What 100 years of dog breeding looks like
December 3, 2013 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Just how much have dog breeds changed in the past hundred years? A lot (and for the worst).

The black and white photos are from W.E. Mason's fascinating book "Breeds of All Nations" from 1915, available online in several formats.
posted by Foci for Analysis (178 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just how much have dog breeds changed in the past hundred years? A lot (and for the worst).

goldendoodles didn't exist in 1915, rendering your argument invalid
posted by nathancaswell at 2:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pedigree Dogs Exposed

tl,dw: "Inbreeding is a hella bad idea and makes sickly, disease-prone dogs"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


That made me super sad.
posted by absalom at 3:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


It is a shame - so many of those dogs really do look better and healthier in the older photos.

I hesitate to see what's happened to my favorite moppets: corgis.

Also, since my dog (a chorgi) suffers from IVDD - a big hearty salute to the breeders who've doomed doxies to IVDD with those changes.
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:01 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is...is that page...snowing?
posted by phunniemee at 3:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [45 favorites]


Nice work assholes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snowing web pages are the 2013 version of the blink tag.

That German Sheppard is a travesty of nature. An actual travesty of nature unlike the figurative travesties people always talk about.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


The pug looks exactly the same.
posted by elizardbits at 3:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


A lot (and for the worst).

Don't you mean for the wurst? As in, hot dog?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:06 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Man! That pit bull looks like something out of a space alien shooter video game! And the bulldog is just a goddamn mutant blob!

Who the hell wants dogs that look like this?
posted by rifflesby at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I grew up with purebred collies and they only managed to escape a few of the genetic tendencies of the breed. Of course, we did at least know what to look for.

I love dogs in general so much that I would have trouble getting another purebred myself when there are so many dogs already in existence that need homes. My mom is on a months long waiting list for another collie puppy, and I'm sure I'll love it, but it seems odd to me that she is so fixed on the aesthetic that she wouldn't consider adopting a pup that needs to go somewhere.
posted by chatongriffes at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't want to sound like I'm defending breeders, but... is this true, or just the blog of some crank who is picking and choosing photos to prove their point?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's why you should just get a mutt: hybrid vigor!
That and the fact that people don't get their animals fixed so why pay for some inbred cluster-fuck when you can get an awesome dog at the pound.
posted by Red Loop at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [28 favorites]


The German Shepherd / Alsatian changes are pretty striking. I always look at one of them walking these days and wonder if their hips are hurting them.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sighthounds don't seem to have changed as much, perhaps because they have never been super-popular as show dogs and there is a lot of crossover between conformation and lure coursing.

From the referenced book. Some modern show greyhounds.
posted by muddgirl at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's funkin' gross.

For more on how breeding for shows has corrupted the health and conformation of pedigree dogs, see this BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
posted by Kerasia at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


is this true, or just the blog of some crank who is picking and choosing photos to prove their point?

Check out the doco I linked to above. It is all true.
posted by Kerasia at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Current greyhounds seem more chesty and have pointier heads, I think? But it's not a hugely noticeable change like the ones selected for the article.
posted by elizardbits at 3:10 PM on December 3, 2013


I see from the book that people have been doing ridiculous shit to poodles since forever.

So... Not all of the bad things done to dogs is new.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The picture comparison for the German Shepherd was stunning. The physical change has to have been bred-in relatively recently, as I can remember, as a boy, friends and relatives having Shepherds that looked exactly like the "before" picture. Damned dogs were always hopping fences and getting out, too.

Someone needs to nuke the AKC.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


wow, this is super interesting, and horrifying at the same time. I knew that selective breeding had caused some breeds problems, but had no idea it was like this. That's atrocious.
posted by skewed at 3:15 PM on December 3, 2013


A new high bar for period film making: accurate dogs.
posted by girlhacker at 3:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [74 favorites]


It's a all true. I used to work for a highly regarded Irish Setter breeder. Her dogs were lovely, intelligent, hard working dogs that would place both in shows and in the field hunting. She stopped breeding because the judges were placing stupid, inbred animals with high degrees of hip problems and poor quality structure for work. You can find very few Irishes that are used as field dogs now, and most of them are her lines.

The direction the AKC wants to go with herding dogs is exactly why Border Collie and Heeler people don't give a shit if their dogs have papers with the abcs on them. Some local BCs have a pedigree as long as my arm, and not a single dog was registered, but they are in high demand and command big money because they are healthy and can work.

And thanks to breeders striving for the excess that buyers demand, we have also ruined many horse breeds and developed unhealthy breeds of cats.

There is a certain type of person that thinks myotonia congenita is funny and and wishes to propagate it for the LOLs.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


I don't want to sound like I'm defending breeders, but... is this true, or just the blog of some crank who is picking and choosing photos to prove their point?

Well, on the one hand, it's not like it's a statistically complete survey of the various dog breeds at the time. And it's not as though it is being compared to such a survey of breeds now. So, conclusions can be drawn from only limited information.

That said, breeds drift as standards drift and some of that isn't that great for the dog. The hunting and sporting lines seem to be less prone to inbreeding and more proactive in eliminating problems than show lines, but that too is a generalization.

And, now having read the book, I am disappoint that the Viszla isn't included. Because mine is the best dog ever. pic in profile
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's why you should just get a mutt: hybrid vigor!

When we lived in Japan we got a puppy from a local dairy farm. She was a mutt and I guess you would characterize her as a Spitz.

Anyway, we brought her back to Canada, and she received quite a lot of attention, always. Strangers would insist that she was a) a Chow b) a Samoyed c) a German Spitz.

It was really weird how people would absolutely insist on correcting us when we said "No, she's just a mutt." In that part of Japan, at least, all of the strays (and there are a lot of stray dogs wandering around) looked like her.

The most troublesome part of the "breed" is that these dogs seemed to be designed to pull things and work, so it was pretty difficult to train her to "heel." But I spent many find fall days walking the hills in Japan with that dog.

Here's another photo.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:22 PM on December 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


KokuRyu, your pup is so pretty! Between you and Pogo Fuzzybutt, I was inspired to change my profile picture to one of me and my mutt.

Is this turning into a share photos of our dogs threads? Because I could get behind that.
posted by chatongriffes at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Take a look at the flabby mess Labrador Retrievers bred for show look like nowadays, compared to labs bred for field work. What the hell is happening with those puny back legs and sloping back on the show labs? That is not a dog that going to be able to power herself out of freezing cold thigh-deep marsh mud carrying 16# of dead ducks in her mouth.

Is...is that page…snowing?
I've had a persistent floater about that relative size in the corner of my left eye the past few weeks and sort of freaked out there for a second because I will go mad if that many more appear.

posted by jamaro at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing that struck me from the BBC documentary was when they were talking about how various judges were disgusted by working German Shepherds who didn't look like they thought a dog should look like - although they didn't have the health problems that the show dogs did.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:27 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh man, my parents always get super-purebred West Highland terriers from a breeder known for producing champions. Unlike their description as a "hardy little terrier" 100 years ago, they are all pretty much invariably very sweet, delicate, nervous wrecks that need to be fed special diets by hand. It's heartbreaking.
posted by scody at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Current greyhounds seem more chesty and have pointier heads, I think?

Yeah, AKC greyhounds are quite chesty, sometimes a bit "thick" around the middle for people used to retired racers. I think they also tend to have elongated and thicker necks, but it's also possible that hounds bred for racing are being selected for thinner necks.

Someone needs to nuke the AKC.

The AKC generally looks to breed clubs to determine standards. Breed clubs are made up of breeders. Personally I question the ethics of breeding non-working dogs at all, but a lot of people who own, say, pure-bred Italian Greyhounds or King Charles Spaniels would disagree with me. Breeding demands conformation, which encourages competition, which encourages over-selection.
posted by muddgirl at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The AKC generally looks to breed clubs to determine standards.

Though, again referring to the BBC documentary, some of the pressure was coming from the UK Kennel Club, so much so that breeders who wanted champions were expressing unhappiness but still breeding to their standards because that's what they had to do to place...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:31 PM on December 3, 2013


some of the pressure was coming from the UK Kennel Club

Where was the UK Kennel Club standard developed from? Generally, UK breed clubs.
posted by muddgirl at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2013


See also goldfish, pigeons, rabbits, hamsters... give people an "award" for something or make it into a hobby and there's no limit to the lengths they'll go at the expense of an animal's well being. What the AKC does should absolutely be a crime.

With great power comes great responsibility.
posted by dilaudid at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed that breeders understand these issues enough to breed for those traits, and not to breed for healthy variants of them. It seems so obviously damaging to the profession to create these inbred, idiot creatures that look like sidewalk caricatures, charge thousands for them, and then have your purebred die or be put down at six years of age due to a breed-predictable ailment. All they'd have to do is modify judging characteristics to aim the breed at healthy balances.
posted by fatbird at 3:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Working breeds FTW. Poodles (working dogs - seriously good birders) haven't changed all that much, and their ridiculous haircuts protect them when they jump in very cold water. You can find awful inbred poodles, but it's still quite easy to find healthy ones. Same goes for Portuguese Water Dogs. The breeders have been very protective of the breed and have resisted over-breeding. It's quite easy to find a healthy Portie. (Easier than a healthy poodle. I don't know what I'm going to do when my lovely 13 year old standard passes into the great beyond. It breaks my heart to think about.)
posted by stoneweaver at 3:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The German Shepherd Dog is so unrecognizable as a canine breed that they need to include the word DOG in the name!
posted by orme at 3:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


A very important point that this article omits and this entire thread overlooks is that no matter what kind of puppy you have or what it looks like you should hug it right now immediately and also boop its nose.

Also do this if you are near a dog that is not yours. Or a cat.
posted by elizardbits at 3:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [82 favorites]


I never understood what was so aesthetically valuable about the hips of the GSD. Why should a healthy dog always look like his hips are falling down to his ankles? Why is the healthier, cleverer deer-headed chihuahua not the breed standard? And why have things come to such a pass that my poor little weiner dog has ALL THE SICKNESS, and the deafness, and . . . ?
posted by Countess Elena at 3:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


See also goldfish, pigeons, rabbits, hamsters... give people an "award" for something or make it into a hobby and there's no limit to the lengths they'll go at the expense of an animal's well being.

See also: the Spanish Hapsburgs.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


Those slope-backed German shepherds break my heart. We have a few in our neighborhood and many of them seem to have really timid personalities too. German shepherds should be proud, confident and stand tall - not crooked slinkers.

