12 September 2010

Breed Standards

Eugenics. What happened when people started believing in eugenics? The attempted "extermination" (read mass murder) of millions of people including Jews, Gypsies, Intellectuals, Handicapped, and the list goes on.
Where do "modern" breeding practices for dogs come from?
The same movement.
The concept of breeding for desired traits to aid humans in hunting, guarding, herding, and companionship took a nose dive with the creation of kennel clubs and, you got it, breed standards. As noble and logical as they present, to have a basis from which to judge an ideal structure, they actually are causing direct harm to our beloved friends.
If you have time and can handle it watch the BBC video, Purebred Dogs Exposed.
Humans invariably create little stories and quips for why grossly exaggerated physical deformities in dogs are advantages.
The Bulldog's wrinkled smashed bracchy face allowed the blood from biting bulls to drain away from its eyes. Really? 'Cause every brachy-faced dog I've met struggles with breathing, overheating and eating...you know, daily living type activities. And don't forget the usual gross buildup of bacteria in the poorly ventilated folds of skin. The evidence for these historical reasons? Depictions of bull-baiting dogs that looked like Pit Bulls with well-defined (read long) snouts and wide muscled jaws not to mention long athletic legs.
Or how about, a personal favorite, tail docking, especially in sporting breeds. The bloody tail argument of a dog scraping or breaking its tail while working in wooded terrain is ridiculous. My main evidence to the contrary (besides having a tailed spaniel that romps daily in the woods and competes in tracking)? Hmmm, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Nova Scotia Dock Tolling Retrievers, Dutch Partridge Dogs, Münsterländers, Stabyhouns...to name a few. They all get to keep their tales in their standards. Plus, for those dog breeds out there where docking is considered a "safety measure", why pray tell are you breeding huge coated dogs with long feathering that catches brambles and burs and requires constant grooming?
Rather than breeding for personality traits and health breed standards and the all mighty holders of breed standards, the kennel clubs, push breeds further from these goals. Even the most dedicated breeders who have genuine desires for maintaining quality temperaments, confirmation (physical soundness), and overall workability are confided by the fact that they are breeding a specific breed. All dogs within that breed are genetically stemming from a small isolated gene pool that created the initial breed and are not "allowed" to bring in new genetic material. (This in no way means that I support designer breeds. On the contrary, they use the world of "pure-breeding" to further manipulate the situation.) Breeders of any particular breed must also deal in some way with the fact that other breeders potentially won't mate their dogs without confirmation show titles. You know, the beauty pageants like Westminster and Crufts? (Mmmh, side note, Jeffrey, the Pekingese, who had to have surgery so he could breath right? Yup, he won Crufts and has no doubt sired and most likely passed on his "unique" deformity, I mean ribbon-winning health.)
All in all, the thing that gets me most, besides all the evidence of why purebred dogs, much as I love mine, have increasing health problems and people continuingly ignoring and disputing the facts, is that there are so many dogs, purebred and otherwise out there, right now, young and old, needing homes besides a gas-chamber and an unmarked grave.

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