Kevin Behan Ignores Genetics, Invents a New History for the Doberman

I’m nearly finished with Pat Shipman’s book ‘The Invaders‘ and thought about writing something on it; during the preliminary research I came across Kevin Behan’s take on this book. His post is the usual pseudo-science babble and mystical energy nonsense but one part caught my attention for its brazen dismissal of well documented history.

Behan never tires of telling us he is the only one who knows the “truth” about dogs so I keep wondering why he backs up all this truth with fiction? I understand why Behan has to do this to his readers; his philosophy is a mosaic of animism, new-age and wishful thinking stitched together by obscurantist woo-woo. What I don’t understand is why his readers put up with it, specially in cases where it’s so clear that he’s feeding them stories.

W. E. Mason - Dogs of all Nations

Case in point the story he made up about Doberman.

Ignoring the insanity that Behan doesn’t see friendliness as good temperament, there is no evidence suggesting friendliness results in sickly dogs. Several large breeds suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) but none more so than the Doberman and DCM strikes 58% them (Wess 2010).

The breed was established in 1890 and hit an early rough patch with the outbreak of WWI and then again 20 years later with WWII. The breed was then re-established from limited stock. Like all populations Doberman carried a number of diseases and the genetic bottleneck was made worse by over-used sires. In the US the breed was strongly influenced by 7 related and over-bred sires; of these 7 dogs 5 of them died by age 10 and 3 of those before the age of seven and by 1950 direct descendants of the 7 accounted for 50% of AKC champions (Meurs 2007).  And the popular sire madness is not a thing of the past, this dog produced 316 progeny.

The reality of DMC is rather mundane and appears to involve a number of different genes (Mausberg 2011, Meurs 2012, Simpson 2015). The story is fairly simple: genetic bottleneck, hereditary disease, breeder secrecy, late disease onset and popular sire syndrome. IOW friendliness and good temperament didn’t make the dogs sickly and we should look to science and not mysticism if we hope to understand, treat and reduce the incidence of DCM.

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REFERENCES

Wess, G., Schulze, A., Butz, V., Simak, J., Killich, M., Keller, L., Maeurer, J., & Hartmann, K. (2010). Prevalence of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers in Various Age Groups Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 24 (3), 533-538 DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2010.0479.x

Meurs, K., Lahmers, S., Keene, B., White, S., Oyama, M., Mauceli, E., & Lindblad-Toh, K. (2012). A splice site mutation in a gene encoding for PDK4, a mitochondrial protein, is associated with the development of dilated cardiomyopathy in the Doberman pinscher Human Genetics, 131 (8), 1319-1325 DOI: 10.1007/s00439-012-1158-2

Mausberg, T., Wess, G., Simak, J., Keller, L., Drögemüller, M., Drögemüller, C., Webster, M., Stephenson, H., Dukes-McEwan, J., & Leeb, T. (2011). A Locus on Chromosome 5 Is Associated with Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers PLoS ONE, 6 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020042

Simpson S, Edwards J, Emes RD, Cobb MA, Mongan NP, & Rutland CS (2015). A predictive model for canine dilated cardiomyopathy-a meta-analysis of Doberman Pinscher data. PeerJ, 3 PMID: 25834770

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