Even the toughest person in the world would have a hard time not gushing over an adorable little puppy. We all love Labrador Retrievers and Beagles, but there is a disheartening story behind almost all our purebred four-legged friends.
Breeding New Breeds
Outside of a few traditional working dogs, almost 90% of all breeds were created in the last hundred years. Pure breeding is a form of genetic manipulation invented by people. During the Victorian era, competitive dog breeding became all the rage. Most of the breeds that we know of today are actually products of years of selective breeding. After playing Doctor Frankenstein for a while, these dogs were then labeled as “pure breeds” To then preserve this type of dog, two dogs from the exact gene pool are required. With an already gene pool, most breeders would resort to using dogs from the same family.
The inbreeding of dogs has become a major but largely overlooked issue over the past few years. Most purebred dogs are often forbidden from mating outside their own breed, and they are frequently crossed with their own parents and siblings. A recent study showed that 10,000 pugs have the same genetic diversity as 50 people.
The pug was a majestic breed, but decades of inbreeding have marred them. Their noses are so compressed, they can barely breathe. Sometimes their nostrils are covered with flaps. Their tongues are too large, resulting in it pressing down on their larynx. Their misshapen, smaller jawbone has resulted in a squashed snout. The little dogs are also getting stouter, and are more prone to obesity. Their eyes are too big for their skull, causing them to bulge out of their sockets. The desirable double curled tail is, in reality, a genetic defect.
Bulldogs too have to face the wrath of the consequences that come with inbreeding. Most of them can barely walk due to their disproportionate bodies, and many of them are inflicted with hip dysplasia, ingrown tails, and stunted jaws. Just like pugs, their squashed faces cause a variety of respiratory problems. Not just bulldogs but a large list of dogs are prone to genetic anomalies. All of this is only due to inbreeding.
Most of these complications can be fixed if they were just allowed to crossbreed. This unfortunately rarely happens because then they wouldn’t look like the little bug-eyed canines we know and love. Our persistence that they live up to our arbitrary expectations is causing them to get sick, very sick. It’s a huge issue nowadays. More people want pure breeds like Siberian Huskies and Shih Tzus. With the demand for these dogs going up, more inbreeding takes place. It’s easier for the breeder, more convenient to cross a dog with its mother or sister than to make the effort to go find another dog of the same breed. To them, it’s only the money that matters.
Some believe that limited inbreeding is not completely ethical, but permissible. It’s overdoing it that causes most of the problems. One generation, or maybe even two generations of inbreeding can be overlooked, as it doesn’t pose too much of a threat. But people push it to four or five generations, maybe more. That’s when things start going haywire.
But most see no ethicality in it at all. Many firmly believe that there are no benefits to inbreeding, and should not be practiced as it just leaves dogs riddled with genetic diseases. Inbreeding has developed into more of a money-making gimmick these days. Blue Pit Bull Terriers, for example, are very rare and very expensive. With this type of dog, breeders often mate them with their own siblings, so that they have more blue Pit Bulls to sell.
Genetic problems aren’t the only outcome of inbreeding. Due to the abnormalities caused by this practice, many people are abandoning their dogs, leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets. Many Labradors and Great Danes can be seen roaming the roads, especially in the outskirts of the city.
How To Deal With It?
The best way to tackle this problem is to spread awareness. Many breeders, particularly unlicensed backyard breeders don’t know the implications of inbreeding and the horrible effects it has on dogs, and perhaps, sensitizing them would eradicate this practice. The government or even NGOs dedicated to animal welfare con conduct regular checks or raids, to see whether breeders are following ethical protocol.
The ordinary, everyday citizen too, can take steps to curb this crisis. Something as simple as adopting a stray would help. That would create a lesser demand for pure breeds, so breeders won’t be pushed to cross their dogs with its parents or siblings. Asking for medical records every time someone buys a dog would probably discourage the breeder to do such things
As for the future of purebreds, no one wants bulldogs or pugs to disappear, but rather, ethical practices should be followed in order for our little bundles of pure joy to be transformed back into the healthy, functional animals they once were.