As breeders who prioritise health and well-being we were very interested to watch the BBC’s documentary on responsible dog breeding yesterday.
I hope it goes without saying that we applaud all efforts to increase the overall health of every dog. When we were looking for Poppy our research suggested that breeders of working labradors prioritised health, well being and brains over the aesthetics and conformity to the breed standard. We chose Poppy because she was a fit happy dog with a diverse pedigree which indicated intelligence. She is everything we could have hoped for. Her pedigree entitles her to enter Crufts, but we, personally, think it more fun to take her for a long walk round a forest or lake.
The Kennel Club’s website does have a very useful tool for breeders which we used when we were researching potential fathers for the pups, the inbreeding coefficient indicator. This calculates the inbreeding of any dog or potential mating by percentage. We had rejected quite a few studs after running the potential mating through the calculator (Poppy’s is so low she seemingly is related to practically every dog in the land somehow, making things very difficult). We eventually picked Rufus, we were also pleased at his good health tests and champion ways, and Poppy liked his charm and good looks. It is horrifying to read that the practises of yesteryear encouraged people to “fix your line” where dogs who portrayed the nicer coat/shaped head/ tail size etc were mated almost regardless of relationship. Breeds rapidly changed but the overall health of dogs declined because of it. Medical and scientific breakthroughs lead people to realise that something had to be done. Attitudes are improving, thankfully.
So the pup’s have a 3.2 % inbreeding coefficient- the breed average is 6.4%.
Click here to see the Kennel Club’s inbreeding calculator, organised by breed.