Inbreeding causes deformities and suffering for pedigree dogs
Purebred dogs are being ‘bred to death’ for desirable traits, according to BBC documentary ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’.
Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 01:56 PM
XXX: Bull terriers look dramatically different today than they did a century ago. (Photo: BBC)
Breeders hoping to produce champion dogs are causing immense suffering and deformities, according to a UK investigation into pedigree breeding practices. BBC One documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed delves into the many devastating health issues facing pedigree dogs in the United Kingdom.
Pedigree Dogs Exposed reveals the drastic changes in various pedigree breeds over the past century, contrasting the healthy dogs before inbreeding occurred with the purebred dogs of today. Poor gait, severe heart and respiratory problems, epilepsy and bone deformities are just a few examples of the problems that plague breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, West Highland Terriers and German Shepherds.
"People are carrying out breeding which would be, first of all, entirely illegal in humans, and secondly is absolutely insane from the point of view of the health of the animals," said University College London professor of genetics Steven Jones. “In some breeds they are paying a terrible, terrible price in genetic disease."
Bulldogs have reportedly been bred to have such an unnatural shape, that they can’t mate or give birth without human assistance. Syringomyelia is a common condition in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels caused by breeding them to have skulls too small for their brains, which results in agonizing pain.
The documentary aired on the BBC in the UK in 2008, and on ABC1 in Australia on Sept. 10 of this year. No air date has been announced for the United States, but the program can currently be found on YouTube and DailyMotion.com.
Pedigree Dogs Exposed incited outrage in the UK after it was aired, and spurred the Kennel Club to ban the practice of inbreeding and initiate new health plans. Australian animal rights advocates are hopeful that the program will stir similar reactions there, with the RSPCA stating that it wants breeders to focus on health, welfare and functionality of dogs.
"Despite all the evidence against inbreeding, the Australian National Kennel Council is still operating a closed studbook system and registering first and second degree matings (mothers with sons, grandfathers with granddaughters), increasing the chances of inherited disorders and making the puppies less resistant to infectious and genetic diseases," said RSPCA chief scientist Dr. Bidda Jones.