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Dog breed evolution, purpose, etc.

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

  
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Lilith

I'm a trilingual- dog!
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 6:02pm PST 
A very boring and uninformative title, I'm sure.

Anyway, so something that I've been thinking about.

So lots of dog breeds were originally bred for some purpose, and many are regionally distinctive.. ie., you can find 'guard' dogs in many forms from many regions and countries and many do the job differently (or similarly). From Doberman to Chow Chows there are lots of different types of 'guard' dogs. There are also mastiffs from lots of different places, Tibetan, English, German, etc.

So what happens when a dogs' job or purpose is no longer needed?

Is it really so horrible to breed them to be more 'pet' like? As in they become more amicable to being easy companions. For example, is it really so horrible to breed Shiba ken to be less difficult and more 'companion' breed'ish? I don't know of 1 person that still uses them to be bird flushing dogs. I am sure their notoriously difficult temperament has much to do with their historic use, which was independent thinking and work.

So how many people still use Tosa-ken as dog fighting dogs? Although dog fighters still exist (unfortunately) such use is frowned upon. Is it still necessary to breed Tosa with that type of temperament?

So, bottom line, isn't it natural that breed and breed usage evolve? Is it necessary to stick to their 'historic' job & temperament stubbornly?

Is it okay for dog breed to go extinct, like many have through time?

On a tangent, is it worth 'saving' some breeds that are plagued with health problems?

A lot of times I feel like while breed & standards are important, I also feel like standards should evolve with use. And sometimes i feel like some breeds are bred and preserved just for the sake of preserving them.. as if breed extinction is not not an option anymore no matter what.

A long, rambling post, I know, but just feel free to throw out any thoughts..
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Posh

Pup-Pup
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 6:28pm PST 
Well I think it was William Penn that said something along the lines of "If only humans were as careful about the breeding of their children as they are with their dogs and horses" It's a tough subject indeed. We do have to credit evolution and modernization for a lot of our dog breeds we have today, but it is also very great gift to have the dogs of ancient times still with us today, most of them unchanged. You will always have your breed purists and your breed revolutionists, and thank goodness for both!
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Princesse- Lily CGN

I am RoyalChi!
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 6:32pm PST 
I am just glad Chis arent still being bred for their orginal purpose of being sacrificedeek
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Mulder

Spooky Mulder
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 6:51pm PST 
I'm not against the breeding of dogs to better suit the modern condidtion.

However, I do not believe traits inherit in the breed should be bred out, for the simple sake of becoming house pets. To take away what makes a breed unique, is to take away all that the dog is.

All dogs are capable of adapting. Labs were bred to retrieve water fowl, now they retrieve tennis balls. Great Pyrenees were bred to guard the field and flocks, now they guard our homes.

Breeding away from extremes is more the appropriate solution. An EXTREMELY protective dog is bred to be more selectively and sanely protective. Such was the way of the Doberman. Don't remove these traits from the dog, just adapt them to what is currently needed. If the dog cannot adapt, then it cannot survive in our modern world. Some breeds, I feel, will die out because of this, else remain well kept secrets for only those that truly fancy them. Such is the way of the Caucasian Ovcharka.

As for breeds with crippling health defects, yes, I believe we can and should preserve them as best we can. Some of the most compromised dogs are some of the most important. I know I'm biased, but how many people can really imagine a world without GSDs? The services they provide are invaluable to us. Perhaps other breeds could take their place (I don't believe so, but that's just an opinion), but how long before they, too, fall victim to our vicious cycle? Any dog that sees wide use is going to be corrupted by man... to destroy that which we love is simply in our nature.

Its funny, actually. The things that make these dogs stand out, indeed what makes them great... is often their biggest downfall. In the case of the GSD, people were SO in love with them, and they had SO much potential, that people took them and molded in them what they wanted to see. They were like clay. Each artist sculpted into them what they wanted. The problem with this, however, is no one was quite able to see the same thing. Some saw a dog with endless work ethic, a compact and powerful body, and an a character who never wore his heart on his sleeves. Others saw a large, delicate, handsome breed that never met a stranger, and was a friend to all. The problem with all this is that once you start developing "types", you usher in the prejudices. "Our dogs are better, we need to dissociate ourselves with THOSE people's dogs". You breed type to type for so long, that eventually you have such grotesque extremes as the ski-sloped American, and the overly aggressive German. Its a tragedy, really.

But that's just me rambling on, I guess red face
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Didge- 24/2/09 - 11/12/09

I'm NOT a boy!- :(
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 7:02pm PST 
I've often wondered that myself. How come people are making all these designer breeds, when they could be breeding dogs to make ideal pets?
Modern day people need modern dogs
A dog that will flush out the remote control from the couch
I actually really admire the AKK for this reason. Someone described it as a companion sized husky. That's brilliant. Less Huskies ending up in rescues when they outgrow the cute puppy stage. Akk's seem to stay that 'cute puppy size' that people seem to want forever.

I know people have their reasons for holding on to traditions, but I think many dogs are less than suitable for modern lifestyle. This is a really interesting topic, I'm going to stick around to see what everyone has to say
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Shane DEC- '08-JAN '12- RIP

In dreams I walk- with you..
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 7:24pm PST 
Wow cool topic Lilith!
I have mixed feelings about the English Bulldog. On the one hand I'm totally head over heels in love with them, I wonder if they should be perpetuated in their current extreme form. Maybe taking them back to their original more athletic form but keeping the modern milder disposition might be a better option?
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Chandler

Code name:- Farmcollie
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 8:39pm PST 
Well, yes...people are breeding border collies that make better pets.
They're the ones from breeders who breed for the conformation ring and ignore herding ability. Some people call them "barbie collies"

...and people who want a herding dog buy one of these "barbie collies"...and it can't herd, or only has part of the instinct necessary, but it can perhaps still be a bit neurotic...and the dog fails, gets rehomed, and maybe dumped in a shelter...who knows.

