Purebred dogs is a dear subject for many. But what does it mean to be purebred? Large numbers of dog breeds were influenced by other populations at one point or another, even if enthusiasts of those breeds don’t always remember this. For example the crosses between Belgian Tervueren and longhaired Dutch Shepherd made in the 80’s: when I was first introduced to the breed early 2000’s, the R-registered/”not pure” generations still existed (ie. my first Dutch Shepherd) and I quickly learned about many opinionated breeders around the world actively avoiding these impure dogs and their descendants with atypical traits. Now that another 20 years is gone I don’t really see this anymore, and it is even starting to feel like the Tervueren crosses are now, almost 40 years later, finally a universally accepted part of this variety. Now “pure longhairs” already include the dogs with Tervueren from the 80’s in their pedigrees: before they were called F-line and only dogs with shorthair in their background were able to be pure. Not many know it, but the shorthairs had already introduced another Tervueren cross from the 50’s through their pedigrees! The fact that this was forgotten just enhances the idea that 30-40 years in people’s minds will allow any foreign blood to be integrated into the purebred population. Of course, otherwise we could never call any Dutch Shepherd a purebred!
History always repeats itself, and today we have similar, but different prejudices. Nowadays we have “pure longhairs” and “longhairs with shorthair background”. There are two types of shorthair background: dogs descended from non-working line / pure shorthairs who can pretty much be considered pure longhairs as soon as they get a long coat, and longhairs descended from working-line / impure shorthairs who will be able to be called purebred in 40 years time. 😉 All longhair dogs born out of shorthair parents are considered a part of the latter group as well, starting from 1999 Pacha/Polka offspring (even though the offspring of these two is already much better accepted than some of the newer dogs). Before going any further in this post I want to note that when I talk about pure or impure Dutch Shepherds, I’m not talking about how the dog is registered, but how clean or unclean the bloodlines are seen as in the breed circles (due to false pedigrees, lookalikes etc.).
How big of a percentage of each contributing breed a dog has is based on knowledge of foundation dogs. My website has a history section (in Finnish, unfortunately) introducing the idea that longhaired Dutch Shepherds have six foundation dogs (a foundation dog always has unknown parents – they are the first dogs to be called a specific breed), so if I propose that a dog has x% longhair, it means x% inherited directly from these first dogs. A purebred longhair also has some shorthair (regular crosses starting from the 60’s), roughhair (through shorthairs), German Shepherd (also through shorthairs) and Belgian Shepherd mixed in through both long and shorthairs. The Belgian Shepherds crossed into Dutch Shepherds were always Tervueren (they did do a Malinois cross for the shorthair, but this line died out quickly), but if you look into that breed’s history a little more you will notice that the Tervueren is historically very similar to the Dutch Shepherd longhair: it has very few foundation dogs in its own variety, and most Tervuerens are by large shares just descendants of longhairs born into Malinois litters and yellows born into Groenendael litters. Because of this, and because the breed distributions are calculated from the foundation dogs, even purebred Dutch Shepherds will have more Malinois, Groenendael & Laekeneois than Tervueren.
For this post I collected the data of longhair litters from the last three years (born 2017-2019), their inbreeding coefficients and breed distributions. A couple of litters were removed because I couldn’t confirm they were FCI registered, or their pedigrees were so largely unknown it would have twisted the calculations unrealistically. The final count is 62 longhair litters (litter with longhair puppies + at least 1 longhair parent), and on top of that there were 4 shorthair litters with one or more dogs registered as longhairs.
These aren’t direcly related to the main subject of this post, but here’s some interesting data:
62 litters in 9 countries:
Finland 17, France 16, Netherlands 13, Germany 9, Austria 2, Switzerland 2, Belgium 1, USA 1, Slovenia 1
44 unique breeders, of which 12 produced two or more litters
Kennels with most litters: Tarita’s 6 (Finland), du Mont Brabant 4 (France)
Average coefficient of inbreeding: 28.6%
Highest COI: 43.6% (Finland)
Lowest COI: 1.0% (Finland)
Average COI in countries with most litters: Finland 26.2%, France 20.4%, Netherlands 36.5%, Germany 34.8%
I divided these litters into four groups of “purity” based on their three generation pedigree:
– “LH” Pure longhairs (has only longhairs born into longhair litters in the pedigree)
– “SH” Longhairs with pure shorthair (has pure shorthairs or crosses to them in the pedigree)
– “XSH” Longhairs with impure shorthair (has longhair out of shorthair or working line shorthair in the pedigree)
– “XH” Longhairs with x-blood (has lookalikes or breed crosses in the pedigree)