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Coefficient of Inbreeding - Thoughts and Advice?

Discussion in 'Dog Breeding' started by sairhug, Jun 7, 2021.


  1. sairhug

    sairhug PetForums Newbie

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    I have some questions about non health-tested breeding Labs, if anyone might have any knowledge and can advise me?

    I’m the current owner of 4 cats and a smallish (12kg) Greek rescue dog. I’ve spent 9 fruitless months trying and failing to find a suitable large-breed 2nd rescue, so now I’ve given up (can’t take any more disappointment!).

    I'm now looking for a well-bred KC reg'd Black Lab female pup. My previous, and first, dog was a wonderful female Black Lab cross of 33kg from my then sister-in-law's "whoops litter", and I’m very much missing that ‘big dog presence’ – especially as I usually walk alone and my current dog resembles a Cockapoo (2nd most stolen breed in the UK, so they say).

    So, this will be my first pedigree dog, and I want to get it right. I’m far from being an expert but I’m trying to educate myself and am doing my best to research what constitutes "well-bred". I don’t want to end up sobbing on the shoulder of TV’s Supervet a few years down the line, attractive though he is!!

    I'm not having much luck on the KC's Puppy Finder as a scarily high amount of the litters show a Co-efficient of Inbreeding of more than 5% (often quite a bit more ... I think I saw one in the 20s). I was also concerned to discover that many of the Estimated Breeding Values for the hips and elbows aren't too impressive, either!

    According to The Institute of Canine Biology:

    “ ... in terms of health, a COI less than 5% is definitely best. Above that, there are detrimental effects and risks, and the breeder needs to weigh these against whatever benefit is expected to be gained. Inbreeding levels of 5-10% will have modest detrimental effects on the offspring.”

    Other sources recommend only 4% to be the safe cut-off point.

    One litter I noticed advertised on Pets4Homes as "KC registered" did not mention any health testing done, but the mother looked like a beautiful example of the breed. I'd by then already exhausted all the likely-looking litters containing black females that a) didn't well and truly break the bank (what with the ‘Covid effect’ on prices still in full swing), b) weren't more than 3 hours' drive away, and c) mentioned health testing. None of them had a pair of parents with the full set of impressive COIs / EBVs or even very good actual health test results.

    I decided to check with the breeder to see if they'd forgotten to mention health testing (yes, I'm naïve!) and he wrote back:

    "No but I have had the same line for the last twenty five years and never had an issue. I’ve currently got the grandmother in my kennel and she is fourteen."

    Fair enough. So, I looked up the litter on the Kennel Club's Puppy Finder database, and couldn't find it. However, I was aware that the Kennel Club is currently taking up to 28 working days to do its admin regarding registration, so - giving him the benefit of the doubt because the litter was only 3 weeks and 2 days old - I contacted the breeder again, saying:

    "Are the puppies actually KC reg'd, at least? Your listing says they are, but I couldn't find your litter's details on the Kennel Club's puppy finder. If you've not yet been able to register them, could you please tell me the kennel names of the parents so I can have a look at their COIs and EBV predictions?"

    He confirmed that the litter wasn't registered yet, but that it would be. He then tried to fob me off a couple of times ("Ring me and we can have a chat") but I wasn't in the mood to hear any old flannel (what was the problem in simply stating the kennel names like I'd asked?) and replied:

    "I prefer to lay the groundwork and get that figured out before getting too interested in adorable puppies or hearing convincing chat from the breeder that I've no way to confirm whether it's absolutely accurate or not. It'll take an entire day, more or less (6 hour round trip, plus at least an hour's viewing), to come and check out the litter ... so I don't want to go into it without having checkable facts. I hope that's understandable. If you won't / can't provide parents' kennel names, we'll leave it there, thanks."

    He then did supply the Dam and Sire's details and it turns out the Sire is almost 11 years old and has a COI of 6.8%. However, I did notice the small print which says the “breed average” for Labrador COIs is 6.6%!

    What do people think about the concept of Labs having their own “breed average” as a yardstick, rather than the 4% or 5% that people without skin in the game say is the safe cut-off number?

    I mean, it’s my understanding that your 1st cousin has a COI with you of 6.25% (I doubt many of us would be comfortable with the thought of hooking up with our first cousins) ... yet here they’re implying that 6.6% is the “average” benchmark to consider! It’s quite scary to think that pedigree Labradors (and this involves just UK registered ones, I assume) are all, on average, the equivalent result of a cousin to cousin marriage. Perhaps there IS an argument for Labradoodles, after all?!

    The sire’s EBV predictions for both elbows and hips were low, which was encouraging, but both were under 45% confidence (at least 60% is preferable).

