Roy Hattersley sang the praises of mutts this week, as controversy continued to simmer over purebred breeding practices and dog shows that put a higher premium on “beauty” and “conformation” than they do on canine health.
This week saw the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pull out of Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, due to concerns about health problems in pedigree dogs and the role Crufts plays in perpetuating those problems.
Meanwhile, the Kennel Club filed a complaint against the BBC, calling the documentary that led in part to the RSPCA withdrawal, unfair.
The multi-part report, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” looked at the health problems experienced by certain breeds as a result of breeders striving to accentuate certain physical traits.
The documentary featured boxers with epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs that were unable to mate and — because of breeders striving for broader heads in the breed — unable to be born without Caesarian section.
Here’s some of what Hattersley — politician, author, journalist and former member of Parliament — wrote:
“It is barbarous to breed a dog with a brain too big for its skull just to make it look right when it is walked around the competition ring. But the idea of breeding the perfect specimen is wrong in itself. Dogs should be loved as dogs, whatever their shape and size.
“Dogs were made to be friends not exhibits, status symbols or “positional goods” that demonstrate their owner’s aesthetic sensibilities, status, income or fastidious good taste. I am for mongrels because they proclaim the glory of just being dogs – not heads set at the right angles, legs of the proper length or ears suitably pricked. Mongrels are the essence of dog – dog as a virtue in itself … I believe that being a dog is – or ought to be – enough.
Hattersley is the author of many books, including “Buster’s Diaries,” in which his dog Buster defends killing a goose in one of London’s royal Parks. In 1996 Hattersley was was fined in connection with the goose death.
His full essay can be found in the London Times.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 20th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: breeding, buster, crufts, dogs, england, genetic, hattersley, health problems, kennel club, london times, mixed breeds, mongrels, mutts, pedigree, purebred, rspca, uk