Archive for the ‘dog health’ Category

This scene should be part of a population management program for golden retrievers. Source for image.

This scene should be part of a population management program for golden retrievers. Source for image.

Let’s clear the air a bit.

When a dog breed is put into a closed registry system, it has been decided to create a population of animals that has a population genetics structure that resembles that of an endangered species. There is plenty of evidence that many very popular breeds have terrible genetic structures. In a 2008 paper in the journal Genetics, Calboli et al. performed an analysis of ten dog breeds in the UK, using Kennel Club pedigrees to determine effective population size. Effective population size tells you how big the population would be if a random number of individuals were put together that would have the same amount of genetic diversity as the population in question. The general rule for conservation genetics is that anything under 100 individuals is of critical concern.

The results went as follows:

Akita – 45 (effective population).
Boxer – 45
Bulldog – 48
Chow Chow – 50
Rough Collie – 33
Golden Retriever – 67
Greyhound – 17
German Shepherd – 76
Labrador – 114
English Springer Spaniel – 72

Shocking, eh?

Every one of these breeds is a closed registry breed.

All but one have very real problems with genetic diversity. Only the Labrador retriever is out of the crisis zone– and just barely.

If you read the paper, the golden retriever, which doesn’t look as bad, has the worst problems with popular sire effects in its population. Only 5% of the male dogs in the UK population are sires, and for a popular breed, this is a recipe for disaster.

This is because even though these dog breeds have a genetic structure resembling that of an endangered species, they are not bred the way conservationists would breed endangered species.

With endangered species, the goal is to conserve as much genetic diversity as possible.  The Chinese spend countless hours working to maintain what genetic diversity can be spared in giant pandas. Giant pandas, which are actually a primitive bear with no living close relatives left, have no populations for which there can be outcrosses.

You can’t say that about golden retrievers, which would be greatly served with occasional outcrosses to their somewhat more genetically diverse smooth-coated cousins. The differences between Labrador and golden retrievers aren’t that extreme. Both are derived from the same root stock. Both breeds share ancestors in documented pedigrees, and there was a famous cross between a yellow Labrador (Haylers Defender) to the Haulstone line of golden retrievers in the 1920’s.

Not ancient history at all!

If we had a dog culture that was based upon reason and science, this would be a no-brainer.

However, this is not the dog culture we have.

The dog culture we have does two things that utterly gum up the works when it comes to sound population management principles:

1. Closed registries as dogma.

2. Competitive dog breeding.

The former is what creates the genetically compromised population. The latter is what exacerbates it.

Could you imagine the madness that it would be to breed giant pandas based upon a conformation standard?

But that’s exactly what is happening in the world of dogs, and as I’ve noted before, it’s not just dog shows that are causing this problem.  Breeding choices that are based solely on trial performance do the exact same job.

Each generation of dogs that is bred under these conditions loses genes. Some of these genes might be pretty nice to have– like the gene that Dalmatians had for producing urine with normal levels of uric acid. This was actually lost to the entire population of Dalmatians before a pointer was crossed in to reintroduce it.

And it took decades and decades of fighting the closed registry dogma to get these Dalmatians into the breed. Even though they were very, very distantly derived from that pointer that was crossed in, the breed vanguards would not allow in the “mongrels.”

Until it became impossible to say no.

Every single breed in a closed registry system that is being bred with under these principles is at risk for winding up like the Dalmatian. What’s even more frightening is that as these breeds become more and more related through both popular sire problems and “line-breeding,” it becomes impossible to control for genetic load. Dog breeders operate under the delusion that you can just select away from any disease just like you’d select away from poor conformation, which is why they go ape over every genetic test for a disease that comes down the pike.

It’s not that these genetic tests aren’t useful. It’s that they do give dog breeders a crutch to hold onto. You can’t talk about  a better way to manage genetic load– i.e., let in new blood and selectively breed for better gene conservation– because everyone is awaiting the next genetic test to come along.

The problem is that the greater dog fancy is a culture that worships genetic plunder. Most of the effects of such pillage are not known while the pillaging is happening. During that time, a breeder might become rewarded with top winning dogs that may or may not have long lives.

But it is the next generations that the problems with gene loss and reduced genetic diversity start to become apparent. By then the breeder or breeders who plundered the genes may not even be around anymore.

But they have stolen from the next generation of dog owners and breeders.

It’s that next generation who will have to pay the vet bills and watch their dogs die agonizing deaths.

