Tag: health problems
That’s the slogan of a new RSPCA campaign aimed at shifting the emphasis when it comes to breeding purebred dogs — from looks to health.
The campaign launched yesterday, with this ad — featuring a pug as the poster child — in the Daily Mail.
It’s directed mostly at breeders, who the RSCPA asserts often seek to meet dog show breed standards that place appearance above canine health.
But it’s also meant to change the thinking of consumers, who help create the demand and often aren’t aware of the genetic health problems many purebreds face.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the serious health and welfare problems affecting pedigree dogs and that dogs bred for looks are born to suffer,” RSPCA senior scientist Claire Calder said.
“A cute-looking puppy or dog can be hard to resist, but the result of not looking beyond this can be thousands of pounds spent on vets’ bills and a pet with long-lasting health and welfare problems. This is one of the biggest challenges facing dog welfare in the UK today.”
As we’ve written before — here and elsewhere — it’s one of the biggest challenges in the U.S., too, even though it rarely seems to rise to the forefront.
One major exception came last month, with an in-depth article in the New York Times magazine about the plight of the purebred bulldog.
But, by and large, the UK is leading the debate, which, while long-lurking in the shadows, was retriggered by Jemima Harrison’s documentary for the BBC, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed.”
Between its impact, and the efforts of the RSPCA, there have been some changes, mostly in kennel club’s breed standards that seemed to place appearance above health.
The RSPCA website elaborates on some of the problems those standards have led to:
“According to scientific studies some of the UK’s favourite breeds of dogs have been bred to such extremes that they can no longer breathe or walk normally. For example, dogs with short, flat faces often have narrow nostrils and abnormally developed windpipes. They can often suffer severe breathing difficulties and may have difficulty enjoying a walk or playing.
Dogs with folded or wrinkled skin are prone to itchy and painful skin complaints, and dogs with bulging or sunken eyes are prone to injury, pain or discomfort. These are only a few examples and a recent study showed that all of the 50 most popular breeds have some aspect of their body which can cause suffering
Recent research by the RSPCA shows the public is prone to thinking buying a purebred dog ensures that dog will be healthy. But dogs “bred for their looks,” the RSPCA says, ”are vulnerable to unnecessary disease, disability, pain or behavioural problems.”
Among those quoted in an RSPCA press release is Victoria Stilwell, dog trainer from the TV show “It’s Me Or The Dog.”
“I have nothing against dog showing and nothing against responsible breeders, she said. “But what I do have something against is breeding animals just for the way we want them to look, even though that animal is compromised both physically and, a lot of the time, mentally. So we have to change. Why are we destroying these animals just because we like the way they look?”
Unlike in the U.S., where interest seems to rise and fizzle, the issue isn’t likely to go away anytime soon in the UK.
Harrison is now working on a sequel to “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which promises to be just as hard hitting, or maybe harder hitting, than the first. You can keep up with those developments on her Pedigree Dogs Exposed blog.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearance, awareness, breathing, breed standards, breeders, breeds, bulldog, campaign, dog shows, dogs, genetic, health, health problems, jemima harrison, pedigree, pedigree dogs exposed, pets, public, pug, purebred, purebreds, rspca, trainer, uk, victoria stilwell
A company whose candy you’ll probably be handing out next week announced the introduction today of a genetic diversity test, aimed at allowing dog breeders to lessen the chances of bringing unhealthy pups into the world.
“Optimal Selection,” despite its somewhat eugenic-sounding name, is a first-of-its-kind tool that actually seeks to broaden the gene pool of various breeds, and thereby avoid the kind of purebred health problems that have become too common as a result of inbreeding closely related dogs.
With the new test from Mars Veterinary, a division of Mars Inc., breeders will be able to select the physical and behavioral traits that are important to them, then, through a DNA test on the blood of potential mates, compare chromosomal similarities and differences.
Based on those results, Mars said in a press release, “the breeder is given the opportunity to diversify the genetic makeup of their puppies and reduce the risk of recessive medical conditions.”
A story (written by me) on those risks and problems, and how, as an issue, they’ve never seemed to reach a tipping point in the American public consciousness, appears in the current issue of The Bark.
Pet products and tests are not new ground for Mars. In addition to pet foods (Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba, Cesar and Royal Canin), Mars Veterinary was one of the pioneers in doggie DNA testing, coming out with a test to determine what breeds are in a dog, and later with tests to verify the heritage of purebreds and designer dogs.
For mutts, Mars Veterinary offers both a swab-based mixed breed test, called Wisdom Panel Insights, and a blood based test, Wisdom Panel Professional. The company says those tests can help predict a dog’s future health problems, based upon the breeds that are in him.
With the Optimal Selection test, though, Mars seems to have stepped beyond appeasing dog owner curiosity to actually addressing the kind of health problems that inbreeding has led to — from bulldogs with heads too big to be born naturally to spaniels whose brains outgrow their skulls.
“For centuries, dedicated breeders have worked to improve the temperament, conformation, and health of their purebred dogs,” their press release says. “However, this can cause a decrease in genetic diversity leaving the breeding community to contend with concerns such as smaller litter size, puppy mortality, and other health issues, in addition to a negative consumer perception around breeding practices.”
The analysis provided by Optimal Selection ($95) uses a scoring system based on the compatibility of the chromosomes of potential mates.
“We have leveraged our extensive knowledge of the genetic structures across breeds to closely examine the DNA of dogs within each breed and help owners take their breeding programs to the next level,” said Dr. Angela Hughes, Veterinary Genetics Research Manager at Mars Veterinary.
“Optimal Selection has the potential to transform dog breeding so that the genetic diversity within a breed or family line can be protected and maximized,” she added.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeders, canine, chromosomes, designer dogs, diseases, diversity, dna, dogs, genetic, health, health problems, hybrids, inbreeding, linebreeding, mars, mars veterinary, mates, mating, maximize, mixed breeds, mutts, optimal selection, pets, practices, product, purebred, test, wisdom panel
The question that has become all the rage in London — but hardly even gets asked in the U.S. — got some ink in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, and with less than a week before the opening of the Westminster dog show.
The woman who was courageous enough to ask it, and honest enough to give the answer — yes — was Christie Keith, contributing editor for Universal Press Syndicate’s Pet Connection, past director of the Pet Care Forum on America Online, and a writer of a “semi-weekly” column for SFGate.com, the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle.
As Keith points out, the BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” got things rolling. The series showed that many purebred dogs are prone to diseases and health problems that have resulted from “the tyranny of the show ring” – breeders selecting their dogs to accentuate specific, often freakish traits that win at dog shows but leave them unfit for living the life of a normal dog.
“If that allegation sounds extreme, consider that the Pekingese dog who won top honors in 2003 at Crufts, Britain’s most prestigious dog show,” Keith wrote. “(He) had to be photographed afterwards while lying on an icepack because he couldn’t breathe well enough to efficiently cool his own over-heated body.”
In response to the BBC documentary, the network’s decision to stop airing Crufts, and the withdrawl from the show of several sponsors, Britain’s Kennel Club revised its standards somewhat, warning breed clubs that the most extreme traits would no longer be tolerated.
In the U.S., the American Kennel Club, and critics of it, were mostly silent. Only PETA stepped forward, as it’s prone to do, demanding that the USA Network follow BBC’s example and stop airing the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. USA Network declined, and the show will air Monday and Tuesday, February 9-10, from 8-11 p.m.
“But should it? Are purebred dogs really in that much trouble? And if so, are dog shows behind the genetic and other health problems that plague our pets?” Keith asks in her column.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, are dog shows harming dogs, bbc, breed, breed standards, breeders, breeding, breeds, christie keith, crufts, disease, documentary, dog shows, dogs, health problems, pedigree dogs exposed, pet connection, purebred, westminster
After failing to persuade the USA Network to drop its coverage of the Westminster dog show, PETA has gone to advertisers, asking them to drop their sponsorships.
Apparently, the organization isn’t getting many bites there, either.
PETA initially asked the USA Network not to televise the show, scheduled to air Feb. 9 and 10, citing the BBC’s decision to drop its coverage of the Crufts dog show — due to concerns about breeding standards it said contributed to health problems in certain breeds.
The British Kennel Club subsequently revised its standards for many breeds.
As described in PETA’s letter to Westminster advertisers, “The new BKC standards allow dogs to breathe, walk, and see freely, which previous breeding standards prevented. Unfortunately, the AKC has refused to take even the smallest step to allow American dogs these same basic freedoms …
“On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and our more than 2 million members and supporters, we ask that you pull your company’s sponsorship of this event until the AKC revises its breeding standards so that it is, at the very least, in line with the BKC’s standards, which would reduce the likelihood that purebred dogs will needlessly suffer from diseases and disorders.”
Among companies receiving the letter were Pedigree, the dog food company, and LifeLock, an Arizona-based identity theft protection company.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advertisers, breeding, breeds, dog show, health problems, kennel club, lifelock, pedigree, people for the ethical treatment of animals, peta, purebreds, sponsors, sponsorships, standards, usa network, westminster
For the first time in more than 40 years, the BBC will not televise Britain’s biggest dog show.
BBC officials said Friday that the network had suspended coverage of the 2009 Crufts show “pending further investigations into the health and well-being of pedigree dogs in the U.K.”
Crufts organizers accused the BBC of making “unreasonable demands” that it exclude certain breeds of dog from the show.
The Kennel Club, the show’s organizer, and the BBC have been at odds since September when the BBC aired a documentary claiming decades of inbreeding had led to serious health problems in some pedigree dogs.
The show will take place as scheduled in March, but, because Crufts organizers would not comply with the BBC’s request for particular breeds to be excluded from the show, it won’t be shown on BBC.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 13th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, bbc, breeding, britain, broadcast, congenital, crufts, defects, dispute, documentary, dog show, drops, england, health problems, pedigree, pedigree dogs exposed, purebreds, refuses, televise
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 jwoestendiek 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