I'll come out - after two years in dog rescue, I have a massive hate-on for most of dog breeding as carried out in the US. Backyard breeders, people breeding pits bulls to look like this, completely irresponsible breeding to exaggerate traits that hamper and kill dogs. Just thinking about it makes me so angry and so sad.

The amount of people in my community trying to sell their backyard puppies as "purebred no papers" is vile. Very few people require a purebred dog, especially as a family pet. I'd like to backyard breeding stamped out and dog breeding mostly concentrating on working and hunting dogs, since it's in the interest of the breeders to keep those lines functional.

I was in a meeting recently, me and my coworker as academic staff, and the rest of the people were professors. All the professors were going on and on about their purebred goldens and labs (none of these people hunt), while my coworker and I both rescue dogs. It made me wonder about the class divisions with being convinced that you must own purebreds.

And also, breeders complaining they have to breed to awful standards to win ribbons? Stop showing your dogs! Who the fuck cares about stupid dog beauty contests?

I've had six rescue dogs living with my (at various times) in the past 2 years, every single one a mutt. Each one, Pilar and Shaggy, Gentle Ben, Meli, and Chester, has been a wonderful, loyal, loving companion.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


The BBC doc was a pretty big thing at the time... it got Crufts taken off the tv - which had been an institution for years.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is the healthier, cleverer deer-headed chihuahua not the breed standard?

Man, that is creepy. Why would a dog who looks like it can't possibly be able to breathe be the breed standard? I don't know. This whole topic is depressing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what I'm going to do when my lovely 13 year old standard passes into the great beyond.

Follow field trial results, you'll find your healthy standard. Hunting poodles, for those who've never seen a muddy poodle before.
posted by jamaro at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


My dad was a vet; I'm sorry he's not around to opine on this, though I can guess what he'd say.

He, like (I assume) most good vets, was pretty down on show dogs in general. The only purebred dogs he or his colleagues seemed to keep were (a) working breeds, like retrievers, or (b) non-show poodles as "house dogs".

His friends had great retrievers who seemed damn near smart enough to talk and balance checkbooks; the poodles we had growing up were also smart as whips and lived to ripe old ages in solid health (one 14, one 16).

It's heartening that there DO still exist working-dog breeders who genuinely DO seek to create sturdy, healthy, hearty bloodlines -- for hunting or herding or whatever. But fuck the whole dog-beauty-pageant bullshit. (Actually, fuck the human ones, too, but that's a whole 'nothing thing.)

Today, I have cats. Free cats, from shelters. They're awesome. But if I were to get a dog -- and I mean to, someday -- it'd be a rescue.
posted by uberchet at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


@jamaro: Standard poodles are AMAZING dogs.
posted by uberchet at 3:42 PM on December 3, 2013


There might be a wonderful opportunity to restore breeds to their original configurations.
posted by No Robots at 3:43 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poodles are MURDER MONSTERS, I have childhood poodle trauma.
posted by elizardbits at 3:43 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Countess Elena reminds me - I live in a location with TONS of chihuahuas. The deer-headed chihuahua is an ancient dog breed, lovely and slim - and yet "the Apple-Head is the only officially recognized type of head for the breed and accepted in the show ring."

There are huge debates here about whether you can even say that the deer-headed chihuahuas exist since the AKC only recognizes the apple-heads. It's mind-boggling and utterly ridiculous.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


(@elizardbits: ARE NOT! Though it is unfortunately true that many poodles are cursed with awful, yappy owners, which in turn encourages poor dog behavior. Ours were well-educated, cultured members of our family.)
posted by uberchet at 3:45 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know how many of you read A. P. Terhune's Lad when you were kids, but Terhune was complaining about the negative effects of "show" breeding on collie conformation in 1919. (And earlier, given that the stories were initially serialized.)
posted by thomas j wise at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't want to sound like I'm defending breeders, but... is this true, or just the blog of some crank who is picking and choosing photos to prove their point?

A little of column A, a lot more of column B, and a big side helping of "...but there really are severe problems with inattention to health in the dog world and conformation show breeders can be real dumbfucks, it's just that this is not great evidence of it."

As pogo_fuzzybutt noted, the book from 1915 is just a collection of whatever photos they happened to collect. It's not like they gathered 1000 dogs from each breed, ran the photos through principal components analysis, and then selected the photo that was nearest the mean of whatever dimensions they recovered. And of course one could just as easily go online and find substantially less extreme examples of current breeds.

This statement near the end of the piece --

No dog breed has ever been improved by the capricious and arbitrary decision that a shorter/longer/flatter/bigger/smaller/curlier “whatever” is better.

is just silly. All that dog breeds are is an accumulation of capricious and arbitrary decisions that a shorter/longer/flatter whatever is better, or that this behavior is better than that behavior. It would be better to have noted that, like many other situations, creating a formal metric means working towards that metric and sometimes against the broader goals the metric is trying to measure. But that would be less alarmist.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


(when I was in elementary school a friend of mine's mom had a pair of standard poodles and they had puppies and it was all very cute and wonderful until one day when we came home from school and the poodle dad had slaughtered all the puppies and left their mangled remains splattered all over the kitchen and now I don't like poodles because I always suspect puppicide mayhem lurks in their beady eyes)
posted by elizardbits at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm with stoneweaver, as well as with those that are advocates of avoiding purebreds altogether if you have no need for their traits/skillset and are just looking for a house dog/pup. Save a life, adopt! Our mixed/stray/rescue pitbulls are right at the top of the best dogs I've ever had and I've had quite a few having worked for years with AKC beagles (rabbit hunting) and with various family members doing rescue/shelter work along side.

One of the proudest things dad and granddad had to say about their [beagle] packs was that they were acquired from diligent research and, of course, the obligatory trading and selling of dogs but in over 20 years of having a competition level pack they only bred one litter of pups. There was simply no call for it with all the good dogs from the lines they favored already out there and they didn't trust their talents, despite dad's deep and broad knowledge of pedigrees and breeding theory and practicalities, to produce dogs that would better the breed and, to a lesser degree, line.

I miss our kennel. Half-Assed Kennel (get it, because our line wasn't known for being fast or slow sooooo - half fast! *cricket cricket*) led to alot of fun hunts (I say hunts but we rarely ever carried guns, and then mostly for snake protection) and late evenings listening to dogs bark (howl, chop-mouth, and bawl are flavors of bark in case you were wondering) and specifying who lost the trail and who just picked it up and who was in the lead or that the pack had split and who was running what rabbit or, terrible news for us that often required quick action to preserve their safety, a deer. You can tell all those things based upon barking dogs a half mile away, if you're good enough.

Dogs are the best. They deserve the best from us with regards to acting as stakeholders in their future and health. This article makes me sad and further confirms my suspicions that we aren't doing as good a job as we should in that regard.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


My wife's family bred German Shepherds, but working German Shepherds, so they intentionally bred against developing stupid, bow legged, traits. They looked like the before picture.

The funny thing is the people who bred for conformation shows looked down on him and his dogs. Somehow, there was a waiting list several years long for their dogs by various federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

There are dog breeders out there that are responsible and breed to their historic form and function, rather than a list of traits published somewhere. I think the border collie standards are strictly performance based rather than physical traits.
posted by Badgermann at 3:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


ohmygosh whydidyoucomebringmeyourtoyrightnow howcanirefuseyouaftertypingmypreviouscomment... LETSPLAYFETCH!!!!
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a mutt -- a gorgeous mutt, but a mutt all the same -- and every day people ask what breed she is. She's clearly a mix, at least in my mind. I've gotten tired of the question and their disbelief that I don't know the answer to the question.

So, I made up my own dog breed. Now I say that Shakedown is a Saudade, which I pronounce like mimizinha does here. When they say they never heard of it I say, "It's a breed from Portugal that was bred specifically to fill the void left by a love that one's lost and will probably never find again. She's the only known one in Canada at the moment. There were two but the other died last year within 12 hours of his owner's passing."

"Really?!"

"Yup."
posted by dobbs at 4:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [63 favorites]


Working breeds FTW.

If by "working" you mean "catching and killing vermin" and by "working breeds" you mean "terriers" then I agree.
posted by The Bellman at 4:01 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way, if it weren't for a certain amount of selective breeding we'd all be doing this instead of this. Not that the former isn't awesome -- it is -- but it's not for everyone.
posted by The Bellman at 4:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, my parents always get super-purebred West Highland terriers from a breeder known for producing champions. Unlike their description as a "hardy little terrier" 100 years ago, they are all pretty much invariably very sweet, delicate, nervous wrecks that need to be fed special diets by hand. It's heartbreaking.

And then dump them at the pound ... my folks have rescued their share.
posted by tilde at 4:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you somehow think that saying WELL WE'D ALL HAVE WOLF FRANDS INSTEAD will deter me you are WRONG, SIR, JUST PLAIN WRONG.
posted by elizardbits at 4:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


By the way, if it weren't for a certain amount of selective breeding we'd all be doing this instead of this. Not that the former isn't awesome -- it is -- but it's not for everyone.
posted by The Bellman at 4:05 PM on December 3 [+] [!


I don't consider pets like the one in the second link to even be a dog.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:13 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love dogs in general so much that I would have trouble getting another purebred myself when there are so many dogs already in existence that need homes. My mom is on a months long waiting list for another collie puppy, and I'm sure I'll love it, but it seems odd to me that she is so fixed on the aesthetic that she wouldn't consider adopting a pup that needs to go somewhere.

It's completely irrational. Even though I have a French bulldog and I've promised myself that my next dog will be a rescue, I will always, always carry a giant flaming torch in my heart for the breed. If you ask me to name my spirit animal, it won't be a gazelle or a cheetah or an eagle or a shark: it will be a scrunchy-faced bat-eared Frenchie. I love dogs, but whenever I think about a Frenchie, a part of my brain just lights up and I honestly feel much cheered by the image. I have no excuses, no explanation for this.

I did my research before finding our breeder, who is extremely protective of their dogs. They are show breeders with their own show-breeding blind spots--we got our pup because they didn't think she would do well in the ring, and consequently, we have a pretty leggy, athletic bulldog that looks a bit more like a normal dog. Healthier in the long run too, we hope.

KokuRyu, your pup is so pretty! Between you and Pogo Fuzzybutt, I was inspired to change my profile picture to one of me and my mutt.

