All posts by Sally Gift

I have been an active participant in the sport of showing and breeding purebred dogs since 1973. While I began my journey with an Irish Setter, Gordon Setters became my passion in 1977 and I've been breeding them exclusively ever since.

Show Day Prep for Setters

From pro-handler Will Alexander a You Tube video chock full of tips about prepping your Setter for the ring on show day. While Will is working on an English Setter in this video, his tips for brushing and grooming are fantastic and will help make your dog look like a million bucks!  Will’s posted many more tips and tricks on You Tube for those who seek more, check it out! Thank you Will for this fabulous site.

Will has graciously shared many more tips and tricks on his website, find them all here: Will Alexander tips for showing dogs

Pedigree Analysis and How Breeding Decisions Affect Genes

Reprinted by permission, Jerold S Bell DVM

Jerold s Bell DVM, Clinical Associate Professor of Genetics, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

To some breeders, determining which traits will appear in the offspring of a mating is like rolling the dice – a combination of luck and chance. For others, producing certain traits involves more skill than luck – the result of careful study and planning. As breeders, you must understand how matings manipulate genes within your breeding stock to produce the kinds of offspring you desire.

Article
Photo by Dustin Hartje

When evaluating your breeding program, remember that most traits you’re seeking cannot be changed, fixed or created in a single generation. The more information you can obtain on how certain traits have been transmitted by your animal’s ancestors, the better you can prioritize your breeding goals. Tens of thousands of genes interact to produce a single individual. All individuals inherit pairs of chromosomes; one from the mother and one from the father. On the chromosomes are genes; so all genes come in pairs. If both genes in a pair are the same gene (for instance, “aa” or “AA”) the gene pair is called homozygous. If the two genes in a gene pair are unlike (for instance, “Aa”) the gene pair is called heterozygous. Fortunately, the gene pairs that make a cat a cat and not a dog are always homozygous. Similarly, the gene pairs that make a certain breed always breed true are also homozygous. Therefore, a large proportion of homozygous non-variable pairs – those that give a breed its specific standard – exist within each breed. It is the variable gene pairs, like those that control color, size and angulation that produce variations within a breed.

There are ways to measure the genetic diversity of a population. One method is to measure the average inbreeding coefficient (or Wright’s coefficient) for a breed. The inbreeding coefficient is a measurement of the genetic relatedness of the sire and dam. If an ancestor appears on both the sire and dam’s side of the pedigree, it increases the inbreeding coefficient. The inbreeding coefficient gives a measurement of the total percentage of variable gene pairs that are expected to be homozygous due to inheritance from ancestors common to the sire and dam. It also gives the chance that any single gene pair can be homozygous due to inheritance from ancestors common to the sire and dam. It also gives the chance that any single gene pair can be homozygous.

The types of matings that you choose for your breeding animals will manipulate their genes in the offspring, affecting their expression. Linebreeding is breeding individuals more closely related (a higher inbreeding coefficient) than the average of the breed. Outbreeding involves breeding individuals less related than the average of the breed. Linebreeding tends to increase homozygosity. Outbreeding tends to increase heterozygosity. Linebreeding and inbreeding can expose deleterious recessive genes through pairing-up, while outbreeding can hide these recessives, while propagating them in the carrier state.

Most outbreeding tends to produce more variation within a litter. An exception would be if the parents are so dissimilar that they create a uniformity of heterozygosity. This is what usually occurs in a mismating between two breeds, or a hybrid, like a Cockapoo. The resultant litter tends to be uniform, but demonstrates “half-way points” between dissimilar traits of the parents. Such litters may be phenotypically uniform, but will rarely breed true due to a mix of dissimilar genes.

One reason to outbreed would be to bring in new traits that your breeding stock does not possess. While the parents may be genetically dissimilar, you should choose a mate that corrects your breeding animal’s faults but complements its good traits. It is not unusual to produce an excellent quality individual from an outbred litter. The abundance of genetic variability can place all the right pieces in one individual. Many top-winning show animals are outbred. Consequently, however, they may have low inbreeding coefficients and may lack the ability to uniformly pass on their good traits to their offspring. After outbreeding, breeders may want to breed back to individuals related to their original stock, to attempt to solidify newly acquired traits.

Linebreeding attempts to concentrate the genes of specific ancestors through their appearance multiple times in a pedigree. It is better for linebred ancestors to appear on both the sire’s and dam’s sides of the pedigree. That way their genes have a better chance of pairing back up in the resultant offspring. Genes from common ancestors have a greater chance of expression with paired with each other than when paired with genes from other individuals, which may mask or alter their effects.

Linebreeding on an individual may not reproduce a outbred ancestor. If an ancestor is outbred and generally  heterozygous (Aa), increasing homozygosity will produce more AA and aa. The way to reproduce ab outbred ancestor is to mate two individuals that mimic the appearance and pedigree of the ancestor’s parents.

Inbreeding significantly increases homozygosity, and increases the expression of both desirable and deleterious recessive genes through pairing up. If a recessive gene (a) is rare in the population, it will almost always be masked by a dominant gene (A). Through inbreeding, a rare recessive gene (a) can be passed from a heterozygous  (Aa) common ancestor through both the sire and dam, creating a homozygous recessive (aa) offspring.

The total inbreeding coefficient is the sum of the inbreeding from the close relatives (first cousin mating), and the background inbreeding from common ancestors deep in the pedigree. Such founding ancestors established the pedigree base for the breed.
The total inbreeding coefficient is the sum of the inbreeding
from the close relatives (first cousin mating), and the
background inbreeding from common ancestors deep in the
pedigree. Such founding ancestors established the pedigree
base for the breed.

Knowledge of the degree of inbreeding in a pedigree does not necessarily help you unless you know whose genes are being concentrated. The relationship coefficient, which can also be approximated by what is called the percent blood coefficient, represents the probable genetic likeness between the individual whose pedigree is being studied, and a particular ancestor.

We know that a parent passes on an average of 50% of its genes, while a grandparent passes on 25%, a great-grandparent 12.5%, and so on. For every time the ancestor appears in the pedigree, its percentage of passed on genes can be added up and its “percentage of blood” estimated. In many breeds, an influential individual may not appear until later generations, but then will appear so many times that it necessarily contributes a large proportion of genes to the pedigree.

The average inbreeding coefficient of a breed is a measurement of its genetic diversity. When computing inbreeding coefficients, you have to look at a deep pedigree to get accurate numbers. An inbreeding coefficient based on 10 generation pedigrees is standardly used, but requires a computerized pedigree database to compute.

The average inbreeding coefficient for a breed will be based on the age and genetic background of the breed. A mating with an inbreeding coefficient of 14 percent based on a ten generation pedigree, would be considered moderate inbreeding for a Labrador Retriever (a popular breed with a low average inbreeding coefficient), but would be considered outbred for an Irish Water Spaniel (a rare breed with a higher average inbreeding coefficient).