And all because we have contrived up endangered species that we call dog breeds and then bred them in ways that make absolutely no sense.

No one wants to talk about this genetic plunder.

And no one wants to talk about the simple fact that this concept of closed registry breed is really a very new concept. A breed is not a species. And although there are breed differences, when we start talking about breeds that are closely related, the differences become somewhat trivial.

And it is at this point the dog world becomes a dogma– a type of religion.

Breed becomes a faith-based assertion, and the dogs suffer because reason is not the operating force behind the management of their populations.

Dogma is.

Dogma is not good for dogs.




Read Full Post »

A Korean dosa. Left without comment.

korean dosa

Read Full Post »

One of the great shibboleths in the dog world is that there is a creature known as the “responsible breeder.”

Each person has a definition about what one is, but for many years, the biggest defining point was the adherence to blood purity cult. Usually this would be mixed in with all the delusions of preservation, as well as the delusion of improvement.*

The unfortunate thing is none of these things have much to do with the real world.

In the real world, crossbreeding isn’t evil. It’s innovation.

Take this nice post by Suzanne Phillips over at the Hoof &Paw blog.

In her part of Oregon, it’s not unusual for someone to breed this:

Photo by Suzanne Phillips.

Photo from Suzanne Phillips.

This dog is a German short-haired pointer/Labrador retriever cross. It’s basically a purposely-bred cross that mixes the ruggedly versatile German HPR wit the always popular, hard driving Labrador. Suzanne mentions that when a friend of hers bred such a cross people drove from hundreds of miles to pick up one.

Such is the reputation of this cross.

She mentions another variant of the cross in the post as well. This time the retriever in question is a Chesapeake, but she has been bred to a German shorthair.

Photo by Suzanne Phillips.

Photo from Suzanne Phillips.

It’s hard for anyone in that old way of thinking to say that these were not well-bred animals.

Chesapeakes, Labs, and German shorthairs are all very useful animals. Not a single one of them was created through maintaining closed registries until very recently.

And even now, many people who want a useful dog don’t pay much attention to the old blood purity rules.

That’s because these blood purity rules are way outside of the average person’s experience with dogs. Almost no one owns a dog that is very tightly bred, and virtually everyone in the public would be repulsed by the idea.

Many people talk about the reason why the American Kennel Club is in such terrible financial straight. Animal rights activist get the blame. The puppy mill paper mills get their share, too.

But I think the real problem is that the American Kennel Club, though it is headquartered in the United States and always has been, is really a foreign institution.

Its values were imported from Great Britain at the height of its imperialist glory. As strange as it sounds today, most Americans were very anti-British during most the nineteenth century. Britain had burned down our capital. It allowed the Confederacy to have the delusion that it was on the side of their rebellion.  It was also a major competitor in the Northwest. Plus, tons of Americans were Irish famine refugees.

As America grew wealthier, wealthy and upper middle class Americans began to emulate the British Empire. Some of the first retriever trials in America were held on Long Island. Labradors were the breed of choice, and they were run almost exactly as they were in the mother country.

Meanwhile, American market duck hunters were blasting away with punt guns and heavy shotguns at vast flocks waterfowl. Their hardy “Chesapeake duck dogs,” water spaniels, and retrieving setters were earning their money. The backwoods market hunters were treeing grouse and turkeys with curs and feists. And very few of these people gave a rat’s behind about the pedigree of the dog.

In fact, most Americans didn’t care for this nonsense at all. The most common dog in much of the country was the generalist farm collie, usually called “a shepherd,” which did some light herding work and hunted everything it was asked to.

None of these dog were maintained within a concept of a “fancy.” There might be shows for foxhounds, coonhounds, and beagles, but every single dog in those shows was also a performance hound. And none of these dogs was kept in a true closed registry, and even now, pack hounds are still crossed on a routine basis.

But they are outside the AKC, and they are also outside the UKC.

Americans bred dogs to perform. In the early days of settlement, vast numbers of dogs couldn’t be imported from Europe. Our dog culture became based upon what can survive and what could do multiple tasks well.

The British dog culture was about specialization and arbitrarily classifying things based upon color and coat and size.

It became well-established among “learned circles” that American dogs, like our livestock, were in desperate need of improvement. From the 1870’s onward, there has been attempt to bring America the glories of canine improvement through closed registry breeding.

And it’s been a colossal failure.

