opinion that dominance theory is total bullshit.

Half Dozen Farm said...

I've always heard/read that the relationship of Dogs to Wolves is similar to that of Horses to Donkeys. They are not the same species. I thought that was common knowledge? You are right that feral dogs will never turn back into wolves, and domesticated wolves will never be dogs.

I have additional info. that I would like to submit for discussion, as I don't know if it is accurate info. or not. Something I've heard/read is that the term "hybrid vigor" is a fallacy used by BYB's of Designer mutts. Dogs are the same species (no matter the breed). There can be no true hybrid vigor by crossing different types (breeds) of the same species.

According to this info., a wolf & dog cross would create true hybrid vigor (because they are different species). Or, I guess a horse & donkey would create true hybrid vigor = mule. But a Lab/Dane cross would not create true hybrid vigor, since they are the same species.

So, with that said, it seems like we have a good group of scientists/teachers/geneticists and, of course, the tireless researcher, Mugs herself, on this blog so I would like to ask if the "hybrid vigor" claim as used by Designer dog breeders has any merit whatsoever.

For the record, I'm a lifelong fan of the Lab/Dane cross (I've owned 3 and currently own one who is the apple of my eye), but I don't breed them, so this is just for general discussion purposes. I also own a purebred Boxer, who is super-sweet but dumb as a box of rocks! :)

I'm really loving this train of thought, Mugs! I have to admit that your trains of thought always make me stretch my brain!!

mugwump said...

Half Dozen Farms ...this one is exploding my brain!

Cindy D - The blind collie was never shown but he is homozygous (double merle) for the and "perfectly" proportioned.It's horrific in my opinion.

Half Dozen Farm said...

On the deaf/blind merle collie:

Deafness/blindness is tied to the merle color gene. As I understand it, responsible breeders will not breed merle to merle because the homozygous form of that color gene results in deaf & severely vision impaired animals - they are sometimes born completely without eyes!! You can see his eyes appear very small. I can only shake my head in disbelief for that poor collie whose breeder knew exactly what the results would be when they created him - and the other breeders who are supporting it by using him as a stud dog! WTF!!

clydesdalesocks said...

Hybrid vigor can be used within the same species. This is used often in cattle And other livestock breeding. Hybrid vigor refers to an animal being heterozygous for multiple alleles as opposed to being homozygous. (Quick Bio reminder: heterozygous means you have a dominant and recessive allele and homozygous means either two dominant or two recessive.) Being heterozygous is more desirable because you have more genetic variability within the organism. That's why you have line breeding (aka inbreeding). You need to breed two homozygous individuals to guarantee a truly heterozygous offspring. You get homozygous breeding stock from inbreeding. And that's been your genetics lesson for the day. :)

Heidi the Hick said...

Yay PUG!

That's all I got this time.

clydesdalesocks said...

So to answer your question Half Dozen Farms, breeding two different dog breeds does not in itself guarantee hybrid vigor and is a misunderstanding of the term.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh, to Jill's comment - can't speak for all but my crinkle faced Pug is healthy and vigorous and awesome. And a genius. As far as I'm concerned, the woman who put his parents together can stay in business as long as she wants.

RIspah said...

While I'm no breeding expert, I do agility and have been incredibly involved in the dog world for years. I have no genetics background past highschool biology, so this is purely my observations.

Dogs seem to be splitting even further into groups. There are actually "sport" border collies, ones that are bred more for agility than for herding sheep. Most agility owners are very picky where they get their dogs from.

But the main thing I wanted to point out is that one of my friends recently bought what is called a "sport dog". She did tell me its breeds, but I can't remember them; it was a jack russell/border collie/border terrier/hound/poodle/something else, there were six breeds in there. Basically, the breeder had been aiming for general athleticism, hardiness and a good personality.

