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A World Without Roses

AM/DK/H/BIH/SCG/A/LUX CH Chervood Snowsun, Disqualified at Crufts 2012

As regular readers of Dog Show Poop know, I pretty much confine myself to being a cheerleader for AKC dog shows. I don’t usually get embroiled in legislative issues (although I have a background in such) as I think there are others out there that do a better job than I. However, I can be prompted to bring out my soapbox from time to time. Yesterday I penned a piece here on Best In Show Daily I entitled “Crufts’ Campaign against the Purebred Dog.” That piece was prompted by the withholding of Best of Breed awards in the Pekingese and Bulldog breeds during Thursday’s judging at the venerable Crufts dog show.

Today another breed winner was denied her prize after her veterinarian certification was withheld. The latest victim was the multi awarded Clumber Spaniel, AM/DK/H/BIH/SCG/A/LUX Ch. Chervood Snowsun. The 5-year-old bitch took the challenge certificate at the 2010 Crufts and was Best of Opposite Sex at the 2011 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Not only does she have an impressive show resume, she has also proved herself in field trials and came to play with documented health test results–A/A hips, 0/0 elbows, healthy patellas, a clear eye certificate & and DNA tested clear of pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase (PDP1) deficiency.

It is clear to this dog lover that no amount of evidence of the health of individual specimens of the targeted breeds will dissuade the animal rights lunatics in their attempt to divide and conquer the show community. Their strategy is to disenfranchise the targeted breeds, which they hope will then die out for lack of access to the show environment. They will then move on to other breeds, like a swarm of dog hating locusts, and try to wipe them out. They will not stop until they have destroyed the show community and the rights of dog owners everywhere.

As you might expect, I have been challenged over my defense of the disqualified breeds. This morning someone asked me how I could defend a breed like the Bulldog that has so many intrinsic health challenges. This was my answer:

I used to show roses. The beautifully formed blooms that we send our loved ones bear little resemblance to their ancestors. They are grafted onto a hardier rootstock, they must be protected from the cold weather, and they must be expertly pruned in order to produce those show quality blooms. Many of the varieties are susceptible to diseases like rust & and mildew, and fall prey to insects. However, hybridizers have produced hardier varieties through selective breeding, It’s a lot of effort but the reward is the most iconic flower on the planet.
While it is true that the Bulldog & and Pekingese will never be the athletes that the Doberman or Saluki are, they can be made healthy. It may be true that the Bulldog cannot deliver puppies naturally, but most roses cannot grow on their own rootstock. No one is advocating we live in a world without roses. Why should I agree to live in a world without Bulldogs or Pekingese?

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Bad Habit March 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Uhm… Wow. Did I really just read that? I think my brain is bleeding. You just compared an ornamental plant that doesn’t winterize well in cold climates to a living, feeling creature who is being bred to have increasingly poor breathing ability? People don’t suggest we stop growing roses because they can choose to either accept the hassle and grow roses. The dogs can’t choose to breed for a short snout that restricts breathing, and dogs that can overheat to the point of death because they can’t properly regulate heat. You said yourself, they’re cultivating roses for a hardier type more suitable for colder climates – that’s improving the flower. People will never stop breeding bulldogs who look like they got hit in the nose with a sledgehammer unless they stop placing at shows.

  • Patro'n's mom March 9, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    As a owner, breeder, and exhibitor of bulldogs, I thank you for your support. I am tired of hearing about how unhealthy our breed is. While there are some unscrupulous breeders out there breeding to improve their pockets versus improving the breed, many of us are producing very healthy dogs. My dogs swim, run, jump on trampolines, can be outside in the heat, etc. They pass, with stellar results, all of the health tests offered for the breed. They also compete in conformation and win! A few bad breeders and their dogs should not spoil the whole bunch. While I can rationalize, to some extent, the views on the bulldog, which are an entirely created breed in modern history; I cannot support any attempt to change a breed like the Peke which has been around for centuries before the KC existed. And for Bad Habit, we will never stop breeding the bulldog to the standard that has been established by the Bulldog Club of America…we will simply stop showing at Crufts. (Which is secretly what I hope many others choose to do)

