I love my girls, even though they outweigh what I was told their adult weight would be by about forty pounds. It turned out the Miniature Pinscher-Chihuahua mix was on their mom’s side only, and she turned out to be a bit of a tramp. One sister’s father was probably a Doberman and the other’s a German Shepherd, who knows really; it does not matter.

Even though I only got to carry them around in my pocket for a week or two, I would not change them for the world. The first mongrels I’ve ever owned, they are smarter and healthier than any of the purebreds my family has adopted over the last fifty years.

With it being the week of the 141s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show here in the US and everyone rushing out to buy their favorite purebred, I think it is appropriate to take a look at just exactly what it means to be a purebred. According to WKC website, this year’s show will feature over 202 breeds and varieties, three of which are new (SloughiPumi, American Hairless Terrier). Here is how the show explains it:

A variety is a division of a breed based on coat, color or size. Each variety competes separately in the Group. The following breeds are divided into varieties:

COLOR
Cocker Spaniels (3): Black, ASCOB, Parti Color
Bull Terriers (2): Colored, White
English Toy Spaniels (2): Blenheim & Prince Charles, King Charles & Ruby

COAT
Dachshunds (3): Longhaired, Smooth, Wirehaired
Chihuahuas (2): Long Coat, Smooth
Collie (2): Rough, Smooth

SIZE
Beagles (2): Not exceeding 13”, Over 13” But Not Exceeding 15”
Manchester Terriers (2): Standard, Toy
Poodles (3): Miniature, Standard, Toy

On the surface, it looks like a lot of genetic diversity, all those different breeds with many varieties within each breed. Unfortunately, that diversity is only between the different breeds themselves. When you look at individual breeds or groups of breeds (sporting, non-sporting, herding etc.) a lack of genetic diversity is causing a lot of pain and suffering for man’s best friend.

To maintain the specific characteristics that defines specific breeds and what can be classified as a purebred,  a lot of inbreeding goes on. As a result, many breeds have horrible genetic issues that shorten their lifespans and ruin their quality of life. Some well know examples can be found in the following:

  1. Dalmatian – inability to produce uric acid resulting in stones in the urinary track
  2. Boxers – multiple kidney problems
  3. Brachycephalic Breeds (pugs, bulldogs etc) – breathing problems, joint problems, spine problems and eyelid problems to name a few

Many of these dogs die or have to be put down due all the complications of the inbreeding required to “maintain” these unique and evolving characteristics. All across the globe we have laws and taboo’s regarding incest, not so with our four legged friends.

As we all gather round our TV sets to cheer on our favorite breeds I encourage everyone to remember all the dogs that have suffered, died or been put down to produce the “champions” we see on our screens. If you feel compelled to add some love and companionship to your home this dog show season, PLEASE consider a mongrel, I promise you won’t regret it – I sure don’t!

 

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