Rosettes to Ruin

For those of us that show or want to show our dogs.

Postby Marinepits » March 14th, 2009, 5:33 pm

Home page: http://www.terrierman.com/

http://www.terrierman.com/rosettestoruin.htm

Making & Breaking Dogs in the Show Ring

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Changes in the shape of the Bull Terrier head, 1930, 1950, 1980
Photos courtesy of the Albert Heim Foundation for Canine Research, Basil, Switzerland

The pictures above are a physical and visible monument to what the show ring did to one terrier breed in less than 50 years time.

Bulldog and terrier crosses, which once had powerful jaws well-placed to do important work (gripping and holding semi-wild bulls and pigs so they could be altered or slaughtered), were rapidly transformed at the turn of the 20th Century to the point that the jaws of today's Bull Terrier, while still massive, are now no longer set at a proper angle to do the work the dogs were once bred to do.

If you look at the Fox Terrier, you will see a similar transformation over time -- once small and supple dogs transformed into large, stiff-legged creatures unable to move properly in the field and with chests too deep for the animal to go to ground after fox.

This is what show ring breeders do -- they ruin working breeds. And it is not just the AKC show ring, either -- it's the UKC show ring and the JRTCA show ring as well. Give any show ring enough time, and it will ruin any breed of working dog -- it always has and it always will.

Go through John Broadhurst's excellent new book, "Terriermen & Terriers" (ISBN 0-0687296-1-4) and look for Welsh Terriers, Border Terriers, Wire Fox Terriers, Smooth Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Lakelands, Skye Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Cairn Terriers.

They are simply NOT there.

Instead you see terriers that are not registered or are unregisterable -- Jack Russells, Fell Terriers, Fell-Border crosses, and the black Fells called Patterdales. There's even a Dachshund. The only terrierman named working a Kennel Club breed (53 terriermen are profiled) is a single fellow who recounts a Border Terrier story that is now more than 30 years old.

"Working" terrier breeds? Ha! It seems they are all gone -- shot dead by the show ring.

Former AKC President Kenneth Marden has acknowledged the role of the show ring in killing off working breeds:

"We [the AKC] have gotten away from what dogs were originally bred for. In some cases we have paid so much attention to form that we have lost the use of the dog."

I should say!

In the February 13, 2002 edition of The National Review magazine there is an article entitled "The Westminster Eugenics Show" in which the author writes of the Search And Rescue dogs trotted into the Westminster Ring in New York after the September 11th terrorists brought down to the twin towers of the World Trade Center:

"The problem is that Westminster does not judge breeds for those traits which rightly make a breed a breed. The Pointers aren't asked to point (even though the logo of the Westminster Kennel Club has been a pointing Pointer for over a century). The Bassets and Bloodhounds do not track. The Otter Hounds are not tested to see if they could kill, let alone identify, an otter. And so on and so on.

"With the exception of a handful of breeds who were bred to do nothing but either keep your hands warm or wait until some Aztec chef could cook them, not a single breed at Westminster is expected to do what it was bred to do. The beautiful German Shepherd in the competition last night no doubt looked at the visiting search-and-rescue dogs the way Alec Baldwin looks at people who actually know how to read, and said, 'I wish I could be like them.'

"The cohost of the Westminster broadcast repeatedly declared 'This is not a beauty contest... because we have definitions for how a dog is supposed to look and feel.'

"Someone needs to tell this blow-dried Afghan-breeder that that makes it more of a beauty contest, not less of one. Simply writing down the criteria does not make a pageant any less of a pageant."


The number of working dogs ruined by the show ring grows every year.

Irish Setters, once famed at finding birds, are now so brain-befogged they can no longer find the front door. Cocker Spaniels, once terrific pocket-sized birds dogs, have been reduced to poodle-coated mops incapable of working their way through a field or fence row. Fox terriers are now so large they cannot go down a fox hole. Saint Bernards, once proud pulling dogs, are now so riddled with hip dysplasia that it's hard to find one that can walk without surgery in old age.

In recent years, protectors of at least two working breeds -- the Border Collie and the Jack Russell Terrier -- have gone to war with the AKC in an effort to protect the working qualities of their dogs.

Unfortunately, those seeking to protect the gene pool of working dogs -- and the tradition of breeding worker to worker -- lost and both breeds are now found in the AKC show ring. While there are still working Border Collies and working Jack Russell Terriers, the number of honest working dogs of either breed in the AKC show ring is small and is falling rapidly. In time it is likely that these two breeds will in fact split off from their working roots as has happened with gun dogs where there are "working" labs and "show labs" and "working" pointers and "show" pointers.

Lesson One in the world of dogs is that if you put anything above breeding for utility, you will start to lose working abilities.

Work is a tough task master and it shows no favoritism. Fox and pheasant do not judge "up the leash" nor are they taken in by fads. Quarry is not much interested in nose or eye color, the set of the ear, or the "expression" on a dog's face as it creeps up a hedgerow.

In working dogs, utility is beauty, and "beauty is as beauty does."

E.L. Hagedoorn, a Dutch consulting geneticist to dog breed societies around the world, believed the show ring would ruin working dog breeds, and time has proven him right. As he noted in his 1939 book:

"In the production of economically useful animals, the show ring is more of a menace than an aid to breeding. Once fancy points are introduced into the standard of perfection, the breeders will give more attention to those easily judged qualities than to the more important qualities that do not happen to be of such a nature that we can evaluate them at shows. Showing has nothing to do with utility at all, it is simply a competitive game."