And so far (she's only a year, so hasn't really started training yet) this dog has REALLY delivered. She outruns most border collies, is drivy and doesn't wear down, yet will happily cuddle in her owner's lap for hours. Smart as hell, too. She's little, won't be competing against border collies, and doesn't exactly look like the pariah dogs you were showing... but it's still interesting to see.

Obviously these are not traits conducive to every sport, but they work well for agility. I want to watch these dogs and see how they go. It seems like whoever's breeding them - I don't have a name - has gone back to breeding for a purpose (in this case, agility) rather than a breed standard. I want to see how these little dogs do, and if someone decides to cross them with bigger dogs, how they compete against the border collies.

My border has grade 3 hip dysplasia, though you wouldn't know it to look at him. I wonder how well he'd be doing if he was still able to compete (he's 8 now, and loves playing at his lower jump height), because he's still learning so much and improving in his training. I wonder how much endurance (how long they can compete and how long they can train each day before going lame) plays a part in competitiveness...

Half Dozen Farm said...

Ok, I tried to read about hybrid vigor on Wikipedia, but my brain exploded...

On my daily lunch hour, I like to watch TED videos. Without even reading the title, I randomly clicked on this one today and thought that I would share it with you all. It's not directly dog or horse related, but it is animal related - and kind of jaw-dropping! I hope you enjoy!
http://www.ted.com/talks/stewart_brand_the_dawn_of_de_extinction_are_you_ready.html

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen the blog by the terrier man? He has a lot to say on this subject and many others. Not to mention that his training philosophies are very insightful and relate to both the dog and horse world.

http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Very interesting series of posts. a topic I am much interested in.

One comment for consideration regarding you last point of the archetypal dog and the wolf. The wolf pictured is a northern type wolf. The dog ancestor(s) were very likely from much different climate, probably somewhere in the Middle East. Wolves ( what is left of them) from those regions appear very similar to the archetype dog. Humans took wolves to northern climes with them. Indeed, the couldn't survive the climate without their dogs. Those dog do have an appearance close to that of a Northern wolf.

Also, I am very skeptical of assertions that dogs and wolve don't readily crossbreed. Perhaps not much in the modern agricultural day, when wolves are driven out and activly hunted by humans and dogs, but in the past I bet it happened pretty frequently. I have heard that the dogs of native Americans and northern cultures had fairly high percentage of wolf in them. Difficult to prove, though.

Jen

mugwump said...

Anon- the stories of high wolf percentages in American Indian dogs and the Northern cultures were disproved by the very same DNA studies that told science that dogs are only related to wolves, not foxes, coyotes or jackals.

The Catahoula Leopard dog was supposed to come from Indian wolf dogs, DNA proved they are all dog.

Same went with the sled dogs...DNA showed they are and were all dog, no closer to wolves than the other primitive breeds.


BUT the dogs come from dogs and wolves come from wolves theory has merit too, I'm going to be interested to see how it plays out.

Studies have shown that by choice, wolves don't mate with coyotes or dogs. Coyotes don't mate with wolves or dogs readily. If you look at their family dynamics, it makes sense.

Dogs will mate with anything that smells right...must come from hanging out with humans.

I have known coyotes to mate with female dogs then kill them.

I don't have much experience with wolves, but I do have some with hybrids. They would make terrible sled dogs. Their thinking is totally different, even the low percentage ones.

But, it's all about reading and experience, it could all be smoke in the wind.

mugwump said...

Heidi - Pugs are cute and funny dogs. They really need their people to quit trying for flatter faces, enough is enough!

Jill said...

Heidi and Mugs - I adore Pugs. Would have a rescue Pug if I could, but seeing the difference between the older photo and today's photo just makes me wonder - what's in it for the dog, to be bred to have a smaller, wrinklier face? They were gorgeous as they were.

I'm glad your Pug has no issues. If I ever have the joy of owning one, it will probably be crinkly as heck, but I just don't see why.

Anonymous said...