    The Dam turned 7 in February and has only had one previous litter (of 10, three years ago). Her COI is 4.2% and her EBVs are low for elbows but over the line for hips; confidence under 40% in both instances.

    I don’t really know whether to consider this as a “well-bred” litter, or wait a few weeks and research some later litters.

    Apart from there being no substitute for DNA health tests nor for eye tests, I suppose another issue here is that – unlike on the Puppy Finder - nowhere on the KC’s Health Test Finder (that I can fathom) is the name of the owner. If I was a suspicious sort, I might wonder if the names given were genuinely the parents of the pups, anyway?

    It's a "Don't do it", isn't it? :(
     
    #1 sairhug, Jun 7, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
  2. bunnygeek

    bunnygeek PetForums VIP

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    I don't know anything about the inbreeding, hopefully someone will come along with more info on that.

    I would be wary of anyone advertising whole litters for sale, there's a lot of scammers and puppy farmers (including for popular breeds like Labradors). Any breeding right now is likely to be purely to cash in on the puppy demand right now and the cold hard cash, not for the betterment of the breed nor for showing (as many dog shows are still on hiatus anyway). Many reputable breeders have waiting lists, they may well not have bred at all in the past year, and those wanting a well bred pup may be in for a 1-2 year wait.

    You can keep researching breeders but don't rule out rescue. The past year has been insane for them as well and they are getting potentially over 100 applications for desirable dogs such as Labradors, or dogs that can live with other pets/children. This demand is likely to peter out towards the end of the year though, when hopefully everyone is vaccinated, the cold weather starts to set in, and normality resumes.
     
    Lurcherlad and sairhug like this.
  3. ShibaPup

    ShibaPup PetForums VIP

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    I think you're looking too much into COI personally - pedigree dogs are typically "closed stud" so you have their gene pool only, you cannot go to outside studs for most popular breeds to add more genetic diversity.

    A 6% COI isn't typically "bad" - COI doesn't mean all bad traits, you have to remember the good traits we like, general temperament, physical build etc... are also inherited and to keep these traits going - there will be inbreeding and line breeding, when it's done correctly it's absolutely fine. Constantly outsourcing - you'd quickly loose type and temperament of the breed, hence most poodle mixes are very different and it's extremely unpredictable.

    EBVs - personally they aren't something I'd pay much attention to. They cannot accurately give an idea if a dog will be affected by hip and elbow dysplasia - sure there are likely genetic aspects to it but there are also environmental ones, accidents, too much high impact exercise when young like jumping and climbing. Personally I prefer the actual scores.

    Again this is where health testing is important - we know common health issues within breeds like Labs, so even if a dog has a slightly higher COI, if those dogs are fully health tested we see what their health is like and we get a better view on their overall health, the further back these health tests go with different generations.

    I'd want BVA scoring on hips and elbows. Elbows should be 0. Hips should be close to even - so 4/5 is better than 2/6 for example as that 6 could've been an accident but equally there could be a more underlying issue with the joint.

    Health tests you need to look for-
    • BVA hip scoring
    • BVA elbow scoring
    • Yearly Eye Examination - should be unaffected by any conditions.
    DNA tests - all should be ideally clear, although a carrier is fine if the other parent is clear.
    • HNPK - Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis
    • prcd-PRA - Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration, Progressive Retinal Atrophy
    • CNM - Centronuclear Myopathy
    • EIC - Exercise Induced Collapse
    • SD2 - Dwarfism
    Champ dogs can be good for finding good breeders - https://www.champdogs.co.uk/breeds/labrador-retriever/puppies

    Another option is your breed club - they often hold breeders to a higher standard and usually keep a list of breeders with puppies due or expected, typically breed clubs are very helpful - http://www.labradorbreedcouncil.co.uk/web pages/Breed Clubs.html
     
    bunnygeek, sairhug and O2.0 like this.
  4. sairhug

    sairhug PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your reply. I didn't mean to imply he was selling the litter as a job lot ... it was just the usual 'one-by-one' type of ad.

    I'm taking an extended break from work at present (then returning part time), so now would be the ideal time to take on a puppy, otherwise - yes - I see it would definitely be better to hold my horses. Ugh - timing!

    I'd love it if I could find a rescue that would be the right fit, after all puppy-raising isn't a walk in the park (er, that might be wrong analogy to use!). But my criteria are so niche, what with my other pets to consider, that I've already discovered it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Let alone a bit of a scrum.

    I did manage to reserve a puppy back in February, but - Murphy's Law - she was from Greece and the restrictions their govt. put on exporting non-owner-accompanied pets has meant virtually no rescues with homes to go to have been able to leave for months on end now. It's a desperate situation for the shelters there, but I hear it's easing next month.