Most breeds start from a small founding population, and consequently have a high average inbreeding coefficient. If a breed is healthy and prolific, the breadth of the gene pool increases, and the average inbreeding coefficient can go down over time. Some dog breeds were established on a working phenotype, and not on appearance. These breeds usually start with low inbreeding coefficients due to the dissimilar backgrounds of the founders. As certain individuals are linebred on to create a uniform physical phenotype, the average inbreeding coefficient can increase.

There is no specific level or percentage of inbreeding that causes impaired health or vigor. If there is no diversity (non-variable gene pairs for a breed) but the homozygote is not detrimental, there is no effect on breed health. The characteristics that make a breed reproduce true to its standard are base on non-variable gene pairs. There are pure-bred populations where smaller litter sizes, shorter life expectancies, increased immune-mediated disease, and breed-related genetic disease are plaguing the population. In these instances, prolific ancestors have passed on detrimental recessive genes that have increased in frequency and homozygosity. With this type of documented inbreeding depression, it is possible that an outbreeding scheme could stabilize the population. However, it is also probable that the breed will not thrive without an influx of new genes; either from a distantly related (imported) population, or crossbreeding.

Fortunately, most breeds do not find themselves in the position of this amount of limited diversity and inbreeding depression. However, the perceived problem of a limited gene pool has caused some breeders to advocate outbreeding of all individuals. Studies in genetic conservation and rear breeds have shown that his practice contributes to the loss of genetic diversity. By uniformly crossing all “lines” in a breed, you eliminate the differences between them, and therefore the diversity between individuals. Eventually, there will not be any “unrelated line” to be found. Everyone will have a mixture of everyone else’s genes. The practice in livestock breeding has significantly reduced diversity, and caused the reduced diversity, loss of unique rare breeds.

A basic tenet of population genetics is that gene frequencies do not change from generation to generation. This will occur regardless of the homozygosity or heterozygosity of the parents, or whether the mating is an outbreeding, linebreeding, or inbreeding. This is the nature of genetic recombination. Selection, and not the types of matings used affect gene frequencies and breed genetic diversity.

If two parents are both heterozygous (both Aa) for a gene pair, on the average, they would produce 25% AA, 50% Aa, and 25% aa. (These are the averages when many litters are combined. In reality, any variety of pairing up can occur in a single litter.) If a prolific male comes out of this litter, and he is homozygous aa, then the frequency of the “a” gene will increase in the population, and the frequency of the “A” gene will decrease. This is known as the popular sire syndrome. Of course, each individual has thousands of genes that vary in the breed, and everyone carries some deleterious recessive genes. The overuse of individual breeding animals contributes the most to decreased diversity (population bottlenecks), and the increased spread of deleterious recessive genes (the founders effect). Again, it is selection (use of this stud to the exception of others), and not the types of matings he is involved in that alters gene frequencies. Breeders should select the best individuals from all lines, so as to not create new genetic bottlenecks.

Decisions to linebreed, inbreed or outbreed should be made based on the knowledge of an individuals traits and those of its ancestors. Inbreeding will quickly identify the good and bad recessive genes the parents share, based on their expression in the offspring. Unless you have prior knowledge of what the offspring of milder linebreedings on the common ancestors were like, you may be exposing your litters (and buyers) to extraordinary risk of genetic defects. In your matings, the inbreeding coefficient should only increase because you are specifically linebreeding (increasing the percentage of blood) to selected ancestors.

Don’t set too many goals in each generation, or your selective pressure for each goal will necessarily become weaker. Genetically complex or dominant traits should be addressed early in a long-range breeding plan, as they may take several generations to fix. Traits with major dominant genes become fixed more slowly, as the heterozygous (Aa) individuals in a breed will not be readily differentiated from the homozygous-dominate (AA) individuals. Desirable recessive traits can be fixed in one generation because individuals that show such characteristics are homozygous for the recessive genes. Individuals that pass on desirable traits for numerous matings and generations should be preferentially selected for breeding stock. This prepotency is due to homozygosity of dominate (AA) and recessive (aa) genes. However, these individuals should not be overused, to avoid the popular sire syndrome.

Breeders should plan their matings based on selecting toward a breed standard, based on the ideal temperament, performance, and conformation, and should select against the significant breed related health issues. Using progeny and sib-based information to select for desirable traits and against detrimental traits will allow greater control.

This article can be reproduced with the permission of the author. Jerold.Bell@tufts.edu

 

Feeding Newborn Puppies

Sometimes tube feeding is the only way to save newborn puppies, however there are other options that can be tried first, and this article offers advice on that topic. By clicking on the title below”To Tube or Not to Tube” you will be taken to Mary Wakeman’s website where many other useful articles scan be found.  Enjoy!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

To Tube or Not To Tube

by Mary C. Wakeman, D.V.M Canine Fertility

March 16th, 117    The Best of Breed of Online Show Dog Magazines

The answer to this depends entirely upon whether you want your puppies to live or not. What! You say, tubing is the ONLY way to save puppies. And besides, it’s fast. Fast, yes, and deadly. It’s one of those things that sounds too good (easy) to be true; and if it sounds too good to be true it is; we know that it is in our most private thoughts.

Fast and deadly isn’t doing your part by the bitch or the puppies. You may be certain that you are getting the tube in the esophagus (which leads to the stomach) and not the trachea (which leads to the lungs). But, this isn’t the problem I’m referring to. Consider this: when we eat, the process of eating stimulates waves of contraction throughout our entire GI tract. You know very well that as puppies nurse they defecate. That reaction is due to these waves of contraction, which are called peristalsis.

OK. So, we have a sluggish or weak puppy. We put it on the bitch and it won’t nurse. What to do! TUBE. NO! If the puppy does not have a good sucking reflex, it will not have any peristalsis. This means the milk we force in through the tube will just sit there. When the tube is removed, it forces itself back up the esophagus, into the trachea, and ends up in the lungs. It does not travel down through the stomach into the intestine.

Now, how big is the stomach of a newborn puppy in your breed? 1/2 cc? Less? As much as 1cc? Probably not much more. That stomach is just a slightly wide spot on a narrow tube.

So; let’s stick 2 1/2 cc into it . Fast and Deadly. The stomach and esophagus will stretch a bit, then return to it’s original shape and size after the milk runs into the lungs. Not going to raise many puppies that way.

