ARISTOCRAT FRENCH BULLDOGS & BULLMASTIFFS-
Breeding Better Dogs!
We only accept puppy applications occasionally as there are openings available on our waiting list
ARISTOCRAT FRENCH BULLDOGS & BULLMASTIFFS ARE ALL AMERICAN BRED & BORN!!!
ARISTOCRAT FRENCH BULLDOGS & BULLMASTIFFS RECOMMENDS TO ALL BREEDERS TO MICROCHIP THEIR PUPPIES & TO CAREFULLY SCREEN PUPPY HOMES! PUPPY BUYERS, PLEASE DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STORE OR FROM A WEBSITE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO PAY FROM THE SITE, IF THAT IS THE CASE THE BREEDERS OBVIOUSLY ONLY CARE ABOUT YOUR MONEY NOT IF YOU ARE A GOOD MATCH FOR THEIR PUPPIES & IF THATS THEIR ONLY REASON FOR BREEDING YOU CAN GUARANTEE YOU WONT GET A QUALITY PUPPY!!!
I USED TO DO RESCUE WORK FOR THE ABA UNTIL I STARTED MY OWN BULLMASTIFF RESCUE I HAD THE IDEA FOR THE ABA TO MICROCHIP ALL RESCUED DOGS PRIOR TO RE-HOMING THEM SO THEY WOULD NEVER END UP IN RESCUE AGAIN OR IN A SHELTER OR WORSE!!! I DONATED MICROCHIPS TO THE ABA FOR THIS CAUSE AND I'VE ALWAYS MICROCHIPPED MY PUPPIES BEFORE THEY GO HOME LISTING MYSELF WITH A 24/7 ANSWERING SERVICE PHONE NUMBER AS AN EMERGENCY CONTACT SO SHOULD ONE OF MY BABIES EVER BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR PEOPLE THEY WOULD NEVER END UP IN A SHELTER SINCE I AM ALWAYS LISTED AS THE EMERGENCY CONTACT!!! MARY BIRCH FROM THE AKC WANTS TO DO AN ARTICLE FOR THE AKC GAZETTE ABOUT ALL BREEDERS REQUIRING DOGS BE CGC CERTIFIED TO QUALIFY FOR A TEMPERAMENT GUARANTEE, WE AT ARISTOCRAT ARE THE ONLY BREEDERS THAT I AM AWARE OF THAT OFFER A TEMPERAMENT GUARANTEE ON OUR PUPPIES!!! WE ARE VERY CONFIDENT & PROUD OF OUR PUPPIES!!!
Below are pictures of our puppy training & play rings as well as training our adult dogs in Rally-o, obedience and agility
Please continue to read below to find out more about us, our breeding philosophy & how we raise our
Please continue to read below to find out more about us, our breeding philosophy & how we raise our
puppies in order to make them smarter & prepare them for the world!!!
We at Aristocrat French Bulldogs & Bullmastiffs (Suzan & Jason) keep up with continuing education on a yearly basis by attending the yearly AVMA Veterinary Conferences & seminars on all the latest breakthroughs in veterinary medicine, canine reproduction, genetics and canine health & longevity as well as canine behavior, we contribute all this knowledge into the way we be breed our dogs and raise our puppies as well as being there to answer questions you might have along the way!
We are located in a small rustic town in the beautiful state of Maine just North of L.L. Beans in Freeport Maine.! We are owned and operated by a licensed veterinarian and a vet. tech., trainer/behaviorist and I keep up to date in continuing education on canine reproduction as well as behavior, attending the AVMA Veterinary conferences yearly. We are very proud of our line, we've bred Bullmastiffs that have lived well into their teens (our oldest was 16, the youngest dog we ever lost was 14 yrs), I know when asked most breeders say we breed to improve the breed or improve the breed standard but the standard is the standard & you can look it up on the AKC web site-any dog that deviates from the standard would not be considered show quality but that doesn't mean that they won't make wonderful pets, there are more serious deviations from the standard that may cause major health issues, I always try to get photos of old dogs from the breeders I buy puppies from, when you can see pictures of old family members of your puppy or puppy to be then that's your best indication that your puppy will live a long, and happy & healthy life, of course there are a lot of environmental factors that can shorten a dog's life span but starting with good genetics is your best bet! No one can guarantee your puppy is going to be healthy & live well into their teens just because their family members did no more than humans that both came from a long line of healthy people could guarantee that their children will be healthy & live a very long life-that's why we offer a very good health guarantee, I love these puppies & spend every possible minuet with them for the 8-9 wonderful weeks that I have to raise & start training them, I teach them trust first & foremost that is why I am so very picky about who gets one of my babies, I whole heartedly believe that since I brought these pups into the world I am responsible for them for their life time, and I will stand behind that, I am available almost 24/7 to answer any & all questions and there are NO stupid questions! I want & enjoy being involved in the pups lives, seeing them grow up, which leads me to the reason I decided to start breeding so many years ago, because breeding is not for the weak of heart, it's a 24/7 job, without sleep, I watch them like a hawk & have video monitors in their nursery. You can read more about how we raise our babies on the puppy page.
We don't breed to improve the breed standard but to maintain the standard and are ALWAYS improving the puppies we bring into this world, in other words, what these dogs were originally bred for, they were bred to be athletic, intelligent, gentle & loving with family & friends, fantastic with kids of all ages (but they are big dogs so with very small children they should always be supervised because of the "knock down factor" as I call it)! They can distinguish the difference between a real threat & a non threat (unlike dogs that were bred for guard or attack), they are very perceptive dogs and would lay their lives down for you should one of their family ever be threatened without hesitation, they are the most devoted breed of dog I have ever seen, and would not and could not live with another breed, I am head over heals in love with Bullmastiffs & my newest love-French Bulldogs, which is probably pretty obvious since I live with 12 of them, and actually own 16 (4 of them live with my adult children & grandson) they have the most expressive faces, you can read what they are thinking just by looking at their face! They are so in tuned to their families emotions they know if you had a bad day, if youre sick or upset about something & will stay by your side to give you extra love & attention, I have a neurological/muscular condition that causes chronic pain and my dogs know when I'm having a bad day & will not only stay beside me they will actually try to cheer me up, they are always making me laugh with their antics! Since I was diagnosed 20 years ago, I had a hard time adjusting (type A personality), if it weren't for my dogs I don't think I would have made it through it all, I owe them so much, so much more than I could ever pay them back, that is why I try to give as much of my time, money & knowledge to other Bullmastiffs & their owners, doing rescue work, free consultation with people all over the world, to try to help as many of these wonderful dogs as I possibly can. The best way I can possibly attempt to put into words how loving & devoted the Bullmastiff & French Bulldog is (and if you've never lived with one you'll only know what I'm talking about until after you do) but other dogs will come to you for attention whereas a Bullmastiff or Frenchie will come to you to give YOU attention!
So the reason I breed is to not only maintain the integrity of the standard for this wonderful breed, by breeding healthy, intelligent (I can't help it if their too smart
I will always take a puppy back no matter what.
