Home Page Forums Darwin’s Ark mutts vs pure breeds

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    dawn miller

    I wonder if in time the data here will show if mixed breeds are indeed healthier than pure breeds, in general. I know some breeds have some serious health issues. In many places, though, we have taken Natural selection out of the process, saving both the strong and weak dogs, and neutering not only the weak dogs but the strong, not allowing genes tending to build healthier dogs, to continue on.
    So over all, are Ooops pups going to be healthier than those who’s parents were carefully chosen.


    It depends. Responsible breeders breed healthy dogs. Today we know about and can test for genetic diseases and breed away from them. My labrador is a carrier for EIC (exercise induced collapse.) Her sire had many desirable traits for field champion caliber labs. He was bred to an EIC clear female. So none of the pups will exhibit the condition. However, since we know my dog has the single gene for the recessive disease… we spayed her. We just want her for her superb retrieving traits.

    All things being equal, a well bred pure bred should be healthier than a mutt of unknown heritage.

    I will add, however, that there is no way to breed some dogs and end up with healthy off-spring. In particular, I refer to the dogs (bull dogs, pugs, etc.) with the mushed in faces where their ability to cool themselves is impaired.


    dawn miller

    thanks Jeannette.

    Your response is my train of thought as well. I think some breeds are beyond repair when it comes to health, unless fresh genes are allowed to mix into the stock. Bully type dogs and some toy dogs come to mind. I have German Shepherd Dogs and some breeders can be quite passionate about choosing the healthiest lines they can. Even still, there are traits that seem more prone to German Shepherds and I am not sure we can blame all of that on “backyard breeders” and “oops litters”.

    But I think we romanticize the mutt, thinking random mixing is better. I had one mix that I like to think that if she were allowed to breed would have added to the dog world. Another, although I loved her, had some traits that I would not have wanted passed on (although it might have been more of a nurture than nature issue). Without natural selection weeding out the weaker traits, I don’t see how random mixing of genes will make healthier and smarter dogs.

    But I could be wrong. I hope this is one thing this study might shed some light on.


    I think the health of bull dogs and pugs could be improved if they were not breeding them just for that look. I read that in UK they are breeding bull dogs back to how they used to look rather than the cute caricatures they are now in the US. AKC is also at fault for making the standard basically an unhealthy dog, It is sad.


    dawn miller

    I have read that the UKC is making some changes in the judging of German Shepherd Dog as well. I am glad to see the organization is taking another look at their program. I know a gentleman who breeds bulldogs her in the U.S. His dogs are short and round but are also healthy and can take a deep breath. He seems to be one of the folks trying to do his part getting the breed healthier.

    I think part of the pure breed problem is that many of these breeds don’t have to do the work they were designed for so people look more for “form than function”. it is sad


    brittney logan

    Here is a great article pertaining to the bulldog breed and how it could be changed for the better. This article was shared with me by Jessica Hekman, a wonderful and insightful collaborator who has been helping the Darwin’s Dogs project. I hope you all find this article interesting!

    These comments on this forum are great, and I think all of you are on the right track! I certainly agree that they need to stop breeding some dogs for certain looks, and now need to focus on overall health and quality of life.


    kate battista

    Great thread. There are some breeds that I think would benefit from some carefully, intelligently handled crossbreeding. It’s not unheard of…many of the breeds we have today orginally came from a combo of other breeds that were put together to acheive an ideal hunting/herding/retrieving/etc dog. And other breeds, when faced, with extinction had similar breeds mixed in to keep them going.

    PS – Car2ner, I think we’re members of the same GSD forum. 🙂


    dawn miller

    (Wave) HI Kate. would that be the or one of the FB ones?

    I chuckled when I found out that the Doberman has such a mix of dogs in it’s background, including GSD. I belong to a club where the Doberman folks and the GSD folk have a friendly competition.


    dawn miller

    thanks Brittany. that was a long article but interesting.

    I truly don’t understand the desire to have a dog that cannot live as a dog should.


    jesse mcclure

    In response to the original question, there is a good argument to be made that carefully chosing parents within a breed may be able to do better at avoiding disease risk variants than random “oops” pups as in both cases natural selection has effectively been removed. But the important difference between purebreds and mixed breeds is lack of genetic diversity in most pure breeds.

    Note that a large portion of genetic variants that may predispose a dog to disease are recessive: a dog can carry one copy of the variant and not be impacted – or at least not impacted nearly as much as a dog with two copies (one from mom, one from dad). The odds of a mixed breed dog having both parents be carriers of the *same* harmful variant and getting the harmful variant from each parent is exceedingly small. Within a breed, in contrast, there is much less genetic diversity, so if a potentially harmful variant exists, it exists in a lot of the dogs in that breed. So the odds of both parents each being a carier of such a variant is much higher.

    Breed clubs can make good choices on which dogs should be used for further breed and which may not be suitable. But even under the best of circumstances, this leads to a diminishing gene pool, so eventually even if only the best possible pairings are being bred, there are simply so few possible pairings to chose from that “the best” may not be as good as we’d want it to be.


    dawn miller

    good points Jesse,

    Especially when a breed has some super star studs that produce many litters over their lifetime.

    What do you think about the fact that we have most removed natural selection from dogs? In more developed countries there is very little survival of the species.


    jesse mcclure

    The *species* is fine. Our current breeds are where the question lies.

    Most people have heard of village dogs: those free living domesticated dogs around the world. What many of us in developed nations don’t realize is that these village dogs greatly out number our pet dogs … greatly. If breeds can be maintained, wonderful. If they can’t, it will not faze the species: even in the worst case breed-doomsday scenarios, the rise and fall of “breeds” could end up being just tiny blip in the history of the domestic dog that would leave little to no effect on the species as a whole.

    I am in no position to speculate on the future of German Shepherd Dogs, or Irish Wolfhounds, or … But *dogs* have a pretty secure future. I hope for the best for the breeds, but the future of domestic dogs doesn’t rely on any particular outcome for any particular breeds.


    dawn miller

    thanks Jesse. I guess I am guilty of thinking too much with my culture’s rules and forgetting the rest of the world is different. It would be sad to think of such a variety of dogs being a “blip” but in fact, that may very well be true.


    rachel long

    The idea of mutts not being able to develop stronger and smarter dogs over time with the lack of natural selection is a very good point in my opinion. I do think there might be some influence of friendliness increasing in mutts, as only the most loving dogs find homes and are more likely to live to produce puppies. In today’s society, it seems the degree of friendliness could play in a role in survival (though so often that is still not good enough).
    I think it is kind of interesting and sad to think that while hybrid vigor will definitely still play a role in creating awesome mutts, human interaction will still lead to dogs with undesirable traits, purebred or mixed, producing offspring with issues that could lower their quality of life.


    dawn miller

    look what I found, this is interesting: Not that I want to see our towns and suburbs full of Village dogs.

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