Think you know what constitutes a breed of dog? The answer may not be as straight forward as you think!
A dog breed is generally considered to be a domesticated sub-species that has very similar or nearly identical characteristics of appearance and behavior. This is because the dogs came from a select set of ancestors that had the same characteristics.
Dogs have been selectively bred for specific traits for thousands of years and the various dog breeds recognized by the main breed registries are said to be "purebred". Generally, before a type of dog is recognized as a true breed, it must be shown that mating a pair of that type always produces dogs that have the same characteristics as the parents, usually both in appearance and behavior. This is known as breeding true.
Stud books (or breed registries) are maintained by various organizations such as the American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club and The Kennel Club (England). Most of these organizations maintain closed stud books (whereas only dogs identified as purebred may be added) as opposed to open stud books (which accept new dogs who meet breed standards without their parents being previously registered).
Animals accepted by the stud book prior to closing are known as foundation stock and all animals registered as members of a particular breed with a closed stud book are descended from this stock. Whether closed stud books are a positive (maintaining the integrity of a breed) or negative (limiting genetic diversity) is a topic for lively discussion.
ANTIC, September, 2007
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