A noted breeder of alpacas said much the same thing, noting that when farm stock is judged on the basis of wool or meat it is a different standard than that used at shows:

"Breeding animals for the shows is a very peculiar business, because of the fact that it is wholly competitive. Whereas the breeder of utility sheep or utility pigs produces something that has a certain market value, which is not changed very much even if ten of his neighbors start in with him to raise the same sort of sheep or hogs, breeding animals for the shows can only pay the man who succeeds in producing such stock as is pronounced by the judges of the moment to be the most beautiful and the most fashionable."


The "judge of the moment" in a show ring may know very little about real terrier work.

In the AKC, for example, most judges are experts in a half dozen breeds. In the terrier ring, it's almost a guarantee none has ever owned a deben collar or cut a shoulder into a trench in order to get down another two feet. As a rule these authorities are experts by dint of having spent far too many nights in bad hotels attending show trials. In 20 years of owning dogs, they have logged a thousand miles bouncing around show rings in plaid skirts and blue blazers. They may have driven to the moon and back to pick up rosettes, but few have driven 10 miles out into the country to even see a fox den, much less put a dog down one or dig to it.

A few will claim expertise because they have bought an airplane ticket and attended a mounted hunt or two in the U.K.. They have seen "the real thing" they will tell you, and know what is required of a working dog thanks to their two-week vacation in Scotland! Just don't ask them how to extract quarry from the stop-end of a pipe or how to treat a bite wound.

Theory always ends where reality begins, and it always seems to have been this way.

The very first Kennel Club shows occurred in 1873 in the U.K., and 1874 in the U.S.. By 1893 Rawdon Lee Briggs was writing in his book, "Modern Dogs," that:

"I have known a man act as a judge of fox terriers who had never bred one in his life, had never seen a fox in front of hounds, had never seen a terrier go to ground ... had not even seen a terrier chase a rabbit."

By the AKC's own estimates, a majority of newcomers to the sport, obsessed with championship ribbons, stick with it an average of five years. When they give up or move on to a new hobby, they leave behind a trail of dogs that were not systematically bred to do a job -- they were bred to produce ribbons and often by people who never completely finished reading a book on their own breed.

Most of these back-yard-and-hobby-show-breeders do not do any genetic testing on their dogs, and when asked are quick to say their bumbling acquiescence to the destruction of a working breed is OK because "No one's hunting birds to feed their families any more," "We don't need strong jaws on a bull terrier, we have barbed wire now" "No one hunts fox anymore -- it's illegal in the UK you know."

I would suggest to these people that they get deeply involved in breeds that are not working breeds -- Shit-zoos, Peeking-ease, or Pappy-yawns, perhaps. Miniature Schnauzers or Miniature Pinschers are nice dogs -- give them a try. Or better yet, get a dog from the local shelter and train it in to a high degree of perfection in agility, flyball or even circus tricks.

But please stay away from breeds that are working dogs!

As for those actually interested in terriers as working dogs (and if not, please read the paragraph above), we would do well to remember that we did not create these wonderful little dogs, and we do not 'own' a breed anymore than we 'own' anything in this world. Like most worthy things, we inherit our dogs from our forbears, serve as custodians for their gene pool in our lifetime, and have a responsibility to pass on this gene pool in a reasonably good condition for the future.

In the modern world, passing on the gene pool means breeding dogs that are the correct size as determined after you have done some real earth work.

It also means doing genetic testing (CERF, OFA, BAER) before breeding any litter.

For those looking to buy a terrier -- especially a Jack Russell or Border Terrier which are two breeds which still have some pretensions to being working dogs -- I would suggest embracing a working standard, not only for the dog but for the BREEDER as well. If the breeder doesn't own a deben collar, a $50 shovel, and a digging bar, I would suggest giving that kennel a pass. Ask to see pictures of the sire or dam in the field. No pictures, no cash.

A serious breeder takes the work of their dogs seriously, and a serious breeder will work their dogs at least a few times just to make sure they have the drive, the size and the temperament to actually do the job.

The standard for a working terrier is NOT in the ring, but in the field and it is only in the field that a dog can be judged worthy of being bred.

I close with the very succinct and dead-on standard for working terriers published by The Fell and Moorland Working Terrier Club in their "Year Book and Club History: 1998-99". No better parody of the Kennel Club "standard" exists, nor does it leave out a single thing required of a working terrier.


A Working Terrier Standard


A working terrier should be terrier-like in appearance and should have an acute and powerful motivation to work.


HEAD: should be strong, and encased in the skull should be a brain capable of showing intelligence and a fair amount of obedience and respect with some affection.

NECK: should be strong and muscular, joining the head to the body.

CHEST: should be big enough to hold the heart of a lion, but small enough to enable its owner to follow the quarry into extremely tight corners.

LEGS: should be long, or short, according to the work envisaged by the terrain of the area where he is to be employed. The legs should be powerful enough to carry the owner through a hard day.

FEET: four, one at the end of each leg, with extremely tough pads.

COAT: whether rough or smooth, white or colored, should be dense and tight, to keep its wearer warm and facilitate cleaning without holding too much earth and water.
BACK: strong and supple.

TAIL: for preference, a working terrier should have a tail.

EYES: of great assistance above ground.

EARS: yes, two.

NOSE: should be able to detect and evaluate any slight scent.

TEETH: should be as large and as strong as possible, firmly secured in a muscular jaw, capable of biting powerfully and holding a firm grip.