Dogs that are still bred to work will be around to rescue the crippled, deformed show bred dogs when the time comes. There are still plenty of folks out there breeding Border Collies that can herd, Borzoi that can hunt, Labs that can retrieve, and Cockers that are fantastic gundogs.

The thought that a show dog will remain sound longer than a working bred dog is for the most part, laughable. Look at what has happened to the German Shepherd, it's hideous. Labradors with fat bodies and no legs? They were bred to retrieve and work. They look like sausages. Cocker Spaniels that are neurotic hair factories, only good if you want to be bitten. The list goes on and on. And for the most part, it all boils down to one thought. "If some is good, more is better". It's sad, and in some cases sickening. Butchers dogs of the past were not the weird, undershot, unable to breathe bulldogs of today. And Bassets of the past didn't have enough skin for three dogs.

The human race has a lot to answer for.

mugwump said...

Anon -Gotta thank you for the terrier man.

redhorse said...

I think your argument that dogs come from dogs and wolves come from wolves has some merit. But I don't think that wolves and dogs have the same relationship as donkeys and horses, true, both can breed but the mule is sterile, and that isn't true of the wolf/dog.

The pure red wolf is almost extinct because of extensive breeding with coyotes, and there are a lot of known grey wolf coyote crosses too. It does happen without man setting up a blind date, and the offspring are fertile.

mugwump said...

redhorse- my guess would be out-crosses could come if there were a lack of available mates from coyotes or wolves.
I'm not sure where you're getting the donkey/horse reference...

Again - if you look up the family units and breeding habits of wolves and coyotes, you will see where they prefer not to intermingle.

Let's be real here, if they did willingly out-cross there would be NO wolves and NO coyotes. Just a bunch of woytes.

mugwump said...

redhorse - here you go, this comes from the NatGeo website...

"The study, published October 17 in the Journal of Mammalogy, found evidence that Virginia coyotes mated with Great Lakes wolves but not with the rare red wolf, which is hanging on in just a few isolated spots in the U.S. South.

That's "good news for the red wolf," whose survival is already threatened by inbreeding, which reduces the species' genetic diversity, Bozarth noted.

For now, it's impossible to say how "wolfy" the newly identified coyote-wolf hybrids really are, Bozarth added—just that "at some point down the line, a coyote mated with a Great Lakes wolf-even generations ago."

Heidi the Hick said...

Sorry to take it off course into the Pug thing... But I'm gonna... I think the comparison pictures are interesting because the breed hasn't changed as drastically as many others. They seem to have gone the way most dog breeds have -- shorter legged and fatter. But they stayed recognizable.

I guess I should say that when we were looking for a Pug, we avoided any that were so chunky they couldn't move. I mean, a lot of that is how they're raised, but all of this breeder's dogs were fit. She wanted a Pug that could run around and be able to breathe in old age. Our dog's face is flat but it's not concave. And again we were on the lookout for that. I don't even like the look of the face so flat it's pushed in. I just think if Pugs could breathe and run for centuries - and it's an old breed - why are we having problems now? Especially when I've got proof, right there snoring on my bed, that those problems aren't unavoidable.

So I do find this conversation interesting... Getting the Pug really showed my family how much the dog species is diversified. And yeah, because of humans. Actually one of our family jokes is to stare at the Pug and shake our heads and say, "Descended from wolves, eh? Really?" Always had a hard time believing that.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about the short-legged lab being defective. British-type labradors are a lot stockier than the usual American lab, and they tend to be a lot less neurotic, too.

And don't even get me started on the terrier man. As a terrier enthusiast, I tried to read his blog for a while, but I could only tolerate so much sniping against women (especially of the childless single variety) and gays.

Helen said...