Well then, what do we do? Easy. We give them sub-cutaneous dextrose and saline. Sugar in salt water. The solution which is used for IV therapy. All puppies need 3 things. Warmth. Water. Sugar. That’ all they need right away and for an additional few days if necessary.  So, we take the weak puppy out of the whelping box. We drop a few drops of colostrum onto its tongue several times in the first few hours. Got that immunity taken care of. We keep it in a confined box with a heat source – a heating pad or light bulb, and we give subQ dextrose in saline to supply the sugar and water. We gently stimulate it to urinate and defecate. We’ve met all the puppies needs.

How much fluid do we give? We give enough to satisfy any current dehydration debt and to provide a cushion for an hour or two in the future. How much is that? It is enough so that when we refill the syringe with dextrose and saline, the last 10 cc injection we gave hasn’t already disappeared. And it will disappear, just that fast, if the puppy is already dehydrated.

So first, we need to satisfy the back log, and then we put in some more. We want to raise a good sized lump – say the size of a golf ball on a 12-16 oz puppy. We want that golf ball to stay there a while. If it does, we can safely leave the puppy for a couple of hours. As time goes by, the fluids in this reservoir will be absorbed and the lump will disappear. Also, gravity will take a hand in removing the lump, shifting any spare fluids down around the neck. We can keep this puppy going in this way for 2 to 4 days easily. There no danger here, if the area is clean when and where we inject, and as long as the needle is parallel to the body – not pointed down at the body. We don’t want to pith the puppy (look it up). With the needle parallel to the body, the worst we can do is squirt the wall. The wall can take it.

Fluids given intravenously, by contrast, would run the risk of drowning the puppy – excess fluids in the veins will force their way out through the lungs. This result is essentially the same as that of tubing. Not good. SubQ fluids are essentially outside the circulatory system – just in a repository under the skin. If a fluid defecit exists, they can be instantly drawn into the blood stream. Until then, they have no other effect on the body.

While we are satisfying the puppy’s needs in this way, we will also repeatedly present a nipple to the puppy, several minutes after we have placed a drop of Karo syrup on its tongue. The Karo give the puppy an energy boost, so that when we place it on the bitch, it will make as strong an attempt to nurse as it can muster. We will also present the puppy with a bottle, as it will be easier for it to get milk from the bottle’s nipple than from the bitch, most of the time, during the first couple of days.

One of the greatest deterrents to getting puppies started, after tubing, is the ‘Pet Nurser’ which is widely available. Few if any breeds will nurse off of this thing – maybe a couple of toy breeds I’ve never encountered. Rather, puppies from 4.5 oz to 2# and up will readily take a Playtex preemie, or Playtex 0-3 months nipple (slow flow), one which has a flat, button-like shape. ANY puppy which does want to suck, but is unable to get enough from the bitch, should be asked to take the Playtex nurser. And if they don’t learn to nurse from it within the first few minutes, as soon as an hour or two after birth, it’s your fault, because they like this nipple just fine.

Of course, you have to put the right stuff in it. The concept of using a formulated synthetic milk replacer seems a bit bizarre. Cow’s milk is good, it’s complete, it contains the same things as dog milk. It’s not quite as good as dog’s milk, however, because it’s too dilute. Cow’s milk is 1/2 as concentrated as dog milk. So, all we have to do is go to the store and buy evaporated milk. Nothing could be simpler; comes in a can, easy to store and have on hand, useful for other purposes. We use the evaporated cow’s milk, in the slow flow nipple (no modifications to the nipple, we want it to go in slowly, and to require some exercise from the puppy to make it work). We add a dollop of Karo syrup for energy and palatability, warm slightly, and that’s it; it’s perfect.

Some of us seem to have a need to make life more complicated than it has to be. If you think your puppies suffer from the rare human problem where the size of the cow butterfat globule is too large for comfort, you can search out a source for evaporated, canned goat’smilk. And you might wish to do that because it will make it seem as though your puppies have a special problem, not a routine, ordinary problem. However, goat’s milk has no special benefit for dogs. It also must be fed undiluted from the can, with some Karo.

Note: The only puppies I have ever seen which were nutritionally stunted – and didn’t recoup their early deficits when put on solid food – were 2 giant breed siblings which were fed fresh goat’s milk. To this day these two are ‘minis’. Fresh ruminant milk has 50% too much water in it. Evaporated ruminant milk is just fine as long as you don’t screw it up by adding water. If you are faced with total milk replacement due to the death of a bitch, you will eventually have to add an egg yolk (without the white) to a can of evaporated milk with Karo, in order to raise the protein level even more. But, there is no need for this when we’re simply supplementing.

These puppies which are eager to nurse, but just can’t get anything from the bitch’s nipples, will have good peristalsis. They will work at the nipple and develop their lungs and their body muscles, though only a fraction as well as they would if they were working on the bitch’s nipples. One caution when supplementing the large litter to lessen the stress on the bitch. You must be careful not to OVER feed. The idea is to take some load off her, so you should keep her out of the box for some time every day. We don’t want to supplement and then let them drink their fill from their mother as well, then we’ll only have fat and colicy puppies, not a mother in better shape.

The next question is, will their mother lick them and stimulate the urination and defecation reflexes? If she’s not yet into that, we also have to wash their tummies with a warm wet tissue. This will stimulate the elimination reflexes. We can’t skip this part either. If we do, they’ll all colic. Some bitches, even though they have milk and the puppies nurse with no problem, just don’t like to clean their puppies. If so, then it’s our job. We caused these puppies to be born, the buck stops with us; if they need to be cleaned we have to do the job. We have to be gentle, but we have to be just as certain that we’re successful in stimulating defecation and urination as we are that the puppies are getting enough to eat. What goes in must come out!

One good way to help you be certain you’re getting each one fed and cleaned is to place colorful yarn collars around their necks. This way we can identify each puppy at a glance, no waking them or dislodging them from a nipple in order to check markings. And later, when one puppy is repeatedly striking a pose we can see from a distance which one it is. Helps us identify that BIS Puppy.

Mary C. Wakeman, D.V.M Canine Fertility

Article
Photo by Dustin Hartje

Before you get your puppy

Published on Dog Star Daily and written by Dr. Ian Dunbar, this free, puppy training booklet is filled with excellent advice and training guidelines for the new puppy owner. It can be easily downloaded from the  site so breeders can share the link with their new puppy owners to prepare them to properly manage the puppy, even before they take that new baby home. All breeders want to give their puppies the best opportunity to develop into the perfect family pet, and this booklet will give you, the breeder, a foundation for helping those new owners create a home and environment to start those pups off on the right foot.

Shared by:  Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

BEFORE YOU GET YOUR PUPPY

This book is simply a MUST READ for anyone thinking of getting a puppy. Puppies should be raised in an errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training set-up.  This is very easy to do and everything you need to know is described in this little book.  Otherwise, if puppies are allowed to eliminate anywhere and chew anything in their kennel, that’s what they’ll continue to do when you bring them home.  Most important, puppies must be socialized before they are three months old.  Preventing fearfulness and aggression is easy and fun whereas trying to resolve adult problems is difficult, time-consuming and not always successful.

