Does a Registry Matter?

A breed is only as good as the registry that is preserving it.  What we have learned over the last several decades is that closed registries are detrimental to the health of a breed.  Once a registry closes, the gene pool becomes locked.  No new lines are allowed into the registry creating an environment of poor genetic diversity.

Let’s look at the collie’s history.  In the 18th century, the Rough Collie’s natural home was in the highlands of Scotland, where he had been used for centuries as a sheepdog. The dogs were bred with great care in order to assist their owners in the herding and guarding of their flock. Without a doubt, it is to the English fancy of the late 1800s that the breed owes its development as a popular show dog. Rough Collies were first exhibited in 1860 at the Birmingham, England dog show, in the generic class “Scotch Sheep-Dogs”.

In 1879 the first English Rough Collie was imported to the United States. It is from England that the United States found the famous pillars of the breed, from which the American fanciers sought not only their next big winner, but also their foundation stock.

By the turn of the century, the American Rough Collie was in a state of continued development. The breed continued to flourish in England. American show prizes were dominated by the British imports. As a result of the imports, the breed made rapid progress between 1900 to 1920. These dogs built the foundations upon which the present day Rough Collie is based and paved the way for the emergence of the great American kennels of the 1920s and 1930s. 

According to what I can find, the first Collie Registry was started in 1885.  A percentage of those collies were then shipped to the USA where the AKC also recognized the collie into their registry. 

As you can see the collie gene pool has been locked into closed registries for over 100 years. The practice of breeding the same lines over and over again has created many health problems which fostered recessive gene mutations within the collie breed and raised the average genetic COI (Co-efficient of Inbreeding) of the collie breed way above the 6.25% recommended by biologists at the Canine Institute of Biology. In additional, because AKC/UK registries do not require genetic testing or restrict inbreeding, the health issues that have plagued this breed are now at a crisis. Not only that, but only 39.43% of collies today are contributing to the breed population. Breeding registered dogs from overseas between AKC and UK lines, while it may reduce COI on a pedigree, it does not improve on genetic COI, because the registries were founded on the same gene pool and contain the same genetic markers. The only way to reduce the COI levels which are linked to longevity of a breed and weakened autoimmune issues is to open up a registry to allow new lines to be introduced and test breeding dogs for genetic health. If a breeder does not know the genes of their breeding stock, it is near impossible to breed away from health related issues.

At SCPS, in an effort to preserve the Classic Scottish Collie breed, we have established an open registry to encourage collies to join who are not part of the closed registries to bring in a new gene pool.  We also require genetic testing and do not allow inbreeding so as to reduce COI levels. By breeding classic type rough/smooth collies to working farm collies, it is our goal to produce a line of healthy, working Scottish Collies that were a part of so many families and farms, in the 1800’s.   Picture(Courtesy Photo: Marushka Farms, breeder of Scottish Collies)

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