In temperament, the animal should be fairly docile and tractable, with a tremendous staying power and great love of his task. He should enjoy going to ground and should not appear at 10 minute intervals to see if his owner is still waiting for him. He should disregard wounds and see his job through at all times. He should be of sensible disposition and not easily ruffled or upset.



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Show ring bulldog skull
This is a long way from a working dog!

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Postby Marinepits » March 14th, 2009, 5:38 pm

Hmmm, probably should have searched for it first, LOL. I missed it the first time it was posted. :rolleyes2: :D

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1201

But, it's a good discussion to have again!
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Postby BullyLady » March 14th, 2009, 9:13 pm

That picture of the bulldog skull makes me feel a little nauseated. It's just so disgusting to me that those dogs have been turned into these snorting, fat, waddling, nearly unable to walk animals.

The article was really good though, good points!
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Postby KJS » March 15th, 2009, 4:29 am

Here we go again :rolleyes2:

all Pitbulls are disgusting,evil, babykillers and should be PTS NOW!....

call it even??
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Postby KJS » March 15th, 2009, 4:46 am

Oh now wait....you dont even OWN a Pitbull right?...and you have never even laid your eyes never mind your hands on a well bred Bulldog I'm willing to bet...

learn to live without the sweeping statements covering every single member of a certain breed of dog please its really not acceptable ...and learn also that what you THINK you know of Bulldogs is just that...your thoughts...not much use and quite a bit of offense to us REAL bulldog owners
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » March 15th, 2009, 8:30 am

Let's keep tempers in check here, kiddos.
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Postby DemoDick » March 15th, 2009, 8:55 am

KJS wrote:Oh now wait....you dont even OWN a Pitbull right?...and you have never even laid your eyes never mind your hands on a well bred Bulldog I'm willing to bet...

learn to live without the sweeping statements covering every single member of a certain breed of dog please its really not acceptable ...and learn also that what you THINK you know of Bulldogs is just that...your thoughts...not much use and quite a bit of offense to us REAL bulldog owners


You have described your own bulldogs as vigorous because one can climb stairs and the other can jump four feet (or something similar). That pretty much speaks for itself.

English Bulldogs as a breed are a mess, and no amount of anger, indignation, or hurt feelings are going to change that. I'm not sure why you take this so personally, as you did not breed your bulldogs and do not plan to. Plenty of people here have rescued dogs with faults that should never have been bred, but that doesn't mean that anyone hates the dogs themselves. It's not a personal slam against you or your dogs, so there's no need to take it as such.

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Postby mnp13 » March 15th, 2009, 9:58 am

KJS wrote:Here we go again :rolleyes2:

all Pitbulls are disgusting,evil, babykillers and should be PTS NOW!....

call it even??


Oh please.

The English Bulldog, as a matter of the published and accepted breed type is FAR from the working dog that the breed enthusiasts claim it is. The athletic EB is an extreme rarity, just as the "babykiller" Pit Bull is. Sorry, you can't compare the two.

As a non-scientific test, I typed English Bulldog into Google and then went to the "images" link. 20 images came up. Out of those 20 I counted the number that looked like they could do what the breed was intended to do - work stock. It was a fast count, the number was 0.

I did the same by typing in Pit Bull, though this one was harder because there were a number of other breeds, horribly injured fighting dogs and non-related pictures mixed in. So, I had to go to the second page to get to 20. Out of the first 20 dogs that "counted" there were 11 that looked as if they might be able to do what they intended to do.

You can love the breed, but denying that irresponsible breeders have destroyed it is nothing more than denial. I know someone who was breeding EB's that could actually have natural breedings and births. She gave up because no one wanted them - show people wouldn't touch them because they weren't deformed enough, performance people didn't want them because the breed has a long standing horrible reputation, pet owners didn't want them because people looking for EB's want the ones that "look like EB's" and that means the first one in this list.

There are people here who have short-n-wides, they are not in denial of what they have. I love Ruby, but she is a structural mess... there is no denying that.
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Postby BullyLady » March 15th, 2009, 11:54 am

KJS wrote:Oh now wait....you dont even OWN a Pitbull right?...and you have never even laid your eyes never mind your hands on a well bred Bulldog I'm willing to bet...

learn to live without the sweeping statements covering every single member of a certain breed of dog please its really not acceptable ...and learn also that what you THINK you know of Bulldogs is just that...your thoughts...not much use and quite a bit of offense to us REAL bulldog owners


What does whether or not I OWN a pit bull have anything to do with this discussion? And yes, I have laid my hands on a "well-bred" english bulldog, and I was not pleased with what I saw. The poor thing waddled, it's owner called it the "rolling gait" of english bulldogs. I was literally horrified every time I saw an EB come into either of the clinics that I worked at for years. That's why I chose to go with American Bulldogs. I think bulldogs are cute but I would never, not even as a rescue dog, own an EB. I simply don't have the money to put out for the health problems that will occur over it's life time. Even many of the Johnson ABs are too bully for me, our first AB was a johnson type, and while she could outperform an EB even on the day of her death, she was still riddled with health problems. Allerigies, too brachycephalic to do alot in the summer, yeast infections in her too prominent vaginal folds, SEVERE hip dysplasia. That's why I now own a standard type AB mix, 50 pounds of spitfire with a rock solid temperament, intelligent as all get out, who can jump six feet up from a standstill and run with her great dane brother for hours on end. That is what a bulldog should be, not this snorting, waddling, malformed excuse for a dog.
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Postby KJS » March 15th, 2009, 1:21 pm

learn to live without the sweeping statements covering every single member of a certain breed of dog please its really not acceptable



I have laid my hands on a "well-bred" english bulldog, and I was not pleased with what I saw.


