Posted on

Be Indian, Adopt Indian!

Breeding a “pure” dog is the ultimate cruelty on the canine species

New Delhi, October 29, 2019: I have just received a letter from Silchar saying that they are dog lovers and have formed a kennel club which hopes to have its first dog show. This, they state, is in response to my articles on understanding dogs. In case they have missed the point that I have been striving to drive home for many years now, let me repeat it again. I am dead set against “pedigreed or purebred” dogs and completely against dog shows. Let me elaborate. What is a pedigreed dog?

It is an invented species – take a perfectly natural dog, what the uninitiated would call a “jungli” and then work on it for 20 years of selective breeding to make the end product into a bizarre shape, size and colour and there you have a pedigreed dog. Pedigreed because you know the names of its grandparents! The Indian contribution to the pedigreed field is the Rampur Hound, the ultimate joke played by the Nawab of Rampur on dog breeders. He took strays and kept mating them till he achieved a uniform size and then entered them as breeds in dog shows where they won awards due to his status rather than theirs, and voila! The Rampur Hound was born.

Breeding “pure”dogs is the ultimate cruelty on the canine species. Their size, their structure, their self-defence systems are all tampered with to suit the bizarre human taste. And then, when their appearance doesn’t suit you, you can go in for further mutilation, like the clipping of ears in Doberman to make sure that their inside ears are no longer protected and insects can enter freely, the cutting of tails to absurd stubs so that the anus is open to maggots. The very nature of breeding is not only detrimental to the dogs themselves, but is obscenely irresponsible in India where millions of natural Indian dogs, better suited physically and emotionally to the climate and the country, are being killed by the government. What Breeding a “pure” dog is the ultimate cruelty on the canine species, says Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, who believes its size, structure and self-defence systems are all tampered with to suit the bizarre human taste Be Indian, Adopt Indian!

Can you expect when you buy a purebred? Hyper behavior due to the exaggeration of one trait after decades of artificial breeding, and hundreds of expensive visits to the vet. Inherited diseases are rampant. Dalmatians are prone to deafness; Poodles to epilepsy; Lhasa Apsos to fatal kidney failure and cataracts; Alsatians to hip dysplasia; and Boxers and Bulldogs to malignant tumours. Congenital heart disease is a frequent complaint in pure breeds and so are cataracts, glaucoma and retinal degeneration. As a result of inbreeding to create and maintain their appearance, each breed harbours over a dozen genetic defects.

There are over 300 genetic disorders recorded in India documented in the various breeds. These defects undermine psychological as well as physical health. Toy dogs are requently high¬strung and overactive. Mastiffs, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers are overly fearful and submissive. A growing number of Chowchows, Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers are vicious. A cousin of mine had a pair of Dachshunds which she had to give away (another disgusting practice) because they were completely violent. The purebred has to have a prescribed look – and this causes numerous health problems.

The “perfect” Basset Hound should have short and thickened forelegs. Too frequently the legs bow, chronic elbow dislocation. A specification that the “feet turn a trifle outward” endorses a splaying that often results in lameness. A standard that calls for eyes to be “soft, sad and slightly sunken” creates a large gap between the lower eyelid and the eye and this becomes an ashtray ready to catch dust and debris.

-Exclusive story by Buddy Life Magazine

To read more, subscribe to Buddy Life!

Posted on

Dog Behaviors like Aggression and Fearfulness are Linked to Breed Genetics

A study looking at 101 breeds finds strong ties between certain behaviors and genes.

New York, October 2, 2019: Your dog’s ability to learn new tricks may be less a product of your extensive training than their underlying genetics.Among 101 dog breeds, scientists found that certain behavioral traits such as trainability or aggression were more likely to be shared by genetically similar breeds. While past studies have looked into the genetic underpinnings of dog behaviors for certain breeds, this research — published October 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B — is the first to investigate a wide swath of breed diversity and find a strong genetic signal.

According to the report published in Science News, “anecdotally, everyone knows that different dogs have different behavioral traits,” says Noah Snyder-Mackler, a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “But we didn’t know how much or why.” Humans and dogs have lived together for at least 15,000 years (SN: 7/6/17). But only within the last 300 years or so have breeders produced varieties such as Chihuahuas and Great Danes.

So, Snyder-Mackler and his colleagues considered how 101 dog breeds behave while searching for genetic similarities among breeds sharing certain personality traits. Data came from two dog genotype databases and from C-BARQ, a survey that asks owners to rank their pure-bred dog’s propensity for certain behaviors, like chasing or aggressiveness toward strangers. As a result, the study didn’t have genetic and behavioral data from the same canine individuals, which could help highlight rare genetic variants that may be nonetheless important to diversity in behaviors.

Using data from over 14,000 dogs described in C-BARQ, the researchers gave each breed a score for 14 different behaviors, and then searched for overall genetic similarities among breeds that had similar scores. For traits such as aggression toward strangers, trainability and chasing, the researchers found that genes contribute 60 to 70 percent of behavioral variation among breeds. Poodles and border collies, for example, had higher trainability scores, while Chihuahuas and dachshunds had higher aggression toward strangers.

