Why “Best In Show” Actually Means “Worst For Dogs.”
The 2015 Westminster Dog Show concluded recently with Beagle Miss P. taking the top honors. This pageant has, for the last 139 years, been a strange affair that enters and exits the cultural conscious in a flash. While the high-end veneer creates a look of respect and grandeur, in reality it hides a brutal and damaging practice; the dangerous obsession with breeding the “perfect” dog.
During the Victorian Era, purebred dogs were considered “better” and “healthier” than their mixed cousins. Out of this idea came the push to breed dogs in order to encourage the desired traits, be it ear length, chest size, or any other physical feature people wanted to focus on. This process is where the idea of eugenics (a dominant concept in the early and mid 1900’s) came into being, and it was thought to be beneficial to the animals. However, narrowing the genetic pool created the exact opposite effect.
There are numerous reasons that breeding show dogs is vile, and why events like the Westminster Dog Show needs to be relegated to a dark mark in history, just like the idea of eugenics that it celebrates. Here are just a few.
(they certainly don’t look like perfect, happy dogs)
1. Show Dogs Are Afflicted With Horrific Genetic Disorders.
Breeding show dogs means shrinking the gene pool. By removing “undesirable” dogs, some breeds end up coming from groups of less than 50 animals, leading to higher chances of cancer, tumors, heart disease, skin issues, neurological disorders, immune system problems, and a litany of other issues that prevent the dog from living a long and healthy life.
2. Breeding for specific traits brings the bad with the “good.”
The accentuated physical attributes that breeders aim for are often horrible for the dog. The flat faces of certain breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Pekingese lead to breathing difficulties for the animal. The adorable “snoring” you hear from them while sleeping? It means they are struggling to breath. The wrinkles of a Chinese Shar-Pei make them prone to skin infections. One of the most egregious happens in breeds like the French Bulldog, where over 80% of births have to be delivered by cesarian, something that is obviously a man-made issue.