Please download and email this book to every prospective and new puppy owner that you know in order to help spread the word that Puppyhood is the Time to Rescue Adult Shelter Dogs.

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/you-get-your-puppy

 

As the Wheels Turn – Lonely Roads & Wandering Hands

Source: Best In Show Daily

As the Wheels Turn – Lonely Roads & Wandering Hands

Posted By Laura Reeves PHA

In Learn! The Scene

One of the things we almost never talk about is the personal safety of our exhibitors. We are constantly On The Road Again, flying into strange cities, driving to new locations. Some of these journeys, and even show sites, are in sketchy areas, at best. A significant number of us are traveling alone through all of it.

Our sport also features a unique mix of ages, genders and positions of power that have been known to be abused.

With that in mind, we offer our “Five Best Tips for Safety” while traveling. And, as a bonus, “Best Practices for Handling Inappropriate Advances.” Obviously, much of this advice applies anywhere, anytime.

Ray Helmken, retired from the Honolulu Police Department and Akita fancier; along with GWP lover Guy Miner, owner of GMM Defense, who offers self-defense courses for small groups, provide these insights.

1. Stay alert and aware. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you want to check Facebook or send a text, do it from the safety of your locked vehicle. Wandering aimlessly into a rest area bathroom while staring at your phone sets you up for someone to take advantage of your distraction. Body posture has a lot to do with how the bad guys choose victims. Head up and watchful, shoulders back, strong core and purposeful movement is our first line of defense.

2. Stay in well-lighted, populated areas. Dim parking lots, deserted (or seemingly so) rest areas with no other people around leaves the predators amongst us with too many places to lurk. “Situational awareness,” Miner says, “is critical. Know what’s going on around you. Avoiding conflict is vastly better than fighting.”

3. Keep keys and cell phones with you. Calling for help in a bad situation isn’t possible if you left your phone in the vehicle while you ran in to pee or exercise a dog or grab a bite to eat. Your car’s key fob also may have an alarm option that you can push which will set up enough racket for people to look up and see a problem. In an absolute worst case, keys wedged between your fingers, with your hand in a fist, make an adequate weapon. Aim for eyes or throat and make it count. Male attackers will always expect and be prepared for a kick to the genitals. “If you must fight, cheat!” says Miner. “Win. Defend yourself.”

4. Stay in touch with family/friends. Someone should always know your route, intended destination and ETA. Always have a travel buddy you check in with when you stop for the night. This sets up a built in alarm system — if you don’t check in, your buddy should check up on you.

5. Make use of available non-lethal self-defense and deterrent options. Pepper spray, whistles, self-defense alarms and barking dogs all work. Keep in mind that most attackers are looking for targets of opportunity. They don’t want to get caught. “The more noise you make,” Helmken says, “the more the individual will divert, go a different direction.”

*Don’t* Touch This….

As disappointing and upsetting as it is, inappropriate touching or advances are not confined to billionaires and Hollywood starlets. From copping a cheap feel to offering hotel room keys, and worse, it does happen, even in our sport.

Helmken says, “If somebody touches or grabs at you without your approval, step back. Get space between you. Get loud and verbal. This is not a time to avoid making a scene.”

From the “School of Hard Knocks” files:

Your momma was right when she told you to make good decisions and use your common sense.

Gracefully extricating oneself from an awkward or even ugly situation is much more difficult than avoiding it in the first place.

There is safety in numbers. Don’t allow yourself to be singled out of a group in social settings.

Everyone has a slightly different comfort level of what is “harmless” and what is not. Be true to yourself.

While it’s pretty to think that in today’s society people know the boundaries of what is and is not acceptable, each and every one of us need to be able and willing to say, “Back off” if a line is crossed.

In the Year of Living Well, stay safe, stay aware and stand strong.

As always, this is JMHO.

Laura Reeves PHA

Our family always had dogs. Mutt dogs, purebred dogs, but always dogs. I grew up with dogs everywhere. My mother eventually enrolled me in dog care 4-H because I was “shy and retiring and lacked people skills”….. I am the living testimonial to the success of the 4-H program! I continued into AKC shows as my family transitioned from “dogs” to the wonderful world of Purebred Dogs. I showed all of our family dogs in conformation and participated in Junior Showmanship competition. I went to college, earned a degree and worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. Today, Today, I am an AKC Breeder of Merit, a member of the Professional Handlers Association and the host of pure dog talk http://puredogtalk.com/, THE podcast about purebred dogs.

AKC Code of Sportsmanship

AKC CODE OF SPORTSMANSHIP

PREFACE: The sport of purebred dog competitive events dates prior to 1884, the year of AKC’s birth. Shared values of those involved in the sport include principles of sportsmanship. They are practiced in all sectors of our sport: conformation, performance and companion. Many believe that these principles of sportsmanship are the prime reason why our sport has thrived for over one hundred years. With the belief that it is useful to periodically articulate the fundamentals of our sport, this code is presented.

  • Sportsmen respect the history, traditions and integrity of the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Sportsmen commit themselves to values of fair play, honesty, courtesy, and vigorous competition, as well as winning and losing with grace.
  • Sportsmen refuse to compromise their commitment and obligation to the sport of purebred dogs by injecting personal advantage or consideration into their decisions or behavior.
  • The sportsman judge judges only on the merits of the dogs and considers no other factors.
  • The sportsman judge or exhibitor accepts constructive criticism.
  • The sportsman exhibitor declines to enter or exhibit under a judge where it might reasonably appear that the judge’s placements could be based on something other than the merits of the dogs.
  • The sportsman exhibitor refuses to compromise the impartiality of a judge.
  • The sportsman respects the AKC bylaws, rules, regulations and policies governing the sport of purebred dogs.
  • Sportsmen find that vigorous competition and civility are not inconsistent and are able to appreciate the merit of their competition and the effort of competitors.
  • Sportsmen welcome, encourage and support newcomers to the sport.
  • Sportsmen will deal fairly with all those who trade with them.
  • Sportsmen are willing to share honest and open appraisals of both the strengths and weaknesses of their breeding stock.
  • Sportsmen spurn any opportunity to take personal advantage of positions offered or bestowed upon them.
  • Sportsmen always consider as paramount the welfare of their dog.
  • Sportsmen refuse to embarrass the sport, the American Kennel Club, or themselves while taking part in the sport.

Feature photo by Dustin Hartje

Are You Ashamed to Admit to Being a Dog Breeder?

Sharing this well written article written by Elizabeth Brinkley and published in Best in Show Daily. Click the title of the article for the link to the original publication.

Are You Ashamed to Admit to Being a Dog Breeder?