It came closest to success in the middle to late part of the twentieth century, when the burgeoning middle class that had grown up out of the Second World War began to own purebred dogs as status symbol. It’s at this time that my own family got their first AKC dog, a registered rough collie named “Cam.”  Cam produced more than a few litters of collie-foxhounds, which were then quite in demand in West Virginia as varmint dogs.

I’ve noticed that when most laypeople watch dog shows, they only want their favorite breeds to win. They want to see the golden retriever go BIS at Westminster. They don’t care about the rare breeds. They are curiosities, novelties to be looked as if one were looking artifacts in a museum.

And that may be too charitable for some breeds.

I’m sure the untrained eye sees many of the really exaggerated dogs as creatures best belong in a freak show.

And of course, one really can’t argue with them.

Many progressive people rightly complain about how Americans have never adopted certain European ideals, but the notion of a national kennel registry to tell us how to breed dogs is one I’m glad we’ve never fully accepted.

So long as a dog fancy remains this insular, very foreign, and reactionary clique, the American people are going to ignore what these people say.

And buy gun dogs like these.

And doodles.

And Texas heelers.

After all, this culture produces good dogs.

And the dog fancy continues to produce freaks– many of which are unhealthy and very hard to care for.

This is how market economies work. There is failure, and there is success. The dog fancy has been a failure in the United States– and our dogs stand a much better chance because of it.


*There will be a post on this at some point,

Read Full Post »

alapaha blue blood

One of the most troubling delusions of parts of the dog fancy is one that is actually pretty hard to describe to someone not deeply indoctrinated into that particular value system.

I call this delusion “the delusion of preservation.”  It is a belief that if one just keeps the lineages of certain dogs pure, then one is preserving the breed as it was meant to be.

The notion that one is preserving a particular strain through selective breed is not itself a delusion. After all, all dog breeders are in some way preserving a particular type of dog through their breeding choices.

However, it’s idea that by keeping lineages forever “pure”– that is entirely descended from the foundational stock– that one is doing any favors for preserving the strain.

I’ve come across this delusion many times. It’s most common in relatively uncommon breeds, especially those that have relatively more common relatives that could be easily used as outcrosses for the purpose of genetic rescue.

Probably the most blatant example of this delusion that I’ve come across come from this website of a registry for Alapaha blueblood bulldogs. It appears as part of their FAQ:

17. With such a limited gene pool what are the health concerns for the breed?

Answer: The health concerns are like any other large breed; go with a breeder that screen for things such as hip dysplasia (OFA or PennHip), death ness (BEAR), blindness, skin disorders, entropion and such. Also get a WRITTEN guarantee/warrantee, their word is just that, their word against yours!

And last but not least, some ‘idiots’ feel that they have to go outside the breed to get different blood to sustain them but I’ve never heard of a reputable German Shepherd breeder breeding to a Collie or a Rottweiler breeder breeding to a Doberman because he/she thought they looked similar or the gene pool was too thin.

Yes, and we know that GSD’s, collies, and Dobermanns are perfect examples to emulate! Every one of those breeds has many severe genetic problems that have been almost impossible to control within their respective breeds.  Collies have collie eye anomaly, which is ubiquitous in the breed. Dobermanns, GSD’s, and Rottweilers have very high rates of cancer, and Dobermanns are known for their very high incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy.

And I’m not even talking about the severe structural problems that exist in GSD’s. Those are not the result of inbreeding, but the result of so-called reputable breeders being ignoramuses about how a dog ought to move.

In fact, these so-called reputable breeders have done such a marvelous job wrecking these pretty common breeds that one wonders why a rare breed club would follow their lead.

The answer is pretty simple:

This club wants to the world to know that this breed is legitimate.

Legitimacy for a dog breed winds up  meaning a closed registry breed.

However, this is not actually legitimacy. It is madness.

This club goes out of its way to attack a real breed preservationist organization– the Animal Research Foundation— which actually is engaged in preserving working breeds, including the Alapaha blueblood.

The truth of the matter is that although we call the AKC the American Kennel Club, it is really a foreign institution. Its entire way of functioning came from Great Britain, and before it became established here, almost no one paid any attention to closed registries.

We had good working dogs. In my part of the world the main working and hunting farm dog was the “shepherd,” a sort of generalist collie. If a farmer moved his way up to the level of a kulak, he might also keep a few scent hounds to run foxes on a Saturday night ormaybe a setter to point bobwhites. To keep the rats out of the granaries and to tree squirrels, you would have a generalist terrier, usually called a feist.  All of these animals were often crossed with each other. I have known “collies” with foxhound ancestors, and beagles with bluetick coonhound crossed in.

