I used to be in awe of the AKC and learned its system thoroughly. I loved gathering on a weekend afternoon and showing my dog, traveling around the east coast to go to shows near my home in D.C. I remember the maps for country roads in PA, MA, MD, (probably now replaced by GPS!) where we stressed about getting lost, until we got there…
My dog, Kimball’s Kocho, was a Basenji, the year was 1963—64. I met the Phemisters, and visited their home where I got a Basenji education and was referred to the Kimballs who were in my neighborhood and I got a beautiful Basenji, Kocho, whom the Kimball’s helped me learn how to show. There is even a WaPo Sunday article with a spread of me and Kocho at an indoor show, where Kocho made it to BoB.
Anyway, even back then, the Basenji owners were concerned about the small Basenji gene pool, and indeed, they should have been. Some horrific genetic diseases caused by the meeting of previously buried recessives were already affecting the breed and causing a lot of culling, which of, course shrinks the gene pool even more.
What was the worst thing about this was that were literally thousands of Basenjis in Africa who rarely had a bad recessive show up and if it did, the dog was food. These dogs are the quintessential “landrace” dogs in Africa. They are not, and never were, “purebred”, yet they retain their size and type from ancient Egypt to the present with only small variations. The poorest tribes who keep Basenjis, have Basenjis who fit the American Breed Standard and look like the top show dogs. The AKC approach, with closed stud books, has not improved the breed one whit and they realized they were not getting it right, either.
The breed club asked the AKC to open the stud books, to which the AKC complied, opening them several times. At the moment, they are open to new African stock until 2013. I hope a lot of new stock is being imported, because if ever a landrace dog was as consistent as a purebred dog in temperament and type, it is the Basenji. It could easily be the first landrace dog recognized as such.
My contention is that the AKC breeding from closed stud books is not a sacred idea! Maintaining the same breeding style (lots of shared genes) in breeds with a small number of Founding Fathers leads to disaster in every case. I am thinking of another landrace-derived dog, the Malamute, which had few FF’s in the stud books. The malamutes became close to clones of the founding members! As the inbreeding coefficient to make a whole breed a clone of a particular dog goes up, a number of deeply buried recessives can manifest. The Huskies, still have a landrace equivalent in some of the Inuit dogs, but things like blue eyes indicate buried recessives surfacing. They indicate the inbreeding coefficient is operating. The Inuit dogs were a true landrace dog from which the Malamute and Husky were derived.