Oh dogs. Dogs, dogs dogs! It would be silly to ask anyone what they think of dogs, as it is a well known fact that everyone loves them! But maybe you own a dog or have a favorite breed- though let’s not mention animal cruelty and inbreeding. As I am very fond of anything with a cute little scrunched up face, including pugs, as well as French and English Bull dogs! Not to mention all of those tiny ones which could probably fit into your handbag, including the Chihuahua, the Shih Tzu as well as the Pomeranian which I swear weren’t in fashion until a few years ago. Though are we taking this love for dogs a little too far, to the point where we are letting ourselves to be provoked into fueling an industry that does more damage than anything else to dogs? Because do dogs really enjoy being used as dolls to put clothing onto, is it fair that we pose a huge risk to the health of dogs in making them look “more desirable”, and can we really all call ourselves a “dog loving nation” or dog lovers when we always have been and still are using dogs and other animals for our own benefit?
Why and how we are an animal loving Nation:
The Bulldog being a symbolic representation of Britain, manifested within British Nationalism and our strong sense of patriotism seems like a good starting point to describe our peculiar sense of love, pride or even identity associated with; well dogs. Because their rigid frames, seem to effortlessly resemble strength, pride and power implying their warfighting rage. Implying a more romantic connection with dogs, rather than a deep sense of compassion. Though saying this, we were the first country in the world to begin a welfare charity for animals.
Over the years both senses of love or obsession have not died down as online we are swarmed with pictures of other people’s dogs, often sporting a “trendy” pair of sunglasses which don’t fit, or with their hair tied up in a little bow! While they have seemed to have become the preferred “child” for young millennial couples! Though do we care as much for their welfare as we like to think we do? Because though over half or us are “dedicated to keeping a minimum of one pet”, it it also the case that there are up to 10 million pets suffering from physical or mental stress while half of cats are overweight! This is probably as a result of out diaries becoming increasingly packed while our homes continue to diminish in size, making it harder for us to look after our pets than what we would like to think. Though aren’t these factors which shouldn’t be ignored?
Yet there is another problem with the British (and the world’s) attitude toward pets, where the crazy but also very busy cat lady cannot be blamed!
The Ugly History behind what is Sad about Today:
The truth that most, if not all dogs today are here as a result of inbreeding. This all goes back to around 15,000 years ago, when humans begun to “feed and breed” wolves for hunting, herding, sleding and guarding. Soon resulting in a desire for these wolves to have certain traits, resulting in the collie for example being bred for vigilance while others were bred “just for fun”. Thousands of years later the culture of “showing off dogs” began to kick in, as well as just merely using them.
This all began with the worlds first dog show, in 1857- taking place in Newcastle Upon Tyne- which just happened to be in England! Limited to only two breeds of dog, who wouldn’t have been badly inbred, this doesn’t seem like too much of a deal. Yet it wasn’t long until these shows really began taking off and spreading across the world, promoting further inbreeding to enhance the desirable features of dogs.
Around the same time Crufts, a dog show in the UK, took off. Early shows here were said to be dominated by animal abusers who “would be more likely to kick than stroke their dog”. These brutal practices were cleaned up, yet there was nothing in practice to stop or prevent inbreeding… But why is the inbreeding of dogs such a thing even now when we are far less reliant on dogs for things like hunting?
Some of the reasons for inbreeding dogs are that often some dogs contain a desirable trait, where there is also a genetic mutation which results in this. Proving that most dogs here today are going to have some kind of genetic mutation, though they have been inbred to varying degrees- and this only looks to be getting worse. But why do we really want to continue to inbreed dogs, when we no longer “need them”. A large part of this, at least in the way I see it, is that modern dogs shows have created a “beauty standard” for dogs, which wealthy owners feel the need to comply with. Especially if they want to enter a dog show themselves! Additionally the sharing of dog pictures on social media has further enhanced this standard meaning that these standards become further imbedded into the mainstream. This results in more well off people subconsciously purchasing a dog that looks “closer to these standards” thinking the dog is more attractive, being either unaware, or choosing to be unaware of the cruelty going toward the final product!
