Myth: Breeding a flighty female dog will steady her temperament.
Fact: There is no evidence of this at all. A female-dog with unstable temperament may actually become more agitated when her protective instincts regarding her litter come into play. Moreover, the dam of a litter does imprint her character on her offspring. An unstable female-dog should not be bred.
Myth: Any dog carrying an undesirable gene should be neutered.
Fact: It depends on what the undesirable gene is. Every dog has some undesirable gene(s) whether they are expressed or not. Genes that affect the health and quality of life of the offspring should obviously be avoided, but it is important to know what the genetic history of the dog is not just the dog himself.
Myth: Repeat litters are never as good as the first ones.
Fact: There is no evidence that this is true. Each breeding is a combination of the genes of two dogs and different traits may be expressed, especially in an outcross pairing.
Myth: Bully breeds are not safe to adopt or rescue because of unknown genetic history. They attack more humans than any other dog.
Fact: There are quite a few Pitbull variations and they are a prolific and popular breed. They are bred to be territorial and protective. Although many bullies are sweet, some are aggressive. I don’t think there are statistics to support this statement, but the breed should be understood and properly kept.
The genetic history is less important with adoptions and rescues than knowing if the dog has a bite history with other dogs or humans.
Myth: Purebreds are ‘weaker’ than mutts.
Fact: When dogs are inbred, the deleterious genes become more concentrated and are therefore more likely to be expressed in the offspring. Obviously “mutts” are not inbred but they can also inherit undesirable genes. Purebreds can and should be healthy when bred by responsible breeders.
Myth: Genetic means congenital.
Fact: Congenital means a condition that exists at birth. A congenital defect may be an anomaly that results from developmental issues during the growth of a foetus and may not occur in siblings or other offspring. When a number of puppies have a congenital defect, then a genetic cause should be considered.
(Himmat Singh Sekhon runs Saras Tibetan Mastiffs kennel based in Amritsar, Punjab. The kennel was established in 1983 with exclusive interest in the breed)