Dogs and Genetic Variability

I found many portions of the film to be incredibly fascinating and completely informative. For example, I had no idea what the concept of a “slippery genome” entailed until watching the documentary, nor did I realize that genetic trait is what explained the unique quality dogs have to show instant physical changes from one generation to the next. However, one particular slice of information I found incredibly intriguing was the increased number of issues (ranging from disease to minor physical disorders) present within purebred dogs (and not mixes).

The issues piqued my interest mainly because my own dog (a Yorkshire Terrier) is from a long line of pure bred descent. Upon further research (and with information provided from the movie), it seems as though this increase in physical problems within purebred dogs lies within the fact that limiting a gene pool to one lineage limits the variability necessary to make genetic disorders less likely. Hence, it explains why my dog shares in the same dilemma of having loose leg joints that her parents and fellow puppies in her litter seem to share. Granted, this physical predicament is being watched closely by our veterinarian, but I find it incredibly discouraging nonetheless because popular groups like the American Kennel Club encourage purity within the bloodlines of recognized breeds. Unfortunately, this “purity” equates to the same problems found within inbreeding in humans, an act viewed not only as taboo but also rather unsound in terms of maintaining a well-varied/healthy gene pool (and rightfully so).

If anything, the American Kennel Club should be encouraging more diversity within blood lines so as to prevent these unfortunate genetic complications from becoming physically apparent in multitudes of new-born puppies. Conversely, though, I can also see why kennel clubs want to keep pure bred dogs in existence, so as to maintain a running line of unique breeds that all have their own unique behaviors, appearances, and specialties. Regardless, I do believe that there should be more public encouragement from the major kennel clubs to encourage genetic array within canines so this unhealthy cycle no longer continues.

(Here is my purebred Yorkshire Terrier named Bianca)
-Corey Allen


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