Post-pandemic, WFH and all that, I’ve been thinking about getting a dog lately, and obviously as a busy journalist I need one that requires minimal grooming (much like myself), moderate but regular exercise (also ditto) And has a friendly personality (mostly ditto).
I would love to have a pug or English or French bulldog because they look cute and make great companions in every way. For example, you’ve never heard of them beating a child to death, or being used as a “status dog” for criminals, barking at the police when you’re rushing drugs into the swamp. However, I would never buy a variety like this because there is no way to describe what humans do to these sweet pals.
Why do dog lovers accept, and more importantly, why poor mongrel dogs have to endure the pain and life-threatening medical problems caused by selective breeding? A few weeks ago, the irreproachable pug was condemned by the Royal Veterinary College as not even a typical dog because their mouths were so short that they sometimes couldn’t breathe properly – dubbed “brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome” – as well as suffering from skin and back problems.
Veterinarians are also calling for a boycott of the English Bulldog, which has similar breed-induced diseases, until the pedigree world starts to behave more rationally. Similar arguments are made for breeds prone to hip displacement, such as the Old English Sheepdog and Alsatian, while the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a deformed head and neck so that it suffers from horrific compulsive scratching and huge pain.
Some breeds suffer more than others – suffering is the word – and most breeds have traits that can cause some trouble, but there are far too many situations where animal welfare is mercilessly sacrificed, which is Cruel and unacceptable.
Bad breeders and puppy farms are said to be to blame for a lot of this, and efforts are being made to breed some of the genes that cause the worst pain (and the biggest veterinary bills). However, it seems to me that if kennel clubs around the world simply adjust breed standards to make these creatures less caricature and more like the real healthy, working ancestors of a century or two ago, then the bulldog and its Blood confidants will be happier, healthier, more agile animals that live longer. Why not just say that pugs should have longer noses? Is it asking too much?
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By the way, “designer” crossbreeds are supposed to avoid some of the problems of intensive inbreeding, but in my experience the popular Labrador is a bit of a gamble. With a Labrador Poodle cross, you can get the best of both breeds – smart and docile, but also the worst – stupid and overexcited. The handbag “tea cup” trend and the husky mini craze don’t seem to be going well for everyone involved either.
Of course, for individual dog buyers, the answer to all of this is adopting a mongrel from a shelter. If we all did this, there would be no purebred dogs, no health problems, fewer stray dogs or unwanted pets euthanized, and we could live together in perfect healthy harmony.
You can see the aesthetic appeal of a handsome Irish Setter, Schnauzer, or Saluki, but I’m not sure what else they are used for. I want to get a cat but I am allergic to them. Any further suggestions?