100 Years of Breed “Improvement”

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For the sake of honest disclosure, I will admit to owning “purebreds” (the ‘pureness’ of purebreeds is a discussion for another time) but I also have mutts. All the dogs I’ve had since childhood had a few things in common, they were friendly, prey driven, ball-crazy, intense, motivated, athletic (crazy dogs are easier to train) and none had intentionally bred defects. I would never buy/adopt a dog whose breed characteristics exacted a health burden.(Asher 2009). That just incentivizes people to breed more of these intentionally unhealthy animals. The dogs on the left are from  the 1915 book, ‘Breeds of All Nations by W.E. Mason. The examples on the right are modern examples from multiple sources. To be able to make an honest comparison, I’ve chosen pictures with similar poses and in a couple of cases flipped the picture to get them both aligned in the same direction. I had to skip some breeds I wanted to include because of the lack of detail in the older photographs.

It seems incredible that at one time the Bull Terrier was a handsome, athletic dog. Somewhere along its journey to a mutated skull and thick abdomen the bull terrier also picked up a number of other maladies like supernumerary teeth and compulsive tail-chasing.

The Basset Hound has gotten lower, has suffered changes to its rear leg structure, has excessive skin, vertebra problems, droopy eyes prone to entropion and ectropion and excessively large ears.

A shorter face means a host of problems. The modern Boxer not only has a shorter face but the muzzle is slightly upturned. The boxer – like all bracecyphalic dogs – has difficulty controlling its temperature in hot weather, the inability to shed heat places limits on physical performance. It also has one of the highest cancer rates.

The English bulldog has come to symbolize all that is wrong with the dog fancy and not without good reason; they suffer from almost every possible disease. A 2004 survey by the Kennel Club found that they die at the median age of 6.25 years (n=180). There really is no such thing as a healthy bulldog. The bulldog’s monstrous proportions make them virtually incapable of mating or birthing without medical intervention.

The Dachshund used to have functional legs and necks that made sense for their size. Backs and necks have gotten longer, chest jutted forward and legs have shrunk to such proportions that there is barely any clearance between the chest and floor. The dachschund has the highest risk of any breed for intervertebral disc disease which can result in paralysis; they are also prone to achondroplastic related pathologies, PRA and problems with their legs.

The German Shepherd Dog is also a breed that is routinely mentioned when people talk about ruined breeds; maybe because they used to be awesome. In Dogs of All Nations, the GSD is described as a medium-sized dog (25 kg /55 lb), this is a far cry from the angulated, barrel-chested, sloping back, ataxic, 85-pounders  (38 kg) we are used to seeing in the conformation ring. There was a time when the GSD could clear a 2.5 meter (8.5 ft) wall; that time is long gone.

The Pug is another extreme brachycephalic breed and it has all the problems associated with that trait – high blood pressure, heart problems, low oxygenation, difficulty breathing, tendency to overheat, dentition problems, and skin fold dermatitis. The highly desirable double-curl tail is actually a genetic defect, in more serious forms it leads to paralysis.

Once a noble working dog, the modern St. Bernard has been oversized, had its faced squished in, and bred for abundant skin. You will not see this type of dog working, they can’t handle it as they quickly overheat. The diseases include entropion, ectropion, Stockard’s paralysis, hemophilia, osteosarcoma, aphakia, fibrinogen deficiency.

It is unrealistic to expect any population to be free of genetic diseases but show breeders have intentionally selected for traits which result in diseases. Conformation breeders claim they are improving the breed and yet they are often the cause of these problems. If “improvement” in looks imposes a health burden then it is not a breed improvement..

No dog breed has ever been improved by the capricious and arbitrary decision that a shorter/longer/flatter/bigger/smaller/curlier “whatever” is better.  Condemning a dog to a lifetime of suffering for the sake of looks is not an improvement; it is torture.

Further Reading


Asher L, Diesel G, Summers JF, McGreevy PD, Collins LM. (2009). Inherited defects in pedigree dogs. Part 1: disorders related to breed standards.  Vet J. 2009 Dec;182(3):402-11.

  1. Bull Terrier
  2. Basset Hound
  3. Boxer
  4. Bulldog
  5. German Shepherd Dog
  6. Pug
  7. Saint Bernard

707 thoughts on “100 Years of Breed “Improvement”

  1. collies being unnaturally selected for the minimum possible cranial capacity. it isn’t the same kind of life-impairing physical defect you are talking about here, but it’s a fucking atrocity all the same.

    • As a vet, I can tell you that the cranial capacity of the bearded collie, has a life impairing physical defect in some genetic lines of the breed, that makes the dogs blind, due to a poor optical nerve hiatus and a over pressured optical quiasma.

      • Obviously knowing how to use a comma wasn’t part of the process of becoming a vet.

        • The link goes to goes to a vet office in Venezuela. English may not be the poster’s first language. What’s important to me is whether the information is accurate or not.

          • Dances WithPuns clearly can’t handle that kind of complex processing, they’re still trying to graph sentences and the like, then maybe they’ll move on to comprehension exercises 😉 I also am grateful for the information provided.

        • This man’s obvious vast scientific knowledge is far more impressive than your elementary knowledge of punctuation.

        • ‘Obviously, knowing how to use a comma wasn’t part of the process in becoming a vet.’
          -Fixed the missing comma and removed the second, repetitive use of the word ‘of’ in your sentence, oh master of written English.

      • Dances WithPuns: This is a serious subject. I don’t see how the use of commas fits in at all. Super picky. Hypercritical.

        • Dr. Overall – despite the anglo sounding name – is pinging from a Spanish speaking country.

          I would have preferred it if DancesWithPuns focused on the content.

      • As a long time Bearded collie breeder and vice president of the Bearded Collie Health Foundation who has never had a blind dog, nor known of one among those of my fellow breeders I am wondering if this genetic line might actually be from a puppy mill line rather than a show line. It is indeed reprehensible and down right abusive what we have done to many breeds in the pursuit of a fashionable and exaggerated look, but I am pleased to report that on the whole Bearded Collies are a relatively healthy breed and type not to dissimilar from their working cousins.

        • Pretty sure bearded collies are not bred for the exaggerated facial features that the OP or vet was talking about when they talked about collies; chances are it was rough collies. And I don’t care how hard you try to protect their health; no respect for breeders.

    • Have you ever really KNOWN a Collie? We raised, showed, herded, carted, did agility, obedience, therapy and many many other things with our Collies for over 30 years. That is NOT what they are selected for. The size of a skull has NOTHING to do with brain size.
      There are smart and dumb in every breed, every species.

      • There’s a solid chance that they are referring to Rough Collies as even the AKC denotes the characteristics as “… beautiful coat of the rough variety and the breed’s lean wedge-shaped head.” Also as Dr. Overall stated, Bearded Collies do suffer from small cranial capacity. Just because you personally did not breed for it, does not mean it isn’t existing elsewhere.

      • i’m no expert but i’m pretty sure in the majority of mammals size of a skull DIRECTLY influences brain size since something can’t fit in a container built for something smaller without damage. yeah in every example i can find in the history of life on earth skull size has a very real implication on brain size…funny how that works. you should go to domino’s and ask them to put a large pizza in a box for a small because the size of the container has NOTHING to do with the size of its contents right?

      • I was under the impression that there are two separate collie types — the ones bred for looks, and the ones bred for smarts. The ones that look like Lassie might well be dumb. The ones bred for smarts and shepherding skills can look like virtually anything — asymmetric black and white patches, tails going whichever way they want, one ear up and one ear down… they don’t even look like the same breed.

        • *facepalm* that’s because there are different types of collies.

      • Ian Osmond, there are many types of collie. Wikipedia lists 20 collie-type dogs.

        You’re probably thinking of the Border Collie, which are supposed to be bred for smarts, not looks. Wikipedia again: “in general a dog’s appearance is considered by the American Border Collie Association to be irrelevant. It is considered much more useful to identify a working Border Collie by its attitude and ability than by its looks.”

        The Rough Collie — the Lassie collie — is the one bred to have a skinny braincase.

      • cheryl,

        Perhaps you mean that *intelligence* has nothing to do with brain size? Because my brain simply could not fit into a mouse’s skull. There is a real relationship.

        There is also a relationship between brain size and intelligence, though it is not as direct as the relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the braincase.

  2. I looked at all your images and the only dog that was more aesthetically pleasing was the boxer, but not because of the punched in face. I never understood breeding like this.

      • I agree the first picture of the Boxer posted does not look like a Boxer at all….frankly could go and find that dog at the pound. I love the Boxer breed and everything good about it and most reputable breeders are also doing everything the can to breed for health and longevity including health testing of their dogs which is very expensive. Really the attack is on purebreds in general because if truth be known the healthiest dogs are mutts so the real question is do we just want mutts or dogs with certain traits that we enjoy and love? Some will want mutts, others will want purebreds….I think there is room for both!

        • The only reason I would disagree with you is there is an overpopulation of pets, strays, and countless dogs that are euthanized for lack of room in shelters. I don’t see room for both types of dogs until we can find homes for all of them.
          There is scientific evidence that as we continue to breed for certain traits, we are changing the genetics of certain breeds, and quite frankly, we may not like what we are getting in the long run. Nt just medical issues, but behavioral, mental, social, and even emotional issues can stem from playing Dr. Frankenstein.
          I wouod always advocate to adopt a shelter dog over getting a purebred. Always.

          • “There is scientific evidence that as we continue to breed for certain traits, we are changing the genetics of certain breeds”

            Pattie, selecting for traits *is* selecting for the genes for those traits. It’s not different.

    • I agree, the boxer’s body is superior in the ‘new’ dog. but the face is a problem. I think the Shepherd is the most mutilated of the modern dogs. They are all basically crippled and stand down on the hock. Horrible.

    • I think the 1915 Boxer looks a lot like a Cane Corso, not exact but close. Whether you find that aesthetically pleasing or not is a matter of opinion, but the Cane Corso is a breed that has been around for thousands of years — literally since the Roman Empire — as a working dog (originally as war dogs then transformed into gentle and protective farmyard guardians).

    • Mus Musculus, thanks for the link to more historical Boxer pictures! Up until the 1920s, they really did resemble Cane Corsi. I’d never really seen much of a resemblance before (other than the slightly bracecyphalic head on the CCs), but those pictures sure make it clear why I’ve been asked if my current Cane Corso is a Boxer or part Boxer. My previous Corso looked more like a Dane x Pitt cross. (Both of mine were rescues, but with known histories/breeders.)

  3. Reblogged this on Nim Telcontar and commented:
    Something that is bit close to my heart. It’s sad how dog breed have been manipulated to highlight certain characteristics that represent the breed.
    Most of the pure breeds now have more problems associated with them than they did 100 years of ago. These defects have been intentionally bred, and its sad to think this has gone on under auspices of bodies such as The Kennel Club.

    • Have any of the dog breeds turned into anything not a dog? Nope…lookie here…they are all still dogs…so really no proof here for evolution.

      • Kathleen… you are showing your lack of education on the subject.
        Mus… I so agree.

        • And you are being ignorant. Abiogenesis is not part of evolutionary theory. When you can come up with a better explanation for nested hierarchies let the world know of your discovery.

      • exactly, Kathleen…. I haven’t seen any dogs turn into anything other than another dog…

      • If a dog gave birth to a not-dog, you’d have just *dis*proved evolution.

        Evolution is change in genetic information in a population over time. And changing genetic information can change appearance as well as cause former ‘sibling’ populations to become more like cousins and then keep going out until they can no longer interbreed at all.

        California kingsnakes and Corn snakes do not overlap in territory at all. Both are colubrid snakes, however, and they can interbreed and have fertile offspring because once, long ago, they were the same species. Ball pythons have been successfully mated to a number of other python species, including new world ones. They are still snakes, and they still make snakes, but do you think green tree pythons and ball pythons are the same?

          • Again you are wrong. In fact the idea of the ancient earth predates Darwin going back to the work of Sir Charles Lyell and others. The time modern view of a 4Gy old earth and 12Gy old universe is relatively new and supported by independent evidence that had nothing to do with biology. Darwin has already been proven correct. Mythological fables cannot explain the data. BTW, an ancient hominid ancestor is a primate because you are also a primate. Monkeys are on a different branch.

      • Let’s get into this properly if we are going to be calling people stupid. Speciation has multiple forms (see Mayr 1992, and earlier, he literally wrote the book; or see the wiki on speciation). My favourite form of speciation event occurs due to physical separation of populations: allopatric speciation. Whilst allopatric speciation implies geographical separation, I like to think that a pug will have a hard time mounting a St. Bernard, and vice versa a St. Bernard will be hard pressed (literally by its handler!) to get down on a pug. We are able to define the pug and the St. Bernard as a single ‘species’: Canis familiaris (Dances WithPuns excuse the lack of italics here). However here again there is an issue of definition, so often a problem in science! Do we use the classical method of identifying the species, i.e. similar morphology? Do we use the biological species concept, i.e. (in)ability to ‘reproduce’? Is this due to location? Or (in)ability to fertilise the egg of a partner? Should we, in the genomic age, be using an array of polymorphisms to genetically define the species?

        How does this relate to evolution? Random mutations and drift versus gene flow, causing the ‘propagation’ of (sub)species which diverge? Seems to be pretty much there with the pug and the St. Bernard, no? The real question is: who cares? Your blog post delves nothing into the important questions. Indeed, it is a classic case of massive oversimplification: totally unscientific. Single images compare the past to the present? Representative sample sizes? Possibly use an algorithm to define form from images, then you have a quantifiable difference. But what you have is conjecture, mixed with outrage: welcome to the internet.

      • “Anything not a dog?”
        It is almost 2014, my friend, time to learn what evolution is. Maybe brush up on your English while you’re at it?

          • I am studying science and using the scientific method in my studies. What is troubling to me is that so many educated people can’t distinguish between actual science and bold assumptions.

            • Taking a general science class in high school != “studying science”.

      • The environment may be human-created. Domestication and human selection does lead to evolution: one evolutionary strategy is “be more useful to humans.” Chickens are the most evolutionarily successful bird on the planet, by one reasonable definition of “evolutionary success.” Modern bananas are an interesting case, since they’re barely recognizable as related to the wild ancestral versions, but have been bred into what we know — but were bred into monocultures, leading to the destruction of the most commercially successful variety, the Gros Michele, and its replacement with the Cavendish.

        Humans are an evolutionary pressure, just like any other one. Indeed, laboratory experiments on rapid evolution, such as David O. Conover’s fish size experiment, or the famous Russian domestic fox experiment, are excellent examples of them. Partially BECAUSE they happen in the lab.

  4. Pingback: 100 Years of Breed “Improvement” – Pictures Only | Science of Dogs

  5. Several years ago, I ran across this Speigel ad from a 1984 issue of Town and Country. I ripped out the page and scanned the images in. Here are two Chinese Shar-peis from 1984.

    Not so long ago, they were strikingly regal in appearance. Now they are bred to look like cartoon characters. It’s terribly sad.

    • WOW…nice looking dog back in l984. Probably looked too much like an ordinary mutt, and that’s why they were bred to be the freaks, with skin problems, that they are now.

  6. This is why I only adopt mutts. People disgust me. Show breeding needs to be banned. Plain and simple, it’s animal cruelty. Let’s have dog shows with mutts versus purebreds. Which can perform better athletically? Which are more intelligent? Which are better looking? Promise you it won’t be the purebreds in any category.

    • There a place for purpose bred dogs, dogs that have skills like herding or pulling. Having breeds or types allows you to ensure the dog you get will be a certain size, or activity level or coat type. This isn’t a bad thing, and its how “breeds” were done for a long time prior to the advent of kennel clubs and dog shows. Many breeds actually would be more athletic or intelligent than a random bred dog. Beauty is subjective. 🙂
      The issue is breeding for appearance, whim and not being more in tune with genetics. There are too many breeds with tiny gene pools and who are being bred for extremes in appearance for no reason but to win ribbons in a dogs show.

      • I don’t have a scientific back ground but what you wrote summed up my thoughts exactly.

      • Right on the mark. I bred English Mastiffs for a couple of decades–and yes, I showed them in the breed ring, but also showed them in obedience. That said, they were also my companions and buddies. I strove to select for soundness and longevity, while still maintaining breed type–and in a breed with an average lifespan of 7 years, and an abysmal record of soundness, I had numerous individuals who lived into their early teens, and were sound until they were quite old. I took my last boy out to one last dog show when he was 3 weeks shy of his 8th birthday–and took Best of Breed against grandget of dogs he had showed against in his younger years who were then long since dead themselves. He lived to be 12-1/2, and was sound and healthy until just shortly prior to his death. Most of my dogs were extremely athletic–not only competing in Open obedience (jumping and retrieving) but also training for tracking and running around the ranch at home.

        The problem is not that dogs are purebreds–it’s that breeders fail to select for soundness and function.

    • Mutts have no guarantees either. If both parents are genetic nightmares, the off-spring will be too. So-called designer dogs are just mutts with high price tags. Time was, mutts were genetically superior because the inferior ones were killed off (nature didn’t select their genes to pass on). But since inferior gened mutts are living and passing on their genes, mutts not longer have superior features or life-span or health.

      • But mutts are more likely to have genetic diversity in mixing breeds, and fewer health issues. You don’t build up on recessive genetic mutations that cause certain health issues that are genetic, i.e. entropion, because you introduce other allele types.

      • @Bethany: Only if they’re not 50/50 mixes. It’s only anecdata, but when I was a kid my mother had a golden/border collie mix. Goldens are prone to hip dysplasia and epilepsy. Border collies are also prone to epilepsy. My mother’s dog was epileptic and had severe hip dysplasia. My own dog was a catahoula/lab cross and he certainly got the “lumpy lab” aspect having 15 lipomas by the time he was 13 and had to be euthanised due to a combination of lung cancer and unrelated brain tumor. My last dog, an english shepherd (hip dysplasia) and australian cattle dog cross (known, due to an accident at the breeder) had: food allergies, flea allergies, IBD, some weird auto-immune disorder that mimicked parvo and lymes at the same time, and an obsessive compulsion with drinking water.

        My current dog is an ‘ultimutt’. She’s probably got cocker in her… somewhere. She does have allergies, but that’s it. She’s a small dog with good joints, a good back, good teeth (albeit she never grew most of her adult premolars), good skin, good eyes, and a good disposition. Her ears are only bad if you pluck the unusually thick hair there.

    • I only adopt dogs.

      I don’t care if it’s a mutt or not, I look at the individual in front of me. A dog can still meet my needs even if it has unhealthy traits. I adopt rescues so I’m not paying anyone to create unhealthy dogs. I have a Dorkie. She’s a mutt but still has long fine hair that needs constant tending, legs that are too short and a back that’s too long. She suits me though for other reasons. I don’t hold her deformities against her.

    • Wow, you are totally wrong. The original intent when producing a purebred was to concentrate characteristics that made the dog more valuable. Herding dogs, hunting dogs, and the massive war type dogs were the first. Which can preform better athletically? Hands down a purebred. Do you really think a mutt could out herd a Border Collie? run faster than a Greyhound? Retrieve better than a Labrador? Which are more intelligent? Whats intelligence? The ability to learn a skill? I’ll put my wellbeing behind that Doberman thats guarding the door, or my safety on that Shepherd who is checking for gas leaks or explosives on the plane. The list goes on and on. You have been hijacked by the animal rights agenda. Hopefully you’ll open your eyes and see what they really do….

      • Sue, you are so missing the point! Yes, while the original intent was to concentrate specific functional characteristics, the “fanciers” have gone to the extreme simply for esthetics. Those early examples of Bassett Hounds, Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Bull Dogs, etc., are all differentiated in structure to emphasize those characteristics that made them suitable for different purposes. The contrasting photos of today’s examples of those breeds is illustration of creating mutant freaks without concern for health or athletic ability. I would hope that this would open your eyes . . . that Shepherd checking for gas leaks or explosives will lead a much longer and productive life if his hind leg assembly were not so distorted.

        • They wouldn’t even use a GSD for gas leak checks from a line with such froggy legs. They need a dog who can move fast and efficiently, not one who looks like it’s got hind leg degenerative disease. I also see a lot of labs from both show and working lines, the contrast is amazing, workers are more leggy and streamlined and the cocker working line and show line are almost like two different breeds!

    • What a ridiculous blanket statement. Wouldn’t it depend on the INDIVIDUAL dogs involved, since, y’know, dogs are individuals with individual abilities, regardless of their breed? If you put my young, fit, working line pedigree doberman up against a short legged, flat faced ‘mutt’ crossbreed, I can tell you now which would be more athletic! We wouldn’t even need to test that. My breed is also in the top 5 most intelligent breeds there are, and he outperforms most other dogs we’ve met in obedience, so strike that one too, eh? As for ‘better looking’, isn’t that subjective, ie, down to personal preference? I think my doberman is STUNNING, and given how many comments we get about his amazing coat and fitness, it seems most others think he is pretty good looking, too. Personally, there are a lot of dogs I don’t like the look of, pedigree and crossbreed, its laughably ignorant to say one is ‘better looking’ than the other: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t like the look of scruffy dogs with ‘beards’, just my preference. I think they look unattractive. But Im sure plenty of people think they’re gorgeous.

      You can ‘promise’ me all you like, but you’re talking rubbish. The intelligence, athleticism and ‘attractiveness’ of a dog is down to that individual dog, not whether he is a pure bred or a mongrel.

    • After working at an animal shelter for almost a year, I agree 100%. We have plenty of dogs that came from breeders, papers and everything, and they ended up in the same place as a dog with 4 different breeds in it.

  7. Sadly I see a very similar trend happening in the Rottweiler breed as happened to the St. Bernard. Some of the heads are so extreme now compared to the 1980s, when the breed popularity sky rocketed. The dogs can’t handle the heat, and there has been discussion about lowering the jump heights in obedience…this in a “working” breed. 😦

    • I was thinking about rotties too, when I read this. Not because I was sure “improvement” had happened, but because I wondered. And you nailed, specifically, what I was wondering about – the “head pieces” (as I’ve heard them termed from some).

      I don’t own dogs anymore, but grew up with rotties and love them. I also grew up believing every dog should be able to do what it was bred for. These days, I look at some of the dogs I’ve seen friends of my mother own and I wonder…

      • I’m currently fostering a Rottweiler that came into my local shelter after being found roaming the streets. Wherever she came from, she was obviously bred into nothingness. Her nipples were large and malformed and her uterus and ovaries were so grossly enlarged that they weighed nearly two pounds once removed. She was 63 pounds (now 92), and her hips are utterly destroyed – worst the vet has ever seen. But because the nerves in her hips are so damaged, she feels no pain. She has little awareness of her hind legs (imagine a bulldozer), the resulting neurological issues, and muscle atrophy. 

        She definitely did not come from a reputable breeder! Heck, even her tail crop was butchered. It’s evident that her hips took a LONG time to get this bad. She should not have been bred, not only for her own well-being, but also for the well-being of the entire breed. Hip problems are being bred into these poor dogs. I’m not sure of her age because her teeth are all broken from chewing on who-knows-what, but she has no grey fur…. Estimated to be 6-8 years??? It’s anyone’s guess, but she’s definitely too young to be in this bad of shape.

        Since I’ve gotten her, Ramona is the happiest dog I’ve ever known. She is high on life. She’s got good food, room to roam, vet care, and lots of love. Oh, and tennis balls, she loves tennis balls! Her heartworm infection is so advanced that it will kill her within the next year. Whoever had her before she came into the shelter selfishly and cruelly took from her the beautiful life she so deserved.

  8. My parents had one of the very early Boxer bred on Australia and he certainly had a true Boxer head as per today’s standard!! The Boxer corgi cross will/ has fixed all of that and we may get a little closer to what Is picture, which is more like the Bullenbeiser.

  9. 1) As already touched upon above, the reason they don’t remake Lassie is because modern collies are too damn dumb because of their small heads.
    2) The standard for the BORDER collie says the shape must be “unremarkably dog-like” and that they can herd sheep. Maybe more standards should be like that so that dogs can still do the tasks they were bred for to qualify. (I have a border and he is SO FIT!)
    3) Ever been to a pigeon show? I sometimes wonder what shapes of human we would have if slavery hadn’t been abolished. Creepy.

    • You should see horse shows. Many breeds have fractured into “halter horses” (bred for “beauty” — being in the eye of the beholder, that’s for sure), “performance horses” (who are bred to perform based on fads and fashions going around the show ring), and then “sport” or “working” or “old fashioned” horses that still resemble the original breed types and can function doing something truly athletic. Some breeds also have race-bred who at least are still functional, but many have lost all breed type in being selected purely for speed.

    • thanks Brian, I LOVE your second point! My young BC is from great herding lines and is registered with ABCA; they have a clause in his registration which says they can revoke the registration for any dog who has won a Championship conformation title in any of the major registries in North America. Shows you what their opinion is of the “Barbie Collies”.

  10. Very interesting article and varied opinions. Not all breeders breed to fashion, but we do have a duty to protect and advance the better health and life quality of the breed. Too much emphasis is placed on winning by some show people/breeders. Extremes in all things are generally not a good thing, http://www.showdanes.ie

  11. I love my mutts. We have three. As a child we rescued a doxie, he ended up with spinal issues. One of our current mutts is a schweenie, a doxie *fixed* with addition of new terrier genes- she is an awesome little dog- so bad ass and funny and athletic. She looks exactly like Falkor (the dragon that looks like a dog 😉 from The Never Ending Story so that is her name- I do not forsee spine problems in her future. She actually has a rear leg length discrepancy, but compensates very well. We also have an Akita/black lab mix who is 115 lbs and is the best family dog EVER. He is 14 and still going- although not quite as strongly in years past. Our third dog is fully mutt- her mom was black lab and Australian Shephard and dad was an unknown mid size terrier mix- from her appearance (brindle and white, shortish soft fur with a ruff) and behavior I am going to guess daddy was a pit bull boxer mix. She is so very clever, athletic and loving. Extremely smart. All three of our dogs will hunt and kill and eat rodents and birds in our yard. Wood rats, gophers, all of them are fair game. I cannot imagine paying a bunch of money for a dog that has health issues. We feed excellent food (Taste of the Wild- fish version as that is the best one for the Akita mix) (he doesn’t eat much more than the 25 lb schweenie!) and do not have vet visits. Excepting a trip to get a spaying done- we haven’t been in to vet i YEARS!! Mutts are far healthier.

    • Yes, we have a wirehaired pointing griffon. Not a popular breed so they aren’t bred into ruin. If you want an active, very family oriented dog they are perfect. They are hunting dogs but as long as you keep them active you don’t have to actually hunt with them. Look into them, they are amazing. But I sincerely hope they never get popular. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wirehaired_Pointing_Griffon

      • I agree with you about getting working breeds that aren’t popular… as long as they don’t come from a shallow pool like the Toller or Portuguese water dog

    • Depends on what you’re looking for, pet/companion, working dog, big, small, long hair, short hair, big, small, high energy, laid back, family dog, watch dog,guard dog….There are too many breeds to even think of recommending just one or a few, as well as too many breeds that fit into various groups and types and niches. I love my Standard Rat Terriers, but I wouldn’t say they are perfect for everyone. Write down what you would like in a dog, recognize what you wouldn’t want in a dog (i.e. – long coats can be a hassle if you like to hike in the country where there are burrs, and mud sticks really well to a longer coat), where you live (i.e. – a large dog cooped up in a small apartment isn’t usually a good idea) and the temperament that you want, find a comprehensive all breed book, write down the breeds that appeal to you, then do a lot of research. There aren’t a lot of breeds out there that don’t have something to be aware of. Do your homework and you should be fine. Talk to breeders, read the associations or clubs website and magazine if they have one, study, read, talk, then study some more.

      • well at least there is one sensible person out there. Do your home work, get advice check the sire and dame and most of all give that puppy all the love and time you can ……

      • Or… prepare in all of the ways you mentioned, then go to a rescue or animal shelter, find a dog that matches what you have in mind, and SAVE A LIFE.

      • Because everyone has to get your approval on how they want to acquire a dog, right? We’re not in a free country where people can buy rather than adopt if thats what they prefer and what suits their needs from a dog best? I must have missed the announcement that buying a dog was now illegal….

        • Um… No, it’s because purchasing a dog from any source is supporting the breeders and encouraging them to breed more dogs. Thus, adding to the already exploding dog population and causing the deaths of the dogs desperately in need of homes in shelters across the world. For those that would prefer to know more about the dog that they are adopting, there are breed specific rescues, not to mention that the average dog pound has about 25% pure bred dogs (occasionally with papers) at any given time. No, it’s not illegal to purchase a dog, it’s just ignoring the fact that dogs are losing their lives everyday right in your community…. due to lack of homes.

          • When we are talking about dog over-population, rather than chastising the many responsible, animal-loving, devoted dog breeders that are trying to save some very rare breeds from extinction, we should look at and blame the irresponsible people that let their un-spayed and un-neutered mutts breed. And let’s not get into the “designer dog” business. Take any 2 dogs, breed them, give them a name, and ta-dah! More pound puppies. Most pure-bred dog breeders will take back any puppies that don’t work out in their new homes and find them new ones, often at that breeders expense. Let’s see that with a mutt or designer dog breeder!

