Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Humane Society of the U.S. Tackles the Culture of Breeding Dogs for Defect and Disease

Back in 2010, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) quoted this blog in the cover story of All Animals magazine, which is HSUS's full-color bimonthly magazine which goes out to their members.

In a long, well-written, and fair piece, author Carrie Allan lays out The Purebred Paradox whose strap line is "Is the quest for the 'perfect dog' driving a genetic health crisis?"

Once upon a time, people believed that purebred dogs were naturally healthier than mixed breeds. How have we arrived at a point where it may be safer to presume the opposite? ....

.... The more limited the number of mates, the greater the chance a dog will be bred with a relative who shares similar genes. Genetic diseases are caused by recessive genes, so a good gene from one parent will trump a bad gene from the other. But if both parents have a bad gene—such as one that predisposes them to hip dysplasia or blindness—the likelihood of a sick puppy increases.

“What happens when you have a small and inbreeding population is that the probability of two negative recessive genes finding each other increases as the gene pool chokes down to a smaller and smaller pool,” says Patrick Burns, a Dogs Today columnist who frequently writes about genetic health issues on his blog, Terrierman’s Daily Dose.

A closed registry that allows no “new blood” into the mix exacerbates the problem, he argues: “In many AKC dogs, the founding gene pool was less than 50 dogs. For some breeds, it was less than 20 dogs.”

This year’s Westminster champion, a Scottish terrier named Sadie, hails from one of these tiny gene pools and is “very heavily inbred,” says Burns. The limited ancestry for AKC-registered Scotties, he adds, helps explain why 45 percent die of cancer.

“We do not need to have a closed registry to keep a breed,” Burns says, pointing out that breeds existed long before there was an organization to track them. “We did not create the dogs we love in a closed registry system—we have only ruined them there.”

Read the whole thing. The HTML version (multiple jump pages) is here, and the PDF version (8 pages) is here.

This is one of the longest and best articles done so far on the American "dog mess" that is a confluence between disease, deformity and defect caused by inbreeding and contrived and twisted breed standards, and the sick internacine economic relationships that exist between puppy mills and the AKC.

This article also details what has been going on in the United Kingdom since the advent of Pedigree Dogs Exposed. As Carrie Allan writes:

[I]in the United Kingdom, at least, there seems to be momentum for change. Whether that momentum will gather steam in the U.S. remains to be seen

Spread this article around!

Remember that if you want the Humane Society of the U.S. to move in the right direction, you need to click and treat.

I assure you this is the right direction. They have not taken any gratuitous swipes at pedigree dogs or dog breeders. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Take this line for example. Anyone think this is not fair and well-said?

At The HSUS, we’re big fans of adoption. By going to a local shelter or rescue group, you stand a good chance of both saving a life and finding a purebred — after all, they make up an estimated 25 percent of dogs in shelters.

When you can’t find the dog you’re looking for, however, responsible breeders are another option; they are devoted to their animals’ well-being and committed to placing them in loving homes. And if every shelter dog were adopted and every puppy mill were shuttered, there would still be a need for good breeders to supply dogs to American households.

Full applause to HSUS for this article, and to author Carrie Allan in particular. This is a big subject, and she has done an extraordinarily good job of wrapping herself around it and presenting it in a cogent and fair manner.

1 comment:

geonni banner said...

If only 6% of dogs in the US are AKC, and 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred, if kinda looks like those who get AKC pups/dogs are finding them unsatisfactory enough to dump them in shelters. I think that say something pretty powerful... Wonder what percentage of these 25% in the shelters are AKC registered puppy mill dogs.

When I was doing Collie rescue, back in the 80's, I had a woman call me about surrendering a 12 week old puppy. She was insistent that she needed to bring the pup that very night. I asked her why she wanted to surrender the pup and she answered, "It doesn't get along with my elderly Cocker Spaniel." Right...

She brought the pup to my house within the hour, left the car running at the curb, shoved the pup, a hundred dollar bill (surrender fee) and the pups bill of sale from a pet shop & a blue slip, into my arms, hustled back to the car and drove away. She had paid $1,200 for that puppy. It seemed to get along fine with the house dogs - a Doberman Pinscher, an Australian Shepherd, a Collie, and the 4 Shetland Sheepdogs of a house guest.