Friday, March 6, 2009

Backcross Continued

Although this project has gone on for 35 years, little progress has been made in the appearance of the dogs, which tell us there is a relationship between the Dalmatian markings and the possibility of forming urate crystals. All Dals are presumed to have two recessive copies of the gene that allows for the formation of urate crystals/stones - a trait the breed shares with primates, including humans!

Although the use of backcross dogs sounds great and has lots of potential, the project does not include appropriate record keeping and follow up. More seriously, we don't even know if a dog that inherits TWO copies of the dominant LUA gene (which means it would not carry the gene that allows for the formation of urate crystals/stones) even looks like a Dal. Very few breedings have apparently been done between LUA dogs. Most of the breedings have been between dogs carrying a single copy of this gene bred to registered Dals who do not carry the gene, which give approximately 50% dogs carrying the LUA gene. By breeding LUA dogs together, dogs could be produced that do not carry the urate crystal/stone gene at all, and could produce 100% unaffected dogs. The fact that these breedings are not being done, and in the few cases that have been done pictures have not been made available of the offspring, makes us wonder what these dogs actually look like.

And because these breedings have not been done so the dogs can be tracked, we don't even have proof that by changing this gene we could eliminate urate stone formers. Although in theory this sounds good, we don't have sufficient results to prove that it is valid. This may be a useful project but it is not yet ready for prime time.

The big problem is that the backcross proponents think that we should accept these dogs for registration NOW, without even being sure this will work, and whether or not there are other issues that may need to be addressed. By opening the stud book to these "mostly Dalmatians" we are accepting that the theory is valid, that the dogs will look like Dalmatians, and that there will not be other problems down the road. So one side (which I am on) is asking for more test breedings, particularly LUA to LUA with resultant LUA/LUA dogs tracked - and photographed! We'd really like to know what they look like and how it affects their markings!

Dalmatian markings are one of the things that makes this breed unique. By settling for less than that to resolve a problem that is not very widespread, is manageable, and has been with us since the early days of the breed, we are taking the risk of changing our breed forever.

The people who want registration NOW and are unwilling to provide the information we need to accept this, are tearing our breed club apart and making things extremely unpleasant for those of us who are only asking for more proof that this is a valid project. Very ugly indeed!

Note: The above is a very simplified version of what is going on. If you would like more information, please contact me directly.