I read an interesting article this morning. Are breeders blind? Or are we operating under a misconception? The article concludes that the majority of dogs are not normal.
"According to Padgett (1991), most breeders continue to believe that the dogs they own are genetically normal."
Well, gee, I thought they were.
Padgett also reported that "the average number of defects in most breeds may be fourteen." Some breeds could have as many as 58 defects.
Well, not MY breed.
When the Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) test came out, I tested my Labs and was blindsided to learn that one was a carrier.
OMG! My dog is defective! I had no idea that one of my dogs harbored that dreaded disease.
My reaction seems to be typical of many breeders. Not only do we believe most dogs are genetically normal, but that having a dog with a defective gene was so out of the ordinary that it should be kept a secret. If we talk about having a defective gene some people might feel our dogs are "less than average or perhaps abnormal." So we bury our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away.
If we can change our way of thinking - that most dogs are not genetically normal - then it won't come as such a surprise to get results showing defective genes. If it's not such a surprise, then maybe we'll be more willing to share the results thus making it easier to eradicate that gene.
My dog carries one copy of the EIC gene. Dogs with two copies of the gene may collapse under some circumstances. She was fine, but I had to be careful to only breed her to a male who was clear of the gene.
Whew! That doesn't sound so bad.
So we test before deciding to breed and choose mates wisely.
To learn more, see:
Breed dilemmas and extinction by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia in The Labrador Quarterly, Winter 2010-11, discussing Padgett, George, "Genetics I Introduction," 1991 Beagle Review, Darcroft Publishing, Wilmington, VT, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1991, pg. 14-16.