Pure coincidence, but before reading this thread, I was just changing my profile pic to a new favourite of my mascot and familiar. She's snoozing in my lap as we speak and as soon as I'm done typing this sentence, we're going on a walk. :)
posted by peripathetic at 4:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way, if it weren't for a certain amount of selective breeding we'd all be doing this instead of this. Not that the former isn't awesome -- it is -- but it's not for everyone.

My previously-feral rez dog, Pilar, smells and licks my mouth a lot. It's her most common form of affection/greeting. I have no problem with it. I love her independence.

I'm not sure how picture number 2 relates to number 1? It's a young small-breed puppy that's likely been handled since birth. You could do the same with a wolf puppy that had been raised by humans.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had no idea that bull terriers actually looked like dogs once upon a time.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't consider pets like the one in the second link to even be a dog.

That looks like a cairn terrier puppy. I bet you that dog can shake a rat to death, and I know he'd jump in front of the Wicked Witch of the West for his people.

(There was recently an article somewhere about a dachshund who was killed fighting a bear for his master. It was said master's fault for taking him in the woods, but the point is, don't count the little dog out.)
posted by Countess Elena at 4:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh my god peripathetic, I can't even handle that face. Too much scrunchy cuteness!

Like your story, my parents did end up adopting a retired show dog. She wasn't winning enough money because she had an overbite, so her handler had to get rid of her. I'm happy she ended up being our much beloved pet.
posted by chatongriffes at 4:20 PM on December 3, 2013


I am a Spitz person. I love all dogs but I've always owned Spitz dogs. Mine are rescues and I will always only ever get rescue dogs (there are breed-specific rescues for most breeds if anyone else is also in love with a certain one). Through general breed-enthusiast channels, I know some of the breeders in my area and from what I can tell they are very ethical and really love the breed. Spitzes haven't changed much from when they used to be used as circus dogs. KokoRyu, your pup is gorgeous and I would agree with you that she's a mutt but I bet she's part Japanese Spitz.

Random fact: German Spitz dogs were brought to America sometime in the early 1900s but due to the wisespread anti-German sentiment following WW1, their name was changed to American Eskimo Dog.

The author of this page equates these breeding practices to torture and I would have to agree with him.If there was ever a more perfect and beautiful creature on this earth than dogs I don't know what it is. Doing what we've done to them for the sake of random aesthetic purposes is horrific.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


That looks like a cairn terrier puppy. I bet you that dog can shake a rat to death, and I know he'd jump in front of the Wicked Witch of the West for his people.

Carry on then. I thought it was one of those pocket canine pets people seem to have these days.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:21 PM on December 3, 2013


Hounds are scientifically proven to be the best dogs, I know this because I am a dog science fact person.
posted by elizardbits at 4:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


You couldn't find a better example of Veblen's "Theory of the Leisure Class"...taking something that was functional and deliberately making it dysfunctional just to show everybody that you don't need it to function any more. One of our more disgusting traits.
posted by carping demon at 4:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [28 favorites]


Oh man, my parents always get super-purebred West Highland terriers from a breeder known for producing champions. Unlike their description as a "hardy little terrier" 100 years ago, they are all pretty much invariably very sweet, delicate, nervous wrecks that need to be fed special diets by hand. It's heartbreaking.

And then dump them at the pound

Well, not my folks, at least -- they genuinely adore their dogs, and dote on them till their final days. But yeah, I assume that the inherent health problems with with so many purebreds has to contribute to a fair amount of dumping. Poor things.
posted by scody at 4:27 PM on December 3, 2013


This is the kind of information I point to when people go on at length about how smart and precious their little baby dog is. No, no, generations of inbreeding have guaranteed that your dog is probably as stupid as you are.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:29 PM on December 3, 2013


Oh man, my parents always get super-purebred West Highland terriers from a breeder known for producing champions.

How many do they go through? Do they eat them, or what?
posted by klanawa at 4:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


By the way, if it weren't for a certain amount of selective breeding we'd all be doing this instead of this.

My old toy poodle would happily be carried around in your arms until he saw a squirrel he wanted to chase. He also loved play fighting and he'd jump all over any female human he could find and desperately try to get his tongue in their mouths. I've dated girls who want to kiss me less often than he did.

I've over time taught a couple other peoples previously timid small dogs to fight me with ridiculous abandon, and concluded a lot of the stereotypes about small dogs have a lot more to say about the human owners than the dogs.
posted by crayz at 4:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pruitt-Igoe: "I don't want to sound like I'm defending breeders, but... is this true, or just the blog of some crank who is picking and choosing photos to prove their point?"

It's a problem with cats, too. I grew up with Siamese, which used to look like this and be known as vocal, affectionate, smart, and good with children with a low hunting drive, which made them basically perfect family cats; now they look like albino fennec foxes built of triangles and they're frequently nervous and mean and nippy, and also prone to cancer and blindness, and the head shape gives rise to respiratory and dental problems as well as vestibular disorders in the ear architecture so they tip over. They're also now unusually prone to "cat OCD" which leads them to licking themselves bald in spots.

It enrages me that people who claim to love cats and dogs can be so systematically cruel to them in the name of ABSOLUTELY BIZARRE aesthetic preferences, especially as dogs and cats move more and more out of the realm of working animals and hobbies of the wealthy and into the realm of family pets in urban and suburban areas. There is an ENORMOUS market out there for someone who breeds smart, vigorous, healthy, long-lived, mellow animals who get along well with children and aren't made nervous by traffic, ideally (for dogs) who are a bit lazy and don't mind not going for six mile walks every day, and who are easy to train and don't constantly bark or try to escape the yard.

Families with children buy purebreds not because they care so much about how the dog LOOKS but because they want to be sure of the TEMPERAMENT of the dog they're getting, especially if they're not very experienced dog owners. (And pounds are quite full of pitbulls and part-pitbulls, which a lot of parents of small children will simply not adopt, no matter what.) Whoever starts to breed for temperament and health instead of looks -- and markets it as a "breed" -- will make a mint. People will absolutely spend $5,000 on a dog whose breeding lines suggest a 15-year lifespan and a mellow, good-with-children personality.

Families with kids are more comfortable with shelter cats than shelter dogs, as cats are an easier pet generally, but nonetheless I would like my lovely old-style Siamese back please because they were such nice cats. (Actually one of my shelter cats is a Siamese/Tabby mix and he is a funny looking fellow with Siamese colorpoints over a Tabby stripe and also entirely malproportioned.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [36 favorites]


Love me some color point tabbies, with bodies of alley cats.
posted by wotsac at 4:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


People will absolutely spend $5,000 on a dog whose breeding lines suggest a 15-year lifespan and a mellow, good-with-children personality.

It's just a shame that people don't realize this is actually damn near, well the age thing I can't profess knowledge on actually, the default for a dog breed that hasn't actively had that temperament bred out of them for generations, this goes double for an individual dog that hasn't been neglected or mistreated or poorly raised during the first stages of its life.

Seriously, the whole "does well with people" thing that I hear touted so often as a reason to pay [backyard] breeders hundreds or thousands of dollars for a certain breed of dog kinda bothers me because the only thing we have to blame for all dogs not being good with people/kids/whatever is ourselves and our placement of other traits higher on the priority list when this sire was being bred to this dam.

Not to mention that I'm pretty sure that would have been the first thing on the mind of our ancestor's ancestors when they were doing the whole wolf conversion into safe companion thing as well.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:47 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I really like this blog. I think it's safe to say the author is not a fan of Cesar Milan.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did some work with pedigrees and performance data from The Seeing Eye's breeding colony for my dissertation. Interesting dogs. The biggest problem that I, as a geneticist, have with many breeders is the lack of culling on performance. An unhealthy dog should not be bred, no matter how tempting it may be. The changes in many breeds are very problematic, both for pet dog and working dog owners. Some dog guide agencies have moved away from German shepherds, for example, because of temperament issues. My recollection is that the US military working dog kennels are full of vizslas now because so few German shepherds have proper working conformation and temperament. Some breeders will take back puppies if they turn out to have genetic disorders, but that's only a stopgap solution. Please, adopt a mutt. Or a Siberian Husky, what great dogs. :-)
posted by wintermind at 4:51 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The idea that purebreds are markers for the upper class... doesn't exactly align with my experience. It's more that dog people (you know, people who love dogs) often have rescues or mutts. And the non-dog people, the ones who want a fashion accessory or an animal that completes their idea of a good life, are going to get a purebred.

I think there's probably a positive correlation there, in that people who are interested in fashion/lifestyle accessories can afford to get whatever is trendy or has the right 'look'. But there are lots of lower class people who have specific breeds that they're looking for too.
posted by danny the boy at 4:53 PM on December 3, 2013


The pug looks exactly the same.

But emotionally he's a mess
posted by mattoxic at 4:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'll come out - after two years in dog rescue, I have a massive hate-on for most of dog breeding as carried out in the US.

I’m going to go with "all" instead of "most", and I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I can’t imagine a way in which breeders are not wrong and evil. But my distaste is so strong I really can’t talk about it in mixed company.
posted by bongo_x at 5:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


We had two wirehaired terriers when I was a kid. The first was whip-smart, gentle, and one of the best dogs I ever owned. The second, bought years later, was an inbred and mentally deficient dog my dad got from some garage breeder. Sweet, but could not learn anything. My dad picked him over the more lively/friendly female littermate because he had "prettier colors."

I've been an avowed mutt-advocate ever since. Though if I got offered a wirehair by someone who bred them right, I might consider that.

One of the biggest problems for a breed is becoming popular. My sister got her kids a Dalmatian after the liveaction 101 Dalmatians came out. It was an ok dog, but not really good with kids...something Dalmatians are apparently known for...and there were of course many of them given up or abandoned by people who bought them for fun without asking the right questions.
posted by emjaybee at 5:05 PM on December 3, 2013


Sweet, but could not learn anything. My dad picked him over the more lively/friendly female littermate because he had "prettier colors."

In my, dad, and granddad's experience females were almost always two things (in comparison to their male littermates/counterparts): smaller and smarter

We shall never speak of this again 'lest my wife hear, extrapolate, and utilize.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is an ENORMOUS market out there for someone who breeds smart, vigorous, healthy, long-lived, mellow animals who get along well with children and aren't made nervous by traffic, ideally (for dogs) who are a bit lazy and don't mind not going for six mile walks every day, and who are easy to train and don't constantly bark or try to escape the yard.

