Archive for the ‘dog breeds’ Category

Nara U. sent me this photo today.  I hope you are not eating when you look at this photo:

sharpei juliuss

This dog was bred by a Peruvian dog breeder (or more likely, a Peruvian dog dealer) named “Sharpei Juliuss,” who apparently has decided to push the defective and feverish sha-rpei phenotype as far as it will go.

This dog cannot open its eyes all the way, and while it certainly wouldn’t be wining prizes at any dog shows, there are very idiotic people who think breeding such extreme dogs is a wonderful thing.

This dog is not the only one that this breeder is producing.

Here is just a sample:

sharpei juliuss II

sharpei juliuss III

sharpei julius IV

The shar-pei breed has a lot of problems.

It is derived from a very small gene pool. When I was a kid, this was “the world’s rarest dog,” and within a decade, I saw them in pretty decent numbers in West Virginia, which is nowhere near where they originated.

So someone had to be cranking out these rarities at a pretty strong clip to get them on the pet market in here in America.

And that’s only its genetic structure.

The dog itself is often bred to such extreme with its wrinkles that many puppies have to have their eyelids tucked up so they can both see and not have their eyelids raking against their eyes.

This is what happens when the only thing you care about is what a dog looks like.

Dog breeders can produce all sort of different morphological traits in their dogs, but at some point, it becomes cruelty– cruelty that in the amount of suffering actually exceeds that of dog fighting.

This is dog production without empathy.

It’s nothing more than perverse vanity masquerading as something noble.

It’s really pretty sickening.


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A Korean dosa. Left without comment.

korean dosa

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Skye terrier

I am not fan of journalism by press release.

It’s not really “journalism” anyway. It is simply media relations, and media relations might as well be called spin. Spin is not really about the truth. It’s about advocacy, and it’s often about deception.

There is so much of this in the world of journalism about dogs that it is very hard to tell if something is true or not.

And if you want to see a very good example of it, take this puff piece that appeared on the BBC’s website last May. It is called “Why is the Skye terrier is an endangered breed?”

It discusses how popular Skye terriers were for a time. For a period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, It was a breed that was quite fashionable to have, especially in the burgher classes in Scotland.  Indeed, I’ve written about how the Marjoribanks family, who started the strain of yellow wavy-coated retrievers that are the basis for the golden retriever, were actually better known for the Skye terriers than their retrievers.

But now their retriever has taken the world by storm, and their terrier is a breed on the verge of extinction.

The BBC piece could have done some really good homework on this breed. The question of why breeds become popular and then become extinct is a very fascinating question to me.

Instead, the reporter who wrote the piece decided to do the laziest thing possible:  Go to the Kennel Club and get their media relations expert to spin a tale for the presses. It goes like this:

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, says Skye terriers are good house dogs with a very loyal and friendly character.

She says: “They are very glamorous. Their coats are very attractive. They are a very friendly, nice dog to have around and they are certainly very weather-proof.

“If you are out and about they will not get cold.”

So why has the breed fallen out of favour?

Ms Kisko says: “Much of this is about the profile of the dog, whether or not people are aware that the breeds exist.

“Some of the problems we have with the vulnerable breeds is that people have simply forgotten that they are there.”

Well, that actually didn’t answer the question at all. People just don’t know about them.

Except that they do.

I grew up on the story of Greyfriars Bobby. Disney made a movie about this dog, a Skye terrier that stayed at his master’s grave for fourteen years.

Too bad the entire story was a hoax. The truth is it was an elaborate hoax to promote tourism and business in that part of Edinburgh.

People know about this breed. They just don’t want them.

Now, I thought we could delve into why this breed’s popularity collapsed, but the Kennel Club representative decided to use this opportunity as a chance to smear Labradoodles, a dog that has nothing to do with Skye terriers at all. Although in fairness, it is a representative with the parent club of the Skye terrier in the UK who starts down this bizarre comparison.

Designers breeds such as the labradoodle – a crossbred created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle – have become very fashionable.

Mrs [Gail] Marshall [of the Skye Terriers Club] says this is another reason why traditional breeds such as the Skye terrier are being marginalised.

Ms Kisko, whose organisation does not register cross-breeds, says: “The designer crosses such as the labradoodle and the cockapoo (a Cocker Spaniel and a miniature poodle) are proving to be very popular these days and that is all on the pretext that they will be automatically healthier than the breeds they come from, which is patently untrue.”