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Posted By Elizabeth Brinkley

In The Scene

If so you aren’t alone. In the past 30 plus years, the relentless propaganda of the animal rights movement has presented dog breeders in a very negative light. They have brainwashed the public that there is a “pet overpopulation” and that every puppy bred by a breeder “kills” a shelter dog. Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is time for breeders to stop hiding, to be proud of what they do and stand up for purebred dogs. Educate the public with the TRUTH about breeding.  You owe it to yourself, your breed and our sport to help. Here is some information you can share with people you meet.

First fact: there is no longer a “pet overpopulation. That has been proven. For the past ten years, shelters have been importing as many as 300,000 dogs per year according to the USDA. And those are only the ones reported. Many others are smuggled across the border from Mexico or brought in by people claiming them as their pets. Shelters are importing so-called “meat dogs” from Korea. I’m sorry but I have trouble believing a purebred Maltese was being raised for a meal – maybe an appetizer? These animals are bringing with them diseases from their country of origin, many of which have never been seen in the US or had been eradicated such as rabies. There are still local shelters that have issues but the main problems with dogs in shelters is a combination of poor owner retention, poor shelter management, poor pet distribution, a lack of funds for public shelters (partly due to the siphoning off of funds by HSUS, ASPCA, PeTA, et. al with their crying, whining late night TV ads) and a lack of education of the public. Since 2005 the birthrate for puppies has not been meeting the demand. Many rare breeds are declining to the point of extinction due to anti-breeder laws Breeders can fix that. WE ARE THE EXPERTS. We need to step up and tell the public and our legislators who we are and what the animal rights groups are.

Second fact: the public has the right to choose. A shelter/rescue dog is NOT for every family. Shelter/rescue dogs come with baggage that can require an EXPERIENCED owner. Shelter/rescue dogs have NO health testing and frequently have behavioral issues that take years of training to overcome. Health care and training for a shelter/rescue dog can cost THOUSANDS of dollars and still not result in a quality pet. Puppies purchased from a shelter or rescue are NOT subject to any state puppy lemon laws. Puppies purchased from a breeder or a pet store are covered under state puppy lemon laws. Obtaining a dog should be a time for rational decision making–not an excuse for moral preening.  You are more likely to purchase a dog with health or behavioral issues from a shelter or a rescue than a pet store.

Third fact: those choices can include private breeders, shelters/rescue and pet stores. There are three main types of breeders: Professional, Pet and Hobby/show breeders. Every one of these can be a large-scale breeder, every one of these could be a substandard breeder. Professional kennels are subject to state and/or federal oversight. Substandard care can be found with all types of breeders. It is about the standard of care, NOT the numbers. Most Professional breeders who sell to pet stores have state of the art kennels that meet USDA standards and the standards of their state laws. They are inspected at least yearly and must meet or exceed 157 pages of stringent standards far higher than those expected of the average hobby breeder. They are NOT those horrible chicken cages shown on the deceptive commercials of HSUS and ASPCA. If you haven’t visited a commercial kennel you are not an expert on the subject.  “Sick” puppies do not sell. Sick females do not conceive and produce puppies. Sick males do not produce sperm and sire puppies. It is counterproductive for any industry to produce a defective product and expect to stay in business. For every sick puppy found at a pet store, THOUSANDS of perfectly healthy puppies are sold. Any dog can have health issues. It’s about Mother Nature NOT lack of care or numbers.

Fourth fact: The word “puppymill” was invented by the animal rights groups. The animal rights groups use the word to horrify, terrify, and coerce the public into giving them money. The very people who invented and sling this word around with great abandon are the ones who benefit from “puppymills”. They benefit from begging for donations. They benefit from selling dogs seized in raids. It is totally in their best interest to convince the public that we are ALL “puppymills” who make a living off the backs of our poor little dogs. We are breeders need to STOP using the word invented to destroy us .There are no “puppymills”. Say that to yourself about fifty times. There are NO puppymills. There are substandard breeders. Any profession or hobby is going to have a few bad apples, but we don’t need to help our enemies by using their language to denigrate others. As breeders we need to step up and HELP each other. Extend a hand instead of pointing a finger. If someone isn’t living up to your personal standard maybe that’s about your standard and not them. What they are doing may work for them. You can always make suggestions, share information, try to help. If all else fails, AKC has a new safety net program that can help breeders. If someone gets raided we ALL look bad and the public believes the propaganda.

Fifth and final fact: We are all in this together. None of us can climb up on our high horse and claim to be better than. We are all being tarred with the same garbage by the animal rights groups. They don’t believe any of us are good and we know that is not true. If you are breeding to produce the next Westminster winner – good for you. If you are breeding to sell puppies as wonderful pets to the public – good for you. If you are running around with your nose in the air looking down on the breeding program of others YOU are part of the problem. The animal rights groups are USING YOU to divide and conquer all of us. They take the things YOU say and point the finger at others. Don’t think being better than will save you if you land in the sights of a determined animal rights fascist. They will come after you too. Just remember most members of the public just want a healthy puppy. They don’t care how many champions are in the pedigree or how many ribbons you have won or even how many health tests you do. They just want a pup to love and as breeders we should be just as PROUD to produce those pups as we are that Westminster winner. The love of dogs is what it is all about.

Elizabeth Brinkley

Elizabeth Brinkley has been involved in the sport of dogs for 49 years starting out as a 4-H kid with the family pet. She is a Legislative Liaison to the American Kennel Club, a Delegate to the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and a member of the NAIA. She says “I have spent most of my life raising, training and showing dogs. I have taken enough classes, workshops, seminars and symposiums to earn at least a Bachelor’s degree and while earning my five college degrees in other fields I have taken college classes in biology and genetics.” She earned a national certification through NADOI as a dog obedience instructor and has worked in vet offices, animal shelters, grooming shops and boarding kennels.

Rethinking Puppy Socialization

New puppy owners and breeders sending puppies off to their new homes will both benefit from the information in this excellent blog post by Lisa Mullinax.  Click on the title of the article to visit Lisa’s blog for more training advice!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

June 30, 2015

Lisa Mullinax, ACDBC

Why does my dog have a behavior problem?  I TOOK him to puppy class!”

I hear this – or variations of this – a lot.  Like, all the time.  In fact, at least half the dogs in my aggression cases have taken a puppy class.  That’s way up from 10-15 years ago.

While more dog owners are aware of the importance of socialization than they used to be, the complex concept of socialization has been boiled down to almost useless sound bytes.  Online articles give generic advice like “Socialization is very important.  Enroll your puppy in a socialization class.”

I taught puppy classes for many years.  And I can say that even the best puppy class provides only about 5% of the socialization that a new puppy needs.