            It will be a long process to straighten out all of the damage that has been done by irresponsible and uninformed breeding of show dogs in the past. Good breeders make a study of it, and spend countless hours researching their dog’s genetics, talking to other breeders, going to shows and conventions, and IF they’re good breeders, they will also take the time to work their dog in the event or sport it was meant to do. Their work ability should be one of the qualities that they breed for.

            I don’t think that there is anything wrong with breeding dogs if it is done right. It would be sad to lose the breeds that our human ancestors have always relied on and spent so much time to perfect.

    • Schipperke. But like any suggested breed research and find a responsible breeder. Breeder who tests for possible/probable conditions.

    • I rescued a Carolina Dog and couldn’t be happier with her health, disposition and intelligence. They’re not recognized by the AKC because there’s an open stud book… because they’re still finding wild dogs (with genes proven through survival of the fittest) to add to the domesticated gene pool. WINNING!!

    • I have had different breeds and crosses, but I now stick with the Irish Terrier. They are a very healthy breed, intelligent and super active. They were used in the trenches extensively and are very brave and loyal. Good ratters, unfortunately also good chasing cats. My two year old female, 17kgs, can clear a four foot (1.22metre) gate. She is also good at burrowing under the wire. The breed has benefited from not being particularly fashionable, although they are handsome dogs. The only problem now is because they are an endangered breed it is essential that they do not become too inbred. I shall be looking to travel some distance to ensure my young madam finds some new blood for her first litter.

  12. Can you imagine the outrage if people started breeding their children like they do pedigree dogs?

    Due to the racing culture, a perfect example of a dog bred for health instead of appearance is the greyhound. They live on average until they’re 12-14 and suffer from very few genetic problems. Not that I completely agree with greyhound racing, but maybe competing dogs to do what they’re naturally good at and that encourages healthy breeding would be the way forward, rather than breeding for appearance?
    Just a thought.

  13. I currently have azawakhs, a breed of dog that was and still is a village guard and livestock guardian in the African countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Nature has formed the way these dogs look and function for the most part, with very little human intervention. They are very rare in the USA (only about 300 give or take) and more numerous in Europe. There are forces in play however that seek to change and further restrict the gene pool of the breed I hold so dear to my heart. I certainly hope that the azawakh doesn’t fall in the same category as other breeds due to human fancy of what we think looks better.

  14. In the short time border collies have been in the AKC, there have been signs that their mental health is suffering from it. OCD is becoming more prevalent than it was before. Dogs from Flyball/Agility lines seem to be some of the most crazy dogs.

    • As someone with an adopted border collie with whom I’ve taken part in herding, agility, and flyball, I can’t disagree. Any time breeders stop selecting strictly for working (herding) ability, the breed suffers.

      Conformation-bred border collies are almost unrecognizable from working dogs, and there is no good reason to breed specifically for agility or flyball dogs, when there are plenty of good dogs from working lines who just won’t work out as herding dogs but will do fantastically well in flyball or agility.

      • Agree, Stafford! I chose my young BC from herding lines for two reasons: one, I wanted to work stock with him, and two, I was concerned with many of the over-the-top BCs that I’ve seen bred specifically for agility. I also do agility with Kindle; he has all of the drive, speed and athletic ability he needs, without the frenzy that you so often see. And his structure is superb!

  15. I’ll never understand why they thought they had to change the original features 😦 If it was for health that would be one thing but this is causing health problems … so wrong!

    • The only “original features” are those of a wolf. There’s no reason to think that dog breeds were fixed in appearance for the centuries before those 1915 photos were taken; I’m sure they were continually changing, just as they are today.

      • Excellent point. No species is fixed and they all evolve. However since we are in part directing their evolution, it is up to us to do so responsibly with an eye towards health.

  16. Good article and worth reading. But as an English teacher, I cringe to see “it’s” spelled incorrectly. That type-o lessens the validity of the information (in my opinion). Perhaps you can fix the errors? Thanks!

  17. As a person deeply vested in dog rescue I have seen some of the worst “selective breeding” has produced. Boxers with extreme dog aggression issues, golden retrievers with short fuses and zero hunting skills, labs with arthritis at three years of age and don’t even get me started on what passes for a chihuahua these days. People like to call themselves responsible breeders simply because they have a purebred, stuck it in the garage with another purebred belonging to somebody on Craigslist and then charge a ridiculous sale price that some ignorant moron is going to pay so he too can become a breeder of the same fashion. While it is all well and good to blame show breeders for the umhealthy, over time morphing that has occurred let us not forget the purebred garbage that is spewed out, with papers mind you, by for profit puppy mills and unscrupulous for profit or from sheer ignorance breeders. The hybrid vigor many speak of is nearly extinct. In this day and age, finding any dog with strong patellas, hips and elbows is difficult. Early onset arthritis is way too common and we have mistaken brains for the inability to sit still. Blindness and hearing we have sacrificed for colored coats and eyes and the beautiful, once revered pit bull terrier has been genetcally redesigned by social bottom feeders known as gang bangers into a dog whose temperament, once one of the breeds most solid attributes, is now a crap shoot. It is not just the show breeders who should shoulder this burden. Blame human ignorance, greed and narcissism while we’re at it.

    • I agree 100%. I know a couple of CKC Registered ethical breeders. They do extensive genetic and health testing . These people are not the problem.It is the backyard breeders and mills.They think nothing of breeding mothers to sons, brothers to sisters etc. I am sure at one time this was a common practice of Kennel Clubs as well.It is now no longer acceptable.Ethical breeders are aware of the things mentioned in this blog and are working to change the damage that has been done. Please make note of the word ethical here.

    • Well said and a hearty “here, here”! So many ignorant people think that AKC papers means quality.

  18. West Highland Terriers used to be hunting dogs that doubled as great house pets, and somehow many of the USA breeders seem to have turned them into smaller (10-12 lb) fancy dogs that prance around at the end of a lead. We recently adopted a pair of brothers we understand come from UK bloodlines… they are 26 and 28 pounds, with thick double coats (haven’t seen one of those on a westie in years) and are wonderful dogs. However, they are both not quite athletic in the hind end, but are certainly good hunters in the back yard. Since we adopt (zero money to the breeder or owner), we don’t get the great conformation, but we are giving a home to great little souls. Vet bills have been minimal, likely as due to a high quality grain-free diet as to luck.

  19. Fascinating article. As an owner of several Jack Russell Terriers over the years I have seen the breed start to go down the road to potential ruin. Up until a few years ago JRT breeders universally resisted recognition by the AKC – breed standards were built on performance. Now that the breed has moved to the AKC it has been renamed and classified into multiple breeds in just a few short years. If you breed for long legs exclusively you are bound to lose the power of an ancestor with short muscular legs as an example. Sadly the Jack Russell only exists today because Mr Russell was disappointed with the dumbing down of his original fox terrier. He set out to breed the perfect fox hunter again from scratch. He must be rolling over in his grave…

  20. Unfortunately, there was an evident lack of depth to the research put into this article. A few important points:

    There are PLENTY of functional German Shepherd Dogs. You are looking only at American and German showlines, and not at working lines. Working bred German Shepherds have moderate rear angulation and are very sound. Here is a working bred GSD clearing a 2 meter wall with ease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kl8kEw0Blo Better research would have revealed this easily…

    Also, Dachshunds are prone to achondroplasia?! I should hope so, it is a dwarf breed! ALL dachshunds, including the historical photo you posted and the modern one, are achondroplasiac dwarves, lol. It’s true they’ve been bred for shorter and shorter proportions, but understand that the Doxies of yesterday were also dwarves – the entire breed is. They’re not “prone” to achondroplasia; they all have it!

    Better research would have greatly improved this article, in my opinion.

    • Emily, you are quite correct about my focus on show lines; that is the whole point. But even some supposed working GDS are not very good specimens. The pictures from DVG America, United Schutzhund Clubs of America, GSSCC, German Shepherd Dog Club of America-Working Dog Association, etc. do not inspire confidence. Yes, there are some great GSDs; I’ve seen beautiful dog from former Soviet Bloc countries but you can begin to see conformation influence creeping in.

      Achondroplasia refers to bone disorders – yes dwarfism is the most common. I was referring to other pathologies associated with the breed. I’ve adjusted the wording to make it more clear to those unfamiliar with both meanings.

      And yes, more research is always better.

      • Emily is quite correct in regards to the GSD. You should read this: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0078929 which shows continuing improvement in the Australian cohort of GSD breed survey animals. In fact, http://www.gsdca.org.au will give you a far better perspective on the breed survey requirements that apply in Australia. Sadly, these rules are not international. and irresponsible breeders, particularly in the US, do not breed the dogs for their working-dog characteristics. Our progress in the further reduction of hip and elbow dysplasia, and haemophilia is, to my knowledge, unsurpassed, even in Germany. You would do well to study the GSDCA pages, and I look forward to you clarifying your opinions on the breed in future.

        • Yes, you are FIXING the mistakes. Commendable and it would be nice if breed clubs and national registries made difficult demands from breeders in terms of health/working titles/etc.

      • Funnily enough, the original ‘mistake’ in Australia was the banning of the breed in the early1900’s. This was only fully rescinded in 1974. The relatively few dogs available since resulted in a poor gene pool. The GSDCA has worked tirelessly to improve breed characteristics, not only for physical strength and endurance, but also in temperament. The original of the GS was itself a result of Capt.Max von Stephanitz’ selective breeding for traits he considered to be desirable. In fact, the older picture you use as an example shows a dog with the classic squared body which made the dog rather weaker in the hind legs than its modern Australian counterpart. The dog on the right would not pass GSDCA survey requirements, having a head like a T.Rex. GSDCA Breed Survey accreditation is a difficult and strict criterion for breeding, and the benefits are being seen in healthier, stronger stock, which are much in demand as WORKING dogs by our police and armed forces. I can only suppose you have extrapolated your US experience as being the international standard of behaviour. I suggest you read more widely.

        • I don’t see why you think it’s weaker other than you want it to be. There is no evidence to support your argument and at least mathematically plenty to refute it. Frankly, Aussie dogs don’t look better than those in Europe or the New World. The dogs depicted on the various Australian websites are just as bad as any of the conformation samples from NA or Europe.

  21. I believe function, not form, should be the focus of a good breeding program. There is a reason why feral dogs share a basic form; it serves the function. Village dogs who have excessive fur, very short noses, or any other extreme physical impermanent, do not survive and the “line” dies out very fast. Why? Because the form impairs the function. If you can’t outrun an adversary because you can’t breath, you die. Breeding programs that select against the function of the breed are slowly eliminating it from the gene pool. I once heard Ian Dunbar say “The German Sheppard will undoubtedly be the first dog breed to go extinct.” I think he might actually be right.

    • I don’t know, the bulldog head is so large that many can’t give birth naturally. Luckily for GSD fans eastern European working lines (the ones that guarded borders for communist countries) are still quite healthy.

  22. I’m not a scientist or vet just a pet owner interested in the evolution of dogs. I found this discussion very interesting and the article largely reflects my own thoughts.Breeding just for the sake of certain exaggerated physical characteristics ( decided by a small group of people based on their own opinions and without real regard to the original breed function ) has done a lot of harm.I had a pedigree dog which went blind through an inherited condition.I currently also own a Jack Russell from a working background and owned one previously.I know which I would choose in terms of potential health risks.However even Jack Russells ( Not a KC registered breed in the UK ) can be prone to inherited conditions like PLL which could be eliminated by genetic testing prior to breeding .There are responsible and irresponsible breeders of all types of dogs.If you look at early prints of some dog breeds, you will find that the ” distortions ” are even greater than can be seen in the 1912 images.It really has been happening since the early years of the 19th Century.

  23. Personally I see the pictures you are posting and I see stronger more correct dogs. If you know conformation of dogs and how things work you will be able to see things like angulation of the stifle and length of hock, angulation in the shoulder, topline, length of neck, while these may not mean anything to the average person they are what helps the dog, move correctly, and comfortably. For instance when looking at a dog from the back or front if they toeing out or in think of a person who is the same, the discomfort they feel a dog most likely feels as well. Breeders breed correct dogs to cover ground and do their jobs. BUT not all breeders do this, it is the irresponsible breeders that give the good breeders a bad name, the breeders who do not do their testing and make sure they are not breeding more problems into their lines. If you talk to a responsible breeder they will happily tell you what testing they do to produce healthy, happy puppies.

    • Obviously I disagree. Conformation – generally speaking – ruins dogs. What you describe are changes in structure for whim. Frankly, breeders simply don’t have the required skills or knowledge to make the kind of decisions you suggest. Once upon a time the Clumber spaniel was a very good hunting breed, it could move and as you say “cover ground”. I rarely see one in hunting trials or heard of anyone still using them for that.

  24. I’m curious about the bull terrier. The bull terrier on the left looks much more like a modern pit bull type (and the dogs were originally referred to as “pit bull terriers”) and very similar to many other early photographs of pit bulls I’ve seen. Did the lines diverge at one point, breeding bull terriers and pit bulls?

  25. I am a beginning boxer breeder, and was dismayed to find one of my dogs carries (heterozygous) a gene deletion associated with a very serious heart disorder called arrhythmogenic right ventricular hypertrophy. This is the “drop dead” cardiac illness you may have heard about. I was very upset to find this, but then I learned that about half of all boxers have this gene deletion, so it is more or less “normal” in this breed. Hopefully now that we can test for some of the genetic illnesses it will allow breeders to breed for better health and not just looks.

  26. I have to agree with what’s said in this article. Most, it not all, dogs that are bred solely for showing/conformation seem to be going downhill rapidly. My first dog was a Lab mix (with some kind of mastiff, we think), and the problems definitely showed with him. He had severe arthritis and hip problems by the time he was 5, and spent most of his life on joint medication. He had to be put to sleep when it got too difficult for him to walk. He was a rescue, but the breed issues still showed there.

    My current dog is a Belgian Malinois, which is thankfully not a very common breed in this country outside of police/military work. The lack of overbreeding really shows with her. She’ll be 12 in May and her vets regularly tell me they haven’t seen a dog above 7 in better health. She just had x-rays done to make sure everything was okay, and all of her joints are still completely perfect. But most Mals (around here, at least) are bred for police/military work, which requires them to be in excellent health. She is regularly too smart for her own good, though I will admit she has her ‘blonde’ moments (like running into walls when she gets caught up in playing). She has moved my love from the more common breeds to the rarer ones, though mutts will still always be my favorite.

    I petsit for work, so I see a lot of breeds and both good and bad examples of them. ‘Purebreds’ and mixes of the most popular breeds (like Labs, Goldens, Boxers, GSDs, etc.) seem to have the most medical problems, and have them younger. Almost all of the Dachshunds I have met have some major spine issue. Basset Hounds too, along with leg issues and eye issues. Boxers and English Bulldogs seem to have so many health issues that, while I love the breeds, I could never get one of either. I couldn’t stand the heartbreak of it.

    There need to be better regulations and smarter standards for these breeds. If the dog can’t do what the breed was bred for, it shouldn’t be allowed to show. That would fix at least some of the problems.

    • Unfortunately the AKC has chosen, in contrast with the rest of the world, to separate the Belgian varieties into breeds. Closing the gene pool seems to be the first step in ruination.

  27. I think one of the worst is the English Bulldog. Most of them can’t give birth naturally, they have to have c-sections

  28. Most of these ‘genetical adjustments changed size and conformation. Then there are character deviations too. Dump a latter-day Bullterrier, Staffie, Amstaff or Pitbull on the side of a road in the wilderness and it won’t last three days. The fighting drive has been deliberately, selectively (and artificially) bred into them to the extent that it has become unnaturally strong; so much so that it would attack something five times its own size and be killed in the process. That is unnatural. Some of the hunting and/or working breeds may just survive. We all know that a lion is a brave beast. But, a lion will not lightly attack a buffalo bull or a rhino on its own. That is stupid and unnatural. It shows how us humans have artificially made genetical adjustments to breeds that used to be sound of mind, but has since become man-made travesties.

  29. Breeding has become more about size rather than quality for many breeds. They are bred “up” or “down”. It annoys me to see the 3 pound Yorkie or the 130 pound Lab. Nevermind the health and behavioral issues, size matters. Abnormalities seem to be what fuels the desire to breed a dog. The “designer” dog trend slays me as well. Some of the intentions may be good, but they are generally grossly misrepresented. What a disappointment to find that your “Doodle” is a shedding beast, or your “Shorkie” has dental issues AND bladder stones.

  30. I owned and trained Rottweilers for 25 years. Loved the breed-hated their health problems. Now I have Aussies, Border Collies and a Rottie/Boxer/Hound rescue mix because she was cute and I believe in rescue-having rescued many dogs in my life. For those of you complaining about breeders, let me inform you there are different kinds of breeders-just like dogs.
    I am very involved in herding. I can’t go get a rescue and expect it to be a capable herding dog. That requires careful breeding to preserve the instinct bred into them centuries ago. My breeder only breeds dogs that can work and carries the talent to do so. She also PenHipps all her breeding stock and screens them for Collie Eye. If at any point, one of the dogs she had hoped to breed shows temperament problems or anything else that runs up a flag-that dog is neutered. Before she breeds, she has a waiting list of several people she has screened as an appropriate home AND will take back any dog at any time-in fact, it’s in the contract, that people should return any dog they can no longer keep, for any reason. THAT is a responsible breeder.
    For all of you wanting to neuter every dog and shut down all the breeders, you’re not thinking big enough. For one thing, if we neuter all the dogs, there won’t be any. Also, there are dogs in this world that WORK. We need them to do those jobs. Border Patrol and Airport Security cannot do their jobs without dogs. Ranchers and farmers need dogs to manage their livestock. A good dog can do the job of several men. There are other jobs, but you get the point. Not every dog is just a companion. Remember that the next time you think breeders should be “outlawed.” As for the nutty ones that only breed for looks-don’t buy for them and they will go away. They won’t do it, if they can’t sell the puppies.

    • YES.

      It astounds me that there is this whole world of dog breeders (the whole spectrum of them) that most people have NO idea about. My own sister, when I asked if she gets a dog where will she get it from, said “A pet store?”. My in-laws recently got to Golden Doodles. Those dogs are crazy, one of them edgy when people come over, the other mostly skittish but aggressively protective of her people (my dog-reactive boxer is afraid of her and won’t even come near me when she is around).

      The unfortunate truth is that most people who want a dog can’t be bothered to spend the time looking for a breed that is right for them (and a mutt might do nicely!), or the time in looking for a breeder that is conscientious about their breeds genetic predispositions and is doing something to correct it.

      I could go on… I have a boxer that has had his share of health problems, which may or may not be of a genetic quality. He had parvo, an undiagnosed back/neck problem (it went away…?), he was monorchid, has allergies (still can’t figure out exactly to what he is allergic), and had a mast cell tumour and other benign “lumps” removed. At one time, they detected a heart murmur, but since have not heard it. He is also aggressive/reactive to dogs he doesn’t know – something I still work on with him every day (he now competes in agility and can attend flyball practices with me), though I don’t know if this can be attributed to breeding alone. I learned my lesson about breeders; she was a first time breeder and though she did her best, not all the puppies were sound. We wanted a puppy from this litter because we wanted a brindle male. Stupid.

      Our second dog was a mix rescued from a reserve somewhere in Northern Alberta. She has never had a health problem and she is athletic and driven. Great dog…

      I guess the story is, for now, if you want a purebred dog you will need to learn to deal with a certain number of issues. In time, I hope that many of the breed-associated problems that exist will begin to be removed from the gene pool, as breeders with looks in mind come to realize that looks count for nothing if a dog is sick or dead.

  31. As a long time breeder and competitor of German Shepherds I can tell you from real life experience the dog pictured would not be able to herd sheep. The rear assemble of that dog would break down. Those strait stifle joints are killers. You can look at the Wolf for example and you will not see a straight stifle such as the one pictured. Having said that, I agree the modern American show GSD is horrible. Too much angulation breaks down too, and no they would not be able to jump a fence. In fact, some have so much rear angulation they are unable to breed naturally. Pancreatic problems are a real problem, both here and in Europe . The stereotype is of course, hip dysplasia, but unless you’re buying from a puppy mill most breeders do not have problems with this. DNA testing is also available to eliminate Degenerative Myleopathy and again, most good breeders are doing this.

    • You sound like the kind of person I’d like to purchase a shepherd from! We got one as a “dump dog” (we live in the country) and she was the most beautifully conformed dog, with the most protective nature. Watchdog extraordinaire. We absolutely fell in love with her, and had her until she passed away. Looking around for another, we were faced with those monstrosities you mention, so we haven’t replaced her. Did have another “dump dog though”…this time a corgi. What a hoot! But NOT a watchdog!

  32. I really wanted to read this article,but with the white flashing little lights coming down the screen, I had to stop due to my bad eyesight, this caused way, way too much work. Could you re-post the article without the flashing white snowflakes falling down ?

  33. I think you should removed that picture of the red English Bulldog as it belongs to VICTORY BULLDOGS! You had no right or permission to take a picture of our dog and post on this site!!!

  34. Kinda shots down the notion that we a a race are competent to mess with the genetic integrity of any animal or plant we choose in any way we chooe, including moving genes between species…..

    • It’s amazing how people run on about things they have no experience in. If you’d like a mutt, like to adopt, good for you. If you like to buy a pure bred puppy from a reputable breeder who does genetic testing and compete with their dogs then good for you. If you buy your puppies from any person who decides they’d like to “have puppy” just because or from pet store, who doesn’t know the bred standard and doesn’t care then you are adding to the problem. I have worked at a vets, and I work as a groomer and yes I show and breed Labradors. And yes I have had mixed breeds in the past. I stand behind my show dogs. Are there extremes in some dogs, yes, But there are t tons of breeder who show and compete and get working certificate too! You can’t judge all breeders by a few examples. How many people who are posting have ever been to a dog show, how many have you taken the time to understand how the dogs are judged? Look at the pictures, better straighter tops line mean stronger backs, proper shoulder angles prevent shoulder injuries…I could go on. As a groomer I see lots of pet dogs(mix breeds and backyard breeders) who are loved dearly, but have slipped hocks, misaligned teeth, luxating patella’s, swayed back..problems that are long term sources or pain. Working at the vets I see pet bred dogs (again mixed breeds and backyard breeders) with heart problems, epilepsy, allergies… I mean get real people, these deisases are found in mixed breed too. The big difference is responsible pure bred breeders breed away from these problems, have spent millions of $$$ in finding DNA Markers for these problems so we can test and eliminate them and why do we do this? Because we love out chosen breeds. And if anyone would like to suggest that I do it for money, I wish they would tell me how because I have never, I repeat NEVER received a single penny I have reinvested back into the health care of my dogs. These dogs get the best vet care, best food, the best of everything. My dogs are DNA tested for PRA, EIC, CMN, cleared for hips, elbows and see a Canine ophthalmologist every year to check for inherited eye problems. Why because I want to produce the best healthiest labs I can. Almost all show breeders feel the same, so before you make judge please quit buying into the ideas your being force fed and get out there, and make up your own mind.

      • There are a few kinds of dogs breeders, those that recognize there is a problem and those that pretend there isn’t – I’m not including puppy millers, byb, etc. Not too long ago I wrote about a mutation that affects nearly half of Italian greyhounds. When the documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed resulted in the KC proposing some changes to breeders the very breed clubs made of ‘responsible breeders’ fought any changes. The fact you talk about the breed standard shows you don’t understand it is part of the problem, though not as much as popular sires and whims and fashions about breed type.

        • Which breed, which problem, and what percent of the population suffers? I ask only because there are breeds that 90% of its population have the current genetic marker for DM, but extremely low instances of the disease actually occurring. If you take that 10% gene pool and breed within it, you are only going to breed in problems. Yes, designer breeds suck, and the fashion shows need to go, but I dare you to find a dog that can work better than a breed that was bred for it. The real problem is people. We should just kill off the populace that thinks a dog needs to be cute. That’s what some on here are advocating. Not that I necessarily disagree.

        • The bottom line is that most people showing animals (be it dogs, horses, whatever) will breed for whatever wins in the showring, if it’s healthy for the animal or not. Been there, done that (save your breath trying to convince me I’m wrong on that point) and I’m not adding to be problem anymore because I am no longer a breeder. I refuse to breed faults into animals just to win in the show right. Winning was fun, but that’s too high of a price! Natural selection worked a whole lot better than what humans have done these breeds….and yes, I know we wouldn’t have breeds if everything was still natural selection, but we need to do better than this. The cure to the problem is to have the breed standards listed as what’s healthy for the dogs (or horses, etc.) and some kind of way force the darn judges to adhere to the standards instead of rewarding the ugly unhealthy fads.

          • Ms. Lisa Lou, the comments stated accurate. Thank you. It is amazing what certain people (above a couple users) think/state/whine about/etc. regarding breeds, breed standards. This article is correct on a number of breeds of what the ORIGINAL Standards where & what they are now. And the many many health issues that each Breed now has due to ‘man’ altering each breed thru whatever means possible. Let us give an example; The US GSD (American German Shepard Dog) is noticably diffferent from the GERMAN (European) German Shepard. The Breed Standard in Germany is actually closer to the Original Standard, the US has created (and ruined the breed now) this creature to the point of causing so many Health issues with their hips/back/etc (frankly what does obtaining a DNA Certificate Clearance for such things, seriously? that is absolutely NO Guarantee whatsover). And the point is, why is ONE necessary? Well the Breed has been altered so drastically that one MUST obtain such a thing to ‘protect’ one’s Puppy. So point is made, the BREED, especially in the US has been altered to such a point of ridiculous.

        • Do you have a dog? If so can you share some about your own dog… what kind… why you choose that breed (or mutt)? what you do with your dog? what health issues & experience you have? etc… Thanks!

        • If you know of anyone in the southeast US who breeds real working Malinois shoot me a reply please. I’ve been looking for almost a year and every breeder I’ve come across is ridiculous. All they want is show and no work. They are killing the breed. Check out my other reply to Brenda for further. Thanks a lot for this. You are spot on.

            • I can provide everything but a title. My dog came through a broker. At 10 years old he still launches from 8-10 feet and hits hard and deep. He tracks like no Mal I’ve ever personally seen in 14+ years of police work. I think my title would be the kilos of cocaine confiscated, murder, rape, robbery and escapees captured that are recorded. All I received when he came over back in 05 was a vet record (all in German) and a hip X-Ray. They don’t usually hand out titles to US police dogs and all I want is a serious working female. This gets more difficult every single year that more and more idiots breed washouts. It’s strange to me that my dog can be deemed one of the most solid dogs ever decoyed by the most recognized decoy trainer in the world but if I want to breed him I need a pedigree. If he were show line, never worked a day but had a pedigree I would have no problem. How many show dogs do you see doing bite work, running sprints and have a clean bill of health at 10? This is my frustration.

          • Steve, check in with Julie Atchison of wwww.everyday dogs.com. She can put you in touch with breeders of working lines Malnois.

        • It seems like breeders from dogs shows because of ridiculous standards (like the comment from Brenda) emphasize quality such as looks over biomechanical factors that make a healthy dog. Its just sad that they don’t understand that they are the root of the problem. Do all the delusional genetic testings for your own pets, but the common factor is health problems non existent is the past was brought about by pure breeding. It is a causation not correlation. Maybe your next article should point of the lack of some of these health problems before pure breeding became popular and profitable.

      • The top show dogs don’t look anything like the breeds used to, so regardless of extensive testing even the top breeders are mutating the breed into a cartoon of their former selves. If ‘judges’ didn’t mark it highly it wouldn’t happen surely? Breeds aren’t bred to work anymore hence the poliferation of style of substance. Lurchers all the way for me, bred for health and functionality and thank goodness the kennel club won’t be getting their hands on them.

      • I’d rather see those millions of dollars spent for genetic research and tests to make dogs extra-pretty being spent on more important things, like medical research.

        • Dogs are on the front lines of human genetic research. Because of breed isolation it is easier for researchers to isolate the specific genes associated with disease in dog DNA than in human DNA. Since dogs suffer from many of the same diseases as humans, they are actually a better analogue than say mice or rats.

      • you’re a part of the system, so it’s hard to take you seriously. All the clubs and the people who support them have done a great job of spinning what is in fact some weird and tragically flawed experiment. For years I’ve wanted a bulldog, but after I read the article in the New Yorker I completely gave up on the idea. I understand vanity (and pure-breeding is a vanitous, selfish act) but there’s no justification for involving innocent animals.

        So I ended up getting a mutt. He’s not much to look at but he’s bright, clever, and healthy, everything that your dogs (over the course of their entire lives) and any other purebred race, will not be able to claim.

        For a while I dated a woman who had a golden retriever, that thing was as dumb as an anvil. Not impressive, for a purebred.

        The show dog people have been behind their own undoing. You’ll keep doing what you do, and what can we do about it. But us on the mutts-first side of the debate perceive you pure-breeders as simply a little weird (Ali Naderzad, Paris)

        • oh thanks. I was going to write pretty much what you just said. Really though, Brenda, you are just caught up in a network of people and organizations that will do everything they can to make you feel like you are doing good work and helping animals by doing this pure-bred stuff. I understand how easy it is to feel like you are taking good care of the animals, and you probably really are on an individual level. But the work you are doing is detrimental to future offspring these dogs may have.

