Fashions are harming the quality of life of dogs

bulldog Photo: Pixabay

Dogs derive from common ancestors with today’s wild wolves. The domestication of dogs probably began about 15,000 years ago and was initially aimed at selecting less aggressive animals, companions, to help in hunting or herding tasks, or also to protect and alert in the presence of dangers or intruders. However, the enormous variety of current dog breeds is the product of human intervention, which occurred about two hundred years ago, coinciding with the British Victorian period.

A short-legged corgi dog.
Shutterstock / Liudmila Bohush

It was then that dog breeders began to select characters for reasons of extravagance, rarity or following certainly questionable aesthetic canons, which led to the generation, for example, of short-legged dog breeds (with achondroplasia), such as corgis (the favorites of the Queen Elizabeth II) and with different bone malformations in the head, with a flattened nose or with hardly any snout, among other anatomical barbarities that only took into account the dubious taste of human beings, completely disregarding animal welfare issues.

Dalmatians develop deafness.
Shutterstock / Bilevich Olga

Problems well known to breeders

To generate any breed of dog, they must be crossed with each other, taking advantage of animals born spontaneously with some anatomical alteration, to amplify and preserve it. This generates an increase in consanguinity, which entails tolls and survival problems and increases the probability of developing genetic-based diseases, well known to all, including dog breeders.

Today we know that at least 15% of current dog breeds develop some congenital disease, more or less serious, that can compromise the life of the animal. An example is muscular dystrophy, the paralysis of the hind legs that often affects the golden retriever and Labradors, and the unilateral or bilateral deafness that Dalmatian dogs develop.

The University of Sydney (Australia) has a website that includes some 300 congenital diseases identified in dogs, caused by mutations in a single gene, detected in the various breeds created by man. Many of these breeds compromise the animals’ quality of life and would never have existed were it not for human intervention.

English bulldog.
Shutterstock / Mishadp

english bulldogs in danger

This seems to be the case for bulldogs English, whose folds in the skin and flattened snout lead dogs of this breed to develop pathologies favored by brutal selection in favor of these traits that some people consider aesthetically interesting, but that put the lives of these animals at risk. For all these reasons, the authors of an article published this week in Canine Medicine and Genetics they ask to moderate the defining characteristics of the breed.

This work recommends that limits be placed on the continuous selection of these characters in this breed of dog, something that would be very easy to solve by avoiding the breeding of these animals.

We must get used to asking if all those anatomical malformations that we highlight in dog breeds compromise their quality of life and, if so, reduce selection pressure or avoid breeding.

This article was originally published on Science Media Center.

The Conversation

Lluís Montoliu, scientific researcher at the CSIC, National Center for Biotechnology (CNB – CSIC)

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.

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