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The perils of pedigree pooches.
Posted: 11 September 2009 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/10/2681558.htm

Pedigree dogs ‘being bred to death’

Decades of inbreeding is causing immense suffering for pedigree dogs, who are plagued by painful and deadly genetic diseases as a result of breeding for appearance, a UK investigation has found.

The BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, aired on ABC1 on Thursday, shows boxers suffering from epilepsy and spaniels with brains far too big for their skulls.

Other painful disabilities and deformities, including poor gait and severe heart and respiratory problems, plague purebreds like west highland terriers, golden retrievers and german shepherds.

“We are in effect breeding them to death,” dog historian David Hancock said.

University College London professor of genetics Steven Jones says some breeds are paying a terrible price because of inbreeding.

“People are carrying out breeding which would be, first of all, entirely illegal in humans, and secondly is absolutely insane from the point of view of the health of the animals,” he said.

The governing body of dogs in the UK, the Kennel Club, sets out breeding standards that require physical traits like short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, but such traits are causing severe health problems.

Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) is affiliated with the Kennel Club, and has hired a PR specialist to deal with the fallout from the BBC documentary being aired in Australia.

The ANKC has not yet announced a ban on inbreeding.

The program, which caused a huge public reaction when it was shown in the UK, shows a cavalier king charles spaniel in agony due to syringomyelia, a condition caused by the dog’s skull being too small as a result of deliberate inbreeding.

Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge describes the spaniel’s brain as a “size 10 foot that’s been shoved into a size 6 shoe”, which results in neurological damage.

“There are thousands of cavaliers in pain across the world, even at a conservative estimate,” she said.

“It’s described in humans as one of the most painful conditions you can have; a burning pain, a piston-type headache, abnormal sensations even to the light touch ... even a collar, for example, can induce discomfort for these animals.”

The RSPCA points the finger of blame for the high levels of deformities at top dog shows.

Despite the poor health of such dogs, the two-year investigation found affected dogs are are not stopped from competing in prestigious dog shows and the dogs have even gone on to win top “best in breed” prizes.

The program also exposes the common practice of the deliberate mating of dogs which are close related.

After the show was aired in the UK, the Kennel Club banned the practice.

But the ANKC still registers dogs bred from mother-to-son and brother-to-sister matings.

Public reaction

Pedigree Dogs Exposed’s airing in Britain last year caused public outrage, and a similar reaction is being anticipated in Australia.

As a result of the program, the BBC walked away from its contract for coverage of Crufts, the Kennel Club’s most prestigious dog show.

Both the RSPCA and the ANKC have been vocal in the lead-up to the documentary’s broadcast in Australia.

The council said it had hired public relations officer Dr Peter Higgins “for a four-month contract leading up to and after the screening of the program, with the intent of reducing the impact of any fallout”.

The council also published the ANKC Vision for the Health and Welfare of Pedigree Dogs in May 2009, which forms the basis for their defence against the program.

The RSPCA welcomes the program’s airing in Australia, and says it wants breeders to focus on health, welfare and functionality of dogs, instead of breeding for appearance.

RSPCA chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones says Australia is not immune from the issues highlighted in Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

“Despite all the evidence against inbreeding, the Australian National Kennel Council is still operating a closed studbook system and registering first and second degree matings (mothers with sons, grandfathers with granddaughters), increasing the chances of inherited disorders and making the puppies less resistant to infectious and genetic diseases,” Dr Jones said.

I’ve seen from my own experience that dalmatians and some breeds of collie have pretty much been destroyed as breeds.  They’re just so messed up now.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 01:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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This makes me think of a line from “Over the Hedge” movie.  There is a Persian cat that tells the skunk on there “My father was so beautiful, he could not even breathe.”

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Posted: 11 September 2009 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yep.. the list goes on: Dalmatians are often deaf, dachshunds have hip and spine issues. Some of it is the striving for a certain physical trait that happens to be detrimental to the animal, while others are traits that have popped up as a result of the excessive inbreeding.

Then you get the really irresponsible puppy-mill breeders who breed dogs that already have clearly bad traits, in addition to deplorable conditions…

Yeah, show dog breeders are just selfish bastards, really.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Both dogs I’ve had are mutts from the pound and one is a very pretty golden retriever/yellow lab mix. And why breed more when there are so many in pounds just adopt a mutt.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Because a mutt can’t win you money as a show dog.  That’s the only purpose in life for most of these inbred dogs.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I have three “pet quality” purebred bichons.  I have to have a hyperallergenic dog (like the Obama family does).  One is a rescue.  Pet quality purebreds don’t have the genetic traits that will win them shows.  For instance, an underbite or too big or too curly a tail.

Most people I know though that show dogs are very loving and care for their pets.  They show for love and not money.  I don’t know how it is in the UK. 

I went with my friend to a “breeder” a couple of years ago to help her pick out a puppy.  It was awful!!!  It was a puppy mill if ever I saw one.  Indiana must have very lax laws because there seem to be a lot of puppy mills in Indiana.  When I have picked out my puppies, we buy from breeders who “kitchen” raise their dogs.  That is they don’t have many litters because the dogs live in the house and not in a cage.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I know I’m horrible for saying so…but PLEASE let dogs be bred to death!  I can’t stand ‘em.

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I’m loving the puppies.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yes, you are horrible. 

Dogs Rule!

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Posted: 11 September 2009 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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If they all die…they can RULE THE UNDERWORLD….mWAHAHAHAHAHA

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Posted: 11 September 2009 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Maegan - 12 September 2009 12:19 AM

If they all die…they can RULE THE UNDERWORLD….mWAHAHAHAHAHA

Cerberus:  when dog inbreeding went a bit too far.

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Posted: 11 September 2009 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Maegan - 12 September 2009 12:19 AM

If they all die…they can RULE THE UNDERWORLD….mWAHAHAHAHAHA

Mine rule the house.  Oh, wait a minute.  That IS the underworld… Mwahhhhhaaaahahhaaahahhaaaa,,,!!!  vampire

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Posted: 11 September 2009 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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My parents watched this doco and were absolutely horrified at the state of the dogs.  Not to mention the attitude of the breeders.  They’re breeding dogs that have severe health issues, or end up crippled and can’t see anything wrong with it.  They claim that they’re upholding the standards set back in Victorian times.

We have a pure-bred Staffi at the moment, and she does have various allergy issues, but ultimately is a happy, healthy dog.  She’s from a litter that our next door neighbour bred out of their dog, and I remember at the time that they were concerned about inbreeding.  The guy who owned the father was actually looking at shipping some new dogs from the Eastern States to diversify the gene pool a bit.

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