Archive for November, 2015

Let’s help the Clumber breed survive … let’s do it!

added 10 Nov 2015:
this is a WORLDWIDE project – this is not about one breeder, or one country,
it is about ONE BREED – THE CLUMBER,
and it lives around the world

I suggest we discover the real genetic diversity of the Clumber by DNA testing what we have now. This is an international project. Let me explain …

There has been much talk and chat about the Clumber breed.

I know you and I care about the Clumber Spaniel surviving as a healthy breed.

So what can we do to help?

We can also establish by DNA testing the actual genetic diversity of the Clumber in the world
… so let’s do it!

  1. I don’t want to have to run this, time factors
  2. I believe this type of breed project is only going to be of value and accuracy if we are ALL involved
  3. to be effective we need to work together, at this stage without comment about breeding strategies and practices, past, current or floated,

The bulk of the work is undertaken by the world authorities on this type of project: UC Davis, but they need breed coordinators, which is where you and I must participate (for the sake of the breed), and cheek swabs, and this isn’t being done for free, so contributions from breeders, owners, and sponsors to defray costs.

If you are at all interested in this project,
be it non-committal support, be it as a coordinator, a promoter, a swab submitter, etc then

send a blank email to

or visit

Using a Yahoo group we can discuss ideas and ways forward, and also conduct a poll to elect an oversight committee. But no nonsense or slinging off, this is a project for the betterment of the breed, a numerically small breed, with a finite number of people interested in helping and supporting it into the future, each and everyone can be an asset towards that. Do not vent your feelings on this list, this list is for sharing thoughts and ideas, not for making judgements or holding grudges. (and if necessary a code of conduct will be drafted and enforced)

Below you’ll find more info on my thoughts and what UC Davis have already told me, and links to their pages.

My timeline is

  • let’s get as many registered as are interested …. NOW!
  • decide if those registered want to run this, or use an existing Clumber organization (but I want this discussed and no decision assumed)
  • let those registered vote to form a small oversight committee from the members of this email group to get this show on the road, the oversight committee either implement this or support a democratically voted on organization

this oversight committee/organizers then need to get cracking and not let grass grow under their feet they will need to

  • set up the project with UC Davis and work within UC Davis’ guidelines
  • decide if they have subcommittees to handle the following, or make sure it occurs
    • promote promote
    • promote this to breeders AND owners of fertile/non-sterilized Clumbers ALL OVER THE WORLD, club members or non-club members, without favour and all inclusive, without comment but with a healthy and polite invitation
    • promote this project to potential sponsors
    • chase UNRELATED Clumbers to ensure they are included, these are the dogs that will show if the breed has enough genetic diversity to survive – if the breed doesn’t then breeders and owners can consider their options then, let’s not waste time now by speculating until we have the hard DNA evidence on the worldwide population – as you will see from the email (below) from Dr Niels Pedersen at UC Davis COIs may be misleading us, but even so they have alerted us to the very low ‘effective population size’ for Clumbers in the Kennel Club registry.


Having found out that UC Davis can help us to establish the ACTUAL genetic diversity within the Clumber breed, I have had a couple of conversations with them about enrolling the Clumber.

My first and main worry was collecting swabs from 100 to 500 dogs that weren’t ‘related’ and I tried hard to establish what they meant by that, from the information from Dr Niels Pedersen I think it needs to be 100 ‘unrelated’, and they can handle the extra as related. As any researcher of the breed will know across the world we are starting to share dogs and so there are few dogs that are truly unrelated in the fifth plus generations, we just have to work with what we have.

Here is the VERY informative email from Dr Niels Pedersen that he has given me permission to use to promote adding Clumbers to the UC Davis Genetic Diversity Testing

On 6 November 2015 at 04:30, Niels Pedersen <> wrote:

Dear Ms. Irving: COIs are based on pedigrees and the assumption is that the pedigree lists the correct ancestry and that on average 50% of genetic diversity is inherited from each parent. Most pedigrees are correct, but it is incorrect that 50% of genetic diversity is inherited equally from both parents in a given puppy. The 50:50 is true if you average over hundreds of puppies, but an individual puppy inherits highly variable proportions of diversity from each parent due to what is called “genetic recombination.” Suffice it to say, one puppy in a litter may inherit 50:50, and others 25:75, 10:90, 75:25, etc. Therefore, if you follow the genetic contributions of one ancestor over another over many generations you will find different percentages, many of which differ greatly from that predicted by pedigree (i.e., COIs). Also, pedigrees to be anywhere near accurate, must cover enough generations to allow for genetic bottlenecks that have occurred at an earlier time, such as a popular sire effect or some sort of catastrophe that create different types of genetic bottlenecks. When a bottleneck occurs, whatever the cause, breeders are forced to inbreed because there are not a lot of dogs available for mates. This allows the breed to expand in numbers and the COIs during this period will be high. However, after this period of inbreeding is over, breeders tend to settle back into random breeding. If this random breeding is sustained over several generations, for instance 10 generations, a COI calculated from a 3-5 generation pedigree will be low, reflecting random mate selection. Remember, that the pedigree is only a name and not an exact measure of genetic contributions from various ancestors and a COI of 6% may be accurate for one dog but totally inaccurate for another. The situation with many modern breeds is that they are badly inbred because of past genetic bottlenecks, but they do not realize it because they are relying on COIs based on pedigrees that do not go back far enough to encompass these genetic bottlenecks. In effect, breeders are random breeding within a much inbred population, which gives the impression that they have a lot more genetic diversity than actually exists. This is the value of DNA testing, because DNA testing across a breed is an actual and not a theoretical measure of breed diversity. DNA testing is also the only way to determine whether there is a significant imbalance in diversity, with a major proportion of the breed having a small part of the total diversity and a small proportion having a large part (such as the Standard Poodle). If you want to determine the total amount of genetic diversity that exists in your breed, you need to test as many dogs as possible from as wide a geographic region as possible. If a breed is much inbred, 100 dogs may be sufficient, while if a breed is much outbred, it could take several hundred to identify all of the diversity that exists. In short, I would not even use COIs, but rather encourage testing of as many dogs as possible from the widest reaches of the world. It obviously is not correct to test only dogs from one kennel, one bloodline, or one region. This is where pedigrees can be helpful. You don’t want dogs that all come from same sire or dogs that were the result of some past genetic bottleneck due to geographic isolation, world wars, famines, etc. I hope that this answers your questions and does not raise new ones. –Dr. Pedersen

so let’s do it!
step one,
register your commitment by sending a blank email to

of course you are not obliged to participate but you ARE INVITED … let’s do it for the fabulous white spaniel we dearly enjoy and love


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