I feel sorry for you...genuinely...my life is made better every single day due to these delightfull creatures...you are the one missing out due to your racism...poor you :(
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Postby cheekymunkee » March 15th, 2009, 2:10 pm

K, YOUR dogs are a rarity. The majority of the EB's being bred on this continent ( and on a few others) are a nightmare. BL & I are on a message board that has a HUGE population of EB owners on it. I dont have to put my hands on them to see what a mess they are. People purchase these dogs KNOWING they are facing cherry eye surgery, nasal surgery, jaw surgeries, allergies, yeast infections....not just a few of them...ALL of them. Artificial insemination and c-sections if they chose to breed. They cant even breed naturally. Dogs that cant run, have trouble walking & cant breathe. The majority cant even lick their own butts, but a lot of that problem is due to over feeding. People think the fatter they are, the cuter they are. That is the way it is. You can get as mad as you want, but it is what it is. I am sure they are wonderful dogs, no one is saying other wise. Their owners appear to love them & spend the money it takes to try to get them healthy. But the health of these animals seems to be the farthest thing from a breeders mind. LOOK at that skull! How the animal can even eat without screaming in pain is beyond me.

There are dogs here known as Old English Bulldogs, they are trying to separate themselves as a different breed because they ARE trying to breed a better bulldog. THOSE dogs look more like yours. They seem to be healthier & a lot better put together. They are trying to resurrect what the EB once was. I hope that they can
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Postby Marinepits » March 15th, 2009, 2:25 pm

KJS wrote:...you are the one missing out due to your racism...


K, there is NO name calling on this board. You know that.
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Postby KJS » March 16th, 2009, 10:01 am

I dont think mine are excatly rare Cheeky...I have 3 now...and none of them a problem...maybe there is a vast difference between the EU dogs and American dogs?

Marinepits...what word is there for a person who speaks out so vehemently against just one race of dogs that I can use?...breedist does not sound right to me....

Im sorry if you think I get bent out of shape by this...but I do...we all came here to rant and rave about people who know no better putting Pitbulls down in the spoken word...its unfair that then my breed of choice should come under the same line of fire from the people here who are meant to stand beside me and fight...
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Postby BullyLady » March 16th, 2009, 10:12 am

Except that most of what people say about pits is unfounded and just plain untrue. What I and many others here have said about EBs is factually correct. Not emotionally pleasant to hear for one that owns them, but factually correct nonetheless. I mean, look at OFA's website http://www.offa.org/hipstatbreed.html?view=1&sort=5 EBs are the number one dysplastic dog by a margin of 10% that is outrageous! But hard cold facts nonetheless. American Bulldogs are 33% dysplastic, ASTs are 26%, and APBTs are 24%. What a ridiculously large difference, and that's just in the hips.
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Postby KJS » March 16th, 2009, 10:20 am

Theres not much point in me posting factual data from here as you wont be able to read it..but suffice to say that I believe there are serious problems with the dogs you have met and have data from...your view is different from mkine about these beasts and thats ok...but could we agree to agree thats its not ALL of them everywhere that are so bad?...and lessen up on the badmouthing a bit?...just for me....I dont think anyone else on here has any EBs...

I noticed Saint Bernards are high up on that list you posted there too...we also dont have that problem over here....and yes I do own Saints as well :mrgreen:
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Postby mnp13 » March 16th, 2009, 11:48 am

I'm sorry K, but when a breed has a list of "standard" problems that reduce the overall health of the dog as a standard then the breed is NOT a "healthy breed."

The typical EB is brachiocephalic, has a very high risk for hip dysplacia, has to be born via c-section and can't mate naturally.

Your dogs may be the sweetest dogs on earth, but that doesn't erase the problems of the breed as a whole. You dogs may also be athletic, but that doesn't erase the problems of the breed as a whole. The healthy, active bulldog is the exception not the rule.

Not a SINGLE person here has said they "Hate English Bulldogs." What they hate is the horrible breeding practices that create deformed dogs with serious ongoing health problems.

http://www.rescuebulldogs.org/breedinf.htm
Possible Health Problems

Bulldogs have numerous known genetic defects and are subject to various illnesses that affect many breeds. Common Bulldog health problems you may encounter include: elongated soft palate, small trachea, allergies, dermatitis, demodetic mange, eye lid anomalies, hip dysplasia and heart problems. Some of them have a tendency toward self-mutilation (especially if they have itchy skin), so owners should watch carefully for signs of skin irritation and scratching. If you are adopting an older dog, many of these conditions will already have been identified.


http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 04,00.html
A Terrible Beauty By MICHAEL D. LEMONICK Sunday, Jun. 24, 2001
Four years ago, Amanda and Bob Metzger of Exton, Pennsylvania, saw an ad for golden retriever puppies in the local newspaper and went to have a look. "Once we saw them," says Amanda, "we fell in love. We couldn't have left the place without one." They decided on a dog they named Jake -- but being careful consumers, the Metzgers made sure the breeders had a solid reputation, insisted on an American Kennel Club certification of Jake's pedigree and got assurances that his parents were free of health problems before they handed over $325 for their dog.


