Dogs should not be used at stud before the age of 18 months. Breeding combinations where both dog and bitch are younger than two years old are not recommended. The use of older sires is encouraged. To preserve or preferably extend the genetic diversity of the breed, overly popular sires should be avoided. As a general recommendation, the maximum number of puppies per stud dog should be equivalent to no more than 5% of the puppies registered in the breed population during a 5-year period. Breeders should be aware that this would currently represent a maximum of approximately 30 puppies across the breeding career of an Australian stud dog.
One of the simplest and most effective ways of preserving and enhancing genetic diversity within a closed pedigree dog gene pool is to consider the use of older and lesser used sires.
The use of young sires in Finland is seen as a matter of concern for overall breeding direction. If very young sires are used, there is little opportunity to assess the health of siblings and close relatives before litters are planned and born. Young sires can rapidly accumulate many puppies in their breeding lifetime and unexpected health problems may be uncovered too late. Where older sires are used, the health information pertaining to the sires’ close relatives will be more certain.
“Genetic Drift” occurs when genes are randomly lost in a closed population. It occurs more quickly in pedigree dog breeding where matings are controlled and not random. It also occurs faster if the generation time is short. One of the most important reasons to use older sires (and older stud-bitch combinations) is to slow genetic drift. This is the rationale behind avoiding young stud bitch combinations where both stud and bitch are under the age of 2.
The use of a sire under the age of 18 months should be an exceptionally rare event.
Breeders are encouraged to seek out sires from rarer lines, older sires and lesser used individuals, who are “better than breed average” in health, temperament and breed quality.
The recommendation to avoid popular sires is consistent across the FCI, and the FKC. The JTO recognises that Finland cannot meaningfully import dogs to bolster the breed’s genetic health, and thus the preservation of genetic diversity is taken very seriously. For breeders in Finland, the JTO recommends an even lower maximum puppy limit than the 5% we have suggested. The commonly quoted 80 puppy maximum for Finnish Lapphund sires in Finland represents a figure of 2% of the population of puppies registered in Finland over 4 years. If this stricter calculation were applied to Australian puppy registrations, it would be equivalent to a recommended maximum of only 11 puppies per sire (from data 2012-2016). In the Australian breeding context, with heavy use of imported semen and moderate inflow of import stock, this very strict 11 puppy total is not thought to be necessary to optimise diversity. Not all popular sires will go on to have a large number of descendants. A more significant benchmark to aim for would be a maximum of 4-6% of the registered puppies in the second generation. Access to this type of data calculation is achievable, but is not currently available for our breed in Australia.
(Supported by FCI-IBS 3, JTO, FKC-GBS 7)