Looking for a New Pet? Avoid These Breeding Tragedies

(interview transcript)       (interview video)

Story at-a-glance

  • Dr. Becker attended a recent United Kennel Club Premier show in Michigan and sat down for a fascinating discussion with Wayne Cavanaugh, president of the UKC.  Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Cavanaugh, UKC shows have evolved very differently than traditional dog shows.  They feature several competitive events like dock diving and lure coursing, and all dogs are welcome to participate.  The show ring is the only activity reserved for purebred dogs.
  • Dr. Becker and Mr. Cavanaugh agree that many dog breed standards are suffering from extreme exaggeration of certain physical characteristics.  The arching backs of today’s German Shepherd Dogs and the inverted muzzles of Pugs are two examples.  Neither of these breeds, nor several others, have benefited from these exaggerations.  Many GSDs can barely walk, and many Pugs can barely breathe.
  • Registration papers, whether from the AKC, the UKC or another registry, do not guarantee the health of a dog.  This is a fact too many dog owners overlook.  In today’s world of puppy mills and online puppy storefronts, a “papered” dog means nothing in terms of how the animal was bred, it’s health, talents, or temperament.
  • Drastic narrowing of the canine gene pool has created generations of sick, debilitated purebred dogs.  Golden Retrievers are a heartbreaking example.  Since the inception of the breed, only a handful of sires have been bred.  This in large part has contributed to the astronomical rates of cancer in this breed, who are now often referred to as “cancer retrievers,” or “golden tumor dogs.”
  • If people understood more about where their pet store or online puppy really came from – what conditions it was bred in – we could put a quick end to the factory farming of puppies.  A good rule of thumb: if you can’t meet the parents, don’t buy the puppy.  That is the best way to stop supporting the monstrous business of puppy mills.

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