Habibi Bear Education Corner-Expanding our knowledge about Genetics.

How excited we were when we came across this website and article by J.Jeffrey Bragg and his Seppala Siberian Husky website. We at Habibi Bears share a similar outlook and experience with the often closed insular world of the so-called “pure breed” dog world and the problems, both genetic and bureaucratic, that this clique causes.The following is a summary for perusing the original for those of you of a more technical nature .Registry without Breeds by J.Jeffrey Bragg. Copyright 2008.Summary: In this self-defined “thought experiment” article, Seppala Siberian Husky enthusiast
J.Jeffrey Bragg argues for and outlines a radical new approach to bypass the outdated and antiquated dog hierarchy system as maintained by the American Kennel Club and other registries. He assesses the single breed registries and the dog show world as one of control, politics, and self-interest as they exercise “monopolistic control” (Bragg) over the “power to select and to limit breed foundation stock” (ibid) according to the whims and trends in that particular decade.  

In Part One, Bragg argues that the AKC, UKC, and CKC, (among other lesser known clubs) fund dog shows, license dog show judges, and set the breed standards and characteristics that will be held in esteem and value or “recognition” at a specific period of time and popularity.

In playing the “recognition game,” Bragg elaborates, the AKC only recognize those who comply with their arbitrary rules and restrictions that they do. The effects of this cozy mutual appreciation society is that they decide which dogs and their progeny will be recognized by their Kennel Clubs once they reproduce, in a cruel game of “exclusion.” Bragg cites the case studies of Chinooks and Seppala Siberian Huskies, as well as an older case of the Plummer Terrier, by Dr. David Plummer from the 1950s, as dog breeds who have suffered from the political meddling and hostile attitudes of the reigning Kennel Clubs. As a result, genetic bases were narrowed and the independent gene pools were severely curtailed to the detriment of the dogs and their owners.

Part Two of Bragg’s article gets down to the basic question and query:
What is and how do we define a Dog Breed?

According to Bragg, if we are forced to define a breed, what are the criteria?
Bragg states three things: ancestry (sire/dam lineage), breed purpose (working, toy, sport, etc), and breed type (Poodles, Shepherds, Retrievers, etc). Bragg elaborates: “A breed is a mental construct only; nothing more. It is created as a practical matter when type requirements, and more importantly, a pedigree barrier is set in place. Animals conforming to type requirements are then bred inter se (agricultural term) behind the protection of the pedigree barrier, usually under an inbreeding regime.”  Bragg continues that “to remove the pedigree barrier, the breed no longer exists...and reverts to ‘mongrel’ status in short order.”  Bragg also cites Dr. James E. Seltzer, who writes that “what distinguishes one breed from another is relative allele frequencies of an aggregate set of genes that serves for a blueprint for the breed of dog.”

In Part Three, Bragg outlines the practical procedure for revolutionizing the current status quo of distinguishing and recognizing dog breeds.

He advocates for a neutral practice of simply recording data for each individual dog (for those who seek documentation for breeding purposes, for example) which would result in the individual and bloodlines being valued, instead of stigmatized for not meeting fickle Kennel Club criteria. In short, as we often discuss here at Habibi Bears, the term and concept of a dog breed is an outdated notion from the days of Queen Victoria when dog breeding was all the rage. In animal taxonomy and in zoology, there are different criteria to distinguish a species from subspecies. In other words, within the world of the canine, there are no natural impediments to mating and producing fertile offspring. In fact, as you can see on our pages, Hybrid Vitality is the cure for the “genetic genocide” (Bragg) of closed stud books, breed purity, and inbreeding, which is a sure “system for self destruction” (Bragg).