From Marie: Check out this link on a breeding program that produces naturally short tailed boxers:
If the AKC would agree to open the books for some breeds then breeding for naturally short tails would be possible thus negating docking. But that would entail some actual logic on their part. (and we also know a few breeds could use a larger gene pool to help out with erradicating specific health defects, but I digress)
I had to listen to a litter of yorkies be docked just the other day. We have them take the mother OFF the premises because of their crying. And we use anestetic. Yeah sure it doesn’t hurt.
As a trainer with a heavy interest in dog behavior I think leaving tails and ears alone better helps them communicate with their body. Sure not having tails or standing their ears up doesn’t mean they can’t communicate at all, I just think it changes it to a degree. Plus having a tail for the other dog (and their people) to see can be very helpful. So why mess with it?
Of course I am also for letting brachycephelic breeds have more nose as well. Kinda like they looked when they were developed in the first place. We have morphed some of them way to extreme.
I’ve known about the Boxer/Corgi crosses for a lot of years; it IS very interesting, both from a tail and a color genetics standpoint. I think some of his naturally bobtailed Boxers are over in Australia right now as they consider using the genetics on another breed, so I’ll be keeping an eye on that too.
However, he’s using the Pembroke tail gene, which is the same one as exists in many other breeds. That means that it will never breed “true” – litters will always be a mixture of tailed and tailless – and it’s a lethal trait. Puppies that get two doses of the tailless gene die in utero. The only way to avoid prenatal death is to only breed tailless to tailed, and since the whole point of the project is to have consistently tailless dogs out there winning, there won’t be those pairing lining up. As soon as people realize how the gene works, the efforts to breed a naturally bobbed breed will be even LESS acceptable than docking.
So I think the Steynmere Boxers will remain a very interesting project but I doubt they’ll change the course of life for the currently docked breeds.
AKC DOES allow a breed club to open the studbooks, by the way; the Basenji book is open right now as far as I know (to bring in African imports) and the Saluki club has a mechanism for keeping the books continually open for desert-bred dogs. It’s the BREED CLUB that decides, not the AKC; there are a huge number of misconceptions about how “the AKC” works and one of the biggest is that there’s some kind of big monolithic organization. Not so at all. The AKC board (not the delegate board, which is made up of the parent clubs for each breed) only VERY rarely goes against the will of the parent clubs and when they do there’s a substantial brouhaha.
The AKC is not at all like the UK Kennel Club in that regard; the KC owns the standards and owns lots of other rights and pressures on the breeders, while the AKC functions pretty much like a giant file cabinet and makes virtually no normative or standard-based or even registry-based decisions. It disciplines solely those who use the file cabinet incorrectly (who do not keep records accurately) or who abuse dogs. Every code of ethics violation, the decisions about whether the stud book should be opened to certain dogs, etc., are all the breed clubs’ job.
And the breed clubs are VERY penetrable. You can go in and get on the Board and change whatever rule it is that is so bad, which is why it does tick me off a little to have people (and I do mean that collectively, not trying to pick on you) say that they can’t believe that “the AKC” made this decision or that decision when they’re not involved in the AKC or even that breed, period. You should get involved, breed, show, understand what the issues are in the breed, and THEN get on the breed club’s board and push for a vote! It’s doable; boards are made up of people who love dogs, and who are swayed by good, passionate arguments by people who are in the trenches with them.
The “the way they were when they were developed” is a very seductive argument, isn’t it? How about this – you find me the long-faced pugs that the Chinese breed founders were thrilled to have in 1400 AD, and I’ll concede the point.
The fact is that brachycephalic dogs were developed to a VERY high degree of “extreme,” probably even more than we have them today, hundreds if not more than a thousand years ago. The dogs they’d consider “show quality” or imperial quality or however they would have put it had completely flat faces AND bowed legs and so on. There were a very, very few “good” pugs or pekes or chin or what have you coming into Europe; you can see them in paintings at least as early as the mid-1800s (long before the AKC existed). A bunch of the dogs that ended up in early engravings and so on were poorly bred and were leggy and had more foreface, just the way I could go find a million pictures and pieces of art featuring leggy, long-faced pugs (or Pekes or fill in the blank) that were born in the last five years. Poor breeding (and artists who are not dog fanciers) has always been around.
There are very few breeds that have legitimately changed in the way that has been implied by those who are anti-KC or anti-AKC. Those who want to comment critically like to go find pictures of poorly bred dogs from whatever era they think will sound impressive, and compare those to the most extreme versions (often just as poorly bred) of today. What you have to do is compare the best-bred dogs of the time to the best-bred dogs of today – when you do, you’ll see breeds from 70 or 90 or 150 years ago that are VERY recognizable and many would be perfectly at home in the show rings of today.
For some wonderful prints, look here: http://www.wesseloconnor.com/exhibits/morgan/morgan1.php and pay attention to faces, size, width, coat, etc. These are VERY similar to what you’d see now.