Posts Tagged ‘American Kennel Club’

affenpinscher banana joe

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?

Not really.

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).

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From the Team Jenneh “We was robbed” Facebook group:

The important part of that thread is Phil Guidry’s comment.

Phil Guidry is a senior policy analyst at the American Kennel Club.

His statement is very much in keeping with the previous comments against the Kennel Club’s new policy from Dennis Sprung, the AKC president and CEO.

So if you thought the AKC was going to realize that its institutional legitimacy was at stake and actually do something to address the very real problems that exist with breeding for exaggerated traits in certain breeds, you’d be wrong.

It’s decided to side with what is essentially a cancer on all dog breeders and, ultimately, all dog owners.  Breeding for extreme and unhealthy conformation is institutionalized animal abuse, no matter how you look at it. Refusing to address these problems is the road to the ruination of the American Kennel Club. It fundamentally doesn’t understand what is happening with the body politic, and the animal rights extremists will be able to use its recalcitrance as a wonderful foil to get even more extreme legislation passed.

Way to go, AKC!

Maybe that’s why your registrations are down.

Maybe that’s why people don’t believe you when you claim to be “the dog’s champion.”

Maybe that’s why so many people are turning to designer dogs– advisedly or ill-advisedly– and to the paper mill registries.

Kennel Club has decided that it wants to have a voice about dogs for the future.

The AKC has put its fingers in its ears, shut its eyes, and started nattering “Lalalala, not listening, lalala!”

And that’s how institutions begin to die.


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No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

–Albert Einstein

With the discussion that has happened on this blog, Border Wars, and DesertWindHounds about inbreeding, dog health, and closed registries,. some have asked me what we should do about it.

Yes. The problems with dogs in this regard are mostly systemic, and systemic problems have certain issues associated with them.

One of these is that systemic problems are often hard to observe. If something has been accepted as virtuous for a very long, then it may be difficult for anyone but total outsiders to see anything wrong with them. I am certain that this is the case with most dog issues, because the Western dog fancy has been around for about 150 years. No can remember when the values of the fancy were established, and very few question whether these values are good. If you do, another aspect of systemic problems comes to the fore.

Systemic problems exist because systems have ways of reinforcing themselves. It is more like the indoctrination system of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. People are simply conditioned to accept certain negative things as good. The best example of this is blood purity for blood purity’s sake it. It is one religious tenant that cannot be touched. It even supplants reason.

And that’s another problem: reason often doesn’t matter when dealing with systemic problems. The values that maintain the system are very much against those who question. Even harsher measures are used against those who actually do something about the problems they see.

These problems are big. They are almost impossible for the average dog owner to see anyway of combating them.

That’s why so many people get involved in rescue.  Dog rescue does have some inherent problems, but in general, it is nothing quite like the issues surrounding the closed registry problem.

And there is nothing wrong with getting involved in rescue. Each person should participate where one feels most comfortable.

However, the dog owning public can do lots of things to help bring about reform.

One thing should always be understood: The closed registry system is moribund. The AKC has declining registrations year after year. It is on its way out, unless it begins to reform. (Which is unlikely.)

There are other registries, but some of them are nothing more than paper mills. I know of a few that if you breed a jaguar to a dog, I bet they’d register the hybrids. Those registries are not inherently good. They are nothing more than paper mills, and they are part and parcel of the mass production industry. They are not the solution to this problem.

So now that we know that the big institutions that exist to promote the fancy are in trouble, I don’t think we need to waste much more breath criticizing them. Jess does particularly good job at exposing some of the weird belief system that exist within her chosen breeds, and the more those get exposed, the less likely new dog owners are going to pay attention to them.

Logic and reason are your friends in dealing with this mess. Follow this advice from Daria Morgendorffer (I’m dating myself, I know):

Stand firm for what you believe in, until and unless logic and experience prove you wrong. Remember, when the emperor looks naked, the emperor is naked.

Now, use logic and reason when you enter the marketplace in search of a new dog.   Look for breeders who understand issues related to genetic diversity and the long-term health of their breeds or types. You will find that this is a bit harder than using logic and reason, but they do exist. That is because even breeders of working breeds often have a poor understing of population genetics.

That is how the market will sort some of this out.

But the market alone won’t save it. Markets can only work so long as people are informed. My suggestion is that everyone try to get as many people as possible to read the posts Jess and Christopher have put up about inbreeding and closed registries. Those are all very readable. I would also suggest that everyone take a look at The Canine Diversity Project. Some of the links don’t work, but it still a great source for information.

Truth does not set us free. But it is a good first step.

If one has the resources and time, it is probably a good idea for one to consider participating as a breeder. Now, to be a breeder who intentionally produces for genetic diversity is to be really a “man (or woman) in the arena.”  But we need more people breeding dogs. I know that sounds counterintuitive and is against almost all the things we hear from various welfare organizations and breed clubs. However, the only way to increase genetic diversity for the long term health of dogs is to have more dogs breeding– and more people need to be breeders.

Unfortunately, many dog people are simply unaware for the problems that can result from a paucity of genetic diversity. The various cultures do not reward diversity. They reward conformity. They reward top producing sires, and when a male dog excels in some area, everyone wants to breed from him.

If the cultures at large don’t reward diversity, then it is up to consumers to solve the problem. Many people are uncomfortable with this solution, but because the issues with each individual dog population are different and because different breeders have different approaches to solving these problems, we cannot ethically legislate them away.

In the end, all of these problems will be solved. The information continues to flow freely on the internet. People are openly questioning things. The response that these genetic diversity posts have been getting from all three blogs shows that the dog-loving public is deeply concerned.

I don’t think anyone wants to harm dogs, but that which has existed before has been harmful. To think that we can solve these problems without making big systemic changes is a delusion, and it is why I included the Einstein quote at the top of this post. I don’t think we can solve these problems with the current registry systems we have, whether it be the AKC or the ABCA.

And that’s a hard thing to say.

And even harder thing to change.

But people want something better. We just have to work together to find ways of getting there. We have to use what we can to disseminate information and push for reform. If we all keep pushing a little bit, we will get there.

In the past months, I think I can safely say that a large enough percentage of the dog loving public is questioning these issues that we can begin to see things change. People are looking for answers. I don’t have all of them. No one does.

We have to work together to find those answers.

I’m confident that we’ll do it.


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Now this is some good news.

Mixed breeds can compete with the goldens and border collies in the same classes. They will get the same titles.

The original proposal for allowing mixed breeds in AKC obedience events would have them compete in separate classes.

Of course, this will help the AKC get more registration fees, and it still does little for the systemic problems that exist within the purebred dog fancy.

But it is a small crack in the wall.

And I’ll take it.

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Most factory hog farms are more sanitary than this puppy mill.


I no longer agree with the content of this post.

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