Narrow Standards andthe Destruction of Breeds by the Show Game

Some of theFrench-speaking people in Europe have asserted that the Coton deTulear was developed primarily in France following the breed'simportation into Europe in 1977. Accordingly, the French have astandard for the breed that reflects their desires. They prefer asmaller dog (toy-sized) which is all white with a brownish-colorednose -- a breed described by the Federation CynologiqueInternationale Standard of 1987 based on the original work of M.Petit. In North America, some Coton breeders and exhibitors, new tothe breed, have adopted the FCI Standard in opposition to theoriginal CTCA Standard.

In almost every case, a Coton de Tulear that meets the FCI Standardwill also meet the CTCA Standard. The CTCA Standard, designed byprofessional biologists, reflects a desire to maintain the breed'snatural soundness by preserving and protecting a controlled amount ofhealthy genetic variability. The CTCA does not endorse a "cookiecutter look" for this breed. Such conformity inevitably results in abreed that has no genetic variability and hence poor viability andhealth. The CTCA promotes the original three color varieties of Cotonde Tulear--a position that preserves essential color-producing genesthat are also responsible for the Coton's calm, laid-back demeanor.In marked contrast with the Malagasy and most North Americans, manyEuropean French people despise Cotons that have color on theircoat.

The loss of pigment-producing genes is not only detrimental to theCoton's temperament and conformation, it is also indicative ofharmful inbreeding. It should be noted that excessive inbreeding isrequired to create a breed in which every dog looks and acts exactlylike every other dog in the breed. Excessive inbreeding to conform tothe currently fashionable "show ring" look has, in our studiedopinion, ruined the genetic soundness of almost every AKC breed. TheCTCA remains steadfastly determined to protect the genetic soundnessof the Coton de Tulear.

If the French club and its American affiliate clubs (the ACTA and the USACTC) had their way, the variation so important to the health and genetic soundness of the original Malagasy Coton de Tulear would be banned. This magnificently marked Black and White Coton (Bertha Robinson's CW of Alika Cotons) would not exist. CW and others like him have always been welcomed by the Coton de Tulear Club of America (CTCA).

Meaningless Titles & Destructive Competition

Hard-nosed, beauty contest competition, we believe, isbiologically meaningless and counterproductive to the cooperationneeded to preserve and protect a breed's health and soundness. Mostpeople do not realize just how vacuous the show game can be. For rarebreeds, national show organizations appear, award thousands of"Champion" titles, then disappear in a few years. One rare breed showorganization recently advertised that you could enter one of theirfour day shows and, after paying eight entry fees, emerge with a"championship" for your dog by Sunday afternoon. In our opinion,titles obtained in a weekend or two can in no way assure a potentialbuyer of the soundness of any dog or the future health andtemperament of its pups. Also breed clubs often issue points inparallel with those of the show organization. It is thereforepossible to win several championships simultaneously. Often, thepoints calculation build for puppies only six months old--tooimmature and undeveloped to chew food with adult teeth, let alone toshow characteristics of adult conformation.

In an attempt to have all dogs within a breed resemble one single"Champion" archtype, exhibitor/breeders sometimes inbreedexcessively, creating breeds with virtually no healthy geneticvariation and with damaging, recessive-gene genetic illnesses (NOTE:inbreeding concentrates recessive alleles; outbreeding minimizesrecessive alleles). It is estimated that 1-in-4 AKC registered dogs(of all AKC breeds) have a life-compromising genetic illness. We donot want that fate to befall the sturdy Coton de Tulear.

For more than two decades, the CTCA has been preserving andprotecting the wonderful Malagasy Coton de Tulear from the excessesof the show game, overbreeding, and excessive inbreeding. We inviteyou to join us. CTCA people are "cooperators, not competitors." TheCTCA is steering the breed on a different course from that which somany AKC-FCI breeds have gone before.


For additional information about this subject, please seepages 229-230, 234 (coat color and behavior) and pages 281-309 (theshow game) in "The Official Coton de TulearBook" (go to: THEBook & the Coton Newsletter ).

For an interesting review of how shows work, see Lynn Hall's"Dog Showing for Beginners," Howell HouseBook, MacMillan, New York, NY, 1994 (ISBN 0-87605-408-4; streetprice, about $18).

For a short read on the tragic state of many breeds controlledby the AKC, read Larry Shook's "The PuppyReport," Ballantine Books, New York, NY, 1995 (ISBN0-345-38439-3; paperback, $4.95).

Title and contents ofThe Coton de Tulear News &Information Network © 1996-98,the Coton de Tulear Club of America, all rights reserved. Celebratingthe CTCA's 22nd Anniversary in 1998.

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