By Carol Beuchat PhD
After months of tireless negotiations, a group that includes representatives from dozens of kennel clubs all over the world, together with an expert panel of molecular, clinical, quantitative, and population geneticists, has agreed on a plan that will end the practice of the closed stud book, so that breeders can maintain the quality and health of purebred dogs with the introduction of new genes as they see fit. Registration procedures and issuance of pedigrees will remain unchanged with the exception that F1 and F2 offspring from all kennel clubs will be identified by a universal code appended to their registration number; special designation will not be necessary beyond the second generation. The F2 dogs will be able to compete and will be judged on their merits in all official kennel club events. In addition, a second code will be appended to all registration numbers that indicates the degree of inbreeding of the dog (calculated to 20 generations or as many as possible) by categories: A = 0-7%, B = 8-13%, C = 14-25%, D = 26-35%, F = 36-45%, and * = > 46%. These designations will allow breeders and pet buyers alike to judge the level of heterozygosity of the animal (including the immune system) as well as the potential risk of genetic disorders caused by recessive mutations.
These reforms will allow breeders to take appropriate steps to restore the genetic health of their breeds without the penalty of many generations of ineligibility for official kennel club events. It is expected that reducing the burden of genetic disorders in purebred dogs by allowing breeding strategies that have been standard practice for decades in the breeding of other domestic species will go far towards improving the image of the purebred dog in the eyes of the public, with the added benefit of alleviating the high cost of veterinary care that often falls on the owner of a beloved pet with an inherited disorder. Both breeders and kennel clubs are expected to benefit from renewed interest in purebred dogs by those who want to add a dog to their household that can be expected to live a long, happy, and healthy life. The group crafting the plan anticipates that this simple but long-overdue change will be a win for the kennel clubs, a win for the breeders, a win for the purebred dog owner, and certainly a win for purebred dogs.
May they live long and prosper.