8 Redesigned Dog Breeds: Once Healthy, Now Deformed
Breeders may consider them 'improvements,' but when you take a closer at how they're affecting the dogs' quality of life - and longevity - they're anything but.
Sadly, so-called breeding “improvements” over the last 100+ years have turned several once-healthy breeds into deformed dogs
Before humans began their “remodeling” project, dogs like the Bull Terrier, Boxer, English Bulldog, and Dachshund were well-proportioned, generally healthy, and physically active. This is no longer the case with today’s redesigned versions of these breeds
Over the years, several breeds have been deliberately fashioned to exaggerate certain physical traits at the expense of their health, longevity, and quality of life
Today’s German Shepherd Dog, with his sloped back and incoordination, is no longer the canine athlete he once was; the modern-day Pug comes with an extensive list of brachycephalic-related disorders that make his health a constant concern
I’ve written several articles here at Mercola Healthy Pets about how so-called “improvements” in dog breeding over the last 100+ years have turned once-healthy animals into dogs that are physically deformed to the extent that it interferes with or in some cases virtually destroys their quality of life.
Breeding physically resilient, healthy dogs has been replaced with breeding for the sole purpose of attaining twisted beauty pageant awards, and breeding for esthetics has cost us the health of our most beloved breeds.
As a veterinarian, I've seen first-hand the problems created when dogs are bred exclusively to achieve specific features, without concern for their health, mobility, or quality of life. It is deeply disturbing to me, with all we know about the suffering these animals endure, that breeders persist in exaggerating their dogs' physical characteristics, even if it means sacrificing their health, and national kennel clubs condone it.
Dog Breeds Then and Now
The images on the left are from a 1915 book titled Dogs of All Nations. The pictures on the right are today’s poorly bred version of the dog on the left.
The German Shepherd Dog has been ruined by unscrupulous breeding practices. In 1915, the GSD was a medium-sized dog averaging 55 pounds. Today’s GSD is a complete distortion of the original. He’s a good 30 pounds heavier, with a barrel chest, sloping back, and often a “drunken” gait. These dogs used to be magnificent athletic specimens, but no more.
See how much shorter the Boxer’s face on the right is? Boxers are brachycephalic dogs, meaning they have pushed-in faces. Like many brachy breeds, the Boxer’s already short muzzle has been bred even shorter over the years, and slightly upturned as well. Brachys have difficulty breathing and controlling their body temperature, which often places extreme limitations on their physical abilities.
Look at how low to the ground today’s Basset Hound is. His shorter stature is the result of changes to the rear leg structure. He also has surplus skin, and needlessly long ears. Today’s Basset Hound’s droopy eyes are prone to eyelid abnormalities, and he also often suffers from problems related to his vertebra.
This unfortunate animal is the poster dog for all that is wrong with exaggerated breeding for looks. English Bulldogs suffer from an endless list of diseases, and according to one survey, their median age of death is 6.25 years. The massive size of today’s English Bulldog makes normal mating and birthing out of the question. They can’t reproduce without medical intervention.
On the left is a well-conditioned, athletic Bull Terrier. The dog on the right has an altered skull and thick abdomen. Today’s Bull Terriers are prone to a long list of disorders, including extra teeth and compulsive tail-chasing.
Dachshunds a century ago had short but functional legs and necks in proportion to their overall size. Since then, they have been bred for longer backs and necks, jutting chests, and legs so short their bellies barely clear the floor. Doxies have the highest risk of any breed for intervertebral disc disease, which can cause paralysis. They are also prone to dwarfism-related disorders, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and leg problems.
The Pug is another brachycephalic dog bred to exaggerate the trait. The result? High blood pressure, heart problems, low blood oxygen levels, breathing problems, a tendency to overheat/develop heatstroke, dental issues, and skin fold dermatitis. At the other end of this poor dog is a “highly desirable” double-curl tail, which is actually a genetic defect that can result in paralysis.
Today’s version of this once-highly skilled working dog is supersized, with a pushed-in face and excess skin. The Saint Bernard doesn’t do much work these days, because he quickly overheats. Some of the diseases he’s prone to include eye and eyelid abnormalities, Stockard’s paralysis (a spinal cord disorder), and bleeding disorders. I agree with the Science and Dogs blogger, Caen Elegans, who concludes:
“No dog breed has ever been improved by the capricious and arbitrary decision that a shorter or longer or flatter or bigger or smaller or curlier ‘whatever’ is better. Condemning a dog to a lifetime of suffering for the sake of looks is not an improvement; it is torture.”1
We need to do better for our dogs.
Healthypets Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Dr. Karen Becker cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Your pet's medical protocol should be given by your holistic veterinarian.
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