Inbred Crufts Border Collies

Crufts 2014 is in full swing and the breed judging for the Border Collies has chosen a Best of Breed winner, Caleykiz Rhythm In Black, a six year old bitch born and bred in the UK.  Like most of the show Border Collies in the USA, Rhythm in Black has a significant amount of Australian/New Zealand breeding behind her on both sides and this brings her Coefficient of Inbreeding up to a rather inbred 13%.   The average COI(full, i.e. 30+generations) across ISDS Border Collies is under 8% and COI(6 generations) is just over 1%.  The following are COI ~10 generations calculated using a public Border Collie pedigree database.
As you can see from the other distinguished Border Collies at Crufts 2014, high rates of inbreeding are not unusual in the show dogs this year.  The Reserve Dog Challenge Certificate winner, Borderbay Olympic Games, a two year old dog from Italy whose roots are entirely Australian, scores an exceedingly high 25% coefficient of inbreeding. This is the equivalent of a Mother-Son or Father-Daughter breeding.

This pattern of exceedingly high coefficients of inbreeding is the continuation of a trend over at least the last 14 years.

Rosehurst Dirty Den, the last outcrossed Crufts Border Collie BOB

Rosehurst Dirty Den, the last outcrossed Crufts Border Collie BOB

The only outcrossed Best of Breed winner was 2004’s Rosehurst Dirty Den whose father was 100% Australian breeding and whose mother was 100% British breeding with ISDS numbers (the ISDS is the working registry and few show dogs have ISDS numbers anymore, having been registered primarily with the KC).

Her Australian father, Borderfame Heart N Soul, was 16% inbred while her English mother, Thistlemist Molly The Mop was 7% inbred.

That’s a rather alarming pattern of breeder behavior, averaging rates higher than cousin-marriage and sometimes exceeding the closest possible one generation inbreeding rates of parent-to-child breeding. With so few breeders willing to really mix lines, even if it’s just UK show lines to Australian show lines, these high rates of inbreeding are not conducive to long term health and viability in the Border Collie gene pool.

Competition is the by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

– Ayn Rand

I wonder if winning at dog shows is really only possible with such detrimental levels of inbreeding or if it’s simply a byproduct of the culture and history of competition in agricultural improvement and kennel blindness.  Breeders chasing after the easiest means to win, first importing Aus/NZ stock because they got a head start on the fancy breeding and then inbreeding the piss out of it, chasing popular sires, and repeating the customs of the eugenic fancy that were adopted decades ago based on expedience of type-setting and not of health or longevity.  The industries which are based on actual productive work have long abandoned strict blood purity and such ruinous levels of inbreeding, but this sort of culture remains in dog breeding.  A shame really, because in the end, pieces of nylon and even silver cups are not worth looting the legacy of your breed’s future.

Crufts Border Collie Best of Breed Inbreeding by Year (COI%)
2014 Caleykiz Rhythm In Black (UK) – 13%
2013 Eyes of the World Fairy Tale (BEL) – 20%
2012 Danari De Beers (AUS) – 19%
2011 Goytre Valentine Promise (UK)- 9%
2010 Bayshore’s British Connection Avatar (USA)- 13%
2009 Tonkory Move Over To Huntly (UK) – 13%
2008 Tonkory Illusion (UK) – 14%
2007 Pikkupaimenen Front Page News (FIN) – 14%
2006 Glentress Lord Othe Chat (AUS) – 26%
2005 Tonkory Palmerston At Fayken (UK) – 9%
2004 Rosehurst Dirty Den (UK) – 0%
2003 Sheltysham Chic Chandon Avec Caristan (UK) – 7%
2002 Borderfame Heart & Soul (AUS) – 16%
2001 Tamarsh Maggie May at Tolarock (UK) – 18%
2000 Dykebar Brigadoon (UK) – 10%

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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.