Cross-Breed to Avoid Inbreeding
For all the lovers of ‘pure-bred’ dogs, I wanted to make sure that you haven’t missed the recent and controversial piece in the NY Times about breeding to standards. The author, James Serpell, suggests that cross-breeding is one solution to some of the health problems that are caused by selective breeding. Below is a snippet from the piece (italics are mine). You can read the entire article here:
First, in order to produce dogs that met the standard, breeders employed breeding practices that inevitably resulted in inbreeding. Not only were the original gene pools of many breeds very small to begin with, but breeders have also accentuated the problem by selectively breeding from relatively small numbers of “champion sires” and/or by mating together closely related individuals.
Nowadays, many breeds are highly inbred and express an extraordinary variety of genetic defects as a consequence: defects ranging from anatomical problems, like hip dysplasia, that cause chronic suffering, to impaired immune function and loss of resistance to fatal diseases like cancer. The only sensible way out of this genetic dead-end is through selective out-crossing with dogs from other breeds, but this is considered anathema by most breeders since it would inevitably affect the genetic “purity” of their breeds.
Near the end of the piece, the Author actually appears to lay the blame on the standards that are used to determine the ‘optimal’ dog for a given breed.
What do you think? Have you experienced health problems with your pure-bred dog? Do you think the solution is cross breeding? Let us know!