She says people should do more research before buying a dog, checking out some of the British native breeds which have been popular pets for centuries.

I was not expecting this to be the reason why Skye terriers are becoming rare!

First of all, the purebred Labrador retriever is by far the most popular native British dog breed. It was actually developed in its present form from the St. John’s water dog of Newfoundland on a few select estates in England and Scotland. It is an easily trained dog, noted for its versatility in helping guide the blind, assist the handicaped, and sniff out bombs and contraband. It is also docile as can be.

Skye terriers, by contrast, have very hard to care for coats. They known for being difficult to train, and they do not have a reputation for being good family dogs.

The Labrador requires more exercise than the Skye, but if you’re in a world in which dogs with Labrador-type temperaments are more practical and desired, why would you expect Skye terriers to be able to compete?

Futher, the big reason people get Labradoodles is because they want the Labrador temperament, but they don’t want the Labrador hairs all over their houses. So they get Labrador/Standard poodle crosses, which are lower shedding than pure Labradors.

Now, there are a lot of claims about Labradoodles that are not true:

They are not hypoallergenic because people are allergic to dog dander, not dog hair.  Also they do get the health problems associated with both Standard poodles and Labradors, but because the cross has been around for only a short time there have been no good studies to see if there is a heterosis effect (though there probably is).

And Labradoodles are mass-produced, often in deplorable conditions. After all, there is a big market for a Labrador that doesn’t shed as much and looks like a bigger version of Benji.

And that’s precisely what doesn’t exist for the Skye terrier.

Further, the terrier and retriever markets are entirely different demographics, so this claim that people wanting Labradoodles is the reason why no one wants a Skye terrier might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read on the BBC’s website.

I’m stunned that the answer to the question about why the Skye terrier is going extinct gets reduced to something so completely impossible.

This is actually a question for which I don’t have an answer.

I know that Skye terriers have not been used as actual earth dogs in many, many years, but that alone wouldn’t ruin their value as pets. Yorkshire terriers, which are also silky-coated terriers of Scottish ancestry and are almost never used as anything but pets, are quite popular little dogs.

Why would people be so Yorkie-crazed but so dismissive of the Skye?

There must be a good reason, and the answer absolutely is not that people want Labradoodles.

All that was done in this piece was to deflect what is a very good question into a hatchet piece on intentionally-bred crossbreeds.

Not all is perfect in the world of the doodles, but just because they are intentionally-bred mixes does not make them illegitimate. If done right, doodling is an entirely harmless activity, and if really done right, it could be a source for increasing genetic diversity in established retriever and poodle strains.

It just makes them a convenient scapegoat.

The Kennel Club has no answer for why the Skye terrier is in such dire straights.

I think the real reason it has no answer is the real answer is that this dog is a fanciers’ dog. It became a plaything of the dog pageant set. The dog pageant and freak show people are at the heart of the Kennel Club’s mission. It is their base in the same way the religious right is the base of the Republican Party. In politics, one does not go out of the way to insult one’s base. (Only Bill Clinton could ever get away with it!)

When a dog breed becomes something that can only be admired by a very narrow set of fanciers, then it is on its way to becoming rare already.

I also think there is a distinct possibility that the fanciers of this breed intentionally bred “one mannishness” into this dog after buying wholeheartedly into the Greyfriars Bobby hoax. If you breed a dog that naturally tends to bond with only a few people and then is reactive toward strangers, you might be asking for its popularity to drop rather quickly.

So if you breed a dog with a coat that is hard to groom and temperament that requires lots of work and socialization to make the dog docile and tractable, why would you be surprised that very few people want them?

You cannot blame the public for wanting Labradoodles.

The real blame is on dog fanciers who allowed a romantic story– one with huge gaping holes in it– to cloud their judgment on how to breed a dog for the twentieth century.

And because they allowed that story cloud their judgment, the breed won’t likely see the end of the twenty-first.

That’s definitely not the Labradoodle’s fault.






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From Pietoro’s Historical Dog photobucket.

little freddy

An English toy spaniel.

The British use a different term for this breed, but it’s the more exaggerated ancestor of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

In the late nineteenth century and very early twentieth century, this was a very common breed among dog fanciers, especially women.

While sporting gentlemen were busy showing off bassetized sporting spaniels, their wives were show extremely brachycephalic toy spaniels.

The fashion died out, kind of like Disco and the Macarena, but the flat-faced toy spaniels still do exist.

