In Amman, Jordan, there is a conformation show for Damascene goats.
It is called “The Most Beautiful Goat Contest,” and although I’m having a difficult time finding the “breed standard” by which these goats are judged, the goal is to breed a snub-nosed goat with an undershot jaw.
A Google Images search of similar Damascene goats shows that many of these goats have really strange profiles.
My guess is this type of conformation is a hindrance for the goats when they forage. Goats are browsers that need to be able to put their heads in narrow places to pull leaves off branches.
And I’m sure that a large number of Western goat owners don’t approve of the practice.
However, you won’t find as much complaints when the same conformation type when it’s applied to dogs.
What breed is snub-nosed with an undershot jaw?
Well, there is the bulldog.
Damascene goats are primarily kept for dairy purposes, so they actually do have a function.
The Kennel Club bastardized bulldog has no purpose. It’s just an artifact that people can distort and twist with no regard to actual health or welfare.
These goat shows are becoming more and more popular in the Middle East, especially among wealthy Arabs.
Just as the bulldog is derived from the hardy catch and baiting dogs of Medieval England, these show goats are derived from hardy Nubian-type stock that have been the staple of goatherds throughout the region for thousands of years.
When England became industrialized and the British Empire rose, there was a class of people who could afford to breed animals with distorted and quite dysfunctional conformation.
It is that society that produced the bulldog as we know it today.
In the Middle East, great fortunes have been made in recent decades with the rise of petroleum prices.
There are lots of young Arab gentlemen who want to have objects of what Thorstein Veblen would call objects of conspicuous consumption. These are objects that have no utility other than what they symbolize about the status of the person who owns them.
Bulldogs were perhaps the first dog ever destroyed by the concept. They were already in quite poor shape within two decades of the rise of the modern dog fancy, and they have been messed up for so long that people don’t even recognize the very real problems they have.
This Middle Eastern goat fancy is fairly new, and it has not yet had time to reach the pathology of the dog fancy in the West.
But it very well might.
One feature I noticed on the prize winner at the Damascus show is that her ears were cropped:
The cropped ears add even more to the grotesque appearance.
I find these photos quite disconcerting.
Goats aren’t supposed to look this way.
But then I realize something even more disconcerting: Bulldogs aren’t supposed to either.
But they’ve looked that way for so long and their appearance is so enshrined in our cultural understanding of what a bulldog is that we don’t see it as equally grotesque.
In fact, it is even more so, for I have not heard of any serious health problems that have resulted from breeding Damascene goats.
But bulldog health problems are legion. They are almost impossible to reproduce without AI or “hand matings,” and virtually all of the ones born in North America have been delivered via a planned C-section.
So we can judge the “brown people” over there for their deformed goats, but the truth is we ought to be looking at the dogs we are producing over here.
We have no room to make such pronouncements.
We are even more guilty than they are.