Sheer Force of Will

A double merle Sheltie

A few hits came into the blog just now from a Sheltie Forum and I was curious what the folks were saying.  I expected to find the usual maverick novice using one of my posts to question the status quo in their breed and getting flamed by the power brokers.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a perfect distillation of the Double Merle issue from someone who obviously has an excellent grasp of breed politics.

The post was too spot-on not to share.

Excellent comment on Double Merle Shelties

Nov 18, 2011, 02:35 PM

tofu pup tofu pup is online now

Originally Posted by corbinam View Post
I’ve always wondered what breeders’ stances are regarding this practice [breeding double merles].

I think it’s [breeding double merles] unnecessary and wish it would end. There’s a fallacy (which you can see in the first post in this thread) that if a breeder is “experienced enough” or “educated enough” they will somehow (though sheer force of will?) avoid producing dogs with health issues in their merle-merle litters. I suppose that an “experienced enough” breeder would be more apt to euthanize defective puppies once they were found to be blind or deaf – but really, that doesn’t sound like a fun way to go about breeding dogs.

There is a double-standard in which merle-merle breedings are despicable when done by BYBs, but acceptable when done by well-respected breeders. But the outcome is the same: the risk of blind, deaf puppies. I’m afraid it makes breeders as a group look bad. When the “outside world” finds out that these dogs are being produced (and their owners are being rewarded with stud fees), the reaction is predictably negative.

Is there any amount of “education” that will show the general public that the production and promotion of double merle stud dogs is ethically acceptable? I suspect not – and that should tell us that, perhaps, this is not something that we ought to support.

I love how this comment touches on an issue that is pervasive in dog breeding: that through magical “experience” and sheer force of will, certain breeders–who just so happen to be the ones with a modicum of power and clout–can breed however they want and be free from the known effects of their decisions.  When one of them does have a disaster that they fail to cover up, their underling mind guards will declare it a tragedy that could have happened to anyone and not the direct cause of dangerous breeding practices.  To criticize that it ever happened is to attack those poor dead or disfigured puppies themselves!

The other issue goes to the heart of my goals with this blog: to inform the “outside world” of the modus operandi of the old school dog breeders so that the force of public opinion can begin to erode their steadfast denial of science and ethics.  I blow the whistle and point fingers because someone has to and very few do.  If you were in a position to stop an abuse, would you?

So here’s a hat tip to Tofu Pup who stuck her neck out in public to take a well reasoned stand against double merle breeding in her Shetland Sheepdog breed.  We need more people like her.  Perhaps, through our own sheer force of will and steadfast campaigning against abuse through breeding we can end the systematic creation of these animals in breeding programs.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.