A good breeder does NOT breed to make money, I spend so much money on the dogs I lose money and work nights to help support them, but that is far from the issue, it's not a business, breeding should never be a business, it's love, pure & unconditional, I am "dog poor" as I call it, all the time, I drive a 12 yr old car, I never buy anything much for myself, but my dogs have more toys than most human children, are fed the best food, I have a huge back yard made into a big play ground for them, and I try to integrate my dogs wonderful personalities into our community as much as possibly by having them do work as Therapy dogs, and we do lectures at the schools to teach children safety around dogs (which the dogs LOVE!) All the kids in the town know all my dogs names, but only a few of them know my name
I spend a minimum of $4000.00 to $7000.00 on the best possible pups I can find that will blend with my line as well as a fortune on training, food, toys, etc. the nursery is painted with murals for visual stimulation, the pups listen to classical music, they listen to sound effects & the nursery is temperature controlled, and has full spectrum sun lamps, the nursery is centrally located in the house so once they are 3 weeks & older they are visited by all the other dogs, my girls don't care in the least if the rest of the pack comes to visit the kids, they are so non-aggressive-they would be described as the opposite of aggressive! Their tails wag non-stop, and are the most loving bunch of dogs with each other too-I have videos of various litters of puppies, their births, all of the dogs playing in the back yard, the pups playing outside when they are old enough, I have training videos I've made myself to give to my puppy people of easy, gentle, positive training tips so easy you can teach a puppy 8 weeks old to sit, lay down, and a lot more, I lay a great foundation for the pups learning, and they are almost house broken already, crate trained, and used to being handled everywhere and all the time, they are like rag dolls in your arms because, like I said before, they have learned to trust people, puppies aren't born this way. The first thing I hear from all of my puppy people is how well they did at their first vet visit & the crowd they attracted, being in the veterinary business we know how difficult it is for a dog that doesn't like going to the vets & it becomes a viscous cycle, and it makes it hard on the owners, hard on the dogs & very difficult for their doctors to be able to treat them properly, that is one of the reasons I make sure my pups don't care if their toes are touched they are touched all over their bodies, and will stand perfectly for it, I also make sure they will lay on their back for me, allowing their people to be the dominant, it again also shows trust to expose their bellies.
My goal in breeding is to keep my line going forever & to share this passion with others. For my old ones will always live within my heart forever, and still can see the same qualities they had in their great, great, great, great grand-pups! The same traits, the same personalities, it's my way of having them live on forever, not only in my heart but in their pups, grand pups, and great x...grand-pups! I don't think I could get over losing them if I didn't have their offspring. They are their legacy.
We do every health screening test available before breeding & will only breed dogs (as I mentioned before that come from a line of long lived healthy dogs), I stand behind my pups for life, and I will help their new family with anything they need, and try to give them as much information as possible in their puppy kits to get them off to a great start.
All of our puppies come with a written life time health guarantee as well as a 2 year temperament guarantee-we are very confident in the puppies we produce through very carefully selective breeding!
I deliver each & every one of the puppies myself, the nursery at whelping time is a birthing room, with classical music in the background, my girls get a IV catheter put in so they can get Lactated Ringer's (fluids to give them more energy during the birthing process) I freeze Pedialyte ice cubes for them, and they get treated better than most human women in a hospital! I am well trained as a canine midwife and surgical tech. should they need a c-section. They are born in a temperature controlled nursery with closed circuit TV (in the rare event that I am not already in the nursery, I can watch the puppies on the monitors throughout the house). The pups have plenty of visual stimulation to increase brain function and learning capability. They are handled constantly from the time they are born. They are breast fed by their mother and are supplemented with the bottle. Mother's milk contains antibodies against all the K-9 diseases that she has been vaccinated against. Feeding puppy replacement formula keeps the litter uniform in size and strength (there are no "runts"). The puppies are very, very well socialized. I spend an incredible amount of time introducing the puppies to as many people, other animals, and situations as possible so they are very confident, happy, lovable puppies that adjust to their new homes very quickly! They are raised in our home and very used to home noises, like the TV, vacuum, doorbells, etc. They have been handled and played with by lots of children. Most of the puppies I sell go to homes with children because Bullmastiffs love kids so much and are exceptional dogs with kids! I play a CD with over 900 different sound effects on it so these pups will not run away during a thunderstorm!!! They are very stable, trustworthy, and naturally protective of their families and property. We stand behind our puppies for life! We are always happy to answer any questions regarding the Bullmastiff breed, training, socialization, medical, and behavioral questions you might have. The pups aren't the least bit shy and will love everyone they see, in fact I would really wonder about someone my dogs didn't like! They have begun wearing collars, leash training and crate training before they leave. They will be very used to being handled, groomed, and having their nails clipped. These puppies have been outside, allowed to play in the house with supervision, been around other people, other dogs, lots of kids, and cats.
We screen the prospective homes that our puppies go to very carefully, we just want to make sure our babies will continue to be loved and spoiled and a cherished member of their new families our puppies future always comes first!
The pups will go home with their individual AKC registration papers, an extensive AKC certified pedigree (15+ generations!). Their puppy kit will also contain compact disks filled with all the information you could ask for to make raising a new puppy easier for both puppy parents & your new puppy!!! Also pictures of your puppy & the whole litter as well as parents & other family members and all your babies pictures since s/he was born to the time you take him/her home and lots more. There is plenty of information in the puppy kit regarding the breed and its history, general & crate training info, a list of stuff to get before your puppy comes home, info. on puppy proofing your home, go home info, etc, (and of course we will always answer any questions you might have). They will have health certificates, been examined by a licensed veterinarian, up to date on ALL their vaccinations, wormed, and have their microchip ID's implanted. The microchip ID's we use are Home Again brand (it is the most expensive but it's the best & that's all we ever use when are dogs are involved, it also has an 800 # 24/7 days a week data base is run through The American Kennel Club (AKC). There is a form that you fill out with all your information and send to AKC to have in their data base. The microchips are the best form of permanent identification as far as we are concerned. They are basically a dog tag that they can never loose and can hold loads more information than a standard dog tag. The microchips are also proof positive that this dog belongs to you! They will have their medical/vaccination/worming and examination records. Heart worm and flea/tick preventative. What food and vitamins they have been on, samples, and their feeding schedule.
These pups come from a line of happy healthy dogs!!!
All our dogs are house dogs, since our breeding is not a business we ask that you respect our home although you are always welcome to call if youd like to come & visit us & the dogs! Wed love to meet you!
Bullmastiffs & French Bulldogs are not one of the more common breeds...which is a good thing! This means the breed hasn't been totally ruined yet by everyone and their brother breeding them just to make a buck; they don't care what they breed in regards to temperaments and medical problems they get a male & a female & think that's all there is to it, so the more popular breeds become, they unfortunately have a lot of genetic health problems, and temperament problems. Please stay away from buying puppies in pet stores where they get these poor babies from puppy mills (as much as you would like to "rescue" one of these poor things, you will only be supporting these horrible puppy mills, and you may also be setting yourself up for nothing but heartache with one of these puppies because they are frequently riddled with health problems and you get NO support at all!)
When you buy a puppy you want to be able to see and meet if possible, at least the parents of the puppy, be able to ask the breeder any questions, a good breeder could talk about their dogs all day! You want to be able to see where the puppies are born & raised if possible (meaning sometimes distance is an issue and it's not always feasible to be able to do this, but at least ask for pictures!) I provide LOADS of pictures & videos of our puppies so you dont miss a thing as your puppy is growing!
Make sure there is a contract that is generated specifically to protect the puppy/dog & you the buyer-the breeder should NOT benefit from the contract in any other way than protecting their babies.
Make sure there are guarantees on health and if possible temperament.
Make sure the puppies are up to date on their vaccinations and that they were given by a licensed veterinarian who can also examine each puppy.
I do not sell puppies with co-ownerships!
My puppies are not sold with stipulations like showing them to their championship, breeding them (definitely not), naming them after our kennel name, or co-ownerships, if you pass my screening, then the way I look at it, the puppy is yours, if you pass my screening then I trust you will follow the contract in regard to training them, taking proper care of them, spending time with them, loving them & treating them like a member of the family, they are only to be house dogs.
