Here goes the sound of burning bridges……..

Ollie 11/17/11
Ollie post hair cut. I asked for ” a saluki” cut.
 Bonbon 11/17/11
Our 4th dog, Bailey
Out back. Same day.
Just as I enter the scene with my new blog, interesting things are happening in the dog blog world. Actually, they have been going on for a while, but a frequent dog poster named pai pointed me to what else is happening around the dog scene. When I first posted about my discoveries about the local dogs and the Mexican dog history, all this was popping already, but I dropped out soon after my dog entries in my other blog. I have a lot of other stuff going on in my life, but did not mean for it to take me so long to comeback.
One thing I did not realize in ’09, was that there is now a movement to expose the problems with pedigreed dogs! I never thought that day would happen and I admit, I never even looked for it, so sure was I that the studbooks would remain closed. But it has happened. It took me a few months to get the big picture.
After surveying the territory, I have put several major bloggers on my new list that does not hold for closed registry. The first would be, “Pedigreed Dogs Exposed” by Jemima Harrison. This is someone with the nerve I never had. I bad-mouthed the AKC, then left pure breeding, when I realized,back in the early 60’s, where the whole idea was headed. I never tried to open my mouth, I just left the garden. So I am in awe of Jemima, who is taking o nthe granddaddy of breed clubs, The Kennel Club and the elephant in the room,the closed registry and uses the terrible extremes that many breeds are achieving as her fodder. And so many of the breeds are so much more extreme than they were when I was in my 20’s -50 years ago- and already noticing the horrid rear ends of the German Shepherds.
The next important blogger critiquing AKC breeding practiceswould be Retrieverman’s weblog, Scottie Westfall III and Border Wars’ Christophe rLandauer whose recent spate of posts on the merle and harlequin genes has forced me to look at dog breeding much more closely than I was, at first,interested in doing.
One of those guys put up a chart, with many major defects bred into various breeds. The pug was at the center. One little dog with bad genes from every side, except, maybe the dwarf legs and the baldness. Hey ,maybe a HAIRLESS PUG with a butch haircut, spats and gloves, would be the next step in the evolution of that breed into a micro-human. The lack of teeth connected with the hairlessness shouldn’t add much to his genetic problems. Dogs don’t need teeth any more.Teeth are a problem. They chew stuff. With wet dog chow, who needs teeth anyway?After hearing about the bulldog’s lifespan, I think a lot of people want to change their dogs as often as their cars, so bulldogs are bred to a “T” for the market that can afford to buy into them.
Oh, but wait. I have a dog with one of the genetic issues they have mentioned. I have a hairless dog. She does have impaired teeth, but she has her incisors and her molars, so her lack of teeth may not have impaired her quality of life, so far.  But, she is only 3 years old. I have a long way to go to know how this will play out. Tonight,I saw an article talking about panda German Shepherds. OK. I am not sure what I saw in those pictures, but I did get the drift that these sport mutations that crop up, such as the one for baldness are always heterozygous, because the homozygous version is, or should be, lethal. And that this kind of semi-dominant gene is a Pandora’s box for a breeder. And of course, it doesn’ t breed true, it will always show 25% reversion to original type.
Well, this plays out exactly in hairless “breeds” of dogs,doesn’t it? In the first place, a “breed” can’t be based on this kind of semi-lethal dominant trait. I have already written two posts about this, one for the Chinese Crested Dog and one for the Xoloitzquintle. In both posts, I claim that the hairy version is the real breed! Of course it is!! In the crested, this would be the powder puff and in the Xolo is would be the semi-scorned hairy dogs in the litter which have no breed name at all unless you go back to the Aztec Itzquintle which just means dog. They all had dogs. Smallish prick eared(mostly) shorthaired (mostly) dogs. Then one day a naked pup showed up in a litter.  The ancient breeders did seem to know that it took a hairless to get a hairless, but they were never looking for a hairless breed. Xolotl was the god of the weird, or malformed.Xolo-Ixquintle, when S/He showed up was a kind of shamanic animal, tied to journeys to and through the underworld. They “belonged” to a special place, not filled by hairy dogs. Most people did not need or want them, precisely because they belonged to Xolotl. But in modern days, the natural breed has been dissed and naked bred to naked in an effort to establish a breed of naked. But the nature of the gene foils them throwing that 25% at least, of hairy dogs and even amongst the hairless, especially in the Cresteds,the range of hairlessness is well nigh uncontrollable! 50 years of breeding true hairless to true hairless in the Cresteds is still producing powderpuffs, hairy-assed monsters and spotted and patchy clumps of hair. Well nigh most of each litter. I call this kind of breeding, a Sisyphean task!
And that does not even include the ethical, if not actually terrible issues of trying to found a breed using these semi-lethal genes.
I have been a fan of all things Mexican since I was a child. I live and grew up here in Tucson, which is Mexican in its roots. I enjoy learning the local folklore and all things Nahuatl. A few Arizona tribes are Uto-Aztecan speakers, so the culture is pervasive, if you look for it. I knew the folklore of the Xolo and jumped on my chance to bring one home. I regarded her naked gene as the Xolotl in her. I regard it as a trust. I knew about the gene. I knew it was lethal when homozygous, but never thought about the Principle of such a thing across the dog world of the 21stCentury. Knowing what I know now, I would never agree to base a breed on then aked gene. It would result in the mess that is the Chinese Crested breed today. And why try to do it in a closed registry? There are simply not enough Xolos to close the stud books on them. Already I saw an almost kind of albinism and green eyes in a registered xolo. She was called “a blond”, but what I saw was recessive genes coming out.
#
One last thought. I see these cutting edge bloggers debating outcrosses and what to outcross to- for what reason.My thoughts on this.
Lots of groups of people could develop landrace dogs as local pools of outcrossed dogwolf types. Around here, this role could be taken by the landrace 10 lb Chihuahuas already here. In many cases, these deertype Chihuahuas are indistinguishable from the small pool of hairy Itzquintle photos I have gathered. The Carolina dog types could be a go in the Southeast,the dogwolves of the plains type could come back. I would love to see the Navajos bring back their sheep dogs or hunting dogs before there were sheep. And other Nations as well.
The landrace dogs would be practically all dominants, outwardly dingo or wolfie looking in general type, though variations of all kinds could show up. People love to grab the one that has dropped ears in a flock of prick ears,  but the general landrace type should not go too far away from the basic canid model, nor should the color go too far from the basics.
For the genetic problem in a breed, for instance, I think you need an outcross to a basic genetically diverse dog, then pick the f2 offspring to go back to the working type though the f1’s might be surprisingly close phenotypically.  Although the example of the boxer/corgi cross, turned out to be a lousy idea to put the bob tail into the boxer, the principle of outcrossing to a generalized but genetically diverse dog would be the same.  Rather than choose another closed registry breed, send some dogs for outcrossing and bring those genes back in.