A puppy class is held in just one environment, with one group of people and one group of puppies. Imagine if a child were only exposed to two places – home and the same classroom – for the first 10 years of their life…they would not be a well-socialized child!  Socialization means exposing a puppy to many novel sights, smells, sounds, and surfaces, in as many different environments as safely possible, ensuring a pleasant experience in those environments, especially for (but not limited to) the first 14 weeks of their life, the critical period of socialization.

Basically, be prepared to come home from work and take your puppy on a safe socialization field trip to a new location every day for the first six weeks in your home.  After that, you can drop it to 2-3 days a week until your puppy is at least 5 months old.  Ideally, until your puppy is past the adolescent stage (approx 18 months old).

Seem extreme? I didn’t say these trips have to last for hours. They can be quick trips to the local grocery store parking lot or even sitting on a local park bench (keeping new puppies off the ground) for 10 minutes before heading home.  But you need to do something new every day.

Or, you know, you could wait 6 months and then spend $900 or more to hire a trainer to help you undo your dog’s leash reactivity or stranger-directed aggression.  Totally your choice.

Socialization prepares your puppy for life in your world, which frequently presents unusual and even scary situations.

What is NOT a socialization program:

  • Breeder/rescue having a lot of dogs

  • Having a “friendly” breed

  • Having a puppy who is already friendly

  • Having other dogs at home

  • Having other people at home

  • Introducing a puppy to one dog

  • Taking a six-week puppy class

Just because your puppy is currently friendly to dogs and people now, in your home, or in one or two environments, does not mean you don’t need to provide the same amount of socialization that a more reserved puppy needs.  Not if you want to ensure that your puppy remains friendly.

The more novel experiences your puppy has which result in a positive, pleasant outcome, the more prepared your puppy will be for his or her future life.

Contrary to popular belief, a puppy does not need to make contact with dogs and people for socialization to occur.   This is why you can still provide socialization without putting your puppy at risk.

DO’S AND DON’TS

DO:

  • Carry your puppy into dog-friendly stores (this doesn’t just mean pet stores – you’d be surprised at how many banks and non-dog retail stores are willing to help a responsible owner with socialization).

  • Be generous with rewards.  Cheese. Hot dogs.  Small little tasty bits of meaty, cheesy goodness that accompanies all new and potentially scary experiences.  No, your puppy isn’t going to get fat.

  • Watch new people from a distance – overly-exuberant puppies can learn that they don’t get to greet everyone just because they want to (impulse control – important life skill), and shy puppies can learn that the appearance of strangers does not mean a scary encounter.

  • Carry your puppy into the vet for non-vaccination visits, and the groomer (if your dog will require grooming) for a quick treat without the shampoo.

  • Expose your puppy to other dogs…from your car: Sit in the parking lot of the dog park and let your puppy watch the dogs come and go.

  • Fill a kiddie pool with water bottles, boxes, and other strange objects and let your puppy explore…then repeat this in different areas of your house, in your yard, even on your front porch (if you can safely contain your puppy and prevent him/her from getting on the front lawn).

  • Buy a fun playset with tunnels and tents from your local toy store.  Fill the tunnels with toys and treats to encourage your puppy to explore.

DON’T

  • DON’T ever force your puppy to approach, enter, or interact with anything that they aren’t willingly approaching, entering, or interacting with.  EVER.  Shy puppies sometimes need multiple approaches to work up the courage to interact.  Don’t force it.  If you do, I might just show up on your porch and squirt you in the face with a water bottle.  No!  Bad puppy owner!

  • DON’T place your puppy on dirt or grass in public areas or in back yards where friends/family have lived for less than two years. That’s because viruses like Parvo can live in the soil for that long.

  • DON’T take your puppy to the dog park until they are at least 5-6 months old and have already been socialized to a variety of other dogs.  Dog parks are for socialized dogs, not for socialization.  Being charged, swarmed, knocked over, humped, and generally terrorized is definitely not a positive experience.

  • DON’T let well-meaning strangers overwhelm your puppy with enthusiastic greetings, invasive handling, or their own, special form of training that they claim to have gleaned from dog ownership.

  • DON’T let your puppy meet strange dogs you encounter in public unless you are prepared to embark on a significant behavior modification program.  Relying on a complete stranger to be honest and objective about their dog’s behavior is gambling with your puppy’s safety.

  • DON’T let your friendly puppy get away with murder in the name of socializaation. Part of socialization is learning how to interact with the world.  For confident, friendly puppies, that also means learning good manners around strangers and strange dogs.  Allowing a friendly puppy to treat the world like his mosh pit when he is little is going to make life super fun when he’s 60 lbs.

The best socialization program starts at the breeder or foster home, who introduces puppies to new sights, sounds, surfaces, and smells long before they come home with you.  This breeder provides a fun play area for her puppies:

ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION

Starting around 5 months of age, your puppy is going to freak out a little.  Part of this is normal adolescent behavior (oh, and has anyone told you that this is when teething really starts?), but adolescent dogs go through multiple and brief fear periods.  During this time, you’re going to need to renew your socialization efforts.

Here’s the key:  Listen to your dog.  If something is scaring your adolescent dog, the fear is very real to them.  Don’t force the issue just because you know it’s just a statue or garbage can.  Give your dog the distance they need to feel safe, then reintroduce the scary thing from a distance, accompanied by LOTS of great things.  This is where a good trainer can help you.  The goal here is for your dog to learn that a) scary things usually aren’t as bad as they seem and bravery is always rewarded, and b) they can trust you to keep them safe.

YEAH, IT’S A LOT OF WORK…BUT YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO DO IT RIGHT

Waiting until a puppy has received a full set of vaccinations to begin a socialization program is too little, too late! Socialization begins on Day 1 with you.  The first 8 weeks in your home should be devoted to teaching important life skills that you only get one chance to get right.

Don’t worry about “obedience” training right away, outside of a good name response and recall. A solid down-stay is not going to make for drama-free nail trims or prevent your dog from biting strangers.

Could you skip all this work and still end up with a happy, well-adjusted pet?  Maybe.  But that’s a big – and expensive – risk to take with a 15+ year commitment.

Could you do all this work and still end up with a dog with a behavior problem?  Maybe.  There are a lot of other factors that contribute to aggressive behavior, including genetics (trainers can’t fix your dog’s DNA) and learning history (if a trainer tells you to yank on your dog’s pinch collar every time he sees another dog, he’s got a really good chance of getting cranky when he sees other dogs).

Dog behavior is about risk assessment and management. My recommendations to my clients are designed to minimize the risk that their dog will develop a behavior problem in the future.  There are no guarantees – behavior is not static, it changes and adapts depending on the dog’s needs. Your job is to reduce the odds that your puppy’s behavior changes for the worse.