The only thing I ask is that you keep in touch from time to time to let me know how they are doing, ask me any questions at any time about anything! And there is no way you can send me too many pictures, it makes my day every time I get pictures of my babies, too see how happy they are & how happy their people are and how much joy they have brought to the lives of their people, to me that is what it's all about!
If the puppy is said to be sold with "papers" make sure they are AKC registration applications often times they are hand written pedigrees that you get as the so called "papers" or they are registered through the CGC (not the Canadian Kennel Club, they are the same as the AKC) it's the Continental Kennel Club, basically all you have to do is show a picture of a dog to get it registered! There are groups for individual breeds but dogs are not registered through groups or breed specific kennel clubs! This is a common scam...buyer beware!
Also please ONLY buy a puppy from a breeder in the USA!!! Its for the wellbeing of the breeds we love so much and for the wellbeing of your own puppy, please dont ask a poor little baby to travel alone for more than 24 hours locked in a crate, thats too much!!! If you love dogs you wouldnt have a puppy do that, and thats the least of the issues associated with buying a puppy from out of the country!
I don't mind answering any questions, whether you have one of my babies or not. You can email me at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or just request more information or a puppy application.
We do occasionally accept puppy applications for an upcoming litter and we are happy to accept new puppy applications to be put on our waiting list!
I spend a lot of time with my dogs, and helping other people with their dogs, as well as running the rescue program (North East Rescue) which Jason & I fund and operate ourselves, so I'm almost impossible to get in touch with by phone which I'm sorry about but my dogs always come first!!! Please leave a message & your email address or mailing address & I will send you out lots of information & a puppy application-if your puppy application is approved we will definitely set up a time to talk on the phone if you want!!
I love for people to be able to come & meet the family, but distance can be a factor so if your puppy has to fly home, just keep in mind that if you're ever up north around Maine our door is always open!!! We do not have a kennel, our dogs are all house dogs so we don't have "hours" that we're open or anything like that, it's our home and your always welcome just give me a call if you think you might be in the area at some point, we would love to meet you, or see you again!
There is so much information out there today with the internet, some of its good, some bad, and some just plain dangerous; it is difficult & very time consuming to try to sort through all of that info. it is just easier, and probably safer to ask someone who has been there! I can answer emails much faster than phone calls, but if you hate email just say so & I will return your call as soon as possible. The reason I can answer emails much faster is I can do it in the wee hours of the morning...when I have a little free time, and 4:00 am is not usually the best time to call people!
Research the breed as much as possible before making the decision to buy one! Ask a lot of questions of the breeder!
There was an article in Dog World magazine that summed up a Bullmastiff very well, it was entitled " The Gentle Giants ", See if you can find it in Dog World's archives on line, it will be worth the search if you are interested in Bullmastiffs.
Everyone should KNOW whether the puppy they are getting is going to fit well into their life style, pets are NOT disposable and the more you know about the breed the better chance this new puppy will be a cherished member of your family, not a misunderstood pet that has to spend his life chained outdoors away from his family!
I want to make sure people who want one of my puppies know the breed, have done extensive research on the breed and KNOW that this is the dog for them, if they have not done enough research or saw the breed in a movie or commercial & liked the looks of it, I will not sell someone a puppy based on that, however if that's the beginning of their interest in this breed then I would be more than happy to provide all the information they want to learn more about these wonderful dogs! Dalmatians are a perfect example of what happens when people see a dog (in a movie or like) and think they want one based solely on that, there were so many Dalmatians put to sleep or ended up in shelters because people found out just because they were in a Disney movie didn't mean they were necessarily good with children! You have to know for sure the breed that will fit best with your life style, because pets are not suppose to be disposable any more than a human child is, they should be treated the same way as a member of the family!!!
Aristocrat Bullmastiffs participates in the voluntary DNA profile testing of all our studs (information about the DNA program from AKC is below):
DNA and the AKC
Making the Science Work for You
The AKC offers a comprehensive set of voluntary and mandatory programs to ensure the integrity of the AKC registry: voluntary DNA Profiling; the Frequently Used Sires requirement; the Fresh-Extended/Frozen Semen requirement; the Multiple-Sired Litter Registration Policy; and the Kennel Inspections/Compliance Audit Program. The AKC has built the world's largest database of canine DNA profiles for parentage verification and genetic identity purposes.
The Science Behind AKC DNA Profiles
AKC DNA Profiles are generated using the same technology used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world. How does this work? In humans and dogs alike, each gene is present as two copies (displayed as letters). Offspring receive one copy of each gene from each parent in a random process.
This technology does not use actual genes, but other DNA sequences that are also inherited one copy from each parent. For this reason, your dog's AKC DNA Profile does not provide any information about the conformation of the dog or the presence/absence of genetic diseases. Furthermore, AKC DNA Profiles cannot determine the breed of a dog.
Voluntary DNA Profile
This voluntary program has resulted from significant input from the fancy. The DNA Profile Program is for owners and breeders electing to add value to their breeding programs by eliminating concerns or questions about identification and parentage.
A dog owner may contact AKC for a DNA Test Kit which includes a swab that the owner uses to collect loose cells from inside the dog's cheek. An AKC DNA Profile containing the dog's registration information, genotype, and a unique DNA Profile number is issued for each dog sampled. This DNA Profile number will appear on subsequently issued Registration Certificates and Pedigrees.
AKC DNA Profiling is required for: Frequently Used Sires (dogs having the greatest impact on the AKC Stud Book); imported breeding stock; dogs whose semen is collected for fresh-extended or frozen use; and for the sires, dam and puppies for Multiple-Sired Litter Registration.
Kennel Inspections/Compliance Audit Program
AKC Representatives take DNA samples at randomly selected kennels to verify identification and parentage of litters. AKC litter registration and privileges will be withdrawn when the parentage of the litters is determined to be incorrect. The dogs sampled through the Compliance Audit Program are not considered AKC DNA Profiled, and DNA Profiles are not issued.
The AKC DNA Database and Parentage Verification
Comparison of the DNA profiles of a dam, sire, and pup(s) will determine, with greater than 99% confidence, whether the pups are from the tested dam and sire. The AKC DNA database examines the parentage of all AKC DNA Profiled registered dogs and litters whelped on or after January 1, 2000. When problems are discovered, the DNA staff works with breeders to determine correct parentage at the breeder's expense.
AKC Parentage Evaluation Service
For a fee, an AKC DNA Analyst will issue a Parentage Evaluation of a litter in the form of an easy to read table listing each dog's genotype and a written report.
Parentage Evaluation can be used to ensure accuracy when breeding has been done offsite, for cases of artificial insemination, or to add to extra measure of confidence to your pedigrees.
The pups are raised in our home, very confident, friendly, lovable pups! Very intelligent!
Our puppies are hand whelped and have been handled very frequently from the time they were born.
They are very used to having their nails clipped, ears cleaned and being groomed. They have had everything done right, from conception. They have a temperature controlled nursery with plenty of visual stimulation (for brain stimulation, makes them smarter and more easily trained!) They have closed circuit TV cameras at every angle in their nursery (so in the unusual event that I'm not already in the nursery) I can watch them constantly on the monitors throughout the house. They have had sunlight and sunlamps to ensure they get enough Vit. D. They have been breast fed by their mother and supplemented with the bottle to ensure a uniform litter (there are no "runts"). Being able to nurse from their mother ensures that they will get adequate antibodies against the canine diseases she has been vaccinated against.
We are breeders in the animal health care business; our breeding is NOT a business. We see too many breeders who breed only for money and don't care how or what they breed (the worst are the puppy/kitten mills; it will be a happy day when they are shut down!) ALL puppies sold in pet stores (any pet stores) are from puppy mills!!!! No ethical breeder would sell pups to a pet store!!!! This is why the more common breeds of dogs have so many genetic health and temperament problems! Dogs should only be bred out of love of the breed! (We never even come close to breaking even in the $ department we put so much into our dogs!)
