"She looks so healthy and well-balanced." "That's why I bought a top quality bitch from a show breeder." She said "in horses, the conformation mare often costs way more in vet bills the 'more they approach the standard' ".
I was stunned - I said our standard drives toward better health - is that not the case with horses? She said no. She has been in horses since she was born - many wins, prizes for performance horses - dressage, western something or other - herself, husband, family and the children.
Has anyone else come across this?
I was wondering if this is part of why buyers prefer to pay big money from crap puppies from K-tal et al?
Funny you should mention this, because I was actually going to say something kind of along these lines.
The short answer is usually, "Most horse breeds are generally healthy, as are their standards."
But nobody in their right mind would consider buying from a conformation-show horse breeder (in horses, it's called "halter showing"), and only the bold or the naive jump into color breeds (paints, appaloosas) without doing thorough research on them. Why? Because those are the parts of the horse industry that pay less mind to health and general soundness than they do to "good looks", "chrome", and "flashy coloring", and they wallow around in the genetic filth of linebreeding in a tiny kiddie-pool, without taking advantage of the larger, healthier gene pool the breed as a whole enjoys.
My absolute favorite example of this principle is they way HyPP came plague the AQHA, otherwise one of the healthiest purebred horse breeds. It was about 40 years ago that the halter sire named "Impressive" came onto the Halter showing scene and started gaining lots of attention & won big. His descendants also proved to do well, they carried the characteristic heavy musculature (bordering on grotesque hypertrophy) that characterized the Halter show Quarter Horse look in the 80s and 90s, and those huge muscles took very little effort to build.
Fast forward to the 1990s, it became obvious there was a problem when horses started collapsing, sometimes dying of suffocation in seizure-like episodes in which they basically lost muscle control. The disease was identified as Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis, an inherited muscle cell membrane sodium-channel defect similar to what's seen in other species. The trend was identified that almost all carriers and affected horses in the AQHA trace back to Impressive, and a genetic test was developed to identify it.
The AQHA excruciatingly slowly implemented "scarlet letters" to be placed on registration papers, much like the Dobe z-factor, of known descendants of Impressive, unless they tested clear for the disease. They finally have only recently barred descendants of Impressive from being registered until they are tested, and refuse to issue registration to those who test homozygous positive for the disease, while carriers are still allowed.
Anyway, the point is that in only a couple of decades, ONE POPULAR Halter sire had a massive impact on the breed, though most of it was confined to those conformation-show breeders. Within that sire's own lifetime, there were thosands of registered horses which tested homozygous positive for a genetic defect of which he is the only known source. As one might imagine, many were exceptionally inbred with many incestuous pairings, their COIs are through the roof.
Of course, it's completely unsurprising that Impressive was a genetic accident-waiting-to-happen, considering that Three Bars (a Thoroughbred popular sire in the AQHA) appeared 3 separate times in his 4-generation pedigree, but that's really a lot by most horse breeding standards where linebreeding generally doesn't seem to be all that prevalent. Well, except in Halter showing circles...
That's a textbook example of the tangible damage that Popular Sire Syndrome causes. It's not always caught, but it happens every time breeders choose to wallow in teeny-tiny gene pools full of linebreeding filth, rather than taking advantage of the broader gene pool. Sooner or later, it becomes impossible to avoid all the "floaters" swirling around.
It looks like this same nonsense has been happening in the Doberman world for some time now too, and since conformation showing seems to be more popular than performance or pleasure activities, it's honestly not too surprising that there are so many super-important health tests and other concerns over heritable diseases. That's just what happens when breeders aren't content with just a taste of a potentially good thing and gorge themselves on a particular sire or bloodline they think will throw them a champion or two, and the breed pays the price.
My mentors for animal husbandry in the horse/livestock world roundly rejected linebreeding as a path to success. I do to. I absolutely will not buy any animal, including a Doberman, that has any obvious evidence at all of systematic linebreeding in its 4-generation pedigree. If I see a single name repeated anywhere, or too many similar names on each half of the family tree, I just walk away. If a breed has been around long enough that it breeds true, there is absolutely no compelling, or remotely sane reason to impose another genetic bottleneck.
It suffices to say it's nigh impossible to find any show lines that meet those criteria.