By doing all this work, you significantly minimize the risk that your dog will develop a problem that could jeopardize his success in your home…or even his life.  If this seems like more work than you can handle, you might not be ready for a puppy.  Check out your local shelter for a nice 4+ year-old dog.  There are no longevity guarantees no matter what age dog you get, so you may as well pick a dog who fits your lifestyle now.  10 years with the right dog for your lifestyle is far better than 15 years with one who doesn’t.

Finally, if your puppy’s veterinarian insists that your puppy stay indoors until they are “fully vaccinated,” find a new veterinarian who is up-to-date on the importance of puppy socialization.

And if a veterinarian or a member of their staff tells you that you must physically manhandle, pin, roll, or shake your puppy to establish dominance, pick up your puppy and RUN out of that office as fast as you can!

Furnishings and the Three Genes That Account for Them

Thank you Silvia Timmermann for the various photographs used here to show the differences in the Gordon Setter furnishings.

From: National Purebred Dog Day

NPPD published this interesting article that explains how the furnishings on our Gordon Setter are inherited.

Furnishings, and Three Genes That Account for Them

“Furnishings” doesn’t refer just to furniture. The word itself is quite old and can be traced to back the 16th century and the Middle French word, “fournir,” which morphed into “fourniture”  to mean “a supply,” or the act of furnishing. In the dog world, “furnishings” refers to long hair on the extremities of certain breeds. In some wire-haired breeds, it can refer to a longer mustache, beard and eyebrows, while in setters, furnishings refers to the flowing hair coming off the dog’s body.

coat0Interestingly, variants in only three genes govern coat length, curl and furnishings. It was something discovered in 2009 by Edouard Cadieu and Elaine A. Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute who looked at some 900 dogs representing 80 breeds. They were able to identify mutations at specific points, or loci, on three genes linked to fur length, curliness and growth pattern (what we call “furnishings”).  When they looked at the three loci on the genes of another 662 dogs representing 108 breeds — from Old English Sheepdogs to Pugs – they found that the presence of the mutations or not, in various combinations, accounted for the variation in coat in 95 percent of the breeds. Only a few breeds, including Afghan hounds, have coats that can’t be explained by these genes.

Here is the link to the study itself:

Coat Variation in the Domestic Dog Is Governed by Variants in Three Genes

Abstract

coat11Coat color and type are essential characteristics of domestic dog breeds. Although the genetic basis of coat color has been well characterized, relatively little is known about the genes influencing coat growth pattern, length, and curl. We performed genome-wide association studies of more than 1000 dogs from 80 domestic breeds to identify genes associated with canine fur phenotypes. Taking advantage of both inter- and intrabreed variability, we identified distinct mutations in three genes, RSPO2, FGF5, and KRT71 (encoding R-spondin–2, fibroblast growth factor–5, and keratin-71, respectively), that together account for most coat phenotypes in purebred dogs in the United States. Thus, an array of varied and seemingly complex phenotypes can be reduced to the combinatorial effects of only a few genes.

The tremendous phenotypic diversity of modern dog breeds represents the end point of a >15,000-year experiment in artificial and natural selection (1, 2). As has been demonstrated for traits such as body size (3) and coat color (4), marker-based associations with phenotypic traits can be explored within single breeds to initially identify regions of genetic association, and then expanded to multiple breeds for fine-mapping and mutation scanning (5, 6). Coat (pelage) phenotypes are particularly amenable to this strategy as they show a huge amount of variation across breeds but still allow for simple variation within single breeds (7). This offers a unique strategy for advancing the genetic understanding of a complex phenotype.

coat8We used the structured pattern of fur variation in dogs to localize the genetic basis of three characteristics of the canine coat: (i) the presence or absence of “furnishings,” the growth pattern marked by a moustache and eyebrows typically observed in wire-haired dogs; (ii) hair length; and (iii) the presence or absence of curl. To accomplish this, we generated three genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data sets using the Affymetrix version 2.0 canine SNP chip (8, 9). The first data set consisted of 96 dachshunds segregating three coat varieties: wire-haired with furnishings, smooth, and long-haired without furnishings. The second data set comprised 76 Portuguese water dogs (PWDs), segregating the curl phenotype. The final data set, termed CanMap, included 903 dogs from 80 breeds representing a wide variety of phenotypes. An additional data set used to map furnishings included a panel of microsatellite markers (10), genotyped on a 96-dachshund pedigree segregating all three coat varieties.

coat5The same strategy was used to map all three traits. First, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) within a breed segregating the phenotype was conducted to determine the most strongly associated locus. To rule out false-positives caused by population structure within the breeds (11), we did a second GWAS that used the CanMap data set divided into cases and controls based on the presence or absence of the phenotype in question. Fine-mapping of significant, concordant peaks was used to define the smallest shared haplotype, followed by sequencing to identify the putative causative mutations. Each mutation was validated in a large panel of at least 661 dogs from 108 breeds, including cases and controls for all phenotypes (table S1).

We initially mapped furnishings in the dachshund using smooth-coated and long-haired dogs as controls and wire-haired dogs as cases (Fig. 1A). Single-marker analysis of the dachshund GWAS data set and concurrent linkage analysis of the dachshund pedigree identified the same locus on canine chromosome 13 (CFA13) surrounding nucleotide 11,095,120 [P = 3.4 × 10−27, lod score (logarithm of the odds ratio for linkage) = 5.6; Fig. 1B]. We confirmed the association on CFA13 in the CanMap data set at nucleotide 11,659,792 (P = 10−241; Fig. 1C and table S2). A 718-kb homozygous haplotype in all dogs fixed with furnishings was located within both the original 3.4-Mb haplotype observed in the dachshund-only GWAS, and a 2.8-Mb haplotype identified in crossover analysis within the dachshund pedigree (Fig. 1D).

Fig. 1

GWAS and fine-mapping identify RSPO2 as the associated gene for moustache and eyebrow growth pattern (furnishings). (A) Three types of coat segregate in dachshunds: (from left to right) smooth-coated, long-haired, and wire-haired with furnishings. (B

Fine-mapping allowed us to reduce the homozygous region to 238 kb spanning only the R-spondin–2 (RSPO2) gene, excluding the 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR) and the first exon (Fig. 1D, fig. S1, and table S3). RSPO2 is an excellent candidate for a hair-growth phenotype as it synergizes with Wnt to activate β-catenin (12), and Wnt signaling is required for the establishment of the hair follicles (13, 14). Moreover, the Wnt-catenin pathway is involved in the development of hair-follicle tumors, or pilo-matricomas (15), which occur most frequently in breeds that have furnishings (16). Recent studies have shown that a mutation in the EDAR gene, also involved in the Wnt pathway, is responsible for a coarse East-Asian hair type found in humans (17), with some similarity to canine wirehair.