Well, that's pretty much why I got a Frenchie, even though they're not particularly smart or vigorous. Like me, my dog's a quiet, low energy urban apartment-dweller; unlike me, she doesn't seem to mind when children descend upon her with their sticky fingers.
posted by peripathetic at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2013


But there are lots of lower class people who have specific breeds that they're looking for too.

I had something about that in a previous comment, but I was already all over the place. In talking with folks about dogs, I've seen purebreds as status/lifestyle markers for both upper-middle to upper income people, as well as for lower-income people. They tend to focus on different breeds, however.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's more that dog people (you know, people who love dogs) often have rescues or mutts. And the non-dog people, the ones who want a fashion accessory or an animal that completes their idea of a good life, are going to get a purebred.

I don't think it's as simple as this, really; I know plenty of genuine dog people who are strongly into purebreds rather than rescues/mixes. In my parents' case, for example, it's because my mom grew up with specific breeds in the '40s and '50s, and so this translated into the breeds that they've acquired for the past 40 years. It's less a lifestyle marker (though I suppose there's a bit of that factored in) than it is a long-standing habit/preference. Similarly, I grew up as a dog person who only had purebreds because, well, we only had purebreds. It's only been in the past decade or so that I shifted my preference to rescues/mixes. I don't think this makes me more of a dog person than my parents (or anyone who is attached to purebreds); I just think it makes me a different kind of dog person.
posted by scody at 5:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big dog person, but I've always wondered in general why, with the internet to find buyers and all, breeding animals specifically for pets who are bred to be smart, sweet-tempered and healthy hasn't taken off in a huge way. Even if you didn't start with mutts, if breeds can be ruined like this, couldn't they be improved by going the other direction? Do that many people really buy based on show pedigree when they don't intend to show?
posted by Sequence at 5:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


The American Quarter Horse has HERDA, HYPP,GBED, and EPSM. Arabians have SCID and CA. Paints have Lethal White, Rocky Mountain Horses have ASD. It's not *just* the dog people doing this sort of thing.

HERDA (hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia) is a recessive collagen issue that's been around since 1971. In affected individuals, the skin on the back of the horse is not well-attached and fails to heal. It would not be amiss to say that the skin pretty much falls off the horse. Lifespan of affected animals is 2 to 4 years. (You should expect 20 to 25 years for a "normal" horse.) The gene is prevalent (about 25% of individuals are carriers) in "cutting" lines of the American Quarter Horse and researchers suspect that HERDA came from the sire Poco Bueno.

HYPP (hyperkalemic periodic paralysis) came from the famous and successful halter stallion Impressive. Impressive was the 1974 World Champion Open Aged halter stallion for Quarter Horses and he sired 2,250 foals, quite a few of which went on to be very successful themselves. HYPP is an autosomal dominant gene and it causes fits, seizures, and sometimes death in affected individuals. It's estimated to affect (to one degree or another) 1 in 50 Quarter Horses. (Impressive was hugely popular.) The AQHA stopped registering HYPP homozygous foals in 2007 but is still debating what to do with heterozygous ones. I don't think they're doing anything about HERDA or any of the other diseases they are facing.

In Arabians, SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency disorder) makes baby horses without immune systems (or barely-functioning ones). The baby horses die in pretty short order, typically before they hit a year old. CA (cerebellar abiotrophy) is where groups of brain cells in the cerebellum drop dead, causing a lack of coordination. Both of these are autosomal recessive and tests exist (but are not required) for them. Also, Arabian registration papers do not indicate a horse's genetic status regarding these two diseases.

So, it's not just the dog people, here. The horse people, too...
posted by which_chick at 5:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Do that many people really buy based on show pedigree when they don't intend to show?

Well, almost. They buy the show culls that are littermates to dogs that are in shows. It's a terrible thing because they almost always turn into backyard breeders themselves.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:20 PM on December 3, 2013


We are owned by English bulldogs (all four that we've had have been rescues) and yes, breeding for unhealthy traits is a HUGE problem. One of ours has skin allergies that are a bastard to control. One we lost a few months ago had a collapsing airway. Another that we lost was way too small for the breed and had neuro issues. Our other girl, Daisy, actually did well in the genetic lottery. Her legs are juuust a bit longer and so is her snout. Her only health concerns are a bit of arthritis and a dry eye, but she is 13 and doing well. (You don't see many 13 year old bulldogs, I can assure you of that.) Bulldogs get bred for wider and wider stances, and more wrinkles, and the very short tails, and they have a ton of health problems. If you want a good demonstration of the progression of bulldog breeding, look at Uga, Georgia's mascot. When you look at one through eight, the transformation is dramatic. The last two have died young and I have to wonder if the breeding isn't playing a part in that.

People often ask us where we got ours, do we have puppies (HATE that question) and then they say, "oh, they're so expensive!" We tell them that they should consider the purchase price a down payment on future vet care.

Our 14 year old mutt, on the other hand, is bulletproof. She has eaten paint, big amounts of gauze, candles, and so on. I think she made a deal with the devil or something and she's gonna live forever.

My bulldogs are very high maintenance but I love em like children. (As I say that Daisy just ripped a loud one. Gotta love em.) But I wish some sanity would be restored to the breeding. If we had more bulldogs built like Daisy, that would be a very good thing.
posted by azpenguin at 5:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


scody: "I don't think this makes me more of a dog person than my parents (or anyone who is attached to purebreds); I just think it makes me a different kind of dog person."

I think you could say that adopting/rescuing is a more ethical action than purchasing from a breeder. I think you could also say that the definition of a dog person is that they love dogs and want to do the more ethical thing for them.

But I don't think your parents are unethical. I just think they're more accurately [breed]-lovers and not dog-lovers.
posted by danny the boy at 5:29 PM on December 3, 2013


Huh. I've been squicked out by the way modern German Shepherds look for quite a while; it makes me really happy to see that my mostly-GSD mutt looks almost exactly like the "100 years ago" pic, except with floppy ears.
posted by COBRA! at 5:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't consider pets like the one in the second link to even be a dog.

Countess Elena came to the rescue before I had to come back with some strong words... because that, sir, is an eight week old cairn terrier pup. When he grew up, he was not just "a dog," he was the finest dog who ever ran the streets of New York, striking terror into rats that are (I am not making this up) able to chew through concrete. We are cairn people, and we have a new cairn now -- Sheridan died this summer -- but his legend lives on.
posted by The Bellman at 5:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


With the exception of pariah dogs, mutts are made up of purebred dogs. Breeds have traits that are relevant even if an owner isn't using the dog for hunting or sheep herding or whatever. Some breeds are vigilant and protective and inclined to roam, like a Great Pyrenees. Some are feisty and tenacious and independent-minded, like Jack Russell Terriers. A mutt is going to have the traits of the breeds that go into it. And it's going to have the health problems of the breeds that go into it. A Pyrenees-Jack Russell mix would be a mutt, but it might well be a very difficult or even dangerous dog to keep. Knowing what traits are associated with a breed, and keeping temperament and type in mind, is one of the tools that make it possible to choose a dog that will fit into a home. Preserving those breed traits is one of the priorities of a good breeder.

So is health testing. That's one recommendation made over and over again, in articles advising how to evaluate a dog breeder: do they always health-test their dogs for genetic problems before breeding them? Breeders know the drawbacks of their chosen breed. If they're in it for love of the breed, they take on the task of trying to preserve the good while eliminating the bad.

And no responsible breeder is going to place a dog into a backyard breeding situation - that's why there are spay and neuter contracts, and limited AKC registrations (the dog is registered but no offspring from it can be registered. Why do all the work only to have some putz screw it up?

There's no such thing as 'hybrid vigor' in the sense most people use the term - a dog with a gene for bad hips bred to another dog with a gene for bad hips is going to produce offspring with bad hips, whether they are of mixed or pure breed.
posted by Lou Stuells at 5:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, almost. They buy the show culls that are littermates to dogs that are in shows. It's a terrible thing because they almost always turn into backyard breeders themselves.

Not required to have them fixed as part of the purchase contract? Was required of at least the first Westie, second was a mill Westie and was required to be fixed, subsequent dogs were older (3yr) fixed rescues.
posted by tilde at 5:36 PM on December 3, 2013


I think dog breeders have done a bang up job of positioning themselves as the one true arbiters of doggy welfare: I know I was completely brainwashed into thinking that only a dog bought from a proper breeder was going to be sound, that all other sources of dogs were going to produce dogs that are just no good. But now I seriously wonder if old fashioned backyard puppies, the kind that are the result of generations of healthy pet dogs, interbreeding more or less at will, with no regard for bloodlines or breed standards don't end up producing the sort of dog that most people actually want, and that are healthy, robust dogs, capable of living healthy, authentically doggy lives. What can be more disgusting, to someone who likes dogs, than to see footage of over bred dogs like those poor German Shepherds, with their multitude of inheritable disorders, shuffling along as if their hindquarters are paralysed! What on earth are breeders thinking?

We need an organisation that runs parallel to the established kennel clubs, but is focused on fostering the breeding of dogs that are healthy, functional animals, instead of disabled, sickly, mutants. Its standards would be written by vets and scientists.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


goldendoodles didn't exist in 1915

Sure they did. So did jackapoos. It's just that they were both called "mutts".

I know I was completely brainwashed into thinking that only a dog bought from a proper breeder was going to be sound, that all other sources of dogs were going to produce dogs that are just no good.

Mutts are, and always have been, the best dogs.
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ha, COBRA! I came in here to say more or less exactly the same thing. Toby of sainted memory, my German shepherd mix mutt from the 1991 Baltimore pound looked and acted pretty much exactly the same as the 100 years ago pic: just about 50 pounds and regularly jumped / scrambled over 8 - 12 foot fences. I miss him. Once when he was hiking with me up in Pisgah National Forest some people stopped and complimented me on his good looks. "He's such a beautiful dog!" they said, "What kind is he?" "He's a Baltimore Pounddog," I said, and they said, "Oh, we've never heard of those! Are they very rare?"