    The outcome for me was that I'd reserved a puppy (after discussion with the lovely admin staff; they had no cat-friendly adults but suggested a puppy who could be reared to get along with my cats) ... and it soon became clear that the travel ban meant she definitely was NOT going to be small and malleable by the time she was able to leave. Small(ish) and puppy-lairy I thought I and the other pets could cope with, but not approaching donkey-sized and still puppy-lairy! Happily, she was swiftly re-reserved, but none of the whole litter have been able to travel as yet.
     
  5. sairhug

    sairhug PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Shiba pup - thank you! Please see attached screenshot version of my message from a Word doc ... I kept getting an 'inappropriate content' error message when I wrote it on here, but haven't the foggiest why! Have also had to delete your quote to be able to post (????)
     

    Attached Files:

  6. TTouch

    TTouch PetForums Member

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    My advice if you wish to purchase a KC registered pup is to research and one of the best ways to do this is to attend a show watch the ring of your prefered breed and you will see dogs you like/dogs you don't like... go after and speak to handlers /owners about their dogs and line, ask about who breeds them, if they know of any litters coming up and what their own dogs have achieved in the show ring......... to get a good pup especially if you intend to show you need to build a relationship up with the breeder, they will have a list of potential people wishing to purchase and they will allow the best pup to go to people show homes, the rest of the pups are sold to working show people and the last ones to the pet market... if you are looking for a KC pup, the parents need to be champions, not just some red marked ancestry somewhere back in the pedigree and not from 'kennels' who don't show, don't test, hip score and continue to produce litters of pups from 'their own' dogs.... any good pup you will have to wait for as there will be a long waiting list...however all the testing, hip scoring, championship status and breeding for the right reasons ( that is to promote the best standards of dog ) doesn't guarantee anything, it just means the person breeding is not breeding as a puppy money making business.

    That sentence would ensure I would not be buying any puppy,,,fobbing you off with 25 yrs of breeding and having a 14 yr old in kennels. Most breeders don't register their pups until they are ready to be sold...so 6-8 weeks is normal...that ensures the litter they are registering all survives, some breeders don't register some litters ( as they are breeding too many litters and the pups are not show standard) and kennel living dogs are not the best for a pup who will be living in someones home.

    ANYONE inbreeding needs to know exactly what they are doing with regards to genetics and most don't and ANYONE doing that will have full testing certification
     
    sairhug likes this.
  7. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    Surely few breeders would leave registration so late as most owners would like the registration document with their puppy. Maybe I missed something but did the OP say they wanted a show dog. If so why would they have tried for a rescue dog
     
    gskinner123 likes this.
  8. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I wouldn't touch a lab from non-health tested lines with a barge pole. That's the absolute bare minimum of responsible breeding and with a breed like labs that are ubiquitous, there is really no excuse for no health testing, both dam and sire and the dogs and bitches behind the dam and sire also.

    What are your criteria?
    Also labs can be working line or show, there's a significant difference between the two.
     
    ShibaPup likes this.
  9. sairhug

    sairhug PetForums Newbie

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    Oh, dear - feeling rather crestfallen, now. Lots to think about there - thank you. It does sound like a bit of a closed shop. I don't intend to go on to breed or to show, so maybe good breeders wouldn't be interested in selling to me? And on the other hand, I'm not the slightest bit interested in what a breeder's dogs have done in the show ring ... unless it's something particularly cute and adorable ;) (just the thought of going to a show makes me shudder). Not a match made in Heaven, is it?

    My two top concerns are temperament and health ... I'd fondly thought that by 'caving' and going the pedigree route it would, along with a big hit to my pocket, at least guarantee these things. But now I see it's SO much more complicated. Good to be aware, though, TTouch.

    I do love Labradors; my family had them while growing up, so they were the first dog I ever knew. But, to be frank, my 'ideal dog' would be a mix; either the same as my last one - a Black Lab x New Zealand Beardie Huntaway (I got her while living in NZ, and she wasn't even from a planned breeding ... zero chance in the UK!) - or a Lab x Bernese Mountain Dog (Labernese) as they are reputed to be excellent for people with autism (I'm on the 'high-functioning' end of the spectrum). At least I wouldn't then have to worry about COIs :D. But a Labernese would need to have health-tested parents ... and, well, again ... what are the chances? Those doing the due diligence with health-testing with their Labs and Berners are unlikely to be the same people looking to cross with other breeds. Catch 22.
     
  10. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    Show breeders often just breed to have a puppy to bring on for showing. With breeds such as labs that have large litters there will be most if not all of the puppies up for sale. It’s how I’ve always bought my dogs, going to show breeders who are breeding for health as well as type and having a suitable temperament to be in the show ring and to be handled happily by a stranger.

