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Many breeds of dogs are known for a high incidence of genetic disorders. German shepherd and Saint Bernard dogs are predisposed to developing a crippling condition called hip dysplasia.

Q: What advice would you give to dog breeders who want to maintain their dogs' purebred pedigrees, but also want their dogs to be as healthy as possible?

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Interesting question. I assume that "natural"/"ancient" dog breeds like huskies have fewer problems with inbreeding, but still maintain their traits; but I don't know that that's true, or why it would be the case. – Oreotrephes Feb 12 '14 at 3:01
choose mates from as far away in the breed by pedigree as possible. I don't think there is anything that can stop the inbreeding problem for breeds like bulldogs who are so far along and come from a small progenitor group. Ultimately you have to allow genes to come in from the greater pool. – shigeta Feb 12 '14 at 3:59
heard about the same problem being faced in the breeding of white tigers in India. – The Last Word May 15 '14 at 9:31

Many races of dogs are relatively new with most of them appearing (were bred) in the last few hundred years. These variations are caused by small mutations in certain genes and this is also the problem. To keep a race pure, it has to be interbred to maintain the special set of mutations. And this makes the dogs vulnerable to collect more damaging mutations, especially when the number of animals used for breeding are too small. This is the same problem, that animal conservation projects face in zoos.

A good example for that is the Dalmatian dog. Its characteristic spotted pattern is caused by genes, that can also cause sensineural deafness. To avoid this, deaf dogs are excluded from the breeding and a backcross project was started.

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Outbreed your dog every couple of generations with a bloodline that is slightly different or at the very least a similar looking breed.

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