I understand canine behavior much better than human behavior, but since I actually live with my dogs I understand my dogs very well!!!
The pups are also crate trained before going to their new homes since I find this is when people give in the most when the pup first goes home. Crate training is so important, it is the only way to keep a puppy safe when you are unable to supervise them, no one would ever consider letting a human baby roam around the house without supervision & itďż˝s even more dangerous for puppies because they can chew electrical cords, eat dangerous objects, etc. (info. on crate training available upon request). When the puppies start sleeping in their own crates at night I have their new people send something from their home like a t-shirt from all family members so the pup can sleep with it at night. As much as 90% of the information a dog processes is through their sense of smell so by doing this when the puppy goes to their new home they are already know the people & the home & it makes the transition so much easier for both the puppy & the pups new people!
By that simple act of sending me a t-shirt (and everyoneďż˝s got an old t-shirt they can live without) & wearing it to bed or during the day to get your scent on it, I ask every member of the family do this, the puppies actually know you before they even see you & are so comfortable in their new homes itďż˝s like they were born there-it works so very well, not only does it eliminate the stress a puppy goes through with strangers in a strange house and being away from their siblings for the first time, but it at least helps my stress knowing that they arenďż˝t scared!
The pups have started working on a leash. These puppies are very confident and will grow to be very stable, trustworthy and naturally protective of their families and property.
But dont be surprised when all of a sudden they start acting afraid of things they werent afraid of before, this is all part of normal puppy development, they go through two fear periods, their teething lasts up to 12 months of age, and for all behavioral questions again dont hesitate to ask me, there isnt anything I havent seen or had to deal with over the years! I am more than willing to share my knowledge.
Surprising as it may seem, it isn't capacity that explains the differences that exist between individuals because most seem to have far more capacity than they will ever use. The differences that exist between individuals seem to be related to something else. The ones who achieve and outperform others seem to have within themselves the ability to use hidden resources. In other words, it's what they are able to do with what they have that makes the difference.
In many animal breeding programs, the entire process of selection and management is founded on the belief that performance is inherited. Attempts to analyze the genetics of performance in a systematic way have involved some distinguished names such as Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. But it has only been in recent decades that good estimates of heritability of performance have been based on adequate data. Cunningham, (1991) in his study of horses, found that only by using Timeform data, and measuring groups of half brothers and half sisters could good estimates of performance be determined. His data shows that performance for speed is about 35% heritable. In other words, only about 35% of all the variation that is observed in track performance is controlled by heritable factors, the remaining 65% is attributable to other influences, such as training, management and nutrition. Cunningham's work while limited to horses, provides a good basis for understanding how much breeders can attribute to the genetics and the pedigrees.
Researchers have studied these phenomena and have looked for new ways to stimulate individuals in order to improve their natural abilities. Some of the methods discovered have produced life long lasting effects. Today many of the differences between individuals can now be explained by the use of early stimulation methods.
Man for centuries has tried various methods to improve performance. Some of the methods have stood the test of time, others have not. Those who first conducted research on this topic believed that the period of early age was a most important time for stimulation because of its rapid growth and development. Today, we know that early life is a time when the physical immaturity of an organism is susceptible and responsive to a restricted but important class of stimuli. Because of its importance many studies have focused their efforts on the first few months of life.
Newborn pups are uniquely different from adults in several respects. When born, their eyes are closed and their digestive system has a limited capacity requiring periodic stimulation by their dam who routinely licks them in order to promote digestion. At this age they are only able to smell, suck, and crawl. Body temperature is maintained by snuggling close to their mother or by crawling into piles with other littermates. During these first few weeks of immobility, researchers noted that these immature and under-developed canines are sensitive to a restricted class of stimuli which includes thermal and tactile stimulation, motion and locomotion.
Other studies involving early stimulation exercises have been successfully performed on both cats and dogs. In these studies, the Electrical Encephalogram (EEG) was found to be ideal for measuring the electrical activity in the brain because of its extreme sensitivity to changes in excitement, emotional stress, muscle tension, changes in oxygen and breathing. EEG measures show that pups and kittens when given early stimulation exercises mature at faster rates and perform better in certain problem solving tests than non-stimulated mates.
The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called "Bio Sensor" was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the "Super Dog" Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.
The "Bio Sensor" program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup.
The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:
These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them.
Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises.
The benefits noted were:
In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.
Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress sound when stressed.
As each animal grows and develops, three kinds of stimulation have been identified that impact and influence how it will develop and be shaped as an individual. The first stage is called early neurological stimulation and the second stage is called socialization. The first two (early neurological stimulation and socialization) have in common a window of limited time. When Lorenz, (1935) first wrote about the importance of the stimulation process, he wrote about imprinting during early life and its influence on the later development of the individual. He states that it was different from conditioning in that it occurred early in life and took place very rapidly producing results which seemed to be permanent. One of the first and perhaps the most noted research effort involving the larger animals was achieved by Kellogg & Kellogg (1933). As a student of Dr. Kellogg's, I found him and his wife to have an uncanny interest in children and young animals and the changes and the differences that occurred during early development. Their history-making study involved raising their own newborn child with a newborn primate. Both infants were raised together as if they were twins. This study, like others that followed attempted to demonstrate that among the mammals, there are great differences in their speed of physical and mental development. Some are born relatively mature and quickly capable of motion and locomotion, while others are very immature, immobile and slow to develop. For example, the Rhesus monkey shows rapid and precocious development at birth, while the chimpanzee and the other "great apes" take much longer. Last and slowest is the human infant.
One of the earliest efforts to investigate and look for the existence of socialization in canines was undertaken by Scott-Fuller (1965). In their early studies, they were able to demonstrate that the basic technique for testing the existence of socialization was to show how readily adult animals would foster young animals, or accept one from another species. They observed that, with the higher level animals, it is easiest done by hand rearing. When the foster animal transfers its social relationships to the new species, researchers conclude that socialization has taken place. Most researchers agree that among all species, a lack of adequate socialization generally results in unacceptable behavior and often times produces undesirable aggression, excessiveness, fearfulness, sexual inadequacy and indifference toward partners.
Socialization studies confirm that one of the critical periods for humans (infant) to be stimulated are generally between three weeks and twelve months of age. For canines the period is shorter, between the fourth and sixteenth weeks of age. The lack of adequate social stimulation, such as handling, mothering and contact with others, adversely affects social and psychological development in both humans and animals. In humans, the absence of love and cuddling increases the risk of an aloof, distant, asocial or sociopathic individual. Over-mothering also has its detrimental effects by preventing sufficient exposure to other individuals and situations that have an important influence on growth and development. It occurs when a parent insulates the child from outside contacts or keeps the apron strings tight, thus limiting opportunities to explore and interact with the outside world. In the end, over-mothering generally produces a dependent, socially maladjusted and sometimes emotionally disturbed individual.
Protected youngsters who grow up in an insulated environment often become sickly, despondent,lacking in flexibility and unable to make simple social adjustments. Generally, they are unable to function productively or to interact successfully when they become adults.
Owners who have busy life styles with long and tiring work and social schedules often cause pets to be neglected. Left to themselves with only an occasional trip out of the house or off of the property they seldom see other canines or strangers and generally suffer from poor stimulation and socialization. For many, the side effects of loneliness and boredom set-in. The resulting behavior manifests itself in the form of chewing, digging, and hard- to-control behavior (Battaglia).
