Friday, August 22, 2008

Vet Lecture 101: Kennel Club Selecting for Defect

This video is from the British Veterinary Association and features veterinarian Emma Milne (author of The Truth about Cats and Dogs).

Watch it, and listen carefully, as she details examples of selection for pathology.

"The fact is that breeders, by the very demand of the breed standard, have to select for disease and ill health.

Every single wrinkle, every bowed leg, every long back, and every short face are all unhealthy abberations of human selection which would never exist in nature.

The traits that represent the breed standard should be seen for what they are -- and this is my big thing. We should not be saying "that's what a pug looks like", "that's what a dachshund looks like."

These traits are detrimental deviations from the starting point of a propotioned normal animal full of hybrid vigor. Breeds such as a bulldogs with incredibly high levels of
dystocia, would disappear within a couple of generations were it not for veterinary intervention. Let alone the number of animals suffering from skin and ear disease, joint disease, neoplasia, heart disease, and respiratory insufficiency and distress due to obstruction, which all require veterinary intervention to alleviate suffering and improve welfare, purely because of their breed type. ....

I believe it is time we face facts and realize that some of these breeds have to be outcrossed, and some of them must disappear alltogether because their welfare is so bad."

1 comment:

Caveat said...

Well, yeah, in a way.

When I first got my smooth Brussels Griffon (at 2.5 yrs), it took a few days to get used to his face, especially the profile. As with any dog, they become beautiful to you no matter what kind they are.

I remember saying to a friend "Man, humans are weird. Imagine selecting for such a deformed face. He looks like a monkey."

Griffs really don't have much in the way of health problems, don't seem to have the exercise and heat intolerance of Pugs and live quite long lives.

You have to be careful with this stuff as well, because the animal rights guys are going after breeders in a big way, most of it starts in the UK and some of the extreme types are in their crosshairs as an easy first victory.

That said, I totally get it and think a lot of dogs would benefit from having more genetic material added to their pools. Look at how they improved Dalmatians with that outcrossing experiment - they look the same, are much healthier but aren't considered 'pure' enough for the dog snobs in the kennel clubs.

I'm convinced that too many people, including the show types, believe that 'breed' means 'species'. It's a big problem.