If you love dogs this will be incredibly tough to watch, but if you have, or you're thinking, of getting a pedigree quality dog, watch this documentary from the BBC. It's a shocking analysis of fashion overwhelming common sense.
Of course the people in this documentary love their dogs, however I'm sure most reasonable people would admit that love is no excuse for responsible adults to breed unhappy, unhealthy dogs generation after generation to match a diagram in a book.
The genetic malfunctions some breeders are baking into dogs is criminal and the concept of "Breed Standards" are literally killing healthy dogs: A woman at 19:24 cheerily talks about putting Rhodesian Ridge Back puppies down because they don't have ridges (which is a spine aberration by the way). "Without a ridge, they aren't a Ridge Back."
In order to match an aesthetic ideal dogs are being bred with skulls that are too small for their brains, breathing problems, eye problems, heart problems and incredible joint pain and atrophy. All of this is well-documented and could easily be avoided. You don't wish this on any creature let alone a pet. Worst of all, the UK has a nice history of the most extreme genetic mutations winning prizes at dog shows thereby condoning the entire practice.
It is far better that our breeding occasionally engender a dog deficient in breed type, than that we should consistently produce large numbers of dogs guaranteed to lead lives of suffering, creating anxiety, large veterinary bills, frustration and unhappiness for their owners. That is what we are doing now. Over sixty percent of Golden Retrievers, for example, will suffer from hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis or osteochondritis in their lifetimes.
- J Bragg
At the heart of the documentary is the most taboo of all breeding practices, incest, and the complicity of registration authorities in this DNA wasteland. The 10,000 Pugs in the UK have the genetic variation of 50 individuals, which is worse than Giant Pandas and there aren't 10,000 Pandas (there are about 1,600). It doesn't take a genetic scientist to figure out where this is headed.
Population geneticists insist that limited populations under strong artificial selection, subjected to high levels of incest breeding -- such as our own Canadian Kennel Club purebreds -- simply cannot maintain genetic viability and vigour in the long term without the periodic introduction of new and unrelated genetic material.
Watch this documentary. Click Here.
For the record, fixed dog breeds are a specifically human creation, requiring a Founder Event (the original stock), Isolation (no new genetic material), Inbreeding (stabilising traits) and Artificial Selection (removing unwanted traits). There's nothing natural about them.
Note: The quotes are from an interesting paper from 1996 by J Bragg called Purebred Dog Breeds into the 21st Century - Achieving Genetic Health For Our Dogs that deals with the mechanics of the Canadian dog registry, breeding programs and what makes a healthy, well-bred Purebred dog.