Breeding for looks, not Health.
As a certain standard for breeds become more selective, it’s evident that some breeders may abuse their powers to make the perfect dog. In all seriousness, these dogs are far from perfect and will suffer from many conditions that could’ve been prevented. This is due to the new norm, petface. These unprecedented standards have recently been set by the American Kennel Club. Petface is the youthful puppy features that breeders intentionally breed for. These traits include big bulging eyes, smushed faces, and larger than average heads. The breeds that are commonly bred for this are Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs, and the Boston Terrier. Unfortunately, due to petface, these breeds tend to have odd shaped ears, wide and flat skulls, wrinkles over the nose, many other wrinkles on the face, resulting in the dogs inability to exercise, withstand heat, stress, and the dogs ability to breathe to decrease.
A tactic breeders commonly use to get the perfect dog is inbreeding direct relatives, such as a father and a daughter, or mother and son. This then results in the exact traits they want, but with many problems. For example, the bulldog is commonly inbreed, and tends to suffer from a certain squat with shortened legs, and large heads with a flat muzzle. Bulldogs typically undergo artificial insemination, which could just lead to the breed’s demise. Another poorly bred dog is the pug, who also has to undergo artificial insemination. Pugs also suffer from exposed eyes, which are very vulnerable to sustain injuries. An investigation concluded that the genetic variation in these breeds showed little to no diversity on the mothers and fathers side.
Another problem with these breeds is that the mothers cannot give natural birth. Due to the size of the pups heads, mothers tend to give birth by C- sections. The Boston Terrier, also known as the American Gentleman, is most known for this, since they are bred purposely for a deformed structure. Out of 675 Boston liters, 86% were a C- section, sadly 9% will die at birth, and 14% will be born with birth defects. Another survey found out that out of 109 Boston pups, only 9 died of old age. These statistics are horrible for such a popular breed.
One of the most troubled breed is the French Bulldog. This breed is perfect for city life, since they barely require any exercise due to their breathing problems. This breed happens to be one of the most common breeds, yet one of the most problematic breeds. Frenchies have such trouble breathing, and most airlines actually have them banned from even flying in cargo. This relatively new breed has one of the lowest life expectancy, where their median age was 1.3 years, where most dogs are typically 4.5 years. Out of 300 vet clinics, and 2228 Frenchies, 72% have disorders. While some disorders are typical diarrhea and ear infections, others are mostly wrinkle infections, corneal ulcers, and upper respiratory disorders.
To conclude, the impact of this poor breeding results in high populations of dogs in veterinary clinics, more expensive vet bills, and breeders breeding with no concerns for the animals health. Overheating, exercise intolerance, and sleep apnoea are the least of concerns for the Pug, Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Boston. Eye problems, skin problems (rashes between the skin rolls, mostly yeast and bacterial infections ), orthopedic problems, heart diseases, inherited deafness, and upper respiratory conditions are these dogs most prone conditions. In a study, it was found that outbreeding, introducing dogs from outside breeders registers, by breeding back to normal head shape and less excessive skin rolls would help their disease problems. Breeders tend to reject introducing genes outside of their breed though, since they fear their breed will then “be contaminated”, and the breed would lose its character, be introduced to new diseases, and change in temperament. Breeding practices are negatively impacted by the ignorance of these genetic issues, since people see a cute dog and are instantly sold. Breeding these dogs seems to be a double sided sword; the desirable traits that customers want are met, but at a cost of many inherited genetic diseases.
Eschner, Kat. “The Evolution of Petface.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 31 Jan. 2018, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/evolution-petface-180967987/.
Maldarelli, Claire. “Although Purebred Dogs Can Be Best in Show, Are They Worst in Health?” Scientific American, Scientific American, 21 Feb. 2014, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/although-purebred-dogs-can-be-best-in-show-are-they-worst-in-health/.
Welton, Michele. “Boston Terrier Health Problems: Feeding.” Boston Terrier Health Problems | Feeding, http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/health/bostonterriers.html.
David Sargan Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology at the Department of Veterinary Medicine. “How to Save Inbred, Short-Faced Dogs Such as Pugs and Bulldogs from Poor Health.” The Conversation, 20 July 2020, theconversation.com/how-to-save-inbred-short-faced-dogs-such-as-pugs-and-bulldogs-from-poor-health-63341.
Brulliard, Karin. “French Bulldogs’ Cuteness Comes at a Steep Cost.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Apr. 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/05/04/french-bulldogs-cuteness-comes-at-a-steep-cost/.