It seems clear that small amounts of stress followed by early socialization can produce beneficial results. The danger seems to be in not knowing where the thresholds are for over and under stimulation. Many improperly socialized youngsters develop into older individuals unprepared for adult life, unable to cope with its challenges, and interactions. Attempts to re-socialize them as adults have only produced small gains. These failures confirm the notion that the window of time open for early neurological and social stimulation only comes once. After it passes, little or nothing can be done to overcome the negative effects of too much or too little stimulation.
The third and final stage in the process of growth and development is called enrichment. Unlike the first two stages it has no time limit, and by comparison, covers a very long period of time. Enrichment is a term which has come to mean the positive sum of experiences which have a cumulative effect upon the individual. Enrichment experiences typically involve exposure to a wide variety of interesting, novel, and exciting experiences with regular opportunities to freely investigate, manipulate, and interact with them. When measured in later life, the results show that those reared in an enriched environment tend to be more inquisitive and are more able to perform difficult tasks. The educational TV program called ďż˝Sesame Streetďż˝ is perhaps the best known example of a children's enrichment program. The results show that when tested, children who regularly watched this program performed better than playmates who did not. Follow-up studies show that those who regularly watch ďż˝Sesame Streetďż˝ tend to seek a college education and when enrolled, performed better than playmates who were not regular watchers of the ďż˝Sesame Streetďż˝ program.
There are numerous childrenďż˝s studies that show the benefits of enrichment techniques and programs. Most focus on improving self-esteem and self-talk. Follow-up studies show that the enriched ďż˝Sesame Streetďż˝ students, when later tested were brighter and scored above average, and most often were found to be the products of environments that contributed to their superior test scores. On the other hand, those whose test scores were generally below average, (labeled as dull) and the products of underprivileged or non- enriched environments, often had little or only small amounts of stimulation during early childhood and only minimal amounts of enrichment during their developmental and formative years. Many were characterized as children who grew up with little interaction with others, poor parenting, few toys, no books and a steady diet of TV soap operas.
A similar analogy can be found among canines. All the time they are growing they are learning because their nervous systems are developing and storing information that may be of inestimable use at a later date. Studies by Scott and Fuller confirm that non-enriched pups, when given free choice, preferred to stay in their kennels. Other litter mates who were given only small amounts of outside stimulation between five and eight weeks of age were found to be very inquisitive and very active. When kennel doors were left open, the enriched pups would come bounding out while littermates who were not exposed to enrichment would remain behind. The non-stimulated pups would typically be fearful of unfamiliar objects and generally preferred to withdraw rather than investigate. Even well-bred pups of superior pedigrees would not explore or leave their kennels, and many were found difficult to train as adults. These pups, in many respects, were similar to the deprived children. They acted as if they had become institutionalized, preferring the routine and safe environment of their kennel to the stimulating world outside their immediate place of residence.
Regular trips to the park, shopping centers and obedience and agility classes serve as good examples of enrichment activities. Chasing and retrieving a ball on the surface seems to be enriching because it provides exercise and includes rewards. While repeated attempts to retrieve a ball provide much physical activity, it should not be confused with enrichment exercises. Such playful activities should be used for exercise and play or as a reward after returning from a trip or training session. Road work and chasing balls are not substitutes for trips to the shopping mall, outings or obedience classes most of which provide many opportunities for interaction and investigation.
Finally, it seems clear that stress early in life can produce beneficial results. The danger seems to be in not knowing where the thresholds are for over and under stimulation. The absence or the lack of adequate amounts of stimulation generally will produce negative and undesirable results. Based on the above, it is fair to say that the performance of most individuals can be improved, including the techniques described above. Each contributes in a cumulative way and supports the next stage of development.
Breeders can now take advantage of the information available to improve and enhance performance. Generally, genetics account for about 35% of the performance, but the remaining 65ďż˝ (management, training, nutrition) can make the difference. In the management category, it has been shown that breeders should be guided by the rule that it is generally considered prudent to guard against under and over stimulation. Short of ignoring pups during their first two months of life, a conservative approach would be to expose them to children, people, toys and other animals on a regular basis. Handling and touching all parts of their anatomy is also a necessary part of their learning which can be started as early as the third day of life. Pups that are handled early and on a regular basis generally do not become hand-shy as adults.
Because of the risks involved in under-stimulation, a conservative approach to using the benefits of the three stages has been suggested based primarily on the works of Arskeusky, Kellogg, Yearkes and the "Bio Sensor" program (later known as the "Super Dog Program").
Both experience and research have dominated the beneficial effects that can be achieved via early neurological stimulation, socialization and enrichment experiences. Each has been used to improve performance and to explain the differences that occur between individuals, their trainability, health and potential. The cumulative effects of the three stages have been well documented. They best serve the interests of owners who seek high levels of performance when properly used. Each has a cumulative effect and contributes to the development and the potential for individual performance.
"Behind every successful puppy is a proud breeder". You know the feeling of pride when you produce exceptional offspring.
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile"
If you are interested in filling out a puppy application, there are a few openings available email us today while we ARE accepting puppy applications now!
Responsible breeders seek to preserve and improve their chosen breeds, and are involved with clubs, rescue, education, and other dog-related activities. They register their puppies with reputable registries, screen their buyers to make sure their animals are placed in appropriate homes, and make provisions to ensure that the dog will have a good home for its lifetime.
Registered Breeders Code of Ethics breeder, I state that:
Breeding quality dogs is among the most challenging of human endeavors, combining several scientific disciplinesâgenetics, nutrition, and biomechanicsâwith aesthetics, that innate for a dog that comes close to the image of perfection that is described in the breed standard.
While some luck is involved, being a good breeder is more than a matter of putting two animals together and hoping for the best. Nevertheless, there is no school, no licensing, no certification programs for people interested in meeting the challenge.
Where can breeders go for advice? Good mentors are essential, but even the best mentorsâmaster breeders with decades of experienceâacknowledge that there is always something new to learn. A wealth of knowledge can be found in books, but many volumes, especially those on genetics and nutrition, are written for scientists and may be beyond the grasp of those not schooled in the specialty. Also, some of the best books are out of print and hard to find.
In 2004, the AKC and the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) took an important step toward filling the knowledge gap by establishing a series of breedersâ symposia. Hosted by the AKC and CHF and often held at the nationâs most prestigious veterinary colleges, these meetings bring breeders of all levels together with experts from key areas of canine health, behavior, and reproduction.
More than 100 people attended the first AKC breeder symposium for 2007, held in January at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. It featured presentations on genetics, assisted reproduction, nutrition, heart disease, behavior, and vaccination.
Following is a sampling of highlights.
âABCs of Dog Breeding,â speaker Claudia Orlandi
The booming young science of genetics can be particularly valuable when choosing mating systems, says Claudia Orlandi, Ph.D., author of the book ABCs of Dog Breeding.
In the symposiumâs opening presentation, Orlandi said, âBreeding is an art and a science.â She then described several tools for building a solid program. Some of the most important are:
âGenetics gives us rules,â Orlandi said. âIf we break these rules we increase our chances of producing inferior dogs, with the possibility of more health problems, and we waste time and resources.â Her presentation explained such concepts as dominant and recessive genes, polygenic traits, additive and threshold traits, and heritability.
âIf you only take away one thing from this presentation, I would like it to be an understanding of definition of inbreeding/linebreeding because there is still a lot of confusion in this area,â Orlandi said.
For a dog to be inbred (or linebred), there must be an ancestor common to the sire and the dam in the first three or four generations, she explained. A common ancestor behind both parents increases the chances that a higher percentage of genes from this ancestor will be duplicated in the offspring.
When the offspring, in turn, are bred, they will have a higher likelihood of passing on traits that are influenced by genes inherited from this common ancestor. Many breeders use this system of mating to help establish specific traits in their breeding programs.
