My dog Akiro is a crossbreed, a Toller-Aussi-Mix. His birth almost made it on TV, as his conception did. The breeder´s intention had been firstly to fresh up the blood of his genetically spoiled breed; and he also wanted to arouse attention by doing so: tell the people that there is something wrong with pedigreed dogs.
Akiro soon will be four. For a long time we were not sure if he would life to be two. For several month we had to cocker him up on mashed potatoes and boiled chicken breast.
It all started with dark blood gushing out of him. The curious and somehow disgusting thing – which was also a bit frustrating: since Akiro has been a pup he used to poop lifting a leg – preferably against trees…
Our film Long, healthy, happy – a dog‘s life?! Quo vadis, Canis? will tell Akiro‘s story, too. Apart from the quest for a long-living, happy dog (see below for content), I want to find out: is it true, that in crossbreeding Akiro‘s parents only passed on their best genes? What would happen, if Akiro became a breeding dog?
When it comes to dog-breeding today mainly the geneticists have a say. Before the age of analyzing the canine genome and always new gene tests, the breeder could not be certain, what a mating will bring about. Do we know much better today? How reliable is the predictive power of a gene test for HD or ED in a Bernese Mountain dog, a breed which suffers greatly from hip or elbow dysplasia (a breed which also has an terrifyingly short life expectancy – some say a Bernese will live no longer than 5 or 6 years).
The two Finnish geneticists Hannes Lohi and Katariina Mäki may be able to make us understand. What needs to be changed in order to bring an improvement? Mäki wrote her thesis about „Breeding Against Hip and Elbow Dysplasia“. And this Katariina Mäki is somehow the reason why my dog Akiro was born. In 2010 she published the study which made the German Toller-breeder Alexander Däuber demand of the German Breeders‘ Association, there VDH, that an inbreeding for the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever should be introduced. In order to save the Toller, as he announced with much media attention. I too had a part in this.
Hannes Lohi, the genetics professor, was called upon to support Däuber in the implementation of the crossbreeding project. He is the head of the platform MyDogDNA, „the very first dog’s genome-wide panel testing and diversity analysis“
What will they find out about the health of my dog? Does he really represent the best of both worlds? Or which genetic time bombs are ticking inside him, which would break out only in his offsprings?
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