        • Am not about to ‘ding’ an individual for owning a ‘mutt’ as claimed here. But also in the same breath, would NOT ding an individual for owning a ‘purebred’. I have owned Rescued, so-called Mutts, & Purebreds. All of my dogs are highly intelligent/highly trainable/loving/caring/lapdogs (GGSs (German German Shepards), Golden Retrievers, Labs.
          Show People, which I used to be, are not all bad. It is the entire collection (Show, Breeders, Public, etc). of people wanting/expressing different aspects of breeds. It is disgusting true enough. But to ‘lay blame’ on someone else’s doorstep does NOT assist the situation.
          Frankly I wish I knew what would, other than people (the Public) stop buying pets all together and just rescuing the current population (thankfully when one does this, those animals are automatically spayed/neutered (hopefully) before leaving into the care of their new owners).

      • Your dogs are over priced mutts that barely can walk out of their kennels. Go back under your rock troll.

      • I suppose you purport to know more about dogs than you apparently do about manners or grammar. If you want to state your opinion about any of the content of the article or comments here, go ahead, but don’t presume that people who have a different opinion are running on “about things they have no experience in.” The idea that breeders are not making money — regardless of whether you do or not — is both untrue and irrelevant. The article points out a phenomenon that there is a preponderance of evidence points to: That dogs are being overbred with a focus on appearance, and are less healthy, and suffer as a result. I love purebred labs, and my own animal is a purebred GSD, but that is another matter. Do mixed breeds get sick? Sure they do. What does that tell us? Finally, nobody is being force-fed ideas or forced into a certain conclusion. If our conclusion doesn’t match yours, it doesn’t mean we didn’t look at the info available and make up our own minds.

        • well, sort of. the problem is that people draw the wrong conclusions because they have personal opinions and biases that influence their results. The empirical evidence regarding the physical health of purebred dogs indicates that they are now less healthy, physically capable, have more genetic defects, illnesses and die sooner. That is the only conclusion to draw.

      • shut up , these problems are obviously due to constant inbreeding just like everything else that inbreeds over time well as you can see…they don’t get better. dog shows are a waste of time and dog ,stop treating dogs like theyre experiments that need to be showcased let them live their short lives


        • Golly Mr. Fafard, this Brenda individual has a right to voice her opinion (just as anyone here, including You), but to write what & how you did is beyond offensive. Truly do you not have something intelligent and noteworthy to speak towards her specific writings or are you just going to ‘attack’ a female? Is that all you are capable of doing? Go ahead, attempt to do so to me.
          I was a breeder of specific breeds, also am a Rescue Owner. I have had Mutts as well. I have trained Dogs in Show (2 different countries), Agility, Obedience, & Guard. Does that make me ‘unworthy’ to comment as well since I was a dog breeder that showed animals? Even though I also rescued dogs?

      • Why have show dogs ? Having them to look like we think they should ,, O he has a little white tip on his tail O LA LA that dog could never get confirmation as a pure breed ,,,, A big dog de bordeaux becomes a mongeral because of a quarter of an inch of white tip tail O LA LA Ce dur ;;;

      • Thank you. You said what all of us responsible breeders stand for. I also show and breed but cocker spaniels who are notorious for health problems. I am one of the few breeders left that do every test imaginable to protect the integrity of this breed. It absolutely kills me to see breeders who don’t.

        • The thing that many people don’t realize is that it is usually the show breeders who are doing health clearances on their breeding stock and who are giving thousands of dollars, through their breed clubs, to canine health research foundations. I have a mutt, a purebred rescue plus a few dogs that I show. Haven’t bred anything since the eighties. But I support purebred dog organizations and even serve on the board of a breed club because I love the breed and want to see health issues get resolved. Also those who think a shelter dog, mixed breed will always give them genetic diversity and good health are misinformed. When I was president of a humane society we often went out to situations and rescued mixed breeds who were running loose and being bred by their litter-mates and other close relatives. It is a compassionate thing to adopt a homeless animal but it doesn’t up your chances of it being healthy. Buying from a reputable breeder who does health clearances on the sire and dam of every litter ups your chances, plus choosing a breed that is known for having less hereditary problems. I am just stating facts based on my experience plus common sense. I am not defending breeders because I am not one! But I do get rather ill by people who state things that simply are not true. Many breed are becoming healthier and are not inbred and such. In standard Poodles, for example. Many breeders are striving for very low inbreeding coefficients percentages. Do your homework before blasting inaccurate information!

      • So very well said. Too many people jump on the fanatic bandwagon to criticise , be incredibly rude and yet have no knowledge of the majority of those who breed healthy dogs. The ones who NOW need to be looked at, are all those who are breeding crossbreeds for enormous amounts of money and getting away without so much as a comment from the pure breed bashers. There are now horrendous numbers of ‘cockerpoos’ being bred and sold to people who believe they are ‘healthy’ ! This is all going on while all the attention is on breeders who in the most part are health testing etc and have knowledge and experience in their breeds. I have spoken to several people who own 3 or 4 cocker bitches each and are mating them all to their own poodle male next year and have already done so this year. Fulfilling or creating demand ?

        • There are many problems that we could talk about and you bring up a valid point. It does not take away from the fact breeders often select traits that “look” better but also make dogs less healthy.

        • Cheryl, Nothing wrong with purebred dogs….lots wrong with many of AKC’s standards.
          Yes, I have shown AKC and owned many AKC dogs. THE POINT – A responsible breeder can test their dogs and breed carefully. But if they have to meet a standard that is unhealthy, what is the point. A smashed in face is unhealthy. If a breeder of a bull dog wants to win, they have to breed for a character that is going to cause problems.

      • Hi Brenda, I worked at NASA and Lockheed Martin. So I guess that makes me an authority on all things space, astronomy and quantum mechanics.
        You keep on trucking, girl 😉

      • I think you are missing the point.

        My experience:
        Previously showed in AKC. (currently competes in agility trials)
        Raised purebred guide dog puppies for CA school for the blind
        worked as vet technician
        Biologist with coursework in genetics and animal husbandry
        Volunteers with purebred rescue

        What this person is talking about is the big picture. . . not individual cases. Yes there are mix breed dogs with health problems and purebred dogs that are healthy. But overall breed standards are causing problems. Even when there is a responsible breeder who wants to do right, they may not win at AKC if they don’t follow the messed ups breed standard.

        The problem is NOT breeds, but AKC standards.

        My family used to have German Shepherds…not any more. Too many health and fear issues. I blame AKC.
        GErmany doesn’t have these problems with German Shepherds. they also don’t have AKC.

        Do some research yourself! Take a genetics class. Compare the numbers, rates of disease past and present.

        You are being defensive.

      • I have shown whippets for 25 years. The breed in the show ring is almost ruined. Whippets were bred to run fast. The dogs in the show ring are not the fastest, because they have been bred exclusively for ‘look’. It has been my experience, that the MAJORITY of show breeders discount the field events. It’s not a minority breeding for form over function. The way to fix it is for the breed clubs to require field titles on their dogs before granting that coveted ‘champion’ title.

      • The point wasn’t that pet quality/mixed breed dogs are better or worse than pure breds. The point was that, through selective breeding, we have created dogs who are now more prone to disease and deformity than ever before. Mixed or pure. Pretty ironic that you opened your rant with something about people going on and on about something they know nothing about.

      • In 2006 I went to a working dog national convention where I met with the head of the German State Police canine program. He put on a slide show presentation where he very simply yet completely backed up how show breeders (mostly American) are “destroying” working dogs as we know it. Look back at the Doberman which decades ago was used for police work. They now are no longer used. Same thing with the German Shepherd. At the the time he did the talk he informed us that the German State police were no longer using the German Shepherd which he angrily referred to as the “American Shepherd”. They were exclusively using the Belgian Malinois which was bred specifically to replace the GSD. The Malinois work hard, have virtually no diseases, live long and have amazing drive. It took decades, perhaps a century to get a dog like this. All that hard work to create a dog to replace what the show breeders destroyed. An actual working dog is put out and what happens? Show breeders step in because everyone wants what the police have but they don’t want that drive. The breeders want money but the buyers won’t purchase a dog that requires so much exercise and attention. So what do they do? Instead of not washing out the lazy ones and having them spayed/neutered they breed them with other lazy ones then rinse and repeat. In 2005 when I bought my Mal from Germany they were unheard of in a family home here. Some farmers who actually worked them to herd had them but it was not a breed seen in a pet store. Now my dog is retired and at 10 years old he sprints every single day, swims, can still do protection work, has zero health problems and I’d love to breed him but I can’t. The last woman I called with her flashy website told me straight up that she doesn’t breed high drive dogs…… My reply to her: The dog was bred and used specifically for what you are not willing to breed! She is breeding pretty, lazy, disease ridden house dogs and helping to destroy yet another breed of dog. I thought this was maybe just her. Nope. I’m now into over 100 contacts trying to find a female and they are all either inbred or the breeder doesn’t want a high drive dog. The article was spot on. Anyone who owns a real working dog agrees with the article. Anyone who is aiding in the destruction of a working breed for financial gain does not.

      • Brenda, you seem to be spouting the same half information that most other breeders do as well as a lack of evolutionary, genetic and biological education. You want people to make judgements by getting out there and making up your own mind? How about making up your mind on scientific facts. Here’s a couple: When you selectively breed for appearance, you are also selectively breeding for other, sometimes deleterious, genetic traits that are coupled with traits that determine appearance. Hundreds of years of breeding specifically for appearance has led to a number of health problems for these poor dogs. You are already working with a gene pool of dogs that has genetic health problems due to years of breeding specifically for appearance and you think screening alone will lower the prevalence of these diseases? It’s a myopic view and fails to see the bigger picture. These breeds are already in trouble and will continue to be as long as they are bred for appearance. Breeding for temperament, however, seems to breed a more healthy dog.

    • When they breed plants though they are constantly evaluating them against other breeds and older breeds to make sure that the new one is actually an improvement. Note, I mean an improvement in whatever the desired characteristics are. These might be shelf life and yield rather than taste, or they might be taste. Most plant breeders are breeding plants for all sorts of characteristics.

  35. I’m tempted to think inbreeding has something to do with it. Inbreeding is a genetically unsound practice. It was intended to preserve certain traits that were considered to be desirable, but it also brings out certain undesirable traits. As an example, think of the heart problems that Weimaraners have.

    • Inbreeding is a misused and misunderstood term . Suggest the reader read “The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior” by Cl a rence Phaffenburger and see how , with the correct, application of inbreeding established Guide Dogs remarkably succesful breeding program.

  36. The Bull Terrier should be the poster child of bad designer breeding. We were shown pictures in class that would turn your stomach of the extreme angles on the muzzle. They had actually made it beyond 45 degrees and the jaws could no longer function. I will never understand people that breed for “style” over substance.
    And that is what brings me to the GSD. The Heidelbergs had a lot to do with their destruction, with rear feet that post in the middle of their body. How on earth is an animal that moves on 4 legs supposed to move properly and efficiently like that?
    There is also the Irish Setter. Originally quite substantive and a great worker that is now beset with physical and mental problems, all because people thought they looked more regal and defined without the White that was originally part of their accepted coat color.We as humans have been the single most destructive force on most dog breeds, playing God and thinking we know better.

    • Humans are also the reason dog breeds exist to begin with. That’s why they’re called “breeds”.

    • Yes, but don’t forget that we humans are also the reason all the different breeds exist in the first place; we deliberately created every single breed from a couple of common stocks in one of the best examples of the power of genetic variation.

  37. I had the most beautiful German Shepherd, but she was “old school.” I wouldn’t have one of those low slung mutts that are being bred today. I read somewhere that the ‘breeders” say that the dogs are more agile with their hindquarters dragging the ground. Huh??? BS!!! Give me back the old style! As for the Bull Terrier, as much as I like them, if they were bred for heads like the original, they’d gain in popularity. Blame much of this on judges who have pinned these animals, thereby perpetuating and enhancing some of these annoying factors. As for “good breeders” NOT breeding defective dogs…that’s crap. They just sell the culls (blind, deaf, bad hips, etc) as “pet qualliy.” They’re not spaying or neutering their problem breeders, which if they were responsible, they would do. Unfortunately this sort of blatant “breeding for the money” is also prevalent in horses, with some particular bloodlines being singled out, but “if you get a good one, it makes up for the defective ones.” With the possibility of hurting some unsuspecting horse owners along the way.

    • Ms. Maryann, tis not the old school version at all. Tis actually the German Standard to which you are speaking of, the German Shepard dog in the US has been bred to have the extreme LOW Slung back, which why in the world I do not know. Frankly it is absolutely disgusting, but alas. All my Shepards are German (European) breed/bloodline.
      Breeders need to be held accountable, alas NOT so here.

  38. I think its very interesting you immediately shoot down anyone who suggests breeding for conformation is desirable. I suspect you have little or no knowledge of why correct conformation is so important. An animal with correct conformation is a comfortable animal, and a healthy one. A correct lay back of shoulder, sloping pasterns, and corresponding croup makes for a dog or horse that travels easily without tiring. I’ld suggest talking to the horse people and see if they could put you on a horse with a straight shoulder. You’ll feel immediately how jarring that is. Round, compact feet with arched toes again is comfortable for the dog. Long rabbit toes are hurting feet, plus the nails trim themselves if the foot is shaped correctly. As for the breeds that are dwarfs , this too is a “Form Follows Function” . a Corgi is a cattle herding dog, they are short so they are below the kick of the cow or steer. As mentioned, the Dachshund hunts in badger holes, A Greyhound type dog has an extreme tuck up and no body fat so they are faster and cooler chasing game on desert.
    I don’t think humans are to be criticized for shaping dogs to our liking. We shape everything around us too, our homes, our land, our hair for heavens sake! Do we make mistakes?…yep, can we do better? sure. and it is important to point out when things go overboard, such as the too small skulls of Cavalier Spaniels, but you can’t lump all purebred breeders as bad, Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong. Remember people used to think conception was caused by magic vapors!!

    • Shaping items and yourself if SO different from shaping another living being for your own liking. Evolution takes care of making sure their conformation is what is best for longevity and reproduction. Humans are screwing it up.

      • Really, so does that apply to you? Do you wear glasses? take a life saving medication? Should we let evolution take its path if you can’t see to chase down your next meal? Are you athletic enough to run away or protect yourself from an attacker who wants to take your home and food? Should you just be wiped from the gene pool? Aren’t you shaping humans by producing children?

        • Wait… Are you serious? I can’t even come up with a legitamate response to this…. How is wearing glasses even remotely comparable to selectively breeding certain dogs to have certain exaggerated traits… To the point that they cannot breathe, have half of the average lifespan of other breeds, spines that snap at the drop of a hat, skulls that impede the brain to such an extent that the dog goes insane, holes in the top of their skulls, eye problems, skin problems, teeth problems, hip problems, etc. etc. etc.? And otherwise I don’t even know what you’re talking about because neither humans nor domesticated dogs need to catch their food or avoid wild predators. But, the way people are selectively breeding dogs to the point that they have the issues I mentioned above, dogs certainly have a much smaller chance of sieving in the wild than they did a hundred years ago… Are we even looking at the same article, here?

        • i guess we should also throw out all guns, weapons, electronics, and then burn down our houses cause those are all impeding the natural process right? theyre totally not tools that we, as a species, have grown to use and implement in daily lives. glasses totally dont give you an edge over competition that may have missed that development and now arent suited perfectly for their environment.


        • The difference is that show dogs are being bred for certain aesthetic traits whereas the flaws that you described are occurring naturally within our own gene pool. Adapting to these shortcomings is actually something that we as humans have done for a VERY long time. We don’t have the speed or ferocity to hunt without weapons like a leopard for example. So we started to use tools and our intellect. You are directly questioning the merit of Leyna’s genes to the gene pool of the human race, which is an absolutely ridiculous thing to do. It’s also short sighted and bad mannered.

      • Evolution (via natural and sexual selection, I’m assuming you mean) made wolves, coyotes, foxes, and a few other wild dogs. Humans made dog breeds from that stock. Natural selection very rarely selects for longevity, just sufficient longevity for a bit more reproduction than other members of the species. Most dog breeds live significantly longer than their wild con-specifics. That said, I despise breeding for extreme ‘aesthetic’ traits at the cost of health and comfort. But saying humans are screwing up evolution’s work in dogs is patently false. Humans now are simply screwing up previous humans’ work.

    • I would agree that the “shaping” or evolution is good and is helping the creatures to fit better in the environment. But apparently, if the said “shaping” is causing more harm than good, like raising heart disease rate in the species, then isn’t it a common sense to realize that the “shaping” was going the wrong way????? Not to mention that the “shaping” in this article is hardly caused by the nature.

    • That’s because anyone that breeds that way is a moron who should be jailed.

      That includes you.

    • Ms. Sue, Conformation of Breed Standards in numerous dogs/bitches today is NOT the ORIGINAL, that is what this article is about & what the Author is attempting to have the Public understand.
      You are comparing the slope of the back of dog to the slope of the back of a Horse while riding the horse, may I inquire if you actually ride the dog at some point?
      Have you (or anyone for that matter) been able to inquire of the dog that this new standard (from the Original of the Breed, research back there is prove) of slope of the back, arched toes/round compact feet, the lower body for those smaller breeds, etc are BETTER for these breeds? Or is it that Humans think it looks better?
      Yes actually most ‘purebred’ breeders NEED to be held accountable, PERIOD. There are way too many that do NOT manage their line correctly, selling dogs that are NOT Quite Show Quality w/out Spayed/Neutered. This should be the BREEDERS job.

    • Oh, BS. Straight shoulders are for human comfort, not the well being of the horse. Look at wild mustangs or prezewalskis, horses that breed naturally – they have straight shoulders, short legs, and huge feet. Not fit to ride but can live for years without hoof trimming and picking, and ankle wrapping, etc.. Now, “well bred” show horses are comfortable, sure, but they have longer legs and smaller more delicate feet and ankles. (Take a look at some of the pasterns on those warmbloods you see.) Why? I don’t know. But they are expected to pack people around on them over terrain and jumps and are prone to all sorts of injuries. Do you have any idea how much money and time people spend on their horse’s feet and ankles?

      If people want to breed animals for human use they should put some thought into it. Saying, “oh dauschunds hunt badgers!” Puh-leeze. Well, please tell me that last time a weiner dog has been used to hunt a badger?! But I can tell you that they can put a disc in their backs out going up and down stairs.

    • The theory you are following is actually “function follows form”. You breed for the form thinking that function will follow. True “form follows function” breeding will be selecting for dogs that work well in their jobs are and accepting that however the dogs look, it’s the functional look.

  39. I agree with some aspects. But, I think this article misses the mark on other points:

    A) There is wide variation of desired qualities between different breeders for every breed. The difference between pictures really is within the amount of variation that still exists today. So, the criticisms of what has happened “to the breed” can really only accurately be applied to the dog in the picture.

    B) The dogs on the left have many of the same issues identified about the dogs on the right. Pugs had short snouts in the old days too.

    C) It’s wrong to imply that breeders are not concerned with health. While there are irresponsible breeders. The good ones take genetic diseases and problems very seriously and do not breed dogs that carry those genes. I’m fairly certain that the amount of care and research given to that issue generally is now far greater than was given to it in the breeding programs that created the dogs on the left.

    D) It is illogical to refer to the dogs as if they are one individual that has been changed over time. “Breeders made them less healthy!” In reality, if the breeders didn’t make them, they wouldn’t have existed at all. I’m pretty sure that if dogs could speak, most of them would say that they would prefer to be alive with defects than to have never lived at all.

    E) I think that the blame on breeders is misplaced. If it were not for public demand, there would be no reason for breeders to try for certain results. After all, it’s a lot of work to do that. If the public were just as content with a labrodoodle, thats all that would be sold and all that anyone would be interested in breeding.

    F) I think that it’s false to claim that no breed has been improved. For specific purposes, there definitely are more desirable traits. Not just physical but mental. And I think that it’s obvious that many dogs get a lot of fulfillment from the role of helping out. They are pack animals after all.

    • Agree with your first two points, not sure about the rest.

      I think you’re under the impression that show breeders supply dogs to the public. This is generally not the case. Litters aren’t bred for pets, though they do sell those that aren’t of show quality as pets. What they really want are titles and trophies and each litter brings the hope of more show dogs, which they will either keep for themselves or sell to other breeders. There is no profit in it. From what I can tell (from having dog breeders in the family) it’s a hedonistic hobby that unfortunately involves living beings.

      Most purebreds sold for public demand originate from breeding farms known as puppy mills, and backyard breeders.

      Breeders can select dogs with the best of intentions and carefully test for various genetic illnesses, but at the end of the day a person breeding a Boston terrier is creating a dog that is likely going to suffer lifelong respiratory distress and overheating just for the sake of form alone. Many will have issues that can’t be tested for, such as epilepsy. Is it really necessary to inflict that type of suffering?

      I’ve personally changed my thinking about breeding after witnessing my parents struggle with their pugs’ health issues. They had some wonderful traits – they were cute, friendly, and loving. But, seeing their fear and misery as they suffered through horrible unnecessary illnesses made me consider that breeding is a form of abuse. If it were up to me, there would be no more pugs.

  40. Wow, it’s sad to see these dogs going so “downhill” if you will. This has become so true with pure breeds, and the inbreeding needs to stop! It’s only going to make their genes weaker, and it will do no help for them.

  41. True enough about “show” German Shepherd Dogs, but working GSDs bred to German (NOT U.S.) standards can clear a 2.5 meter wall, although it’s not part of the breed specification. They must be able to run 20 km (almost 1/2 marathon) and then do obedience to qualify for breeding, as well as get a Schutzhund title. (There are other requirements as well.) The Germans have done an amazing job keeping the GSD on track for over 100 years.

    • The AD test (endurance for those not familiar) is rather lame. In the “about me”, I mention that I’m a runner and I’ve done a 20km road race faster than these dogs are allowed to run. They take 2 rest periods at 1/3 and 2/3rd mark and can’t exceed 15km/h. It’s way too easy.

      • Mus Musculus, Ph.D.,

        Yes, and the standing broad jump is way too easy for human olympians. Almost any cat can do better!

        Humans are exceptional endurance runners. Comparing what you can do with a standardized test for another species is not reasonable.

        (I know very little about dogs, so I have no opinion on whether the AD test is way too easy or not. I’m just saying your comparison is not useful in determining that.)

        • That’s what I was thinking. Not to say there isn’t a problem, but a photo of a dog from 1915 vs. a photo of the same breed today doesn’t really prove much.

          • “Development of life-threatening hyperthermia (sustained temperatures greater than (107 F) is our greatest temperature related medical concern. Hyperthermia is most apt to occur when running during the heat of the day in ambient temperatures exceeding 0 F.”


            Ambient temperatures exceeding 0F pose a risk of hypothermia for a dog running 160–180 km/day. That’s pretty cold. What temperatures is the AD performed at?

            Again, I am *not* challenging the idea that the breed standard for fitness for a working dog is unreasonably low.

            • Well, I have Belgian Sheps (5y, 11y) and we can bikejor 20k in 70min at 20C.

              The idea of doing 8k resting 15min, 8k resting some more and finishing seems like a low bar to pass.

              The ADs are usually offered early spring or fall.

      • Humans excel at running over most 4 legged animals by design. Bipedal movement and lack of fur lets us sweat, and the sweat dripping from the body consistently cools us. A furred or haired animal running at the same speed over the same distance will eventually succumb to heat exhaustion because they need to stop and pant to cool themselves. It’s the fundamental idea behind persistence hunting (literally running prey to death), which is still practiced in some cultures today. That’s why the dogs aren’t allowed to run much faster – they have to be given time to keep from literally killing themselves. Bipedal human and quadripedal animal running are very different things.

    • Well Stated Sir. Another GGS (German German Shepard) person. Thank you.

  42. What is ridiculous about this whole article attacking purebred breeders is the fact only 12% of pet puppy purchases come from purebred breeders. The rest are produced by random breedings, ie: careless people who let their female dog become pregnant. Then there is the fact shelter’s in the US IMPORT dogs from other countries to adopt out. Open your eyes folks! There is big money in shelter dogs! Look up how much money PETA receives in donations! and that money ain’t going to the dogs! Look up how many times PETA has been charged with illegally disposing of dogs. How many of you who are so quick to criticize purebreds have been in a shelter? Most are pittbulls. You can own all you want of them. I wouldn’t touch them and I always advise someone with children not to either. I know, I know, its the person who owns them, not the dog. Doggy Turds! I work with kids and I’ve seen too many that have been seriously bitten by this breed. IF EVERYONE WHO SCREAMS ABOUT OVERPOPULATION WOULD PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS AND FUND LOW COST OR FREE SPAY NEUTER CLINICS much of this problem would be solved. Oh wait! That means people would be out of a job. No, that isn’t going to happen.

    • I’m amazed that someone could type out this paragraph of rambling, incoherent nonsense, look it over, and think, “Yes, that is exactly what I want to say”, and hit send. It’s the textual equivalent of standing up at a debate, making fart noises with your mouth, and thinking you’ve contributed.

      • Sue. Please go find your nearest animal rescue non-profit and ask them if they have anything to do with “PETA” or if they “import their puppies from other countries”. The answer will be NO.

        Some city rescue groups will SAVE puppies from high-kill rural municipal shelters IN THE US… Yes there are plenty of city or county shelters in our country that euthanize puppies and the mother after their holding time is up because they don’t have the budget to keep them until they’re adopted. Rescue groups try to pull these dogs and have volunteers transport the dogs to city where they may be adopted.

        Please stop the crazy talk. There is not “Big Money” in animal rescue.

        After we vaccinate and sterilize the dogs we adopt them out at a loss, especially if they needed any vet care beyond that. That difference is made up from donations from caring people and often out of our own pocket. Maybe the occasional grant. Most rescues are all volunteers who work full-time elsewhere: no paid staff. The dogs are in foster homes with people who pay for food out of their own pocket until the dog is adopted: no facility. There little to no overhead. All the money goes to making a difference for homeless pets.

    • The article isn’t “attacking” purebred breeders; it’s pointing out that within the past century dogs were bred for desirable physical traits and a certain “look”. In doing so, the dogs have declined in health and function. If you are a breeder or looking to purchase from a breeder, the dogs do not look like they did 100 years ago. The dogs have not been improved. They are being bred to meet today’s image, not the image of a healthier, working dogs from 100 years ago.

      I’ve known of more children who have been bitten by golden or labrador retrievers than children who have been bitten by pitbulls. And forget the amount of people “nipped” by little lap dogs.

      As for the “big money in shelter dogs” spiel, my shelter dog’s adoption fee was $65. I can see how the shelter made a huge profit off of this $65 when he came micro-chipped, up-to-date on shots, and neutered. He was from a no-kill shelter and had lived there for months; they even fed him, too! Yup, the shelter totally ripped us off…

      If people stopped unnecessarily breeding dogs, the overpopulation problem would be solved.

    • 1. pitbulls aren’t even a single breed so i don’t know what a “purebred pitbull” would be
      2. you’re fucking insane
      3. there is way more than enough dogs in america that shelters are not spending exorbitant amounts of money to import dogs
      4. seriously you have no idea what you’re talking about but thanks for continuing to spread ignorance about bully breeds

      • too bad for you Sergio. You look it up. Shelter’s are importing dogs from Mexico. As I said, I work with children. Inner city children to be exact. I’ve seen more PittBull bites than I care to. The fact is running kids excite PittBulls and they bring them down. I’m sure your expert explanation on how nice PittBulls are will be a comfort to the parents of a kid who had his ear torn off, or the 9 year old who just spent a week in the hospital because the neighbor’s Pitt had him by the top of the leg and mauled him to the bone. Yeah, this kid’s crime was to get off the school bus and run down the street. The Pitt broke his leash where he was tied to the porch and chased the kid down.

        • Ms. Sue, the so-called breed of Pitpull needs to be completed wiped off the face of the planet. This breed was actually created (yes I mean created by MAN) for one purpose & one only, TO FIGHT (originally in the PITs), nothing MORE nothing LESS. This breed is a FIGHTING breed ONLY. NOT a family dog, a herding dog, NOT working dog, sporting dog, etc. JUST Fight. So why anyone could believe that the breed could NOT not fight/attack at some point is completely ridiculous. Ohh my pittie is sooo sweet would NOT hurt a fly, I luv my pittie. Actress Kaley Cuoco (Big Bang Theory) has stated she adores/owns a number of Pits. But all of a sudden two of her dogs decided (out of the blue no reason have been together for a number of years) to fight each other. She was beyond herself & had to call for help (called that so-called Dog Whisperer).
          I have witnessed this breed be in a loving caring home from 8wks of age, grow up w/out any incidents. Then one day just all of a sudden the animal attacks. This has occurred more times than I would like to count. YES it is breed specific. These animals are dangerous & always will be.

          • Sue and Aryn, you are so correct to point out pitbull’s destructiveness, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pitbulls were actually formulated by what eventually became Navy Seals as a covert agent of mass destruction. But like all covert plans, the experiment went awry, horribly so. Be warned, you haven’t seen the fullest extent of “all of a sudden” just yet. The press has been silent on this, but entire third world nations have been conquered under the tyrannical mastery of these subjugating monsters. In these dark kingdoms, those that opposed the ruling pitbulls become the food for the new canine royalty. Those that are willing to work with their new overlords must walk their lieges for hours without end, pamper and pet them until their fragile and under-fed hands bleed from wear and exhaustion. The Patriarchs and Matriarchs of these once noble lands surely twist from the beyond as they behold what has become of their lineage. My worst fear? “All of a sudden” this confederation of pitbull nation-states will have nuclear arsenal.

