BREED Clubs are being asked to form views on double matings, when a bitch produces a litter by two sires.
Writing in this month’s Kennel Gazette, Kennel Club chairman Steve Dean said there was pressure on the club to restrict the use of popular sires to reduce the impact on genetic diversity.
"The concept of producing a litter from two sires – either naturally or by artificial insemination could reduce the genetic impact of the popular sire and still play a part in improving genetic diversity of the breed,” he writes.
The proposal was a shift from the traditional attitudes towards breeding and might be regarded with a ‘degree of negativity’, he wrote. Nevertheless, he asked breed clubs consider their views on the matter.
Prof Dean said there was a need to progress to the use of genetic science and put the KC’s investment at the Animal Health Trust to best use.
"We have, for example, for some years been able to identify the sire of a puppy born as a result of a mixed parentage litter, conceived after an accidental mating with two different dogs. This process could be extended in a more deliberate manner to more openly encourage the use of multiple sires in specific circumstances where this could benefit a breed.
"The deliberate mating of a bitch to two sires would make scientific sense if this increased the genetic diversity in a breed and for breeds producing large litters with small population sizes, it would reduce the detrimental impact of a large single litter on the gene pool.
"Furthermore, the thoroughly sensible restriction on the number of litters produced by a bitch to four could be improved by such a measure allowing some sires to be used more frequently than otherwise might be considered desirable by the breeder with restricted opportunities to mate their bitch.”
Also in his From the Chairman column Prof Dean touched on the high-profile breed checks at Crufts.
"Even though some did not pass, all of the breeds deserve praise for the progress they have made on health over the past few years,” he wrote. "In discussing this topic it is important to remember this is about the health of the dogs we breed and the intent is to ensure dog shows encourage the success of the best dogs in terms of breed type and health and welfare. There surely cannot be a disagreement about that.”