American Blue Lacy Dog Blog

American Blue Lacy Dog Blog

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Hiding Genetic Disease

False pedigrees, absent genetic testing, can invalidate the conclusions drawn from pedigree analysis. We recognize that there is some “noise” in the various registries and, in some cases, a significant level of noise. False information on pedigrees makes analysis difficult and in some cases impossible. The SCC (French Kennel Club) has done random paternity and maternity checks on about 200 pups from recent litters from various breeds. The parents of 17 percent of the pups as indicated by the pedigree were incorrect. We suspect that this French example is not only a French example, but a worldwide example.

This quote from C.A. Sharp, author of “The Biggest Problem,” in the Summer 2000 edition of Double Helix Network News, says it all succinctly:

“You all know them. The ones that put winning above all other goals. ‘It doesn’t matter as long as the dog wins,’ is their mantra. Their dogs must win, as must their dogs’ offspring, and woe betide anyone who stands in their way as they pursue greater breed and personal glory . . . If a genetic problem isn’t apparent they will ignore it. If it can be (surgically) fixed they will. If it can’t, they will employ some variant on ‘shoot, shovel and shut-up,’ or recoup their losses by shipping the dog a long ways away, preferably across an ocean or two. If someone else knows about the problem, the Incorrigibles will use any means at their disposal to shut that person up, ranging from veiled threats and rumor-mongering to blatant bully tactics and threatened legal action.”

Most of us can think of an example of this behavior. Without acknowledging there is a problem, how can we fix it? Why is it also that we speak among ourselves about these unethical breeders and yet we do business with them? What does this say about our own ethics?

Let’s move on to the Ostrich Syndrome breeders. These are the ones who will do anything not to test for a genetic disease. If they do not test for it they will never find it. Denial is the name of that game.

The authors recently became aware of a situation with respect to hip dysplasia, a crippling disease that cannot be diagnosed without radiography. It seems a breeder with dogs having an incidence of hip dysplasia much greater than the breed average is saying that the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is incorrectly diagnosing hip dysplasia. In addition, the breeder states that the dogs are passing PennHIP®, another rating system. PennHIP, however, does not grade using “pass” or “fail.”

Those of us who are truly dedicated to the health of our canine companions will not make any headway until we first recognize and confront the human behavior expressed when faced with canine genetic disease. We conclude that the genetic problems in purebred dogs are not intrinsically a canine problem, but rather a human problem supported by politics, old wives’ tales, ignorance and even outright rejection of scientific opinion. In the words of Elvin Stackman, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as quoted in Life magazine in 1950, “Science cannot stop while ethics catches up—and nobody should expect scientists to do all the thinking for the country.” * Susan Thorpe-Vargas Ph.D., John Cargill MA, MBA, MS

How much worse for breeders to not bother with health testing at all? Again if they don’t test for it they don’t have to acknowledge it exists. Sweeping all health issues under the rug and refusing to talk about them is doing a huge disservice to the Blue Lacy as a breed. There is no such thing as any living animal that doesn’t have health issues. Refusing to test for them as in “ignorance is bliss” can only go on for so long. As responsible breeders who care about the breed it is our ethical duty to care enough to do health testing on any dog we are prepared to breed.

Cross breeding and falsifying the sire to a litter for registration purposes is beyond unethical and brings about the quick demise of a breed. One cross breeding can easily wipe out generations of breeding for the traits a Blue Lacy is known for. Is it any wonder we no longer place much importance on pedigrees? The ABLA registry is a perfect example of this distrust as they have been forced to include pictures and measuring in their registration process.

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