Oh, Heidi - again with the pug thing (sorry everybody) I never took much notice of them until we took in a rescue pugalier. Which, as you probably know, is a pug-cavvy cross. And if you look at the pictures above, what you see when you look at the "old style" pug is essentially a pugalier. Apparently, Cavalier was a large ingredient of the original pug breed.
Couldn't recommend the Pugalier enough (ours has a couple of issues but I think they are related to his past life before he was rehomed.) They have a nose, they can breathe, they have legs. They can run - phew, can they ever! But they're very cuddly on a cold evening on the couch!

rheather said...

For a book about how a wolf/dog just isn't domesticated, Part Wild by Ceiridwen Terrill was really interesting. And heartbreaking.

Retaggio said...

"Apparently, Cavalier was a large ingredient of the original pug breed."

Um - NO

redhorse said...

Mugs,

The donkey/mule comparison was from an earlier comment by Half Dozen Farm.

Does the NatGeo study mean there have been no further crossings between the red wolf and coyote? Because there have been several DNA studies for the last decade or two, including mitochondrial DNA from red wolf skins from the early 1900's that show hybridization.

In a world where humans don't exist it may be more rare for dogs, wolves and coyotes to inter-breed, but I know it's far more common than the DNR admits. There are widespread reports of coyote hybrids all over Michigan. I believe they come from feral wolf/dog hybrids (which were a fad around here for a while)breeding with wild coyotes. We had a pack or two right behind our farm. They were not dogs, they looked like coyotes, but twice the size. I used to see them regularly during calving season. I believe I know where the wolf/dog influence came from because I knew who owned the dog. She was a white shepherd/wolf cross who had been given to a farmer. She had belonged to a family in the suburbs until they decided she wasn't safe around children or other animals. I used to see her chained up or in a kennel. She "got away." I thought she had been shot, but years later I saw an almost white, large coyote/dog in the cow's pasture. We started hearing other farmers talk about wolf/coyote packs, and that the DNR denied they existed. Some of the farmers just started shooting them, and many weighed between 75-80 lbs.

We might have lost a couple of calves to them, or the calves could have been stillborn,or died after birth and then been eaten. It made some of the cows a little wilder, and they will not tolerate canines when they have calves. They've been seen killing stray dogs. Our current bull also doesn't like dogs, and the way he looks at my dogs scares the crap out of me.

I don't know if the coywolf pack has been killed off, or scared away by our cattle, but I don't see or hear them anymore, and now I see fox again, which had almost disappeared.

redhorse said...

Oh, that collie is disgusting. That is not something a responsible breeder would do. It's like the horse breeders and cremellos, breed to sorrel or chestnut mares and you're guaranteed a palomino. Breed this thing to solid females and you get 100% merles.

And Heidi, I've never met a pug I didn't love.

mugwump said...

Redhorse - If you can give me the actual names of the studies I'll submit them to NatGeo and the researchers who did the studies I've sited.
You'd be amazed what I can find out with a press pass.
The thing is,I need to know what studies you've seen.
I've got the names of the researchers who did the DNA tests on the Red Wolf population and state they are not carrying coyote DNA.

NotAFollower said...

That's one of the things I love about Weimaraners. They're a relatively new breed (two or three centuries, depending on how you read their history), yet have changed very little in the photographic record (100+ years). If you dig deeper into paintings of the breed, they're easily recognizable going back to the late 18th century. The traits they were admired for that kept the breed from being lost post WWII are still very strong in the breed.

NotAFollower said...

I know one judge who refused to put up a picture and attitude perfect Boxer because the dog's teeth were so messed up (common in Boxers) that it and any of its progeny would be facing a lifetime of dental issues and near-certainty of requiring a soft diet while still young.

Cindy D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cindy D. said...

I do get where you are coming from Mugs, on how humans have really gone over board on trying to get that "certain" look. We can't help ourselves. It is like we are hardwired to meddle in everything on the planet.
Nature will always be the one to create the perfect dog, the one that is the healthiest, most intelligent, and most athletic. Much like the Mustangs. Only the ones who are sound in body and mind get to survive.

PonyFan said...