Energy level and fearfulness showed a smaller genetic contribution, about 50 percent, suggesting that differences in environment or training play an equally important role in shaping those behaviors.

To read more, subscribe to Buddy Life!

Posted on

How Victorian-era dog shows divided canines into breeds and birthed a pedigree fixation

The advent of dog shows drove the creation of breed.

Modern dog breeds were created in Victorian Britain. The evolution of the domestic dog goes back tens of thousands of years, however, the multiple forms we see today are just 150 years old. Before the Victorian era, there were different types of dog, but there were not that many and they were largely defined by their function. They were like the colors of a rainbow: variations within each type, shading into each other at the margins. And many terms were used for the different dogs: breed, kind, race, sort, strain, type and variety.

According to by the time the Victorian era came to an end, only one term was used, breed. This was more than a change in language. Dog breeds were something entirely new, defined by their form not their function. With the invention of breed, the different types became like the blocks on a paint colour card – discrete, uniform and standardised. The greater differentiation of breeds increased their number. In the 1840s, just two types of terrier were recognized; by the end of the Victorian period, there were 10, and proliferation continued – today there are 27.

The advent of dog shows drove the creation of breed. The groups running these events and driving changes were styled the “dog fancy”, and the aficionados of the new canines “doggy people”. Breed standards were contingent and contested, decided as competitions selected the best dogs in each class. Owners gained prestige, and some income, from sales and stud fees. Competition at shows and in the market drove specialization, in the specification of ideal forms; standardization, in the designs of physical conformations; objectification, in viewing dogs’ bodies as made up of parts; commoditization, in promoting dogs as tradable goods; differentiation, in the proliferation of breeds; and alienation, as ability and character became secondary to form.

The templates for breed conformation standards drew upon history, art, natural history, physiology and anatomy, and aesthetics. There was a tension in breeding between earned and inherited worth, that is, between “best in breed” winners, chosen in competitions, and “pure blood” dogs with pedigrees showing superior inheritance.

This tension points to the divisions among doggy people who were gentlemen-amateurs, and those who were trader-professionals. The former, predominantly from the upper classes, defined themselves as ‘dog lovers’. They were men (few women were active in the dog fancy until the 1890s), who were themselves of the right breeding, to use their parlance. They claimed to be interested only in the long-term improvement of the nation’s dogs, and saw themselves in a struggle against entrepreneurs, whom they styled as “dog dealers”, interested only in short-term profit and social success.

Dog breeds were associated with class and gender. Sporting dogs were favoured by the upper classes, even though few show dogs were used in the field. Middle-class owners wanted fashionable breeds that indicated status and wealth. Ladies favoured toy breeds, as well as adopting fashion icons such as the Borzois. There were working-class fanciers, particularly with bulldogs, terriers and whippets. National identities were also evident. For example, there were struggles over the differentiation of the Skye from other terriers, and whether ‘immigrants’ such as Newfoundlands, Great Danes and Basset hounds had been improved sufficiently to count as British.

The new dog fancy’s aim was to bring every dog up to standard, producing uniform breed populations and thus improving the nation’s dogs. With individual breeds, the aim might be to change a particular feature for reasons of taste and aesthetics, or more radically to manufacture a whole new breed by adding or subtracting physical attributes. The most controversial new breed of the era was the Irish wolfhound, which had disappeared from Ireland in the mid-18th century when the wolf was hunted to extinction. However, one man set out to recover the lost breed, and his story exemplifies how the new breeds were invented culturally and materially.

 The Controversy

George Augustus Graham (1833-1909) was an English, ex-Indian Army officer living in Gloucestershire. To the Victorians, the Irish wolfhound was a beast of legend, said by Pliny to be large enough to take on a lion, and by the 18th-century French naturalist Comte de Buffon to be five foot tall. Graham assumed its blood must still be in dogs in Ireland, and set about its recovery. He began in libraries, collecting descriptions and drawings, and soon met a problem: there was no single physical type. At one pole, they were said to have been greyhound-like, having the speed to catch a wolf; at the other, they were said to be large, Great Dane types, able to bring down and kill their prey.

This is what one would expect before the adoption of breed: hounds of a variety of shapes and sizes were used to hunt wolves, the important thing being their ability to do the job. However, in the 1860s and ’70s, Graham was working with the new, essentialist, conformation-standard notion of breed, and had to settle upon one physical type – and he chose the greyhound. He drew his design, then started a breeding program to realize his ideal.

Graham began his enterprise in Ireland, buying dogs that were alleged to still have true blood. He had no success breeding from his purchases, so he turned to cross-breeding with Scottish deerhounds. He believed that this was legitimate, as the breeds were related. Indeed, there had been speculation that the Scottish deerhound was a descendant of the Irish wolfhound and that; hence, there was common blood. Following years of breeding and selection, he took a dog of his new design to the Irish Kennel Club Show in Dublin in 1879.



To read more, subscribe to Buddy Life!