• Dina Hingorani

The Truth About Dog Breeds

Often times when we hear people wanting a dog, we see them wondering which breed to get. A golden retriever because they’re family-friendly or perhaps a beagle, less shedding, and a smaller breed.

Have you ever wondered where breeds come from?

Breeds are a result of a process called artificial selection. In nature, natural selection takes place where the fittest most adept members of a species reproduce to ensure that the future generation is well adapted to their environment. Artificial selection, however, is a result of human interference in a natural process. In the case of dogs, the most aesthetically looking dogs are bred together and then their puppies are bred together to create the perfect looking dog.

But how does this affect the health of our dogs?

Inbreeding leads to a lack of genetic diversity, meaning that if the parents had a genetic illness or weakness, it was passed down to their puppies and their puppies being bred with one another make this disadvantage much more prominent. Problems such as hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defect, skin problems, and epilepsy run rampant. When we look at a Daschund hound, we immediately think what an adorable little sausage dog, but the result of this adorable long spine is years of back problems including disc disease. Similarly, breeds with pushed up noses like Bulldogs and Pugs struggle to breathe like you and I do. Every breath they take is strenuous and uncomfortable, making it very difficult for them to engage in exercise and play.

Moreover, just like we have trends in clothes, short-term trends exist in the world of breeders too. Popularised by the TV show Game of Thrones, Siberian Husky puppies became the most wanted dog breed. The result of this was young husky females being forced to have puppies over and over again. By the time these dogs matured, they were unable to give birth and were forced to live out their lives in shelters without any love or were simply put down. While the breeders minted temporary money, the people soon began to realize that caring for Huskies with their thick coats, constant shedding and need for a cold environment was no easy task leading to shelters being filled up with purebred husky puppies not long after.

With so many purebred dogs in shelters, why are people so keen on purchasing dogs from breeders?

Well, the theme of racism extends to dogs too. Purebred dogs are considered superior to dogs from shelters or the streets. As we saw earlier, this belief is far from the truth. Dogs that live on the street are a result of natural selection. This means that they are less likely to have genetic disadvantages compared to a purebred dog. Let me present a rather startling fact to you. Over 3 million dogs are put down in shelters in the United States alone. With every purchase of a dog from a breeder, a dog on the streets or in a shelter is denied a home.

But surely not all breeders mistreat dogs?

First, let’s look at the four main types of breeders:

  1. Puppy mills

Their sole purpose is to breed and sell as many dogs as they possibly can. Here, dogs are strongly mistreated and considered not as loving, caring animals but as a source to be exploited for money. Dogs are packed in cages, not able to run, play, or even stretch their legs. With no serious limit to the number of puppies allowed to be bred, puppy mills are always overcrowded and with severe sanitation issues.

2. Backyard breeders

These breeders are pet owners whose dogs had a littler and they are looking for homes for the puppies. Although these animals are most of the time well-loved and cared for, proper vet care is hardly ever given to the puppies

, leading to high possibilities of parasitic infection and parvovirus.

3. Hobby breeders

Hobby breeders research dog breeds but at a leisurely level. They are likely to have only a few dogs that are constantly bred together to have puppies. These breeders don’t care much about the well-being of the dogs, only about the possibility of discovering a new breed. They sell puppies keeping up with the latest fads.

4. Professional breeders

Professional breeders conducted intensive research and experiments to create the perfect dog. These dogs are the ones who are bred for competitions and tournaments. They maintain the bloodline of exquisite dogs who have won races and other events and breed the retired dogs to result in a flawless dog. With these breeders, the practice of tail-docking, cutting off the dog’s tail is a common practice. This is done so that while running, the tail does not get in the way or distract the dog, not realizing that the tail is crucial for allowing social interactions with other dogs and helps maintain a good balance.

Each one of these breeders has an ulterior motive and encourage practices of inbreeding and animal cruelty. Dogs bought from these breeders have not only genetic disadvantages but in some cases even temperament issues because of their mistreatment in early developmental stages.

All dogs deserve love and care and breeders propagate the exact opposite. We as humans have been focused more on the aesthetic value of owning a dog rather than the companionship they offer. But the first step to change these awful practices is to gain awareness which is exactly what you just did by reading this. Each one of us can make a change by supporting our local rescuers and shelters and enjoy the happy wagging tails of second chances.

Be sure to pass the message along and encourage all future pet parents to adopt not shop!

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