|Baby Jenny (Miranda) in 2008|
There are other places on the web where you can read more about the conference (Google Purebred Paradox and Pedigree Dogs Exposed) but I will say I came away from it awfully glad that whippets are my breed of choice (they are mostly healthy) and that Walt and I made the leap to outcrossing as opposed to linebreeding years ago.Linebreeding is the practice of breeding fairly close relatives to "set" the good genes. Trouble is, it often also "sets" the bad genes.
|Abita (Rosalind) in 2008|
Another suggestion from the conference was not to use "popular sires," which are the top-winning dogs that "everyone" is breeding to. That's because if it is later determined that that dog is carrying a genetic disease, there will be nowhere to go to breed away from it if he is in all the pedigrees. That has already happened in whippets, with the mitral valve disease problem. Though I would be hesitant to blame one dog, it's true that nearly every dog with MVD traces his lineage back to the same bloodline.
|Bacchus (Falstaff) in 2008|
The AKC Canine Health Foundation and the parent clubs are working on these problems, or at least the health-related ones. I don't know whether there is a discussion to stop the German shepherd from moving like a Tennessee Walking Horse, but I hope there is.
The Whippet Health Foundation is conducting a years-long study of mitral valve disease in whippets. Whenever you feel inclined to give, consider donating to them.
Lots to think about!