Thursday, March 21, 2013

Say it again, John

Dr John Burchard on "Oriental sighthounds" (and breeds in  general):

"I think we have to remember that the breed subdivisions within the "oriental
sighthound" group are to some considerable extent a Western artifact which does
not accurately reflect the reality on the ground. On the ground there are
several regional populations, each with a considerable range of phenotypic
variation, grading more or less insensibly into one another. The extent of gene
exchange among them is probably considerable but thanks to "breed politics"
(also a Western invention) I fear we are unlikely ever to get honest and
accurate sampling that would permit DNA analysis of the situation. Almost
everyone involved has some kind of agenda and most of those agendas are either
Western-inspired or based on a desire to have a "national" breed. Most of these
dogs are called "saluqi" in regions of Arabic speech and some variant of "tazi"
elsewhere. To me it appears that the phenotypic "fault lines" - to the extent
that such actually exist, which is far from obvious - do not particularly
coincide with the linguistic ones - nor, alas, with the "breed political" ones.
Introducing the Western "purebred" model, derived from 19th century notions of
human racial "purity", into this situation has IMHO not been beneficial.

"In other words, when we speak of "different breeds" here, it is probably a good
idea to use quotation marks ."


Federico said...

Forgive them father because they don't know what they are talking about (i.e. 'I fear we are unlikely ever to get honest and accurate sampling that would permit DNA analysis of the situation.')

Really? Before I even consider investing time in typing the spiel, do you want it? 'Cuz I have worked in dog genomics and I possibly know a few things that John does not.

Steve Bodio said...

I would love to hear from you, and for John to discuss this more, preferably without rancor. These are things I need to know.

Jess said...

"DNA analysis" is a red herring. In regards to breeding, looks like/acts like should be the only standard. Ironically, that is the OLD standard by which dogs were bred. DNA analysis to determine 'breed' should be thrown down the toilet where it belongs.

Too many breeders, and I use the term loosely, think that DNA testing and analysis will 'save' purebred dogs. New disease? Let's make a test! Too many dogs with disease A? Let's make a test. Nevermind that without the Religion of the Pure and hyperselection, there would be little need for a test! What will 'save' purebred dogs is to change the modern definition of 'purebred' from 'comes from a tiny founder population and has been bred only in a closed population for decades,' to 'looks like, acts like, breeds true.' Again, the original definition of purebred, and one that can be seen in action in many, many livestock breeds with open (appendix) registries.

I wrote this in an e-mail a while back:

"I find it ironic that the genes that we cannot see (meaning we cannot see what they DO) are the ones we wish to maintain diversity in, yet it is lack of diversity in those genes that allows us to genetically assign 'breeds.'"

What you have, in 'purebred' enthusiasts, especially those that buy the whole creation myth, hook, line and (very heavy) sinker, is people who like the IDEA of a dog BEING a certain breed. The dog itself is secondary.

I am heartily tired of these people. They are not worth talking at, which is why I don't blog any more.

Federico said...

Steve, I shall email you my thoughts because I find the blogger word count and general layout annoying. Do with them what you want. No rancor btw.

Steve Bodio said...

Sure, Federico-- I'd be extremely interested. Email is "ebodio at gilanet dot com"

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is WHY any particular dog breeders/afficiondos get so IRATE at what others are doing with another(or similar) bloodline or breed of dog. Nazi-Anal control freaks, perhaps? If folks want to breed inbred, physically and mentally crippled show dogs for conformation, and parrot their propoganda so repeatedley that they really believe it themselves, I reckon that's THEIR business. I will have a ready verbal opinion to contradict such, should the subject come up(oops, it just did!), but no way would I try to forcibly prevent them(with laws or other political actions) to continue to do so. So why do some such breeders insist on attacking and trying to DESTROY others for doing something different with their dogs? Coming from a background of country folks who were disdainful of "show dogs" in general, but who could care less what they do with their dogs, so long as they keep their meddling noses out of other peoples' business--is likely why I have this attitude. I mean, c'mon, this is UHMAIRIKA fer kriste's sake! If people want to breed Salukis to Beagles and make Belugas, that's their own business!....L.B.