    Prior to buying my current dog I researched breeders, their dogs and their pedigrees. Then I started to contact the ones I liked the look of (the dogs that is), but also the ethos of the breeder. I ended having an hour long chat from one of the well known show dog breeder and although she wasn’t at that time planning a litter was able to guide me to others who were and also to breeders she thought well of.
    It took a while but finally found a breeder who was breeding the type I liked and arranged a visit where I met them and their dogs. I explained we were looking for good health and excellent temperament in the puppy and discovered that one of the puppies they had would be going to the Canine Partnership charity which seemed to me a good start.

    Most ethical breeders aren’t expecting all their puppies to go the homes that will show the dogs, they expect them to go to families, all they are really concerned about is that their precious puppies go to good homes where they will be loved and cared for.

    I don’t feel there is a closed shop attitude amongst show breeders especially where the breed has large numbers such as labradors. Getting to know the breeder of your puppy and striking up a good relationship is beneficial both to you and your dog. That breeder will be there to help you if you have any problems, will give advise and help you through tricky periods as your puppy grows up. They may even offer boarding facilities to allow you to go away where the dog can’t come with you which is what we did with Isla’s breeder when we went to New Zealand. If for some awful reason you are no longer able to keep the dog then your breeder will have the dog back and you will have the knowledge that your beloved dog will have a good home still.
     
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  11. sairhug

    sairhug PetForums Newbie

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    Hi O2.0 - I heartily agree with you re testing. I had a wobble when I wondered if good COIs and EBVs might suffice, but I now realise they were red herrings.

    My criteria for a rescue are: large (25-35kg or thereabouts) and preferably on the slightly scruffy side; friendly and laid-back; cat- and dog-friendly. I've done my bit with a nervous rescue - Jamie is SO much better than she used to be, though still wary of children - but now need one that doesn't risk causing my current one to regress. In fact, Jamie's very much a 'monkey see, monkey do' dog ... seeing a friendly dog in action, she becomes bolder herself (I've noticed it several times), so an affable sort would help bring her on even more.

    A happy puppy would work best, I feel, due to the concept of starting small will be easier on the cats' psyches ... though they're large and laid-back themselves. I specifically researched and chose dog-friendly breeds after a live-wire moggy male kitten bullied my previous dog. A colleague who'd just lost her cat through old age happily took him on when neutering didn't mellow him out. [Edit: I tend to take things at face value, and while I knew to 'see the kitten with its mother', it didn't occur to me WHY. So, seeing this moggy's mother playing really roughly with him ... basically, kicking seven shades of something out of him, like a cat toy ... should really have rung alarm bells!]

    With the 2 different sorts of Labs ... I've always been a bit torn! I love the look of the Working types and their longer legs, but then the Show has the easier-going temperament and are more biddable. Are there mixes of the two, I wonder? They'd have to be called the Woe or the Shirking Lab, maybe??!
     
    #11 sairhug, Jun 8, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
  12. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    Mix of the two? They are called dual purpose. If you go to the Champdogs website there are search boxes to tick with show, working or dual purpose
     
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  13. sairhug

    sairhug PetForums Newbie

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    Ah, yes! That does ring a bell. Shame, I quite liked the idea of having a Shirking Lab :) I think I'll be setting aside this evening to have a look at the Champdogs site - thank you!
     
  14. TTouch

    TTouch PetForums Member

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    Oh sorry if I have took the wind out of you.... but the best show breeders( of any breed) breed for THEMSELVES to keep the standard high as they want the next champion and it is very much a closed shop, so it gives you an idea of what you are up against.
    Labradors are a popular breed so bred by many (too many) and from the wrong dogs there is definately two very different 'types' of good labradors the show and the working both can be and often are KC registered and tested...so at least you have two options to get a good lab...either via show people or by attending working shows but same applies, working lab people want their pups to go to people who want to work them and their secondary pups they know/think will not make the grade are sold on to pet home...still there are long waiting lists..bulding a relationship with the breeder is the key to gettting the right pup and if they don't have a waiting list then they are kennel breeding to make money....... so the best dogs will be from show/working breeders and nothing stops you showing interest in showing or working it is great for any new pup to learn /experience and certainly helps training your temperament want and you will have an inbuilt mentor with the breeder...and nothing stops you not continuing.

    I personally HATE breed showing but all my dogs achieved Championship status one is an international champion she just loved the show ring but I do love working my dogs and they all love that too, I am no so bothered about competitions now ( although all my dogs love them) but they train and work daily
     
    sairhug likes this.
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