Sustainable breeding policy

What is meant by a sustainable breeding policy?

Sustainable breeding means taking into account today’s needs without compromising future generations. In other words: we aim at breeding a healthy, beautiful pedigree dog with a balanced temperament, eventually coupled with good working skills, not losing sight of the population’s future. Our children and grandchildren must be able to further enjoy pedigree dogs.

Sustainable breeding does not equal panicking by introducing measures to solve the problem in the short term, when not realising that the problem will only be reinforced and even moved towards the future. Panic and a short-term, short-sighted policy will only backfire in the end.

In order to plan a sustainable breeding policy and guarantee a healthy future for the population, we need to step out of the walls of individual breeding.

A sustainable breeding policy rests on five important pillars, namely maintaining and enlarging the genetic diversity of a population, limiting inbreeding, repressing hereditary afflictions within a population, taking enough time and completely trusting breeding experts. Those five pillars are inextricably bound up with one another.

Furthermore, we cannot lose sight of factors such as improving the functional exterior by subtly yet meticulously modifying standards and stabilizing the socially acceptable behaviour.

How to establish a sustainable breeding policy?

In order to establish a sustainable breeding policy, adequately educated people are needed in the first place. For instance: veterinary geneticists and population geneticists.

Even well-educated judges play an important part in the entire process. In the end, the breeders will have to take additional courses and society will have to change its way of thinking.

The fixed pattern which now reigns amongst the population will have to be adjusted.

The current breed standards will have to be reviewed critically and we cannot be afraid to modify or correct them if necessary. The heart of a sustainable breeding policy is a good registration system. On the one hand, such a registration system consists of dogs and their direct data (birth date, sex, colour…), as well as all their ancestors on the other hand. Ancestors are very important when calculating estimating breeding values.

Such a registration system already exists in most countries.

A second important part of the registration are the results of exterior evaluations, temperament tests and working trials, health exams and DNA tests. No such central system exists at the moment. That is why that part of the registration is the hardest.

A thorough study needs to precede such a central registration system. All problems need to be well-studied beforehand to avoid the failure of such a system.

  • What problems need to be investigated?
  • Who will manage the central database?
  • Who will put in the data? (veterinarians, breeders )
  • Which standard will be used for every affliction?
  • Who can consult the data?
  • Privacy legislation.
  • Who will calculate the breeding values?

The ultimate goal of a sustainable breeding policy is a Stud Advice Programme at the disposal of the breeders via internet.

Don’t forget, a sustainable breeding policy relies on:

– Maintaining genetic diversity
– Limiting inbreeding within a population
– Repressing hereditary afflictions
– Trusting breeding experts
– Long-term rather than short-term