There is no institution or club providing support for people intentionally breeding mixed-breed dogs. Yet these dogs are serving important roles, as pets, sport dogs, and working dogs. The Functional Dog Collaborative will provide support to help breeders of both intentional crosses and purebreds be the best breeders they can.
We will provide:
- a place to deposit and search health records, for help with making wise breeding decisions;
- educational resources, starting with a curriculum for breeder education, and including genetic and breeding consulting;
- most importantly, a supportive and open community through both social media and face to face opportunities, for mentorship, friendship, and social support.
Acceptance. We welcome all breeders of both pure- and mixed-breed dogs who work to breed responsibly, and those with an interest in discussions of same.
Transparency. We support open sharing of data, including all health and behavior information on dogs bred by our members.
Tolerance. We encourage the release of health and behavior information about breeding stock and their offspring, without bias or redaction.
Integrity. We encourage the release of all health and behavior information about breeding stock and their offspring, without bias or redaction.
Understanding. We recognize that no dog is perfect and that breeders, even using the best of methods, will inevitably produce dogs with some health problems.
The FDC was founded to support the breeding and raising of purebred, outcrossed, and mixed-breed dogs while prioritizing the goals below. These goals will sometimes be in conflict with a strict breed standard or closed studbooks. In that case, these functional goals are considered more important, and a breeding program that meets them may be said to be meeting the FDC’s definition of breeding “functional” dogs:
Physical Health: Compared to dogs overall, the FDC supports the breeding of dogs with:
- Equal or increased physical comfort (able to breathe, move freely and without pain)
- Equal or increased ability to reproduce naturally
- Equal or reduced rate of genetic disease
- Equal or reduced rate of morphology-related disease (e.g. disease directly or indirectly caused by the dog’s form such as physical shape/structure, coat, etc)
- Equal or increased healthspan (including physical comfort)
- Equal or increased lifespan
Behavioral Health: While it is impossible to guarantee behavioral health in individual dogs, breeders should select dogs for breeding with the following in mind:
- Minimal fear of novel (unknown) humans
- Minimal fear of novel (unknown) dogs
- Maximal ability to cope with reasonable new environments (e.g., a new farm for a farm dog, or a new city for a city dog)
- Minimal behavioral pathologies (meaning behavioral conditions such as separation anxiety, compulsive disorder)
- Minimal unchanneled aggression (note aggression as part of an ethical sport or job is acceptable so long as it does not extend out of that context into the rest of the dog’s life)
Resolving conflicts with the FDC’s goals
In some cases, the FDC’s goals will conflict with realities of breed standards and genetic diversity, as well as with preferences for morphology (form, i.e., head shape, body shape, coat type). In these cases:
- The FDC will provide resources for breeding for function (temperament and health) rather than morphology. These resources will include an honest look at conflicts between some morphologies and health.
- Some breeds have a level of genetic diversity low enough that breeding healthy, behaviorally sound dogs within the breed is challenging. FDC resources will also include an honest look at the challenges of reduced genetic diversity, and strategies for addressing them.
- Those who breed for morphologies that may conflict with health, or those who breed within closed studbooks in breeds with reduced genetic diversity, are encouraged to participate in the FDC and learn from its resources, with the recognition that their goals may differ from the FDC’s.
Selection of Resources
When selecting resources related to the physical or behavioral health of dogs, decisions will be made based on evidence. Personal experience is welcome but needs supporting evidence (as described below) to be considered. Breeders wanting to introduce evidence from their own lines may contact the FDC if they wish to share the evidence anonymously.
The following priority will be used when considering resources/content:
- Peer-reviewed articles describing:
- Randomized, controlled trials
- Prospective cohort studies
- Retrospective studies
- Case series and case studies
- Personal Experience (requires the following evidence):
- Must be presented about a specific breeding program, by someone involved directly in that breeding program.
- Should include veterinary exams or tests (where appropriate) of a significant portion of the breeding lines and offspring (not only select individuals).
Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD – Jessica is a veterinary researcher who studies the genetics of dog behavior. She is passionate about improving animal welfare through breeding practices. You can learn more about her at dogzombie.com.
Trish McMillan, MA, CPDT-KA, CDBC – Trish is an internationally-known dog trainer, behavior consultant, and speaker. She is the Vice President of Behavior & Training for Instinct Dog Behavior & Training and runs her own consulting business, Loehr Animal Behavior.
Bryan Batchelder – Bryan is a software engineer working with web applications, web services, and databases. He is one of the founders of The UpDog Challenge, a disc dog organization that puts an emphasis on the human/canine relationship and has a mission to get more people playing with their dogs. One of his driving goals is to develop tools that will help breeders make good choices, and produce healthy, functional dogs that are purpose bred. You can find out more at bryanbatchelder.com.
Sara Reusche – Sara is a talented dog trainer and educator. She runs Paws Abilities Dog Training, a multi-centered business with an extensive seminar component.