...and people who do not want a herding dog but want a pet that looks like the barbie collie they met go out and buy a border collie from working lines...and cannot handle its needs or drives, and the dog becomes a neurotic mess...and needs to be rehomed or maybe gets dumped in a shelter.

...and then there are the dogs that are sort of in between...they're too high powered for the average family, but don't have the correct package of instincts to do really well herding. (Anybody read Orson?)

IMO, breeding working dogs for watered down pet qualities can do damage all around.

Edited by author Wed Dec 9, '09 8:41pm PST

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Mia & Dot

the Sisterhood
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 9, '09 9:13pm PST 
Well...The Dalmatian lost it's "function" & look what a mess that is laugh out loud
Shane, I am in strong agreement with you on English Bulldogs, I love them to pieces but it just seems to be a matter of "what's the point?" shrug

Mulder, I haven't many (unless specially trained) Dobermans lately that I'd be fearful of, somehow the "wuss" gene seems to have been implemented. laugh out loud
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Tsuki, Kit,- Kiba &- Buckley

inubakablog.com
 
 
Barked: Thu Dec 10, '09 6:40am PST 
I agree entirely with Chandler.

Our latest adoptee is definitely some mix of working dog, she is NOT content being a pet, and we're an active family with our dogs! Its no wonder we are her third home within the shelter system, the average family looking for a medium sized pretty brindle dog CANNOT handle her!!

I wish I could give her a chance to bay a boar or tree a raccoon on a regular basis. Thats what she was made for. I just do not do those things, or have access to boars where we live! So we make do with superficial jobs like packing, tracking, etc.
- - - - - - - - - -

On a similar note, there are the ancient Japanese spitz breeds of dogs (besides akita/shiba) that are trying to make a grand entrance into the US dog fancier scene. These are dogs that truly had a purpose and are probably still used for that purpose (hunting) in their homeland, but here are regarded as novelty, rare and 'precious'.
I wish all US breeders (and breeders in other countries willing to sell to the US) would get their hands off these dogs and let them be because all the people I know of in the US breeding these dogs are only using them for two things
1. Show ring/titles in conformation
or
2. rare dog breed pet

There are US breeders specifically planning to breed JUST for the even temperament (aka soft) that makes a good house dog.

Neither are doing the breeds any justice. No one is testing them for their ability to bark and hold a boar. So why even bother?!

Is that what you are asking?
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Gio

CD RE (CKC)- RXMCL (CARO) FM- CGN SJATD
 
 
Barked: Thu Dec 10, '09 6:49am PST 
Very interesting topic, and I really don't think we ("we" as the whole community of dog owners) will ever reach a solid answer. haha

I agree with you that a lot of the original jobs that dogs were bred for have disappeared. Or at least decreased in frequency dramatically. How many Ridgebacks actually still hunt lions? How many BMDs actually still work as draft dogs?

But, in other cases, there are lots of dogs that are still used for their intended jobs. Many people still use herding dogs on livestock. Many hunters still utilize gun dogs for pointing, tracking, flushing or retrieving.

And, while not all dogs are used for their original purpose, the characteristics that come along with that usage have been maintained throughout the generations and redirected to modern uses. Look at service, search and rescue, tracking, bear, and drug dogs. All of these "jobs" rely on traits inherent in the breeds, traits that are related to the dog's original job. And still, NEW jobs are being found for dogs that use their inherent instincts. For instance, Border Collies are used to clear birds from airport runways. So the traits and characteristics that were necessary for the dog to perform its original job are being redirected to meet our modern needs.

So if you ask me "should we begin to breed out these traits to make more pet-appropriate dogs", my answer would be hands-down "no". Once we lose those traits, we can't get them back. This has happened with Collies now already, where very few Rough Collies have any herding instinct at all. So a breed that was once a solid herder is lost to that purpose now. To get that back would require either generations of intensive selective breeding or crossing with a breed that still has the natural instinct.

Even if the original job that a dog was designed to do is no longer necessary, the traits that the dogs have because of that original purpose can be redirected to meet our modern needs. Modern needs that extend far beyond companion dogs! I think it would be shortsighted and very unwise to assume that our need for dogs in the modern world is limited to companionship.

I, for one, don't want a companion dog. I don't want a dog that sits at home and waits patiently for me to get back from work, only to curl up on the couch in the evening and watch TV with me. I want a working dog. My dogs all have multiple jobs, and that is the way I like it. I would have no use for one of the toy or companion breeds. Though I do recognize that these breeds are loved and adored by other people. They aren't for me, so I choose a dog that has that natural instinct to work. That unending drive and desire to DO something. Because that is what I want in a dog ... and many people still want that.

There are hundreds of different dog breeds in the world. There IS something for everyone already. In my opinion, there is no need to change the current breeds to make them into something different. If you want a house dog, don't get a breed that doesn't meet that requirement. If you want a working dog, don't get a breed that wants to lay around the house all day.

Once you start breeding out the natural instinct of breeds, the whole breed becomes diluted. It isn't feasible to maintain two separate lines ... a working line and a companion line. At some point, the working lines will become diluted by the companion lines, and vice versa.
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