Now I have three dogs and the purebred springer spaniel (who we found on the side of the road as an apparently dumped, probably puppy mill bred 10 week old - nobody ever claimed him despite a lengthy campaign to find his owners) is the one with various health problems including severe food allergies that make him a time consuming and expensive pet. And he's the one who was crazily destructive as a puppy - I don't plan on having a purebred ever again. But he is sweet oh yes he's a good guy. So are they all.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


And really all this comes from a desire to commoditize the qualities of a living thing, and denying that it could have its own personality and history and idiosyncrasies. That's at the core what is problematic about breeding. It makes some sense when you're trying to get it to be physically better suited for some job you want it to be good at, but I don't know that it will ever make sense to market an entire breed as having a consistent personality.

I mean the idea of breeds is so weird to begin with. Like dogs are all ONE species. You know, like humans. I mean I've personally seen so many counter examples to what a breed is "supposed" to be like I really wonder how much of it is legit and how much is just dog racism.
posted by danny the boy at 5:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


The pug looks exactly the same.

"Thanks to 100 years of controlled breeding, we've successfully developed a pug that can eject its eyeballs at attacker in self defense."
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:47 PM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


It made me wonder about the class divisions with being convinced that you must own purebreds.

dingdingding

The worst is people who won't consider a rescue or a shelter because "well you never know where those dogs came from" as if they are all obviously trashy trailer park dogs who will contaminate your life with their low class ways.

Meanwhile I was just squeeing at the dogs currently in my local shelter (shut up) and a lot of them actually are pure bred, or pure bred enough to predict what kind of dog you're getting and what the potential issues are. And, I mean, either way, the dogs are RIGHT THERE and you can go and meet them and get a sense of their temperament in person.

That said they also had a pug/beagle mix puppy and all I could think of aside from NOM ALL THE NOMS was A) you could totally call it a puguggle! and B) that would be the noisiest dog ever.
posted by Sara C. at 5:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And no responsible breeder is going to place a dog into a backyard breeding situation

Why do all the work only to have some putz screw it up?

Sure, except one of the major points of the OP's link is that the idea that "responsible" breeders with a view to the long haul stability of the breed, not to mention the well being of the individual dogs, are the acting agents in either situation, selling culls/littermates or breeding the ones that are stellar examples of the breed, is one heck of an assumption. And I'm not even speaking soley to genetic abnormalities but, again as the OP focuses on, traits/features that are categorically poor choices for canine wellbeing.

Like I said above, we had AKC registered field trial champion level competition dogs for decades, did alot of research and hard-thinking, and only ever made a match/breeding once. Mainly because others did not, for better or worse, use the same level of discretion.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:51 PM on December 3, 2013


And no responsible breeder is going to place a dog into a backyard breeding situation

Most breeders are very fucking far from responsible.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Man. This thread makes me miss the big stupid idiot Greyhound/Irish Wolfhound mix I grew up with. He was from a hunting line that went back generations on a family friend's farm, looked like a gigantic greyhound with bigger muscles and a scraggly beard, and stood about 6 feet on his back legs, and it was like his brain couldn't reconcile the Wolfhound size with the Greyhound speed - really really fast, but he didn't know what to do when he got up to full speed because he was not nimble. He didn't know his turning radius or required stopping distance at all. The last time I ever walked him with a leash, he saw a rabbit and I was effortlessly dragged across three lawns with the leash wrapped around my wrist like Indiana Jones on the truck.

Because of this weird small-dog-in-a-big-dog-suit thing, although he was clever, for every obnoxious-but-clever trick he figured out like unplugging the vacuum because it annoyed him, or turning on the spigot for water (and, of course, it never crossed his mind to turn it off), there was something like him not ever realizing he could easily jump the fence in the backyard at any time he wanted (he only ever went over when snow piled up so much he could just walk over) and thinking he could hide under the kitchen table (which meant the table got flipped). Stupid awesome stupid dog.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [31 favorites]


Choosing a pet is just this completely irrational process. We went to the humane society intending to adopt two adult cats who needed to be adopted together...and came home with two kittens who had never met.

This thread is really making me miss having a dog so I'm going to go play fetch with the puppycat now.
posted by rtha at 6:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're not careful, this little piece of shelter riffraff will sneak into the sunny spot in the bed of a Sunday morning. WARNING: extreme risk of snorgling, ear nomming, nose booping, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 6:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


With the exception of pariah dogs, mutts are made up of purebred dogs.

Well, I can't completely agree, Lou Stuells. There are also landrace dogs, like the sheep dogs traditionally used by the Navajo. I think the various Australian cattledogs and kelpies might fall into this category as well.

This close to Mexico, the chihuahua is a landrace dog as well. There are plenty of Southwestern chihuahuas that have never been through the approved AKC breeding process.

A mutt is going to have the traits of the breeds that go into it.

I'd be curious - what traits do you think Shaggy has, based on whatever you can guess about his lineage?

Here in Tucson, we have multi-generation mutts. Whatever breed characteristics humans might want to project are usually just fantasies, in the face of a dog that's mixed going back for generations.

I don't have much experience with purebred dogs I must admit, but I tend to approach dogs as individuals and not sterotypes of their breed.

And it's going to have the health problems of the breeds that go into it.

It might, or might not. If the health process is recessive and only one of the parents has it, rather than both, problem solved.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


People assume that a breed means certain things in terms of personality. I understand that - you want the dog to be a member of the family and you want a family member with specific traits.

It is interesting to me that out of all of the cat owners I know, I don't think any have ever attempted to tell me their cat was a purebred whatever. Why do people not care with cats but care so much with dogs?

It's terrible what inbreeding has done to all dogs, but especially bulldogs. My cousin had a great bulldog who developed an allergy to grass and rice, making his fur fall out. After spending about $10, 000 to diagnose him, they learned he would need $600 monthly allergy shots. They gave him to a rescue group.
posted by kat518 at 6:16 PM on December 3, 2013


gingerbeer was at SFO recently and witnessed an airlift of Chihuahuas. Apparently we have many here in the Bay Area in need of homes, and there is great demand in the (I think) NY/NJ region. Ah, link.
posted by rtha at 6:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big dog person, but I've always wondered in general why, with the internet to find buyers and all, breeding animals specifically for pets who are bred to be smart, sweet-tempered and healthy hasn't taken off in a huge way. Even if you didn't start with mutts, if breeds can be ruined like this, couldn't they be improved by going the other direction? Do that many people really buy based on show pedigree when they don't intend to show?

The OP focused on unusual looking dogs like the bull terrier, the pug, and the dachschund, but I believe the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in America and it ticks off all the boxes you mentioned.

As for buying based on show pedigree even when you don't intend to show, the idea is that show breeders tend to be more careful when they breed because they "care" about the breed, and therefore, you may get a healthier purebred. This, of course, is not a universal fact. There are venal, dishonest show breeders, and there are good hearted, well-meaning backyard breeders. But the best of breeders will provide a health guarantee, make you sign a multi-page contract in which you promise to neuter your dog so you don't get up to any backyard breeding yourself among other things, and provide you with assistance and advice for the dog's entire life.

Personally though, I don't think anyone who wants a dog should be able to get one, however perfectly tailored to modern living and sensibilities, and definitely not off the internet. I think dogs are among the greatest things to happen to humans (up there with boiling water and penicillin), but since most of us don't need dogs to help us work or hunt any more, I wonder if we should all rethink having pets instead of just breeding better ones. A decrease in demand may reduce the number of dogs abandoned/exploited/vulnerable to congenital disease, and even our carbon footprint. Pet ownership in general is the bigger ethical dilemma to me than owning an inbred designer dog.
posted by peripathetic at 6:21 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Squeak Attack makes a great point.

My dog (that horrible declasse thing I linked upthread) could be a mix of two clearly delineated breeds (lab and pit bull or maybe boxer, which would explain the ears better). He could be a multi-generational backyard mutt, with traits from several common breeds. On the other hand, he could just be an exceptionally poor specimen of a labrador retriever (the main non-lab traits he has are all within the realm of possibility for a lab, just not things the AKC is willing to put up with).

Who knows? Who cares? He's an awesome dog, and he's mine.

I do wish I could come up with a snobby sounding fake breed name for the people at the dog park, though. I'm thinking he's a Bartleby Inland Retriever. Because he hates water and, generally, would just prefer not to retrieve at all.
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, well my girl will be 16 in January and though she's fighting back from having a cancerous tumor removed, she haa always been crazy healthy. Her legs are longer than the stubby dachshunds you see here (I got her in the Czech Republic, where I used to live). Her back has given her little to no problems. She's barely got grey on her muzzle. I got her from a family who'd had a litter, met both parents, and even though she was the runt of the litter, she's the best baby!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


We bought a goldendoodle. The boy child is allergic to dander so that rules out a lot of breeds. We thought that the personalities would meld. The dog [Osa] is nice and has the love and humor of a Golden Retriever with the intelligence of an American Standard Poodle - but She's conflicted. Osa isn't a combination of "personalities" [to anthropomorphise] but behaves like a relaxed Golden Retriever one minute and like an intense poodle the next. She's decently trained [training the kid's to be consistant is more difficult than training a dog really] but under stress she will bite those not in her pack or family. I wouldn't make the same mistake again.

So we were fools thinking that you could combine the behavioral traits of two breeds that have disparate behavioral traits to make The One Great Dog. Oil and water.

People that have bred dogs for behavior and the shape necessary for that behavior I understand. We and the dogs are better for it. Symbiosis is a real thing.

People that breed dogs to have a smaller brain case or longer legs or shorter legs to suit some notion of aesthetics are fucked.
posted by vapidave at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Squeak Attack brought up the best potential solution to this awful mess: a return to the landrace as sources of dogs which have characteristics which identify them as a kind of dog which will 'breed true' within a much wider range of any given defining characteristic and are much less inbred than pedigreed dogs.

I bet KokoRyu's dog, for example,
It was really weird how people would absolutely insist on correcting us when we said "No, she's just a mutt." In that part of Japan, at least, all of the strays (and there are a lot of stray dogs wandering around) looked like her.
is a member of a landrace of spitz-like dogs.

I would very much like to see a big comprehensive survey of historic and surviving landraces of dogs.
posted by jamjam at 6:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is fascinating... and sad. I would be interested in seeing a cat version of this post. Then I would cuddle all of my "mutt" kitties.
posted by brundlefly at 6:53 PM on December 3, 2013


I really liked bulldogs before they started looking like little quadruped versions of The Toxic Avenger.
posted by painquale at 6:54 PM on December 3, 2013


My absolute favorite dog, ever, was a mutt. She was a tricolor dog similar to a border collie, but with some german shepherd characteristics. It's not clear what her mixture was, and she was a feral dog until she was hit by a truck in front of the house one day. I used my saved up allowance to "pay" for the vet bill that her hip pins and surgery required (I am sure, with hindsight, that the vet "subsidized" the cost significantly). She was a devoted and loving dog.