All exons and conserved regions of RSPO2 were sequenced in dogs from seven breeds (table S4). Only an insertion of 167 base pairs (bp) within the 3′UTR at position 11,634,766 was perfectly associated with the furnishings trait in dogs from both the case/control study and the extended pedigree (table S5). The result was further confirmed in a set of 704 dogs of varying phenotypes. In total, 297 of 298 dogs with furnishings were either homozygous (268) or heterozygous (29) for the insertion, and all 406 dogs lacking the trait were homozygous for the ancestral state, as is consistent with a dominant mode of inheritance (table S1).

This mutation does not affect the protein-coding region of the RSPO2 gene. However, because the 3′UTR frequently encodes elements that influence mRNA stability [reviewed in (18)], we examined whether the insertion was associated with a change in the expression level of the RSPO2 gene. We found a threefold increase in RSPO2 transcripts in muzzle skin biopsies of dogs with furnishings, consistent with a transcript effect (fig. S2).

We applied the same mapping strategy to hair length. Previously, mutations in the FGF5 gene were identified in Welsh corgis segregating an atypical “fluffy” or long-haired phenotype (19) and associated with excess hair growth in mice and cats (2022). Our study replicates these findings in an extended breed set. Indeed, association analyses in both the dachshund and CanMap data sets highlight the region on CFA32 containing FGF5 with P values of 3 × 10−27 and 9 × 10−44, respectively. After fine-mapping, a 67-kb homozygous region highlighted the FGF5 gene (Fig. 2A, fig. S3, and table S6). The strongest association was observed at position 7,473,337 (P = 1 × 10−157), in which a highly conserved Cys is changed to Phe (Cys95→Phe) in exon 1 of FGF5, consistent with the previous study (19). Sequencing within the homozygous haplotype revealed no SNPs with stronger association (table S7).

Fig. 2

Regions of homozygosity identify genes for pelage length and curl. (A) Homozygous region found on CFA32 defining the length locus. The red bar indicates the 520-kb associated haplotype from 29 long-haired dachshunds; the blue bar spans the 125-kb homozygous

This diagnostic SNP was typed in several hundred additional dogs of varying hair length. Within the dachshunds, all long-haired dogs had the TT genotype, whereas all short or wire-haired dogs had either the GT or GG genotypes, suggesting a recessive mode of inheritance, as predicted previously (23). Across all breeds, the T allele was found in 91% of the long-haired dogs, in only 3.9% of the short-haired dogs, and accounts for ~30% of genotypes found in medium-haired dogs. Three breeds with very long hair, including the Afghan hound, neither carry the Cys95→Phe variant nor show an association with CFA32, suggesting that additional loci exist that contribute to hair length in dogs (table S1).

To identify the gene that causes curly coat, we conducted a GWAS using PWDs (Fig. 2B) and identified a single associated SNP at position 5,444,030 on CFA27 (P = 4.5 × 10−7). A SNP in close proximity (5,466,995; P = 6.9 × 10−28) was associated with curly coat in the CanMap data set. Fine-mapping revealed a shared homozygous haplotype that included two keratin genes (Fig. 2C, fig. S4, and table S8). Sequence data covering 87% of the homozygous region identified one SNP at position 5,542,806 that segregated with the trait. Non–curly haired dogs carried the CC genotype; curly coated dogs had the TT genotype. In breeds where the trait segregates, such as PWDs, all three genotypes were observed. The relevant SNP is located in the KRT71 gene (previously called K6irs1, Kb34, and K71) and causes a nonsynonymous Arg151→Trp alteration (table S9). Genotyping an additional 661 samples at this SNP validated the association (P = 3 × 10−92) (table S1).

Keratins are obvious candidates for hair growth [reviewed in (24)], and mutations in KRT71 have been described in curly coated mice (25). The mutation described in our study is within the second exon of the gene and may affect either or both of two protein domains: a coiled-coil and a prefoldin domain (www.ensembl.org/Canis_familiaris/). Conceivably, sequence alterations in these domains could affect cellular targeting, receptor binding, or proper folding of the protein after translation [reviewed in (26)].

Notably, these three mutations in various combinations explain the observed pelage phenotype of 95% of dogs sampled, which include 108 of the ~160 American Kennel Club (AKC)–recognized breeds. A total of 622 dogs representing all identifiable coat phenotypes were genotyped at all three loci (table S10). By analyzing each of the three major traits both within and across multiple breeds, we show that combinations of these genotypes give rise to at least seven different coat types, encompassing most coat variation in modern domestic dogs (Fig. 3). Specifically, short-haired breeds display the ancestral state in all three genes. Wire-haired breeds, all of which have furnishings, carry the RSPO2 insertion. Dogs that carry both the RSPO2 and KRT71 mutations display “curly-wire” hair that is similar in texture to wire-hair but longer and curled or kinked rather than straight. Long-haired breeds carry the variant form of FGF5. Dogs carrying the FGF5 mutation, along with the RSPO2 insertion, have furnishings and long soft coats, rather than wiry ones. When dogs carry variants in both FGF5 and KRT71, the pelage is long and curly. Not surprisingly, coats must be of sufficient length to curl, and all curly haired dogs in our study were homozygous for the FGF5 mutation. Finally, if all three mutations are present, the phenotype is long and curly with furnishings.

Fig. 3

Combinations of alleles at three genes create seven different coat phenotypes. Plus (+) and minus signs (−) indicate the presence or absence of variant (nonancestral) genotype. A characteristic breed is represented for each of the seven combinations

None of the mutations we observed were found in three gray wolves or the short-haired dogs, indicating that short-haired dogs carry the ancestral alleles (table S1). Our finding of identical haplotypes surrounding the variants in all dogs displaying the same coat type suggests that a single mutation occurred for each trait and was transferred multiple times to different breeds through hybridization. Because most breeds likely originated within the past 200 years (27), our results demonstrate how a remarkable diversity of phenotypes can quickly be generated from simple genetic underpinnings. Consequently, in domesticated species, the appearance of phenotypic complexity can be created through combinations of genes of major effect, providing a pathway for rapid evolution that is unparalleled in natural systems. We propose that in the wake of artificial selection, other complex phenotypes in the domestic dog will have similar tractable architectures that will provide a window through which we can view the evolution of mammalian form and function.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary Data

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge support from NSF grants 0733033 (R.K.W.) and 516310 (C.D.B.), NIH grants 1RO1GM83606 (C.D.B.) and GM063056 (K.G.L. and K.C.), the Nestlé Purina company, the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the University of California–Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, and the Intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute. We thank L. Warren and S. Stafford for providing pictures. Finally, we thank the many dog owners who generously provided us with samples from their pets.

Footnotes

Supporting Online Material

www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1177808/DC1

Materials

Materials and Methods

Figs. S1 to S5

Tables S1 to S10

References

References and Notes

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