When it comes to the question of breeding, as a Vet, and a Vegan one at that, I can only advocate one option. Please do not! All too often in my profession, I am confronted with the heartbreaking reality of the damage breeding is doing to the health and well-being of animals in my care. They may look cute, but they are far from the finest specimens. Bred within these poor creatures are countless ailments.
The Long and The Short of It
The popular breed pictured in the above image for example commonly struggles to breathe through it’s squashed up nose and severely restricted airways. It’s breathing issues can be so severe they result in the need for specialist surgery to open up its small passages, sadly some do not survive the procedures.
And if it’s breathing doesn’t cause it problems, come warmer weather, it might instead just die of heat stroke. As dogs can’t sweat they rely on heat loss exchange through panting to cool their body down. Like other brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds of dog, this is vastly impaired in these breeds due to their more limited airways. A feature bred into them purely for cosmetic reasons and human enjoyment.
Oh dear, I hear you say…is not just breeding dogs with longer noses the answer then?
Not so! The opposite extreme still has problems. Dolichocephalic (long-nose) breeds of dog suffer from a high risk or Aspergillosis, a fungal infection which likes to live in their cozy moist and spacious upper nasal passages. This is not an easy area for medicine to get to and can be extremely problematic to treat. Some dogs require holes to be drilled through the bones in the overlying skull and a flushing solution of antifungal medication to be drained in. This is done under a lengthy anesthetic, often requires multiple treatments and can recur.
Noses are just one example. Give me any breed, I will give you a list of inherited traits that can and often result in major health issues. I’m telling you no lies here, breeding keeps Vets in business!
Is Crossbreeding The Answer?
Yes, what about crossbreeding then? Shall we just mix them all up and iron out all the problems? Well, I’ve got something to say about that as well. Two wrongins usually don’t make a righten, and I believe that’s also the case for cross-breeding. There seems to have been an almighty surge in the popularity of crossbreeding in the last few years. No doubt in response to increasing pressure from animal welfare groups and the Veterinary profession to eliminate the high prevalence of distressing breed related disorders.
We’ve seen the introduction of some very creative dog combinations. We have the Cockapoo (Cockerspaniel + Poodle), Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle) and a Puggle (Pug x Beagle) to name but a few. But what are these designer dogs really made of? In practice, it seems much the same stuff as their unfortunate parents!
Buy or Rescue?
Fair enough you say, but I had my heart set on a certain breed! Well, no problem! There is a tonne of dedicated breed rescue centers that can supply you with the breed you desire, and due to phenomenal numbers of purebred dogs still being dumped every year (not helped by the fact most of them come with a rather expensive list of medical needs) there will likely be plenty for some time to come. January to March are the best times I advise you to seek such pets out, as they are still routinely dumped following the Christmas gift-giving season.
To sum up I hope I have persuaded you to think twice before you support breeding. If you buy from a breeder you are encouraging them to continue with the practice. Being pro-crossbreed may be a step in the right direction, but until every animal in every shelter around the world has a home, how can breeding at any level be helpful? Rescuing and adopting is the best way to help reduce this massive problem.
With that being said, I leave you with a pic of a mere mungrel, or Heinz 57 breed if you prefer the term, but a real authentic crossbreed, that after all, will love you just the same!