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Their troubles started three months later. Jake began to limp on his left front leg; the vet diagnosed osteochondritis, an inherited bone condition, and had to operate. The bill came to $650. Six months later, Jake went lame again, and X rays showed severe dysplasia, a hereditary weakness of the joints, in both hips. A $750 operation relieved his pain, but even with a dose of aspirin almost daily, Jake still walks stiffly. On top of that, he has severe & allergies, dry skin and a poor coat. He has recently started having seizures as well. "He's a medical mess," says Amanda Metzger. "It just breaks my heart because he wants to play like a puppy, but he can't."

It would be tempting to put Jake's problems down to plain bad luck -- but in fact the odds were against him from the start. While most golden retrievers are healthier than Jake, a shocking 60% of them end up with the dysplasia that may yet cripple him, according to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. Many are born with an undescended testicle, another hereditary condition vets say can cause the gland to become cancerous.

Yet even if they had chosen another breed, the Metzgers would have been taking a chance. The appalling truth is that as many as 25% of the 20 million purebred dogs in America -- 1 in 4 animals -- are afflicted with a serious genetic problem. German shepherds, for example, run an even higher risk of hip dysplasia than do golden retrievers. Labrador retrievers are prone to dwarfing. At least 70% of collies suffer from genetic eye trouble, and 10% eventually go blind. Dalmatians are often deaf. Cocker spaniels tend to have bad tempers. Great Danes have weak hearts. English bulldogs have such enormous heads that pups often have to be delivered by cesarean section. Newfoundlands can drop dead from cardiac arrests. Chinese Shar-Peis, the wrinkly dogs that don't seem to fit into their skin, have congenital skin disorders. And Irish setters, laments veterinarian Michael Fox, a vice president of the Humane Society of the U.S., "are so dumb they can't find their way to the end of the leash."

The list goes on and on, running to more than 300 separate genetic disorders that subject dogs to enormous pain, roil the emotional life of their owners and, estimates Dr. William Schall, a genetic specialist at Michigan State University, cost almost $1 billion in vet bills and lost revenues from stillborn pups, which cannot be sold.

Bad genes are a universal hazard of life, of course; practically every species suffers from inherited diseases. But golden retrievers and other purebreds are not like most other animals. They are in a very real sense artificial, molded over thousands of years through selective breeding to satisfy human needs. For most of that time, those needs have largely been companionship and labor, and dogs have prospered.

Within the past century, though, and especially over the past 50 years, the most popular types have been bred almost exclusively to look good -- with "good" defined by breed-specific dog clubs and the American Kennel Club (AKC). "Form has been separated from function," says Brian Kilcommons, a dog trainer in Middletown, New York."Styles come in vogue. The competition at dog shows is geared almost exclusively to looks." This focus on beauty above all means that attractive but unhealthy animals have been encouraged to reproduce -- a sort of survival of the unfittest. The result is a national canine-health crisis, from which few breeds have escaped.

The astonishing thing is that despite the scope of these diseases, veterinary researchers know next to nothing about what causes them or how to cure them. Only 23 of the hundreds of known disorders can currently be picked up by genetic lab tests. Biologists know far more about the heredity of the fruit fly, in fact, than they do about canine genetics. That is because there are fewer than 100 canine geneticists in the world, working at just a handful of major universities -- and they are constantly scraping for funding.

The lack of research money is especially disconcerting when one considers that dogs are the nation's most popular pets. Almost 36 million households have them, compared with the 29.2 million that keep cats, according to the Humane Society of the U.S. More Americans spend more than $8 billion a year on their dogs, not counting the initial purchase. The AKC alone raked in $29 million last year, about three-fourths of it from the $25 or more it charges to register each pedigreed pup and provide a copy of its family tree. But the AKC annual report shows that the club cut its grants for education and research into the health of dogs from $1.675 million in 1992 to $575,000 in 1993.

Who is to blame for the shabby treatment of humanity's best friend? The AKC, with its focus on pedigrees and beauty pageants rather than canine well- being? Legitimate breeders, who supply customers with beautiful but sometimes damaged puppies? Puppy mills, which do the same but at much higher volume and in search of greater profits? Or the public, more insistent with each passing year that a mutt -- a "randomly bred dog," to be politically correct -- simply won't do?

They are all partly at fault. But it is hard to avoid putting the AKC high on the list. While the club is not the only dog registry in the country, it is certainly the biggest, best known and most powerful. It is because of this * power that the AKC has been largely unchallenged over the years. "Criticize the AKC, and there will be retribution," says one New York dog trainer. "Judges may find they are no longer getting assignments. Breeders might discover their dogs are no longer winning prizes." The AKC acknowledges that it is perceived as overbearing. "I think it's a fact of life that people have that fear, and it's unfortunate," responds John Mandeville, the club's vice president for planning.

The AKC does not need to resort to intimidation, however, to have an overwhelming influence. It sponsors most of the nation's dog shows, events that reinforce the insidious notion that beauty is a dog's paramount virtue. It also keeps track of purebred pedigrees, yet it requires no proof of good health to certify an animal. All it takes to get AKC certification is proof of pedigreed parentage. Says Fox: "The best use of pedigree papers is for housebreaking your dog. They don't mean a damn thing. You can have an immune- deficient puppy that is about to go blind and has epilepsy, hip dysplasia, hemophilia and one testicle, and the AKC will register it."

No one at the kennel club denies this. AKC certification "is absolutely not a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, unfortunately," says Mandenville. "It's acquired a lot of these trappings because the idea of 'AKC- registered' is so widely known."

Or, to be blunt, because it has such snob appeal. The American Kennel Club was founded 110 years ago by a group of American bluebloods who pledged "to do everything to advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purity of thoroughbred dogs." At the time purebreds were status symbols, owned exclusively by the wealthy and prized for their strength, skill and intelligence as much as for their looks.

