Post-pandemic, WFH and all that, I’ve been thinking about getting a dog recently, and obviously being a busy reporter, I’ll need one that requires minimal grooming (much like me ), modest but regular exercise (also ditto) and is friendly in nature (mostly ditto).
I would love to have an English or French pug or bulldog because they look cute and are great companions in every way. You never hear of them mauling a child to death, for example, or being used as a criminal’s “status dog”, there to scold the police while you dump drugs in the swamp. However, I will never buy such a breed because what man did to these adorable best friends was unspeakably cruel.
Why do dog lovers agree, and why, more specifically, do poor pooches have to endure painful and life-threatening medical issues caused by selective breeding? A few weeks ago, the flawless pug was condemned by the Royal Veterinary College as not even being a typical dog because it has such a short, squashed muzzle that it sometimes cannot breathe properly – known as the of “brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome” – as well as suffering from skin and back problems.
Vets have also called for a boycott of the English Bulldog, which suffers from similar breed-induced illnesses, until the pedigree world begins to behave more sensibly. There are also comparable arguments about breeds prone to hip displacement, such as English Sheepdogs and Alsatians, while the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has such a misshapen head and neck that it suffers terrible compulsive scratching and great pain.
Some breeds suffer more than others – and suffer is the word – and most have traits that can cause a bit of trouble, but there are too many instances where animal welfare has been ruthlessly sacrificed, and that is cruel and unacceptable.
Much of it is said to be down to bad breeders and puppy farms, and efforts are being made to eliminate some of the genes that cause the worst distress (and the biggest vet bills). Yet it seems to me that if kennel clubs around the world simply adjusted breed standards to make the creatures less cartoonish and more like their genuinely healthy and active ancestors of a century or two ago, the bulldog and his pals purebreds would be much happier, healthier, more agile animals with a longer life ahead of them. Why not just say pugs should have longer muzzles? Is it too much to ask?
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By the way, the “designer” cross breeds were supposed to avoid some of the issues of heavy inbreeding, but in my experience the popular Labradoodle is a bit of a gamble. With a Labrador-Poodle cross, you can either get the best of both breeds – smart and docile, but also the worst – stupid and overexcited. The trend for “teacup” purse breeds and the minor husky craze is also something that doesn’t seem to have gone down too well, for all concerned.
Of course, the answer to all of this, for the individual dog buyer, is to adopt a mongrel from a shelter. If we all did this, there would be no pedigree dogs, no health issues, fewer strays or unwanted animals euthanized, and we could live together in perfect harmony.
You can see the aesthetic appeals of a handsome Irish setter, schnauzer, or saluki, but I don’t know what else they have going for them. I would have a cat, but I’m allergic to it. Any other tips?