My second favorite dog is my wife's "shorkie." I always detested little dogs, and thought he'd be painfully yappy when she picked him out, but damn if he doesn't have the personality of a dog four times his size. He's affectionate, calm, and more protective than any dog I have ever seen. (I swear, if we had a burglar or something, this 13 pound dog would probably do more damage than most big dogs.)

I don't know what my point is, I just wanted to talk about dogs.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


We all do!
posted by peripathetic at 7:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


So we were fools thinking that you could combine the behavioral traits of two breeds that have disparate behavioral traits to make The One Great Dog.

Or - you got an individual dog who has some characteristics you don't like. It doesn't prove anything about goldendoodles. Perhaps one of her brothers or sisters or cousins would have been your One Great Dog.

I can see that buying purebreds gives people some sense of control over the individual creature they're adding to the household, and of course, that's an understandable desire. However, each dog is an individual, as well as a breed. And since so many people start with puppies, they're very invested in the dog before they experience the adult dog's individual personality.

And I must admit I've been pretty negative about purebreds here for someone who spends a lot of time cooing over Leonbergers on the internet. I haven't seen one come through animal control for rescue yet, but I'll be first in line to foster if one does.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I own two purebreds, but to be honest, it's less about the pureness of the breed specifically and more about the pedigree and documentation.

Sure, most any dog can hunt. They all have a basic prey drive and all the required equipment. But not all of them have the temperament or instinct or drive to do it well, and so much of that is heritable. So, before you spend 2-3-4 years training a dog up, you want as much guarantee as you can get that it will be worth the effort. Both of my dogs have come from good, established lines and reputable breeders - and they perform like it - they are amazing to watch.

So, yeah - if you're just getting a house dog, it doesn't matter much. But, if you're looking for a working dog, the lineage matters as much if not more than the breed.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not all German Shepherds are like these show dogs. There are still Shepherds who are bred for agility, intelligence, and loyalty rather than for looking like a freak of nature. I grew up with them. My mom grew up in Germany, and when my family moved back to the States they brought an actual German German Shepherd home with them, and since then they've been in contact with American breeders who keep to that old standard (much smaller boned, common to see white and black rather than the tan and black, diggers unfortunately). You can get a decent Shepherd still, but you have to be tapped in or search out breeders who don't give a fig for the AKC standards. The last one my mom had lived to be 15.

I've always had mutts. My current one is some kind of spitz, collie, aussie mix (maybe, based on what she looks like and her personality). I don't think I'd ever go back to having a pure breed dog unless it was a rescue (my girl came from a rescue). If anyone's interested in getting a rescue dog, btw, memail me because I have a lot of connections to the system.
posted by syncope at 7:44 PM on December 3, 2013


The linked video spends considerable time discussing Rhodesian Ridgebacks, so I must chime in because I've owned two purebred Ridgebacks (and I adore them).

I was not surprised to see the Ridgeback in that video because their eponymous ridge is a purely aesthetic trait. Anyone who argues otherwise has an agenda.

Ridgeback breeders select for dogs with many traits, first among them a ridge that is deemed "proper" based solely on its presence and its shape. Indeed, the ridge is a recessive trait* more tightly linked to other negative traits than to other positive traits. Ignore that one breeder in the video when she suggests that the ridge is linked to other positive traits, citing minimal, vague "historical records". She's full of shit.

Ridgeback breeders are obsessed with the ridge. Its length. Its shape. Yet, the myriad other qualities that truly make a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog unique are far more important to the breed (and harder to obtain than any single trait like the ridge). I mean things like temperament, personality, size, build, color and coat, and ability. These are the things I love about Ridgebacks.

Both of my Ridgebacks have been what their breeders called "non-show quality dogs". They didn't make the cut for various reasons, their off-kilter ridges prime among them. They were essentially the leftovers of their litters, never destined to win a show. Yet they've been fantastic dogs, utterly representative of the breed in all aspects — save a few minor physical quibbles WRT the official breed standard. (Breed standards, pshaw, that's a rathole unto itself.)

I'll probably get another Ridgeback puppy soon. When I do, I'll give the breeder a very specific request: I want a non-show dog; I don't care if it has a ridge; I'll neuter the dog and I'll gladly sign a contract stating such.

That's not as good as rescuing a dog, I know. But I'll still be taking a dog that most people who contact a Ridgeback breeder simply won't take, a dog the breeder is aching to get rid of.

FUCK any Ridgeback breeder who would cull a ridgeless dog! The "worst" dog from a Ridgeback litter is still a fantastic Ridgeback. The traits most breeders value are, by and large, the decoration on the icing on the cake — there's some great fucking icing (and cake!) under there if you bother to pull your nose out of the clouds.

(Apologies for the derail. This thread is about a century of change, which is a great topic. It's just that my dogs are close to my heart, so it's hard not to speak up when Ridgebacks are called out.)

*I've come across lots of dogs with ridges. It's a recessive trait; it just pops up here and there. Any moron can take two oddball dogs with ridges and make more. It's much, much harder to create a distinct breed with a whole host of physical and temperamental traits that one can identify from a distance. I can spot a Ridgeback from 100s of feet away — though that's usually unnecessary because the dog's firmly planted on the couch.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 8:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ridgeback breeders are obsessed with the ridge. Its length. Its shape.

Well, sure. Because most people who buy purebred dogs are out to show that their dog is special and unique to fit their special, unique lifestyle. If your dog just looks like any old big lanky red dog, then you are not special or unique, you are no better than the sort of trash who'd go down to the pound and pick up any old big lanky red dog.

Nobody is going to notice your dog's wonderful temperament when you walk it down the street. They're going to notice that you have A Rhodesian Ridgeback, which obviously says something about you.

I can spot a Ridgeback from 100s of feet away — though that's usually unnecessary because the dog's firmly planted on the couch.

OK, I was hoping you could weigh in on whether my neighbor's dog is a Ridgeback, a Viszla, or just a pretty red mutt. But the couch part settles it. Not a Ridgeback.
posted by Sara C. at 8:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]




OK, I was hoping you could weigh in on whether my neighbor's dog is a Ridgeback, a Viszla, or just a pretty red mutt. But the couch part settles it. Not a Ridgeback.

Finlay the High Maintenance Vizsla is often mistaken for a Rhody because whenever he gets excited the hair on his back stands up in a beautiful and very distinct ridge.

It would be easier to type this comment if he didn't have his head draped up and over my shoulder right now.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sometimes a good give away whether a dog is a Ridgeback or a Viszla is nose colour - Viszlas seem to have lighter, less distinct nose colour. (And I don't think Viszlas have any 'mask'). Chiming in on the Ridgeback love - what great dogs.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 8:54 PM on December 3, 2013


I bet KokoRyu's dog, for example... is a member of a landrace of spitz-like dogs.

Well, yeah. She looked like a Spitz, but was a she a purebred variety of Spitz? No. Definitely not. Most of the many many strays in the region looked exactly like her (the landrace aspect you're talking about?), but her mother looked like a retriever-cross of some kind.

She definitely had the long muzzle and pointy ears of an Akita, but besides the curved tail that's as far as the resemblance went.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It is interesting to me that out of all of the cat owners I know, I don't think any have ever attempted to tell me their cat was a purebred whatever. Why do people not care with cats but care so much with dogs?"

Well, for one thing, your insurance company doesn't charge you more if you own a Maine Coon.

Probably the other thing is that dogs have a lot of different jobs -- herd sheep, catch rats, chase firetrucks, hunt ducks, track convicts, guide blind people -- while cats have basically two jobs: catch small grain-eating vermin and look superior. Which dog breed you have can matter quite a bit for how good your dog is at herding or duck retrieval, but cats is cats and while there's some very marginal breed optimization (better suited to different climates, or to life aboard ships), cat breeds are mostly about looks, not work. Your Siamese or your Maine Coon will be equally well-suited to catching birds that fall down the chimney and harassing stray crickets that crawl under the door.

People seem to have a much stronger sense that their choice of dog breed (like their choice of car) reflects on their lifestyle choices -- sporty, snooty, countrified, wealthy, hunters, joggers, whatever -- than their cat. Cats seem to reflect "I like cats" while dogs seem to reflect "I AM THE SORT OF PERSON WHO MIGHT OWN SHEEP THAT REQUIRE HERDING."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


People that breed dogs to have a smaller brain case

Well, strictly speaking that's all of them. Domestic dogs have smaller brains and are dumber than wolves in problem-solving tests. In part because their big solution to most problems is "Go get the food ape!"

I can see that buying purebreds gives people some sense of control over the individual creature they're adding to the household, and of course, that's an understandable desire. However, each dog is an individual, as well as a breed.

What a dog will be like, look like, act like is always a roll of the dice. With purebreds you're rolling loaded dice, is all.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


KokoRyu, spitz is a category of dogs, like molosser or mountain dog. There's no purebred requirement to be a spitz. I think all the native Japanese dogs are spitz dogs, so it makes sense for Japanese mutts to have spitz characteristics.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes when life has gone wrong with you
And the world seems a dreary place,
Has your dog ever silently crept to your feet,
His yearning eyes turned to your face--
Has he made you feel that he understands,
And all that he asks of you
Is to share your lot, be it good or ill,
With a chance to be loyal and true?
Are you branded a failure? He does not know--
A sinner? He does not care--
You're Master to him-- that's all that counts--
A word, and his day is fair.
Your birth and your station are nothing to him;
A Palace and Hut are the same;
And his love is yours in honor and peace,
As it's yours through disaster and shame,
Though others forget you and pass you by,
He is ever your Faithful Friend,--
Read to give you the best that is his,
Unselfishly, unto the End.

--- Esther Birdsall Darling

...from the last page of the book link and one of my all time favorites alongside

With eye upraised his master's looks to scan,
The joy, the solace, and the aid of man;
THe rich man's guardian, and the poor man's friend,
The only creature faithful 'til the end.

