recently read about an english mastiff breeder in nsw who outcrossed their line with a greyhound, to controversy within breed circles. personally, no expert, but i think this is a great idea. do you have suggestions for how to find other breeders doing similar, or how dog lovers can encourage this sort of thing more generally -- especially in breeds with severely bottlenecked genetics like the english mastiff? (qt: came for the berner breed eval, stayed for everything else)
I think it’s a great idea, outcrossing to a breed to acquire a few desired characteristics and then breeding back to the target breed.
Dog breeders are likely to have a fit because the dogs in question are no longer ‘pure’.
Nobody cares, really, if a dog’s lines are ‘pure’ back to 100 generations. If somebody wants a purebred dog they just want a dog that looks and acts a certain way. The obsession with ‘purity’ in the dog breeding world is not based on science and frankly a little bit worrying.
Dogs are dogs. We should be breeding for health first, behavior and shape second. ‘Purity’ is such an unimportant and genetically meaningless concept.
There are so many breeds that could be improved by crossing to another breed with the desired trait every 5-10 generations. Here is a fairly famous example of crossing Corgis to Boxers in order to bring the genetic bobtail into boxers before docking was banned in the UK. Here are some of their photos.
And Generation 5, winning prizes at shows.
There is, as expected, a bit of a huff with some boxer clubs that these bob-tailed boxers are not ‘true’ boxers. But as they continue to be bred to boxers for more and more generations, they really are. The only corgi-specific gene that is still selected for is the bob tail one, and these dogs are otherwise indistinguishable from ‘real’ boxers.
If we could do this targeting desirable health traits in breeds that are lacking them, we could improve the health of multiple breeds. This would require a major shift in current breed clubs, and breeder’s philosophy, and I unfortunately don’t know how to make this happen.