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“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” gets first U.S. airing

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ” the controversial BBC documentary that shed some much needed light on purebred breeding practices and the horrors they have produced, will get its first airing in the U.S. tonight (Dec. 10).

Probably the single most important piece of dog reporting in the past decade, the documentary led to the BBC dropping its coverage of Crufts, the UK’s equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show.

The documentary looks at how many breeds have had their physical appearance so exaggerated they’re unrecognizable from a century ago, and it examines some of the breed-specific health problems that have resulted from breeders emphasizing looks over health when breeding dogs for shows.

The show, which led to some changes in Kennel Club and breeder policies and practices,  airs at 8 p.m. tonight on BBC America.

The documentary revealed that dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health. It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club’s breed standards in the U.K., such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have led to inherent health problems.

This excerpt from the program shows a prize-winning cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.

The documentary looks at other problems that have resulted from mating dogs who are close relatives, all for the purposes of accentuating certain physical features deemed desirable by the dog show crowd — boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted because their heads are so big.

While picked up here and there by the U.S. media, the story of shaping purebred dogs to fit arbitrary human standards of beauty — despite the health ramifications — remains best told by the BBC documentary. By all means, watch it.


Comment from Jenifer
Time December 10, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Unfortunately it’s not just in dogs these breeding abuses occur. There are some really terrible things caused by inbreeding and linebreeding in horses and in cats. For example, in the American racing Thoroughbred industry breeders have bred for the so-called “speed index” without regard for other important characteristics such as skeletal conformation and soundness, and as a result you see the huge numbers of catastrophic breakdowns on the tracks – as happened in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. And don’t even get me started on the cat-catastrophes caused by ever closer inbreeding and linebreeding with blindness, deafness and physical malformations rampant where previously seldom seen.

Pingback from BBC Documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed | Dancing Dog Blog
Time December 10, 2009 at 6:28 pm

[…] tip to our friend John Woestendiek  at […]

Comment from Brandi
Time December 10, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I hope this movie will bring some overdue criticism to the inhuman practices by some breeders. Hopefully more people will go with mutts. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that people will watch this documentary and think, “Eh, that’s in Britain. Surely it can’t be that bad this side of the pond.” Maybe it will lead to investigation in the states [crosses fingers].

Comment from E.J. Sherman
Time December 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm

I love dogs, this program was very hard to watch, I see it all as the atrocities of mankind on this earth, it’s absolutly horrible.

Comment from Bloggie Stylish
Time December 12, 2009 at 2:16 am

the bulldog thing isn’t a surprise. that’s been going on for a long time in all countries, not only the UK. breeders have fancied large heads in this breed & the result is a c-section. another breed that needs a c-section for delivery is the french bulldog.

i saw that doc in canada a few months ago & was really surprised at how disconcerned the breeders were with the dogs passing on genetic diseases. I thought that britons were supposed to be all about animal rights!