-- Crabbe

G'night all, I got some furry bedwarmers, and a few less cares, waiting on me.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, for some reason ridgeback is the go-to guess for lopey reddish hounds. My podenco was mistaken for a ridgeback at least 3 times I can think of, but only in the US.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"However, each dog is an individual, as well as a breed."

Certainly. Back in the seventies Dobermans used to be the dog of choice for people who wanted to intimidate. Similar to how Pitbulls are now [though less so lately]. I have a story.

1977 or thereabouts across the street from a friends house near the Deli there were two Dobermans attached to an iron pole in the middle of their front yard - of a biker house. They would circle and circle endlessly to the extent that they wore the dirt in the front yard into a cone shape and their chains tangled so that they were attached to one another. Every time I rode my cheap orange Huffy bicycle by they would bark and strain at the chains. One of the dogs had only three legs. I was scared of them and I was relieved every time the chains went taut.

One time I was riding by to get a Turkey sandwhich and a Coke from the deli and though having ridden by these dogs many many times I was simultaneously excited and relieved when they reached the edge of their yard - but this day they kept coming.

The street was flat with a steep downhill around the corner and I would have been able to escape had I not panicked and blown the shift.

I jumped off of my hardware store bike, idiotically, trying to put it between me and
two Dobermans.

One came from the the left, the other from the right, they caught and me and ... went all awiggle, they licked me, with their tiny little cropped Doberman tails wagging and keeping time as two happy little metronomes.

Turns out the whole time they were barking they were trying to say the dog equivalent of "hello"
posted by vapidave at 9:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


My first dog, the dog I always compare other dogs to, was a dog we got from an ad in the paper and she was the puppy that came out to meet us first. Yellow lab: smart as a whip, loyal as hell, and since she was a retriever would always look at us like we were stupid when there were ducks on the creek and she couldn't go get one for us. One of my most treasured objects is the block of cement that has her paw print in it from when we poured the dog kennel.

Conversely, my college girlfriend's family raised show dogs and that was my first encounter with show dogs. They were pets, yes, but investments as well. And every breed standard for the AKC is written down, and consists of standards that no living animal can completely embody. Dogs that are perfectly fine but two inches too tall are rejected, nervous dogs that jump at their own shadow but look good are allowed to breed.

Dog breeding is an expensive hobby. There's some return-on-investment if you manage to get a champion, but it's more something for people to do. My dad had a brief foray into trying to raise a field trial champion and the expense was astronomical. (Plus the other, hidden costs, since the primary goal seems to be to create an emotionless fetching machine. Those poor, poor creatures are the Cybermen of the animal world.)

I can't really watch the AKC shows anymore. Some dogs really enjoy being shown, but I think the whole infrastructure works against what dogs are.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


People seem to have a much stronger sense that their choice of dog breed (like their choice of car) reflects on their lifestyle choices -- sporty, snooty, countrified, wealthy, hunters, joggers, whatever -- than their cat. Cats seem to reflect "I like cats" while dogs seem to reflect "I AM THE SORT OF PERSON WHO MIGHT OWN SHEEP THAT REQUIRE HERDING."

Oh, there are plenty of picky and obsessive purebred cat owners out there. Cat breeding's an industry too, with many of the same problems, though on a smaller scale. It doesn't seem, from the outside at least, like cat breeding has really pushed it nearly as far as some dog breeding - except maybe the Sphynxes, Rexes and the super-pointy thing the Siamese became, and surprise, they've got the worst health problems, but Ragdolls, Himalayans, Abyssinians and Persians at least all have health issues that popped up along with the traits they were bred for, too.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:19 PM on December 3, 2013


If by "working" you mean "catching and killing vermin" and by "working breeds" you mean "terriers" then I agree.

Terriers?
posted by RobotHero at 10:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, weird cat people are WEIRD CAT PEOPLE who spend absurd amounts of money trying to breed cats that look like tigers. Weird dog people seem moderately more functional, honestly.

But the AVERAGE dog owner seems more interested in the dog's breed than the AVERAGE cat owner is in the cat's, I postulate for the reasons above.

Also the best possible dog-human combo is a small herding dog and a bunch of toddlers. It ends in EXHAUSTED NAPS FOR EVERYONE and no toddlers escape the yard!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


People pics could be much the same, no?
posted by telstar at 11:12 PM on December 3, 2013


These are my purebred doofuses. One is a retired professional athlete. The other doofus could have been shown but retained a testicle, so became a pet. Boxers are a short-nosed breed but they don't tend to have the breathing issues like bulldogs and other small brachycephalic breeds can. They're very active, they don't have pinched nostrils or problems with airflow restriction. If there was a concern for overheating, I would not worry about the boxer any sooner than I'd worry about the greyhound.

The dog folks I know don't like one breed or another because of status reasons or some kind of self image thing. I'm not denying that people do that - they choose cars and jewelry too, sometimes to impress and sometimes just because they like it. Is a person an elitist prick if they favor new clothes instead of thrifting? It's odd to assume people choose dogs for status symbol reasons. Cars and designer labels and jewelry tend to involve so much less shit and vomit and ticks and anal gland juice.

The people I know who like dog breeds just like them because they fall in love with their weird little ways. I fell for greyhounds because if this doesn't do anything for you you're dead inside. I guess you might for a minute think that greyhounds are these sleek elegant otherworldly supermodel kinda creatures, but spending a little time with one will demonstrate that they don't really fit that distorted view, but there are plenty of other reasons to love them.

We originally got a boxer because I've loved every single one I've ever met, and my sister needed to find a home for hers when she moved from the country to the city. Now we're on our second of each breed, because with each one we came across them at a time where they needed somewhere to go and it worked out. We 'get' each breed, so we know the greyhound needs lots of snooze time and will repay kindness with death farts and cold-nose-pokes under the blanket. We know the boxer is gonna be an exuberant oaf for a couple years longer than most other breeds, because boxers take longer to mature. Also boxer faces are made of velvety Play Doh and derpy benevolence. My heart flips over for boxers and greyhounds in a way that doesn't happen for shar peis or beagles. I couldn't say why. If that makes me an elitist snob jerkbag, I guess I'm not able to gauge stuff by that measuring stick. My car's 15 years old but it has leather so it's okay if a dog throws up in it, and my clothes are things I wear that are fun sometimes but mostly I'm gonna ruin em so prefer not to fuss. If you never picked out a thing because you responded to it more strongly, then there's probably no explaining why there's different kinds of dogs and different people who love them.
posted by Lou Stuells at 12:07 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If people were bred like dogs, we'd all be 6'6", weigh 125lbs, have large eyes and puffed up lips.
And bad hips.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:47 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


see this BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed

There's a pretty good response here. I don't agree with some of what she says -- for my taste, she's too willing to excuse bad behavior on the part of breed organizations and breeders, and too willing to minimize the numbers of less-than-stellar breeders out there or the number of breeders who don't give a fig about anything but appearance. But the parts where she does the takedowns on the video are good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:56 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Working Line" German Shepherds, the kind trained for protection duty and security work, aren't the crippled mutants being displayed in dog shows. Because they have to be healthy and accomplish actual real-world tasks. And chronic hip dysplasia gets in the way of chewing an attacker's ass off.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:01 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, firstly, speaking from the home of vizslas, I am horrified by the bug-eyed monsters that get sold these days as vizslas. But the good-looking ones are still around, too.

Secondly, we have two dogs. One is a four-year-old terrier-type mutt from the pound. She was found along with mum and the entire litter in a cardboard box when they were over three months old, and this may have something to do with it, but she is a slow (though reliable) learner, autonomous and good with being alone. She has completely failed to learn to catch anything I throw (including food). I've given up. But she is a great dog, very healthy, affectionate, and I am sure I am anthropomorphising, but I can't escape the feeling she is eternally grateful. Then I met a dogo argentino, who was minding a large, historic mansion nearby. I was intensely attracted, visited daily, and spent a year talking myself out of a second dog, especially such a large one... but I failed. Alex is 3 months old now. I specifically got him from a breeder who breeds for hunting and the dogs don't actually have pedigrees (as a result, the registration book says "Argentinian Dog Type") - he is extremely clever, very quick to learn, and very sociable. I checked out both parents, vigorous, outdoor dwellers the two of them. The bonus: after 8 days of sulking, Tobia, the older dog, adopted Alex and they became the best of friends, playing intensely for 2-3 hours every day.
posted by holist at 1:27 AM on December 4, 2013


The Vizsla was always my favorite member of the Woof-Tang clan
posted by lordaych at 2:00 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Turns out the whole time they were barking they were trying to say the dog equivalent of "hello"

A few weeks ago, in the middle of the city, near a guy who was smoking weed, I crossed an unleashed, unmuzzled pit bull (regulations here require pits to be muzzled, and all dogs on a leash in cities) who nearly reached my waist and looked to be all muscle. It was around two in the morning, I was walking home alone after a night with friends.

I see the guy first, and he's stoned so I don't worry. Then I see his pit, snorfing around, wagging her tail at random stuff. She hears me, turns around, and I'm like, oh, that is indeed an actual real pit bull. Gosh. She's beautiful. Tall, muscular, sleek; classic pit bull terrier face, not bred into an aggressive look. Brindle coloring. She cocks her head at me and takes the "ooh, human who maybe want to play with me? or not?" stance. I close my eyes, nod, approaching from her side, and hold out my hand, below her head level, palm up. Once I had opened my eyes, miss brindle pit was ALL IN MY HAND snorfing it and wagging her rear end all "yaaaaay new human scents woot ear scritches yaaaaay *snorf snorf sniff snorf cough snorf dance dance*"

I too remember growing up around German Shepherds that looked like the first photo, and wondering what had happened recently with the short-rear-end ones. So sad. Haven't had a dog in 15 years now, wouldn't be able to walk one often enough. Last dog was our family's pedigreed Golden Retriever. She died of cancer at age 12, after two years of suffering hip degeneration. It's horrible to see a dog who loves to play, reduced to hobbling in pain, eventually giving up and resting on cool floors. I never again want to see a dog go through that.
posted by fraula at 2:20 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


This photo of Aris, my 'working line' German Shepherd mentioned previously on Metafilter here, puts him somewhere between the before and after GSD examples, possibly closer to the before photo. He was selected from German bloodlines by my girlfriends aunty, who is a national level Schutzhund competitor. Unfortunately, he wasn't driven enough and is possibly the most stubborn dog I've ever met, so is unsuitable for competition, but he's turning into a superb pet.