But during the 1940s, as the middle class sucked in vast numbers of new members with aspirations of gentility, these Americans began to insist on purebreds too, and their popularity took off. In 1944 the AKC registered 77,400 dogs; that jumped to 235,978 in 1949, and by 1970, the club was issuing papers on a million dogs a year. (The total last year: 1.4 million.)

The number of AKC-sponsored dog shows has increased just as dramatically. In 1894 there were a mere 11 all-breed shows. By 1954 there were 384, and last year a total of 1.3 million dogs competed in 1,177 different exhibitions. Then as now, the idea was to show off the owners' prize breeding stock.

But the concept of what makes a dog valuable for breeding has changed. While obedience and field trials were once considered at least as important as beauty contests, the canine equivalent of the swimsuit competition has all but taken over. Historians have yet to explain this ideological shift, but the AKC has one idea: "You could almost say this venerable institution with its great credibility and history has been infiltrated slowly by the type of people it was not intended to deal with," says Wayne Cavenaugh, the group's spokesman. Whatever the reason, animals with names such as Rainbow's Maggie Rose O'Koehl and Jrees Buddy Holly are brushed, hairsprayed, beribboned and otherwise tarted up before going in front of the judges. Says Buddy Holly's owner, Jan Smith of Wichita, Kansas, a longtime exhibitor of Great Danes (and herself the runner-up for Miss Congeniality in the 1965 Miss Arkansas pageant): "When the ears are too flat, we use cement to make them perky. We use chalk to color the legs, which is fine as long as you don't use copious amounts."

That's just the final polish, though: no dog can hope to be a champion without conforming to a very narrow standard of physical perfection set by individual dog clubs and ratified by the AKC. And customer-conscious breeders have obliged by creating prizewinning dogs with specific traits, such as long ears in cocker spaniels or sloping hips in German shepherds.

Biologically, this is just asking for trouble. For one thing, the characteristics judges and clubs have decreed to be gorgeous can themselves be bad for the animals' health -- huge heads on bulldogs that make it difficult for them to be born naturally, for example, or the wrinkled skin on Shar-Peis that sets them up for rashes. For another, the best way to produce a puppy with a specific look is to mate two dogs who have that same look. As with any species, though, the closest resemblances are found among the closest relatives. So breeders often resort to inbreeding, the mating of brothers and sisters or fathers and daughters. Or they "line-breed," having grandparents mate with grandchildren or cousins with each other. "If we did that in humans," says Mark Derr, who wrote a scathing indictment of America's dog culture for the March 1990 Atlantic Monthly, "we'd call it incest."

Both practices increase the likelihood of genetic disease. It is not that purebreds have more defective genes than other dogs, or that inbreeding - somehow causes healthy genes to go bad. Most hereditary disorders in dogs are caused by recessive genes; as long as an animal has a good copy of the gene from one parent, it will override a bad copy from the other parent. But if both parents pass on the same bad gene -- which is more likely if mother and father come from the same family -- the puppy has a problem.

The problem intensifies with what experts call "the popular sire effect," the result of a single desirable male's being used to sire a large number of litters. Says Michigan State's Schall: "If it is later determined that the male that looked perfect has a genetic disease, he will have dispersed it widely before it gets discovered."

Hereditary weakness can be introduced even when there is no underlying genetic defect at all. The biological interplay between individual genes can be extremely complicated, and breeding to enhance one characteristic can have unintended consequences. Vets believe the retinal disease that afflicts most collies may fall into this category. The gene responsible may lie very close to the one that gives collies their long noses and closely set eyes -- traits that have been deliberately emphasized by breeders. Says Dr. Donald Patterson, chief of the medical genetics section at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine: "Many people have bred dogs for desired traits, but in the process of doing this they have also got undesirable ones. The objective should be to combine breeding for good traits with more careful planning to get rid of genetic defects. Unfortunately, not much attention has been paid to that."

The AKC insists that it is not at fault: the breeders are. Asked why club- sponsored shows put much more emphasis on appearance than health, Mandeville responds that "this is America. If this size is good, this size is better. We reflect, unfortunately, the breeding of dogs ((that)) people register with us. Are there genetic problems? Absolutely. Are there temperament problems? Absolutely. Are there people making poorly informed breeding decisions? Far too many."

The club is just a registry, he says, so "don't rely on a registry to make an informed decision for you." Why don't AKC registrations carry health and temperament requirements -- as comparable certification does in Germany and Sweden? Says Mandeville: "It's the Big Brother argument. At what point does regulation of the individual for the greater good step on the individual's toes?"

Mandeville also claims that any attempt by the AKC to limit registration would trigger government sanctions. "We would like to be able to say, 'I'm sorry, we're not registering your dog,' but we would be in court faster than your head would spin. The Federal Trade Commission has rules and regulations in this country about restriction of trade."