4 Comments

Pai

I agree with you about the dangers of the closed registry, especially with breeds with such small numbers as the Xolo.What happened with the Crested was a fiasco and a sad fate for a breed that was still quite young in it's history. On the Xolo FB group there are accusations of hairy Xolos being shaved for the ring as well, so will history repeat itself? Who knows. They are just as capable of 'hairy hairless' as the Crested, after all, and not breeding AGAINST a trait is the same as breeding FOR it, in the end.There is a lab in Japan that has been studying the hairless gene for a decade at least and they have not recorded homozygous pups being born, nor have any breeders I have talked to. I agree that breeder anecdote has to be taken with a grain of salt however, as people tend to whitewash their lines and breeds.I would be lying if I said I did not wrestle with the ethics of the hairless gene at times. In a way it is a superficial trait, albeit one with a long history and cultural significance in South America. But at this point in my life, I look at my own dogs and see happy dogs that lead a normal life without pain or disability. To me, that is what matters in the end.

Reply

Kate Williams

I think the cultural context of the original Xolo did not breed naked to naked to try to get more hairless. When a naked one was born, it was "de Xolotl", if a blotchy one was born it was stew. All it takes is one litter to see the variations in the expression of the hairless gene.In fact, it is probably a misnomer to call it a hairless gene/allele. It is actually a single-coated gene with a range of expression from totally hairless to totally hairy. I have a hypothesis or at least a question about that.Falca, our HAM, had really good dentition compared to Ruthie. She had the funny tusks, but at 9 months, still all of her teeth. In fact I just saw a photo of her with her mouth open today. So this expression of the hairless is the (probably) the least affected, except by having a single coat and a little bit of funny dentition.What this means is there will never be a THL with better dentition bred into it. The dentition will always reflect the degree of hairlessness. That is perfectly testable and I think I am right.

Reply

Lori Z.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not understanding what the problem is with the hairless gene? In its homozygous form, it is lethal to the zygote, so the zygote never is born. So HH can’t cause any suffering, since no dog could ever be born TO suffer, yes?

Reply

Kate Williams

Using semi-dominant lethal genes to define a breed is a problem, because they do not breed true, thus hairless will always throw coated, ridgebacks will always throw smooth backs, bob tails will always throw longer tails. In each of these semi-dominant genes the ones who do not meet the description of the breed were usually destroyed, but they can never breed the parent type out, it comes back in about 25% statistically. Therefore the parent stock is the breed and the ones with the semi-lethal mutation are merely grafted onto the parent stock.

The hairless ones have impaired dentition, which technically qualifies as ‘qualzucht’, though they are perfectly capable of chewing food and bones. The coated xolos, in all their variety, are really telling us they are very heterozygous types, though that will soon change with their entrance to the AKC.

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