What does it mean to add genes?

@sharronhurlbut:

Pat,
Isn't that what the BCOA board and the eval's are for? We know there are folks breeding village dogs. Those dogs have not been accepted, so aren't basenjis. For those dogs who are evaled and accepted, allowing them to be called basenjis and be used to expand the gene pool to those who want to use them, that is the goal yes? I don't think we will get "show" quality b's from the wild. BUT I do think some are very basenji like. Again, my uneducated opinion. I am learning a lot with this thread.

Yes it is, However IMO.. these last ones that have been admitted and I did not vote for them… IMO are not of Basenjis Type and have nothing to offer the breed. I do not think that these are of Basenji Type, but then that is my opinion....

Debra, I know the math but I am going to side with the geneticist who has done genetic studies on this issue and shown that after 5 generations the genetic contribution is not significant.

Sharron, though the eval process is supposed to help gather information for the membership in the end the process was developed to leave the bulk of the decision in the hands of the membership. The evaluators score the dogs on the provided scale, provide a written statement about why they gave the score and if the dog has sufficient positive scores then the board approves them for membership vote. It is still up to the membership to look at all the evidence, weigh it, and determine whether they feel the dogs truly deserve the label basenji.

The eval process really only covers does it look a duck and some of the does it act like a duck, it doesn't at all address does it come from where ducks are known to live.

@DebraDownSouth:

Great post Nemo, but why not, then, fund a big project to bring in as many as we possibly can while there are hopes for getting as many left as possible?

In theory, BCOA could fund some sort of "basenji conservation project" (if deemed so necessary) that a bunch of breeders could participate in. Regardless, it seems to come down to who is going to breed them since BCOA doesn't breed basenjis, individual breeders do. I think there is an opportunity for BCOA - as a steward of the breed - to provide more educational guidance to breeders on how we can best use the Native Stock imports to benefit the breed.

And of course, that goes back to my original question for breeders about the health of the breed and if bringing in more dogs is helpful. Because I really don't know. Yet what rings in my head is the comment to new people posting for the newbie to tell where they got their dog from as most here are related. It really is truer than seems comfortable to me.

Related to Dr Jo's comment on the other thread that prompted this one, I also keep getting the perception that the health of the breed is doomed and the only way we can save it is through importing native stock. I'm not sure where it comes from, maybe because I haven't been around this for very long at all. Is that just a perception because we have a small gene pool? Is it based on health knowledge derived from pedigree knowledge that may not be available in the OFA databases? Is from HA and Fanconi? Given the only information I have access to, which is the OFA database, if you look at dogs born in the last 10 years the number of actual publicly available health records is low for a number of the tests.

804 entries for hips
457 entries for CERF
157 entries for thyroid
3493 entries for Fanconi
89 CHIC dogs

If you look at the overall breed statistics http://www.offa.org/stats.html#breed for basenjis, Hips are 3.4% abnormal (ranked 146 by breed), thyroid is 6.4% abnormal (ranked 29 by breed). Is there something I'm missing? These numbers look pretty good to me. The easiest way to promote the health of the breed is for more breeders to test and share information (good or bad) about the health of their dogs so that more informed breeding decisions can be made in the future. That's nothing new, but why don't more people do it? You don't have to go to Africa to do that.

Clay, I think that the basenji community's openness and proactive approach to health has given some people the impression that it is unhealthy. We are doing testing and we have data to give us an idea of where we stand. In other breeds, they just assume that if there was a problem they would see some signs so they don't test and really they don't know.

@sharronhurlbut:

Pat,
Isn't that what the BCOA board and the eval's are for? We know there are folks breeding village dogs. Those dogs have not been accepted, so aren't basenjis. For those dogs who are evaled and accepted, allowing them to be called basenjis and be used to expand the gene pool to those who want to use them, that is the goal yes? I don't think we will get "show" quality b's from the wild. BUT I do think some are very basenji like. Again, my uneducated opinion. I am learning a lot with this thread.