            Yes, it’s not pretty at all. Failure to act NOW is our greatest existential threat.

    • Yeah, good one, Sue: Those selfish money grubbing b*st*rds at PETA oughtta be ashamed of themselves. I do agree with you about the pitbull problem, and think someone ought to be doing something about that, and also agree about funding free/low cost spay and neuter clinics. But slandering PETA? Come on.

    • Bollocks. Our pit bull and 3 kids are perfectly fine together. I wish I could say the same for some of our friends dogs; bischon frise, poodle, schnauzer, etc.

      If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t talk about it.

    • you are very opinionated but quite wrong about a lot of things. there is no economic conspiracy among the people at PETA for why they kill dogs – there are too many of them. even spaying and neutering all of those dogs, there would be no place for them to live. Anyways, I won’t get into the rest of your rant but you seem quite touchy about protecting the image of dog breeders. I understand that its easy to feel like you are taking care of the dogs by looking out for their individual health, but the work you are doing collectively, as breeders, is bad for the animals. sorry 😦

    • I work with kids. I also have kids. Never seen any kid get bitten by a bully breed in my lifetime.

      This article isn’t about shelter dogs or about buying dogs; it is about how purebred dogs are in pain because of our stupid desires for cosmetic alterations.

      Please read before commenting.

      • Pit bulls can be such great dogs because they are so active. I love watching them play. They are also big with big jaws. They can be terrific pets with the right training and placement. With the wrong training and placement they can be dangerous.

        The problem is that a large, boisterous animal with a large mouth full of knives needs more training and care than most people can offer. There are a lot of poorly trained bully breeds out there and in the shelters. Maybe they could be retrained, but there aren’t enough people knowledgeable, motivated and resourced enough to do it for all of them.

        Personally I know that I’m lazy. I stick with small dogs because even if I train them poorly I know for certain that they will never rip a toddler’s leg off. Someone with my temperament would be extremely unwise to adopt a bully breed, and yet they do.

        My brother is great with his bully dog. He dedicates time every day to training him as well as exercising him, and the dog is very well-behaved and can exercise considerable self-discipline. I would trust him not to attack a child because my brother monitors him so closely for any behaviour that might become problematic, consults with a positive trainer and follows through.

        A bully dog acquired to scare people in a scary neighbourhood “trained” with aversive, dominance techniques? No thanks. And no, this is not just about “bad owners.” “Bad owners” have chihuahuas too and they don’t pose nearly the same danger to children.

        • I work at Home Depot. When I started there three years ago, customers were allowed to bring their dogs into the store, as long as it was leashed. They banned dogs after a store greeter had the tip of her nose bitten off by a shih-tzu in an Ottawa store. (Greeter bent down to pet the dog while it was sitting in a store cart.) Sure, the greeter shouldn’t have put her face close to a strange dog, and the owners shouldn’t have brought an aggressive dog into our store. I’ve also noticed that these little dogs become very territorial when they’re placed in a cart instead of on the floor where they belong. That said, I’m sure most people wouldn’t realize that a small dog can do that much damage. They might not be able to kill a child but they could do a lot of damage. I also saw my sister’s cat attack my son when he was nine months old. It happened so quickly, the cat had jumped on and off his head before I could do anything. (My son was sitting on my lap at the time). He had to get seven stitches in his forehead. People that possess these little animals think they’re relatively harmless, but they’re not. In my experience, little dogs (and cats) can have a very big chip on their shoulder and regard everyone as a threat. I feel much more secure in the presence of larger dogs.

    • That’s simply not fair. To accuse a breed as being “dangerous” just because some people have encouraged their natural pack behavior is ignorant. Yes, pits should be approached with caution, but so should Chihuahuas.

      I know many pits who are wonderful, gentle, fun dogs.

    • does your doctor know that you’ve stopped taking your medication? if he doesn’t, I’m sure the tinfoil hat will be a dead giveaway.

    • I’m hardly an expert, but the one pitbull I’ve known is the sweetest, most affectionate dog you could imagine.

      just sayin.’

  43. The number of suffering homeless dogs here in Houston, Tx. has now hit one million. The city should be ashamed. There is so much money here and people do not help. It is not like this of course in other states. Without question the need for a law here also to spay and neuter is urgent. Looking at the above information about pure breeds is again proof , humans think of themselves. The world is missing people who are sensible and stand up for what is good and right. People do indeed misuse donations for the orgs. that were once meant to help solve the problem. This has happened to a variety of 501 c charities i.e. Goodwill,. Big money donations breeds greed. There are thousands of mixed breeds of all types on the streets here. The sale of dogs road side should also be out lawed in Houston. Too many are breeding pits and many man y other types of dogs for an extra buck. The local problem needs to be addressed desperately. Breeding of any type of pure breeds here needs to stop .. The situation is dire. Look at the big picture and stop the obsession with pure breeds , it is not really important. Thousands suffering and being killed in Houston is important. Priorities. .I am so disappointed to see breeders of specific breeds drive right by a suffering mutt. That is wrong. All dogs need to be cared for, not just dogs that could win you a silly ribbon to enhance an ego or a bank account.

  44. My father was a long time breeder of Basset Hounds, he used to get very riled up over the lack of athleticism , the over exaggeration of the ears and dwarfism & “splay” of the legs. Our Bassets were wily and shockingly fast not the cartoonish slobs that are held in high regard now.

    • I have a Basset of the type your father bred. Athletic, lean, skin too tight, ears a bit too short (even though they’re so long he trips over them when running!), clean-legged (I’m a veterinary student and our orthopedic surgeons remark on his positive confirmation for a chondrodystrophic dog every time they see him), and too tall at the shoulder (OMG 15″ not 14….). A fabulous dog with the stamina to go all day.

  45. Throw “show” Siberian Huskies into the hat as well.. They’ve taken what was a pure working class dog, bred them down in size, but some reports, bred out some of the innate Huskies intelligence (can’t have an independent minded show dog).. The huskies you see in show rings are the the same “8 Below” huskie’s movie.. here’s one article.. Our vet can attest to additional health issues.. Why are we doing this ??? I understand trying to breed out some harmful traits, e.g, hip displaysia (sp?), etc. which can prematurely cause a pet to be in lots of pain, but breeding purely for some artificial aesthetic reason seems totally unreasonable.. I wish there was another group to show dogs who stature and appearance is more in line with their origins.. Some aspects of Westminster have become a circus..


    • Sorry.. typos.. Should read “The huskies you see in show rings are NOT the the same “8 Below” huskie’s movie

  46. Interesting. Since thanksgiving has just passed, the automatic comparison that springs to mind is turkeys. Most turkeys nowadays have been so overbred for big breasts and fast growth that they cannot breed (they’re all artificially inseminated) and, if not slaughtered, die within a year anyway due to poor health.

    Heritage turkeys are getting more popular, but, of course, they cost more. Is there anything similar in the dog world, any group dedicated to “heritage” or old-fashioned versions of dog breeds?

    • Sure, Bloodhounds. They are one of the oldest breeds (properly called St Hubert’s hounds) and they are almost identical today to Bloods of the Middle Ages. My Blood is very big for the breed, over 170 pounds, but that wasn’t bred in, since his siblings were normally sized. I got him because he is too big to be a pro tracker, but look at the oldest pic of a Blood you can find, and it will look like a modern hound.

      • WOW – a 170 lb bloodhound!!! (standard says a male is 90 to 110 lbs), though many now in the show ring are 140+, so 170 – just WOW!!!

        Bloodhounds are suppose to be Large Breed Dogs (not Giant Breed Dogs)… May I ask, at that size, how is the topline and the feet? You said he is too big to be a pro tracker, can he do a day’s trail? (the function/job for a bloodhound)

        Overall the 1915 photo of the bloodhound is very similar to many bloodhounds (not all, but many)… But IMHO the headpieces (specifically the back skulls) are really changing and becoming broad (like a mastiff)…

        Also I think bloodhounds, like basset hounds are much more cartoonish looking than 100 years ago (but some of that I do rather like – longer ears, more wrinkles, etc).

        • Actually, when Flop was younger, he touched 200 pounds, and he was not fat. This is him asleep on “his” couch: http://goo.gl/W6leB0 (Note: “bonded leather” is not leather and will not stand up to hound.)

          He’s too big to track because he’s insanely strong, and would be very tough to control on a lead. Flop is absolutely word trained, and pretty smart, but the folks who breed trackers don’t want to encourage bigger dogs, so I got Flop as a pet.

          As for bassets, I’ve had them for many, many years and there is a significant difference between American bassets, which are more beagle-like – lighter boned, tighter skin, shorter ears, smaller paws – than the European bassets closer to the original hybrid of the French Basse and Bloodhounds. Bassets were the dogs of the royal French court and Napoleon, and paintings from that time show a heavy, droopy hound, which is what European bassets remain today.

          Bassets first came to America when brought by Lafayette as a gift to George Washington. Actually, the American basset is far removed from the original breed standard, which is the droopy, heavy European basset.

    • Bulldogs. I think there’s at least two different varieties of retro bulldog types.

  47. With Saint Bernards it is not just a matter of a shortened muzzle, but the dogs are also being bred for larger and larger size with disastrous results in terms of shortened life spans and a host of newer maladies. As someone who has owned and rescued many of these dogs, which I love for their temperament, I can say that registered breeders scapegoat the backyard breeders, but they frankly cannot be absolved from guilt and responsibility for damaging these lovely animals through their practices.

  48. Pingback: How a century of dog breeding ruined these beautiful animals - nuhrdspace.com

  49. Pingback: How a century of dog breeding ruined these beautiful animals | シ最愛遲到.!

  50. Inbreeding is a sad phenomenon. My friend brought several Akitas that had issues. And was a backyard breeder who accidentally allowed brother and sister to mate. The problems Akitas already had were horribly exacerbated: deafness, blindness, hip issues and horrible seizures. As beautiful as they were, I felt very bad when I visited and saw them.

    The ataxia video link made me sick to my stomach.

  51. Not all diseases are caused by genetics. Most are caused by the junk preprocessed canned and dry food that dogs eat. Those things are 90% corn and the rest are weird artificial chemicals that I can’t pronounce. Do you see wolves in nature eating corn? No!! Who the hell came up with the idea of feeding dogs preprocessed garbage made from corn? That is ridiculous. Dogs are not herbivores. So why are we feeding them a vegan diet of corn? They need red meat. They need real food. A diet heavy in preprocessed foods has been linked to cancer. One of my dogs got diabetes. After that day, I never fed my dogs preprocessed Purina crap again. I now cook meals for my dogs. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. I will never feed my dog anything I wouldn’t eat myself. If you vegan peta morons are going to continue forcing a vegan diet of preprocessed garbage made from corn on your dogs, you might as well start giving them cattle feed. Purina food isn’t that much different from cattle feed. For the last time, DOGS ARE NOT HERBIVORES, stop forcing a vegan diet on them and give them some real meat. If you truly love your dog, you’d give them a proper diet instead of giving them health problems and making them suffer.

    • Well, corn is not a natural food for cows either… in fact when a cows eats corn there is an enzyme that will kill the stomach bacteria in the cow… it’s an important enzyme that kills ecloi…

      Dogs are not Herbivores, nor are they Carnivores… they are Omnivores (like Bears & Pigs)…

  52. I’m not a dog person – don’t own one and don’t want one. Ended up on this webpage almost by accident. But after reading the article I wanted to pose one question:

    To my uneducated eyes, the dogs from 1915 all look healthier/better/prettier than the modern dogs. More “doggy”. Am I alone in this? Do modern dog lovers prefer the “modern” look?

    • That’s the point. The “unimproved” versions look WAY better. Because they were better.

    • Well to my educated ‘eyes’ the modern dogs absolutely look more balanced and sounder than the 100 year old dogs. Toplines are stronger, angles in fronts and rears are betters and muscles better defined. As to whom is ‘prettier’, I would have to defend the better breed type which would be the ‘modern’ dog in the pictures.

      • What metric are you using to define “stronger” and “better”? The question is simple, are the modern changes – slopping skull, oversized head, extreme brachycephalia – detrimental to the animal’s health? For too many breeds the answer is YES.

        • I am referring to the simple view of structure that ultimately defines movement. A stronger topline in most breeds is one that does not ‘break’ in the middle, that blends into tailset, that graduates from a proper set neck each to it’s breed purpose. A proper lay of shoulders will give a dog the reach in the front it needs and rear angles the correct drive to take on the reach in front. In structure the whole dog is considered. You ‘simple’ question to me concerned Head structure. Well in most dogs a head is not going to define the health of the dog, except maybe in some of the bull dog breeds, i.e. English Bulldog and maybe some others. The extreme Brachycephalia of the EB can affect breathing, however it affected it’s breathing 100 years ago too. Your article fails to let the reader be aware of the all wonderful advancements breeders, working with health foundations and studies, have made towards having a healthy dog that also has beauty in motion.

          • Sounds to me you are describing a wolf phenotype, though the language still seems far too focused on looks. And while it’s true the bulldog probably had more difficulty than, say a pointer of the same period. The EB has gotten progressively worse because breeders are choosing a look that impedes normal breathing.

  53. With great respect, I’ve been a basset hound enthusiast for over fifty years, and to truly understand the breed is to know that there are two major “types” of bassets. American bassets are much more like your 100 year old example – designed for hunting. However, European bassets have always been very much heavier of bone, bigger, more skin, much longer ears and droopier. The original hybrid of the French Basse and the Bloodhound was exceedingly droopy, and that has carried over into modern European bassets. Paintings of the French court of the early 1700’s show heavy, droopy bassets. Actually, the lighter, longer-legged, shorter eared American basset has experienced much more “breed degradation” than modern champions from European stock.

  54. i do not disagree with this article…however the information was delivered very poorly

    logical supporting information…
    what was the life expectancy of these breeds 100 years ago? quality of life? veterinary diagnosis of diseases?
    human health care was practically non existent back then let alone veterinary care…so all of the ranting about dogs diseases today means naught when you present no comparison.

    with that being said…i will always own a mutt

      • Dr. Musculus, is it possible to still find dogs like there early 1900’s ancestors anymore or have they been completely phased out?

        • There are some mostly regional breeds. Some German hunting breeds, Scandinavian hounds appear to have changed little. Working dogs like Kuvasz, Kangal who make bad pets are a lot like they were 100 years ago – though even here the show dogs are markedly diff from working lines.

        • Not Dr. Musculus, obvs., but the Bloodhound appears to be nearly identical to the 1900s dog–or for that matter, to the medieval animal, as Bruce posted above. Allowing for artistic convention, the medieval Bloodhounds were floppy-eared, droopy-faced, long-legged animals with relatively short muzzles.

          Apparently superior scenting ability and travel speed being the primary modes of selection imposes a consistent physical type.

  55. This article is a load of crap not even worth reading. First, compare dogs that were bred to standard then speak of it. Don’t post pics of random dogs just because the poses were similar (really? and you supposedly have a PH. D.?) then call it 100 Years of Breed “Improvement”. Your first move starts with a lie. You’ve got an agenda and it’s clearly a load of BS.

  56. You’re talking about dogs? Just think about what they do to us humans with the GMOs they put in our food & don’t even tell us about (which is allowed by the FDA). All of the health issues they are causing us by permitting things like McDonalds preparing near-rotten meat by soaking it in ammonia (or Ammonium Hydroxide if you want to be specific) to sell to us (Google has a lot of official news articles on both of these claims if you’re one looking for references, go educate yourself, I don’t generally post references in a blog comment nor do I follow up on replies as this just isn’t a forum).

    You think dogs are the only ones being bred where they are trying to intentionally affect their DNA for better or worse? Lol. I think we all need to start waking up to the fact that we’re all “animals” and we’re treated no better than these poor dogs.

    Let me see some big red, bold lettering with a minimum size of 3/4″ on every packaging containing a GMO stating: “This Product Contains Genetically Modified Organisms For Your Enjoyment!” Maybe that will begin to restore a little of my faith in humanity. ^^

  57. The sad thing is that many (pretty much all) the health problems that pure breeds have, have been brought about by having the male of the species either mate with its own mother or sister…. that is never a good thing for any species. Just because two dogs have desirable “looks” and belong to the same nuclear family… well as I said… never a good thing.

    I would be willing to be that most species were mutts prior to selective breeding and more often than not mutts are in fact healthier….

  58. I suspect you have the American Bulldog or American/Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Petey from Little Rascals, Homeward Bound ’93) and the Bull Terrier (Spuds MacKenzie, original Incredible Journey ’63) confused. They’re different breeds. The 2 dogs shown at top of article are NOT the same breed.

  59. Personally I favor the method used to breed Alaskan huskies. For those who haven’t heard of this, here’s the “breed standard:” If it can do a husky’s job with reasonable productivity under reasonable accommodation and without unreasonable risk, it’s a husky, even if it’s a registered Standard Poodle; and if it furthermore carries no known genetic ailments, it should be added to a husky stud book–even if it’s a registered Standard Poodle. The result is visually distinct, basically a wiry, prick- or lop-eared spitz type, not too large, with a tail that furls and unfurls and wild variation in eye and coat colors, but the type isn’t what is bred for; only performance counts, and performance, as I’m sure everyone here knows, is the effect of training upon temperament and health. Certainly Alaskan huskies tend to outperform purebred Siberians and so forth, at least in the big races.

    Imagine if this method were to be applied to all breeds. We could have a lot more awesome dogs.

  60. Hmmmn. Missing in your article is the health of the purebreds before you alleged they were ruined. Perhaps that is due to the fact veterinary medicine was not able to identify and track health problems as well as today. Maybe the dogs were healthier but I doubt it. Due to the AKC and CHF, millions have been spent on veterinary health research which greatly benefits purbreds and mutts alike. Further, much of that research has helped human medicine. I like a purebred dog because I research and know what I am getting into. Adopting from the shelter is a gamble as you have no idea what the genetic health history of they dog is and you truly have no idea what to expect. Mutts have allergies, pushed in noses, cardiac and congenital problems and you have no way to predict what or when you will see these health issues arise. You have a right to be anti-breeder /anti-purebred. I have a right to think the opposite and I do. Also, if you are unable to find a GSD capable of actual work, you are not doing your research because there is a whole world of healthy, strong purbred dogs out there if you look past your preformed opinion. Dachshunds hunt regularly in the field and I urge you to look at the AWTA trials or any schutzhund club to find working purbreds who invalidate your claims.

    • I’m talking about the detrimental effects directly attributed to arbitrary fashionable changes. No matter how badly GSD breeders try to justify it, slopping back is not for the dog’s benefit. Excess skin in a bulldog isnt’ for channeling blood, the old dachs could hunt without extremely long backs. All these changes carry a negative health consequence.

      Had you read the first line, I make it clear that I own purebreed dogs and yes I’ve titled IPO. The question is not what you, your mom, your spouse is doing but the issue of breeding traits that directly affect health.

  61. Let’s take a look at the first breed listed, the Bull Terrier. The first picture is from 1915 and the second is a modern picture. The implication is that the morphology of the breed was drastically changed over the ensuing years until the egg shaped head became dominant for aesthetic reasons. The problem is that the first stopless Bull Terrier occured in 1917, a scant 2 years after the first picture.

    Then there is the the high likelyhood that the dog (well both dogs really) in the first picture is deaf because of the aesthetic preference for white dogs. Then about 15 years later breeders decided to bring color back in to the coat to correct the problems associated with a previous aesthetic choice.

    Have breeders made mistakes? Certainly. A large majority of those mistakes happened before breeders had any understanding or ability to detect genetic abnormalities. But there is also a long history of responsible breeders that try to correct those problems when they are discovered. But this mutt/purebred dichotomy is ridiculous. For every roach backed GSD, I have seen multiple mutts from BYBs with skeletal morphology that is absolutely horrible. I mean the idea of crossing achondroplastic dwarfism from a basset into a pitbull line because you want some puppies is painful to think about. The genetic mistakes from BYBs continue to be worse than the dog fanciers. You’ll be hard pressed to find PRA in a show line any more because it was easy to test for the gene and eliminate it from breeding lines. Do you think the BYBs and the puppy mills that are the source of almost 90% of the dogs in America are testing for PRA? Heck no. Who do you think are sending DNA samples in to the Broad Institute when a dog comes down with a genetic disease? Well it sure isn’t the BYBs and puppy mills.

    • There are many problems to address. The ones you mention – byb, puppy mills – are valid. It doesn’t take away that some changes to breed morphology come with serious health issues.

  62. General question: why are people complaining about the terrible plague that is cross-breed dogs? I really don’t see the issue in crossing two pet breeds. You still get a pet. Chihuahua crosses make great pets. They aren’t as stupid as chihuahuas but they’re lively and attached, and they fit nicely into an urban apartment. And since all pets are neutered (right?) it’s not like they’re going to sneak into your kennel at night and ruin your bloodline.

    Not everyone cares anything at all about the breed of their dog as long as that particular dog suits them. Breeders of purebreds might care because they get money for it, but that doesn’t make purebreds morally superior.

    Is there something I’m not getting?

  63. First and foremost, I would like to thank you for raising awareness of the disastrous practice of show breeders. Every bit of information provided to the unknowing public, increases our chances of obstructing and reversing the path of destruction left by these “ethical” breeders. With so few concerned enough to challenge the validity of show breeding organizations, they are free to dictate and regulate in areas of biology and genetics without consequence. The majority without so much as genetics 101, these people boast expertise beyond that of the global science community. Wielding various certificates and superficial titles in an attempt to prove the soundness of their dogs, while ignoring the endless genetic disorders which go unchecked, not to mention the disorders which remain unknown to science, these individuals and organizations, claim they are the ultimate authority on canine quality. Meanwhile, countless dogs, born with the kennel clubs’ seals of approval, and sometimes demand, are born into a life of suffering, early demise and the general population of canines continues to become increasingly ill and defective. After thirty five years of involvement in the dog industry including accomplished showing, breeding and ultimately training, I am all too familiar with the demented world of show breeding and it’s abuse of titles to claim validity and promote arrogance within the ranks of self proclaimed “ethical breeders”. It is through the sharing of knowledge by rational people, such as yourself, that we can chip away at the show breeder industry’s shield of fraudulent based, subjective, arrogance and perhaps establish a trend toward healthy dogs. I thank you again.

    • I think it’s a very sensationalized piece by someone who is not an expert. Using the term “purebred” as a category right away sinks the thesis. This throws into the proverbial kitchen sink pet store and puppy mill dogs with the breeder who has cautiously and with love and study bred working border collies her entire life- not fair

      Sweeping generalizations like this “the bull terrier also picked up a number of other maladies like supernumerary teeth and compulsive tail-chasing” without any kind of documentation hurts the writer’s credibility.

      As someone who works with 100s of dogs a week both purebred and mixed, I see far more structural defects like hip dysplasia and slipped hocks in mixes than a thoughtfully bred dog with all health clearances listed on http://www.offa.org who comes from an experienced breeder with12 to 24 generations of health information known about the dogs in the pedigree. Many breed clubs have conquered crippling diseases and virtually eliminated them, and progress has been made over 100 years.

      It is rare to see a structurally sound mixed breed dog, and there is far less data about their overall health bc purebred dogs often have trustees in the form of clubs keeping painstaking records. I love all dogs, pure or mixed breed, but I believe in the purebred dog bred honorably and socialized to the highest as a puppy, who conforms to the breed standard to do a specific job,who represents a specific temperament, and to have structural soundness. I also have only one breed, Golden Retriever, that I can talk about as a trustee.

      There’s no way someone can make huge generalizations about a breed never mind four or five of them without a deep study of it. This person seemed to have watched the BBC documentary and called it a day.

      • I agree with you Jill. For instance, responsible breeders in the Bernese Mountain Dog community spend a great deal of effort identifying and working to eliminate diseases of the breed. What the author fails to acknowledge or even point out are the many many folks and communities that strive to improve the health and welfare of their breeds. But of course like a High School debate, it’s not a matter of a well thought out and reasonable presentation, it’s about amassing your few facts that support your point and then ignoring the facts that destroy your premise.

        • Written like someone who hasn’t read the documents in the Further Reading section. The premise is that too often breeders have chosen physical traits that are detrimental to a dog’s health. The facts support the assertion.

          • Yes, I did read the further reading. It still does not change my opinion. There were several holes in the research that leave plenty of room for debate. For example, what methods did they use to confirm the lineage and background of the purebreds used in the statistics? I know first hand there are plenty of puppy mills and backyard breeders able to acquire akc registration with just a few generations of bloodline history and no other genetic testing. So how many of those purebreds in their percentages were truly pure bred vs bred for profit? (Btw, reputable breeders and conformation participants are hardly in it for the money. Most come out just over even if not underwater.) I have a purebred Doberman pinscher and looked long and hard to find a decent breeder. Dobies from irresponsible breeders are prone to several genetic diseases including hip displasia, z gene (present in bloodlines with albino), and several others. All of our breeder’s dogs have been thoroughly tested for all hereditary diseases and are bred to improve health, working abilities, temperament, as well as conformation. The problems with “purebred” dogs likely lie within the
            prolific irresponsible breeding of dogs with papers and no decent breeding practices rather than the club standards for certain breeds.

            • For some people facts aren’t really important in the opinon they hold. However the various papers linked make the case that many of physical traits prized by comformation breeders and which they have exagerated are negatively impacting health. All the apologist here have just shifted the blame, “It’s not me, it’s them”, with the “them” changing depending on your stance. Working people blame rampant ribbon-chasing of conformation; you blame puppy-mills and byb.

              All dobes have a high risk of various genetic disease, that’s exactly why you are testing for them. I didn’t include dobes in the pictures because there isn’t a particular physical trait imposing a health burden – maybe one could marginally make the argument but I didn’t. I stated my position very clearly, “conformation breeders claim they are improving the breed and yet they are often the cause of these problems. If “improvement” in looks imposes a health burden then it is not a breed improvement.” and concluding that “condemning a dog to a lifetime of suffering for the sake of looks is not an improvement; it is torture.”

              • Some breed for fame, some for glory and some for the betterment of the breed..

                The sad fact is that most people who breed for better have to work up from “unsatisfactory” dogs to show standard quality, they have to start from scratch and Jill is 100% correct when she says that most of them don’t make money, they usually barely break even, its a labor of love, not profit.

                Laboradors are notorious for hip dysplasia, I got my purebred lab from a breeder, and it took my family years because we wanted a dog that we could be sure would live a long healthy life. The breeder we chose had proof of at least 5 generations of dogs that he had bred with less than 30% occurrence of hip problems even into advanced age (10yrs and up). My dog happened to develop hip dysplasia anyway…although I never bred her, she was fixed.

                But I also know breeders who DO NOT have that kind of proof, and who run papers on their dogs and put them out for breeding knowing that their line of dogs can have a 50% chance of medical issues in the future.

                In all honestly you cant condemn breeders who do less damage to dogs than we do to human beings everyday You would probably never condemn some nice, loving couple of letting their kid be born knowing that it would possibly suffer from high risk of heart attack, arthritis, chronic sinus problems, high risk of obesity or diabetes or asthma later in life, and why is that? Because it will be taken care of, it will be treated, and they can go on to live just as happy a life as a “normal” child in 90% of cases. Is it torture? I think so, but you also an’t ever breed again being terrified that something might go wrong eventually, its just not plausible.

                Backyard breeders are the usual culprit of these diseases, those are the ones that usually breed dogs for looks instead of taking the time out to have them tested, or even caring as long as they can make a quick buck off of a cheap, good looking “standard” and they hang papers on their dogs and get them registered, heir dogs get mixed back into the community and then it all starts over again.

                Its a viscous cycle, but I will never condemn all breeders as uncaring, there are just to many who honestly do.

              • So what is your ultimate goal then? Kill off all these types of dogs by not breeding them? You ask any breeder that also shows, or as you state, chases ribbons, you ill find they spend thousands of dollars on health clearances to make sure their dogs are sound and are free of genetic issues. These breeders then do research to make sure the other dog is also sound and free of genetic issues. I can trace my dogs lineage back over 16 generations and I can also check on their health. My breed uses a database called Bernergarde where folks input their dogs and all health issues so we can trace any issues.I know other breeds do the same thing. Breeders that also show dogs are only breeding dogs that have attained the title of CH which means that others (judges) feel their dog is WORTHY of the standards in that country. Breeders are proud to tell you about the health of their dogs and how long they live compared to the averages. They will show you their movement so you can see that these dogs can still work, and many breeders also get working titles on their dogs, such as herding, or carting, etc to prove that they are breeding to conformation and to what they are bred for. Where can you find all this history on mutts? The vets are filled with mutts that have all sorts of maladies, moreso then purebreds.

                • Don’t be stupid with your outlandish accusations – I’ve written nothing that could lead you to that conclusion. No amount of health check will help when a dog is being bred for a specific physical trait that has a negative effect on health. That’s it. Everything else is a projection of your insecurities. Besides your defense of breeders is not convincing in the when many breed clubs fight the implementation of more rigorous breeding standards. The case of CKCS and Syringomyelia is possibly the best known. There are other examples.

      • PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND(I could have said butt). Are you falsely justifying your selfish decisions? We started playing god with dogs 30,000 years ago. We should have stopped with what we started with. People who prize their “show” dogs need to check their stinker. They are nanana boo boo people.Dogs are love, the article was written out of love for dogs. If you disagree that puts you on the fear side cause there is only love or fear as a choice! I have had a dozen mixed breed dogs all sounder than a dollar. My one “pure” breed was a GSD that had been abused so I rescued her.. In breeding caused her to lose the use of her legs and die about 10 years old. Her offspring and their offspring(mutts) had the same condition.Genes will tell. (aside, if there is no evolution how do you explain a short long small wolf?)My other mutts are the happiest and healthiest dogs you could want > Check your thinker, I’m getting error messages across the board. I’d say have a nice day but your post would indicate that is not possible….

      • Perhaps it is you, Jill, who is lacking the most basic of information, understanding, or ability to comprehend a complex issue that was very succinctly and simply laid out in this article. You see far more hip dysplasia and slipped hocks in mixes than a thoughtfully bred dog? It is rare to see a structurally sound mixed breed dog? Really? These and several other statements you offer show your complete lack of a grasp on the issue and demonstrate that you are most likely one of the people involved in exactly what they author is referring to. Clearly you you are not acquainted with one of the most basic of genetic constructs: hybrid vigor. Defective hips, hocks, eyes, etc., are largely promulgated via recessive genetics. Healthy traits have been lost in many purebred dogs lines because many breeders of showdogs are more interested in conformation than in the health and working temperament for which the dog was originally bred.The simple act of mixing breeds buries recessive genes and thus, many of the most egregious of the structural flaws rampant in AKC breeds. The majority of breeds are NOT being thoughtfully bred. The breed standards have evolved to REWARD structural flaws and extreme aesthetics in the show ring which yield pain, disease, suffering, and shortened life spans for these dogs. The science is there. It is immutable. Educate yourself.

        The point of this article is that human arrogance, disregard for animal welfare, and whim have taken structurally sound breeds, capable of performing the tasks for which they were initially bred and turned them into deformed shadows of their fore-bearers who couldn’t perform those jobs if their lives depended on it. And no, Jill, these structural changes aren’t initiated at the ‘puppy mill’ or ‘backyard’ breeder level. They come from the show ring and breed organizations who set the standard for what is acceptable.

        Your parting comments about huge generalizations being made and suggestion that “This person seemed to have watched the BBC documentary and called it a day” are snarky and clearly demonstrate that you completely missed the point. Sometimes even dumbing down complexity for the masses doesn’t work. It certainly soared right over your head. None the less, I applaud the author’s efforts.

        Finally, upon reading further down through the comments I saw that you have a purebred Doberman. I would venture to guess that your dog’s ears have been cropped (mutilated) along with it’s tail in keeping with the breed standard, which has nothing to do with health or function…..purely vanity on the part of the human. “Current veterinary science provides no medical, physical, environmental or cosmetic advantage to the animal from the procedure, leading to concerns over animal cruelty related to performing unnecessary surgery on the animals. In addition to the bans in place in countries around the world, it is described in some veterinary texts as “no longer considered ethical.” -Slatter, Douglas H. (2002) Textbook of small animal surgery 3rd edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders (imprint of Elsevier Health Sciences), 2896 pages
        I would also venture to guess that you and your ‘responsible breeder’ Doberman friends would argue fervently that your cropping practice has some sort of merit. It doesn’t.

        Once again, kudos to the author of this piece.

          • All her Snark is just that. Thank you Doc and anyone who TRULY loves dogs thanks you too(Yes I can speak for them, they said so, Ha)

            • Michael, please thread my comments. Almost every instance you quoted me on was written by other posters in response to my comment. They were not written by me. So the “snark” you so adamantly insist I have was not actually in any of my personal comments. Thanks for displaying your reading comprehension skills. I’ll be sure to assign insults to you based on comments you did not write from now on since that seems to be the way of the land here.

              • I read the BBC comment I thought was in your post, new to this, many confusing pages If you didn’t say the BBC thing sorry, if you did SNARK SNARK SNARK

              • Nope, the bbc comment was not mine. It was a reply to my original comment by someone else. In email, my name is listed because I was the original poster for this stream of comments. So please try again.

              • Nope, the bbc comment was not mine. It was a reply to my original comment by someone else. In email, my name is listed because I was the original poster for this stream of comments. So please try again.

                *I actually just went up to read the comment in question and for some reason it does show as being posted by me. Although I agree with the comment, I did not in fact write it. Not sure if it is some sort of glitch in the system, but I don’t “work with 100’s of dogs a week” as the comment says. I am a stay at home mom so I work with a child and two dogs every week, not hundreds. Lol.

                • Also, the comments states the person only has one breed, the golden retriever to speak of. I have never had a golden retriever and my earlier comment states my owning a Doberman, so I’m very confused as to how this comment was posted under my name

                  • Sorry then. You can see why as someone in his first 24 hours of MyFace would get confused(and I’m not the only one). Gotta go on a snark hunt. Here Mr BBC, Here Mr BBC…

        • To be fair, the docking of doberman’s ears does eliminate some risk of ear problems that are present in breeds with floppy ears, but I understand what you’re saying, and it’s a compelling argument against Jill’s post.

          • The main reason any reputable Doberman breeder or owner has for cropping the ears is based solely on function. Erect ears provide a significant advantage when it comes to pinpointing directional sound. For working sport and protection dobermans, this is profoundly important. A floppy eared Doberman can only pinpoint sound directionality down to a 20 degree cone, versus the 5 degree cone of a Doberman with erect ears. The cropped ears also act as a form of communication between dog and handler. The direction the ears point, the position wether upright and alert, or laid back flat, are all silent signals the handler can use to be a more effective team. I don’t expect Michael’s opinion of the practice to change in the slightest, but I still wanted to share that there is a purpose for cropped ears other than just “vanity”. I also have a question for Michael. Since you are so outspoken about your feelings on docking and cropping being mutilation with absolutely no functional purpose, where do you stand on the issue of male infant circumcision? I personally see that as much worse, entirely less useful, and more barbaric than any tail or ear surgery on a dog. But it is a practice that is performed without question on millions of infant boys every year due to societal trend and the completely baseless argument of being healthier. Why don’t activists jump on that bandwagon to stop the deaths, complications, and disfigurement of human infants before worrying about what a dogs ears look like? Just some food for thought.

              • “The real key to better hearing in dogs is the 18 or more muscles that control a dog’s pinna, or ear flap. These numerous muscles allow a dog to finely tune the position of its ear canal to localize a sound, hear it more accurately, and from farther away. For this reason dogs with upright ears, such as terriers, tend to have superior hearing to dogs with floppy ears, such as hounds.”


                • “Dogs have a unique way of determining the direction of sound. They needed this ability to find prey and signal impending danger allowing them to determine the direction to flee. Dogs with pricked ears have enhanced ability rotating their ears to capture and determine the direction of sounds. Because floppy eared dogs are limited in rotation ability, they are disadvantaged.”


      • “There’s no way someone can make huge generalizations about a breed never mind four or five of them without a deep study of it. This person seemed to have watched the BBC documentary and called it a day.”
        Not You? SNARK you lose

  64. All problems, no solutions. There will never be any regulation. You have any suggestions?

    • Sure, stop inbreeding. Stop actually focusing on making these traits more severe (even shorter noses, even curlier tails, even lower hindlegs etc.) because it’s “in the breed’s standards.” Focus on making the breeds healthier instead of what someone says they should look like to win prizes. Right now dogs are intentionally being bred to have health issues because it comes with the looks the breeders desire. They are crossed with their own parents or siblings to “keep the good traits,” they conveniently ignore that it also means they get the genetic defects with them. What is happening with pedigree dogs right now (outside of the UK as well, although it’s been more thoroughly researched there) is pure and simple animal abuse.

        • NO BREEDING, NO STANDARDS,(say it with me like No Justice no peace)

      • When you say, “Stop inbreeding,” how? It has to be done through regulation. There’s money in the status quo for breeders and the show trade, so they won’t be in favor of making changes. These dogs probably have to start being bred to get rid of the traits that make them unhealthy and uncomfortable, but it can’t be done by someone simply saying, “Stop inbreeding.”

        So again, what is the solution?

    • Yes; stop buying from breeders that chase these cruel ideals and eventually breeders will return to a more healthy breed type.or just adopt mutts and cross breeds, we always have and they have been wonderful animals.

    • Love your dog. Don’t show him/her off to make yourself feel better.Dog shows are NOT a job for dogs it is masturbation for the owners. Remove the demand. We came close to electing a family that does the same with horses luckily we dodged that bullet.

    • Stp Breeding for fun and profit. It is the road to hell which is here on earth.

  65. What’s most intriguing is that you are all getting excited over an anonymous blog from someone who cites competing in various dog sports, & occasionally volunteering to foster dogs as his or her expertise. Since I read a lot of blogs and have taken classes from experts–that should make ME an expert on experts… and anyone who insists on anonymity is problematic at best. Lucky you, “Dr. Musculus” for snowing an actual news source into linking your “science”–which appears to consist of cherry-picking google image results to prove your hunch.

    I’m sorry, I mean your thorough review of genetics across canines.

    • This comment by Ex Expertus is an interesting parody of the whole genre of blog comments. Notice how he asserts that anonymity makes somebody untrustworthy per se, yet has the well devolped sense of irony to make the claim self-referential by using a fake name to post a complaint about the use of fake names to post. It isn’t clear what sort of “experts” he claims to have taken classes from, but it almost looks like he is asserting that he has taken classes from “blogging experts”. Combined with the idea that reading “a lot of blogs” actually makes somebody MORE informed about, well, anything… the comment is so absurd that it is genius. A brilliant peice of satire. Bravo, Mr. Expertus.

  66. Just a friendly comment, but the genetic atrophy you describe may not be the result of selection on traits that confer disease. In fact, this is almost certainly NOT the case. What is very likely happening is that as a result of inbreeding, the genetic diversity of dogs is undergoing artificial bottlenecking. This increases homozygosity and increases the incidence of deleterious recessive disorders, which may well be what we’re seeing here. Inbreeding also increases the rate of mutation hitchiking in a population, which means that disease causing alleles are also likely to increase in frequency in these small populations.


    PS: I don’t think the problem is ANY less severe just because it’s caused by inbreeeding as opposed to selection, but I did think it was important to comment on the fact that it may not strictly speaking be selection in the biological sense of the word.

    • “almost certainly NOT the case” Some changes may be from inbreeding. Many actually ARE from selection.
      The German Shepherds were deliberately bred to be lower and lower and lower in the rear. The bulldogs were deliberately bred to be more flat faced, and the dachs to be shorter and longer. Some breeders jump on trends and keep pushing them despite the health problems they can cause. Some refuse to do so and stop breeding a breed if they can’t successfully show and sell them without ruining them; they may move on to other breeds where ruination isn’t happening. These are my observations from working with breeders and dogs in conformation,obedience, rally and home training starting 60 years ago.

      • American German Shepherds have been bred for this. Thankfully, the European lines do not. (They could be considered different breeds these days.)

      • I think the point he made was we chose to modify these breeds and consequences be damned, they want to win that hating cup….

  67. Good post, particularly like the way you’ve got the dogs in the same poses which makes the contrast very clear. Most people automatically think of the Bulldog when talking about how breeds have changed throughout history, less so the Boxer and St Bernard. We had to write an assignment on the development of the Bulldog at college; the breed was near-extinction following the banning of bull baiting, and the breeders who ‘saved’ them bred for friendly temperament, and the muscular and athletic build of the old Bulldog somehow went out the window. The ‘Olde English Bulldogge’ is an example of what the breed would have looked like.

    • the form is prey to problems. A genetic aberration that should never have existed save for selfish humans.

  68. This is what happens when (misplaced) ideas of beauty take priority over function, robustness, longevity and so on. Also, aren’t smart pets sometimes harder to manage than, uh, less “engaged” ones *sigh*
    Breeding for false beauty also messed with robustness in horses, when the fads decided that thin legs were prettier for instance. Examples in horses include muzzle shape in Arabians, where an exaggerated “dish” impedes breathing and small hooves in Quarter Horses.

  69. I think “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. You have an interesting hypothesis which isn’t, in any way, supported by what you’re passing off as evidence. As an example, the small selection of photographs from Breeds of All Nations, itself a collection of limited examples from the Panama Pacific International Exhibition of 1915 (which may or may not be representative of the true appearances of “typical” dogs of the breed) to photographs of unknown provenance collected online. To what degree the photographs you’ve chosen exhibit your own confirmation bias and not actual problematic examples of “typical” modern specimens is anyone’s guess. On top of this goulash of unverifiable “difference”, you ladle a nice helping of the rhetorical fallacies of misleading vividness, hasty generalization, questionable cause, and begging the question. Unless you have some relatively strong evidence suggesting that conformation breeding is the CAUSE of the various diseases and disabilities you list, or at least a strong cause for an inordinate increase in their incidence, you’re merely assuming the answer without actually demonstrating a connection.

    We get it. You don’t like modern breeding efforts. On the other hand, I don’t particularly care for the many examples of medical conditions I’ve seen in dogs exacerbated by unscrupulous and unregulated backyard breeders attempting to financially capitalize on the popularity of a breed without regard for any potential deleterious effects of hasty, unplanned dog sex. I’ve seen dogs with hip dysplasia, degenerative neurological diseases, poor structures, et cetera, have to be put down as a result of that sort of breeding, and I don’t think a preference for it will help dogs in the slightest.

    So, if you’d like for conformation breeders to do a better job at securing the long-term health of dogs, it might be a better approach to first secure your argument with strong evidence and then offer solutions.

    Because, as it stands, what you’re doing looks suspiciously like propagandizing to no good effect.

      • You have created an interesting test here Doc. Speak the truth see who agrees(Love) or disagrees(Fear). Fear based people are so predictable. They threaten you with restraining orders…

  70. right on target in everything u mentioned. As a former Dog Show judge of G S. when i mentioned the rear angulation making the dogs useless for any real work, the response was “this is what u get when u breed to Lance” this was meant as a compliment to Lance

  71. It’s so sad. It’s now that way with cats too. A friend mentioned wanting a “munchkin” cat the other day, the one with the abysmally short legs… like a Dachshund cat, basically. I think it’s repulsive that someone actually bread a physical hindrance into a cat… (And let’s not even talk about the hairless cats. They prob need sweaters in June. 😦 ) I still love German Shepherds, but seeing the before pic now makes me kinda sad. :/

  72. Pingback: The DOG thread - Page 60 - Pelican Parts Technical BBS

  73. You neglected to mention the Collie…. 45 years ago it was mentioned in a dog lover magazine that the brains had been bred out of the Collie. So sad…

  74. I agree with your article, but I sometimes wonder, who put the study into breeding dogs that are not purebred? Often it is just chosen by the dogs themselves and so who knows what problems are being bred in these dogs? I think also that people are very, very blind to some obvious facts. They don’t even believe Veterinarians about the harm that has been caused to some of these particular breeds and stubbornly continue the practise.

  75. Since the dog as we know it was a creation of mankind and not something that was created through natural evolution, what’s the problem?

  76. While I found your blog interesting, I believe much of it is unfounded and misleading. The glaring mistakes I’ll point out start with the St Bernard. You say they are no longer capable of working which is completely untrue. They are actually famous for their incredible skills as search and rescue dogs in snowy mountain areas. German shepherds are still one of the most agile, athletic breeds around and dominate the fields of police k9 and military working dogs. Also, the photos of the dachshund, the modern picture shows the dog with it’s legs stretch far back behind it and the front legs are standing in grass. Both those things give the illusion that the legs are much shorter than they really are. The modern dog likely stands no closer to the ground than the old dog. The only significant difference is the necks, but the slim neck of the modern dog looks much more athletic. The older dog simply looks like a normal dachshund that doesn’t get much exercise. I personally was hoping your article would touch a bit on the world of designer pocket breeds, not on conformation. For example, the trend of “apple head” chihuahuas. That was a highly sought after trait for a while when really it was a form of hydrocephalus in the dogs. These were just I few thoughts I had and wanted to share.

    • Michael, the tone and silliness of your comments are making you lose credibility regardless of your stance, and I’ve read about 30 of them. ._.

  77. Yes, many breeders have put beauty over health many times over the history, but do not say all breeders are alike because that is extremely unfair.
    Serious breeders will tell you that health is one of the main concerns when breeding, much like longevity and they try as hard as they can for their dogs to live healthy and happy lives, free of disease.
    I will tell, for example, that the accepted lifespan for a Bernese Mountain Dog is 6-8 years. Well respected breeders have gotten as far as 14.

    • When discussing longevity of any species there are always individuals at both ends of the tail. The study below puts the mean age at 8

      V. J. Adams, K. M. Evans, J. Sampson, and J. L. N. Wood,“Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred
      dogs in the UK,” Journal of Small Animal Practice, vol. 51, no.10, pp. 512–524, 2010.

  78. Holy bananas! A dog that can scale an 8 foot wall! Are there any of these left in the world. I think that’s the one we should be holding standards to. It is a sad thing to see animals bred into health problems. Obviously not a “natural selection” of traits in the life cycles of these animals. And the photos were chosen as comparisons because that is against what they are judging the dogs. Great article that more people need to see.

    • I have a dog that can scale an 8 foot fence. She is a mutt but GSD genes seem to dominate as she is always at my hip.

  79. Breeding and inbreeding dogs for looks is cruel and inhumane. You should love your dog for what’s inside the dog not what it is. And breeding a designer dog is so ridiculous. Their lives are shorter and they develop serious health problems. My father and I just adopted a beagle terrier mix. Our dogs have been border lab retriever mixes, pure border collie and a chow retriever mix. I love them all. My new beagle terrier mix is very different from my other dogs in every way but she is energetic smart and easily trains. Affectionate. That’s what should count. I learned that it’s not the breed that counts it’s the dog. Mine’s a keeper. 🐶❤️

        • The height difference is one of nutrition and socioeconomic status. That’s why immigrant children tend to be taller than their parents.

          See: Meyer, H.E. and R. Selmer, (1999), Income, educational level and body height, Annals of Human Biology, 26, 219-227.

    • Idiot, until the aliens get here and take us as pets no species of greater skill deliberately manipulates us. The Nazis tried among others like the Russians with their trying to build a supersoldier by cross breeding apes and humans but that is devolution. Are we not men?

  80. Right off, in the majority of the dogs, I will tell you that the problem is NOT the breeding, but that

    Thed oswner feeds them too much, or the wrong food, and has allowed them to bde overweight.

    Without those extra pounds, they would look like their ancestors.

    • True but the callous practices of breeders are a greater problem. Fat Dogs like Fat People are swallowing their damage.

  81. Humans have been breeding genetically deficient wolves for thousands of years. Look at the physical prowess of a wolf, and then look at almost all dog breeds. You will see what is wrong, no matter how “pure” the breed is. Of course, we can’t get rid of dogs, but we can work towards stopping further deterioration.

  82. I was disappointed with this article. The fact that improvement was in quotations in the title should have given me some warning, but I didn’t catch it. I read the article wanting to find out how various breeds had changed over the years. Instead I got a very biased opinion piece on why breeding programs were bad. I would have much preferred reading a more neutral approach to changes in dog breeds, but I understand that wasn’t the author’s intent.

    • If that is what you got then you didn’t read very carefully. I didn’t write that breeding programs were bad. I wrote that selecting and breeding for physical traits that produce unhealthy consequences is bad.

    • You Cannot understand what you read. Check your data interp porogs.

      • Wow Michael Seven you must some kind of fellow…you continue to give the most clever replies!

  83. The bulldog pictures stopped me in my tracks: I have a 6 yo female English Bulldog (found, not bought from a breeder, no papers, nothing…) and have often wondered how pure she was seeing as she’s slimmer than the modern standard, and then reading your blog I realised she looks juste like the one photographed in 1915!

  84. This is silly. You can tell any story you want by selecting the photos that support your words. I still see plenty of dogs that look like the “old” dogs.

  85. I don’t understand why you said you wouldn’t “ADOPT a dog whose breed characteristics exacted a health burden”. I get saying you wouldn’t buy them… I don’t support irresponsible breeders or puppy mills either.

    But why not adopt from a shelter or rescue group? The alternative is euthanasia. I don’t think their health problems are usually *that* severe. Since they’re strays or have been dumped by the people that bought them from breeders, adopting doesn’t encourage breeding. It just saves an innocent life.
    I dare you to look in my chihuahua foster’s adorable little face and tell him he doesn’t deserve a home because he had cherry eye, sliding kneecaps, and a less than ideal temperament. The shelter was going to euthanize him because he was so stressed in the kennel he got snappy. All of those things are manageable or correctable (though expensive).
    Obviously this Chi shouldn’t have been bred in the first place, but now that he’s here, I will show him kindness and love until he finds a good home. (I’d LOVE to keep him but I wouldn’t be able to foster anymore.)
    The same way I care for my four rescued healthy herding mutts: “crazy, …, ball-crazy, intense, motivated, athletic (crazy dogs are easier to train) and none had intentionally bred defects”.

  86. I am an RVT with 10 years experience at a small animal clinic. I have to say I 100% agree with this article. I have NEVER seen a healthy bulldog. While we did see a few responsible breeders who bred genuinely good dogs, a large percentage of the breeders couldn’t care less. A surgeon from local teaching hospital gave a presentation at a CE conference a few years ago. He stated that they had seen a 400% increase in 5 years of genetic defects that needed surgical corrections. (PDA’s in small breeds, nose surgeries in pugs who were too brachycephalic, and hip surgeries in larger breeds.)

  87. Pingback: BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed -- Documentary - Page 4

  88. The gods(goddesses force etc.) speak through me. Thanks, I am always practicing my stand up, channeling Bill Hicks…

  89. The bull Terrier is not a good looking dog (imo) now. But then I see these pictures of older ones it does look a lot nicer! Very strange why people would try to breed for the shape of head he has nowadays..

    The shorter muzzle on the boxers/bulldogs/pugs is really horrible… The poor dogs can’t even properly breatje anymore..

    The wienerdog does have a long body now, longer than it used to be. Corgis like myself also have long bodies and short legs, my mom however has forbidden me to so stairs and jump high because that is not good for my long spine..

    • Barney when you say the bull terrier is not a good looking dog it is a matter of personal opinion. I love the way bull terriers look. Also it is pertinent to note that they were bread for their skull shape. It was selective adaptation on the part that makes bull terriers look the way they do. Also I would encourage you to look up current photographs of them! They are very adorable and hilarious dogs:)

      • Ellora, Barney stated that it was his opinion (imo=in my opinion) and his post and the article are making the precise point that they were bred to look that way. The problem is that there is NO reason a skull shaped that way would enhance survival or health. Quite the contrary. A skull shaped that way CAUSES health and longevity problems. It’s not “selective adaptation”, it’s selective MANIPULATION. You might think they look and act cute and that would be fine if they were a cartoon designed only for your enjoyment. What is NOT fine is people breeding living beings into mutants that can’t function properly just because they are adorable and hilarious. I work in an emergency veterinary clinic and of the ones that come in with medical problems not caused by outside forces (hit by car, fight with other dog) are almost always overbred “purebreds” with inadequate anatomy and physiology to survive and thrive. These animals suffer from their own mutated bodies that can’t function properly, and all because people think “it’s cute”. It’s not cute, it’s cruel and sick. The relationship between people and domesticated animals should, like any healthy relationship, be one that is mutually beneficial. It should not be based on selfishness and exploitation. Even if it’s “cute”.

        • thanks Peter for precising the facts in the article, I am of the same opinion,,,, why breed for the looks
          rather to breed to have a healthy and functional dog instead, im breeding shih tzu and let me say that they have such a hard time breathing wen the nose is to short and all that because people want them like that , is sad for those dogs

          • so if you are breeding animals that you know are susceptible to health problems, essentially contributing to the problem, why are you upset? i honestly don’t care one way or another how people breed the dogs. A dog is an animal manufactured by people to be used by people, no different than any other tool in the shed. I’m not implying that a bond cannot be formed between man and dog, but if someone such as ellora wants a dog because she thinks it is cute and hilarious, and the defects of the bull terrier fit the bill, then the tool has served its purpose.

    • I’ve got a Bull Terrier, but it is literally a Pitbull crossed with a Terrier. And it looks almost exactly like the original Bull Terrier. Well, she used to look like that. She’s been getting fatter because my uncle likes to feed her table scraps. >: /

  90. Good article. I agree with a lot of it, others I have to take with a grain of salt… Dogs have been bred to be genetically superior (mind the ones bred for aesthetic purposes). No one goes out saying “I want to make an unhealthy breed of dogs!”. They create dogs for intended purposes; speed, strength, agility, etc…

    This is why I was shocked to see the German Shepherd on here. This breed is actually known for their athleticism, this is why they are police dogs. As for the pugs, the early picture you showed is nearly identical to the modern day one. You can’t blame humans for everything now can ya?

    • Jonathon, totally agree! GSDs are still so effective as working dogs doing the jobs they were bred for. And I agree as well that some photos of the old breeds look nearly identical to the current dogs.

      • The reasons above are exactly why GSDs are no longer used as land-sharks (military attack dogs). They are no longer the Superman of the doggie world. Two reasons for that; breed experimentation with other breeds, and the purebreeding downfall of the GSD.

        • I’d like to see any links people have showing that the use of GSDs is declining in military and police forces. I have searched myself and all I seem to find is sites stating the GSD is by far the most versatile working breed as well as the most commonly used breed in military and police forces worldwide.

          • As I stated i worked for VETCOM. The breeding facility run by the US military now most only breeds Belgian Malinois, not GSD. (and labs but we aren’t talking about them). Most people don’t realize that the dog they are seeing isn’t a GSD because of the visual similarities. The dogs not picked up for military service are used at police departments and other agencies.

          • In the US, the military almost exclusively uses the Belgian Malanois, not the GSD.

            • Also, the GSDsi know as MWD are imported from Europe with proven quality working bloodlines. So they are not the deformed overbred GSDs you find in the show ring.

          • At least anecdotally speaking, PDon is correct. I am a vet and we work with the local K9 unit; I also know many soldiers, including an Army Vet. They have all told me that most of their dogs are now Belgian Malinois or sometimes Malinois-Shepherd crosses. Reasons seem to be that the Malinois is more agile and energetic and has less health problems (particularly orthopedic problems that have stemmed from their breeding). This article talks a little bit about it: http://articles.latimes.com/2001/aug/04/local/me-30443

            • The show GSD and the working lines GSD are so incredibly different. Working lines are very much similar in physique to the old photo shown in this article.

      • There’s a difference between working and showroom GSDs

        it’s very sad.

        • sickening how arrogant these ppl are, crippling these animals, and then having the gall to claim they’ve made them ‘better’. sickening

          • I was damn near floored by the guy who thinks that the working dogs are not what they are supposed to look like and the show dogs are.

        • This is so sad. I hate to see what humans are doing to these dogs. I would never support “pure breeds”. Any human who agrees or thinks it is okay what is happening to these dogs shouldn’t breed.

        • That makes me so angry. I cannot believe this guy is actually serious. These dogs can hardly support themselves on their hind legs. Unbelievable.

      • But the GSD IS one of the breeds that has been practically ruined from its original athletic purpose. They are now the breed that is the most prone to hip dysplasia. You almost get two breeds of GSAd…. The show ring dog and the working dog. Same has happened to the English Springer Spanial, the Cocker Spanial, and many other working breeds.

      • As someone who has worked for the Army in Vetcom I can assure you that military working dogs are not, nor have been for a while GSDs. They are not used because of the poor hip positioning of the slanted body and a slew of other genetic problems. What you see are Belgian Malinois, not Shepherds. I happen to have a beautifully bred Shepherd with almost a completely straight back and he weighs in at 64lbs. I get so many people who think he’s a half-breed because he doesn’t look like the monstrosities that are portrayed today.

        • It’s a bit presumptuous of you to say that GSDs are “not used” in the military. My husband works with dog handlers often, I have many who are friends, our personal dog trainer is a respected dog handler in the military, and we live on a military base. I still see almost as many GSDs as I do malinoia. And yes, I know the difference. I also know from asking the handlers about their dogs. They are not “nonexistent” in working positions as you imply. I also have several family members who are police officers and their K-9 units are still predominantly GSDs.

          • To be fair to Jill the place I am at, India GSDs are still used extensively for Police work. The dogs used here however don’t have a saggy hind legs. I believe it is so because the breeding done by the police is not as highly incentivized and therefore they actually care about the life the dog (and its owner) are going to have in future and therefore are more relaxed about the showmanship of the animal. I am pretty sure of that because I had a GSD which had the mutated “froggy’ hind legs. In his 8th year he developed a a problem in his hip and became paralyzed subsequently. He passed away at 10. The last two years of his life were so painful it scarred my aging parents and now they are positively scared since they believed the problem caused in Duke was somehow their fault. It has taken me a lot of research to prove it otherwise to them. And.. We are never getting a breeder dog again. That is because I think they are over-bred with a lot of inbreeding and not only their shape and size but also their survival capabilities are somehow effected. In contrast some of the native breeds of India (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_pariah_dog) which go through natural selection have much better resistance and are equally alert and trainable as many well known species. Please let me know if you agree/disagree.

