Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Voice of Reason: Dr. Malcolm B. Willis

Dr. Malcolm B. Willis' article, Inbreeding: time to re-think, in the March 20, 2009 issue of Our Dogs hits on many important points regarding inbreeding and COI's. Willis is a geneticist by profession (semi-retired now), as well as, a long-time dog breeder, so he is in the unique position of being able to mesh these two worlds together (something that is sorely lacking in many of the articles concerning inbreeding and show dogs that can be found on the internet).

Here are some of the points that Willis (2009) made in his article Inbreeding: time to re-think:

"Inbreeding brings defects to the surface but does not create them."

"inbreeding depression is not inevitable ... in a century of breeding, virtually there are no adverse effects on litter size."

"This is not an invitation to inbreed willy-nilly but it certainly suggests that greater use can be made of it than is often done. Inbreeding has its biggest effect upon low heritability traits and much less of an effect on highly heritable characteristics ..."

"One should remember that if breeders have an inbreeding programme which gets into diffculties, one outcross can bring inbreeding to zero."

"There are many kennels which have used relatively high levels of inbreeding at some stage of their development to ... bring problems to the surface to allow them to be controlled ... Some people will inbreed with disastrous results more often than not because they were dealing with inferior quility stock."

"Inbreeding is certainly not recommended for breeders of inferior talent and/or inferior dogs."

"... by not registering inbred dogs the Kennel Club is imposing a regulation of a bureaucratic nature which could severely restrict talented breeders. There is a need to get rid of poor quality breeders and puppy farmers but this must be done without imposing rules and regulations upon responsible breeders."

"The arguement that dog breeders have not made progress against defects is erroneous. Hip Dysplasia has improved in most breeds which have tackled it, as have eye diseases."

"In my considered opinion, The Kennel Club has allowed itself to be pushed in a direction it should never have taken. Talented breeders are not found everywhere and we should not have rules that limit their talents unfairly ...The present regulations now in force will do nothing to help defects but could be harmful to numerically small breeds."

*(Exerpts from Willis, M.B. (2009) Inbreeding: time to rethink, Our Dogs , March 20, 2009)

Other articles written by Dr. Malcolm B. Willis:

Inbreeding and Pedigree Dog Breeds

The Basic Tool Kit for Responsible Breeders

Dr Malcolm B Willis was born in 1935 in Yorkshire, England, and was educated at Durham University (BSc: 1956) and Edinburgh University (PhD: 1960). He spent some time as a geneticist for the Milk Marketing Board (1960-65), taught abroad from 1965-72 and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Animal Breeding and Genetics at Newcastle University (1972-date). Dr. Willis is the author of nine books including Genetics of The Dog (1989) The German Shepherd Dog, a Genetic History (1992) and The Bernese Mountain Dog Today (1998). He got his first dog in 1953 (a German Shepherd Dog) and has had one ever since. Dr. Willis first judged in 1959 and, currently gives CCs in German Shepherd Dogs and Bernese Mountain Dogs, having judged in ten countries. Chairman of the German Shepherd Dog Breed Council since it began in 1986, Dr. Willis is also the Chairman German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain and President of the Northern Bernese Mountain Dog Club. He has been awarded the Gold Medal from the Australian German Shepherd Dog Council in 1988, the Dog Writers of America Award in 1992 (for the German Shepherd Dog book). In his spare time, Dr. Willis advises Police forces and lectures around the world. He lives with his wife Helen, German Shepherd Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, terriers, a chihuahua and British Shorthaired Cats.

1 comment:

Gibscot said...

Very interesting reading. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!