I hear this over and over so it has become a reoccurring theme by many who have never bred a litter. Of course, it is usually followed by the comment that we must test although the test do not necessarily give any clear cut direction or path to follow. WHAT??
Breeders today are doing more than ever before in testing and telling, yet the arm chair quarter backs continue to slash and dice at will. I am for truth and honesty and I am for testing our dogs. I am not for making any breeding decision based on any one test in and of itself. We have no test that gives us 100% clear direction on what will happen, what is good or what is a death sentence. That still requires a crystal ball.
Today we have one of the smallest gene pools of any purebred dog and I have to wonder if things were truly better back in the 70's when anyone and everyone was breeding Doberman's. We have gone from 80,000 registrations a year down to less than 10,000, last time AKC would release those numbers, which I believe was about 2009. A lot of time has past since then so with the direction it was going makes me wonder where our registrations are today.
So let's look at that number 10,000 - and what things have drastically impacted it -
So what are we looking at - a lack of genetic diversity. Diversity is the latest and newest test to arrive on the scene and I hope everyone is as excited about it as I am. Don't get me wrong it is still not the end all answer, but I feel it puts us on a path to make the discovery of bad genes much closer and easier to find and identify.
It has been amazing to watch this test unfold as more and more countries are joining and testing. It is almost like with each Doberman tested we learn something and three more questions pop up that we did not even think of before.
Please remember when I speak to this I speak as an owner/breeder NOT a geneticist. I will give my impressions based on my knowledge as a breeder of Dobermans for over 25 years. Probably first things we learned is that Wright's formula for figuring genetic diversity was not accurate in determining true diversity. It is been shown that puppies within the same litter can vary as far as diversity goes. So after years of breeders using Wright's as a guide we found it is not that helpful. This is part of what makes all so very difficult.
In the beginning of genetic testing (Vwd) we wanted to be so right we jumped with both feet and erratically eliminated dogs from the gene pool as it was painted with a very black brush as being a horrible gene and the public panic and feared for their dogs life. While as breeders, we knew for many years that probably half the dogs we had produced were Vwd affected and never had a dog with a problem. Then they published propaganda that led the unsuspecting public to believe every Vwd affected dog was on the verge of bleeding to death. Breeders knew better and should have used it as a tool to guide their breeder decisions so as not to produce affected puppy while not destroying the diversity within the gene pool. I shutter to think what was lost in this senseless radical elimination of breeding dogs. But it did sell test.
I use far more caution now when evaluating solely based on any test genetic or otherwise. We must think beyond the dog we love in front of us and start looking at the bigger picture which is the diversity of the gene pool world wide. As I was thinking this it occurred to me that the diversity study might bring the world community of Dobermans together and make them all more supportive of not only sharing their testing and knowledge, but also their genetic material. If we are to resolve this issue we need to be able to search outside our own little neck of the woods and start looking at how can we reach out across our world to work together and share from our genetic pools and hope we save our breed.
There are 2 different diversity studies and both are good. Any knowledge is better than no knowledge. I am going to tell you why I personally chose the Doberman Diversity Project - one uses 33 STR loci from across the genome to determine diversity and one uses 38. I feel more is better. I have heard from some who have used both and the diversity in some cases changes due to the increase in loci tested.
It also is approved by OFA to include the Vwd, PDK4, DM for a total of 163 that can affect another breed. Until recently I felt that was not too valuable ,but my Helio came up hetro to MDR1- I didn't even know what that was. Guess what it is some gene usually found in the retriever breeds. OMG what a revelation - our breed is the only breed created from 4 different gene pools - terriers, retrievers, herding and sight hounds which is now confirmed by finding this one little tiny gene in the DNA of the Doberman. It is rare at this point as only 3 have been found to carry this mutation that can cause drug sensitivity. Because of the Embark testing I am happy to say that my 3 Helio daughters did not pick it up so I don't have to worry about something I was not even aware existed.
Now that I have become part of the Doberman Diversity Project I have to say I am very impressed. The Doctors themselves participate on their FB pages and are available to answer any and all questions as well as giving us feed back on vital information. Robin Loreth and Karen Perdue are available anytime to help us with questions.
Their breeder tool is unequaled in the industry and is FREE and I will speak more to that in later articles as we learn more about this great undertaking. I do want to thank the Doberman Diversity staff, doctors and lab for all they are doing to help us.
To learn more about diversity below are the links to the two diversity projects:.
Dobs4ever - Dogs Under FIRE!