Plenty of dog owners reject this sort of reasoning -- and shun the blessings of American Kennel Club membership as well. The U.S. Border Collie Club is vigorously resisting AKC efforts to add border collies to the 137 breeds it formally recognizes (there are more than 300 breeds worldwide). The border- collie owners and breeders are convinced that AKC recognition would create pressure to breed the dogs for their looks at the inevitable expense of their intelligence and herding instincts. "We are concerned that the working ability of our dogs would be completely lost," says Donald McCaig, a breeder in Williamsville, Virginia, and a spokesman for the club.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club voted overwhelmingly last May to reject AKC recognition for another reason: their conviction that the AKC values its own revenues over a dog's welfare. Cavalier breeders do not allow the dogs to be sold in pet stores, which are infamous for buying animals from shady sources, including puppy mills. In fact, most dog experts routinely warn buyers not to deal with pet stores at all. The AKC insists, though, that the Cavalier club drop its prohibition as a condition of affiliation. Why would it take such a position? Perhaps because some 7% of the group's $21 million in dog-registration earnings comes from pet-store sales. "They simply want to gain as many registrations as possible because money is power," says the Humane Society's Fox.

Greed cuts both ways, of course. Six Labrador retriever breeders say they have filed a class action against the AKC and the Labrador Retriever Club Inc. for changing the breed standard to favor slimmer, longer-legged animals over the traditional stockier, shorter ones -- thereby devaluing the out-of-date model. And some owners of a relatively rare dog called the Havanese, which arrived in this country from Cuba in the mid-1970s, are actively seeking AKC recognition, despite worries by other owners that they are inviting overbreeding and genetic problems.

"It's a competitive world, and money talks," says one Havanese breeder. "For many people, winning dog shows is a thrill and makes them proud, and the AKC has a lot of shows." Perhaps more to the point, once the Havanese join the high-profile AKC fold, the going rate for puppies, according to some breeders, could go as high as $2,000, up from about $750 now. On average, registered puppies go for 10 to 20 times the price of paperless dogs, and champion purebreds can sell for as much as $50,000.

Most of these genetic problems would disappear if Americans could somehow be persuaded to abandon purebreds in favor of mutts. While individual mixed-breed dogs have problems, the animals on average are a lot healthier than their high-class cousins. "Mutts are the Hondas of the dog world," says syndicated animal columnist Mike Capuzzo of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "They're cheap, reliable and what nature intended in the first place. They are what you would get at a canine Club Med if you left them alone for six years." There are "breeds" in the mutt world, just as there are among purebreds. The most popular: a cross between a Labrador retriever and a German shepherd.

But even if the U.S. cannot be cured of its addiction to purebreds -- probably a safe assumption -- there is plenty that can be done to improve overall canine health. One factor that is forcing breeders to pay closer attention to genetic problems is the emergence of puppy lemon laws in a dozen states, including New York, Massachusetts, California and Florida. If a dog is found to have a debilitating defect, owners can get a refund or a healthy dog in exchange, or they can force the breeder to pay the vet bills to repair a problem.

The laws are not entirely fair to breeders, though, says George Padgett, a veterinary pathologist at Michigan State University. "Some may be penalized unfairly because no one has taught them about genetic defects." Agrees Penn's Dr. Donald Patterson, founder of the genetic section of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine and widely acknowledged as the dean of canine genetic research, "The common misconception is that breeders are cavalier." The real problem, he says, is that they have not had the scientific information to detect hidden defects and thus avoid bad breeding decisions.

That is starting to change. One new tool that should prove helpful is a computerized genetic-disease data base developed at Patterson's lab that lists more than 300 genetic problems plaguing dogs. Another is the university's PennHIP program, a hip-disease-detection system that took 11 years and $1 million to develop. It involves taking detailed measurements of hip X rays to grade the severity of dysplasia. The program is being marketed by International Canine Genetics Inc., a research company based in Malverne, Pa., which is already training vets to use it. "A tighter-fitting hip joint is better, and we now have the technology to determine which hips are tighter," says Dr. Gail Smith, an engineer and veterinarian who developed the test. "This will help people select the best breeding dogs."

Lists and detection systems are not the same as cures, but Patterson points out that veterinary researchers are finally beginning to have some insight into the causes of these disorders. "Canine genetic diseases," he says, "are now being defined at the molecular level, and the mapping of the canine genome is at last under way." Scientists have located the genes that cause muscular dystrophy in golden retrievers, and "shaking pup" syndrome in Welsh springer spaniels. They're working on identifying the genes responsible for failure-to-thrive metabolic problems in giant Schnauzers, bleeding disorders in Scottish terriers and Doberman pinschers, and the hereditary deafness that affects about 30% of Dalmatians. And they believe hip dysplasia, the crippling condition that afflicts Jake the golden retriever and his kin, may be the result of several defective genes working in concert -- not an unusual situation with hereditary disorders.

On the supply side, critics of the AKC argue that the kennel club should follow the lead of its European counterparts by imposing health standards as part of its registration process. Rather than wait for that step, individual- breed clubs are taking their own action. At least three Rottweiler clubs have ruled that dogs missing more than one tooth, which can be a sign of a genetic defect, may not be bred. English springer spaniel owners are encouraging one another not to breed dogs with temperament problems; they want to eliminate what they call the "rage syndrome," a type of brain seizure that makes some dogs lose control. And the Portuguese Water Dog Club requires breeders who advertise in its magazine to submit copies of hip, eye and heart clearances to prove that their dogs are not suffering from genetic defects.

The Portuguese Water Dog Club is perhaps the most active organization in policing genetic defects. Water dogs tend to suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, which causes blindness, and from an enzyme deficiency that can kill dogs by storing toxins in the nervous system. The club offered in 1987 to finance several researchers at major veterinary schools to develop screening tests for the diseases. The result is a blood test that found 16% of the dogs to be carriers in 1990. Club members stopped breeding the afflicted animals, and by 1993 the incidence had dropped to 7%.