They haven’t changed that much either.

ruby English toy spaniel

Because spaniels are the smallest of gun dogs, they got a lot of the bizarre conformation breeding in early on.

Toy spaniels have been around for centuries, but this type of toy spaniel was something that could only be created in the mania of the British dog fancy.

And just like all bizarre fashions in dogs, this bubble burst almost as quickly as it began.

There aren’t very many of these dogs left at all.

As a breed, it’s a fascinating artifact about what can happen when fashion dictates selection pressures.

I don’t how good it is for the dogs though.


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Ti Ti, a pekingese painted by Maud Earl in 1913.

Ti Ti, a pekingese painted by Maud Earl in 1913. 

And here are photos of the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 2012, Ch. Palacegarden Malachy:

palacegarden malachy

palacegarden malachy profile

The great “breed improvement” contests that have gone on for the past century have certainly done their magic.

What was once a pretty hardy little dog is now a little lion trying to be a marmoset.

It’s now so short-legged that it waddles around when it walks, and we’ve now seen the creation of the ultimate heat-retaining little dog that has both the extremely distorted respiratory/cooling system of the flat-faced dog and a thick undercoat of something we’d expect to see from the arctic.

I don’t know how sane people allowed this to happen, but my word, it is has.



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The golden dog is an aidi


This dog is a Moroccan aidi, a livestock guardian dog.

The photo was taken by Franziska Könnecke, when visited there in September.

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From the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch:

A baby girl was killed by the family dogs yesterday morning while her father slept on the couch in their West Side condo, Columbus police said.

Mia Gibson, who would have turned 3 months old this week, was pronounced dead at Nationwide Children’s Hospital at 7:45 a.m., after she was taken there from her home at 1467 Lake Shore Dr. Apt. C, police records show.

Mia was on the couch with her father, who was asleep, when she apparently fell from the couch and the dogs caused injuries that led to her death, said Sgt. Steven Little, of the first-shift homicide squad.

Little said the dogs — both Shiba Inus — didn’t attack the baby, but rather appeared to be playing roughly with her.

Little said it appears as if the death was caused by the dogs, although the baby had no major trauma visible. She did have several small puncture wounds on her body, he said. The Franklin County coroner will conduct an autopsy to determine what caused Mia’s death.

“It looks like the dogs were probably playing with the baby, thinking she was a toy,” Little said.

The dogs have been taken by animal control, Little said. Shiba Inus are a Japanese hunting dog and range in size from 17 to 23 pounds.

Mia’s mother, Sabrena L. Gibson, 34, was in her bedroom when one of the dogs at the bedroom door woke her, Little said. She went into the living room and found her daughter injured. Mia’s father, Chris Kusumi, 33, told detectives he had slept through it all.

Little said detectives spoke to both parents and will not charge them. The case will be forwarded to the Franklin County prosecutor’s office to further decide whether there should be charges.

“It’s just an unfortunate situation, and it’s a sad situation for the family,” Little said.

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here, but “playing roughly” sounds to me more like the shibas were engaged in predatory behavior toward the baby.

When dogs are hunting, they enjoy it so much that they do look like they are playing, but they are not.

Miley always looks like she is playing with the ducks, and then a duck winds up with a gash in it!

Shiba inus are primitive, dingo-like dogs from Japan– and there are maybe a half-dozen or more breeds that are very similar to them (which I cannot keep straight). Throughout Japan’s history, there have been times when the ancestors of these dogs lived a sort of feral existence.

They are sort of Japanese dingoes. 

And we all know what dingoes do to babies!

It’s not that all shiba inus would do such a thing. Indeed, dogs often don’t recognize babies as people, which leads to predation.

The last time this blog discussed this issue didn’t involve a primitive dog at all. It was a golden retriever cross in South Carolina.

Now, I had a dog babysitter when I was small*. It was a hunting dog– a beagle to be more specific– so I’m cautious about saying what a dog can’t or won’t do to a baby.

But it would be better to err or the side of caution.

You just don’t know.


*Now you know what is wrong with me!


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What a Pekingese ought to be

A nice little dog with a brain, a muzzle, and a good temperament:


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Being watched

By the neighbors’ Old English sheepdog crosses.


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madness and stupidity bulldog

What I am about to suggest is something rather extreme.

I wouldn’t have deliberately plagiarized Lenin in the title if I were to write something somewhat milquetoast and banal.

But right now, there is a major welfare problem in the world of dogs that I don’t think can be solved with gentle suggestions and politically correct language.