@ Anon March 27, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Terrierman sniping against women and gays? I think you need a finely tuned "ear" to get the most out of terrierman's blog, because he has a dry sense of humour and loves sharp sarcasm. He's very much about equality and equal rights; he does tend to snipe about stereotypes, ie, the childless woman, and the effeminate gay man. I'd recommend you read again, and try to imagine that the blog is being read aloud by a very sarcastic brit.

Cindy D. said...

I have got to stop letting one persons comment get to me like they do. Sheesh! :-)

Anonymous said...

Book recommendation: How the Dog Became the Dog, by Mark Derr.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Loving these last posts Mugs.

A good rule of thumb regarding genetic manipulation (and many other questions)...

just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

greenie said...

Very cool mugs, I love this article! Especially the photo comparisons. I saw the early golden retriever photo and went ooooooooo I like. I was looking for a field bred golden before we found our current "dingos". I think it's safe to say modern dogs came from something like dingos and of course they came from something slightly less dingos and slightly move wolf like... And so on...
One thing we haven't talked about is the extinction of breeds. We seem to have this illusion that dogs are the way they always been and it's just not the truth. I think there was even a dog specifically bred to turn a spit, a turnspit dog would run inside a wheel turning a roast cooking over a fire. It disappeared when we found a better way.

Now someone above said the show labs are better hunters than the field labs and that the field labs would be crippled by the age of five.... That seems bizarre to me, why would that be? My experience is the opposite with the field dogs having much better stamina, health and hunting instincts. The show labs I have seen have been much lower energy, easier going and more suited for family life. Which is great because that's what most people want in a dog. Most people don't need a field dog.

Apparently wolves and coyotes are crossing in eastern Canada because the wolf population is very low and when they're in "the mood" all they can find are coyotes. I can't reference that but I've heard it a few times.

greenie said...

I wish there was an edit button... I re-read my posts before I post them but there's always so many mistakes I miss anyway... darn it lol...
Sorry mugs....

mugwump said...

Greenie - As far as I'm concerned, and therefore, the blog, these posts and the ensuing conversations are about WHAT'S being said, not HOW it's being said.
I like to read ideas and arguments, from what I've seen the grammar police don't have many worth paying attention to.

mugwump said...

BTW Greenie, great points, all of them. There are some dog breeds I'm very fond of on the endangered breed list. Old English Sheep dogs are in trouble and both English and Gordon Setters. I've always liked Setters (even Irish), but they're very active, slow to mature and hairy.They are working dogs without many places to work anymore.
When I was a kid we had Jud, a Golden. He was dark red, about 55 pounds, medium long hair and very intelligent. Goldens were unusual, people thought he was a crappy Irish Setter.
The only recognizable feature I see in most Goldens today is his sweetness.
There are field Goldens still, who look like the dogs of my childhood. They're sound, healthy, hard to find and not as cancer prone.They don't have those weird bubble heads either.

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying going through your thoughts. Keep it up...

Kim

Cindy D. said...

Greenie,
The reason I said that the hunting lab will be crippled at an earlier age than the show lab is from experience.

I have 2 show labs and one "hunting" lab. My hunting dog is about ten and can barely walk. He has severe elbow and hip displaysia. He is in constant pain and is on meds for the rest of his life. On the other hand, my show dogs will have neither of these issues at that age. I know this because I know their parents and grandparents (and even further back than that) have all been OFA certified for clear hips and elbows. The grand sire of one of my dogs not only was listed by the the Canine Review as the top producing Labrador of 2012, he received his working dog certificate in field trial work at the ripe old age of 10. When you compare that with my 10 year old "hunting lab" who can barely walk around the block...well you can see why I said what I said. But it isn't just my experience.

