The ‘Popular Sire’ Syndrome

The Popular Sire Effect (otherwise referred to as the Popular Stud Syndrome) is a significant issue. At best, this syndrome can very rapidly lead to the depression of a canine population. At its worst it can force a canine population to become extinct. This phenomenon occurs when a stud dog is used extensively for breeding, spreading his genes quickly throughout the gene pool.

There are three issues that arise from the sire effect:

  • Any detrimental genes which the sire carries will significantly increase in frequency in the population – possibly establishing new breed-related genetic disorders, or poor performance characteristics, if the stud is perceived to be an exceptional individual, but is not genetically robust.
  • There is a limited number of bitches bred each year. Intense use of a popular male at stud service excludes the use of other males, thus narrowing the diversity of the gene pool.
  • If strong performing brood lines in a colony are flooded with one sire, or one breeding line, any potential that was harboured within those lines may be lost for the future, due to the negative impact of the genes from one sire.

The popular-sire syndrome is not limited to breeds with small populations. Some of the most populous breeds have had problems with this syndrome. Compounding this, there are several instances where a popular sire is replaced with a son, and even later a grandson. This creates a genetic bottleneck in the breeding population, narrowing the variety of genes available.

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