Info Article: Purebreds Are Not Always What They are Hyped to Be

From PHS pet reporter – Beef Bad-Rap Wellington:

As a reporter, I try to catch all the canine news.  Recently, I sniffed out a BBC documentary on purebred dogs suffering from genetic diseases following years of inbreeding.  Investigators claimed dogs are suffering acute problems because looks are emphasized over health when breeding for the show ring.

The documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, said dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health.  Evidently, physical traits required by the British Kennel Club’s breed standards, such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, very often bring inherent health problems.  Among the health problems occurring in “over-bred” and/or “in-bred” dogs are:

  • Syringomyelia, brains too big for the dogs skull;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Breathing problems;
  • Hip dysphasia;
  • Reproductive problems; and
  • other health problems.

The documentary claimed deliberate mating of dogs that are close relatives is common practice and the British Kennel Club registers dogs bred from mother-to-son and brother-to-sister matings.  I bark that these British Kennel Club practices ought to be illegal just as they are for our owners.

I decided to sniff out the problem here in the States.  I figured I best talk to human dog experts (animal behaviorists, veterinarians, dog trainers, genetics experts, etc.) on this matter, after all humans started all this selective breeding that has led to so called “purebreds”.  As for me, I am not particular in choosing my friends.  I believe in diversity and have no problems romping with a large feathering red wavy coated boy Setter or a quaffed white shorthaired petite girl Pointer.  Why humans get all uptight about what social/ethnic background we come from is beyond me.

All experts agreed that many purebreds are racked with genetic disorders that bring much harm to the dogs.  Purebred dogs may be considered extra special because their breed has been crafted over generations by the hand of man, but as with many things crafted by man, nature has proven it can do a much better job.

The reason purebreds have so many genetic problems stems from something that can affect any species: inbreeding.  All breeds can be traced back either to a specific mating or group of dogs.  This means that through the generations, individuals had to be crossed with relatives to propagate the breed.  So, even today, if you mate two Miniature Doberman Pinschers chances are they are at least distant cousins. In nature, individuals select mates based on health and ability to get resources. When they reproduce the good genes in one cover the bad genes in the other. This way, each new generation is as strong and adaptable as possible.

There are many wonderful healthy purebreds as the result of cautious breeders that make sure they are not inbreeding.  One expert claimed: “ that when you go with a purebred, you are taking a risk of the dog having complications that are avoidable in most mutts.”  The fur on my back stood straight as I listened to her insensitivity.  I growled an angry reminder to use the politically correct term “mixed breed” or simply “dog”.

So, the question humans who are buying a dog have to ask themselves is: “Do I want a healthy, intelligent, well-balanced dog or do I want a specifically designed dog that may or may not have genetic disorders”.  Buying a purebred could result in more vet bills and heartbreak or disappointment for you and your family.  Why not check out the perfectly wonderful dogs at the PHS shelter before deciding you need a Toy Poodle or a Bichon Frise.

I hope this was insightful and helpful to you humans.  As for now, I wish you a Happy New Year and a big woof-woof to all our supporters from your roving PHS pet reporter – Beef Bad-Rap Wellington.  And don’t forget to throw us dogs a few table scraps every now and then!

 

Potsdam Humane Society (PHS) strives to be a no-kill shelter where every healthy, adoptable animal taken in will be able to find a home.  PHS Website   PHS email