  • Cindy Cooke March 9, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I read somewhere that the average lifespan for the Pekingese is 15 years, about half again as the average for dogs in general. Just as Dalmatians and Coonhounds were bred to be athletic, the Pekingese was bred to be a pet to women with bound feet. They are designed to be unathletic and they show no indications that this lifestyle makes them unhappy. They are the perfect companion for a subset of people who prefer quiet, loving, hairy little pets, perfectly fit for THEIR function. If we are going to require all dogs be fit for marathon athletic performance, then we can just let all the breeds die out except Salukis. Please read this article: http://naia.typepad.com/naia/2011/01/crufts-follow-up.html

  • Luke Norton March 9, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Can not agree with you more Billy. I own Giant Schnauzers and show them and have a big problem with breeds that originated in Europe that no longer qualify to show at Crufts, due to being a cropped and docked breed. There were specific reasons why breeds were cropped or docked and even evolution and history can’t deny predators that have ears up and forward. The physical and mechanical structure of breeds is what is judge, health comes with this, but only through continued breeding of original purebreds will we be able to correct what is not needed. Elimination of these breeds will only hurt the purebred dog, due to a less dominate gene pool. Everything has a purpose, even the thorn on the rose.

  • Megan Nelson March 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Mr. Wheeler, I see what you’re trying to say, but honestly… Your comment fell very far short of its mark. I am absolutely certain that you can see the difference between a plant and a sentient animal; the trouble is that the general public can see the difference, too. Comparing a plant to a living, breathing, sentient animal makes you sound – well – really, really insensitive.

    Let’s follow this to its logical conclusion. What if Bulldogs couldn’t even carry their own litters anymore, and had to be bred via gestational surrogates? What if Pekes could no longer walk at all, and had to be wheeled around the ring on little carts? What if Pugs had so much trouble breathing that they needed tiny oxygen masks to keep them going at shows? Would these “beautifully-formed blooms” be made ever-more precious by their frailty?

    No, thank you. Are we so blinded by the gratification of our own egos that we forget that these are living animals who can suffer and feel pain?

  • Armando March 9, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    I totally get what you are saying Billy, and agree. These so called “protectors” have only one goal in mind and that is to eliminate breeds and breeding, one by one. Today it’s the Bulldog, or the Peke, and a few others targeted, but tomorrow there would be others and more. Even if your breed is not targeted today, know that eventually it will be.

  • Kayla Kurucz March 9, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    Our readers might find Michael Pollan’s book The Botany of Desire useful in this discussion. It’s his thesis that we have a symbiotic relationship with plants and that hybridization (breeding) enourages humans to care for the plants, which extends the plants’ life. The Botany of Desire
    A Plant’s-Eye View of the World
    In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed reciprocal relationships similar to that of honeybees and flowers. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?

  • Lindsay Bryson March 10, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    My only thought to this whole scenario is when are we going to stop breeding people who have genetic problems? Allergies, heart defects, epilepsy, ADHD, eczema, addiction, depression, lack of common sense, unemployment, history of cancer, asthma, I could go on and on. I think the human race is in much worse shape than our dogs are in! Lets concentrate on improving humans before we attack the world of purebred dogs.
    Oh wait, someone already tried that… I believe in Germany.

    • Luke Norton March 10, 2012 at 6:22 AM

      Well said, Lindsay that sums it all up……

    • Annemie Larsen March 14, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      I am sorry Lindsay, but the irony of a purebred enthusiast breaking Godwins law just made my brain melt.

      Please correct me if I’ve completely misunderstood what you mean by “I belive in Germany”… but did you just equate breeding for better health (eugenics) with nazi Germany?
      Does the word “purebred” not invoke any of the same imagery? The arian race doesn’t perchance ring any bells?

