I don’t normally write 4 blogs posts in rapid succession on the same topic, but that’s just a measure of my heartache at the thought of those thousand upon thousand unwanted dogs in shelters in the UK, not to mention the 5,000 strays put down every year. I rescued my own gorgeous girl Holly from Manchester Dogs Home. She has been my loving, sweet, gentle companion for 15 years.
This is Holly enjoying Lake Coniston two years ago.
Multiply the UK numbers by a factor of thousands in the US. Approximately 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide every year, with approximately 1.2 million dogs euthanised.
The Westminster Dog Show, the biggest in the US, takes place at pretty much the same time as Crufts and is plagued with the same kind of problems.
Some of the Most F*%#ed-Up Family Trees From Last Year’s Crufts Winners
We took a look through the family trees of some of the dogs who won “best of breed” prizes at last year’s Crufts. Here’s what we found.
Supporters protest in Birmingham about inbreeding among pedigree dogs ahead of this year’s Crufts.
We knew that inbreeding was rampant in the pedigree dog world, where “purity” of bloodlines is valued above animals’ health. But even we were surprised by the amount of incest we found in the recent histories of these animals whom the Kennel Club judges to be model examples of their breeds.
1. “My grandfather is also my uncle.”
– Marbelton What a Guy at Zobear, pug
This “champion” doesn’t just have an unusual name – he also has a very close family.
Inbreeding makes pugs like What a Guy likely to suffer from severe breathing problems because of their squashed-in faces. It’s actually considered “routine” to perform surgery on these dogs to clear their blocked airways. Their wrinkled skin often harbours painful infections, while their bulging eyes are prone to injuries and ulcers.
2. “My grandmothers are cousins, and my daddy and granddad are half-brothers.”
– Samhaven Wired for Sound, collie (rough)
There is a tangled knot at the centre of this dog’s pedigree – and it’s bad news for her gene pool.
Ninety-five per cent of purebred collies like Wired for Sound have or carry the genes for an eye disease called “collie eye anomaly”, and they’re also prone to cataracts, skin problems and autoimmune diseases. What’s more, they’re one of the breeds most likely to develop bloat, a terrifying condition in which their stomach swells and becomes twisted, often causing death within hours or even minutes.
3. “My mum was conceived when her mum had sex with her brother.”
– Gunalt De Ice at Stridview, Weimaraner
We’re more than a little disturbed by some of the goings-on in this dog’s immediate family.
Weimaraners like Gunalt are often born with deformed hip sockets, or “hip dysplasia”, which can cause crippling pain and lameness throughout their lives. Bone disease, cancer and bloat are just a few of the other conditions that humans’ obsession with breeding inflicts on these dogs.
4. “My dad was conceived when my granddad had sex with his granddaughter.”
– Edglonian Singing the Blues, Shetland sheepdog
Yes, this would most certainly be illegal if they were human.
Shelties like Singing the Blues are at risk of some seriously nasty illnesses, including von Willebrand disease – a blood-clotting disorder that can cause excessive bleeding – as well as epilepsy and Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, which causes the disintegration of the hip joint.
Dig back into pretty much any “purebred” dog’s family tree, and you’ll discover similar patterns: creepy incestuous relationships and an unhealthily tiny gene pool. With such a lack of genetic diversity, it’s not surprising that so many pedigree dogs suffer from debilitating inherited diseases and usually die young.
Crufts and the organisation behind it, the Kennel Club, give these sickly dogs prizes and encourage breeders to create more animals just like them – often by breeding from the same “champion” dog over and over again.
Dogs don’t need a fancy pedigree to be beautiful. Please don’t buy into “breedism” – boycott breeders, and don’t tune in to Crufts next year.
Written by Ann for PETA