Basenji "like" is not Basenji Type

Of course, even if a dog is approved by BCOA, it doesn't mean it or the ofsprings will be used. If the major basenji breeders don't like the looks of the "stock" they won't use them and it will be a waste of time and $$ to bring back these dogs who aren't typy enough. Yes?

@sharronhurlbut:

Of course, even if a dog is approved by BCOA, it doesn't mean it or the ofsprings will be used. If the major basenji breeders don't like the looks of the "stock" they won't use them and it will be a waste of time and $$ to bring back these dogs who aren't typy enough. Yes?

Yes and IMO, it is a waste of time to approve dogs to the stud book that have nothing to offer the breed. And I do not see anything in some of the dogs brought back that have anything of value to the breed. Why admit dogs into the stub book that will never be used in a breeding program that has any long term effect on the breed? Or has structure faults that would clearly (again IMO) hurt the breed and not bring anything worth while to the breed.

And regarding the process, I think that many times people go by the fact that there were long time breeders and judges that had evaluated the stock and that the BCOA Board agreed, so people just assume, "well they know what they are doing, even if I am not so sure that this dog or that dog is really Basenji Type"… and vote them in. I agree with Lisa that well staged pictures do not tell the real story. Maybe a video should have been required that showed the dog in a natural state.... As they say, live and learn... but since the window is quickly coming to a close, sort of becomes a mute point.

@lvoss:

Debra, I know the math but I am going to side with the geneticist who has done genetic studies on this issue and shown that after 5 generations the genetic contribution is not significant.

Again, traits are not the same as genes. You breed blonde hair and blue eyes to brown hair and brown eyes, then breed every generation to brown/brown, you eventually have no blue eyes and limited blonde. But the genes are still there in some. But again, we totally agree one breeding and right back to the old lines won't help.

@Nemo:

I also keep getting the perception that the health of the breed is doomed and the only way we can save it is through importing native stock.
Given the only information I have access to, which is the OFA database, if you look at dogs born in the last 10 years the number of actual publicly available health records is low for a number of the tests.

If you look at the overall breed statistics…
The easiest way to promote the health of the breed is for more breeders to test and share information (good or bad) about the health of their dogs so that more informed breeding decisions can be made in the future.

I don't know either. And your post was a duh moment for me since I didn't think to look before. Thanks. But here is the problem… neither does BCOA or even the breeders. When you have so few testing, you don't know. That's a bottom line.

Not sure where you got your numbers but I used OFA:
http://www.offa.org/stats.html#breed

Lets look at it this way… In all this time, while the 3,720 is good for fanconi, and while the hips show a lot more than say 5 yrs ago... the rest is appalling. It indicates the same issue with Chows, people submitting basically only where they know the dog is clear for the most part.

We really need to do what some European countries do... you submit, it is open to the public. Some breed clubs will not list your litters unless the CHIC tests have been done. I'm just saying that looking at those numbers concerns me. The percentages are utterly meaningless with such a small number tested.

I am not advocating a Breed Warden system where you have to do all the tests and get permission to breed in order to register your litter, but I do think BCOA would do great to list dog litters FOR FREE from all breeders where the sire/dam had all their tests done.

Basenji
___________rank evaluations____abnormal____normal
CARDIAC__________96________56________0.0_______100.0
ELBOW____________73_______291________2.4________97.6
FANCONI SYNDROME__1______3720________5.9________52.7
HIPS_____________146______2367________3.4________96.4
PATELLA___________76_______233________1.3________98.7
PYRUVATE KINASE DEF 1_______127________0.0________99.2
THYROID___________29_______282________6.4________83.3

Basenji CHIC tests:
Hip Dysplasia
Autoimmune thyroiditis
Eye Clearance
Fanconi syndrome

124 entries in OFA for CHIC
http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/results.html?submit=Begin&breed=BJ

The other problem though are things you can't test for… such as increase in autoimmune issues, types of cancer or other problems. So unfortunately if right now you simply went with those dogs with 2 or 3 (which is a sad number... in Rotties we look at 5 to 6 generations of clear testing) generations of the recommended tests (obviously current generation Fanconi is all) you would limit the gene pool so severely we'd be in worse shape. Am I seeing this wrong?

