By Pete Wedderburn Last updated: March 15th, 2010
Yogi, the magnificent Hungarian Vizsla who won “Best in Show” at Crufts yesterday, had been recognised as a prize-winner since his arrival in the UK in the summer of 2005. During the following four years, he produced 827 descendants – 517 (1st generation), 299 (2nd generation) and 11 (3rd generation). In the same period a total of 4977 Vizsla puppies were registered. This means that Yogi sired more than 10 per cent of the newly registered Hungarian Vizslas in the country. His story provides a good example of the way that over-use of the “best dogs” in the pedigree world can end up contributing to a narrow genetic pool, with an increased potential for inherited disease.
In fact, the Hungarian Vizsla Club is deeply committed to tackling these types of problems. The club takes a serious and responsible stance, recently expelling a member for breaking their code of best practice and even writing to non-club members if they spot that someone has bred a dog under-age or bred from a bitch on consecutive seasons. Such dedication to the health of the breed is admirable, and if other breed societies had the same attitude, the health of the nation’s dogs would dramatically improve. The rapid turnover of generations in the dog world means that changes can happen surprisingly quickly.
The Crufts dog show is over for another year, but the heated debate about breeding pedigree dogs is showing no sign of going away. While I was attending Crufts myself on Saturday, I met both Jemima Harrison (the producer of Pedigree Dogs Exposed) and Jeff Sampson, the Kennel Clubs Senior Canine Geneticist, so I was able to hear both sides of the discussion for myself. In the April edition of Dogs Today magazine, Jemima has written an open letter to the Kennel Club, with nine specific questions. I put these questions to Jeff, and his answers are worth repeating:
Click here to read the Q & A