Orlandi warned, however, that inbreeding can be a double-edged sword, bringing hidden, harmful recessive genes to the surface: âNovices should not attempt close inbreeding or linebreeding, and breeders should always be aware of the importance of genetic variation and the size of their breedâs gene pool before using this mating system.â
âThe list of a dogâs ancestors is important, especially when it comes to knowing which ancestors are carriers or are affected with specific canine defects.
âBut when it comes to planning matings from a conformation point of view, many breeders place more emphasis on the pedigree than on the dog itself. I call them âkitchen-table breedersâ because they often pore over numerous pedigrees while the dogs in question are not even in sight.
âAlthough a beautiful pedigree may have produced one or two good dogs, we must also remember there were probably four or five pet-quality littermates produced as well!
âWe have good research in animal breeding that indicates that pedigree information is never more important than information on the dog itself as far as predicting how an animal is likely to produce.â
Orlandi recently added a new section on anatomy to her presentation, to help breeders hone their âeye for a dog,â the natural ability to size up a dogâs quality and correctness. She offered tips on recognizing quality, soundness, and structural balance, as well as hands-on evaluation methods.
âAdvanced Reproductive Techniques,â speaker Anne Traas, DVM, DACVT, University of Pennsylvania
Fresh, chilled, or frozen?
Progesterone tests, luteinizing hormones, or vaginal smears? Advances in artificial insemination (AI) and other reproductive techniques have given breeders more options than ever before.
And there will be more to come, said Traas. Some methods on the horizon include oocyte harvest, âeggsiclesâ or ovarian cryopreservation, and embryo transfer to surrogate bitches.
In the âage of DNA,â she said, genetic tests exist to help breeders avoid some hereditary diseases. They have become an important part of pre-breeding evaluations, which include detailed backgrounds on the dam and sire. These evaluations should include in-depth reviews of health records, breeding history, and a physical exam. âWeâll ask you a ton of questions,â Traas said.
She also stressed the value of carefully monitoring the pregnancy and directed breeders to the WhelpWise Service. This fetal-monitoring company provides a uterine-contraction monitor and an ultrasound Doppler. The equipment hooks into a regular phone line and transmits information about labor from a monitor on the bitch to a round-the-clock monitoring center.
âCanine Cardiac Disease,â speaker Mark Oyama, DVM, DiplACVIM-Cardiology, University of Pennsylvania
Blood tests may soon play an important role in screening for heart diseases in dogs, said Oyama, one of the leaders in the field of canine cardiac research.
Functional tests, such as echocardiograms, are the standard, but they are expensive and sometimes miss subtle signs of disease. Blood tests offer a less costly and minimally invasive method of detecting abnormal heart function.
The tests measure molecules produced by damaged heart muscle, known as natriuretic peptides. In one study of 118 clinically normal dogs, Oyama and his team found that 17 percent had an âoccult,â or hidden, form of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). In dogs with DCM, blood concentrations of one of these markers, known as B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), were two to three times higher than in normal dogs.
Oyama said the study results suggest that testing for BNP would identify 95.2 percent of dogs with DCM. The research was published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research. Such tests could make it possible to perform wide-scale screening, which could detect disease before symptoms appear, allowing veterinarians to start early treatment and disease management.
"Inbreeding was once a valuable tool in shaping todays breeds. As these have now reached a high degree of homogeneity, it has lost its importance and turned into a fatal and disastrous habit." -Hellmuth Wachtel, PhD
Inbreeding (which, for the purposes of this article, includes "linebreeding" ) has been the rule in dog breeding for the better part of two centuries. Before that, breeders bred "like-to-like." Records may or may not have been kept, depending on the literacy, social status or interest of the breeder. Pedigrees were of marginal interest, if they were considered at all. Registries, as we know them now, did not exist. New individuals might be introduced to the breeding pool at any time, so long as they displayed characteristics that the breeder wanted to perpetuate. Even an unplanned mating with a dog that would never have been deliberately selected might be shrugged off so long as some of the offspring proved useful.
In the nineteenth century, prominent European breeders of various domestic species, including dogs, became interested in maintaining the "purity" of their bloodlines. They had no knowledge of genetics, indeed the science had yet to be born. Their breeding theories were a reflection of social attitudes of the times. It should also be kept in mind that these individuals were mostly wealthy men whose human pedigrees were considered better than those of "common" people. As pedigrees became more important, so did the regular appearance of significant names in those pedigrees. Eventually registries were established to keep official records. At some point, virtually all dog registries became closed. Most of this occurred before breeders had even a rudimentary knowledge of genetic science.
At first, inbreeding proved beneficial. Breeders learned that by mating related individuals of the desired type, the resulting quality and uniformity of the offspring improved As people began to learn basic genetics in the early part of this century, they deliberately sought to fix desired traits, particularly in production livestock, by breeding near relatives. This practice continues to the present day. A sire will be "progeny-tested" by being bred to a group of his daughters. If the offspring measure up, he will be kept for stud. If they dont, everybody goes to market. This drastic culling serves its purpose in livestock, but it is impractical and unacceptable in companion animals such as dogs.
Nature goes to great lengths to discourage inbreeding. Related animals rarely mate, which prevents genes for diseases and defects from coming together with any great frequency. Wild animals have a variety of behaviors which will eliminate or severely restrict inbreeding. In wolves, the species most closely related to dogs, only the alpha pair will breed. Pups stay with the pack for their first year. After that time they must find a place, often low-ranking, within the adult hierarchy. If a yearling cannot accept this or it becomes the brunt of too much negative social interaction, it will disperse. Dispersers may have to travel many miles before they can find an available territory and a mate, if they can find them at all. Those individuals which do not disperse will not be breeders unless they should someday attain alpha status, so the breeding of relatives is unlikely.
Sometimes circumstances give animals no choice but to mate with relatives. If those conditions persist for any length of time they create a "genetic bottleneck." The wolves of Isle Royale in Lake Michigan descend from a very small number of animals which crossed from the mainland decades ago during a hard winter when the lake froze over. Their present-day descendants have proved more than usually vulnerable to an assortment of diseases and parasites. When canine parvovirus reached Isle Royale, the wolf population plummeted so badly that some observers at the time feared the wolves would die out entirely.
In recent years, purebred dogs have experienced increasing problems with hereditary diseases and defects. The causes are complex, including genetic load, the presence of lethal equivalents in all individuals, genetic bottlenecks, closed gene pools, gene pool fragmentation, and genetic drift, but all are attributable to inbreeding.
Thanks to closed registries, breeds form exclusive gene pools. All gene pools, no matter how large or diverse, will have a genetic load the difference between the fittest possible genotype and the average fitness of the population. "Fitness" is the individuals over-all health, vigor and ability. It may or may not directly relate to traits breeders select for. (The English Bulldog, for instance, has an "ideal" physical form which virtually precludes females from being able to naturally whelp their young.) The greater the genetic load, the more genetic difficulties members of a breed are likely to suffer. In a closed gene pool, the situation may remain stable or deteriorate. It cannot get better.
Each individual within a breed also carries its own kind of load four or five genes for potentially fatal diseases or defects. These are called "lethal equivalents." In most cases they will not affect the individual carrying them because a single allele, or form of the gene, will be insufficient to cause the problem. But when relatives are mated, the odds of matching up those alleles increases and as does the frequency the disease.
