Well, every year at this time there is a big dog show in New York.
And for the first several years of this blog, I would take this opportunity to make fun of it.
Then I’d call for some kind of reform, so we’re not putting of little weak-in-the-knees dogs, like Malachy that really are quite defective.
I’d get quite a few hits for a couple of days, but then it would trail off.
And then I’d find something more interesting to write about, which, I can tell, isn’t really that hard to do.
It was much more interesting to write about the BOB winners at Crufts being disqualified for failing their health standards– mainly because there was a kind of collective meltdown among certain dog breeders in the UK.
Which was absolutely hilarious.
But the only reason why there was any freak show around Crufts is because the Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom) has been dragged into reform.
The AKC can’t be reformed in the same way. The way it’s organized– with its standards delegated to its member breed clubs–makes it almost impossible to change anything.
So does it do me any good to write anything demanding reform of the AKC?
No one will listen to me anyway. I’m just a trained monkey hacking away at the keys.
And the other thing is that the AKC’s more popular breeds aren’t really bred for shows anyway. If you want an AKC Labrador, you can find one that isn’t inbred at all. You can find one that has the size and color you like, even if it doesn’t adhere to standards.
And really, the same goes for German shepherds and golden retrievers, second and third most popular breeds with the AKC.
You can find very healthy German shepherds that don’t have the sloping backs or the ataxic gaits, and you can find little red border collie-type and polar-bear type golden retrievers.
Whatever floats your boat.
There is a lot of hope for those breeds.
However, in the breeds that are quite uncommon, like the affenpinscher that won Westminster last night. things are not so good.
The Germans, like the Americans, were very eager to take up the dog fancy system that had first been developed in the United Kingdom towards the end of the nineteenth century.
And like the Britons, they began to select among their various landraces to produce “improved” breeds.
Farms all over Germany had ratting dogs– some smooth-coated and some wire.
Some were mid-sized and could be of some use in herding stock, while others were small and were good at killing rats deep in the granaries. IN different areas, these dogs were called pinschers or schnauzers.
In the early 1900′s, they began to produce a show version of the small wire-coated pinscher with a somewhat snubbed nose. The dogs looked a little like some kind of monkey, and that’s why they are called affenpinschers. “Affen” means monkey.
This breed has never been very common.
And one of the little known-secrets is that it is almost impossible to breed.
I remember reading an article in Dog World about how hard it was to breed affenpinschers. The bitches would often have only two puppies in a litter, which isn’t that unusual in small dogs.
However, this breeder claimed that it would be very rare for both puppies to survive more than a week. One of them would usually die of a congenital defect within just a few days of birth.
And the chances that the survivor would make it to adulthood were not that high.
Now, the Germans were always into breeding really hardy dogs, so it makes me wonder why they would have wanted to produce a dog like this.
And maybe that explains why this breed never became popular.
The affenpinscher wasn’t the only small pinscher breed developed at this time.
Around the same time period, the Germans also tried to create an all-merle breed of miniature pinscher, which they called the “harlequin pinscher.”
As one could expect, an all merle breed will always be a colossal failure. That’s because if a dog is homozygous for the merle allele, the chances are very high that it won’t have functional eyes or open ear canals.
I could write a screed here, but all it would do is be some noise for a few days.
For me to tell people that the dog show isn’t the best way to evaluate dogs for breeding purposes is a bit like me telling you to stop giving money to John Hagee Ministries.
If you’ve made up your mind that both actions are correct, nothing I say or do will change your mind.
It doesn’t really matter.
The world is changing in both cases.
For me to kick a moribund institution like the AKC would simply be a waste of time.
It’s not going down because of anything I did.
It’s going down because times are changing.
People are questioning.
And because they are, it’s a waste of my time to write a screed.
If you’re looking for that, you can certainly find it. (And I bet you know where to look).