      • I’m not sure if any of you have done research on GSDs, but there are now separate lines. There is a conformation “American” and working class “European or German” lines. The biggest and most obvious differences are in color and build. American GSDs are usually more tan in color and have a sloping back. While the German GSDs tend to be darker and their back is held at a more horizontal angle. Most of the American dogs are a lot closer to the AKC standard, but have lost a lot of their working ability, and have a much less stable temperament.

        Police and military dogs are usually from German lines. That is why many people don’t recognise them as GSDs. They also like Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and a few others.

      • This is because there are two varieties of German Shepherds, The Show Quality (Roach backed, Over l, Hip-Dysplasia suffering, Extra heavy boned Unfit Dogs) and the Working Quality (Strong, Athletic, agile dogs) Lots of the uneducated mean breeders are working for conformation towards the show quality and not the work ability of GSDs, their are only a few who breed GSDs for working purpose, and those are the DOGS, you see in military and police work. Not the show ones, which are prevalent.

      • Jill, the GSD does not look like it used to. Look at the sloping back. It is so ugly.

        • Not all modern day GSDs have an exaggerated topline. [img]https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/248395_10150203099551428_7872709_n.jpg[/img]

      • I’m a vet and I have seen first hand the different types of GSDs. There is a huge difference between the working military/police ones and the show/ribbon winning GSDs. The ones for the police force are pretty much as they were as they are bred ‘for function’. The ones destined for the show ring have been purely bred for aesthetic purposes and have some of the most deformed hind legs and hips I have ever seen, not to mention often nervous aggressive temperaments.

    • “As for the pugs, the early picture you showed is nearly identical to the modern day one. You can’t blame humans for everything now can ya?”

      You know pugs never occurred in nature before humans bred them, yeah?

        • Yeah, but we’re talking about ones that have been bred to their detriment and not the healthy strong working dogs that represent strong choices in which characteristics to accentuate to achieve a healthy, happy, useful animal.

        • The variation in domestic dogs was pretty much an accident though. In an experiment done on foxes, they showed how variation could occur in as little as 40 years when they breed relating to personality (tameness towards humans). Which is likely the same way wolves became domesticated dogs. Although it was kind of caused by human it wasn’t intentional and it had nothing to do with appearance. The fittest and better adapted dogs were still the ones who would have survived, meaning there would have been better gene pools.

          It was much later that people started breeding for appearance alone. It is particularly sick and ridiculous that people wouldn’t care about the suffering of their animal providing it was cute. The way I hear a lot of KC members go on about how much “better” pedigree dogs are than mutts is, quite frankly, deluded. It wouldn’t be acceptable to treat any humans like this, it is very arrogant of us to feel we can subject other creatures to such torture.

          • I found that to be a very interesting excerpt from Dr. Temple Grandin’s book as well. Too many people today buy into the fake pack hierarchy theory and the presumption that we humans had anything to do with the domestication of dogs when in actuality they chose us. Quite a responsibility, unfortunately one most obviously do not take seriously as reflected by this evidence.

    • You can’t blame man for everything,just most of it. What man messes with he messes up…so far..

    • No one wants to make an unhealthy breed. But when they breed for dumb aesthetic reasons, they put their health in jeopardy.

    • Jonathan, thanks for your post. You make a distinction between breeding for function and breeding for fashion in your post and it’s an important one. I’m responding to your post because I think that that distinction is at the crux of the issue here.

      I assure you, none of the dogs on the right are superior to their ancestors on the left. Maybe the differences in the photos are negligible, or even unnoticeable to some, but as a veterinary tech, they are glaringly obvious to me, and so are the health problems to which these differences will predispose these dogs.

      Let’s take the Pug. The one on the right has significantly more wrinkles in the face (skin-fold dermatitis waiting to happen), he has legs maybe 1/3 shorter and a body 1/3 larger (but much heavier) to cart around on them (leading to a host of problems), and (although all Pugs are brachycephalic, meaning they have brief muzzles leading to lifelong breathing and other problems listed above) this guys’ is more upturned and caved in, meaning it accentuates the breathing and heart problems he is already likely to experience.

      If I were to have to place an IV catheter or breathing tube in either one of these guys, I would rather deal with “old Pug” anatomy any day, except I would be much less likely to see him in the emergency clinic since his mutations aren’t as advanced. The ancestor Pug is a lot more well-equipped for quality of life, except that even ancestor Pug was designed to be a cute “toy” and still predisposed to have health and wellness issues. So we can blame humans for both pics on that one.

      I’m not anti-breeding if you’re talking about a working dog whose anatomy allows him quality of life. I’m anti-breeding when it comes to people manipulating genetics that predispose a creature to a short, miserable life just for our enjoyment.

    • Actually, when it comes to dog breeds you can blame humans for everything, Jonathan. They’re domesticated animals that we have altered through thousands of years of selective breeding. I am not saying this is wrong on the whole, but it is a fact.. Even if the pug does not look much different than it did a hundred years ago, it is ridiculous to assume that the way it looked a hundred years ago was some sort of natural state and to claim we haven’t changed that animal for the worse. These dogs, like Chihuahuas and Yorkies are designed for human consumption, not to survive in the wild, and not for healthy traits. Pugs are manmade, not a not a natural species in the wild. All modern breeds of dogs are descended from wolves and to a much lesser degree perhaps coyotes, some have been altered in ways that are fine and do not negatively impact their health, but others (like pugs) often go through life with breathing difficulties and numerous other problems simply because people want them to look a certain way. .

    • Actually, please watch this short section on pugs, of a documentary about breeding problems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=TMyqH_Q_iPY#t=1795

      Also, if you notice closely, the pug from 100 years ago had longer legs, shorter jaw, and a longer and less curled tail. This last point is specially important as the curlier the tail, the more the dog’s spine is bent, increasing problems on the back. There are also most likely changes to its internal organs which cause its increased disease rate, which you obviously can’t see from outside.

      • pugs are the oldest of all dog breeds on the planet, my girlfriend has a pug and it looks identical to the older photo of the pug. the new photo is a overweight pug.

        • Of course, not all pugs look like the one on the modern photo. There are many variations of body sizes. However, it seems the modern photo on the right is from a “dog looks” competition, which points out that those proportions are the currently desirable ones for a pug dog. Your girlfriend’s pug would probably be rated as inferior-looking by the current standards.
          As far as it being the oldest breed, that is an outlandish claim. Have a look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_dog_breeds

          • Thank you Wikipedia, I see china is to blame for the original smush faced, deformed skull breeds. Problem solved. (Totally kidding, just found it funny that the ancient breeds with misshapen heads are all from china)

    • You obviously have not seen a purebred German Shepherd who’s beck and hind legs are bowed so low to the ground, that they can barely walk let alone run. I have! At best, all this GSD could do was hobble like a dog twice its age. It is sad and so sickening.

    • FYI humans have been messing with dogs for centuries not just this last one.

    • People may not set out to destroy the domestic wolf (dog), but through ignorance or hubris, they often do. Most purebred dogs end up inbred. This is due to line-breeding (incest), as well as an almost religious adherence to breeds “standards,” rather than paying attention to what’s really happening: without genetic diversity, no animal – including wolves and humans – can stay healthy for long. So, even the more normal breeds, like working and sporting dogs, often end up with genetic disorders due to inbreeding depression.

      And then there are the breeds that were created with willful disregard for animal welfare. Dogs are domestic wolves. There are some important differences between wild and domestic canids, but at the end of the day, they’re all still canids. They all need a long snout and long legs to stay active; they need normal ears, eyelids, and jowls to stay clean; they need a long tail to communicate; and they need a reasonable size for a healthy cardiovascular system. If you substantially alter or remove these features, you are damaging the individual and his or her offspring.

      So, although no one explicitly says, “I want to make an unhealthy breed of dog,” many people end up doing so anyway.

  91. Dalmatians are full of problems too. 😦 So sad what these breeders have done.

  92. Conformation breeders generally do not breed for genetic health, they typically breed for looks (looks of the times, which changes with peoples whims!) I have grown up in the breeding circle and I can tell you that health and genetic damage takes a second place to structure and looks. A perfect example is the german Shepherd of the last decade are to be shown with a sloping back, did you know that some breeders breed mild hip dysplasia into their stock to accentuate the sloped look! Outside of conformation it is a crap shoot because for years now we have puppy mills who do give a rats ass about genetic strength or health, just the almighty dollar.

    • There are also those involved in conformation who are attempting to FIX the problems associated with their breed of choice. Myself for one. I aim at breeding a longer more broad muzzle which reduces poor dentition and increases oral health and hygene. This is still within the breed standard, but flies in the face of current “trends”. Participating in conformation proves my dogs have good stable temperaments and meet the standard of their breed… it’s a good thing. To blame all conformation competitors for something a FEW of them fall prey to is prejudicial to say the least.

  93. Conformation breeders generally do not breed for genetic health, they typically breed for looks (looks of the times, which changes with peoples whims!) I have grown up in the breeding circle and I can tell you that health and genetic damage takes a second place to structure and looks. A perfect example is the german Shepherd of the last decade are to be shown with a sloping back, did you know that some breeders breed mild hip dysplasia into their stock to accentuate the sloped look! Outside of conformation it is a crap shoot because for years now we have puppy mills who don’t give a rats ass about genetic strength or health, just the almighty dollar. There are many reputable breeders out there, just make sure you find one.!

    • Yes I agree. This is why I own ABCA dogs and do rescue. ABCA breeds for purpose and intelligence , looks are far down on the list. The rest of my group are rescues. Which for now on are gonna be my furry friends.

    • Not one word of truth. You say “conformation breeders don’t breed for health,” and later say “there are many reputable breeders”….make up your mind! If you don’t do ALL genetic testing, nobody will breed to your stock. Quit snorting the PETA drug.

      • With all due respect, Kingjohn, the OP said that “conformation breeders” don’t breed for health, making a distinction between them and other types of breeders. If the statement had read “there are many reputable non-conformation breeders” would that have kept you happy? There are indeed breeders who do not breed simply for looks, and those are the ones whom I think people should patronize. And on a more personal note Kingjohn, try to keep it a tad more civil around here, won’t you please?

  94. I came to this page by accident, and wouldn’t consider myself to have an affinity to the subject.

    But it’s great that you’re drawing attention to something that I, and I’m sure most other people, are not aware of.

    Shameful practice, interesting page. Thank you!

  95. I am not really very qualified to speak on this subject, but was fascinated by this piece and it’s accompanying photos. The author has opened up Pandora’s box with the piece, but we all love dogs, so we all have a common interest.

    I am the owner of a 7 y.o. Chihuahua, who I dearly love. When I was “shopping” for him I was stunned by the ubiquitous use of the term “Tea Cup” to trumpet the prized tiny-ness of pups by many breeders who advertise online, backyard or not. These tiny breeds seem to be the clear inheritors of health issues related to their genetic diminution in size. Their tiny mouths contain the same number of teeth as a large breed, and an “apple-head” doesn’t occur without a price.

    As I mentioned, I’m not an expert, and I love my 6 lb. apple-headed Chihuahua to a fault, but there are two things about him that are alarming: 1) at 7, he still has a “soft spot,” meaning the top of his skull never closed, which I’m told is not abnormal for the breed. And 2) He was born with terrible teeth that have been problematic all his life. I have always been hyper aware of his special dental needs, and diligent in his care. A couple of years ago he began to suffer from advanced tooth decay, severe gum disease, halitosis and mouth ulcers. I recently had all of his remaining teeth removed on the advice of an experienced veterinary oral surgeon. Before the surgery he was in constant pain, had difficulty eating, and his immune system was burdened by a battle with infection resulting from tooth decay. Without this intervention who knows what kind of a life he would have had going forward. I am fortunate to have been financially able to have the procedure done which involved bone grafts and surgical expertise. Post surgery, he is a changed dog. He runs and is playful again and has a great appetite, though so far he eats mostly soft food. He also has sweet breath again. It has taken some mental adjusting to having had all of my dog’s teeth removed, but a glance at his “before and after” photos and x-rays justify the action.

    My point in writing this is to say that I agree with the author that my dog’s physiological vulnerabilities are likely a result of human tampering with genetics to give him his small stature and apple shaped head. I applaud the writer for his work, and think it’s food for thought for all dog lovers. I doubt seriously that anyone can change a thing about the way the dog breeding industry operates, or the consumer it caters to. Now that man has mapped out the human genome, what lies ahead for his best friend is anyone’s guess!

    • Tom I just like to mention my brothers Chihuahua cross has the same problems you mention…. just proves my point that all dogs have health issued.

      • But Brenda, genes are like dice. Throw them and they land accordingly. One might land face up and be a part of the count, but it doesn’t mean that the ones that were face down won’t reappear at the next throw. The defective traits we speak of are manifest in the same fashion. Another dog I had for 14 years was a half German Shepherd/half Border Collie. At age 2 he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. I’d be willing to bet that he inherited that from his German Shepherd father. There is now a company that does genetic testing for dogs. If you want to know the lineage of a mixed breed you can send a DNA sample to them and for a fee they will tell you what breed your dog is. I believe the company is called Canine Heritage.

      • Brenda, saying your cross breed also has health problems proves nothing, you are trying to minimize sever life threatening health problems common in these extreme form breeds with those of far more anatomically and genetically normal breeds that may get some arthritis or cataracts in old age. A lab and a husky mix will have a far smaller chance of sever health problems than a chihuahua mixed with some other toy dog. Many of these toy breeds have far more adverse genetic mutations than larger, less deformed breeds. So stop trying to justify the medical complications these dogs experience by saying all dogs have health problems when it’s a comparison of mountains to mole hills are far as prevalence and severity.

    • Teacup chihuahuas also tend to have problems with generating enough heat, as I figured out when one got bit by my GSD mix. The neighbors weren’t keeping an eye on her and let her run under the fence into out yard and instead of letting us know and getting her out of there, they made a lot of noise that I didn’t hear, but my wolfhound did. My wolfhound (who was breed to simply chase and kill, so she wasn’t very bright) started barking and she’s barked at the wind before so I simply let the dogs out (all except the wolf-hybrid who went out on a leash because her cable snapped the night before and she had habit of jumping the fence.) The screams from both the chihuahua and her owners alerted me to something wrong but it was too late. My GSD mix (who thankfully killed the possums and other critters that got into the yard so our garden wasn’t ruined) and the wolfhound got to it first.

      The wolfhound simply sniffed the small animal (being as stupid as she was) but the GSD mix bit her once. And once was all it took and after three days at the vet and being too small to generate enough heat to fight off infections the 4lbs chihuahua died.

      (moral of the story is don’t let your 4lb dog in a year with 135lbs and 55lbs dog. Also leashes are important. Use them)

      • I never leave my dog unsupervised outdoors. Ever. Thank you for your concern!

  96. I have been saying this for years. As a dog groomer of over 20 years, i have watched the deterioration of many breeds. From Golden’s that cant retrieve, to Standard poodles that used to be one of the smartest breeds, that are now dumb as a box of rocks. When you breed looks over the purpose of the dog you make a very small gene pool. Many breeders I know will in breed to keep a certain look. It is an accepted practice with tragic outcome. Diseases have over come almost all pure breds. A once average life span of 15 years has been cut in half. This is why I do not own an AKC breed. Not to mention the fact that there is so many dogs in shelters,no one should breed on purpose till they all have homes. Then you have back yard breeders, who also contribute to this. They have a AKC dog and think $$$$. And breed their epileptic dog to make the mortgage. yeah that helps. We as humans have a duty to repay our furry best friends with the same unconditional love they give us and STOP condemning them to disease .

  97. Yes..breading for certain qualitys are bad, however..iv a complete mixed dog, medium in sized kinda jack russle, german shepherd,corgie and husky looking..she is defo not a particular breed some call her a heinz, anyhow, she is now 8and had both of her back crutio ligaments replaced… Obsessive ball chasing and jumping.. My point anydog can have health issues…even when not breed for it… Anyhow.. Interesting read…

    • It’s true that any creature can fall subject to health issues, regardless of genetics, but we don’t have to tempt the fate of the creature for dog shows. I look at these dog shows and see poor deformed animals being trotted around for the enjoyment and gratification of the ones that created their deformities. Truly sick. These people have no care for the animal for it’s own sake. They only care what attention the animal can bring them as a member of their sick little zoos.

  98. Please do your research about German Shepherds before even posting anything about the breed. The americanized version of the breed has gone downhill, it literally is only for “beauty”. The americanized version has horrible hip problems and I don’t see why people buy that over the german bloodlines. German bloodlines still have hip problems, but with exercise and weight management there shouldn’t be any problems.

  99. This may well be the most BS article ever written. As a show dog exhibitor since 1957, I have seen breeds change 99 per cent for the better. Nobody in the “dog fancy,” will breed to your bitch or stud if you haven’t tested for the most prevalent genetic problems in your particular breed. That’s not a maybe, that’s in stone! Most of the tests are done by DNA testing. It’s simple and it’s surprisingly cheap! Either you do this or you’re going to be ostracized. Dog show folks are very judgmental by nature, if your main focus isn’t the welfare of the dogs, you’re GONE! Also, the photos in this *article* are cherry picked examples of the most extreme problems which can be found, the worst of the worst 1 per cent.

    • You are contributing to the problems, you admit your a handler/or breeder . Your input in this moot. Ask any veterinarian what they think. They try to cure the problems you create.

      • Not every breeder is in it purely for $. We had to write a letter describing our family & home, have a visit by the breeder to check that it was a dog friendly environment, and have a sit down interview with the breeder, all before she would even consider allowing us to buy our Bull Terrier.
        I disagree with, or at least doubt, a lot of this article, and agree with the person who commented that dogs didn’t get diagnosed nearly as much 100 years ago, so to say the breeds have so many more problems today is misleading.
        Also; just because the breed’s official desired looks have changed over time (like the bully) that doesn’t mean the change came from in breeding. To get a change that drastic, you have to be getting the trait from a different breed.

        • I make that same argument a lot in reference to human issues. Specifically psychological disorders since they were so under studied and not understood till recent years. People go on and on about how there is a huge increase in autism, ADHD, depression, etc. in reality, there are likely no more people with these disorders than any other point in history. The reason the numbers of diagnoses increases is due to a great understanding of mental and psychological functions as well as more in depth means of diagnosing. That is why there are so many adults currently being diagnosed with some form of aspergers or ADHD when these things were strictly limited to childhood diagnoses before. The medical community used to believe people “outgrew” ADHD. No one outgrows a chemical imbalance in the brain, people simply were having less disruptive and dibilitating symptoms as they left school and gained independence in their adulthood. The disorder is still very much there, it is just less obvious to outside parties and adults don’t have teachers and parents overseeing their every move. There are diseases in both humans and animals that have increased in prevalence over the generations and of course those should be studied to attempt to fix them. But many things just were not able to be diagnosed or treated a century ago. Dogs crippled by hip displasia in 1904 were likely put down behind the barn before any veterinary treatment was sought out.

          • Many posters have brought up issues outside the original intent which was simple; many breeds suffer because breeders are looking for a particular look which has negative health effect. This includes your concern, the GSD and their slopping backs (many are also oversized, barrel chested behemoths), but also excess skin, brachycephalic syndrome, contorted skulls of the bull terrier, etc,. etc.

    • I assure you, none of the dogs on the right are superior to their ancestors on the left. Maybe the differences in the photos are negligible, or even unnoticeable to some, but as a veterinary tech, they are glaringly obvious to me, and so are the health problems to which these differences will predispose these dogs.

      Let’s take the Pug. The one on the right has significantly more wrinkles in the face (skin-fold dermatitis waiting to happen), he has legs maybe 1/3 shorter and a body 1/3 larger (but much heavier) to cart around on them (leading to a host of problems), and (although all Pugs are brachycephalic, meaning they have brief muzzles leading to lifelong breathing and other problems listed above) this guys’ is more upturned and caved in, meaning it accentuates the breathing and heart problems he is already likely to experience.

      If I were to have to place an IV catheter or breathing tube in either one of these guys, I would rather deal with “old Pug” anatomy any day, except I would be much less likely to see him in the emergency clinic since his mutations aren’t as advanced. The ancestor Pug is a lot more well-equipped for quality of life, except that even ancestor Pug was designed to be a cute “toy” and still predisposed to have health and wellness issues. So we can blame humans for both pics on that one.

      I’m not anti-breeding if you’re talking about a working dog whose anatomy allows him quality of life. I’m anti-breeding when it comes to people manipulating genetics that predispose a creature to a short, miserable life just for our enjoyment.

      You dislike this article, not because it is untrue, but because it exposes truths you won’t face.

  100. I agree that many breeds have been dramatically changed from their ancestral roots, and some, like the bulldog not for the better. I disagree on many points. This article would have you believe that the ancestral dogs of each breed never suffered from any form of genetic disease, that it’s a malady of modern breeding. If you look back at many stud books, there are any number of genetic disorders that can be traced back hundreds of generations, and across breeds, many of which were intermingled back in the day before “pure” meant you NEVER bred outside your breed…. When other breeds were being developed from each other….. The fact that many of the diseases that dogs suffer from are genetically similar to those suffered by humans suggests a much more ancient common ancestor that is not attributable to modern breeding practices.
    Take also into account advances in modern medicine. The fact that we can recognize and diagnose problems seen in our companions today does not meN they did not exist in those dogs from the early 1900’s. A dog that became paralyzed due to disc problem in 1900 didn’t get veterinary care, it got euthanized, or worse, shot in the back woods, cause veterinary care wasn’t an option… Many breeders back then culled entire litters of puppies due to health concerns, or because of coat colors, something that would be socially unacceptable today. The fact that we can diagnose many of the genetic maladies we see in our purebred stock is NOT an indication that those diseases are new, quite the contrary, we are more advanced at recognizing and now treating some of those genetic disorders that have persisted in many breeds long before modern breeding practices changed the apperance of the dogs….those who oppose purebreds like to point at modern breeders for the troubles of dogs today, but boxers for example have had a propensity for cancer throughout their history, we are just better at recognizing it. Same with their heart disease…we now can diagnose and in some cases treat before sudden death….in 1900 those dogs would have died without any indication as to why…

    • I hate it when people like you post without reading. I wrote:

      It is unrealistic to expect any population to be free of genetic diseases

      So when you write “This article would have you believe that the ancestral dogs of each breed never suffered from any form of genetic disease” it’s because you reached into your ass and pulled out that idea.

      • That was an awfully rude response to a comment that didn’t seem rude at all. I can see what Tammy was saying, i.e. which of the breeds that now suffer these diseases also suffered the same ones back in the day, and which diseases are new due to breeding?

        This article was very eye-opening and made me think that someone should do a similar thing on different races of humans to chart the medical maladies created by “superior breeding.” I loved, but your reply seemed out of character to the knowledge you provided in your post.

          • I can understand that, but belittling someone who is perceived to have slighted you isn’t a very effective tactic when it comes to making a point. xD Some people will agree, some people disagree, some people get it, some people don’t, that’s just the way it is.

          • This set of responses just kept me from making a rebuttal to some of the opinions that I found problematic in the post (I work in a relevant field; I have some issues with the interpretation of some of the source material).

            Small, well-intentioned suggestion for blogging happiness: if you’re not looking for discourse or feedback that “runs contrary” to what you write, frame it as a personal opinion/rant, and don’t enable posting. That way, you get to say what you want to a wide audience, and people don’t get unintentionally snapped at for chiming in because comments aren’t welcome. Everybody wins!

  101. Yes, but what you all are failing to realize that it is also purebred breeders that are preserving the working ability of the GSD, the Labrador, Setter, Malinosis, Bouvier, Border Collie and others. They work hard to not only produce dogs of superior working ability but also physical soundness.

  102. The roots of the problems

    1. Breed standards that are written without reference to functionality
    2. Closed studbooks, a legacy of the eugenics movement. By contrast, many European horse breeds (see Hanoverian, Westfalian etc.) accept into the breeding pool mares and stallions from other breeds that would improve/exemplify some aspects of the breed.
    3. Unlimited breeding — that is to say, look again at the European horse breeds, which require breeding stock to be functionally evaluated before being admitted to the breed registry.
    4. The American Kennel Club’s devotion to dog shows as beauty pageants — that is to say, dog shows that evaluate the exhibited dog only on its physical appearance, ignoring temperament and functionality (the degree to which the dog shown could perform the breed’s purpose).

    • i have a doxie as well, have actually had nothing but dachshunds since i was a child and they for the msot part look like the “old” picture. most of these pix the dogs are standing in positions that only give the illusion that they look so different. and i’m sure there will be some snarky response from the author about how horrible we are.

    • I wouldn’t. Aside from their temperament problems (and I don’t mean aggression, I mean their energy level combined with their fitness level) they too are still quite prone to health problems. My wolfdog had demodex mange (a hereditary mange passed down through the mother’s line. Any dog with it should be sterilized and not allowed to breed, otherwise they’ll pass the infection down.) And wolves themselves being prone to demodex, including the entire zoo population of arctic wolves in Prague.

  103. This is true, but not new information, what is lacking is the information of what is being done now to reverse the effects of centuries of bad breeding. It will not happen over night, and there are still people out there with their head in the sand, unwilling to listen, but work is being done to change breeding practices and improve health. In the UK especially, I cannot comment on other coutries. Breed standards have been changed by the kennel club to move away from exaggerations, they are working with breeders to try and change the breed in to a healthier model. The AHT has been doing amazing work looking into inherited diseases (which is different to exaggerated features, but linked to inbreeding). There is still a lot to be done, but I think this article lacks information on what is currently being done to address the issues the author has addressed.

  104. Just as there are working lines of GSDs, there are also field bassets, which are much less extreme in appearance – longer legs, less skin (in basset circles, it is called being drier), rears that more resemble the dog on the left. The ears are still long, though I would bet the dog on left was considered a bat example of basset ears 100 years ago. The breed is always going to have skeletal problems; it really can”t be avoided when a breed is created through selecting for dwarfism.

  105. “In Defence of Dogs” by John Bradshaw is an excellent book which touches on this issue: apart from the health-related problems overly “pure” (ie inbred to look a certain way) dogs have he makes the point that their ability to communicate can be severely impaired. Wolves have 16 visual signals they can use to communicate, all dogs understand these (independently moving ears, tail, facial expressions, use of raising hackles and fluffling up hair) but many inbred dogs can no longer communicate in these ways as their tails can no longer be used (sometimes are docked of course, but some breeds can’t move their tails anyway), their fur is immobile, their ears immovable, etc..eg the Cavalier King Charles’ Spaniel’s only way of communicating to another dog, apart from growling or barking, is to shove it with its body. This adds a potential layer of psychological isolation to the heart, hip defects etc that they suffer from; dogs are most interested in interacting with other dogs, and we have made it harder for some of them to do so.

    So it’s not just physical cruelty, but psychological cruelty too.

  106. I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if someone has already mentioned this, but it is very similar in the cat breeding world particularly seen in Persians with their squashed faces and their nose up and in between their eyes. Also the Siamese, which used to have a beautiful cat shaped head (now called “apple head”) but now has a geometrically shaped triangular head to go along with its serpent like appearance. Neither of these cats is attractive in the least, and the Persian is prone to all sorts of breathing problems. 😦

    • And what about those “Munckin” cats?! Good lord. And Ringtails? Legs and tails are such important features for a cat, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to screw with that just to have something new and different and “cool”. Not to mention all of the other cat breeds derived from severely deprecating traits, such as Scottish Folds, Curly-coated or wire haired breeds, Manx, Spynx, all Munchkin-derived spin-offs, I’m sure the list goes on… There is absolutely no point.

    • I literally laughed out loud at that. Thanks Sarah for lightening the mood!

  107. I didn’t read through all 560+ comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned. Another one is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It’s been bred for a smaller and smaller skull, and now there’s an overwhelming percentage of them with Chiari Malformation (where the base of the skull is too small, so a portion of their brain protrudes down into the spinal column) and/or Syringomyelia (fluid-filled sacs called “syrinxes” form inside the spinal cord, hollowing it out and destroying affected areas). I’ve read estimates as high as 95% of them eventually develop it. It causes increasing and debilitating pain, headaches, decreased functionality and even paralysis.

    I actually suffer from SM myself, and to think of innocent dogs going through this pain and not being able to express what’s wrong breaks my heart. I’ve had 2 neurosurgeries from it, and when I see pictures of these dogs with the same “zipperhead” scar as me, well, it’s just so wrong. We’ve inflicted this suffering on them for our own superficial notions of what is beautiful and/or better.

    The other one that really bothers me is the conformation line GSD. They look absolutely deformed now, with their sloping backs and crouching back ends and overly-bent back legs. It’s no wonder they have such a high incidence of hip dysplasia (and severe cases, at that). They look like they’re squatting or half-sitting all the time. How can that be comfortable? Functional? Considered ‘normal’ or good, much less attractive?

  108. The King Charles Spaniel is a classic case of destructive breeding. Many of them suffer from Syringomyelia which is a terrible affliction where the skull is too small for the brain, and causes pressure on the spinal cord. Often the dogs are in agony and have to be put down.

    I remember seeing a program on this where a breeder had a dog with this issues, showed it, won, and then proceeded to continue to use the dog for breeding and continue the defect – all for profits. The governing breed association may claim that they are trying to eradicate the defect however it’s by voluntary self regulations with nothing to back it up.

  109. I await the day mankind learns to just leave things alone and live with them as they are. Haven’t we done enough damage in our time? Poor dogs.

