A purebred dog typically refers to a dog of a modern dog breed with a documented pedigree in a stud book and may be registered with a breed club that may also be part of a national kennel club. The closed stud book requires that all dogs descend from a known and registered set of ancestors; this results in a loss of genetic variation over time, as well as a highly identifiable breed type, which is the basis of the sport of conformation showing. In a closed stud book system it is the task of the breed club or the national kennel club to guard the purity of the breed, to make sure that no outcrossing with other breeds or mutts takes place.
A pedigree certificate should be a certificate which ensures the owner of the dog that this dog is a purebred member of a breed. If you buy a dog with a pedigree certificate and there are reasonable doubts regarding the pureness of this dog, you have the right to sue the kennel club or the breed club which issued the pedigree certificate. Checking if both the sire and the dam are registered as purebred dogs is simply not enough anymore, not now we have DNA tests. It is time that kennel clubs and breed clubs take responsibility for the future of the breeds and the mistakes they made in the past.
The Labrador Retriever only comes in the colors black, yellow and chocolate (liver). The dilute (d) allele is alien to the Labrador Retriever breed, and breed clubs and breeders of the Labrador Retriever are strongly opposed to the pollution of the Labrador bloodlines and gene pool by the dilute (d) allele. Yet, so-called “silver”, “champagne” and “charcoal” Labrador Retrievers are increasingly registered as “chocolate”, “yellow” and “black” Labradors. Labradors which carry the dilute (dd) allele, so Labradors which aren’t purebred.
Any pedigree certificate of a “Labrador” which carries the dilute (d) allele is therefore a worthless piece of paper. Sue your kennel club or breed club if you have such a “Labrador” with a pedigree certificate.
The main culprit in this huge drama is the American Kennel Club (AKC). The British Kennel Club has never in the past of the Labrador breed registered dogs carrying the dilute (d) allele, until 2006, when some British breeders started to import AKC registered dilutes from the U.S.A.
Mayo Kellogg, the ‘founding father of the American pointing lab’ introduced the ‘pointing Lab’ in his South Dakota line as early as 1946 and set out, over the next 40 years, to show that a pointing retriever is superior to a retrieving pointer. Mayo passed away in 2003 leaving his kennel to his son Hugh who reported that 95% of his buyers ask for labs that point. These people weren’t normal breeders, they were businessmen, always looking for new trends to introduce. They weren’t just breeding Labradors, they bred all kinds of dogs. It was a family business for many generations, and the American free spirit made them inventive. They knew every trick in the book to register a mixed breed as a full bred dog. Why wouldn’t they do what the early English Labrador breeders did in the 1800s, only more professional and scientific? Who would stop them? The first American Labrador was registered in the AKC in 1917, and in 1927 only 23 Labradors were registered. After a 1928 AKC article in the magazine American Kennel Gazette called “Meet the Labrador Retriever” the Labrador became well known. Only then Kellogg’s kennels became involved in Labrador breeding, because it meant business.
Of course, when in the 1960s the chocolate Labrador became more popular, Kellogg’s kennels were among the first to introduce them in the U.S. on a broad scale. And now that chocolates were in fashion, why wouldn’t they have another go at the grays, and call them ‘silver’ Labradors?
In the 1980s Dean Crist (Culo kennels) and (in the 1990s) Beavercreek kennels both decided to follow the footsteps of Kellogg’s kennels. They were going to specialise in ‘silver’ Labradors, so they bought themselves a couple of dogs, probably descending from Kellogg’s stock. Back in the 1960s puppies and dogs were running all over the Kellogg’s farm and record keeping was not as strict as today, so it was very easy for dogs to mix and breed. Kellogg thought nothing about segregating intact animals, and the Labs coming from his business displayed physical characteristics of these other breeds, including the Weimeraner characteristics and color. Jim Trotter, a dog expert who visited Kellogg in the 1970s, specifically cited the place as being a “shambles” with chains, barrels, crowded runs with holes under the concrete, dead rats…
If a chocolate Labrador bred with a Weimeraner, then all resulting chocolate puppies would look like field type Labradors and would then be registered as Labradors. The same applies to the puppies from black and yellow Labradors who were – intentional or not – bred by Weimaraners. These were the founding dogs of ‘charcoal’ and ‘champagne’ Labradors.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered these mutts as Labradors. As a result, I believe that at least 35,000 AKC registered “Labradors” carry the dilute (dd) allele. Of course, not all of these dogs are bred; a lot of them are pets and won’t reproduce. But “designer” dogs like “silver”, “champagne” and “charcoal” Labradors are big business, and a significant part of these AKC registered mutts is shipped abroad, to Europe and Australia.
Since the national kennel clubs in these countries have an agreement with the AKC to accept AKC-registered dogs without questions asked, we see that our carefully closed stud books are being fouled by diluted mutts from the United States and their fouled offspring. I would call that a major problem.
After more than fifty years of failure as keepers of the breed registration in their country, we can’t expect the AKC to cancel the registration of these thousands and thousands of mutts, but what the AKC and all other kennel clubs and breed clubs can do, is check the DNA of every new puppy for presence of the dilute (dd) allele. Only this way we can make sure that the Labrador breed stays pure.
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