Every time I take my dogs to the vet for shots, my vet says to me, "I wish the lab breeders in this state bred healthy dogs like this." He is referring to my show dogs. What he says is that the field trial breeders (in WY anyways) rarely worry about displaysia, eye problems, heart defects, or epilepsy. When he worked in CO he did OFA xrays every single week. In WY he he does maybe one a month, but he does sell an awful lot of Rhimodyl.

My issue is not that that the field trial breeders prefer a dog that (to me) resembles a greyhound, my issue is that they breed for a high energy dog that can hunt, without taking into account long term soundness. In my experience, most show lab breeders, are now breeding for the full package; looks, athleticism, long term health,natural hunting instincts, and companionship.

NotAFollower said...

To Cindy D's comment about field vs show. That's another thing I've seen. Some field lines are bred primarily for drive. If a dog has high drive, it will push beyond the limitations of its body. A responsible breeder, for show or field, will look for long life and soundness, but if the problems don't show up until the dog is more than five years old, it's probably already been bred.

I've seen field dogs of several breeds that had conformation flaws that would limit their physical capabilities, but they had such drive that they out-performed 'correct' dogs that had low to average drive.

Cindy D. said...

Notafollower- you are absolutely correct in what you said. It is "drive" that the field dogs are bred for. Drive which sometimes can be perceived as down right neurotic if not properly channeled. My old guy is like that. Even now at his age, with a ton of good training, and always in pain, he is mentally hyper and will push himself further than he should just to get to "go". Afterwards he pays the price. I can just imagine what he was like as a young dog.

My other dogs are more of what some people call a "light switch dog". They can transform from mellow to energetic with nothing more than a "are you ready?" from me.

Some people prefer those high energy dogs, I am not one of those people.

What you said about problems not showing up until after dogs are bred is also correct which is why there is testing which can be done at an early age. That is what OFA and Optigen testing is for. To identify these genetic issues before they reach breeding age.

Jenn said...

I know a breeder of Goldens whose dog's coats go to the ground. Great, silky haired flouf-balls.

They are both pretty and friendly - but they are utterly impracticable - even as pets - in a busy, normal income household. Who has time to brush the dog every day? Very sad.

Jenn said...

And PonyFan - Thanks! I'm a fan of Terrierman too, and have never read any of that into his words.

He does like to provoke thought! And he has his favorite topics, but they are far from women and gays. In fact, he put up a support post this week. Dogs don't care if you are gay. !!!

RE: Stewart Brand, long before Jobs, he said “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” I wonder if I still have my copy of The Whole Earth Catalog. Pre-internet connections!

greenie said...

Fair argument for show dogs.

I worked for a kennel who bred and trained field labs. The breeder did all of the recommended health screening. He even did xrays on non breeding (neutered) dogs just to see. All of his dogs were sound and healthy. They were great hunters who would work tirelessly all day. They were high energy but managed well and easy to handle. None of his dogs suffered from skin problems or allergies either. His dogs had some flaws that would have kept them from winning shows but the were decent looking labs. I'm not sure if it was done on purpose or just something he was willing to over look but his dogs had just slightly perkier and smaller ears than the show dogs who had the beautiful heart shaped dropped ears. He could have been allowing that trait to persist or selecting for it to help avoid ear infections never asked. He was a good breeder.

Lots of the show dogs around here have health issues. Allergies and skin problems are aweful! Plenty of these dogs need to be kept on a very specific diet because of it. They need special shampoo at the groomers and one particular little cairn needs to wear socks in the summer because he is so allergic to grass he breaks out in hives all over his body if he touches it with his bare skinned feet.
Even with the xrays and health certification you can still get a dog showing up with dysplasia. It's not like hypp where they either have it or they don't. It's a graded condition with a range from perfectly sound to completely dysplastic. If you breed two good dogs together you can get dogs with better or worse joints just by luck of the draw. That's why they have to keep testing for it and why they'll never truly get rid of hip/elbow dysplasia. (is it graded with letters? It's been a while...)

