"Good" and "Bad" UAS scores

I think we need to be careful about characterizing certain scores as "good" for breeding and others as "bad". I am reminded of the old saying: "if you have breed more litters than me, then you are a puppy mill; if you have bred less, then you are not a serious breeder." I think it is the same about "good" and "bad" scores - I can imagine someone implying "if your scores are not as good as mine then they are bad". Sadly this is all about feeling superior and has nothing to do with our dogs.

To maintain the genetic diversity of our breed I believe that we should continue to breed the bitches that we think are breedable (independent of their UAS scores) ... and then try to breed them to stud dogs with equal or better UAS scores. Doing this repeatedly over time will improve UAS scores for our breeding stock and our breed. Such a breeding strategy has been successful with another polygenetic disease - hip dysplasia.

Breeders already exert a lot of genetic selection pressure when deciding which dogs to breed and which to sell as pets. We need to make sure that we do not further reduce the genetic diversity in the Norwich gene pool by throwing out dogs with "bad" scores. UAS did not appear all of a sudden but rather over time. We will need to take time to reduce the incidence of UAS so that we can retain genetic diversity.

I am a big believer that only a breeder living with a dog can make an informed decision about whether a dog should be bred or not. The breeder observes the dog every day, sees the dog's overall health, conformation, and temperament, and knows the results of all the health tests done on the dog. Focusing on just one thing - such as the dog's UAS score - does not see the entire dog. I get upset when anyone - including a vet - says that a dog should not be bred after looking at only one thing about the dog. I am not suggesting that we just breed dogs at random. We should always be trying to improve our breeding stock. Yes, diferent breeders will give different weight to different factors, and may disagree about whether or not a dog should be bred. This is part of the art of breeding.

Characterizing only certain UAS scores as being worthy of breeding discourages people from UAS scoping and sharing of results. Some people do not health test because they do not want to know the results (the "head in the sand approach".) They believe - incorrectly - that if the results are "bad", then they should not breed the dog based upon that one result. Or if they do test, they are reluctant to share the results as they think it will reflect poorly on them. Yet none of us have perfect dogs. Yes, you may have better UAS scores than I do; if so, I am happy for you. But it does not mean that I should stop breeding; rather it shows me an area where I need to improve. The same is true for health testing in general. We need to reserve our feeling of "bad" for those who do not health test or for those who do not openingly share results.

28 Aug 2020