      I would like to point out that, although the Nazis’s did a lot of terrible things, not EVERYTHING that happened in Germany during WW2 was terrible. They also built roads, wrote books, ate cake and held the olympics, you know.. “Somebody already tried that.. In germany”… Come on, you could say that about anuthing and make it sound dirty. Eugenics would probably have caught on if it hadn’t been for the purebreed and mass genocide side of their policies.

      I’m all for purebred dogs, I just happen to find that particular simile ridiculous, and frankly, rather offensive. I also believe that dogs deserve to exist without physical defects that cause discomfort or even pain. Dogs cannot rationalize the way that we can, they don’t get to make any choices that influence their well being, and they cannot tell us where/when it hurts – they suffer in silence (well, except for wheezing dogs).

      Yes, it would be fabulous if we humans could breed ourselves healthier – but unlike dogs, we aren’t bred by our masters for the purpose of being sold off to other people. No, we have free will, and any halfwit with a prick can breed whenever he feels like it.

      Believe it or not, there are quite a few people on this planet who have made the deliberate choice of not procreating based on their own health status – these people are NOT nazis for making that choice. If only more people cared, perhaps we would be a healthier (and smarter) animal too.

      Dogs don’t really have much say as to whom they procreate with – or I suspect we would soon run out of purebreeds (my dog is in love with my neighbors bitch – too bad he’s a sheltie and she’s a bullterrier… and I don’t want him to breed in any case).

      The Danish Shetland Sheepdog Club (under the Danish Kennel Club) halved the prevalence of CEA in Danish Shelties in only 3 short years (2006-2009), simply by making eye-tests mandatory for litter registration, and publishing all results. The problem may never disappear, but for now it is completely under control. Imagine what could have been done for the bulldog in the same period – but instead (some) people are whining over negative press and an imaginary movement within our own ranks to eradicate the breeds.

      I really hope this changes soon. I can’t wait to see how amazing the bulldog will be when it is no longer hindered by its physique.

      According to this video, they’re already well on their way (bulldogs are on around 15 mins): http://youtu.be/rrWjVFKuAg8

      • Collin March 15, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        Annemie, thank you for your intelligent response to a frightening statement equating efforts to breed healthier dogs with genocide. I wish people who love and own purebred dogs could just admit that some odf our breeds have problems that we need to work on. I keep saying this, in hopes that someone will hear me!
        I live with a dog that is only 6 years old and going blind with PRA. I am so grateful that there is now a DNA test for PRA in my breed, or I would no doubt have bred her after she finished her championship at age 2. How sad I would have been to have brought more dogs into the world who might not have the gift of sight all their lives. With DNA testing, I could have bred her to a male that was not a carrier or affected and produced puppies without PRA. What a tremendous step forward for my breed!
        I’ve also lived with a dog that had hip dysplasia, but thank goodness live a fairly comfortable life in spite of it. In some breeds the incidence of hip dysplasia has been greatly reduced simply due to breeders diligently x-raying breeding stock and breeding sound dogs to sound dogs.
        Performing available health testing, and breeding with the goal of minimizing health problems in our beloved dogs, should be such a simple request to make of the people who claim to love their dogs so much. Why do we have to fight amongst ourselves about this?

  • Lesli Reiff, DVM March 10, 2012 at 5:40 AM

    My head spun around in a circle after reading this pea soup. Comparing cultivating roses with breeding dogs? No one is saying every breed should be an athelete, just that people who engineer reproduction have a responsibility to minimize traits that will have a significant negative health impact and cause undo suffering to offspring. As veterinarians we have all had to treat the pain of a dog who has turned blue and collapsed because it cannot breath normally, done emergency C-sections on dogs that can’t deliver naturally, have seen the tears of kids whose pet dropped dead from cardiomyopathy…or are in pain from degenerative jopint disease when simply walking out the door. I could go on and on….it isn’t pretty, and it is preventable. As for the previous comment, anyone who would purposely take 2 people with heart defects and breed them to insure that the offspring would have the same or more pronounced heart defect would be classified as either stupid or cruel.

