Join Date: Mar 2016
Dogs Name: Andella's A Fire Within (Dean)
Dogs Age: 4-29-2016
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Thanked 243 Times in 92 Posts
Let me start by saying, I'm very new to the breed and the world of purebred dogs in general, but I do have a Bachelor's degree in biology and did extensive genetic research as an undergrad.
To me, it seems like these problems are a natural consequence of breeding to a standard, especially for a breed like the Doberman, where an entire population can be traced back to 7 or so dogs. I completely understand the reason for the standard, so that we can have dogs that are well-built to excel in the jobs for which they were originally designed. However, breeding dogs to have a particular conformation and external appearance is a deliberate attempt to extinguish undesirable traits, and in doing so reduce genetic diversity. Especially when only dogs who succeed in the show ring or a working venue are allowed to breed. I agree with the author of the original article, the only thing that can possibly save the Doberman is to find a viable outcross or begin a breeding program with intent of remaking the breed from its predecessors, but this time doing so with a much larger number of dogs, in order to reduce the genetic bottleneck that caused these problems in the first place. Then we could introduce these new dogs to the current population in order to attempt to eliminate conditions like DCM, early onset cancers, Wobbler's, etc.
I think that health testing is a great thing and should absolutely be done in order for a dog to be bred, but it seems to me that the problem is escalating at a much greater rate than answers are being found, and the breed could be eliminated before we manage to paint a complete picture.
As an aside, would placing limits on the number of times a sire can be bred potentially slow the problem? I know it wouldn't be easy telling people what to do with their dog-- especially one who excels in the ring-- but if it could promote genetic diversity, wouldn't it be worth a shot?