  110. You know what the healthiest, most equipped breed of dog is? Not a dog. A wolf. Everything we’ve done to these animals since day one has been to their detriment and our benifet. People can draw their own line in the sand anywhere they want to but millions of years of evolution and natural selection does a much better job than we can.

    • Dogs are domestic wolves, and the healthiest dogs are the primitive ones. However, there is an important difference between wolves and dogs, and that is symbiosis with humans. People and wolves have been living together for at least 33,000 years, and dogs can read human body language better than any other animal. We owe it to them to keep them healthy, and this includes letting them retain a healthier, more wildtype body and behaviors. This does not mean, however, that they must live wild or die.

  111. This is part of the reason I will always have mutts. Read a book once about medical problems in dogs, and it mentioned the mini-seizures that bull terriers tend to inherit. So sad, and really just reinforced that I’m a mutt girl all the way 🙂

    • I agree. All three of my dogs have been mutts (various mixes of German shepherd, Labrador retriever, Samoyed, Siberian husky, and Alaskan husky). As a boy, I had originally wanted a pedigreed dog, but I soon came to realize that mixing is so much better than pure-breeding, because it helps prevent inbreeding depression. I also realized that primitive and sporting dogs are healthier than more altered forms, which can have many disorders and deformities.

      • Plus I like the “grab bag” mix that I got in my mutts! The big one is lab, shar pei, pit, and…??? No idea. Mom didn’t look like any of those. And the puppy? Lab, MAYBE staffordshire?? and????? She’s just dog. We love them both even though they can both be little monsters. 🙂

  112. In general I Agree. there is a horrible legacy of selective breeding that puts looks ahead of all other considerations to huge detriment in health and temperament in many breeds. as a dog owner and possible future breeder in the UK I would point out that this affects some breeds more than others, and has been more extreme in some countries than in others.
    I own a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. they are a rare breed, and were only adopted by the Kennel Club in most countries relatively late. They are a very ancient breed from the west of Ireland, where they served as multi-purpose farm dogs. Being a Terrier, when they were first adopted by the KC it was required that a dog would prove itself against a badger before being permitted to the show ring for it’s first time.
    Now I am no advocate of such blood sports – but I do believe that most breeds should need to prove themselves in terms of breed-appropriate agility.

    Luckily the SCWT is a breed which suffers from very few inherited conditions, and the breed clubs in Europe are undertaking a concerted attempt to prevent dogs from those affected lines from being bred, or at least prohibiting them from breeding with other affected lines. – This includes a deliberate attempt to broaden the gene pool. and encouraging international breeding for this end.

    The reason I have a SCWT is that this breed is one of very few which are naturally “low allergy”, and my wife who is very asthmatic is able to tolerate this breed, but would be very ill if she tried to give house room to most breeds.
    The list of such breeds is very short, and not all allergy sufferers are able to tolerate all the dogs on the list.
    The SCWT is a medium (springer spaniel sized) dog (15-16kg female 16-18kg male) which has a single coat (no under-coat), which is non shedding. they also release far less dander into the air than most breeds.

    They are generally an excellent family dog and are very tolerant of children.
    They are normally friendly in the extreme – to a fault at times.
    They can be trained to a very wide range of tasks from Shepherding to agility to being a Service Dog. they aren’t big enough to be a seeing-eye dog, and are normally too independently minded.

    In this breed the reputation of international breeding clubs is that the UK club will strongly discourage breeding from partners imported from the USA as the USA breed lines have far greater levels of genetic abnormalities.
    I believe this is true in many breeds – where there are highly identifiable variations in the “American” lines – in some cases to the point where they are now considered a seperate breed – examples typified by the American Cocker Spaniel which is totally different from the original Cocker – and totally unsuited to being a Gun-Dog as the european breed and working lines are.

  113. The description of the book you used as your source stated that they were “typical” examples of those breeds of that time. You present your piece in a manner which leads the reader to believe the extreme show versions you use for today’s examples are typical for their breed (all pedigreed dogs of that breed) – they are not. You do this by making no mention of conformation until you discuss GSDs and you don’t state your thesis “Conformation breeders claim they are improving the breed and yet they are often the cause of these problems” until the last paragraph. It should come in the beginning which is why your post is misleading. The conformation issues you point out are not the result of pure bred dogs (which is what many of the readers of your post are going to take from this). They are the result of intentional selection for a beauty pageant where beauty is often determined by a misinterpreted standard. You also make no distinction between breeding for fads in the show ring and the actual wide variety of breeding programs that are in place and thus the variety of conformation in pedigreed dogs.

    FYI GSDs still do clear walls. Maybe not 8.5 feet (not sure where that was tested), but GSDs in IPO routinely clear a 6 foot wall as part of their exercises.

    • IPO/Schutzhund A-frames (similar to those in agility) and a vertical wall are two different things. The 2.3m palisades are seen in KNPV, NVBK, Campagne, French ring and mondioring.And even though there are far more GSDs than Dutch/Belgians we rarely see them competing in these physically demanding sports. No doubt, social aspects also play a role in this.

      Actually, I found some horrible, far more extreme examples of GSD and used a picture of that I thought was somewhere in the middle. Of course the pictures only illustrate. The evidence of the effects of these sloping backs and weird hocks is in the links and the papers cited in those links.

      I appreciate your thoughts the writing and how the ideas were presented my ideas. Maybe you have a point.

  114. I believe a huge part of the issue with ‘breeding’ in purebreds is the humans; they lack common sense!! They are misusing genetics, and are so very busy using their ‘brains’ that they clearly forget to simply use their heads…they have forgotten the time honored & proven expression of “less is more”. It is too bad at least one pup out of every generation of purebred dog (or better, one out of every litter!!) lacks the ability to speak telepathically (would you not just love to see a ‘genetic breeder’ get a brain blast from a pup, stating something along the lines of “Quit while WE are ahead…{you moronic human})…dogs can talk to us in certain ways – we are entrusted with their well-being, so why are we not paying attention? It is high-time the caretakers started looking out for the best interests of their charges, and just like the Hippocratic oath, we should at least “first, do no harm”. gmk

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  116. Some things are better left alone. It’s obvious, in our attempts to change the original proportions and characteristics of our beloved dogs, that it has proved to their detriment. It has resulted in problems for the dogs as well as the owners having to pay for the consequences of these modifications.

  117. This is entirely flawed. A lot of these changes are not cosmetic, or intended. Besides, these breeds exist in the first place through selective breeding — the “before” pictures still display a breed that would not exist without selective breeding, not only that, but they exist in the first place only to serve man. If you are offended by that concept, it is understandable, but be offended that the breeds exist in the first place, not at how “society has ruined dogs present day”.

    • ‘Serving man’ is actually a noble cause. But when a breed is taken to the point of perpetual ill health and routine physical defects over the standard deviation of ‘norm’….. I think it’s time to re-evaluate the current breeds and strike out for some new ground. Get inventive like the breeders have done over the centuries.

      • I would like to point out that the “bull terrier” pictures are two different breeds. One is a pit bull terrier and the other is a bull terrier. Two different breeds. Breeds evolve over time just as the human race has evolved. Because they are bred from one gene pool, sometimes a fairly small gene pool, they get even more refined. This is also the reason health issues arise.

  118. I have a book called British Dogs, by Hugh Dalziel a dog show commentator in the 1890’s who was making the very same point about breeding the extremes to become the norm in breed standards. The Collie once looked like a border collie.

    • Hugh Dalziel was also a well-know drunk and I found that documented in several primary source materials which I quoted and cited in my book “Dog Shows Then and Now: An Annotated Anthology.” You can’t take one isolated source from the past and consider all things said accurate, relevant, or the gospel.

      • And you can’t assume someone is wrong just because they are a drunk – that’s a logical fallacy.

        • Except that I’ve researched and read plenty of primary source accounts of his behavior. Like the time he judged Westminster when he was drunk and the show committee sobered him up so he could rejudge his assignment later in the day. Also, when you compare his descriptions of particular dogs with the descriptions of others of the time, as well as with the known photographs or drawings of those same dogs, he is way off base. He was an alcoholic from all accounts and one has to question exactly how many brain cells he burned up in the process of perpetual drunkeness – to the point of not taking anything he said as gospel without further inquiry and from a legal standpoint, whether he is,indeed, a competent witness.

          • nice way to divert from the FACT dogs have degenerated due to the actions of selfish and stupid breeders and showers. (but that guy was a drunk!,judge much?)

          • You’re kind-of proving my point. You don’t distrust him just because he’s drunk – it’s a pattern of behavior that you’re responding to.

  119. Goes to show that breeders are nothing more than money selfish a-holes. You really love a breed? Or a dog for that matter? Then adopt, foster, or volunteer at a shelter or rescue. Let’s stop being so damn greedy and get perfectly fine, loveable dogs and cats off death row.

      • Amy why do you lump all breeders into the same “pack” as it were? I have a performance breed, Borzoi, I hunt with them, course with them and, oh yes, show them because judges need to SEE a working dog. Conformation-only people have created lines within my breed I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. However, my Borzoi breeders all have the same philosophy on our breed that I do – form follows function. Good using hounds, genetic clearances, sane and sound are paramount in breeding stock. Not all breeders are bad and if people would select a breeder as much as they do a breed, perhaps we could get somewhere.

        • Why do you care what others think of your dogs. The evidence indicates for the most part “breeders” do not know how to love, themselves, anyone else, or their property…

          • You obviously don’t personally know many breeders because that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

            • Perhaps if you were a little less rude and condescending people might actually listen to what you say. But you obviously get your kicks off that rude behavior and commentary.

              • No kicks here. Only genuine love for dogs. “Breeders” were responsible for three generations of suffering due to their practices in dogs i had now dead too soon…

                • Not all responsibility falls on the breeder. You as a purchaser need to do your homework as well. If you support poor breeding practices, well you are just as much to blame. Ignorance is not an excuse. There is a learning curve, everyone needs to go through it, some chose not to and stay in the dark blaming the breeders for all that is wrong. Don’t want to lose a dog to degenerative problems? Do the leg work before you get one, find a good breeder, ask questions…it’s really not that hard. You don’t just get the best handed to you on a silver platter….

                  • LCS, Sorry, but you are WRONG! Having worked for a breeder or 2 in the past I can tell you that there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TO KNOW IF WHAT THE BREEDER IS TELLING YOU IS TRUE! I have seen a King Charles spaniel and Lasa’s {both from the pound and nothing known about the dogs themselves} added to the whole pen of AKC REGISTERED PEKE’S, parents older than 10 years old registered by changing the parents names on the papers—it DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU DO, A BREEDER HAS A WAY AROUND IT FOR THE MONEY, PERIOD! ONLY A SICKO WOULD BE TOO LAZY TO WORK SO BREEDING DOGS IS CHEAP AND EASY MONEY.

                    I also know many puppies and kittens end up in a trash can of water at birth for the wrong coloring….I have seen it, I have reported it, I have been sick from it & have seen more than most. I wouldn’t take my pet to a groomer unless it was in front of a plate glass window at all times, including the tub….I have seen MANY dogs and cats yanked off the table for not behaving {cuz they’re tired} and allowed to hang by the choke collar until their bowls empty all over, strangled {I gave CPR to some of them when I was there} When animal control doesn’t care and doesn’t fine peep it makes them a large part of the problem.

                    In a small military town {29 Palms, Ca.} I saw this as well as ticks on the owners baby laying on the floor {animal control did nothing}, room full of trash bags of dog poop, hair, ticks, fleas—once there was “enough” and we couldn’t get out of that room in case of fire {and there were several between us & the dogs} the owner would take them to the base and put them out with her trash—YOU, the TAXPAYER paid for her business, lock, stock and barrel—OH, and she was a huge CHRISTIAN!!!

                    • I take offense to your remark about groomers. I own a small pet boutique and grooming salon and have NEVER mistreated/abused a dog or cat in my care in which I am the groomer. I have a small sitting area in my grooming room and the owners are welcome to stay and watch the entire process if they so choose. As far as grooming in front of a plate glass window, that is nuts. Dogs and cats are easily distracted and that alone could pose a great danger to them.

                      Your thoughts about breeders does not apply to everyone either. There are some great ethical breeders out there and I consider myself one of them. While I only have a litter every 3-4 years I am still a breeder of purebred dogs. I normally have in excess of $6000 invested in each litter and always lose money on them. I do it for the love of the breed and keeping true to the breed standard. I am always hopeful to keep a pick puppy back for myself to continue in showing and working competitions as I have working dogs. Many of my dogs are donated to individuals for therapy or service work. The ones that don’t make that cut are petted out at a very low cost to mainly people that I know and that will be good homes. Plus, I place on contract each dog that I will take it back for any reason if they can no longer keep it. My dogs are all health tested prior to breeding and most have some type of title on them. They have to be worthy of being bred. (medical testing includes hips, elbows, heart, eyes, and thyroid AND I will be adding DNA testing now for genetic problems. NONE of the above is cheap!!! Especially when you are talking about 2 dogs) As far as my puppies, they are all vet checked and at least 10 -12 weeks old before they leave me to ensure 2 sets of puppy shots have been given. Since they are a working breed, they have their dew claws removed by a vet. There is nothing worse that seeing a search and rescue dog with a torn dew claw. When selecting a pair for breeding, it is always done with a great amount of research into both parent’s pedigrees and any past medical problems that are in the pedigrees. It is not taken lightly.

                      I breed to be true to the breed standard…something that has been lost in many kennels. Sometimes it even means that my dog doesn’t win at a show because they look differently from what is in the ring. I am not concerned though because I KNOW that my dogs are correct and it is simply a matter of not conforming to what is in fashion. I have Giant Schnauzers and use to breed Standard Schnauzers…both robust working dogs. All of my dogs are very robust with heavy bone structure…something that has been lost with many breeders. I refuse to conform to fashion though. So, do not make a blanket statement about all breeders are bad and don’t care. There are many that do.

                      All of my dogs live inside my home with me…3 Giants and 2 Standards. The 2 Standards are retired and older now, but my 3 Giants all have jobs. They take their job seriously and my youngest one is being trained for search and rescue as she is only 6 months old. The other 2 are serious about their work and one even goes to nursing homes for Pet Therapy with dementia patients. She has also worked with abused children to help them talk during a forensic interview. So, do not group all breeders into one “class”. There are substandard breeders and then ethical breeders. I tell everyone looking for a puppy to go to an ethical breeder and give out guidelines for that.

                      I also rescue and am a co president of a rescue group. I work tireless hours doing that and what I see is not a result of any “breeders” per sey but people that let their animals run at large and get pregnant by a neighbor dog. I see very few purebred dogs in the shelters in our area and when they happen to come in, I always call a breed rescue group if I can’t get the dog placed quickly. People need to learn to keep their dogs contained and we need more animal control officers to help enforce this law as many unwanted litters would be prevented.

                    • Some Doctors are good, some are greedy, goes for anything done for profit. Sorting the greedy from the loving is the trick. Both exist, the ratio is what is unknown…

                    • Ok virginia, you are basing your entire view of breeders and groomers off of your own personal experience? In 29 Palms???? I’ve lived there too and would never in a million years use anything seen or done in that place as my gauge of what’s “normal” or common. Lol. The main demographic of that town consists of mostly single, young, infantry marines along with a large local population of meth users. You are lucky if you can find a decent burger to eat within 20 miles. A decent dog breeder would be like as mythical as a rainbow unicorn. It is also common there for employers to only hire under the table in order to pay people $3 an hour. And it’s common for landlords there to place renters in homes that should surely be condemned. I have yet to experience any one of those things in any other city I’ve lived in but a place as desolate as 29 palms gets away with it daily. Moral of the story? Please don’t harshly judge all breeders and groomers based on anything you see in 29. Even comparing them to each other is outrageous.

                    • im sorry if i offend any breeders out their but i agree that all they see is money.i bred my king Charles with a breeder so i can get one pup of my own from my king Charles …but do you know what they said to me …that we (breeders) breed them more than 5 times ,,,…im sorry but thats just insane stupid and selfish ..my king Charles suffered quite allot in one and last pregnancy and i cant believe if i get her go through more than 5 times ..i wish to see the breeders themselves 5 times birthing 4 a litter.so for you people out their saying ohh the breeders are nice and responsible and care for them… bull i dont think so they might groom them to appear healthy but they are not being love by a family just a breeding dog in a pen. period

          • My advice? Don’t speak of that which you do not know. Because clearly this is one subject on which you have little to no knowledge on. Even those who SHOULDN’T, generally choose to breed because they love their dog(s). Love is not what is lacking.

          • Puppy-mill breeders are horrible, and that’s why I never buy dogs from pet shops. However, it is possible to find small-scale dog breeders who do it for the love of dogs–not for profit (you can’t profit from dog breeding without engaging in abusive cost-cutting measures). My current dog was purchased from such a breeder. He is a miniature poodle, and is very healthy, alert, and intelligent. I spent about $200 on him. An ill-bred, sickly puppy whose mother was bred to death can easily cost more than $1000 at a pet shop.

            My dog looks handsome. This is my own opinion and has nothing to do with inane pet-show standards*. He is a handsome dog to me because he looks healthy and happy, not because someone decided that purely cosmetic inbreeding was a good idea. (Show breeders are infamous for breeding grandparents to grandchildren, and aunts/uncles to nieces/nephews, just to preserve a certain look.)

            * According to the AKC, I wouldn’t be able to show my dog without growing his hair into an exaggerated “saddle cut” that is so long, he wouldn’t be allowed to run around outdoors and be a dog. He’d have to sit there being brushed several times every day. He also doesn’t qualify for show because his black fur has some barely-noticeable brown spots on the muzzle (usually shaved) and underside.

          • A reputable breeder knows the labor of love that it takes to have a quality litter of pups. it is not for the money as I have been in the hole on each litter that I have produced not by a little but by thousands each time. It is because I care and health test both parents and provide all necessary vetting on the pups. Each litter is hand raised in my bedroom and know love from day one. So do NOT say breeders do not know how to love because it is a labor of love to produce a healthy litter of pups. Most of my pups have been donated to service work and those that were not able to make the service dog cut are petted out for a minimal fee. All of my dogs live inside the home and are part of my everyday life. I know many breeders that are like me and are very restrictive on how they do things too.

      • You’re aware that when you support rescue only, you are essentially supporting BYB operations and puppymills, because the vast majority of dogs in shelter situations do NOT come from reputable breeders…So to say people must ONLY rescue is not quite the stance you should be taking if you indeed wish to help dogs in general.

        • Rescue should apply to any dog you save from anywhere. I”rescued” a pure pred GSD, “Shadow”treated as an object by the original owner. I rescued her as a result of the poor starved animal wandering into our yard and I refused to return her to the abusive OWNER. Owner was a friend of the local mayor, so Cops showed up at our door. They tried to intimidate us into returning dog. Head of local ASPCA was inside with us. Stand off (Cop cars, lights troops etc.)ended with cops limping away, emphasis on limp. Any dog saved is a rescue dog.

          • Michael, you sound like a hostile person. Also more than a bit unstable. Combine that with your propensity for exaggeration extremist attitude, makes me wonder when you will inevitably come unhinged. There are medications for that you know. :/

            • What a weird, out of context comment Jill – wondering what your point was. How does rescuing an abused dog get such a mean spirited response? Sheesh…

              • My comment was made following dozens of angry (think lots of caps 😉 ) comments Michael had posted. As for my belief he exaggerates and is unstable, that comes from his countless tirades about his personal experiences that sound far fetched and incredibly rage full. For example, the dog he “rescued”…. I would expect a sane person to contact authorities about said neighbor’s dog since he knew there was clearly abuse going on. I would not expect a sane person to wait until the dog finally escaped, then take the dog in and refuse to give it up. That’s called being a vigilanty and while the end result was a dog being given a better life, the usual cases of people acting this way do not end so warm and fuzzy. Just my opinion though. :/

                • All the conclusions you jumped to were erroneous. The story was shortened to save typing and reading time. The dog wandered into our yard. We posted a found notice in all local Vets and with animal control..We were told after 30 days the dog was ours(by then she was pregnant).We were not contacted until six weeks later. We could tell she was abused from her condition. Later people stopped by to tell us they had seen the dog tied to a tree day after day, no food no water, but the lady owner, friend of the mayor suffered no consequences
                  . We were called angels by the SPCA for unknowingly rescuing Shadow from an abusive owner. I think you should consider meds, or upping your dose for you see in others what is within you…

                  • When people defend abusive practices toward animals it does get me ANGRY. call me CRAZY, crazy horse crazy…

    • Look out, they are liable to stone you, and not in the good way. If you are right here you could get crucified…

    • amen to that! besides, many full breed dogs are in shelters. I got my mastin from the shelter because she had mild onset of HD, which is why she was dumped at a shelter, papers and all.

  120. The inbreeding and deformity of purebred dogs and cats may also be found in other purebred domestic animals, as well as in certain captive wild animals. Some cattle can no longer give birth on their own, some chickens are vulnerable to diseases that wildtype chickens are not, and so on. And then there are inbred white tigers with bulldog-like faces. This problem of disregarding the needs of the animals goes beyond dogs. It’s a problem with people not perceiving the animals for who and what they are.

      • I’m glad! I think what Jemima is doing is so wonderful, but we need to go beyond dogs, and address the root cause of the problem: people objectifying animals and playing with them like toys, instead of acknowledging them as living beings with interests of their own. This does not necessarily imply vegetarianism or veganism (I’m an omnivore), but it does mean that people should abandon breeding practices that weaken animals, and instead perpetuate strong, healthy animals with high genetic diversity, and wildtype or adaptive features. If we can convince people to do this, then we will have really done something great.

  121. I am a breeder of therapy (primary) and show Tibetan Terriers and I do wholly agree with this article as it pertains to my breed. I show my TTs only because I otherwise would likely be considered a backyard breeder and my dogs would not have the same opportunity to work as therapy dogs. My philosophy in breeding for show is to remain true to the breed as it originally was (is in its native home), but improve the genetic health and maintain the wonderful temperament characteristic of the breed. I began with a foundation of several “modernized” dogs from other breeders and a European female – bringing several other European dogs in for diversity and temperament. My dogs are shorter and smaller than any other TT in the show ring. The breed has gotten so very large, so angulated, the size of the muzzle has increased, etc…Hip dysplasia, supernumerary teeth, cancer, temperament issues have become an issue in many American (USA) pedigrees as a result of inbreeding for these characteristics, which judges now considerable (based on their awarding of the title champion) desirable. AKC judges need to be held accountable as well.

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  124. What would be a good suggestion for dog breeds then? I don’t want to contribute to ataxia or osteocarcoma, bronchial problems, or anything like that. I’d like a dog but I want to know ways to ensure the breeder I find isn’t a mill. Are there criteria I should look for when gauging a breeder? Statements or questions I should ask?

    • Others have suggested that you look at the dogs from that breeder and listen to what they say. If they talk about beauty first then its their concern. If they talk about endurance, strength, health, longevity, etc., then that is what they care about.

  125. Maybe, for reference, you should add comparative pictures of the humans from that time period to now. President Lincoln was considered very tall at 6 foot something; but today that is on the lower side of average. There are now athletes (and regular people) pushing 8 feet, or more. It is not just the pets that have changed, we have too.

    • Do you really not understand the difference between a well established corollary between early nutrition and height and the major differences seen between the breeds. When you start seeing people with sloping foreheads and coneheads you can start talking.(i.e. not those physically manipulated)

    • Except the only selective breeding of
      Humans has occurred in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and similar regimes. We got this way naturally, Dogs did not!

    • Even ‘just’ six feet isn’t on the lower side of average. Just because there are super-tall people now, doesn’t mean the short guys have gone away.

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  128. During the 1950’s Cocker Spaniels were popular as a great family pet because of their temperament. American breeders began to breed for anything but temperament. Breeders will breed for whatever will win despite the Standard. Popular winners were used extensively and Cockers became known as nasty pets. A number of breeders would not play the game but eventually what used to be a family pet returned after a lot of years. Other areas of the world inspect litters as they are born to keep the breed as they should be, because all dogs should have good temperament as well as resemble the breed standard.

  129. They will go back to “breed standards” when the AKC judges start judging on the correct dog and not what is pretty and in fashion…IMHO I have seen a huge decline in the world of Giant Schnauzers over the past years from being a robust hard coated dog to a slab sided giraffe necked tall hair dog. It is really sad because as long as the judges are handing out wins for these dogs they will keep breeding away from the breed standard. I personally have correct Giants and they don’t do well against the fashion dogs.

    • IF dog/cat breeders were so reputable why are they suing to STOP ALL INSPECTIONS OF THEIR BREEDING OPERATIONS? IF they really gave a tinker’s damn about the animals they breed THEY WOULD SUPPORT MY PETITION TO PROTECT THEIR “GOOD” NAME!

  130. It seems to me a great deal of the blame lies with the judges who select dogs at conformation shows. If they pick a dog with a certain conformation, everyone else will try to breed and show dogs that look like that one, to win. Winning is all in some cases it appears. It is no different with other animals. Persian cats once had visible noses and functional sinuses. Quarter horses used to have hooves large enough to support their weight and use, until horses with ‘bulldog’ style musculature and proportionally small hooves started winning the conformation shows. Now a Quarter horse can look like a racehorse, a bulldog OR like the original type that made them popular in the first place.
    It is all down to humans. We want money, we want ribbons, awards, prizes and recognition. I see a lot of dogs now that are crosses of recognized breeds, being bred purposely because the pure breds themselves have too many issues, and the crosses seem to have fewer of them.
    To breed an animal to serve a reasonable purpose is not necessarily a bad thing. But to breed them for solely for looks or fashion is a disgrace that really ought not to be allowed.

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  132. Ok, just no. Your assumption here is that the ancestors were healthy, and that is simply not true. Purebred dog breeding originated in Victorian times, which was the 1800’s. WELL before people really understood genetics (they didn’t even understand that diseases could be water born, they thought they were spread through smell). And they were basically little better than backyard breeders of today, just breeding together whatever they thought was cute because they lacked the information required to make informed decisions. It’s only been within the last few decades that responsible breeders have had access to the routine genetic testing and the tracking of pedigrees and health data that allows them to make informed breeding decisions. Responsible breeders of today are working to correct the health problems bred into the breed FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

    • The problem I’m highlighting here is that “breed type” is directly associated with many health problems. Breeders are creating and perpetuating diseased dogs because they like a certain look. Conformation breeding is really a product of post-Darwinian society; breeders did know of the problems they were causing and most of these don’t require genetic testing. Responsible breeders are the ones who realize that you can’t breed for extreme phenotypes while at the same time claiming you are breeding for healthy dogs.

      • I agree with Mus Musculus. Admittedly, dog breeders come in a variety of types, and in my opinion the only responsible breeders are those that work to keep the breed first healthy, and only then when the breed is healthy in compliance with the breed standards as far as looks are concerned.
        The trouble with today’s breeds is that the gene pool has shrunk over 50% so the likelyhood of inbred litters is only growing. Especially with breeds that have been ‘in fashion’ for a certain period, the results in terms of congenital defects, general health issues and even character are disastrous.
        The Malinois for example used to be a much coveted breed in the Dutch and Belgium Lowlands, but nowadays many people shy away from the breed because they have both health issues and their character is totally f**ked up. Which is a shame because they once were fantastic working dogs, nowadays they are often bred mixed with Hollandais to create a working dog that has a stable character and agility of the Hollandais and the drive of a Malinois. I have also watched in horror what they have done to greyhounds and mastins for show lines. I own a spanish galgo and a mixed breed galgo/greyhound and one purebred Mastin Espanol from a working line (all from rescue, I might add). The bulky, overly muscular creatures with their unnatural long necks that are passing for ‘greyhounds’ and the bulky, stocky, covered in burly flaps of skin molochs shown as ‘mastin espanol’ at shows are a far, far cry from my elegant, athletic working dogs. My dogs are healthy and all still very well even if over 10 years old, the mastins I have known from working lines mostly lived well into their 12, 13th year. Something one of those overdesigned, overbred showdogs will not likely match.

        • The AKC just made things worse when – unlike most of the world – they designated each Belgian variety as a breed,closing down the registry and creating a bottleneck.

        • I have shown dogs for over forty years and have had a Stafford to 19,5 years, four Airedales over 17yrs,( one still alive today will be 18 yrs in July) and three Min Poodles to over 17 years – all have been Show dogs and All Champions ! I do all health Checks from X-rays to DNA that are available now- but weren’t around 20 years ago when most of these dogs were bred!
          I am an All Breeds Judge, and I take great umbrage in you stating that it is the judges that choose the dogs that have genetically faults – it is the crap breeders who do not do their homework and the public that buy from back yard breeders who want cheap dogs and then complain about health problems! Like anything, do you homework , check the breeder, be prepared to pay more as health checks do not come cheap – buy from reputable people, feed correct nutrition , exercise and be responsible for your dogs health! Stop blaming everyone else when you chose to get the dog- nobody forced you to get an unsound dog!

          • You cannot pretend judges aren’t part of the problem. They always have the option of not giving out ribbons if the specimens before them are not worthy. It’s judges who awarded dogs with extreme and unhealthy phenotypes and breeders who took cue from this to breed ever more extreme dogs. Trying to blame the breeders is dishonest and why progress is so difficult.

    • BS.

      Border Collies have been a breed for centuries. But not a “conformation” breed. Rather, a working breed, bred for fitness, intelligence, and bidability. The results are brilliant, but threatened now by AKC breeders of Barbie Collies.

