Can we just take some time to talk about dog breeding and the direction it is headed. Humans have been breeding dogs for over a century and the results are deleterious. At first dog breeding was meant to maintain or improve certain traits such as strength and intelligence, sadly, dog breeding has turned into a business of breeding in certain traits because of client preference. No one seems to be worried about the health complications that come from a generation of line breeding, except the vet.
Certain dog breeds are highly predisposed to certain health conditions thanks to years of inbreeding. The bracycephalic dogs for example the Boxer always present with respiratory conditions. Then it makes me wonder why anyone would insist on inbreeding this trait instead of out breeding it. Perhaps they like the snoring, perhaps!
The Shar pei is another dog breed I would like to highlight as an example of poor and rushed breeding. The dog, which traces its origin to China, originally had wrinkles on the skin. The wrinkles decrease in number as the dog grows. Now, dog breeders took advantage and started breeding them specifically for the folds or wrinkles as you may call it because of the increasing popularity.
The health implications of this trait is that it makes the dog prone to developing atopic dermatitis , a chronic allergic skin disease. Dogs presenting with allergic skin disease often get allergy-induced skin infections . In addition, Shar Peis are also at a greater risk of demodicosis, a disease which happens when Demodex canis mites proliferate and cause skin irritation, inflammation and infection. Familial Shar Pei fever (FSF) is also another serious congenital disease that causes short fevers lasting from 24 hours, sometimes up to three days and usually accompanied by accumulation of fluid around the ankles.
The Chinese Crested dog, which is bred for its lack of hair, apart from winning the World’s Ugliest Dog is also quite expensive. The dog only has tufts of hair on the head, limbs and tail region. The implications of this trait is that it makes the dog photosensitive and predisposes it to skin cancers.
The German Shepherd which is my personal favorite, has over the years been bred for its intelligence and athletic ability. However it pains me that these dogs when presented at the clinic always have hip problems be it hip dysplasia, luxations or paralysis. It’s quite a big problem for them.
Since man is the main cause of all this madness, crossbreeding is a good place to start inorder to dilute the bad traits these dogs have accumulated over the years. Cross breeding however should be regulated otherwise you will have a Chihuahua crossed with a Rottweiler and that presents a challenge during birth and the only way to deliver those puppies is through Cesarean section.
There are world recognized standards for each dog breed, but when standards do more harm than good, they should either be revised or abandoned altogether. We owe it to the dogs.