dog foot print and dna diagram

Essays on Dog Genetic Diversity

Inspired by conversations hosted by Jemima Harrison

The purpose of this website is to host essays and information about maintaining viable populations of healthy pure bred dogs

Purpose of This Site

This wiki site has been established to serve as an international resource for current essays and articles on the science and art of breeding healthy and vigorous dogs. During the last 40 years, the science of genetics has been greatly transformed by our increased knowledge of DNA functionality, population genetics, and the genetics of the immune system.

Pertinent information on these topics has not been readily accessible to the average dog breeder; meanwhile, outdated models for producing "purebred" dogs have persisted, and many breeders remain unaware of the pitfalls of linebreeding and inbreeding, for their own dogs and for the breed as a whole. As the public's attitude towards pets has become increasingly humanized, breeders of purebred dogs shoulder an increasingly heavy burden to produce animals that will not only look beautiful, not only become beloved family members, but also remain healthy and live a long life. As a result, many purebred dog fanciers today find themselves between a rock and several very hard places: they want to produce beautiful dogs that will win in the show ring, that will be instantly identifiable, that can perform the function for which they were developed, and even win in performance trials. No mean task!

Different breeds of purebred dogs have greatly varying population sizes and historical backgrounds.

Most breeds that are registered with the AKC are relatively rare, and are generally bred by serious hobbyists. For some breeds, especially the popular small companion dogs, a significant proportion of the annual puppy production occurs at large-scale breeding facilities.

The current discussions are mostly limited to the USA because of the availability of statistical information at this time. Contributions from other knowledgeable dog fanciers from other countries are actively solicited.

In the modern situation some registries with closed stud books often do not mutually recognize each other's populations as pure bred and this essentially creates separate breeds and reduces diversity within the gene pool. For example in the United States the movement of many of the large scale puppy producers to newly created registries has removed their dogs from being bred within the AKC gene pool. Similarly when the AKC adds a new breed from dogs in the United States (as happened with Australian Shepherds) dogs not brought into the AKC registry during an introductory period will be excluded from further breedings from the AKC population.

The AKC and the US may be disproportionally important in dog population matters because the US human population is 31% of the total population of what I think of as dog show/dog hobby countries. Table of dog hobby countries, human population numbers. [BD - this list needs expanding]

[note by BD ] I think the FCI policy is only to recognize one registry per breed in other countries but I do not know for sure. Will FCI recognize a UKC registered dog so that at a later date its descendants can come back to the AKC? This itself is a topic for an article] We will soon have an article on the AKC conditional registration policy for pure bred dog's whose parentage cannot be proven via DNA testing.

[Another set of data we need is actual comparisons of number of purebred dogs registered in different countries like Canada, Great Britain, FCI, Russia, Japan etc. Is it the case that standard of living, human population size and availability of space influences pure bred dog population size, especially for large breeds.]

[Another question that needs to be answered: What does the existence of a large population of mass-produced puppies do to the genetic health of a breed? However for the majority of breeds, mass production is not the only or even the largest problem for most breeds. This can be appreciated by examining the 2008 list of AKC dog breeds arranged by number registered. Herein we see that 45% of the AKC dog breeds are responsible for 5% of the dog's registered.

Articles at

Blogs Discussion Controversies in Dog Breeding

Jemima Harrison

Pedigree Dogs Exposed - The Blog

Border Wars

A Border Collie Manifesto

Desert Windhounds

A Bitter Cynoanarchist Rages On

Carol Fowler

Dog Breed Health

Interactive Genetics Tools Websites

Online COI Generator by Henk Meijers

Online COI Calculator

Academic Genetics Tutorials/Courses/Resources Online

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA) OMIA

Understanding Gene Loss in successive generations An Interactive Academic Site on "Gene Dropping" at University of Montana

BIOL 4312: Genetics

GENUPComputer aided learning for quantitative genetics.
Although a Windows application Bonnie Dalzell has been able to run it under Ubuntu Linux from my desktop.

Design Of Crossbreeding Programs

A tactical approach to the design of crossbreeding programs.

Applied Animal and Plant Breeding

Cultivar Crazy - Preserving the Genetic Heritage of Plants

Applied Animal and Plant Breeding

Fitness and Viability of Small Populations
by Nina Pekkala

The Effects of Genetic Drift, Inbreeding, and Interpopulation Hybridization experimental study involving Drosophila (fruit flies)

Authoritative Inherited Diseases in Dogs Sites

Inherited Diseases in Dogs

Inherited Diseases in Dogs (IDID)

Canine Inherited Disorders Database

Canine Inherited Disorders Database

Inherited Disorders in Animals

List of Inherited Disorders in Animals (LIDA)

Canine Health Registries and Organizations

VMDB Veterinary Medical Database
The Veterinary Medical Database (VMDB) compiles patient encounter data from nearly all North American veterinary medical databases.

CERFCanine Eye Registration Foundation

CHIC) Canine Health Information Center

OFAOrthopedic Foundation for Animals

CERF Canine Eye Registration Foundation

APGAW: Associate Parliamentary Group For Animal Welfare
[Great Britain]

A Healthier Future for Pedigree Dogs

Canine Genetics Sites

The Hounds of Claybrook

Closed Registries, Genetics, and Inbreeding Depression


Canine Genetics Resources

Canine Diversity Website Homepage

Canine Diversity Homepage

A series of articles concerning the genetics of selection, inbreeding, inheritance of congenital defects.

Canine Inherited Disorders Database

CID Database

Sue Ann Bowling:

Animal Genetics Pages

To Breed or Not to Breed

All 4 essays by Susan Thorpe-Vargas Ph.D., John Cargill MA, MBA, MS, and D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D

The Genetic Cul-De-Sac

Dogs As An Endangered Species

Breed Related Sites

Borzoi Heritate Borzoi Pedigree Collection

Borzoi Pedigrees

Cesky Terriers

Cesky Terriers

The Dalmation Heritage Project

Project to breed Dalmations with normal uric acid metabolism

Author's Sites in no particular order:

John Burchard

Tepe Gawra Salukis

Jim Seltzer

Willowind Dalmations

Jeffery Bragg

Seppala Siberian Sleddogs

Dorothea Penizek

Clarmorris Parson Russell Terriers

Bonnie Dalzell

Borzoi Information Site

Academic Articles on Inbreeding, Fitness and Population Genetics

Fitness and Viability of Small Populations

by Nina Pekkala

The Effects of Genetic Drift, Inbreeding, and Interpopulation Hybridization experimental study involving Drosophila (fruit flies)