Why Super Hybrid Dogs Rock

by Kim Brophey on 07/18/14
Behavior | Canine Science | Dog Door | Training

Why Super Hybrid Dogs Rock
by Kim Brophey

When human beings artificially selected dogs for important jobs like herding, tracking, pointing, livestock and property protection, etc. throughout history, chances are they did not stop to think about the many implications of genetically altering an animal for a specific function. Why would they? What mattered to our ancestors was that a dog would demonstrate a valuable behavior, and that we could strengthen that behavior in order to improve its usefulness by breeding it intentionally with other dogs who also demonstrated similar propensity. Over time, genetically distinctive breed "types" developed, and then ultimately the "pure-bred" dog, as humans attempted to control the expression of both behavioral and physical traits further. It is evident that this concept of artificial selection is remarkable and impressive in its ability to serve the needs of people throughout history for the sake of our own survival. To be able to generationally modify the canine predatory sequence (orient> eye> stalk> chase> grab-bite> kill-bite) so that certain steps are exaggerated or others diminished in order to have a collie herd or a pointer point is a masterful, and useful, feat of man's ingenuity. But it is far from without consequence for dogs here in the modern 21st century life, light years beyond the world in which dogs were required to demonstrate these behaviors in farm, field, and village in days past.
Nature is prefectly practical. Behavior sequences evolve because they are relevent to an animal's survival. They are adapted to the conditions in which an animal lives. Nothing is preserved if it is not functional any more- if the square peg no longer fits because the hole has become round in the world, the square peg adapts and becomes rounder over generations to adjust. If the animal is not able to adapt to those new circumstances, it does not survive. This is nature's system of ensuring that a species' design (Genetics) works harmoniously with an ever-changing world or conditions (Environment) by learning what works well and doesn't work well (Learning) through variation of individuals (Self). It is a system of checks and balances that keeps animals functional, healthy, and well adjusted in balanced L.E.G.S.. 
When humans interfered in this natural process, removing nature's ability to adjust behavioral and physical design to optimally suit conditions, we knew not what we did. For while these working dogs with specifically modified traits (often very intense working traits) can and do shine beautifully in the conditions in which they were intended to be used, they often become imbalanced and dysfunctional in a modern world that rarely affords the conditions in which these square pegs can express themselves in a round world. Neuroticism, chronic anxiety, aggression, and stereotypical behavior (OCDs) are frequently observed as a direct consequence of environmental suppression of or dissonance with genetic design (think of a tiger pacing in captivity). Furthermore, attempts to carefully preserve the appearance of pure breeds have closed gene pools and removed one of nature's most valuable tools for ensuring physical and behavioral health- genetic diversity. Line breeding and in-breeding, necessary to establish and maintain the consistency of pure-bred dogs, creates greatly limited genetic diversity and often leads to a host of physical and behavioral problems.
The DRIVE Initiative's "Super-Hybrids" (aka Mutts with no dominant breed-type genetically expressed) benefit from the re-introduction of nature's intelligent design and L.E.G.S. system of checks and balances, increasing the chances for optimal adaptation to the modern pet dog world. Regardless of the impressive accomplishments of man to change the design of dogs to his purposes through artificial selection, there is ultimately no match for nature's millions of years of experience in selection for success in an ever-changing world. 
Go nature- go mutts- go Super-Hybrids!!

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