      If you breed a dog for looks, you’re breeding a disaster. If you breed a dog for working ability and fitness, they might not please show dog judges, but they will also not endure the same sorts of genetic defects that show dogs suffer from

      • Dinna matter what it looks like. If it works sheep it’s a collie, if it dinna work sheep, it’s just a dog.

        The diversion between the Beauty Contest Confirmation and the working Field Trials seems to get worse as time goes by in many of the breeds. They’re going to end up with basically two different breeds – Confirmation Labradors vs Field Labrador Retrievers. But short of re-writing Breed Standard rules to have Confirmation dependent on Field Trial success, I’m not sure what can be done about it.

        • I don’t think you have to rewrite the standards just yet; that may be a good place to aim but for now there could just be a collective decision among judges and breed clubs to stop awarding BB and BIS to exaggerated traits.

          • Sure, you could try to have a consensus and the smaller and more closely knit a breed society is, the more likely it is to work. But fashions come and go, so to eliminate the exaggerations in the long run, I do think you will have to write breed standards more closely. But that’s just my relatively uninformed opinion, could very easily be wrong on that point.

            There are a couple of different problems here and I think we need to separate them out to address them properly. First is what you’re talking about are ‘design flaws’ which lead to genetic and physical problems with the dogs. You think that a consensus between breeders, judges and clubs could deal with that problem. Just knowing human nature, I’m less sanguine about that point.

            Second is just plain old poor breeding practices. There may be nothing wrong with the design, i.e. breed standards, but poor breeding will lead to all sorts of mental and physical problems. I tried to read a couple of books on dog genetics and breeding, but my eyes started to glaze over, pretty complicated stuff. Still, as to your point, if the design of the dog is flawed, then all the good breeding the breeders can breed won’t fix or address the physical problems.

            Third is the tendency of confirmation breeders to breed out the working qualities of the different breeds. Technically, I guess they don’t breed the qualities out as much as not select for them. Same result. Hence Shepherds’ “Barbie Collie” crack and my point about the Field Retrievers vs the confirmation Labradors’

            I should have made clearer I was talking about Shepherds posting.

        • It’s kind of funny…Everyone is running down confirmation dogs because they breed to much towards looks…they are so different from the field trial dogs.. well maybe the field trial dogs should also be putting some effort into making their dogs, although talented, look just a little more like the breed they are suppose to be. Sorry a lot just look like mutts. Many of the field trial labs look like hounds. Sorry but it’s true. These things run both ways, and it might not be true for all breeds, but the same health problems run in both field labs and show labs. There should be a middle ground, and I do know a lot of show breeders who’s dogs do both.

          • You’re right. There’s no inherent reason a Labrador Retriever shouldn’t look like a Labrador (confirmation/show) and retrieve like a Retriever (drive/ability). That is of course separate from any health problems of the breeds. I remember one old field guy lamenting the point you make, that the field dogs don’t even look like the breed any more.

            I’m more familiar with the diversion between field and confirmation in the Sporting Dogs, but I would bet the same diversion in there also in the Working/Protection breeds. I’m using the Labs to make the point because there seems to be such a large diversion between the two groups.

            I do think at least part of the problem is that the confirmation people and the field people don’t easily mix and do kind of look askance at each other. The fault of course, lies less in the stars or the dogs than human nature (us vs. them) and as a practical matter, time and money – it’s difficult and expensive to get a Championship.

            I’m unaware of any Labrador CH (Confirmation Championship) that has a FC (Field Championship) or the other way around if you prefer. I’ve heard of only one CH which was well on its way to a MH (Master Hunter) and I don’t think any Labrador FC could get a CH . There are breeds where the two types mix and/or are one and the same, Brittany (Spaniels) being one, but even with them, there have been fewer Dual Champions over time.

    • cultures have had myths about inbreeding for a long long time before genetics. scare stories that doing so will give birth to monsters or whatever. its a bit patronising for you to think people had no idea.

  133. hmm, your information on this “bull terrier” you speak of is completely wrong, That dog in the picture is a BULL and TERRIER something completely different, that breed of dog was made ENTIRELY to do blood sports, rat baiting, Dog fighting, etc… The dog is a breed of both a bull dog and terrier, and since no one needed dogs for blood sports anymore, the line died off… that’s generally how it happens….

    now, german shepherds are another case, and I would like to say its a big problem but its not, almost all dogs in big cities [The ones police breed] have defects, places in Russia and such still have pure dogs, that aren’t born with defects and your making this article appear to be about EVERY dog in every part of the world is now like what you describe, I think that’s bullshit.

  134. Imagine,an animal once capable of overpowering a full grown bull,now,cannot run up a flight of stairs!

    • I still can’t get my head around why humanity is persistent on playing god, forced breeding is almost like arranged marriage in my eyes.
      Breeding animals with the sole purpose of profit is a whole other story. Every living thing has the right to be with what they please. It’s the natural way.

  135. Reblogged this on theklajosephina and commented:
    very thought provoking… in their quest for perfection, mankind has fiddled with many animals, in the case of dogs leading to deformities, congenital defects and an ever shrinking gene pool. Some breeds are basically diverted into two lines: show lines (with often exaggerated features causing heriditary diseases and physical discomfort) on the one side, working lines (often closer to the breed as it was, say, 100 years ago) on the other side.

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  137. I’ve had dogs when I was smaller, but now my family can’t afford to take care of a dog. But that never really discouraged me from wanting to get a dog in the future, so I would research dog breeds once in a while. I’ve come across the bull terrier breed before, and I didn’t find it nice to look at. Looking at the ‘before’ picture, I instantly felt bad, because that breed really looked awesome, and now, they sorta look like aliens to me.

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  145. I wish I could post a picture of my very healthy English Bulldogg for all to see that they actually exist. She runs 8 kms with me, has no breathing problems, doesn’t snore, has no skin problems, weighs 20 kilos and is a very athletic and energetic English Bulldogg. But then again, the breeder takes her responsibility towards the breed and doesn’t use those “monster bulls”.

  146. Very accurate article.Your pictures are no exaggeration. We have been involved in all aspect of the pure bred dog world for over 35 years as .Breed judge, working judge, breeder of Giant Schnauzers. Seen it happen in front of our own eyes not only with own breed but also with many others. We know how much inbreeding is done just to win at a Dog show. Many purebred dog can not mate normally any more, give birth without intensive human interference because of the way they are bred, ….And we are not talking about temperaments !!!!
    Johan and I have written a book about what has happen to the purebred dog : ‘SOS DOG’ The purebred dog hobby re-examined. Amazone.book.de. E-book.
    Interesting DVD’s by the BBC : Pedigree Dogs Exposed/Pedigreed Dog 3 years on. Directed/Written by Jemima Harrison
    We are involved in the conservation/research of the traditional aboriginal rural Southern African dog. A natural unspoiled landrace dog. Our book ; “The story of The African dog” explain its origin etc.

  147. Nicely done! I am sick to death of breed standards that standardize pain and suffering for animals all in the name of making them cuter/tougher looking/more attractive.

    I will indeed be reposting this, and giving credit where it’s due. I am now hooked on your site!

  148. Reblogged this on Cotton the Maltese and commented:
    An extremely good read by Dog Behaviour Science on how much dogs have changed over the course of 100 years — due to human manipulation and selective breeding to uphold certain “breed standards” regulated by the Kennel Club.

    Of course, with all these information coming to light especially in the documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” and the subsequent sequel “Pedigree Dogs Exposed – Three Years On”, many breed enthusiasts are trying their best to save the breed and prevent inbreeding/breeding the dog to extinction, and new laws by Kennel Club have been put in place such as the banning of grandfather/granddaughter mating, and genetic testing for genetic diseases such as syringomyelia especially in the Cavaliar King Charles Spaniel family.

  149. I inherited a Labrador whom I love very much. She is getting old. And I was wondering what I would get after her passing in a few years. I love Labs, but I’ve been lucky with her, no serious health conditions. She did have a little bit of trouble with her hips when she was a pup. But nothing since then. I think I will get a Shelter Pup. Hopefully having some lab in, but if not, it is ok. You have convinced me. Thank you very much. I was on the fence but leaning towards a shelter dog. Thanks, you set my mind at ease.

  150. thank you for that post1 I have been telling that same thing[ not is so many details] for a very long time. I only have rescues and my vet bills are normal. I emphasize on the cost of pure breed dog treatments, and the atrocities of puppy mills. Whatever which can help,….

  151. I think you are right on several levels. The love of a certain breed does not mean we should reproduce just for looks. As an English Bulldog lover, I am tired of hearing how the breed should not exist. I think if we look at any type of dog, cat, bird or even the human race, we will see things going down hill. Even people are not what they used to be, BUT they are still loved and cherished. Any one who is a responsible pet owner should be doing research on the breed they are getting, that is unless its a mixed breed. Then you really may not know what to expect. I know several people who have labs. They are beautiful creatures and may be part of these peoples family, yet I would never choose to own one. That said, I also would not go up to that family and tell them there dogs are obnoxious and are small animal aggressive so they should be stopped from breeding. I know not all labs are like this, but as an example, I would not tell them this. When I read some of these things and I look down at my dogs, i could not imagine my life with out them, weather they have vet bills or not. I have been extremely lucky with my English bulldogs and have had Really no health problems as of yet. I can hope and pray in the future we continue with our luck, but I also know that eventually all breeds will have a problem that comes up.

    • ” I think if we look at any type of dog, cat, bird or even the human race, we will see things going down hill. Even people are not what they used to be, BUT they are still loved and cherished. ” – What poppycock.
      Humans do not breed with their fathers and grandfathers! Thanks to globalisation, the human race is becoming ever more diverse. Humans are taller (better nourished) and live longer than ever before. Dogs, however…
      People who breed pure-breds are creating in-breds. Much as it is a bad idea for related humans to bear children, it is similarly irresponsible to selectively breed animals from a narrow gene pool. St. Charles spaniels have brains too big for their heads (causing immense pain); most labs do not make it past middle-age as they will succumb to cancer; pugs and bulldogs have respiratory issues; 1 in 5 dalmatians are deaf; German shepherds’ back legs are collapsing… the list goes on!
      It is barbaric to continue to breed these defective traits.
      No one is saying the existing animals should be destroyed. Just no more should be bred.
      What’s wrong with cross-breeding anyway… dog-lovers should value happy, healthy dogs over fashion and snobbery!

  152. Pingback: The Bizarre Truth About Purebred Dogs (and Why Mutts Are Better) – Adam Ruins Everything | New Video Blog

  153. Pingback: How Dog Breeds Have Changed in Just 100 Years | SelfVeda

  154. This to is a prime example of cherry picking photos in order to prove some kind of misguided point. I think I would agree with two examples, but the others……..someone has an ax to grind. And why pardon my bias, is the standard poodle not mentioned. Talk about differences,,,,,,,,,,,

  155. What is worrying is that the majority of the pedigreed dog come from a very small foundation stock, it was the only way to fix certain specific features. Like the “ridge” in the Rhodesian ridge back. Most of the pedigreed dogs go back to no more then 3 a 4 ancestors. Even if they stop grandfather/granddaughter mating the genetic problems will no be solved easily, if at all. Their are still many ‘ landraces” out in the world that could be used to solve this problem . The K.C, F.C.I, A.K.C. are not allowing to go and use available traditional aboriginal dogs, example: Saluki, basenji, Afghan, artic breeds, etc…, because they think this Landraces are not “PURE” I can add many more pictures of how the dogs have changed in the last 40 years even….
    Johan and I have been seriously involved all aspects of the pure bred dog world. We are breed, working and temperament testing judges. Dog trainer and qualified many giant schnauzers in IPO . Have had/bred/showed all 3 Schnauzer varieties for 35 years. Did write the book: ‘The world of Schnauzers’. It is alarming to witness where they are going !!!!. We stopped breeding Giants because I would not now where to go in the “world ” to find dogs that are not related and don’t carry some or the other genetic or temperament issues . I have stopped judging because the way it is going is unreal . At a show judging St.Bernards , I refused to award 1 CC ( need 5 point to be Champion) to a dog my reason was that he could not see true his eyes because of the loose skin hanging over his eyes. The handler said that his dog had been Best in Show and did tell me I did not know what I was doing !!!!! . Judges are very much part of what has happens to the purebred dogs. They promote exaggerations, bigger, hairier , shorter nose/legs, loose skin etc…, etc…..
    This winning dogs are used by every breeder because they want to win in the Show !!! In doing so narrowing the genetic pool and promote this exaggerations.
    Our Book: ‘SOS DOG’ was published by Alpine publication but it was withdraw and shredded because the purebred dog people threaten the publisher that if they did not do so they would boycott their dog publications. This just because we wrote about what we had seen and experienced in the 35 years we had been involved in this pedigreed dog world. It is unfortunately the man on the street that is the looser because he believes he should by the pup of this Champions,” B.I.S.” winners

    • I give you credit for trying to fix or stop this problem. Please don’t give up. Keep trying to get the word out. We had a beautiful Siberian Husky, and he didn’t seem to have in bred problems, lived a long life, and was very healthy. Who knows, though, how long before there is too much in breeding in that group, or if there already is due to too many people trying to make an even better running dog.

    • We too used to be breeders – of Golden Retrievers. Oh my goodness; the variety of ‘Goldens’ is incredible; from 29″ at the shoulder to 17″ at the shoulder; from deepest red to white; from straight coat to curly coat; to eyes that have lost all resemblance to the shape they are supposed to be. The same with head, muzzle; tail set, shoulders, etc. We favoured The English style Golden. We did leave the ‘business’ for many reasons, but one of the reasons was that so many judges were putting up dogs that did not conform at all to the breed standard – some of those dogs handled by professional handlers probably had something to do with it! Then, of course, those winning dogs were used for breeding, thereby perpetuating a change in the breed.

      • That is what happens “Judges” exaggerated preference. All breeds reduce to a common standard. Strait topline, upright neck position ( pulled up by a lead), over angulated fronts and rears. The only think what differ is size, heads, and coats. Even most of the tails have to be carried up often holdup by the handler,.What is one of the most expressive part in a dog it is his” tail”. They breed dogs with tail that are not functional anymore . Like pugs, bulldogs. Overly long tails etc.. etc… There is still big resistance about not been allowed docking of tails anymore and Ears in the US and even in Europe.

  156. Wow, anyway we can stop this internationally? I’m sure if a petition was started up to put pressure on governments to prohibit ‘improvement breeding’ this could be stopped.

      • Yes, But where to start. Concern judges are not asked to judge end of story . The public see adverts on all the dog show results of the breeder and he just believe in all this publicity. The public is not inform at all of what is happening. It is Pedigree Dog exposed and maybe our book in a very small way, that has open a small window into this purebred dog world Maybe the vets should play a role in telling the breeders that dogs which have been diagnosed with health problems. Bitches that can not give birth without vets interference or care for their pups as they should ( Bull Terrier bitches have to be muzzled when feeding her pups and then kept separates). Stop artificial insemination , don’t use males that cannot mate normally anymore, stop to treat bitches with hormones if they are not fertile .etc… All this dog should be spayed/neutered,

    • Our governments have more on their plate then to worry about the purebred dogs. It is also a multi Million money business .The latest Fashion is” Designer dogs” You breed one purebred with another purebred bringing one hereditary problem from the breed that did not have it into the other breed and visa versa..( Mixing purebreds does not solve the problem). Look at the amount of different dog foods. Special dog food for small, big, fast growing, overweight , liver problem , kidney problem dogs, etc… By this I do not mean that a dog with liver/kidney problems you should not use this food but the breeders that have breeding dogs with this problems should not hide behind this. I remember that as a child my grandmothers dog just lived from scraps and had a healthy long live. Dog food did not exist !!!
      It is the man on the street that can do the most but the point is “How” to reach this people.

  157. Hi, thanks for an informative post, I want aware of how many health problems common dog breeds suffer from.

    I just wanted to mention a thought I had about your final point that selecting for traits which lead to disease is a kind of torture. My background is philosophical ethics and philosophers would say that the ethics of dog breeding would fall within the strange discipline of “population ethics”. One important insight from this area of ethics is that, if an individual’s suffering is a result of the same decision which lead them to be born in the first place, then that decision did not necessarily harm them. If you refused to breed dogs with disease-prone traits, you haven’t improved any particular dog’s quality of life; you have merely created a different population of dogs whose lives are of a higher quality. Now you might think that this is morally good and something to strive for. Perhaps it is. But choosing to breed dogs with a disease-prone trait has not harmed those particular dogs. If you hadn’t made that decision, the dogs would simply not exist. So perhaps it is difficult to say that such a decision would amount to torture.

    • I do think it’s immoral when informed people choose a dog for appearance (and even status in some cases) more than health. Can you imagine popularizing inbreeding with humans for the sake of appearance or vanity, etc?

      Can’t blame people who are uninformed, so this kind of article is a positive step!

  158. If only people knew someone to call if they have bought an unhealthy dog. Reporting breeders who sell people unhealthy dogs would be a good start. If enough reports are made against a certain breeder they should be able to check on the dogs and their owner and try to figure out a way to educate them correctly or do something else if needed.

  159. This is one of those articles where I read it saying “YES AND THAT” over and over again. I have rabbits and ARBA is just as bad as the AKC. I have a holland lop and we have to hold him down every week and thin his butt fur because he and his penmate have both been to the vet ER from hairballs. (Bunnies have too rudimentary of a digestive system to cough them up). I feel like a murderer every time and I think my bunny agrees…. I totally blame selective breeding for causing him to have a coat too thick and long to maintain on his own. Also, because of the selective breeding favoring a boxy head, he’s at risk for malocclusion and molar spurs, which are wildly painful, disfiguring, and life threatening.

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  161. I completely agree! That would be torture…No animals should be bread for the pure sake of the looks, in no way would that be an improvement! I think fair enough when trying to bread out diseases etc! But no animal should be subjected to suffering!!!!
    Good read

  162. To those of you who feel responsible for the genetic deterioration of your animals due to inbreeding:….don’t beat yourself up too much and be too surprised: all you’ve done is speed up a naturally occurring process known as ‘genetic entropy’ ( = genetic deterioration) …a process we should not be seeing if you believe the evolution-narrative (a slow process of increase of genetic information, both in variety and complexity….) but which we ARE seeing nonetheless, check this out: [link redacted]

    • Genetic entropy is a lunatic idea mostly peddled by creationists desperate to explain away the mountains of evidence supporting evolution. These people have never come up with a single example of ‘entropy’ – which is a term they use incorrectly thus combining their ignorance of biology and physics into one moronic notion.

      This forum has a good refutation by Vox Rat

  163. I have a problem with the idea of treating other species as “possessions”. To me this interfering seems completely sick. Why not just leave other species alone? Why is it so important to keep pets? I see no justification for this at all.

    • Companionship, not ownership. I adopt dogs from rescues. There’s a living dog out there who already exists and needs a home; I have a home and I benefit from the companionship and exercise a dog provides. It works out pretty well for both of us. A prominent and influential dog trainer thinks of her dogs as roommates. Sounds good to me.

      I get your point though. I take it a little further and apply it to human beings as well. I think deliberately having children is immoral. Creating another living being on this overcrowded planet in order to have a relationship with it? How short-sighted can a person be?

      • The myth of rescue is that your aren’t “rescuing” anything. You are enabling those people who allow their dogs to run at large and procreate. You are enabling those who breed “designer dogs” to feed a fad market and then dump the rest of the dogs on the shelter doors. You are enabling those people who want a puppy but don’t want to train it and then have an unsocialized adult dog that is dumped at a shelter. Or tor those who don’t want to deal with an elderly dog but don’t have the compassion to humanely euthanize the dog instead of traumatizing it by dumping it at a shelter under the mistaken belief that it will find a “forever” home. And if actually having planned children is “immoral,” exactly how many human children have you adopted?

        • I’m only ‘enabling’ if my behaviour is known to the dog-dumpers and affects their choices in a feedback loop. Which it doesn’t. My not-adopting dogs would not somehow cause irresponsible dog owners to become responsible, just as not-adopting children does not transform bad or deprived parents into good or rich ones.

          The dogs I have adopted so far, and who have enriched my life with their loving companionship:

          — A high-strung chihuahua x terrier who had been chosen by an apartment-dwelling family with children. She was a very special and intuitive dog who I loved tremendously and still miss, but was a really bad match for a family. Having her euthanized instead of rescued would not have retroactively made the family more knowledgable about dogs.

          — An exceptionally stupid, partially-housebroken chihuahua who became frantic in cars. He was good-tempered, affectionate and happy and liked to be carried, making him an excellent match for me. He was abandoned in a bar by a woman about to embark on a road trip. Having him euthanized instead of rescued would not have prevented the woman’s alcoholism or retroactively taught her how to desensitize him to car rides.

          — A nicely-trained, well-mannered but highly-reactive shepherd who barks too much. She’s beautiful and graceful and enjoys hugs — and is much loved. Given that she was found without a collar, she was probably dumped by the side of the road by someone who couldn’t manage her reactivity. If they’d euthanized her instead I don’t see how any of us would have been better off.

          — An active and curious little dorkie who cries loudly and incessantly when left alone in an apartment, and who is now sleeping curled up at my feet. She had to be given up by someone with a landlord who laid down the law. Because we have a window at which she can sit to watch us leave and watch for us to come back, she doesn’t cry in our home. Having her euthanized instead of rescued would not have made her previous roommate a homeowner instead of a renter.

          You’re forgetting that animal rescues were started because the previous, animal-rescue-free situation was inferior.

          While I had always planned to adopt children from the time I was small, ultimately I never did because I would not have been able to provide them an adequate home. I can and do contribute to child welfare in other ways because, having no children, I have income I can donate. My inability to provide an adequate home for children does prevent other people from building families through adoption instead of biological reproduction.

      • Ah, but if you’re thinking carefully you don’t have children. That way there’s nobody to deprive of a Skye terrier.

        • I am not going to apologize for having had children. And there will be future generations to enjoy and appreciate these dogs -if they continue to exist- whether I have had children myself or not.

          But let’s get to our real “bone of contention”. I am personally weary of people like yourself who argue that you have taken a moral “high road” because you have adopted a dog(s) from a shelter and “saved a dog’s life” as opposed to buying a dog. There is room in this world for both rescues and dogs which are purchased and one choice is not necessarily better than or innately superior to another.

          The truth of the matter is that the emphasis on spaying and neutering one’s pets has been highly effective, at least here in the United States. Now, there are shelters all across this country that are running out of dogs and cats and which are having to import them from other countries! These imported dogs are bringing in diseases and putting both our human and dog populations at risk.

          And many of these so-called rescue groups are nothing but scams! They are actually buying their dogs from puppy mills and backyard breeders and reselling them at a profit. Essentially, they have replaced the puppy mills as a source of badly bred purebreds! And the public is no more the wiser for it, and continues to support them, instead of seeking out reputable breeders who are working to preserve and enhance the breeds through responsible breeding programs.

          According to the article, “Dog Breeds Vulnerable to Extinction in the United” published on November 13, 2013 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner, of Psychology Today, the 50 rarest breeds (those with the lowest registration numbers) in the AKC, account for only 1.2 % of the total AKC registrations. That means that if you had a sample of a 1000 purebred dogs , all registered with the AKC, only 12 of them would be members of these 50 breeds. So, any of us who is buying a registered purebred dog, especially from one of these endangered breeds, is doing a service if he is purchasing his dog from a dedicated hobby breeder. By so doing, he is supporting the efforts of these breeders and purebred dog lovers the world over in helping to preserve these dogs for mankind.

          • Ginger Lindsey, you can do what you want. Your logic is faulty but I never asked you to apologize and I didn’t accuse you of anything.

            I didn’t claim any moral high ground. Jonathan Stiles asked some questions, I replied from my point of view. If you like, you can reply to Jonathan Stiles from your point of view. His questions are the kind that have multiple answers.

            Then Anne M Hier responded to me by challenging the concept of rescues, arguing that no dogs are actually rescued by them because rescues enable abuse. I responded to her arguments with concrete examples that I believe demonstrate that the concept of rescue is in fact a valid one — by taking in the specific dogs who have been my companions, I have not “enabled” anything. That doesn’t mean that enabling does not occur but it didn’t in the case of my dogs. She has not responded to me even with specific counterexamples demonstrating the existence of the feedback loop she claims, so she appears to have accepted my response.

            I try to be consistent but I fail. I adopt rather than directly purchasing from pet breeders for the same reasons I didn’t have children, so to that extent my actions are internally consistent. On the other hand I eat farmed eggs and drink milk and I feed my dogs meat-based kibble, and that involves treating animals as property which is not something I’m okay with. To be really consistent I would not adopt dogs. Each dog I don’t adopt is another dog that will be euthanized, which in turn marginally decreases the demand for farmed animals. I would be vegan, or perhaps I would kill myself. But for selfish reasons I do adopt dogs, I do consume animal products and I continue to live. Sometimes I give my competing values of love and pleasure priority over my value of respecting others — animal and human — as autonomous, inherently valuable individuals.

            If your actions are all internally consistent with one another then you may have the moral high ground over me. I never said you didn’t.

      • Human overpopulation is a myth. Humans are, for the most part, densely populated on coastlines. Large swaths of land on every continent of the world are practically devoid of civilization.
        Deliberately having children is not immoral. Not providing for and not raising your children properly would be immoral.

  164. Very interesting article, Do you mind if i reference some of it for my project? If that’s OK may I ask what your PhD is in and what references you have so i may reference also. Thanks a lot

  165. This article is grossly inaccurate and misleading on a number of counts. To suggest that breeders breed only with looks in mind and with no consideration for the health of the dogs they are breeding is false. Good, dedicated, ethical hobby breeders who produce healthy, sound dogs can be found in both the United States and abroad.

    Secondly, by his own admission, Mr. Elegans has taken his recent photographs from “multiple sources” none of which are from any sort of Illustrated Breed Standard. Each of the breeds depicted in this article has a national breed club. And each of these national breed clubs has a published breed standard for each of these breeds. Furthermore, most of these national clubs offer, in addition to the breed standard, an Illustrated Breed Standard, which is a pictorial representation of what the ideal dog of each of these breeds should appear.

    Responsible, dedicated hobby breeders are active in their national breed clubs and breed dogs to comply with the standards for their respective breeds. They follow a code of ethics in their breeding programs and often do additional health testing on any puppies prior to any placement in their respective homes.

    Now, had the author of this article taken the pictures of the modern day equivalents of these dogs from the Illustrated Breed Standards for each of these breeds instead of randomly chosing photographs from multiple online sources, what he would have found is in each of these breeds, there is a striking resemblance between the dogs of old and their more modern counterparts when bred by responsible, knowledgeable and ethical breeders. The dogs have evolved somewhat over time, but the features are not overly exaggerated as they are in his selections. Today’s Bull Dogs, Bull Terriers, etc., when properly bred by those breeders who breed to enhance and preserve the breed as opposed to those who are simply profit-driven, are excellent dogs, of sound body and temperament.

    • What’s grossly inaccurate and misleading is the assertion the article suggests breeders are “only” interested with looks; it does place some burden on conformation breeders/judges/competitors and the trend toward exaggeration of many traits.

      You are quite right about the multiple sources for the modern dogs and I’ve linked to the websites. If you had bothered to check the sources, you’d know the pictures are of dogs with conformation titles including dogs showing at Crufts and Westminster.

      Breeders can claim they care about health all they want but if they keep breeding the same offending traits then it’s all hot air. As I point out in the latest blog about Dachshunds, breeding for long Dachs results in high incidence of IVDE, they can claim to care but as long as they are breeding for these ridiculously long dogs, it’s clear they don’t care enough.

      Breed clubs are actually part of the problem since they are reluctant to change. The case with CKCS and their undersized skulls is one example but there are many.

      I think you are fooling yourself; there is no such thing as a healthy bulldog or pug – unless you think not being able to breath, having teeth crammed on top of each other and reduced thermoregulation is healthy. You cannot properly breed a dog with no face.

    • Ginger- very well said! This entire article has been completely taken out of context- it would have helped if the author knew the FIRST thing about dog structure; at the very least just the basics. The author fails to mention the glaring structural faults that existed in these breeds and in the 100 years old photos he used as examples! Ignorance is bliss.

      • Michel, it is true the article is taken out of context; mostly by fanatics like you who refuse to admit there is a problem with some dog breeding programs.

    • LOL! I love how delusional you are ❤ 😀

      You make the same point over and over again, how hobby breeders are all animal loving angels, with no monetary concerns. I have a purebred, and a mix at home, and yes, like you I too wish that breeders had the good sense and intelligence to primarily make good choices. Unlike you however, it would seem I live in the real world, where this article is valid and the people causing the most harm are the ones unable to see the forest from the trees.

      People are often driven by profit, corners are cut more often than not and people who "believe they know how things work" seldom stop to reevaluate their path – not to mention, the smartest among us seldom have time for such endeavors, leaving lesser men and women to "run the world" – or in this case, their preppy dog shows, focusing nothing on ability and everything on posture and other ridiculous notions of nobility.

      That said, there are plenty of good, responsible breeders out there, and they are often recognized by their disgust for the "prance my dog around, and get points for shiny coat"! Good breeders breed working dogs, dogs that don't overheat due to moronic changes in their nasal region, or loose half their jump due to the deformation of their back legs, as ap