My best friend bought a dog from a highly recommended newfoundland dog breeders. Her puppy was gorgeous but she ended up needing $5000 worth in surgeries to fix her. Then they ended up loosing her to a bone cancer shortly after her last surgery. When they called her breeder they found out she wasn't the first one of her dogs to die early from that kind of cancer.

Cindy I kinda wonder if the breeder you got your show dogs from is keeping dual champion dogs as his/her breeding dogs. If he is he's AWESOME :) dual champions meaning they win shows and field trials. Those are special dogs and special breeders. They're pretty much gone here. There are very few people breeding pure bred dogs here compared to 20 years ago when our little city was a hot bed for everything dog. The golden days according to my boss. Now all we have are shorkiepoomaltipoms which are also very rarely healthy.
I haven't been counting but it seems like a very, very high percentage of the small mixes we see have loose patella, wonky knees that pop, clunk and move in a terrible way. Anyway....this is getting really long so I should wrap it up :)
I'm going to try my hand as a breeder... But I'll be trying with chickens... So excited! Lol!

2 Punk Dogs said...

Love the boxer from 1900! :)
WTF is wrong with the breeder of the merle collie?!? Looks like a member of the krazy kolor breeders club. I remember when breed organizations didn't allow dogs with more than a certain percentage of white to be registered due to the likelihood of dogs with hearing or sight issues.
Nothing against color, our mutts are mostly white with red or brindle faces and freckles . Can't believe how many people asked if we were breeding them, um, NO, they're both spayed/neutered. There are plenty of other street dogs in PR where they came from. :)

2 Punk Dogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn said...

Thinking further along the show dog/field comment - wherein the experience had been that the field dog broke down early...

Now we are headed into another territory of discussion. Backyard breeders (BBs). The definition I am using is a breeder that is trying to make a profit.

Poor stock and bad breeding decisions (line breeding, breeding dogs with known weaknesses, breeding young dogs that haven't had time to prove themselves to be sound workers, etc.) do not make a healthy line.

The dogs that are bred to actually work, by folks that aren't looking for profit - and often spend great sums to bring in fresh genetics from overseas - are going to be better dogs.

I think what we are all reacting to is the rarity of this last category.

Becky said...

Interesting thoughts on the show vs field breeding -

I paid quite a bit for my lab - who is mostly field bred, but has a little bit of show stock mixed in (maybe about 25%?). With the exception of learning how to properly greet strangers, I've never had a calmer, more laid-back, intelligent puppy.

She also is one of the hardest charging dogs when it comes to playing that I've ever seen - it's an absolute switch that she turns on and off.

She's only 7 months old so we haven't done all the testing for the joints yet (we will) but all of her parents, and her parents parents, etc, were all genetically tested and passed with flying colors. I really respected her breeder (Merganser Labs)


Just a thought - I wonder how many of those field lab's issues are from chasing titles, rather than letting a puppy just grow up? I know some people who work several times a week training their puppies for competition - it reminds me of people training 2 year old colts for futurities.

Sure, the puppies can. And sure, they definitely want to. But should they really be working that hard on developing joints?

Just some musings. I'm really enjoying reading all the comments.

mugwump said...

Musing is what it's all about around here.

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Anonymous said...

Honestly, the structure of the vintage boxer is dreadful. If you look at the stifles of the vintage dog, they are very straight. His rear is also much higher than his shoulders. It's really hard to tell what his front end structure is like because of the way his arms are positioned.

Dogs with straight stifles are extremely susceptible to cruciate ligament tears, which are very painful and usually must be surgically corrected. I would much rather have the modern boxer given a choice, as his structure is more sound and more likely to hold up well over a long life of hard exercise.

Also, while German shepherd structure appears to have changed a lot, that is an illusion in some dogs. There are some very extreme dogs with terrible structure, don't get me wrong. But German shepherds have long tibias in their hind legs. The modern way of positioning them at dog shows emphasizes this, and can make a nice moderate dog look extreme when it's not.

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