A Deep Dive into Genetics, Diversity, and Responsible Breeding

Recent OpEd articles in prominent publications, while well-intentioned, have overlooked key facts about genetics, diversity, and proper breeding protocols. Nevertheless, we’re thrilled to see such an interest and concern for responsible breeding and dog health! It’s crucial to clarify that the coefficient of inbreeding (COI) is not synonymous with the coefficient of relation (COR). Unfortunately, it seems the authors of these articles lack understanding in dogs, genetics, and breeding statistics. (Read more on this subject HERE.)

It’s essential to differentiate genetic similarity from being “inbred.” Drawing parallels between dogs with genetic similarities and inbreeding to humans in the same communities is misguided. Just as humans in a geographic location share commonalities without being considered inbred, dogs can have genetic similarities without being inbred. Interestingly, dogs as a species boast more genetic diversity than humans. (Read more on the evolution of dog breeds HERE.)

Genetic diversity doesn’t directly equate to fitness, extinction risk, or population health in domestic animal populations. Selective breeding has played a crucial role in eliminating harmful genetic conditions, resulting in more consistent and predictable animals. However, low genetic diversity, especially in populations not subject to artificial selective pressures, can pose an extinction threat. This phenomenon, known as genetic bottlenecking, underscores the importance of outcrossing to reintroduce healthy variations and address health conditions caused by allele deficiencies.

While the concepts of genetic diversity and population health are complex, studies have dispelled the myth that purebred dogs are inherently more prone to health problems. A survey at Texas A&M of over 27,000 dogs found that the most common reasons for vet visits are largely unrelated to breed. (Read the full article of findings HERE)

In essence, understanding genetics and breeding strategies is multifaceted and requires careful consideration. Rather than focusing solely on genetic diversity, the emphasis should also be on health screenings and other factors crucial for species survival. It’s vital to approach these discussions with a comprehensive understanding of genetics and its implications in breeding and conservation efforts.