Today we would like to take a few minutes to discuss some questions
raised on genetic diversity and inbreeding co-efficients. But first
of all, we want to thank our ISIC partner clubs and countries for
their support, advice and knowledge. We are blessed that we can turn
to a large number of breeders, breeding committee representatives and
internationally recognized experts on the Icelandic Sheepdog, many of
whom who have more than twenty or thirty years of breeding experience
under their belts. Cumulatively, these breeding representatives have
hundreds of years of experience and a solid history of working
together cooperatively. Isn’t that amazing, a huge group of people who
work together to preserve the Icelandic Sheepdog (ISD)! And we are a
part of it.
For those of you who don’t know, ISIC is an international association
of ten countries where the ISD is known and loved. The organization
was started in Bjuv, Sweden in 1996. The Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFI)
spearheaded the effort as they saw that the ISD needed an increase in
genetic variation. To achieve that goal, HRFI believed that an
international perspective was necessary. Over the years, the national
breed clubs within ISIC have decided, step by step, about common
strategies to achieve this goal. In the ensuing years, this
international group dedicated to this common purpose, have worked to
develop a secure ISD database, sought knowledge and education by
studying emerging research and by consulting with and attending
seminars by international experts through the years. ISIC believes
that the cultural inheritance of the ISD is much more important and
long lasting than a single lifetime of a human being.
ISIC recommends that the percentage of inbreeding at the five
generation level should be kept to less than 5%, but 6% is still
acceptable. We are happy to report that a review of the litters listed
on our ISAA site during 2008 and 2009 shows that every litter followed
this guideline. Of course, inbreeding co-efficients are less important
on an individual level than on the population as a whole as keeping a
wide breeding base and increasing genetic variation preserves genetic
The ISIC goal is to have an effective population size of about 150
-200 dogs in the breeding pool as that size is large enough to stop
heavy losses of genetic variation within the breed according to
research experts. When all of the breeding dogs in the ISIC countries
are considered, we have reached that important goal. But we can do
The ISIC breeding committee recommends combining dogs from unusual
family groups with dogs from more common groups. This is to ensure
preservation/spreading of unusual genes to a sufficient number of
dogs. The committee recommends breeding more selectively in the larger
family groups and less selectively in the smaller ones while still
choosing the best, healthy dogs.
When we talk about breeding, we tend to talk more about male dogs than
female dogs because it is easier for a male to have many litters than
for a female, so they generally have more influence on the population
as a whole. We are lucky here in the USA to have a wide variety of
dogs as our litter registrations from 2008 demonstrate. We have an
average inbreeding co-efficient of 2.09, a very respectable figure.
The BRCC vision is in keeping with the aim of the breeding committee
in ISIC, and, I suspect, most breeders in the USA. It is to support
breeding of healthy dogs with good working ability and the typical
behavior of a farm and herding Spitz. It is based on the specific type
and mental characteristics of the breed described in the FCI (and AKC)
breed standard of the ISD.
Healthy dogs mean dogs perceived as healthy and strong, in good
condition and with thick, weatherproof coats. It also means dogs that
fulfill club recommendations in health matters.
A dog of good type means a dog with good external characteristics. The
concept ‘type’ involves the total sum of the physical details which
clearly separates the ISD from any other breeds. The general
appearance and the details are described in the FCI (and AKC) breed
standard for the ISD.
The ISIC breeding committee and the BRCC support breeding with lively,
gentle, courageous, intelligent and happy dogs. They believe the ISD
should be a very good herding dog and an excellent guarding dog
without being aggressive.
These characteristics are important as they do not speak to only one
aspect of the dog or some particular competitive persuasion—whether
that be conformation, obedience, fly ball, agility, herding etc. We
want our dogs to have it all.
We would love to see all breeders and stud dog owners find the best
possible matches for their dogs. Not all dogs list with our club and
so we are not always aware of dogs that are available. We encourage
the listing and use of a wide variety of dogs that are within the 5
golden rules of ISIC:
1. Use registrations/pedigrees from a national kennel club with
membership in the FCI or a national kennel club approved as a
cooperative partner with FCI (AKC and CKC).
2. Only accept pedigrees from an FCI approved registration (or a
3. Respect and follow the FCI standard as originally issued and
maintained by the
Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFI).
4. Respect the breeding recommendations approved by ISIC; and
5. Respect the cooperation in the ISIC.
We all love our dogs. We love the diversity the breed offers while
remaining true to the vision of the dog by the home country. As one
member of the DIF board was heard to say recently. You can combine a
couple of breeds and get a dog that looks like an Icelandic Sheepdog.
But that’s only part of the package. That dog wouldn't act like an
Icelandic Sheepdog or necessarily move like and Icelandic Sheepdog and
certainly would not have the temperament of the Icelandic Sheepdog as
looks are only one piece of the package.
Here’s to our dogs and increasing our knowledge as how to best serve the breed!
|Genetic diversity and inbreeding co-efficients