Can AKC protect canine genetics and health?




Barbara J. Andrews, TheJudgesPlace.com Publisher and SAAB Member


If Parent Breed Club standards fail to disqualify risky physical features, fad colors or markings, what can AKC do to protect canine genetics and health?


TheJudgesPlace.com received an email from a second generation AKC judge who suggested we might want to “take a look at” this problem: “Although a few non-standard dogs such as black or black & tan Bulldogs existed in the past, Bulldoggers recognized that these were undesirable and they were not common nor purposefully bred.” He also referred us to this “The internet has changed dog breeding in many ways. “Designer Dogs” showed how profitable breeding non-standard dogs could be if marketed well. The same is true with “designer” colors. These non-standard color breeders know well how to use social media and they have built a large market for their dogs.” ~ motherlodebulldogclub.com/whychangethestandard {Ref #1}


Intrigued, our media girl did a cursory search and found these disturbing snippets: “The registry of the American Kennel Club is based on parentage and not the coat color of a member of any breed…” And “In 1987 the AKC, in corporation with the Labrador Retriever Club of America, conducted an inquiry into the breeding of litters that contained members that were registered as silver. An AKC representative was sent to observe these dogs... Since the breed standard at the time described chocolate as ranging in shade form sedge to chocolate, it was felt that the dogs could more accurately be described as chocolate rather than silver. This remains the current policy of the American Kennel Club.” ~ Jack Norton, AKC Director Of Compliance, excerpt from www.labbies.com/silver.htm {Ref #2}


And then there’s this “No responsible breeder would breed against their breed standard. FBDCA is bringing up the issue of fad colors in order to: ... breeders should only breed dogs conforming to his or her country's parent club French Bulldog Breed Standard.” frenchbulldogclub.org/nofadcolors {Ref #3}


Do unusual or bad fad colors harm the breed or the individual dog? The answer depends on the breed. For instance the Merle gene often identified with blue or odd-colored eyes displays as an unusual “mottled” coat color pattern which can affect skin pigment as well. It is acceptable in some AKC Breed Standards however “The merle gene is known to cause a number of health problems, mostly deafness and blindness, and also sun sensitivity and skin cancer.” ~ doggenetics.co.uk/merle {Ref #4}


Some AKC breed standards mention color or genetic health as problems to be noted in one’s breeding program. For example, the Miniature Bull Terrier may have primary lens luxation (PLL) which is an eye problem caused by preference for an unnaturally small eye and exaggerated head type. Many terrier breeds are affected by eye problems believed to be linked to the small and/or deep-set eye preferred in breeds used in pit fighting or varmint eradication, both tasks being risky for dogs with big, vulnerable eyes. ~ www.thedogplace.org/BREEDS/Miniature-Bull-Terrier/Health.asp {Ref #5}


Several breeds are genetically prone to heart problems such as aortic stenosis which is a narrowing of the heart valve causing increasing discomfort and can lead to untimely death. “The dog breeds most commonly affected by aortic stenosis include the Newfoundland, Boxer Dog, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, and Dogue de Bordeaux. Newfoundland, Boxer Dog, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, and Dogue de Bordeaux.” ~ vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/aortic-stenosis-in-dogs {Ref #6}


What about your breed? Does your Parent Breed Club list genetic health problems potential owners or breeders should know about? Isn’t (or shouldn’t) that be a primary duty of any breed club? Informing breeders and prospective owners of the virtues and any notable genetic problems is critical to “advancing and protecting” every purebred dog breed.


Here is AKC’s A to Z by breed Health Testing Requirements {Ref #7} and the world’s first (and only) clickable list of AKC, UKC and Rare Breeds {Ref #8}. The second list provides size, coat type, physical description and purpose, and if AKC recognized, the AKC Group to which the breed is assigned.


If you are the owner of an AKC Champion the ii NetPlaces Network invites you to submit a photo of your Champion Dog and include the following: Your name and contact information, the Dog’s registered name and breed, and a short summary about the dog which can include other titles, accomplishments, sire and dam, and/or breeder.


Reference and Related article information: {1} motherlodebulldogclub.com  ~  {2} labbies.com  ~  {3} frenchbulldogclub.org


{4} doggenetics.co.uk  ~  {5} Miniature-Bull-Terrier/Health  ~  {6} vcahospitals.com-aortic-stenosis


{7} AKC Health Testing Requirements  ~  {8} AKC, UKC and Rare Breeds  ~  Dog Breed Exaggeration  ~  Breed Information Needed

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