In 2018, the VNS board asked the Wageningen University Research department to check and investigate the Schapendoes population. We did this as pedigree dogs, dog breeding and dog shows are a hot topic in the Netherlands. Many parties are against pedigree dogs and claim dog breeding is very unhealthy and all dog breeders are bad people. Intentionally breeding ill, handicapped dogs.
Several Dutch dog breeds are in trouble and have turned to outcross projects, in collaboration with the Dutch Kennel Club. The VNS wants to know what the status is of the Schapendoes population and needs to prepare for the future. We need to be able to provide proof that we breed responsibly. This means we have to recognize the issues in pedigree dog breeding and have to address the problems:
- Use attention to create support for healthier pedigree dogs
- Participate in project Inbreeding and Kinship with Dutch Kennel Club
- Participate in Fairfok: project plan for healthier and more social pedigree dog Dutch Kennel Club
- Work towards a change in pedigree dog breeding in general
Scientific research has learned us that:
- more breeding animals -> less inbreeding
- lop-sided male/female distribution -> more inbreeding
- equal number of litters/father -> less inbreeding
- closer related -> more inbreeding
Misunderstanding: inbreeding is good
If you want to fix traits you have to use inbreeding
-you also fix unwanted traits
-you can be lucky: but inbreeding is taking risks
Breeds are created by inbreeding:
-many generations in the past, when there were no other options due to small numbers of available dogs. The Schapendoes is not a breed in creation anymore, we do have other options now.
-inbreeding itself is not that important, the increase of inbreeding is what matters
Inbreeding is used in science, in pig breeding and poultry breeding:
-huge number of lines used, with many breeding animals within a line
To implement an improved breeding policy for breeding healtier pedigree dogs, we need to monitor the population:
- What is the status of: the breed?
- The population size
- The population structure
- The level of inbreeding & kinship
- The level of inbreeding increase
The Breed Policy for the next years will focus on:
-Introduce Mean Kinship. The simulations in the WUR study show that this has the best effect on reducing inbreeding increase.
-COI individual matings <31% (unlimited generations) until MK can be introduced. We need to minimize extreme inbreeding. This has the best effect on short term, but on long term the effects are less than using MK.
-Males can only serve females 3 x in 24 months
To achieve a better distribution of females served by males we need to limit this number. Additional actions: find more males available for breeding.
The VNS board strives to create international awareness on the importance of genetic management of the Schapendoes population.