I got this interesting comment from Cody in my Designer Dogs article.
Many purebreds have horrible genetic issues that “reputable” breeders keep within the breed to meet standards. Look at the Rhodesian Ridgeback for instance; or how many German Shepherds who can barely walk because their legs are so malformed. And yet, they go on to win best in breed.
Mutts tend to live longer and healthier lives because of their mixed genetics. Most of the purebred populations don’t have enough genetic variability within each breed to insure a stable and healthy line in the future.
~~[ Cody ]
What do you think? Is it better for us to mix things up with our current purebred dogs? Should we stop breeding certain dogs because of health or temperament concerns?
What is the best dog breed ?
New Dog Breeds
Some people argue that we have enough dog breeds. They say that we should just stick to what we have because cross-breeding new types of dogs is irresponsible and wrong.
However, such arguments fail under close scrutiny because it is not really the cross-breeding of dogs that is problematic, but rather the irresponsible breeding of dogs in general.
It is not really the breed of dogs that a puppy mill produces that is the problem, but rather the puppy mill itself.
If we stop all cross-breeding programs, irresponsible breeders will simply shift from breeding unsanctioned designer dogs into the sanctioned purebred market. Underground puppy stores will likely arise, to service buyers who are willing to pay top dollar for one of the unsanctioned breeds. Rather than reducing irresponsible breeding, such measures will actually create a better environment for unscrupulous people to make money by selling illegal puppies.
There is nothing wrong with new dog breeds. What we want to stop are the irresponsible dog breeders.
But as Cody points out, what about the so-called responsible breeding that produces unhealthy dogs? Is that truly responsible?
What type of dogs should we be breeding?
What Dogs Should We Breed?
In the past, many dogs were bred to help us with various tasks, including hunting, herding, pulling, and protection.
Through time, we have devised new ways to perform these tasks, so the dogs of today primarily fulfill the role of our companions.
Some of these work characteristics still carry-on as part of a purebred dog’s conformation standard, but even these show dogs do their best work while providing companionship to their families.
The three key attributes we breed dogs for today are appearance, health, and temperament.
However, as was pointed out by Cody, breeding for appearance may sometimes compromise health. For example, it is well-known that short-snouted dogs tend to be heat-intolerant, and may develop breathing issues.
Similarly, large dogs tend to have shorter life-spans, and are more likely to develop bloat, as well as joint pain.
Does this mean it is irresponsible to breed short-snouted dogs and large dogs?
It is true that the health of a dog is very important, that is why we take our dogs for yearly vet check-ups and teeth-cleaning. However, to best fulfill his new role as our companion, the temperament and appearance of the dog are also very significant.
Humans and dogs share a mutually beneficial relationship. Dogs get healthcare, shelter, food, exercise, and companionship from us. We get joy, laughter, a way to relieve stress, love, friendship, and much more from our dogs. Part of what we get from our dogs is based on their appearance.
Many of us choose dogs and cats as our companions, in large part because of how they look and how they feel. In contrast, there are much fewer companion lizards, crabs, or snakes.
Some people go absolutely nuts and start foaming at the mouth when they hear the term “hybrid dog” or “designer dog“. They start shouting about health issues and condemn others for choosing dogs based on appearance.
This is not helpful. The truth is to some degree we all choose dogs based on their appearance. It is human to do so.
Certainly purebred dogs go to conformation shows where they are judged based on how they look and how they move.
Dogs are expensive and a whole lot of work – so it is important that we get a dog that suits us in terms of temperament, health, and also appearance. Each person will have different tastes and different priorities when it comes to choosing a dog.
My Dog Breed Is Better Than Your Dog Breed
Of course when there is choice, there is also judgement.
- My Shiba Inu is better than your Siberian Husky.
- My German Shepherd is better than your Labradoodle.
- My Pomchi is better than your Cockapoo.
The truth is, the dog breed of my choice is better for me, but most likely not better for someone else I see on the street.
A Shiba Inu is a very good looking breed, who is very healthy, and has a relatively long life. However, they also have a quirky personality and a stubborn disposition that may not suit many people. An unsuitable dog will likely get abandoned or surrendered.
That is clearly not the better choice.
As long as we are responsible care-takers, and properly manage, train, and fulfill our dog’s needs, we will give him a rich, full, and happy life.That, I think, is what matters.
- Should we breed short-snouted dogs?
- Should we breed large dogs?
- Should we breed Shiba Inus? [ Probably not Shiba Inus! ]
What dogs should we breed?
We should breed dogs that have the best chance of living a happy life, with good, caring, and responsible caretakers.