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Evolving Breed


The evolving breed is one of two kinds of breeds provided for in the Animal Pedigree Act of Canada. An evolving breed refers to an animal population which is in process of developing into a "distinct breed." The distinct breed is the regular registered breed.

The evolving breed finally becomes a distinct breed by inspection, Ministerial recognition, and the registration of a population of foundation stock. Before those events can occur, the Ministry of Agriculture must be satisfied that the evolving breed has reached the goals of its programme of breeding and evolution — that it has in fact evolved into the breed that was originally intended; that it is "reproducing with genetic stability"; that it has passed through three or more generations of developmental breeding; and that it has reached a level of population sufficient to allow a sustainable distinct breed to exist. These are statutory requirements of the Act.

The Seppala Siberian Sleddog is an evolving breed within the meaning of the Act, and is recognised as such by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Before it can be recognised as a "distinct breed" it will eventually have to satisfy the above statutory requirements. In the intermediate term, though, the SSSD Project is in no hurry for a change of status. It takes time to develop a new breed, and during the developmental period evolving breed status gives us greater flexibility.

The usual procedure in new breed development involves fairly intensive inbreeding and artificial selection. These are necessary when new breeds are developed by crossbreeding two or more existing canine breeds; these are the fastest way to eliminate undesired traits and to fix desired ones. Such is not the case with the Seppala Siberian Sleddog; the breed has in fact already existed (without official recognition) for the better part of a century. Further inbreeding and selection cycles would do little good and might in fact work great harm.


For that reason, a very different plan is being followed by the SSSD Project. The Coefficient of Inbreeding is deliberately reduced and kept as low as possible to minimise the harmful effects of further inbreeding, while new stock imported from Siberia is added to the gene pool to provide greater diversity, to increase the number of distinct ancestors, and to improve vigour and genetic health. The plan is not to concentrate heavily on any one so-called "stud dog perfect in every way" as called for in some breeding plans or as recommended by elitist racing ideologues who assert that "the best male should sire ALL the litters"; on the contrary, we seek to balance the contributions of male and female ancestors and to ensure that the SSSD population grows steadily with as great a variety of different matings as possible. In this way we hope to have a genetically diverse, natural, and hardy sleddog breed that will be a good representative descendant of the Original Siberian Sleddog.



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