How it “Works” and the Hideous Effects
“Selective deliberate inbreeding” refers to “something that has occurred for many decades in the pedigree dog world in order to maintain the purity of bloodiness and increase the number of dogs of a breed displaying certain desirable characteristics”. While the desired result can take many decades or even centuries to be achieved. But as this trait becomes increasingly prevalent in offspring, it also narrows the “gene pool”. Leading to there being far less variety, sometimes to the point where there is no longer a variety of colours! Alongside this, this excessive breeding heightens the chance of recessive mutations and as more dogs with this gene are bred, it means the offspring stands a chance of inheriting both the parent’s genes. Resulting in a range of health complexities.
Just one being “Hip and Elbow Dysplasia” where “affected dogs suffer from pain and disability due to the deformed structure or the abnormal growth”. Meanwhile look at the modern pug. Who may be cute yet is likely to inherit various problems “with eye, hips, spine and breathing” mainly due to the exaggerated scrunched up face. While the English Bulldog’s head has been made so large that they now “can’t usually be born naturally without the need for castration section delivery” and even the Labrador has “an elevated risk of developing hip dysplasia”.
Where this is Still Continuing
Sadly the inbreeding of dogs has not yet come to a halt and if anything the inbreeding of dogs is still on the rise. Looking as if even what you may think of as being the old fashioned dog show isn’t going to pan out any time soon. But what is it about these shows that attracts so many people, even to this day?
It might seem peculiar to us that those who contribute in dog shows are certainly not in it for the money. Though considering the wealth of some of the contests, it is hardly surprising as we realize their “hobby” is a outlook for showing off their wealth.
In America, Westminster Kennel club doesn’t even offer any monetary prize for the winning contestant yet it costs $100 to enter the show while buying a dog that is contestable can cost up to $8000. Nonetheless if you think that this is expensive, then the campaigning and preparation for the show can cost $250,000 in order to make the dog look as “smart” as they can, which can obviously include making a massive expenditure on breeding. While in England, Crufts dog show is still very much alive, however once again they are a little more accepting of non pure breeds. Back to America, inspite of the cruel practices, it seems as if the people competing seem to think that it is all a bit of innocent fun. With contestants quoting things like “they have loved dogs for as long as they remember” and comparing it to the pride when kids do well at school.
Contrary to this kind of unconditional love, the “American Kennel club”, registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States, has only recently started “breed awareness”; recognizing each dog for who they are. Rather than having unrepresentative categories where not every dog was there. Besides it is said that “the police found 38 dogs, living in small crates filled with fur fleeces”. While “many were malnourished and had eye diseases and overgrown toenails” and 13 even had to be euthanized.
On top of all this, we probably all know that dressing up our pooches is becoming increasingly popular. While a pair of sunglasses probably isn’t the most comfortable for the dog, it is not that uncommon to see dogs dressed up in a full mini suit and tie, as superman or even as a bloody Easter bunny! The RSPCA says that it is ok to put clothing on dogs for practical reasons, especially if the dog is especially thin, old, small or ill. Yet like with us, dogs are able to feel what is being put on them, including the collar. Therefore should it really be so acceptable to be making the dog wear a thick outfit indoors when it is not that cold, when they a) feel it going on and b) already have to deal with wearing a thick coat of fur?
What we can Try to Do
I hope that from this you can see this is a inhumane practice, though it is likely that you feel in awe, not knowing what you can do to stand against this. Now the obvious would be to not buy inbred dogs, yet we know that this is practically impossible when all dogs have been inbred to some extent. Yet we know that some are going through this in worse ways than others, and often it is those which seem to have exaggerated features who are going to be worse victims of this. Meanwhile it is important to do research into whatever dog we are looking to get.
Moreover purchasing a rescue is never a bad idea, and they are very often free! In comparison to the extortionate prices of some of the most heavily inbred dogs.
Finally show some respect. Remember that a dog is not only for life, but they are not a toy, or a possession. Therefore consider the impact of putting accessories on the dog, or the impact of leaving them in a small enclosed area, or even “playing” with them when they do pull away (though I know usually they don’t).
I am also listing a few relevant petitions down below.
Sources: Petsforhome.co.uk, UKpets, The Kennel Club, Animal Bliss, The Dog Place, CNBC, AKC, How Stuff Works, RSPCA