How selective dog breeding is impacting their welfare
According to a recent report done in the UK selective breeding practices are associated with “exaggerated anatomical features and inherited disease.”
Breed standards contribute to the problem by focusing more on physical attributes rather than “health, temperament, welfare and functionality.” These standards trickle down to the average pet population.
Most significantly reported are anatomical features that directly result in disability, behavior problems or pain, resulting in unnecessary suffering, high rates of disease with hereditary causes.
An extreme example are those breeds with heads so large natural birthing is impossible, their faces are so flat breathing and exercise is limited and/or include risks of early heart disease or cancer. These limitations affect quality of life and according to the report, “Society has become ‘desensitized to [these] welfare issues.”
The UK Kennel Club acknowledges breeding for “extreme morphology” is a danger and continuing to follow current breed standards presents a “matter of continued urgency.”
According to this report, “most dog breeding is a hobby conducted by ‘dog lovers’, rather than utilitarian.” The suffering which some pedigree dogs endure could be avoidable with revised breeding practices” and suggests society has a “strong moral obligation” for solving the problem.
The experts who participated in this study suggest current breeding practices, efforts by breed societies and kennel clubs are ineffective and are not protecting the welfare of many breeds. They consider it so serious suggesting “drastic measures” are needed and that all members of society especially those who benefit from dogs have a “moral and ethical obligation” to take every action to rectify this problem to protect the health and welfare of future generations of pedigree dogs.
The recommendation is this will take a concerted effort for all involved and that all groups who benefit from dogs “buy into the process” as well as fully support the actions necessary. This in my long standing opinion is the challenge we should be concentrating our energy and resources toward. This is contrary to the current road where we find ourselves. We are being reactive rather than proactive, filling the voids with bandaid solutions while continuing by ignoring the bigger picture!
Joyce Kesling, CDBC
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
Dog Trainer, Dog Behavior Specialist