There was a great article in the National Geographic the other day, about the Functional Dog Collaborative. I've been following the FDC for some time now. I'm in their Facebook group, and have listened to all their podcasts. Some more than once. Personally, I believe this is the future of canine breeding.
The Japanese breeds have a host of issues looming on the horizon: small gene pools, lack of health testing in their country of origin, and extreme selection for aesthetics while traits like working ability and temperament are being left behind. The Nihon Ken are also part of the larger purebred dog world, that has its own issues, and I've been wrestling with serious questions for several years now. How do we move forward with the preservation effort? What do I consider ethical breeding? How can we deal with health and temperamental issues in an ever shrinking population with very little hope for more genetic diversity? What part do I want to play in this world?
In the grand scheme of things, I think we're running into a few problems in the breeding world. One is that 'purebred' dog breeding with no outcrossing is essentially breeding into a wall. All breeds are hurtling toward it, some slower than others, but that wall is ever looming. As a breeder I feel like I'm playing a game of whack-a-mole, where there are more and more moles, and they will get faster and faster.
I think another big issue with purebred dog breeding is what this article points out: the vast majority of dogs today will be pets. They will essentially be lapdogs, with maybe some being a bit more active if they are owned by people who like to hike etc. But almost all our dog breeds are heritage breeds, that were bred for a purpose that they are no longer used for. They were essentially selected to do one thing (like herding for example), but now we want them to sit on a couch. And that has consequences.