Landrace refers to domesticated animals or plants adapted to the natural and cultural environment in which they live (or originated) and, in some cases, work; they often develop naturally with minimal assistance or guidance from humans (or from humans using traditional rather than modern breeding methods), hence differ somewhat from what is commonly termed a breed, and usually possess more diverse phenotypes and genotypes. They often form the basis of more highly-bred formalised breeds. Sometimes a formalised breed retains the "landrace" name, despite no longer being a true landrace.
For example, landrace dogs are very different depending on their origins and purpose; Border Collies derive from a landrace in Scotland and northern England, where their primary characteristics had to do with how they herded sheep in the borderlands, and Salukis were a landrace breed in the Middle East where they chased game across open tracts of land. A landrace does not imply so much a breed as a type; for example, Border Collies traditionally have had a variation in appearance, from upright prick ears to nearly drop ears, different fullnesses of coat, and so on, although the general appearance was such that they could still be recognized as Border Collies and their performance around sheep most accurately represented their membership in that race.
Often, when people move to create a highly consistent purebred breed, focus is placed more on consistency of appearance rather than on consistency of behavior or adaptability to the environment, and much of what made the animals a landrace is lost. For example, show Border Collies might not be particularly good at herding sheep and might not have a coat that is appropriate for the Scottish borderlands; similarly, Salukis might not be able to chase and catch hares in the desert.
Other animalsLandrace sheep were originally a breed of sheep ideally suited for their environment. Several breeds of swine use "landrace" in the breed names.
A few horse breeds are claimed by aficionados to be "pure" and virtually unchanged from their original wild prototype or earliest landraces, though the term is rarely used in modern horse breeding. However, both the Arabian horse and the Andalusian horse make claims of great antiquity for the ancestry of their respective breeds.
PlantsSeveral definitions of the term landrace have been used in botanical application. The term has recently been defined as "an autochthonous landrace is a variety with a high capacity to tolerate biotic and abiotic stress, resulting in a high yield stability and an intermediate yield level under a low input agricultural system. " In simple terms, landraces are grown from seed that has not been systematically selected and marketed by seed companies or developed by plant breeders. A significant proportion of the world’s farmers grow landraces. Data collected for a study of the spread of cereal agriculture into Europe showed that landraces have largely fallen out of use in Europe. European cereal landraces were grown by our ancestors before the work of the 19th century seed improvers and the 20th century plant breeders produced improved varieties. The terms ‘landrace’ and ‘traditional variety’ are sometimes used interchangeably.
- Don Bixby: Types of Breed, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) News, January-February 2003, and reprinted in Rare Breeds NewZ for May 2003
- What is Landrace
- Livestock Guard Dogs: What is a Breed and Why Does It Matter?
- Description of the AFRICANIS land race dog
- Danish landrace swine
- Danish landrace sheep
- Recreation of landrace maize
- Approaches and constraints of using existing landrace material to understand agricultural spread in prehistory
landrace in Danish: Landrace
landrace in German: Landrasse
landrace in Dutch: Landras