Debra, I am not talking traits, I am talking about total genetic material. After 5 generations from a single outcross event the result is not distinguishable at a GENETIC MATERIAL level from the original population. I am not talking phenotype here, I am speaking genotype. If you want to think that a 1/32 African has some sort of genetic diversity advantage over a full domestic, fine but that isn't what genetic studies support.

And again, it depends on what that 1/32 offers. And for the upteenth time, we agree you can't do one dog in 5 generations and make a significant impact. And again, since gene studies still minimal, we don't know what that 1/32 is impacting beyond the physical traits… which is where this debate began because originally you discussed traits when I was talking dna.

In 5 generations, according to genetics studies, all significant contribution of an individual will be washed away genetically if there isn't selection to maintain traits.

Pat, I sat on it but had to come back. You keep talking about them not having things to contribute… but the truth is, neither do a lot of the dogs being bred. Just because you don't think they are special doesn't mean they won't make an impact. They must actually be USED (as lvoss points out)... but how do you know they won't be?

As for the evaluation process... what would you suggest? I guess you could go to a committee only, but we both know politics gets involved. At least with all members (btw, how many members ARE in BCOA), people who care enough to join get to vote. I guess you could have a committee decide if there is any merit to even put to vote, but isn't that what the evaluations are for?

Again, almost moot point as unless there are a bunch of dogs here already waiting to be voted on, it's not likely anyone is going to sweep into the Congo and pick up dogs.

LVoss... do you know if any breeding coefficient studies have been done on basenjis in general? I remember being shocked at the Maine Coon cat study showing that basically the entire registered breed went back to 4 or 5 cats. They opened up the breed to "foundation" cats (ie looks like a duck acts like a duck). I am not sure if European registries accepted those in or not. (PS if you are not a cat person and have to get one, go with a maine coon. 🙂 )

@DebraDownSouth:

Pat, I sat on it but had to come back. You keep talking about them not having things to contribute… but the truth is, neither do a lot of the dogs being bred. Just because you don't think they are special doesn't mean they won't make an impact. They must actually be USED (as lvoss points out)... but how do you know they won't be?

We will have to agree to disagree here…. While I will agree that there are many being bred at present that should not be, at least they are Basenji Type. Why add more dogs with glaring structural faults and NO Basenji Type to the mix? So that is what I mean by nothing to offer

Debra, I am talking DNA that is what GENETIC MATERIAL is. There are studies using full genome scans which are becoming more and more affordable every day and that research is showing that 1/32 of the fractional percent of DNA that is actually different between two dogs of completely different breeds is not genetically significant.

The numbers I have seen done by people in the breed shows that we have lost roughly 50% of our founders. That includes just from the new imports in 87/88, which is only just over 20 years ago, and already we have lost 50% of them and some only trace back to one or two breedings or 1 or 2 offspring.

This brings us back round to Clay's point, what good is it to open the stud book to foundation stock if there is no longer plan for incorporating them into the gene pool. If BCOA wants a successful native stock program then it should also include educational opportunities to learn how to best make use of the native stock otherwise people will just dip in once and then breed away from it and get the "feel good" sensation of doing something good for the breed when in fact they have done nothing.

I have seen several of the imports from the past 5 years, and they are of such poor structural quality, I doubt they would ever be used enough to make any impact, must less a significant impact upon the breed. With the number of basenjis already in the US, and those having valid health tests, we should have the ability to breed true to form, and more importantly temperament, without importing mutts that no one will use in their breeding program other than a few looney tune breeders who do not know the first thing about form and structure.

@lvoss:

The numbers I have seen done by people in the breed shows that we have lost roughly 50% of our founders. That includes just from the new imports in 87/88, which is only just over 20 years ago, and already we have lost 50% of them and some only trace back to one or two breedings or 1 or 2 offspring.

