Many of our colleagues, collaborators, members and readers have a special interest in their own breed(s) and on DogWellNet.com we try to provide extensive breed-specific content. However, a key underlying tenet of IPFD and our platforms is that there is great deal of information and experience that is relevant across breeds, across activities and across regions. Therefore our emphasis on sharing.
Thanks to Barbara Thiel who recently shared a presentation on Actual challenges in breeding show type Greyhounds by Dr. med. vet. Barbara Kessler, scientist at the Chair for Molecular Animal Breeding and Biotechnology Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich.
Notwithstanding the title and the information on some Greyhound-specific diseases, much of this talk is about challenges of selection, inbreeding, and impact on diversity that applies to all breeds.
Barbara Kessler has makes some strong statements based on her academic and personal experience. She lists, e.g. some autoimmune diseases associated with reduced genetic (sic) variability, including allergies, diabetes, and hypothyroidism - conditions seen, perhaps increasingly in some other breeds.
There are great graphics provided by veterinarian Barbara Thiel highlighting the breeding separation of Greyhounds based on their activities. And Barbara Kessler contrasts the breeding approaches of 50 years ago to more recently. Some of the challenges they highlight exemplify discussions at the 4th International Dog Health Workshop on 'The Concept of Breeds and its Impact on Health'.
This recalls to mind a discussion I observed at an international meeting of Springer Spaniel Clubs at the time of the World Dog Show in Sweden in 2008. There were passionate and conflicting claims that the breed was first and foremost a working/hunting breed or now a show breed; long time breeders and experts were adamant that it was a breed with strong working capabilities that was also beautiful - just as it was (i.e. without a long, silky coat or other adaptations to the show ring).
I do not want to imply that any one approach is the only or right one. However, I can concur strongly with one of Kessler's messages, specifically that people who are applying strong selection, breeding rapidly and intensely for specific appearances, need to be very aware of the larger and longer-term consequences of that approach. These issues are fraught with emotion, attachment to certain ideals, and even well-established human behaviours. Many accuse anyone of providing this type of information as being anti-dog shows or anti-purebred dogs. However, in many cases those who are calling for awareness, change and addressing challenges head on are themselves passionate about these breeds and fully committed to their preservation, health and welfare.
The talk goes on to an interesting and thought-provoking section on genetic diversity and I hope our working group on this topic from the 4th IDHW will find it useful.
As stated in this box... we depend on breeders to 'keep their 'eye on the whole dog' ... but then it must be that - and not getting swayed into too much focus on appearance, extremes, the latest fashion. or what judges are awarding
Let's keep the lines of communication open.
It seems that many are taking increasingly extreme and opposing views on challenges in dog breeding and the world of pedigree dogs. Perhaps this stems from sincere and increasing concerns... whether it is veterinarians and researchers who are more worried about the health and welfare of the dogs ... or breeders and exhibitors and judges feeling that their pastimes, culture and even livelihoods are under attack. But regardless, confrontation is not likely to be best for the dogs or their humans.
Thoughtful awareness of the impact of our actions; compassion more than judgement: and a willingness to listen are all good to consider.
And let's keep sharing the wonderful material and resources from around the world.
"On occasion of the Finnish Greyhound Club Show, Dr Barbara Kessler was invited to talk about Greyhound health"...
The Greyhound Show website: http://katrin-und-joachim.de
Also see: DWN's Greyhound page