And the Pit Bull’s survival.
At the American Pit Bull Registry we are often asked about the much too often practiced aspect of inbreeding and linebreeding. You may at this point be asking why do we say “much too often practiced” when other registries seemingly OK the process.
The truth is most registries understand the negative implications of such practices but do not speak out on them in fear of stepping on the toes of its breeders within their registry who practice (and often preach) it and the risk of potential subsequent loss of revenue.
By not being forward and honest with one’s members this allows those who practice inbreeding to continue to do so in ignorance, which lends to unnecessarily high rates of genetic illness and easy profiteering by those who seek to practice inbreeding without regard to the offspring’s health or purchaser’s long term satisfaction in their choices of a pet.
At the APBR we are dedicated to educating our members and others in the Pit Bull community on the positive aspects of the Pit Bull breed and actions necessary to ensure its long-term survival both as a species and beloved pet.
The truth about inbreeding is that at any level it carries significant risks both physically and mentally for the offspring. The further you can separate mates genetically the more you reduce potential genetic health risks - given the mates are genetically healthy - and the more healthy the offspring will tend to be. The closer you inbreed any animal the greater chance of creating what is known as a genetic bottleneck and the potential for the showing up of lethal genes.
So you may now be asking why do people do it? There are several reasons. First is that most are ignorant and rely on the advice of others who are ignorant yet claim to have knowledge of the subject. The truth is that no one is an expert on it. The reason I say no one is, is because the dog’s genetic composition is twice that of human beings and thus vastly more complex. We still are not experts on human genetics or else we would have eradicated most diseases. Sure some are more knowledgeable than others but no one is a true expert. As a matter of fact we have only in the past few years completely mapped the human genome and are only beginning to understand how it works. One thing the majority of scientists and geneticists agree on however is how the genetic structure operates and the potential negative implications of inbreeding.
For others the choice to inbreed is simply a financially motivated decision. They acquire brothers and sisters in groups from breeders because they get discounts when buying more than one. Then instead of doing the right thing and separating them when the females are in heat they think of profiting off the pups and let them mate. Same goes with sons and daughters and mothers and sons. People simply have pups and instead of selling them and spending their money on a new non-genetically related Pit they do the easy thing and simply keep pups and let them inbreed. Although this does not always produce immediate unhealthy results there are often negative implications hidden that reveal themselves later when the breeder is no longer held to any accountability. So in short this decision is simply greed without care of the future implications.
It is unfortunate that the pup’s health is not immediately affected. The number one problem directly associated with inbreeding that typically only shows up later in a dogs life is a condition that is known as hip dysplasia. Although there are other circumstances that can cause this condition its primary association is due to the use of inbreeding. There are other conditions such as mental illness, blindness, deafness, organ failure, reduced fertility, skin conditions and more that show up with increased propensity as well. There are additional issues that may only show up in an inbred’s future offspring as a result of the inbreeding due to what are known as generation jumping genes where they surface 2 or 3 generations down the line. These generational jumping genes often give the inbreeder a false sense security due to the outward perception that their dogs are genetically healthy. However, once such offspring are bred to a relative however these generational jumping genes begin to quickly reveal themselves to the dismay of their new owners.
You will often hear those who are adamant about inbreeding fancy the terminology up by calling it line-breeding and will use such justification as preserving a line or bringing out desired positive characteristics. They will also say sometimes that they cull (kill) the unhealthy pups. Although this is not entirely false and some characteristics can be preserved one should also understand that any hidden negative characteristics are also preserved and multiplied in their chance of revealing themselves. If it is not a generational jumper gene and the pups are then culled this can in fact help one determine the genetic health of their breeding stock by revealing potentially harmful genes that one may be unaware of. Usually by genetically diversifying ones breeding stock though the elimination of the negative gene can still be accomplished or further buried substantially reducing the risk of future offspring having to deal with negative genetic issues.
Eliminating and burying genes is much more humane than bringing them to the surface and then killing pups in an attempt to eliminate the gene, especially since one never knows if there are further negative genetic generational jumper genes still hidden. Inbreeding to determine genetic health cannot be considered the more humane option when the same outcome can be realistically achieved through genetic diversification. This is my opinion but I am also one that respects all life as a product of God and think He has placed all creatures here with a purpose. Unless one is willing to eat the pup (or any other animal) they willingly kill I cannot think of any other purpose in intentionally breeding pups or other animals to only slaughter later.
The reason why this is such an important issue and concern especially to the Pit Bull breed is due to the negative stigma the breed already faces with many in today’s society. Breeding unhealthy and mentally ill dogs increases the bite rate for a breed and only gives the opponents of the breed more ammunition against it. This in itself is a huge problem because the Pit Bull is already in danger of going extinct as there are laws around the world and here in the US that already outlaw its existence and its breeding. These laws in the US are thankfully only on the local level so far. States such as Ohio are on a fast track to try and make them statewide however and the next step is federal which has already happened in places like Great Britain, Romania, Germany, and many other nations where they have been now banned.
These laws are a real tragedy as thousands of Pit Bulls are rounded up every year and needlessly put to death. Many of these Pits have done nothing wrong and are not the product of overbreedings. They are simply victims of bad laws and a negative public perception of the breed. In many cases these are family pets with loving homes that are ripped from the arms of children and their owners only to be needlessly destroyed. To add further insult to injury the owners are then fined and burdened with exhorbative legal fees simply for owning it. In many cases these individuals did not even understand that ownership in their area was illegal.
The only way to stop such prejudicial action is to breed healthy Pits, educate the public on the true nature of the breed and to become politically active to help overturn Breed Specific Laws (BSL) when they exist and to stop such laws when they are proposed.
Politicians currently see great gains in going against certain breeds and their owners. We have to change this ideology so they are in fear of loosing their elected positions if they propose such discriminatory laws. As a constituency the Pit Bull owners of the world comprise a massive elective class of individuals. Lump in the owners of other often targeted breeds such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, American Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Chows, mixes of any of the aforementioned, and even cats - for those cat owners who thought you were safe - if united we certainly make up a large enough percentage of the voting block to make sure responsible legislation in pet ownership is passed as opposed to knee jerk legislation to gain political favor. Like all constituencies however getting all to act in a united fashion is yet another trick.