I just finished watching the Nova program "Dogs and More Dogs: The true story of man's best friend" and at the end, one of the experts they interviewed said that breeders should be focusing not on looks but personality. To breed the perfect pet. This to me makes perfect sense. Are any breeders doing this? Is there an association of breeders that is pushing this agenda? Are there best pet dog competitions?

Also, what is being done to breed out the genetic problems in dogs? Are dog competitions finally starting to do DNA testing of contestants and prohibiting those with genetic disorders from competing? Are or when might breeder associations prohibit the breeding of dogs with genetic disorders or at least removing the title of "pure" from their title?

Lastly, are there any breeder associations and dog competitions that are trying to do both? Breed not only pure breeds but pure breeds that are perfect pets? Not focusing just on looks and body structure but also personality of the dog as a good pet.
Scott Jensen

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"Scott T. Jensen" (Email Removed) said in
I just finished watching the Nova program "Dogs and More Dogs: The true story of man's best friend" and at ... on looks but personality. To breed the perfect pet. This to me makes perfect sense. Are any breeders doing this?

I'm not sure that one can define what "perfect pet" means as a general term, let alone as a breeding goal.
For example, from your post, I'm pretty sure that my idea of a perfect pet for me is significantly different from your idea of a perfect pet for you.
This is why there are breeds. You can narrow down what you generally want in a dog and, barring variances within the breed, narrow them down further with the advice of a knowledgeable breeder by choosing the dog within a litter which bests suits your needs.
This is also why there is rescue, probably the best way of matching up a potential owner's temperament to a dog's. Adopt an older dog which has lived with, and been evaluated by, a good foster home.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
I just finished watching the Nova program "Dogs and More Dogs: The true story of man's best friend" and at the end, one of the experts they interviewed said that breeders should be focusing not on looks but personality. To breed the perfect pet.

Define 'Perfect Pet'. Different breeds of dogs have different personalities, which is just as well, because what is perfect for one person is not perfect for another. What breeders should be doing is breeding the dog to the breed standards, looks, temperament, and health.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of the dogs produced in the US come from people who do not have the first clue about breeding for any of the above. They tend not to belong to any breed clubs, or follow anything resembling a code of ethics, among other things.
Suja
Suja
What breeders should be doing is breeding the dog to the breed standards, looks, temperament, and health.

Hopefully not in that order.

Jack "The Unpalatable Barbarian" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to send me e-mail
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Yo, Froggy! Why not offer them "land for peace":
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I just finished watching the Nova program "Dogs and More Dogs: The true story of man's best friend" and at ... breeders doing this? Is there an association of breeders that is pushing this agenda? Are there best pet dog competitions?

What is a perfect pet? Is the perfect pet the dog who sleeps on the couch all day? Is the perfect pet the dog who can run with you while you're practicing for your next Ironman competition? Is the perfect pet small? Big? Hairy? Short-haired? Loves everyone he meets? Will protect you against threat? Is the perfect pet one who can act as a service dog? Drug dog? Retrieve a bird to hand?
There is no one definition of "perfect pet." Everyone has their own version of perfect. What is "perfect" to you can be totally unsuitable for me.However, many breeders do their best to breed to the correct temperament of their breed. Then people looking for that breed should also have an idea what to expect in the temperament of their adult dog. A lab is going to be friendly but very high energy. A Lhasa Apso will be low energy but will love to cuddle on the couch.
Also, what is being done to breed out the genetic problems in dogs? Are dog competitions finally starting to do ... associations prohibit the breeding of dogs with genetic disorders or at least removing the title of "pure" from their title?

There are still very few genetic disorders which can be ruled out by DNA testing. Many of the most pervasive genetic problems in dogs, such as hip dysplasia, have no DNA test. But breeders are using the tests they have, and good ones test and register the results with places like the OFA (www.offa.org) and the Canine Health Information Center (www.caninehealthinfo.org).
Lastly, are there any breeder associations and dog competitions that are trying to do both? Breed not only pure breeds but pure breeds that are perfect pets? Not focusing just on looks and body structure but also personality of the dog as a good pet.

Nope, because there's no such thing as a perfect pet.
What breeders should be doing is breeding the dog to the breed standards, looks, temperament, and health.

Hopefully not in that order.

There isn't an "order" IMO. I call it a 4-legged stool. Conformation/structure, genetic/phenotypic health, working ability/temperament, and pedigree/history. A good breeder looks at all four and makes a decision that most clearly balances all four. Not a single one is more important than any other. The best structure in the world is useless if the dog has crappy temperament. The best working ability in the world is useless if the dog can't stay sound due to ***-poor structure. Without genetic and phenotypic health, all else is useless. And a breeder who doesn't get to know and understand the dogs who stand behind the dog on the ground before them are doomed to never go forward in their breeding program.
Hopefully not in that order.

There isn't an "order" IMO.

Well, there is in mine.
Health (including structure), Temperament(including trainability), Working Ability, and then Looks.
I call it a 4-legged stool. Conformation/structure, genetic/phenotypic health, working ability/temperament, and pedigree/history. A good breeder looks at all four and makes a decision that most clearly balances all four.

True, but a good breeder should always have priorities, too.