    • Mrs. Ott March 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Regarding c-sections, many women have opted for this delivery method rather than endure natural childbirth, but science has also allowed us medical advances that have helped bring children into the world via c-sections that may have otherwise died. Who is to really say which is more correct or better? Humans are stewards of animals and make choices for them based on what they think is best.

      • Lindsay Bryson March 10, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        AMEN! I had a c-section and I would not want it any other way. Does this mean that *I* shouldn’t be bred again?

    • Lindsay Bryson March 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      Any how many people in the world bother to do genetic testing before conceiving?
      Stupid and cruel, yes, but who are YOU to tell them they can not have children?

      • Lindsay Bryson March 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM

        *And, not any

      • Lesli Reiff, DVM March 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM

        Duh – need I say more ?

    • kayla March 10, 2012 at 8:27 PM

      I would like to understand from our commenting vets what their overall pool of dogs are (mixed breed to purebreds). Out of this sample set, I would like to know:
      1) what are all the treatment visits for (preventive v specific ailment)
      2) break that out by purebred or mixed breed
      3) identifying the %age of treatment by mixed breed or purebed
      4) are the cases you’ve cited for purebreds only?
      I’ve heard that Morris Foundation is working on a large scale study to look at this question, but it would nice to have real data from our vet audience that is local to us. It could be very illustrative. Responsible breeders do track their health issues and work to breed away from them, however, there’s no real way to track what happens in the dog pool at large or mixed breeds at large.

  • Tasha Morgan March 10, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    I own a lovely Pekingese & it’s true she will never run a marathon but nor will I.
    She can breathe run & loves her walks. My vet has confirmed her breathing is
    Fine & she is fit.
    I love dogs but I also have a favourite the peke. Not all bracycathalic breeds are
    Unhealthy. If anyone is considering buying any bracycathalic breed buy one that doesn’t have pinched nostrils. The peke is lively & loves their toys.
    I Love their character they are one of the oldest breeds in the world & one of the longest lived.
    I am sick of people knocking the peke without knowing them.
    Plenty of cross breeds get sick & longer nosed breeds can have trouble with the soft palate as well.
    I can honestly say peke’s are much loved & cared for & it’s rare to see them in rescue.

  • Jennifer March 10, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    I breed Cardigan Welsh Corgis. They were originally bred to herd cattle in Wales thousands of years ago, a land of harsh terrain. (I’ve been there; I know the terrain.) To this day they can and do herd cattle as well as sheep, goats, and ducks, in herding trials. We have several dual champions in our breed with herding as one of the two disciplines. Yet this is a dwarf breed with front legs that bow and paws that turn out. Dwarves, the lunatics in England may well say, are deformed animals, and should not be allowed to be bred because to do so would thus carry on this hideous deformation. Well, I say again: This dwarf breed, averaging all of perhaps 35 pounds (dogs and bitches lumped together), with their bowed fronts and turned out paws can STILL herd livestock, including full-grown, large, very heavy American cattle. Yet Cardigans are on the list of Animal Rights Terrorists in England as a breed of questionable health because they are dwarves. Come on, people, do your homework before you castigate an entire breed and lobby for it to be removed from the face of the earth.

  • Lesli Reiff, DVM March 13, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    ok folks – 1st comment to Ms. Ott -keyword – “opted” – these dogs have not “opted”
    Yeah, I guess if YOU purposely breed a dog (without choice) to have a painful and perhaps unviable birth to benifit your whims, pat your self on the back. Once again opted is a keyword – you have had the beneifit of wayigt your personal opportunities drawbacks vs gain in your decision -get it>?

  • Lesli Reiff, DVM March 13, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Oh yeah, I have a resucue show Pekingese with DJD & a rescue Americam cocker who is blind from glaucoma , Practice in an upscale community with a state that mandates health certificates – crying shame

  • Lesli Reiff, DVM March 13, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Get a clue folks, noone in the veterinay community is adovcating a ban on brachycephalic breeds, we are just so f***cking tired of seeing dogs with inbred problems that negatively affect their quality of life, all in the name of “breed confirmation” – we love dogs – we hate stupidity

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