Every population must deal with genetic load and lethal equivalents, but when the population is prevented having genetic exchange with other similar populations, genetic diversity within the population begins to diminish. Some of this may be beyond anyones control. A breeds function may have become obsolete, resulting in only a few surviving members. This was the case with the Portuguese Water Dog. All present-day PWDs descend from a handful of dogs. Social, political or environmental difficulties may also preclude breeding, causing populations to crash. Many breeds experienced a genetic bottleneck at the time of World War II. With much of the world at war, dog breeding was not a high priority and populations in areas of military action were often wiped out or severely depleted. In such a situation, breeders can only make do with what remains. Its a tough row to hoe for the truly rare breeds, especially since the prevailing attitude that breeds must be kept "pure" prevents supplementing with fresh genetic material from similar, less impacted, populations.
Breed gene pools can fragmented into so many gene puddles when they are arbitrarily split along size, color or coat-type lines, with dogs of one color or variety prohibited from mating with those of another. No matter how diverse a breed may have been before such distinctions were made, afterwards breeders have fewer options when choosing mates and the eventual result will be increased inbreeding because there isnt anywhere else to go. One striking example of this is the Belgian Sheepdog in the United States. Outside the US this breed contains four varieties, all of which might occur in a single litter. The American Kennel Club lists three of varieties as entirely separate breeds. The fourth isnt even recognized. In the US they cannot be interbred though throughout the rest of the world, they can.
Changes in social conditions may also fragment breed gene pools. The Australian Shepherd was originally a working ranch and farm dog. Today there are far more Aussies than there are "jobs" on farms and ranches; so most are companion animals. Over the past three decades, the breed has clearly split between working and conformation strains with a third, smaller, category of "versatility" animals whose breeders work toward a multi-purpose animal .There is also a population of "mini" Aussiesdogs whose size is below the breed norm. They are often registered as Australian Shepherds along with listing in a registry for minis. There is very little breeding between these various sub-groups though all trace back to more-or-less overlapping sets of founder animals.
One of the results of gene pool fragmentation is loss of alleles that may exist in the breed but didnt happen to occur in the founders for that variety. Genetic drift can cause further loss. Genes not being specifically selected for tend to "drift" out of the gene pool. Many of these will be for things so subtle they might never come to a breeders direct attention. A dog has some 100,000 genes, only a relative few of which are for things we can readily observe or measure. Many of these genes cause minor variations in form or bodily function. Cumulative losses of such genes through genetic drift can reduce overall health and fitness without presenting consistent or identifiable signs; a dog may seem to be a poor keeper, unusually subject to minor ailments, or lacking in endurance. Even "typical" breed behaviors, such as herding ability, can be diminished in this manner, if breeders are not using the behavior as part of their selection criteria.
The use of popular sires, particularly multiple generations of them, can accelerate loss of alleles. A dog can only have a maximum of two alleles for any given gene. Excessive use of a single individual will skew the gene pool toward the alleles that dog happened to carry. Obviously, such a dog gets heavy use because he has desirable traits. Genes for those traits will become more common, but so will those for his lethal equivalents and more subtle ills. And if a deleterious gene is "linked" (sits close on the chromosome) to a desired gene the sire carries, the breed may suddenly find itself riddled with the problem that bad gene causes. It wont be easy to eliminate unless breeders are also willing to give up the linked desired trait.
Proponents of inbreeding often point out that mongrels have more genetic problems than purebreds. While it is true that mongrels, as a group, have more individual kinds of diseases and defects than any single pure breed, it must be remembered that each breed represents only a portion of the canine gene pool, whereas mongrels encompass all of it. If mongrels defects are compared to those found among all pure breeds, the discrepancy disappears. Since mongrels usually are the result of random, unplanned breeding, the incidence of defects is low in the overall population. In pure breeds many of those same defects are common. For instance, progressive retinal atrophy and collie eye anomaly are rare in mongrels. Incidence of both is high in Collies.
It is becoming more and more apparent that the short-term gains of inbreeding are outweighed by its long-term costs. Present-day breeders need to re-think their strategy. Assortative matingthe mating of phenotypically similar but unrelated or less-related individualswill allow breeders to reach their breeding goals while reducing the loss of alleles in the over-all population. To accomplish this it is vital that each breeder has a thorough knowledge of breed pedigrees. The typical three to five generation pedigree may indicate few, if any, common ancestors. But what happens if the pedigree is extended a few more generations? If two dogs share no ancestors for four generations, but share many in the 5th, 6th and so on, breeding them would be inbreeding.
All members of a single breed are, of course, related to some degree, though how much varies from breed to breed. Somewhere back in each breeds history there is a group of founders from whom all present-day dogs descend. Portuguese Water Dogs have very few, Australian Shepherds have quite a number, though not every Aussie goes back to all of them. It is important to know who the founder individuals were, particularly if the breed is rare, split into varieties or experienced a significant bottleneck at some point in its history. A large number of founders allows for greater diversity (assuming those founders were, themselves, unrelated), but if some are heavily represented in comparison to others due to inbreeding on their descendents, diversity is at risk. Breeders should strive to increase the representation of the neglected founders whenever possible.
Calculation of inbreeding coefficients will give an indication of how inbred a dog or a prospective cross is. Knowing these numbers enables the breeder to make choices that will reduce inbreeding. Good books on animal breeding will have a section explaining how this is done, but calculating them by hand becomes cumbersome when working with a full pedigree. There are pedigree programs on the market which will perform these calculations.
Perhaps the most important issue is making health a top priority. It is obvious even to those who promote inbreeding that screening for genetic diseases and not breeding affected individuals is important. As tests become available which will detect carriers of genetic problems, they should be put to use. However, carrier status should not automatically preclude breeding of otherwise good individuals. Care should be taken that they arent bred to other carriers and those who buy puppies from a carrier parent should be advised to screen the pup if they want to breed it. But eliminating proven carriers as breeding stock is throwing our their many good genes while avoiding one bad one.
Australian Shepherd breeders are doing this with Pelger-Huet Anomaly. PHA is lethal to offspring that inherit two copies of the gene, resulting in reduced litter size and neonatal deaths. Carriers rarely suffer any effects. Knowledgeable breeders use a blood test to screen and carriers are bred to non-carriers. Less specific aspects of health must also be considered. A dog that is a "hard keeper, or repeatedly comes down with one minor ill or another should not be a breeding prospect. These individuals likely carry a surplus of genes which individually have only a small negative effect on health but cumulatively have produced an unthrifty individual.
A common result of inbreeding is "inbreeding depression," typified by small litter size or difficulty producing or rearing young. Bitches from families that consistently produce small litters may be suffering inbreeding depression. Animals which can only be bred or raise their puppies if they receive extraordinary human assistance are poor breeding candidates. This is not to say that people shouldnt properly house and care for their animals, but if a dog is indifferent to bitches in standing heat or a bitch needs to be physically restrained to keep her from resorting to fight or flight in an attempt to prevent mating, or wont settle without veterinary intervention, or is apt to kill or damage her puppies through intent or neglect, these are signs of inbreeding depression and that animal shouldnt be bred. Breeders should not go to excessive, near surgical, lengths to control the environment for newborns, nor should they use heroic measures to keep failing whelps alive. (For those who find this too callous: Save them if you will, but dont breed them.)
Inbreeding gave us the many breeds of dog we enjoy today, but its time is past. If purebred dogs are to remain viable into the next century breeders need to rethink their strategy and work toward their goals with more emphasis on over-all health and concerted efforts to reduce the level of inbreeding in their dogs.
When it works its called line-breeding - when it doesn't work its called in-breeding, it doesn't work any better in dogs than it does in humans although sadly it is VERY commonly done!!! I will NOT line/in-breed my dogs, never have and never will, you sure won't see it in nature and for a very good reason!!!
NEWSLETTER # 34
THIS IS OUR LAST ISSUE OF 2009.
We wish you a safe and Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year.
