Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Suffocating Kennel Club

The Kennel Club used to be housed
in the offices of The Field magazine, but that was a loooong time ago.

That said, it's always interesting when The Field takes a shot (pun intended) at the state of pedigree dog health. They write in this issue about the suffocating stupidity of acquiring deformed, diseased, and dysfunctional dogs:

Dogs with breathing difficulties are currently experiencing a huge growth in popularity. Pug registrations are up five-fold and the French bulldog is now the third most popular breed in the UK. But, as David Tomlinson warns, their flat faces come at a heavy price. We need to think twice before buying dogs with such basic health problems.

This is not to say that our favourite working breeds are perfectly healthy. In fact, years of selective inbreeding to achieve pedigree pups has unsurprisingly resulted in many health problems....

[The French bullodgs's] flat face comes at a price. There’s simply not the room in the skull for the dog’s breathing apparatus to function properly. It suffers from brachycephalic syndrome. Brachycephalic means short-headed and the dogs included in the brachycephalic group include pugs, Pekingese and bulldogs.

Brachycephalic syndrome refers to the combination of elongated soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules and stenotic nares, all of which are endemic in these breeds. Everted laryngeal saccules are as nasty as they sound: it’s a condition in which tissue within the airway, just in front of the vocal cords, is pulled into the windpipe and, as a result, partially obstructs airflow. Stenotic nares are simply malformed nostrils: they are too small and, as a result, tend to collapse inwards when the dog breathes in. The elongated soft palate also interferes with movement of air into the lungs.

Dogs with breathing difficulties and brachycephalic syndrome tend to huff and puff when being exercised and are rarely capable of walking far. It could be argued that such dogs are perfect companions for our increasingly obese population that also dislikes exercise, but is it fair for us to breed animals that are so patently unfit? Dogs with breathing difficulties are also impressive snorers.

Why anyone should want to own dogs with breathing difficulties is a mystery to many of us but fashion has a great deal to answer for. Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga and David and Victoria Beckham are just a few of the “celebrities” who own French bulldogs; at least they all have the money to pay their pets’ hefty vets’ bills....

Incidentally, if reading about dogs with breathing difficulties makes you feel depressed, not all the UK’s dog lovers have gone mad. The Kennel Club’s registration figures refer to pedigree dogs and there’s no official record of crossbreeds such as labradoodles, sprockers and springadors. There’s also evidence that suggests that Britain’s second most popular breed is the Jack Russell, a dog that until the start of this year couldn’t be registered. With some breeds, such as English springers, a high proportion of pups aren’t KC registered, while we all know that despite only eight foxhounds being registered last year, the breed is doing well. Working foxhounds are registered with the MFHA, not the KC.

Did you read that last line? Only EIGHT foxhounds were registered with the Kennel Club last year. About the same is true here in the U.S. where American Foxhounds are one of the rarest breeds despite mounted packs from coast to coast.

No one with working dogs who has a lick of sense would go to the Kennel Club to acquire a dog -- whether that's a working terrier, a sled dog, a running, dog, or a herding dog.

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