One big issue that many pedigree breeders have to deal with is some of the myths that surround dog breeding. Social media has given a strong voice to every fanatic crackpot and welfare idiot who loves to have their 15 minutes of fame as they speak loudly about the evils of the pedigree breeding.
Ethical breeders also have the problem of being lumped in with the backyard breeders and puppy farmers. Today we do have also Commercial Breeders who work within the legal framework but perhaps are still really interested in the profit to be made.
The ‘welfare lobby’ will often talk about how many breeds of dogs are ‘In-bred’ – meaning they have very close family links. There have been ‘exposes’ about this but often these are to sensationalise by the media for the TV ratings and draw on human emotions rather than facts.
There has always been In-breeding. In the wild, many dogs may breed to sisters or back to the father. Dogs do not understand about the family connections. However in the wild, any pups born with major defects would not survive long enough to breed on these defects.
The human practice of breeding with animals has meant that you breed for a certain type; hence often-close breeding was practiced. This is how pure breeds were initially developed and from around1940 to late 1990’s many breeders would cull of any offspring that showed weakness either physical or mental and only breed on with the strongest. However current day breeders have a tendency to use medical practices such as caesarean births to aid dogs that have difficulty giving birth. Also we have breeders prepared to use artificial aids to keep pups alive that nature would probably have dealt with.
Now most breeds have enough bloodlines available to restrict the need for very close line breeding practice. However there are two terms you should be familiar with today and they are Line Breeding and Incest Breeding.
This is perfectly acceptable in modern breeding where there are genetic connections between both parents but not to immediate family – for example if you see a line breeding reference for Tallyho Fido 3:4 this means that Tallyho Fido is three generations back on the Sires side and four generations back on the Dams side.
This is now heavily restricted (and discouraged) by the Breed Associations – This is when you would see either an example of Tallyho Fido 1:1 or 1:2. This is when a half brother and half sister are mated or perhaps a daughter/father mating. It is unacceptable to mate full brother and sister as both have exactly the same genetic base.
We should avoid judging dog breeding using our human family status. For example: It is not considered incest breeding to mate a bitch to her grandsire, as although they are closely related, there are three other genetic influences involved and this will greatly reduce the risk of any problems.
Docking – In most Countries it is common to see many breeds of dogs with docked tails, sometimes this was done for practical reasons (e.g. docking tails of Jack Russel allowed hunting dogs to be pulled out from rabbit holes without hurting them). However often the decision was based on the look of the dog, Humans felt it made the dog look sharper or stronger. Generally it is tails but some breeds also had Ears docked too (Dobermans or Danes). By 2004 this practice is banned in Australia.
Dental – For breeding and showing purposes it is unethical to have any dental word done to hide problems.