In Kentucky and Virginia, curs were more common than shepherds, and the ancestral cur is actually the proto-smooth collie. In Georgia and the Gulf Coast states, these curs were often mixed with other things– perhaps even the merle herding dogs from France or a bit of the old southern wolf subspecies. In those states, the cur was a bigger dog that usually was yellow with or without a black mask or some merle variant. Today, these dogs have been split into breeds which are impossible for me to keep up with.

This merle cur dog was often bred to another generalist working dog that was common in this part of the South. This is the farm bulldog, a creature that likely derives from the ancestral stock that gave us both English mastiffs and bulldogs. This dog was used to guard the estate and manage often very wild livestock in much the same way the curs were used.

And even now, it’s a very common practice to breed merle curs to bulldogs for hunting purposes.

And that is the most likely origin of the Alapaha blueblood. It’s a bulldog/merle cur cross.

Of course, saying this is an absolute heresy because many dog fanciers who own this sort of dog are under the delusion that these dogs derive from Spanish war mastiffs, which is nothing more than a flight of fancy. Spanish colonization in this part of the world was intensive, but it was never as extensive as that of England and later the British Empire. There might be a tiny bit of Spanish blood in these dogs, but the Spanish were not coming over in vast waves to settle the South. People from the British Isles clearly were, though, and they came decades after the Spanish were forced back down into Florida.

Also, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but this kind of dog cannot live on its own in the wild in a subtropical climate. There have never been any wild bulldogs or mastiffs that have evolved anywhere in the world, much less a subtropical climate where the dog simply couldn’t keep itself cool or free of parasites. So the chances of Spanish bulldogs surviving on their own in the wild in the decades between when the Spanish were driven out and the vast waves of Anglo settlement began in the South are very, very low. It’s a romantic delusion if there ever was one.

So this kind of dog wasn’t living in the South for hundreds of years as a closed registry breed.

It was just a regional variant of the bulldog/cur– one that had a lot more bulldog than cur blood.

And the ARF is allowing outcrosses to other farm bulldogs into their recognized strains of Alapaha blueblood, which is, of course, why they are being so viciously attacked in the FAQ.

The ARF is actually engaging in true preservation breeding. It is keeping the genetic diversity of the strain alive. It knows you cannot preserve any biological entity, be it a rare domestic dog breed or an endangered species, if you simply ignore the genetic diversity of the breeding population.

This is why the dog fancy continues to fail dogs.

And the desire to emulate this failure in rare or working breeds is perhaps the most baffling aspect I’ve seen.

This delusion of preservation is something that must be openly challenged. Otherwise, nothing will be preserved at all.

Genes will be lost.

And dogs will continue to suffer.







Read Full Post »

A tricolored retrieving setter, perhaps very similar to the type Benjamin Franklin imported.

A tricolored retrieving setter, perhaps very similar to the type Benjamin Franklin imported.

On Facebook, a friend of mine posted this bizarre rant from a purebred dog breeder:

“I DON”T call freedom a choice to do whatever!!!!!!… Don’t get confused….. Ben Franklin worked for freedom— but he worked at having a purebred Gordon setter brought from England and bred them.. to preserve something special. the Freedom was to have a choice to own a dog so let’s get this Freedom of Choice thing straight… where did you all go to school???? what happened to parents teaching their children the real meaning of this slogan??? .. not to breed mutts/designer dogs on a whim and to see how much money you might get …Dogs were bred for a purpose for a certain breed to have that characteristic…. Ben and all the rest of us spent millions of dollars to insure something true and honest…. how dare you or anyone else decide to take our Freedom of choice away from US..it is not ok to breed this way.. it shows lack of purpose, lack of loyalty.. lake of knowledge and lack of you wanting to spend money to support a breed to insure it’s Freedom to exist…. you might as well say we have the freedom to poop on the street…or anything else we choose to have the freedom we feel like doing…..”

Well, freedom to choose means the freedom to do whatever. I don’t know how you can twist the meaning of the words to mean to change the meaning to fit whatever totalitarian delusions that one might have. It’s like the people who tell you they are for freedom, but at the same time, they tell you that this country is based upon Christian values.

Those two things do not compute!

As I’ve noted before, the dogs are one of the many ersatz religions that no exists in this post-Christian culture in which we now live. I am fine with the decline of organized religion, but what has replaced it is not a culture of reason.

What has replaced it is many irrational, tribal cults which allow people with totalitarian impulses to act out their pathologies on others. It’s one reason I’m not a joiner. I love dogs, but I’m very dismayed and continually disappointed by dog people.