With such grass-roots pressure, and perhaps a bit battered by bad publicity and lawsuits, the AKC has lately shown some interest in promoting this kind of research itself. In October it sponsored its first-ever canine-genetics conference, where 25 leading researchers gave talks to an audience of some 150 veterinary scientists from around the world. And during the past month there have been discussions within the club about setting up a scientific advisory panel that would recommend research projects the club might support. If the ancient American Kennel Club is finally thinking of altering its culture, there may yet be hope for the family dog.
Michelle

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Postby mnp13 » March 16th, 2009, 11:52 am

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... reeds.html
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BBC could drop Crufts over unhealthy 'freak show' breeds
By JONATHAN MARGOLIS and FIONA MACRAE
Last updated at 12:10 PM on 19th August 2008
he BBC could stop showing Crufts after a documentary exposed the diseases and deformities suffered by many of Britain's 5million pedigree dogs.

Decades of inbreeding and the demands of the show circuit have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills, from agonising brain conditions to epilepsy, heart murmurs and cancers.

The golden retriever, the cavalier King Charles spaniel, the boxer, the Pekingese, the bulldog and the pug are among the breeds plagued by disease and deformity as a result of breeders 'playing God with dogs', tonight's programme claims.

With purebreds accounting for three-quarters of Britain's 7million pet dogs, their catalogue of health problems is costing their owners more than £10million in vets' fees every week.

So shocking are some of the scenes in the documentary - including a boxer having an epileptic fit and a King Charles spaniel writhing in agony because its skull is too small for its brain - that the BBC is considering ending its 42-year connection with Crufts.

There is even speculation that the Queen, well known for her love of dogs, could cut her ties with the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts and sets the standards for the 200 or so breeds of pedigree dog.

Mark Evans, the RSPCA's chief vet, said: 'When I watch Crufts, what I see is a parade of mutants. It's some freakish, garish beauty pageant that has nothing, frankly, to do with health and welfare.


BBC ban? Decades of inbreeding have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills

'We've become completely and utterly desensitised to the fact that breeding these deformed, disabled, disease-prone animals is either shocking or abnormal.'

The BBC1 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, to be shown at 9pm, is the result of a two-year investigation into the breeding and show circuits. It highlights the health problems suffered by many of our favourite pets.

Vets describe how virtually all cavalier King Charles spaniels develop life-threatening heart murmurs.

And a third have syringomyelia, an agonising condition caused by them being bred with skulls too small for their brains.

Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge said: 'The cavalier's brain is like a size ten foot that has been shoved into a size six shoe; it doesn't fit.

'It is described in humans as one of the most painful conditions you can have, a piston-type headache. Even a light touch - a collar, for example - can induce discomfort.

'If you took a stick and beat a dog to create that pain, you'd be prosecuted. But there's nothing to stop you breeding a dog with it.'

The programme says the drive for perfection has left golden retrievers prone to cancer, labradors with joint and eye problems, West Highland terriers beset with allergies and boxers at high risk of heart disease, epilepsy and cancer.

Pugs are so inbred that although there are 10,000 in Britain, their DNA could come from just 50.

The Pekingese's squashed face causes breathing difficulties that lead to some airlines refusing to fly them.

So serious are the breathing problems that Danny, the 2003 Crufts winner, sat on an ice pack while being photographed afterwards to stop him overheating.

To ensure desirable traits are passed on, male dogs are being mated with their own daughters, sisters and granddaughters.

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, said: 'If dog breeders insist on going further down that road, I can say with confidence that there is a universe of suffering waiting for many of these breeds and many, if not most, will not survive.'

The Kennel Club said it worked hard 'to eliminate from breed standards any exaggerations that might cause problems'.

Club secretary Caroline Kisko said many of the health problems have their roots in Victorian times and inbreeding was an 'essential tool' in the development of breeds.

The organisation runs a range of health testing schemes and is funding the development of genetic tests. 'Ninety per cent of purebred dogs are healthy,' she said.

Eamon Hardy, the documentary's executive producer, said: 'In light of this programme, the BBC will request a meeting with the Kennel Club to discuss the implications and potential impact of the film.'

Buckingham Palace said it could not comment on speculation.
Michelle

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
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Postby KJS » March 17th, 2009, 3:39 pm

Common Bulldog health problems you may encounter include: elongated soft palate, small trachea, allergies, dermatitis, demodetic mange, eye lid anomalies, hip dysplasia and heart problems.


Nope we dont have any of these...lucky us!
Dont breed or buy while shelter animals die!
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Postby mnp13 » March 17th, 2009, 3:51 pm

KJS wrote:
Common Bulldog health problems you may encounter include: elongated soft palate, small trachea, allergies, dermatitis, demodetic mange, eye lid anomalies, hip dysplasia and heart problems.


Nope we dont have any of these...lucky us!


You might want to note that that quote came from an EB rescue site... from a group that is trying to place bulldogs. Those problems are common enough for them to be noted - much like there are blue Pit bull breeders who say that mange is a "normal problem" for Pits.
Michelle

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
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mnp13
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Postby KJS » March 17th, 2009, 4:00 pm

Yes I understand...but really whatever the reason behind the bashing...whether you dont like the dogs or the breeders or the unethical breeders...its done now...I'll just keep quiet about these healthy dogs of mine from now on


Point to note is that most of the dogs I have seen on the US sites are SERIOUSLY overweight( mine are just a little bit taller and heavier than a Staffy Bull)...I know over there the belief is that 'Bigger is Better'...but maybe not so...huh?
Dont breed or buy while shelter animals die!
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