Tag Archives: crufts

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Crufts horror at deformed animals, unless we intend to eat them

Today’s post is kindly sponsored by Mekuti – Life in balance

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It’s Crufts time again; the time to celebrate the wonder of dogs and to recoil at the horror of the ruining of some breeds by unscrupulous breeders.

The pivotal documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed thrust the Kennel Club into the limelight and resulted in both the BBC and RSPCA distancing themselves from the show.

While this public stoning of the Kennel Club helped raised awareness of this issue, the footage from the 2016 show indicates little progress, particularly with some specific breeds.

A friend was shocked to hear I was watching Crufts as she was so upset at the way in which animals had been bred, saying she would never buy a pedigree animal, it got me wondering about the similarity between the animals bred for food that the majority have no concern about, and these dogs that have received national sympathy.

Much like this time last year, the best if breed German Shepherd has shocked a nation of dog lovers, and rightly so.

The roached back of these dogs is shocking and we should be ashamed to have turned a once athletic dog into this deformed creature. With its ataxic gait, it is clear that walking is not easy for these poor souls, however, lets compare a German shepherd to a modern broiler chicken.

A show German shepherd showing the dog placing weight on its hocks

Now contrast the German shepherd with these modern broiler hens.

Both have been selectively bred by mankind for a wanted trait. With the dog, the ‘ideal’ dog is one that fits a specific guideline, with the chicken, the ideal chicken is one that grows big and fast – so big and fast that its skeleton cannot grow quick enough and it often collapses under its own weight.

So I ask you, why is the dog suffering unacceptable but the broiler chicken an example of good modern breeding?

The next example, is the modern dairy cow. An animal that we have bred to produce up to 6000 liters of milk every year. In order to produce this volume of milk, farmers have bred cows to have larger and larger udders. So large in fact that they can strain their own udder ligaments under the excessive weight of milk and may need to wear an artificial udder support.

Is this more acceptable than the cavalier king Charles spaniel with a brain too large for its own skull or the Neapolitan mastiff with skin so profuse it can’t see?

Do farm animals not matter?

I firmly applaud those standing up for the insanity of trait exaggeration at crufts, but firmly believe our efforts must be shared to all animal that we have inflicted our horrific breeding practices on, not just the fluffy ones we share our living rooms with.

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Crufts – breed perfection or form and function?

Spike's World

It’s that time of year again, Crufts, the world’s largest and probably the most controversial dog show.  It seems dog lovers fit into one of three distinct camps:

  • Those that love Crufts and the concept of judging a dog against its breed standard
  • Those that despise the concept of judging dogs based on appearance
  • Those that enjoy Crufts as a means of celebrating the joy of dogs but are uncomfortable with the current state of pedigree health and confirmation

While the current concern for the health of many breeds has been growing for some time, it was back in 2008 when the BBC show Pedigree Dogs Exposed, directed by Jemima Harrison was aired and gave a warts and all account of many of the horrendous health issues that have become all too commonplace in many breeds.  Of particular shock to many was the upsetting footage of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from the painful condition, syringomyelia; a condition in which the dog’s skull is in effect too small for its own brain.

I’m sure all parties agree that such horrendous genetic conditions are unacceptable and drastic work needs to be done to ensure dogs are health tested before being bred so ensure dogs with such conditions are never bred from. It was great to hear a DNA test has been developed to discover carriers of the gene that can cause Primary Open Angle Glaucoma in the  the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. however, of equal concern are the current breed standards that the dog are judged against.

In a nutshell, a breed standard is a particular set of characteristics that a ‘perfect’ example of a breed should display.  Concern has been raised that many breeds have become of such an exaggerated form that breed ‘perfection’ has become dog ‘imperfection’.

The Kennel Club has since gone on record to say “In the absence of legislation, there is no obligation on breeders to take note of the Breed Standards which promote healthy dogs.”  This statement suggests that the kennel club sees its current breed standards to be ‘healthy’ therefore dogs that conform to these breed standards must also be ‘healthy’ in their eyes.

It would take many blog posts to analyse each breed, so the following is not designed to single out any one breed above another, but it was concerning to see the confirmation of this year’s winning German Shepherd.   This particular dog was deemed closest to the breed standard of the 145 entrants but sadly its gait was so loose and its back so loped that its hind legs appeared to wobble as it walked.

In my opinion, if this wobbly gait and sloped back is not only acceptable but sought after then the kennel club needs to seriously reconsider its own breed standards.

The video below shows the judging of the 2014 German Shepherds; it’s easy to see why they’ve gained the nickname ‘half dog, half frog’ from the unnatural way their hind legs articulate.

In comparison, this video shows a typical German shepherd used in the police force. Note it’s fluid gait, straighter back and much stronger hind legs.

From these two videos alone it’s clear in my mind which represents the more functional dog. This is where the current breed standards are failing our canine companions.  True form and function appear to be playing second fiddle to a set guide to breed perfection is that is no longer fit for purpose.

With the kennel club appearing to talk the talk but not making strides to rectify the problem, as is evident from the 2015 breed winner what is the future for Crufts?

For many, Crufts represents a celebration of all things dog with agility, heelwork to music and fly-ball among the myriad of amazing non-conformation events and competitions it hosts.  Such events highlight the amazing bond between human and dog. So should these events decouple themselves from the confirmation aspect of the show and become a true celebration based on talent, rather than looks?

As such a drastic change is very unlikely to happen any time soon, should Channel 4 cease its television coverage until Crufts becomes a true celebration of happy, handsome, yet above all, HEALTHY dogs?

It would seem the jury is still out on this question for many dog lovers, but with the disappointing lack of real strides in the improvement of many severely comprised breeds, I must sadly agree that the mainstream broadcast Crufts should be reconsidered.