So in that crazy rant we have several claims. We have the hilariously irony-deficient claim to be a champion of freedom while telling others what to do, and we have a claim from history that could at best be called a delusion. And at its very worst, we would have to call it an utter misrepresentation of the history.

The claim is that founding father Benjamin Franklin imported a Gordon setter from England, and the implication is that he imported a closed registry setter that comes in only black and tan.

Of course, that type of dog didn’t exist when Ben Franklin was alive!

The Gordon setter, which should be called the Scottish setter, is actually derived from the old crouching setter of Britain, a dog that was the quintessential British fowling dog that  would crouch before game birds hidden the brush or corn. A hawk would be flown over the birds to keep them from flying and a net would be thrown over the crouching dog and the hunkered birds.

This type of dog became very popular in British Isles during the early modern period, and it was also sent to the colonies in North America in droves. In America, we developed this setter dog into a sort of HPR, which we would use to point grouse, retrieve ducks from cold water, and track wounded deer.

In Britain, there were many, many different strains of setter, of which only a handful remain. The Dukes of Gordon did breed a type of setter in Scotland, but it is laughable to assume that this was a closed registry breed.  All records of the setters of Gordon kennels I’ve read from that time period talk about the dogs being tricolored, black, white, and tanned like a Dobermann.

And it was well-known that the in the eighteenth century, the 4th Duke of Gordon was always breeding his stock to those of other nobles.

In his excellent Gundogs: Their Past, Their Performance and Their Prospects (2013), Col. David Hancock mentions that this fourth Duke of Gordon coveted the blood of Thomas Coke’s setters, and it was Coke’s setters that were the foundational stock for his particular strain. I have seen no evidence that Coke’s setters were anything other than the more typical predominantly white setters that were always common in England. (Coke’s estate was in Norfolk, nowhere near Scotland).

It is also well-known that Gordon setters have a bit of collie blood, which is always mentioned in all the historical texts of the breed, but no one seems to acknowledge what this means. It means that the Gordon setter as a working gun dog didn’t become a gun dog through being a closed registry breed.

It became a great gun dog through the continuous desire to innovate. This desire to experiment and innovate is what made British Empire the world’s leader in agricultural improvement.

As soon as closed registries were established, this ability to innovate and experiment was taken away.

And we all know that Benjamin Franklin was among the leading intellectuals of the world at the time. He was clearly a man of science and reason, and if he could read and understand the modern concepts of population genetics, he would be among the foremost opponents of this closed registry system.

He imported a British setter because they were great gun dogs. They became great gun dogs because the British were willing to innovate and experiment with bloodlines.

It is that freedom that should be celebrated and encouraged in the world of dogs, but unfortunately, it goes against all the totalitarian impulses that exist in the dog world that has since developed.

For the sake of the dogs, dog breeders should be reading up on the science and understanding the real history of their dogs.

They shouldn’t be wasting their time with pointless myths that are ultimately harmful to the animals they claim to love.

But that means that some grand poobah of yore was wrong somewhere and that modern breed mandarins might have to be humble and accept that they cannot control everything that goes on with their breed.

The first idea that must be trashed is that closed registries and blood purity for blood purity’s sake are ultimately good values. Unfortunately, that is the basic religious tenet of the modern dog fancy, and  it is almost impossible to have a rational discussion with people who adhere to such poppycock.

It is this religious belief that is causing so much misery in the world of dogs– higher incidence of inherited diseases and winnowed away gene pools are not good things.

And it is also stymieing innovation.

We could be producing better working dogs for a variety of tasks if only it were acceptable to cross strains. Imagine West Siberian laikas that natural retrieve because of a golden retriever that was crossed in a few generations before. Imagine a cocker spaniel-sized Labrador that easily fits in a canoe that got its small size from a simple outcross to a small working spaniel.

It is this kind of freedom in the world of dogs that we should all be fighting for.

But unfortunately, too many “freedom lovers” in the world of dogs really don’t want it.

It crosses their fundamentalist beliefs, and they will having nothing of it.

But like all bullies, they ought to be put in their place. Totalitarians have no use fighting for freedom.

Freedom means freedom to do as one would like, and don’t be fooled by the demagogues who apparently can’t understand that simple fact.


Read Full Post »

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.



Read Full Post »

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


Read Full Post »

miley foot

Miley’s front foot is very typical of a dog foot. It’s designed for running long and hard over open ground, but you’ll note that she does have dewclaw on the foot.