This brings us back round to Clay's point, what good is it to open the stud book to foundation stock if there is no longer plan for incorporating them into the gene pool. If BCOA wants a successful native stock program then it should also include educational opportunities to learn how to best make use of the native stock otherwise people will just dip in once and then breed away from it and get the "feel good" sensation of doing something good for the breed when in fact they have done nothing.

That sounds like a great idea Lisa! Maybe you should write an article, or offer to do a presentation at a National? Or even a webinar, if we can't all get together at the same time? I am sure that at the very least, those of us that breed rarely, or are newer to the idea of breeding would love to hear about the possiblity of an organized breeding "plan" (for lack of a better word) for the best way to add diversity with native stock.

In the zoo world, breeding plans are done for each and every endangered or threatened species in captivity to maximize diversity. I wonder if there would be some way to implement suggestions for Basenji breeders based on a small population breeding model? Or maybe that has already been done in some rare breed clubs?

@lisastewart:

I have seen several of the imports from the past 5 years, and they are of such poor structural quality, I doubt they would ever be used enough to make any impact, must less a significant impact upon the breed. With the number of basenjis already in the US, and those having valid health tests, we should have the ability to breed true to form, and more importantly temperament, without importing mutts that no one will use in their breeding program other than a few looney tune breeders who do not know the first thing about form and structure.

My concern with this idea is that although we are doing fairly well at testing, and very well at homogenizing the look of a Basenji; eventually we will reach the point where the bloodines are so interwined, that we will begin to suffer from problems related to inbreeding that we can't test for…cleft palates, diseases of the immune system, lack of fecundity, etc.

I would think the African bloodlines Are as inbred as you can get. We are importing what equate to African BYB oops litters. There is a reason they look like the fl rescue dogs. Better to import well bred dogs from other countries with established bloodlines is generic inbreeding health issues is your worry

The 1/32 is a bit simplistic. Some genes have a bigger impact then others. And with a good breeding program, some other mixes with fresh imports would have paired to the other mixes, so percentages will allways be higher.

I'm working for allmost 15 years now with Fiji Iguana's. 15 bloodlines in Europe, of wich 12 are used for breeding them (3 in zoo's that won't co-operate). DNA test are done with allmost every pairing, carefull breeding program… But we just can't keep them healthy. Problems are becomming more and more common. Bad sight, dwarfism, pigment changes... Without new bloodlines, it is impossible to keep a species healthy for multiple generations. In the best case, you end up with rather healthy animals that differ greatly from the original animals.
Same will happen to the Basenji. The Basenji's we have here, are no longer the same dogs that started it. If they would now present most people one of the Basenji's that started the breed, they would say it is not a real Basenji, that it is a Basenji type of dog or even a mutt.
So seems rather foulish to expect to find show quality dogs in African villages now that are exactly the same as the ones we have here and can be used in breeding programs without having to worry their offspring wouldn't be able to win some prices at shows. Better to take a step back at first, and then to be able to take 2 steps forward if you ask me.

I really doubt the COI on Native Stock is very high. I would be interested to hear from someone like Dr Jo, about what she has observed about breeding in the native villages but we cannot apply terms like BYB to native stock, they are not kept, used, nor bred anything like what we do.

I also encourage people to go through lots of old magazines and see how much diversity we have lost. If you compare Native Stock strictly to what is seen today, I think most people would be sorely disappointed. If you compare Native Stock to the natural variations observed in past decades, I think you will begin to see that some fall within the spectrum of expected characteristics and others clearly fall outside. The problem is that with the narrowing of the gene pool many are becoming less accepting of variation which will only serve to further reduce the genepool.

I think that before we can adequately address how to manage the inclusion of Native Stock, we need more education about developing breeding programs in general, and why it is good to have different people using different approaches. Once we have a good grip on what a breeding program is, then we can move into how does Native Stock and preservation of founders fit in.

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