‘Teams’ like this one are often encountered in the rural area. Source of this photo is the book, The Story of the African Dog
The overall health of the Dobermann is in a very poor state. Their level of genetically inherited diseases is so high that their future preservation is at risk. Everyone who is truly involved in the breed becomes aware of it, sooner or later. As stated by the late Dr. George Padgetts, author of the book ‘Control of Canine Genetic Diseases’, ‘if we want to make any impact in controlling genetic disease in dogs, we must agree that an ethical approach is based on fairness, openness and honesty. While traditions are important to us and should remain important, they should be changed if they conflict with the exercise of our ethics as a dog breeders’.
Some dog breeders make the change and are fully aware that the purebred breeds are struggeling with hereditary diseases and all kinds of physical health and personality problems. Johan and Edith Gallant are one of those breeders. They have been actively involved in national and international canine matters since 1975. Their breed was for 35 years the Giant Schnauzer and in 1978 the book The World of Schnauzers was published. Participation ranged from exhibiting at shows, obedience and working trails, dedicated breeding their Schnauzers, judging ( IPO/show) and training dogs. As from 1994, during travels through the Southern African hinterland, and in their quest for the essence of the dog, they discovered the humble and rural life of the native African dogs. They realized that all those years, as ill-informed bystanders, they had looked at these dogs with contempt. The western worship for the ‘pure’ breeds of dogs had veiled their vision. They soon were faced with the fact that these rural dogs represent an ancient land race. They are certainly not ‘improved’ or streamlined into fashionable homogeneity. But their behavior is so intense and uniform, their physical prowess and health condition so remarkable that they inspired the authors to engage in an in depth research. This research resulted in 2008 to publish the book, SOS DOG The Purebred Dog Hobby Re-Examined. It analyze and demonstrate where theirself and many other dog fanciers have failed to see the needs of the dog as a species. ” Both authors put ‘the dog’ central and in all honesty and objectivity explore what they try to contribute and where they have succeeded but also where they came short. This might finally be an eye opener for others “. A highly recommended read for all who love man’s best friend.
As they also decribe in the book, SOS DOG The Purebred Dog Hobby Re-Examined, time has come to consider where and to what extent modern dogdom went wrong and to make provisions for genuine improvement. No longer do we have excuses to hide behind. We simply have to come to our senses and admit that artificial and aesthetically modeling of dogs through trial and error breeding may increase the numbers but not necessarily improve body and mind. The value of genetic fitness and the amount of variation that goes with it needs to be reconsidered. In relation to the breed Dobermann it’s about time that like-minded people make a management plan for their future and truly reconsider about which step to be taken. Brings me back to the title and reason for this blog.
The AfriCanis, Africa-Dog, a umbrella name for all Southern Africa native dogs. Over the centuries they have been shaped by Africa for Africa. It is a landrace and the result of natural selection and physical and mental adaptation to various African ecological niches. It has not been “bred” or “selected” for appearance. Nature made it to fit the conditions of Africa. In traditional southern African philosophy, the most important requirement for a dog is to be “wise “……….The Gallant’s have studied, lived and bred the AfriCanis for more than 20 years and in 2002 the book, The Story of the African Dog was published. As Edith Gallant shares with me that there is so much to tell about their amazing natural instinct. Their proper dog behaviour what is becoming within many domesticated and inbred ‘purebreds’ so rare. It’s my personal experience from 30 years living, studying and talk for hours with many people who being specialist in their own field regards dogdom. As Edith mentioned further all their senses are so well developed and they have a intense body language. They are real natural dogs with such a valuable contribution also for our ‘purebreds’ although that was my firts thought after reading the book. Johan describes it very well in chapter seven, Conserving the Africanis as end conclusion. The AfriCanis is valuable not only as a natural breed in its own right, but because it is my conviction that within the foreseeable future, many pure-bred dog breeds will require a genetic ‘refresher input’ if they are to survive. Only the ancient, naturally established land races will be able to provide these undiluted ‘first dog’ genes ( page 107 ).
Both books are good reads and highly reccomended, they are available also as Kindle E-books.
Being a doglover and owner of a Boxer and Dobermann I’m always eager to learn and try to educate myself through reading books, follow courses and just by asking and sharing questions and thoughts. The Dobermann has my main interest for 7 years and I’m aware of their status quo and truly believe in the fact that they need a genetic ‘new input’ to survive. In the AfriCanis I see also a great potential. I was so inspired after reading the books from the Gallant’s that I contact Edith Gallant and shared some questions also in relation to the Dobermann. I was also very curious if there would be someone from the Dobermann Community ( SA ) who had in the past or maybe recently consider to use the AfriCanis to cross with the Dobermann. I was thrilled and appreciate it so much that Edith take the time to share with me some of her thoughts, experience and answered my questions. I can share that there was not a single person who would consider to use the AfriCanis into their future breeding plan. It was Edith herself who shared her thought about this in the past with a Dobermann breeder, to improve the health of the breed. It was unthinkable and the AfriCanis is viewed as a European Mongrel by many of the white population and ‘purebred’ breeders in SA. So far no SA breeder would think about cross breeding to AfriCanis ( they are also available in black and tand and red ). I think it’s such a missed opportunity !
Still I want to share through this blog about the AfriCanis, The AfriCanis Society of Southern Africa ( what was founded in 1998) and Johan and Edith Gallant, with the hope that it brings awareness, the thought of new opportunities and more insight about this beautiful African Dog. I have shared my thoughts and believe about the AfriCanis in relation to the Dobermann of course with Edith Gallant. Also that I was intend to share some information through writing a blog and contact some people. I’m thankful that she has give me her permission to share text and some photos from both books.
It’s time that human society and modern cynology realize that Canis familiaris is a single species. If it comes in different forms and shapes, it is because it had to adapt over the ages to various ecological niches or, more recently, human interference intentionally bred it to often euphemistic standards. The Gallant’s mentioned in their book that they experience that these dogs that are the result of natural environmental adaption within a social human context can stand up to any comparison with what modern cynotechny has produced and revered since introduction in 1873.
Be inspired ………….and feel free to share thoughts or contact me.
SOS Dog The Purebred Dog Hobby Re-Examined
The Story of the African Dog
The AfriCanis Society of Southern Africa
In June 2021 I came across a little blogpost from Stephen Bodio about the AfriCanis.