This FREE newsletter and website was developed for breeders interested in continuing their education.
The following information is intended to raise awareness levels, not to prescribe treatment or offer self diagnosis. Responsible breeders should be alert to the potential for health problems and try to eliminate them using pedigree analysis and the careful selection of breeding partners.
A common mistake made by breeders is to not select against the carriers because a sire or dam has not yet produced an affected pup. Some breeders simply get rid of good quality dogs instead of learning how to manage the carriers out of their pedigrees.
risk in a breeding is accomplished through pedigree analysis. Two
methods have been identified as a way to evaluate the pedigrees of the
breeding stock. The first method is called depth of pedigree.
It is a vertical look at the ancestors. Depth of pedigree means the
ancestors in the first three generations will be studied. The second is
called breadth of pedigree.
It is a horizontal look at the ancestors. It means to study the
littermates of the ancestors. In solving problems that involve
polygenetic disorders such as hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease
and the undershot jaw, the best approach is to use breadth and depth of
pedigree. A dog that comes from a litter where only one or none of its
littermates had the disorder would be expected to carry a lower risk
than another that had several littermates that were affected.
Information about the siblings of the parents of potential breeding
dogs provides additional data on which to base breeding decisions.
Sires and dams whose littermates are free of a disease are better
breeding candidates than those with affected littermates.
This year (2009) marks the 50th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Cricks discovery of the structure of DNA. This discovery was critical in deepening our understanding of the biological function of this important molecule that eventually led to the widespread use of DNA applications. Today, DNA testing is used routinely as part of the American Kennel Clubs identification and parentage verification. The AKC DNA database is the largest of its kind in the world, containing over 250,000 DNA tested dogs.
New Changes to DNA Testing
AKC now uses 14 genetic markers instead of 10 in their DNA parentage identification program. The first thirteen markers are used for the parentage test; the 14th marker is used to identify the gender. These changes were made to increase the informativeness of the DNA test and to enhance quality control. The gender identification marker is an important step in quality control in canine genotyping.
DNA and Dual Sired Litters
Historically AKC excluded dogs and litters from their stud book because of impure breeding. In May of 2000, the AKC extended the use of DNA to include dogs into the studbook if their parentage could be proven. The use of DNA for inclusion allows breeders to register multiple-sired litters. This policy (September of 2000) allows one bitch to be bred to more than one male. In order to register the litter, each pup in the litter, along with each stud dog and the dam, must be DNA tested. If the parentage of the pups is proven using DNA, the AKC registers the litter. Since the inception of the dual sired litter program, approximately 350 litters have been dual sired and registered.
Canine Gestation Calendar
Zero to One
ˇ Breeding takes place by way of artificial insemination (AI).
ˇ Within a few days, the sperm reaches the eggs and fertilization occurs.
ˇ The fertilized eggs make their way to the uterus for implantation.
ˇ You may notice behavioral changes in your dog. She may become moody or more affectionate.
ˇ Implantation has taken place and the embryos begin to develop.
ˇ Your dog may begin to display mood swings, appetite changes and breast tissue development as well as turning more pink in color.
ˇ Fetuses can be felt in the uterine horns around day 28, and can also be seen by ultrasound.
ˇ The spinal cords are developing, and the fetuses are beginning to grow facial features.
ˇ Your bitch's uterus will shortly fill with fluids to protect the fetuses. After this, it will be weeks until the puppies can be felt again.
ˇ Your dog's appetite will likely increase, so offer her more of her food.
ˇ The fetuses develop their sex organs and begin to look like actual puppies. The leg buds lengthen and develop toes.
ˇ Your dog's belly will begin to look noticeably swollen as the pups take up more space.
ˇ With less room for full meals, it's time to begin serving smaller meals more frequently.
ˇ Pups continue to grow and pigmentation develops. The eyes now have lids and remain sealed until approximately ten days after birth.
ˇ Your dog is noticeably more uncomfortable at this point. She may vomit occasionally due to the extra pressure against her stomach.
ˇ You may also notice clear fluid discharge from her vulva. This is normal.
ˇ Puppies are well-developed, and now begin attaining size in preparation for birth.
ˇ You may be able to see/feel the puppies' movements in your bitch's abdomen.
ˇ Her breasts are well developed and probably contain a bit of colostrum or "first milk".
ˇ Your dog is noticeably tired and may begin search for a place to whelp. Time to set up a whelping box.
ˇ The pups have fur and are now crowded in the uterus. You may notice a lot of activity as they get into position for the coming birth.
ˇ Your bitch may begin digging the bedding in the whelping box. This is natural "nesting" behavior.
ˇ Allow your bitch to feed freely as she is able.
Eight to Nine
ˇ The pups are ready for birth, and may be quite still as they rest in preparation for the marathon to come.
ˇ Your dog may appear uncomfortable and restless or anxious.
ˇ Time to begin taking rectal temperature readings 12 hours apart. Normal temperature is 100 to 101 F; a drop down near 97 F held for two consecutive readings indicates labor will begin within 24 hours.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 21, 2010) Domestic dogs have followed their own evolutionary path, twisting Darwin's directive 'survival of the fittest' to their own needs -- and have proved him right in the process, according to a new study by biologists Chris Klingenberg, of The University of Manchester and Abby Drake, of the College of the Holy Cross in the US.
The study, published in The American Naturalist on January 20, 2010, compared the skull shapes of domestic dogs with those of different species across the order Carnivora, to which dogs belong along with cats, bears, weasels, civets and even seals and walruses.
It found that the skull shapes of domestic dogs varied as much as those of the whole order. It also showed that the extremes of diversity were farther apart in domestic dogs than in the rest of the order. This means, for instance, that a Collie has a skull shape that is more different from that of a Pekingese than the skull shape of the cat is from that of a walrus.
Dr Drake explains: "We usually think of evolution as a slow and gradual process, but the incredible amount of diversity in domestic dogs has originated through selective breeding in just the last few hundred years, and particularly after the modern purebred dog breeds were established in the last 150 years."
By contrast, the order Carnivora dates back at least 60 million years. The massive diversity in the shapes of the dogs' skulls emphatically proves that selection has a powerful role to play in evolution and the level of diversity that separates species and even families can be generated within a single species, in this case in dogs.
Much of the diversity of domestic dog skulls is outside the range of variation in the Carnivora, and thus represents skull shapes that are entirely novel.
Dr Klingenberg adds: "Domestic dogs are boldly going where no self respecting carnivore ever has gone before.
"Domestic dogs don't live in the wild so they don't have to run after things and kill them -- their food comes out of a tin and the toughest thing they'll ever have to chew is their owner's slippers. So they can get away with a lot of variation that would affect functions such as breathing and chewing and would therefore lead to their extinction.
"Natural selection has been relaxed and replaced with artificial selection for various shapes that breeders favour."
Domestic dogs are a model species for studying longer term natural selection. Darwin studied them, as well as pigeons and other domesticated species.
Drake and Klingenberg compared the amazing amount of diversity in dogs to the entire order Carnivora. They measured the positions of 50 recognizable points on the skulls of dogs and their 'cousins' from the rest of the order Carnivora, and analyzed shape variation with newly developed methods.
The team divided the dog breeds into categories according to function, such as hunting, herding, guarding and companion dogs. They found the companion (or pet) dogs were more variable than all the other categories put together.
According to Drake, "Dogs are bred for their looks not for doing a job so there is more scope for outlandish variations, which are then able to survive and reproduce."
Dr Klingenberg concludes: "I think this example of head shape is characteristic of many others and is showing it so clearly, showing what happens when you consistently and over time apply selection.
"This study illustrates the power of Darwinian selection with so much variation produced in such a short period of time. The evidence is very strong."
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