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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you Tami for pointing out the more balanced elements of that article. It is perhaps surprising that an article from HSUS would offer such balance as the propaganda they use often lacks it. I will say I was surprised by some of the very useful elements of that article as the way it was presented here in this thread above reflected a much more one sided view.

I was particularly interested in this section:
The AKC and its member breed clubs have devoted considerable effort to improving the health of purebreds, in part by funding research to find the genetic markers tied to certain disorders. In 1995, the AKC launched the AKC Canine Health Foundation, a charitable organization that raises funds to support canine health research; the AKC gives the foundation $1 million in annual funding.

Dedicated breeders have also made significant strides, says veterinarian Fran Smith, citing the success in correcting a disorder known as collie eye anomaly. “In order to have that pretty collie head shape, it doesn’t leave as much room in the skull for a particular eye shape,” says Smith, who serves on the AKC’s Canine Health and Welfare Advisory Panel and is president of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. “But collie breeders—the serious collie breeders—have made a huge impact in selecting for dogs who have the correct eye shape without that eye problem.”


Smith doesn’t blame written breed standards as much as people’s interpretation of those standards. What needs correcting, she says, is “this idea that if one wrinkle is good, then 12 wrinkles is better. If a 4-pound Chihuahua is good, then a 1-pound Chihuahua would be spectacular.” It’s a trend that even prompted Consumer Reports to issue a warning in 2003, telling readers that the “demand for ever-more-perfect purebred dogs has concentrated bad recessive genes and turned many pets into medical nightmares.”

I found myself very drawn to that particular section. I do feel that some breeds are truly suffering from extremes. However, if we look at a standard such as we have in Maltese we notice the key words about balance. IMHO our standard is a work that promotes the health and welfare of our breed. In fact, our standard has been changed by dedicated and concerned breeders to reflect concern about the health and welfare of the dogs. Like the quote about the chihuahua above, once people believed that breeding a Maltese under 3 pounds was most desirable (our standard in the early part of the 20th century). Well intentioned breeders recognized the dangers inherit in that and changed it in the most recent standard. In other words, they took out the words that suggested a dangerous extreme.

Responsible breeders with the help of their parent clubs should make such adaptations. There are certainly faults in some breeds that are related to choices that breeders and judges have made. However, it will be the responsible breeders who care about those breeds that will fix them. I certainly do not expect the puppy mills who are churning out "designer-mixed breeds" and extremes to appeal to a pet market such a "muzzless-teacups" to be part of that solution.

As pet owners, I believe we have a responsibility to learn about the steps that responsible breeders are taking to ensure the health of their dogs, including making decisions about breeding away from genetic faults and dangerous extremes. This is why it is so important to support responsible, ethical breeders and avoid those greeders who are breeding to fill a pet market. Ethical show breeders a put a desire to preserve the breed for the future foremost in their minds, they are not breeding for the buyer with the most money, but for a higher purpose. A breed that will continue to thrive for even longer than its ancient history.
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