Tie-breakers, if you will. To be used when trying to improve the breed.
You can always put a head on a dog, but it's very, very hard to root out health/structural defects.
Not a single one is more important than any other.()

As a performance breeder, again, some are to me.

I'll take a healthy, but butt-ugly pig of a dog with great working ability, over a beauty queen that couldn't find a bird using help from Doppler radar, and who drops dead at the ripe old age of 6, any day of the week.
Yes, I want my dogs to look like Labs and CBRs, but I'm much more concerned about how long (and well) they live, and how well they work in the field.
Which is why you won't find many beauty queens in the field.

Or FCs in the ring.
IMO, too many of us get all worked up over the angle of a dog's dangle.
And that goes for pet dogs, too.
Who cares how pretty a dog looks if he acts like Cujo and goes lame at the age of 3?

Jack "The Unpalatable Barbarian" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to send me e-mail
The "Religion of Peace," up close and personal:
http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020 MemriTV Popup/video 480x360.asp?ClipMediaID=60227&ak=null

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands:
http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn06.html
I call it a 4-legged stool. Conformation/structure, genetic/phenotypic health, working ... and makes a decision that most clearly balances all four.

True, but a good breeder should always have priorities, too. Tie-breakers, if you will. To be used when trying to improve the breed.

Fair enough.
You can always put a head on a dog, but it's very, very hard to root out health/structural defects.

Actually it can be damn hard to put a head on a dog. And heads can mean something. I see way too many labs with NO teeth between canine and back molars. Just a gaping expanse of gum. Guess that's one definition of a soft mouth. We've totally lost the head the Doberman should have in this country, which should be a blunt, powerful wedge (though not as wide or blunt as the bully breeds or the Rottie). It's gone, and we can't get it back. We have weak underjaw and a lot of spooned jaws(lower incisors curve like a spoon). Tons of missing teeth because of lack of head and jaw to hang the roots on. This is a breed that's supposed to bite and some of the heads winning in the ring today couldn't grip ice cream.
I'll take a healthy, but butt-ugly pig of a dog with great working ability, over a beauty queen that couldn't find a bird using help from Doppler radar, and who drops dead at the ripe old age of 6, any day of the week.

IF that butt ugly dog has good functional structure, I'll agree with you. But most of the ones with good functional structure aren't that ugly.
Who cares how pretty a dog looks if he acts like Cujo and goes lame at the age of 3?

Good point.
I just finished watching the Nova program "Dogs and More Dogs: The true story of man's best friend" and at ... breeders doing this? Is there an association of breeders that is pushing this agenda? Are there best pet dog competitions?

I'm trying to imagine how there could possibly be just one profile that could a "perfect pet."
In general what I label a "responsible breeder" is a breeder who makes appropriate temperament a high priority in breeding decisions. The number of breeders who breed for stable and appropriate temperament varies tremendously by breed. Any breeder who selects for one quality only, and that includes temperament, is not a responsible breeder. Good breeding requires thought and balance.
However, it would be a shame to make significant changes to the vitality and zest of many breeds just because some people are not making wise choices.
There are many breeds that were created to be "just a pet." It would be best for people to choose such dogs if they want a living house ornament. Instead they choose an image, but then want to live with only the hollow shell of that image. For some reason they think the dog is at fault rather than their choice.
It is ironic to chastise by implication breeders who create dogs that might not be suited to be a house ornament and suggest that their concern is for image alone. Well on what basis is the person buying the dog? Surely it is on image alone. If what they wanted was merely a breed that would be an appropriate pet then they would choose the breed that has the temperament qualities they seek. Instead they choose a breed that was designed for something else entirely, then expect it (or the breed) to change because they want the look but not the normal needs that are part and parcel of that breed.
Also, what is being done to breed out the genetic problems in dogs? Are dog competitions finally starting to do ... associations prohibit the breeding of dogs with genetic disorders or at least removing the title of "pure" from their title?

There is much being done to reduce the rate of genetic problems in dogs. However, as long as they are living things you will never "breed out" genetic problems. You can reduce the incidence, and reduce the rate of expression of the worst problems, but that is all.

If you want to exterminate dogs (or humans for that matter) one way of doing it is by creating impossible breeding criteria. You cannot have any population of beings that are entirely free of genetic disorders. Intelligent breeding means understanding what risks exist and making thoughtful choices in pairings for the best potential outcome.

DNA testing is still not advanced enough to identify more than a tiny fraction of genetic problems. Some genetic problems can be identified at a subclinical level (meaning before the dog is actually affected), and some cannot. One could potentially identify certain problems that could be required to be screened against. However, I don't beleive that entirely barring dogs with defects from all kinds of competition is necessarily a benefit. In making sound breeding choices the more information the breeder has about the genetics of the dog, the better choices they can make. Even if the dog itself is no longer a candidate for breeding because of one problem seeing how it performs in other contexts can be useful information in regard to breedings of immediate relatives. Baring the opportunity to collect more information is not perhaps a wise choice.
Lastly, are there any breeder associations and dog competitions that are trying to do both? Breed not only pure breeds but pure breeds that are perfect pets? Not focusing just on looks and body structure but also personality of the dog as a good pet.

Please define "perfect pet." Exactly what qualities are they, and how would you quantify or evaluate for their presence to make sound breeding decisions?

Diane Blackman
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