Posts Tagged ‘Palacegarden Pekingese’

Well, the 2012 Crufts Dog Show is on in Birmingham, England.

And things are a bit different in the UK dog show circuit.

This year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show awarded a Pekingese named Palacegarden Malachy Best in Show.

As I noted at the time of the win, this was a win for qualzucht-– “torture breeding”– and will do nothing more than fuel the flames of the animal rights extremist lobby.Continued denial of this dog’s obvious conformation issues and then celebration of his victory at this show are nothing more than accelerants to that fire, which is burning hotter and hotter every year.

Palacegarden is the an Pekingese kennel that is operated in Northumberland in the far north of England. It is owned by Jim and Jean Smith.

And they have done reasonably well on the UK show circuit. I don’t believe this particular site is up to date, for there is no mention of Malachy,  a grandson of their dogs Palacegareden Sullivan and Palacegarden Donovan, in their “brags” section.

But the Smiths are his breeders. He was born in the UK, but he is being campaigned in the United States.

They are also breeders of Palacegarden Bianca, and she is being campaigned in the UK. She was also shown at Crufts this year, where she was expected to do quite well.

She would have won Best of Breed at Crufts.

But then something happened:

She failed a health test.

As a result of the pressures coming from Jemima Harrison’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary, the Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom) decided to implement health checks for all Best of Breed winners in 15 breeds at all of its General and Group Championship shows this year. These health checks are given by independent veterinarians, and if they say the dog isn’t a healthy example, it is dismissed.

The KC won’t list the reason why both the bulldog and Peke were denied BOB’s this year, but both breeds are severely brachycephalic and are well-known sufferers of brachycephalic airway syndrome, which interferes with a dog’s ability to fully respirate and cool itself. This condition is directly connected to breeding for the very short muzzle in both of these breeds, but this short muzzle is seen as ideal in the both breeds’ official breed standards.

Because they can’t have a BOB, the Peke and bulldog cannot compete for the group or Best in Show, and the point is to force breeders and judges within these breeds to produce and put up healthier animals.

With the Peke and bulldog, they will probably either have to change the standards or their interpretation of the standards.

And their fanciers will complain.

Tough, I say.

I seriously doubt that Malachy could have passed the test either, seeing as they were both bred by the same breeders and to the same standard. He may have, but his lumbering gait and hard panting, clearly showed to me that he wasn’t a good example of what a dog should be. Of course, we won’t know for sure.

However, because the Kennel Club has been forced implement health inspections for dogs in certain breeds before they can become BOB, dogs with welfare issues associated with their conformation cannot advance.

In the American Kennel Club, no such requirement exists at conformation shows.

And this is why we see dogs like Malachy winning major shows– and everyone oos and ahs over him.

In the United Kingdom, this is no longer acceptable.

And I think we should thank Jemima Harrison and her production company for putting the pressure on the Kennel Club to implement these reforms. Pedigree Dogs Exposed really opened the eyes of so many people, and it dragged the somewhat recalcitrant British dog fancy into making some modest changes for the health and welfare of purebred dogs.

But in America, where PDE has had very little exposure, people still think it’s okay.

The dog and its breeders get lauded.

And the dogs continue to suffer from their partially blocked airways.

PDE specifically targeted the pekingese for its extreme conformation, detailing how Pekingese named Danny actually won BIS at Crufts in 2003.  The rumor mill suggested that this dog had had a facelife. When Jemima Harrison’s team tracked down the real story, it turned out that he had not had a facelift, but instead, he had undergone a procedure to pare back some of his soft palate, which was obstructing his trachea. Dogs with extremely short muzzles have mouths and throats like normal dogs, but they don’t have enough space for all the things that go in there. It is possible for the soft palate to become very scrunched up in the back, which restricts the airways. Facelifts for show dogs are illegal under Kennel Club rules, but soft palate surgery is not.

Perhaps most infamously, Danny had to be placed upon an icepack to cool himself just before the awards ceremony at Crufts.

I was waiting for Malachy to be placed on an icepack. I think he needed it that night, but my guess is his handlers were smart enough not to do that while the cameras were running.

So here we can see a real world example of how Pedigree Dogs Exposed has changed the conversation.

In America, an extremely brachycephalic Peke wins Best in Show at the American Kennel Club’s most prestigious show, but in the UK, a Peke from the same kennel is dismissed because she doesn’t pass a health inspection.

It’s a real shame that PDE never received the exposure that it deserved in the United States.

But that’s to be expected.

This is the land of Citizens United, plastic surgery, and Hollywood. Glitz, glamour, and fakery of all sorts comprise much of the national zeitgeist.

But if things start to change for the better in the UK, it might start to trickle in over here.

Let’s hope it does.

See related posts:

And Chris has a post up at BorderWars on this same subject.


Update:  It turns out that Crufts did allow another bulldog to be shown in the Utility group, so a member of the breed can be judged in group following this dismissal.  Still wonderful news!

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