Zeus, the world’s tallest dog, is dead.
The Great Dane passed away earlier this month — two months shy of his sixth birthday — from “symptoms of old age,” according to his owner.
Great Danes have shorter life spans than most dogs — most likely the result of breeders intent on making the breed larger yet, and the strain that size puts on their organs — which only makes the death of Zeus doubly sad.
“We’ll really miss him,” said Zeus’ owner, Kevin Doorlag, of Otsego, Michigan.
Doorlag and his wife, Denise say Zeus was a “wonderful dog” — famous both for Guinness World Record-setting size, and for his work as a therapy dog in their hometown.
He stood 44 inches at the shoulder — 7 feet, 4 inches on his hind legs. He claimed the Guinness World Record in 2012, and still held the title in the 2013 and 2014 editions.
The previous World’s Tallest Dog was Giant George, a Tuscon, Arizona, Great Dane. He died at age 7.
Kevin Doorlag said one of the things he will miss most is seeing the joy Zeus brought to others.
The death of Zeus is, first and foremost, a time to remember and celebrate Zeus.
But if it makes us question why, in the name of seeking extremes, we accept purebred breeding practices that lead to ill health and short lives, that’s fine, too. They’re in need of questioning.
What there’s less need for — whether it’s in pursuit of ribbons, world records, or sales — is making fluffy dogs fluffier, long and skinny dogs longer and skinnier, short snouted dogs even more shortly snouted.
We don’t need (sorry, Marmaduke) cartoonish dogs, or dogs that, through breeding them with close relatives, become exaggerated caricatures of their breed.
Healthy dogs will do just fine.
(Photo: Kalamazoo Gazette)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, big dogs, breeding, caricature, dead, death, dies, dogs, giant george, great dane, great danes, guinness, guinness world records, life span, michigan, old age, otsego, pets, practices, purebred, records, short, tallest, tallest dog, world, world's tallest dog, zeus
Out of 22,000 dogs from 187 breeds, a Hungarian Vizsla named Yogi was chosen as Best in Show at Crufts.
The seven-year-old beat off competition from six other dogs in the finale of the four-day show.
Yogi is the first Hungarian Vizsla to win Best in Show, the BBC reported.
Handler John Thirlwell said his “wonderful dog” from Carlisle, Cumbria, will likely retire after the win.
Earlier in the show, during judging of the Gundog category, which Yogi won, a streaker interrupted the proceedings.
The dog show was broadcast on More4 this year after the BBC – which had shown Crufts since 1966 – announced it was dropping its coverage in 2008.
That decision followed a BBC documentary which claimed Crufts allowed damaging breeding practices that caused disease and deformities. Welfare concerns also prompted the RSPCA to withdraw its support in 2008.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, best in show, breeding, breeds, crufts, deformity, disease, dog, dog shows, dogs, gundog, health, hungarian vizsla, pets, practices, purebreds, standards, vizsla, yogi
“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.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bbc, bbc america, boxers, breeders, breeding, breeds, bulldog, cavalier king charles spaniel, crufts, documentary, dog, dog shows, dogs, expose, first, genetic, health, illness, inbreeding, kennel club, pedigree dogs exposed, pets, physical features, practices, premier, problems, pugs, showing, united kingdom, united states, westminster
According to a report in the London Telegraph, the researchers say the change has taken place over the course of just a few generations.
While 19th century dogs were selected for breeding based on their strength and skills — such as guarding homes, retrieving quarry or watching over livestock — today’s dogs are more likely to be chosen strictly for their appearance. As a result, the researchers say, the are less responsive to commands and not as alert or attentive.
“Modern breeding practices are affecting the behavior and mental abilities of pedigree breeds as well as their physical features,” said Kenth Svartberg, an ethologist from Stockholm University and author of the research report.
Dr. Svartberg tested 13,000 dogs on characteristics such as sociability and curiosity to help him rate 31 different breeds. He found that those bred for appearance, and especially for shows, displayed reduced ability levels. He also found that attractive appearance was often linked with introversion and a boring personality.
The worst affected working breeds were smooth collies, once a herding dog, and Rhodesian ridgebacks, which were used for hunting.
(Image from My Dog’s Brain, by Vermont artist Stephen Huneck)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agile, alert, appearance, attentive, breeders, breeding, breeds, dogs, dumber, looks, my dog's brain, practices, purebreds, research, scientists, skills, standards, stephen huneck, stockholm university, sweden, swedish
The Kennel Club in Great Britain — under fire for perpetuating breed standards and practices that critics say endanger the health of purebred dogs — announced yesterday that it will introduce strict new rules, including a ban on the breeding of close relatives.
The breed standards have been revised so that they will not include “anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog from breathing, walking and seeing freely,” the Kennel Club said in a press release.
The club approved bans on mating father with daughter, mother to son and brother to sister, traditionally practiced by breeders to accentuate certain “desirable” physical characteristics.
“This will help to prevent the practice of exaggeration, where features that are perceived to be desirable, such as a short muzzle or loose skin, are made more prominent by breeders, and which can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ban, bbc, breeds, characteristics, crufts, dog show, england, health, kennel club, peta, practices, purebreds, standards, usa network, westminster