THE  CANADIAN  NATIONAL  AUSTRALIAN  SHEPHERD  ASSOCIATION   NEWSLETTER                                                                                                        SUMMER  2011

Docking Ban Effects on the Aussie Gene Pool

By:  Angela Slauenwhite & Collin Veinot



With the docking ban already in place in some Canadian provinces and lurking around the corner in others, it has become necessary to take a look at the consequences that this ban will have on our breed, beyond the obvious, of having Aussies with tails. Our breed, the Australian Shepherd, has always been a docked or natural bob tail breed and selected for specific qualities of structure, health, temperament and herding instinct. A docking ban will force breeders to focus on other traits. 

Before we go any further, it is essential to explain how the NBT (Natural Bob Tail) gene is inherited.

Understanding the mode of inheritance of any specific gene in a breed is necessary when breeding as numerous factors must be considered so breeders will know the importance of various traits. The gene for a NBT is inherited as heterozygous, meaning that any NBT Aussie has one gene for the NBT and one gene for a long tail. The NBT gene is dominant so any dog with this gene will have a NBT and have the possibility of passing the gene on to their offspring. A long tail Aussie will have two recessive long tail genes so even if it has a parent with a NBT it cannot pass on the trait. 

A big concern is how the docking ban will affect the gene pool of the Australian Shepherd. In countries where the ban has already been put in place, the NBT gene is definitely considered in breeding programs. Since the NBT is caused by a heterozygous gene, any attempt to solely breed for or away from this gene could seriously affect our breed.

Discussions with breeders in countries who have been dealing with the ban for years has left us feeling very concerned for the future of our breed. In some countries breeders are concentrating on producing puppies with NBTs. The problem with this is that there are varying lengths of NBTs and breeders will avoid choosing a puppy with a 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 length tail. They pick the best of the NBTs even if they are not the best puppy structurally in the litter. In other countries, breeders are trying to stay away from the NBT gene altogether. They prefer to select sires and dams with long tails to avoid producing puppies with varying lengths of tails. The problem with this is that the NBT gene could be totally eliminated from our breed. In both situations, quality is being sacrificed around the NBT gene and breeding decisions are being made that will narrow our gene pool. Breeders will be left with a smaller number of suitable sires and dams, the gene pool will be reduced. 

As breeders, our main goal is to improve the quality of the breed that we love. We should not be forced to base our breeding decisions on tails, there are much more important factors to consider when choosing the right sire and dam. We should never take for granted our right to choose when it comes to docking for someday that right may be taken away from us. We all need to work together to educate the public, veterinarians, and government figures in our area before the ban is imposed throughout Canada. 


© 2008-2016 Novacoast Australian Shepherds

All Rights Reserved

All photos and content of this site are the property of Novacoast Australian Shepherds, Angela Slauenwhite, Collin Veinot  or  the respective copyright holder(s).   No party may use or redistribute any part of this website without written permission from the copyright holder.   Permission to reprint or electronically reproduce any document or graphic in whole or in part for any reason is expressly prohibited.  Any violation of this copyright will result in legal action.  Any violator will be responsible for all legal fees incurred by Novacoast Australian Shepherds, Angela Slauenwhite  and Collin Veinot while enforcing the copyright.