Because dogs are digitigrade, it looks like her dewclaw is half way up her wrist, but that’s not actually her “wrist” at all. That’s the part of her foot that doesn’t touch the ground.

Although dogs do use their dewclaws, their exact utility is pretty limited. They can’t grab things with them, and in many breeds, it is still traditional for people to remove them on very young puppies. It’s done to prevent tearing, which is actually a pretty rare occurrence, even among dogs that still have their dewclaws on the front legs.

All species of dog have dewclaws on the front legs, except for the African wild dog.  It is so well-adapted to cursorial hunting, that the dewclaw has already disappeared in that species.

But where would such digit come from?

Well, if you really want to know, you better understand evolution.

Just as the big toe on humans is a severely modified great ape “thumb,” the dewclaw started out as a fully functional fifth digit.

To understand this a bit better, one must look at an animal that retains many features of the primitive carnivorans.

Probably the best example I can think of is the kinkajou. Kinkajous are procyonids that are almost entirely arboreal in their habits, and in this way, they strongly resemble the ancestral carnivoran in both habits and phenotype.

Indeed, they are so primitive in appearance that their bodies actual remind meany people of very primitive primates, which led many people to deem the kinkajou a type of monkey.  In some Latin American countries, kinkajous are still called “night monkeys.”

And they actually look more like some kind of primate than many lemurs and bush babies do! That’s because if you go far back enough in the lineage of placental mammals, you will find ancestral arboreal animals that look something like this.

Kinkajous and dogs last shared a common ancestor some 40 or 50 million years ago. Their common ancestors were creatures called miacids, and these particular miacids were the ancestral caniforms. The big split in caniforms happened the dog family split off from the rest to go chasing things on the ground.

The ancestors of kinkajous stayed in the trees, and as predators, they are pretty poor at the game. Indeed, they live almost exclusively on fruit and nectar from flowers.

In the trees, their feet have never undergone the selection pressures that have made the dogs’ running shoes. Their feet have stayed very much like those primitive carnivorans.

In the photo above, you can see that a kinkajou has hands that almost resemble our own. They can actually grab things and hold them in those hands, as you can see in this video:


Although dogs can turn door knobs with their paws, they really can’t grab things in quite the same way.

Now, dogs have certainly not gone as far as horses have on their digitigrade anatomy. Horses run around on a single toe with a very hard and thick nail on it.

But they have lost their ancestral hands.

Their feet are now runner’s cleats.

The only vestige that they were once designed quite differently is that dewclaw.

And even if dewclaws are not entirely useless, they aren’t nearly as functional to a dog as that fifth digit is to a kinkajou.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing dogs don’t still have those kind of feet. Just imagine what kind of trouble they could cause if they were able to manipulate objects as well as a kinkajou can!







Read Full Post »

Miley has never had her nails trimmed. She runs a lot, and her nails wear down naturally– as dog nails are supposed to do.


This is one of her front dewclaws, which also wears down as she runs. These dewclaws touch the ground whenever she changes direction abruptly.


It’s so worn down that I have to dig it out with my thumb to show you.


All the dogs I knew growing up spent a lot of time running hard outside– except my grandmother’s miniature dachshund.

She had to have her nails clipped, and oh boy, did she hate it.

I can still see my grandpa holding Heidi in a towel while my grandmother held her jaws shut so Gramps could clip them.

When I asked him why the bigger dogs never got their nails clipped, he just told me it was because they were out running all the time and they naturally wore them down.

You can tell from Miley’s feet that it would be a one in a million shot for her to damage that dewclaw.  It’s so well-aligned and gets so worn down that there is virtually no way for it to catch on anything.

I am glad she has them, though. There is a chance she may have to pull herself out of an icy pond some time.

There is a greater chance of that than any chance of her tearing a dewclaw.

Simple risk analysis.

Dog people don’t have it.




Read Full Post »

Miniature pinschers are a toy breed that isn’t used for anything.

The only reason to do this is purely for cosmetic reasons.


Their accent is antipodal, but I’m not sophisticated enough to tell weather it is Newzeelin or Oz.

Docking and cropping are illegal on both countries.

Of course there actually are working breeds that need their dewclaws!

It is very common to remove dewclaws in toy dogs that are being shown, but toy dogs by definition do not have a purpose other than being pets.

No one can make the case that they might tear a claw while doing their work, so the ethics behind such a common custom are awfully suspect.


Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: