Bearded Collie: Coefficients of Inbreeding

Over at a Bearded Collie list/forum we were discussing Coefficients of Inbreeding and the programmes and methods used for calculating them. Elsa Sell pointed out that in 4 different programmes used, all gave different CoIs, despite being based on the work and formulae of Sewell Wright.

Elsa Sell noted that Sewell Wright’s Equation “considers duplicated ancestors only if they are common to both sire and dam”. Elsa also notes “It may have to do with how unknown ancestors are dealt with or other variables”.

My first assessment was that these may the causes of the differences, specifically how the statistical package associated deals with the unknowns and variables Elsa noted. Elsa asked if I would be able to extract the formulas used in the programmes.

Yes and no. It would be possible to extract the formulas, but would that be legal. More accurately when doing assessments within quality control systems it is normal to start from, as far as possible, first principles.

I would sit down with books on Wright’s work, genetics and statistics. From these develop a system which I would consider accurate and effective. This would either work in it’s own right, or could be a datum to assess the other programmes. I have to ask myself would this be a motivated, best use of my time.

CoI only tell you what has occurred in the past. If there is concern with Bearded collies and heredity problems which may be related to excessive inbreeding, are we just moving the furniture on the deck of the Titanic. People say they are concerned with the welfare of the breed. But which breed is this?

Is the breed some artificial standard the Kennel Club has set, as some part of a club which  produce dogs to try and closely conform to that standard. Or is the ‘breed’ a dog that has evolved over thousands of years due to it’s interaction with man. A dog that has multiple roles. Herder or drover, of sheep and cattle. A protector of his ‘family’. A dog that though thrives on it’s relationship with people, is also and necessarily to be an intelligent and independent thinker. This second dog varies in size, coat and temperament, representing it’s history, origins and roles that it has fulfilled during it’s evolution.

There are 6oo dogs registered with the Working Bearded Collie Society, introducing these, as other people have said to me ‘proper’ Bearded Collies, due to how the pedigree and working populations have been separated would automatically reduce the CoI of the pedigree population. Is this not the simplest solution for the benefit of the breed? An Occam’s Razor approach to resolving the situation.

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