One must be blunt and clear about the problems and the solution.

Right now, I would argue the biggest welfare problem facing domestic dogs in the West can be found in a single breed of dog. I choose  to take on this breed not because other breeds are without problems. I choose it because there is no breed with as many problems occurring at once, and in the United States, it is sadly becoming even more popular, despite it being well-known that these dogs have very real issues.

And the problem is even further exacerbated when one discovers that well over 90 percent of the breed’s fanciers have their heads shoved squarely up their arses. They live in a fantasy world in which deformities are actually assets, where they live in the delusion that their dog is tougher than all the rest, when it is indeed perhaps the most fragile.

The breed I’m talking about is the bulldog.

The bulldog is the old baiting and butcher’s dog of yore. A creature much ballyhooed for its legendary courage, which eventually made it a symbol of the British Empire.  It is the canine John Bull, and one sort of gets the impression that much of the breed’s current phenotype is really nothing more than attempt to turn much more lithe old bulldog into a caricature of that patriotic figure.

This breed has a lot of health problems and not a single one of them is new. This breed was messed up within twenty years of becoming part of the “dog fancy,” and as it became more and more extreme, there was actually a robust debate about bulldog health even back then.  Perhaps most famously, there was a bulldog “walking race” in which the very “typy” dog wound up positively knackered within a mile.

These dogs have problems breathing and cooling themselves efficiently– which tells you they couldn’t possibly be used to bring down an animal the size of a bull! They problems with infections resulting from their inverted tails. The dogs are so top-heavy that they cannot mate without people holding them or the use of a breeding rack, and in the US, many are produced through AI. Almost all bulldog puppies are delivered through C-section, and the breed has the highest percentage of dysplastic hips, according to OFA hips.

And those are but a handful of the problems this breed faces.

And they’ve been going on and on for a century without any degree of improvement.

But there is now another problem that is coming to the fore:  This breed is now among the AKC’s most popular.

They have been popularized on “reality television,”  and every young idiot who watches too much TV wants one. They are so cute!

This is such a difficult dog to breed that the puppy mills have had a field day with them. They can charge much higher prices for these dogs than all the other mass-produced breeds and crosses. They will sometimes add a bit of boxer to their bulldogs to make them easier whelpers and then dock the puppies’ tails to make them look pure.

So we have a breed that is utterly screwed by its own fanciers and then is getting it double from the really ugly underbelly of the pet market.

Both of these systemic problems mean that it is going to be very hard to help this breed.

It is simply madness and stupidity all around.

This is not to say that there aren’t some good bulldog fanciers out there who are trying to moderate the breed, and there are dozens of breeding programs out there that are trying to produce an “old-fashioned” bulldog.

But these people are fighting an uphill battled against an entrenched idiocracy.

With so many things going against this breed, how can it be saved?

The thing is, I don’t think it can be– not unless there is a very strong cultural revolution against the powers that be.

We must stigmatize anyone who buys this breed as a pet.  We must not be nice about it.  If you buy a bulldog, you are participating in the deformation of a dog. You are encouraging people to breed unhealthy freaks. You are encouraging the misery of living things, and these living thing suffer every breath they take. In this way, the breeders of the extreme bulldog are worse than dog fighters. Dogs that are bred for fighting suffer. It’s certainly true. However, they don’t spend their entire lives struggling to oxygenate themselves or keep themselves cool.

If you are breeding bulldogs as they currently are, you are worse than Michael Vick.

If you measure the amount of suffering each type of cruelty, the bulldog breeder is encouraging far more than the dog fighter.

And what’s more, there is nothing illegal about what the bulldog breeder does. Indeed, what a bulldog breeder does is celebrated!

It is evil that is not seen as evil, and to steal from Hannah Arendt, it is evil that is banal.

People accept the suffering that bulldogs undergo because it is institutionalized and legitimate.

And it is this legitimacy that we must attack at its core.

The dogs deserve so much more.

The radical step is to say that this breed must stop. If it cannot be put on the road to healthier phenotype, then the breed must be stopped.

I would hate to see it go this far, but it may wind up that all bulldogs will be required by law to be spayed or neutered unless put into a breeding program designed to select for a healthier phenotype.

I wouldn’t want to see this happen, but it seems to me that there is very little that be done to stop the madness.

But at some point, this is where this breed is headed.

And in the end, all dog people of conscience have to say stop.

No more.









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