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How a 100 Years of Breeding Has Ruined Some Dogs

How a 100 Years of Breeding Has Ruined Some Dogs

We probably don’t have to tell you that when it comes to getting a dog, rescuing – either from a reputable rescue or an animal shelter – is ten times better than buying from a breeder or pet shop. New insights into how breeding has changed many dog breeds deepens the issue.

Just check out this image on the left from the 1915 book, Breeds of All Nations by W.E. Mason. The photo on the right is of a modern Bull Terrier.

Science of Dogs collected these old photos and said of the bull terrier comparison, “It seems incredible that at one time the Bull Terrier was a handsome, athletic dog. Somewhere along its journey to a mutated skull and thick abdomen, the bull terrier also picked up a number of other maladies like supernumerary teeth and compulsive tail-chasing.”

Of course, dogs (and all other animals) can be expected to change naturally throughout the years and will continue to pick up genetic diseases. But the problem begins when breeders intentionally select to breed for traits that result in diseases. “Improvement,” if speaking directly to looks, isn’t really improvement at all. If it’s making them ill, how is trying to make a “cuter” dog really all that important? And when it comes to getting an animal for your family, how much should looks really matter anyway?

Here are some other examples from the site of dogs who have changed significantly over the years:

“The Basset Hound has gotten lower, has suffered changes to its rear leg structure, has excessive skin, vertebra problems, droopy eyes prone to entropion and ectropion and excessively large ears.”

“A shorter face means a host of problems. The modern Boxer not only has a shorter face but the muzzle is slightly upturned. The boxer – like all bracecyphalic dogs – has difficulty controlling its temperature in hot weather, the inability to shed heat places limits on physical performance. It also has one of the highest cancer rates.”

The English bulldog suffers from almost every possible disease, says on Science of Dogs. They die at the median age of 6.25 years, according to a 2004 survey by the Kennel Club. And their proportions make mating or birthing almost impossible without medical intervention.

Visit Science of Dogs to see how other breeds, including the Dachshund, German Shepherd and others, have changed over the years.

We hope, as always, that if you decide to get a new dog, you consider adopting a mutt. But if you’re insistent on getting a “purebred” (whatever that means anymore), please do your research both into the breed and the breeder you’re considering using.

Sources: Sploid, Dog Behavior Science

Read more: Animal Rights, Dogs, Pet Health, Pets, , , , ,

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Lo Lankford

Lo Lankford is a recent Los Angeles transplant after a decade in the Big Apple. In her "spare time" (ha!) she used to run a dog rescue called Badass Brooklyn and helped save over 400 dogs. Otherwise? Nerd'do well, whistle blower, proud hillbilly from the sticks.


+ add your own
7:13AM PDT on Jul 15, 2015

Thoughtless, irresponsible humans behind the inbreeding cause much problems for these poor animals - what a difference in the pictures above. Thanks for the article.

1:20AM PDT on Jul 15, 2015

Shared, thanks.

12:38AM PDT on Jul 15, 2015


12:59PM PDT on Jul 14, 2015

Pretty awful what we have done, really.

12:58PM PDT on Jul 14, 2015

Pretty awful what we have done, really.

11:15PM PDT on Mar 20, 2015

Thank you for this fascinating article. I encourage everyone to go to the source as the full article is really interesting.

I've had both purebreds and mutts, and loved them all, but I've been careful about what purebreds I've had. Greyhounds, for example, are fine as they are still working dogs so are not bred for their looks. Look at a picture of a greyhound from 200 years ago and it's pretty much the same. Retired greys make wonderful pets.

It's heartbreaking to see what human vanity, selfishness and sheer stupidity has done to so many wonderful dog breeds.

10:55AM PDT on Nov 1, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

1:26PM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

I think the german sheperd is also included in the "ruined" dogs.... Humans are never happy, they have to change everything!!

2:21AM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

first - it´s sad that in breeding animals humans just breed for looks and not also for health and well-being of the animal.

second @Robin C.: it seems that no chance is too small for you to let off some stupid racist abuse.

6:27AM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

What is man trying to make? Are his values correct?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

I have severe arthritis...and learned a great deal from this article -- thanks.

Thanks Diana. Good advice.


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