Dog Breeding – A Different Point of View

With so many dogs needing rescue, and many of them of mixed breed, some people are asking why dog breeding is even necessary? Shouldn’t we all be focused on getting dogs out of shelters and into loving homes and just stop dog breeding altogether?

As a dog lover, that’s certainly a fair question. 
So here at the Woof Post, we went looking for answers. That’s when we came across the work of Dr. Carol Beuchat, a vertebrate biologist who is particularly interested in the biology of dogs. Dr. Beuchat is the director of the Institute for Canine Biology and is a passionate defender for the preservation of individual dog breeds.  

Dr. Beuchat wants to preserve dog breeds, not for their perfection and purity, but for the deep well of genetic diversity they represent. She argues that scientists like herself, together with knowledgeable and dedicated breeders, should be working toward what she calls breed preservation. She also argues that breeders who aim for spectacular, show quality dogs, are understandably reluctant to use dogs with more genetic diversity in their breeding programs. 

But these same breeders, who love and revere their specific dog breeds, are unwittingly contributing to the loss of genetic diversity. And if something happens to put that breed in danger of extinction, it makes the restoration of that breed very, very difficult if not impossible without crossing to another breed entirely.

Dr. Beuchat makes a compelling argument that we shouldn’t be just working to preserve the animals, but also their gene pools, which are an invaluable natural resource. She points out there are programs dedicated to the preservation for nearly every species of domestic animal…including cattle, sheep, horses, chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, pigs, partridge, ostrich, llama, deer, rabbits, and even buffalo, but not dogs!

Dr. Beuchat calls for breeders to take the long view when it comes to designing their breeding programs, and she sums it up quite bluntly when she says this effort “…will require educating breeders and finding appropriate rewards for good genetic management instead of ribbons for success in the ring.”

You can read Dr. Beuchat’s entire article on preservation breeding by going to the Institute for Canine Biology

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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