There are currently about 493 different dog breeds recognized by various dog clubs around the world. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 164 breeds.
Do we have enough dog breeds?
Some people argue that what we have today is enough, and we should not be creating new breeds of dogs.
What do you think? Is 493 the correct magic number?
Why Did We Start Breeding Dogs?
To answer this question, we consider the origins of dog domestication and dog breeding. According to Wikipedia, dogs were domesticated by 7000 BC and could have been domesticated as early as 30,000 BC. This is in contrast to horses that were domesticated at approximately 4000-3500 BC, and chickens at approximately 6000-4000BC.
In short, dogs have been man’s best friend for a very long time.
Since then, we have bred dogs to help us with a variety of tasks including hunting, protection, rescue, law enforcement, guiding the blind, and as our life companions.
We create new breeds of dogs to …
- Better help us with new and existing tasks.
- Better fit into our lifestyle and location.
- Better appeal to our sense of aesthetics.
However, some people argue that cross-breeding dogs just for their appearance is wrong, and somehow work dogs are more worthy.
They argue that cross-breeding dogs just for their companionship is misguided, and new breeds should only be created for ‘work’.
They argue that dogs should not be cross-bred at all. We have enough dog breeds and any further innovation on our part is irresponsible.
In truth, I fail to see why breeding dogs so that they can help us kill other animals is more worthy than breeding dogs for their looks or for their companionship.
Different people value dogs for different purposes, and my purpose is not more worthy than yours or vice versa.
What about the argument to stop cross-breeding and just stick with the breeds we currently have. Do we have enough dog breeds? Is the cross-breeding of dogs irresponsible?
Is the Cross-Breeding of Dogs Irresponsible?
Any type of breeding can be done responsibly or irresponsibly.
Responsible breeders …
- Only breed dogs with excellent health, temperament, and physique.
- Ensure that there is enough genetic diversity in their breeding pairs.
- Properly care for all of their dogs and take the time to properly place all of their puppies with good homes.
Irresponsible breeders are in it primarily for the money.
As a result they have little regard for all of the above and focus on breeding as many puppies as they can per time to maximize profits.
Irresponsible breeders breed dogs that are in the greatest demand, whether they be purebred dogs, designer dogs, mutts, or whatever name we want to use.
To stop irresponsible dog breeding we want to target its actual source – profits.
- We can share information about irresponsible breeding practices, such as those carried out by puppy mills and the pet stores that support them. This will reduce the demand for puppy mill puppies, and make it more difficult for them to profit from selling unhealthy puppies.
- We can enforce more stringent laws on the proper care of dogs, especially in breeding facilities. This will ensure that breeders provide a better level of care for all their dogs and help prevent unscrupulous breeders from cutting corners just to make a buck.
Since the source of irresponsible breeding is largely an economic one, economic related solutions will be more effective at curbing the problem.
Is the Domestication of Dogs Irresponsible?
It is not the cross-breeding of dogs that is irresponsible, but rather that all dog breeding can be carried out in a responsible or irresponsible manner.
If we ban all new dog breeds, the demand for dogs will simply shift to the sanctioned breeds and puppy mills will continue to produce those dogs in an irresponsible fashion.
As such, a more interesting question is this –
Should it be stopped?
Many good arguments can be made against dog domestication, but dogs also gain many advantages by living with us.
Do We Have Enough Dog Breeds?
As long as we practice breeding in a responsible way, cross-breeding can be a very good thing. It helps to enrich the genetic pool of our current purebred dogs, and can create new breeds of dogs that fulfill new tasks or more effectively fulfill existing tasks.
Breeding dogs that better fit into our human lifestyle is also a very good thing. It will lead to fewer dogs being surrendered to a shelter or simply abandoned.
What do you think of cross-breeding and new dog breeds?