We are also considering adopting a dog that has washed out of the Military Working Dog program that is run at the airbase I work at as a friend for him. Best of both worlds in our eyes, a long history of selection for pure health and temperament related traits over appearance, and we give a dog a loving home that it might not otherwise have. Its not enough for some of the rescue mutt zealots out there, but a good compromise.

Also, just wanted to get on the doggy pride wagon :)
posted by Legs11 at 4:01 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a doggy pride wagon, is it? :) Alex in bear-possessive mode.
posted by holist at 5:20 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have noticed this for some time as successive mascots for the nearby college football team have come along. If you go back and compare UGA I with the current UGA IX it is obvious the former was a much healthier dog. It shows in their lifespans too; the two dogs prior to the current mascot only lived long enough to serve for 2 years each, compared to 10 years for the first one. And in an interesting case of controlling for a lot of variables, they have all been owned and bred by the same person, Savannah attorney Sonny Seiler, who some may recall from his prominent role in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
posted by TedW at 6:05 AM on December 4, 2013


Ugh. My two dogs are rescues and they're fantastic dogs. Once upon a time tho, my mom tried to convince me to take a "poodle puppy" that had shown up where she worked. I did not want the poodle puppy, but finally, the guilt mounted and I agreed to take the dog. It wasn't a poodle puppy. It was a full grown Bijon Frise in serious need of grooming and it was the stupidest dog on the planet. My daughter was 2 at the time and in love with "Mr. Fluffy", but Mr Fluffy only wanted to crap on my hardwood floors. Grass didn't interest him at all. He even had a doggy door. A nice BIG doggy door. When it did occur to him to go outside, he favored the patio. Needless to say, Mr. Fluffy must have found someone who actually liked dog shit on their floors because he headed out for parts unknown through a hole in my fence and I didn't go looking for him. Terrible, I know, but I was a working mother at wit's end trying to keep my toddler out of the land mines that showed up like clockwork anywhere and everywhere in the house.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:57 AM on December 4, 2013


> So, it's not just the dog people, here. The horse people, too...

Ugh, yes. The poor quarter horse especially - no horse should be looking like the 'after' picture here. (And of course it's HYPP N/H too, because why try to breed out a horrific genetic disease when it's helping create that massively overmuscled look?)

I've heard some pretty awful things about deformities and other problems in miniature horses, as well. Poor things.
posted by Catseye at 7:01 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not all German Shepherds are like these show dogs.

My neighbor has two Shepherds, one (older male) from Germany and then second (younger female) from the Czech Republic. He felt that American GSD bloodlines are producing awful dogs.

When I consider the size and vigor and shape and temperament of his two dogs, compared with that of the locally-bred GSD my mother-in-law had until recently, I have to agree with him. His dogs are good-sized, don't have that hip-destroying dropped ass, confident, and friendly (once they get to know you and he says you are OK -- until which they bark to make you fill your pants).
posted by wenestvedt at 8:20 AM on December 4, 2013


IDK, all the vizslas I have seen recently (there are two very huggy ones in my building!) look just like the photos of my paternal grandparents' vizslas from the actual old country in the early 1900s. Also there is a hilarious photo of my toddler dad on a fat pony.
posted by elizardbits at 8:41 AM on December 4, 2013


I would love to have a pound dog, but I can't. I can't do the hair and the dander because breathing - it's a thing. I've rescued half a dozen standard poodles in the last 15 years (many near the ends of their lives just needing comfort for a few years, the loves). There are plenty of reasons people go for a purebred that have nothing to do with status and everything to do with what will actually fit into their lives. Whip smart and non-shedding are musts for me. (Although, I have to say I've rescued a few incredibly idiotic poodles.) They're emotionally smart and intelligent and have an easier time communicating with humans than most other dogs I've met. And they don't make me unable to breathe. Which is nice when they're walking around opening doors and cabinets and playing hide and seek and sleeping on the bed with their head on a pillow because that's whatcha do. And getting crazy muddy anytime there's water because water dog. All while being incredible sweet with kids and strangers, and being OK with either a 15 mile hike or lolling about all day.

But the poodle murder thing? Yeah, poodle dads are really really known for needing to be kept away from pups. They're hunting dogs, and at a certain age the pups seem like probably they should die? It's a pretty known thing among people who breed standards.

(Also - if you're interested in a standard poodle, do NOT buy a parti-poodle. The multi colored coat is being selected for against other healthier traits and they are almost uniformly of poor health. They're almost all inbred horrors.)
posted by stoneweaver at 9:37 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had a black lab growing up who was the best goddamn dog. Her dam was a prizewinning hunting dog; her sire was a pet dog from a hunting lineage, but who couldn't hunt worth a good goddamn. (He could sure jump a fence though, which is how the puppies came about.) So she was worthless as a hunting dog, and not even remotely AKC conformant. But wow, she was just the best dog. When the vet x-rayed her hips, he said they looked so good he wouldn't have guessed she was a retriever from the x-ray, which is sad commentary on its own. She lived to be 14, and will forever have a piece of my heart.
posted by KathrynT at 9:59 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


stoneweaver, shelters are full of poodles, bichons, malteses, shih tzus, and all the usual "hypoallergenic" suspects.

That's what really kills me about all this "well of course I went to a reputable breeder because seriously you just Don't Even Know" stuff. Shelters are full of perfectly good dogs for almost any lifestyle. Including the ones that have hair rather than coats.
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poodle murder is a thing?! D:
posted by peripathetic at 10:14 AM on December 4, 2013


stoneweaver didn't say she went to breeders though - she referenced rescuing elderly poodles, so I assume she knows about and uses breed-specific rescue groups, which do a tremendous service no less than shelters.
posted by rtha at 10:16 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm not taking issue with stoneweaver and where she specifically got her dog(s).

I'm talking about the MANY people who exclusively get their dogs from breeders, and when asked why they didn't adopt, will respond with "but I have allergies" as if rescue/shelter dogs roll around in pollen and peanut dust all day.
posted by Sara C. at 10:19 AM on December 4, 2013


I have twice rescued poodles from the pound here. They go within minutes of being up for adoption. Literally minutes. The pound here holds for four days in case owners show up, but they're put on the website immediately. On the fifth day, there's usually a line of three or four people waiting for the pound to open. In the family, we currently have a puppy that's proving to be a royal standard. At 8 months he's already taller than any poodle I've ever owned and will probably weigh in at 80 pounds. (The previous largest was 70 pounds, and he stood over 6 feet on his rear legs. Lived to 15.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:21 AM on December 4, 2013


I'm not taking issue with stoneweaver and where she specifically got her dog(s).

I guess I was confused when you addressed her by name when pointing out that many breeds of [specific trait] dogs are available in shelters (true!) and then in the next sentence seemed to still be addressing her when you referenced reputable breeders.
posted by rtha at 10:23 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


All the places I've lived have been like that - you have to be incredibly lucky to get a hypo allergenic dog from the pound, especially if you want a big dog instead of a toy size. They're also very likely to have behavioral problems. It's a certain kind of person that can deal with a preternaturally smart three year old dog that's never been trained. It would be completely inappropriate for a family with small kids, for example.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:23 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's really sad that in 2013, we still haven't learned enough about webpage usability to prevent these kinds of mistakes. I couldn't even stay on the page for a minute.

The other trend I am not enjoying is the full green flat section moving directly into the bright pink section, etc.
posted by gregjunior at 11:47 AM on December 4, 2013


After a read of this whole thread, I feel compelled to point out that "pure bred" and "adopted" are not antithetical. Our dog Eimear is a pure-bred Boxer, adopted from the local dog's home. She has every single problem mentioned - overheating, difficulty breathing during exertion, not one but three forms of cancer. She's 9 or 10 and this will likely be her last Christmas.

I spent this unusually warm summer pouring buckets of cold water over the dog and laying her down in front of her own portable fan as she heaved and panted, just at rest. Our vet put her on night-walks only and instructed us to keep them as short as possible. It was vaguely terrifying and I don't understand how Boxers in warmer climates than Ireland actually survive.

I love these dogs, problems and all, but I will never, never get one from a breeder. Tragically, between our vet and our rescue, we will have no problem acquiring Eimear's successor. The supply of dogs needing rescue rehoming is overwhelming, and the number of homes experienced with high-needs dogs (deaf, PTSD, cardiomyopathy, etc) is very limited.

I would absolutely prefer the breed standard went to hell, but people shouldn't assume everyone with a full-breed dog paid a breeder - there are many, many breed specific rescues all over the world.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:54 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would absolutely prefer the breed standard went to hell, but people shouldn't assume everyone with a full-breed dog paid a breeder - there are many, many breed specific rescues all over the world.

True, there are all the good people trying to clean up the mess and assuming the responsibility for the shittiness of breeders and their customers.
posted by bongo_x at 11:59 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would absolutely prefer the breed standard went to hell, but people shouldn't assume everyone with a full-breed dog paid a breeder - there are many, many breed specific rescues all over the world.

I don't think anyone here has stated that or even assumed it. I rescue mutts on the kill-list from the pound for an all-breed rescue, but I am (of course) familiar with breed-specific rescues. For example, rescue greyhounds are a big thing here because we have a dog track.

When dogs that appear purebred turn up at the pound, they are heavily networked to breed-specific rescues and pulled quickly. The exceptions in Tucson seem to be pit bulls (soooooooo many pit bulls in the system) and German Shepherds. Those dogs are left for regular adoptions, or all-bred rescues to pull if they get ill.

My first dog, almost three years ago, was an ancient stray I found on the side of the road. After she died, my biggest concern was "how can I help unwanted dogs the most?" which led me to intentionally adopt Shaggy, an older, extremely ill TBD (Tucson brown dog) and wonderful loving clown. Then I got addicted to helping save dogs from euthanasia, I guess, and got into the foster gig.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


elizardbits, after looking at pictures of vizslas on google, I retract. Most vizslas seem okay. I have seen a few bizarre, short-muzzled, bug-eyed things passed off as vizslas recently.
posted by holist at 12:52 PM on December 4, 2013



Ugh, yes. The poor quarter horse especially - no horse should be looking like the 'after' picture here. (And of course it's HYPP N/H too, because why try to breed out a horrific genetic disease when it's helping create that massively overmuscled look?)

Holy hell, I haven't been paying attention to the horse world for at least 25 years, and that is a frightening and disgusting image. We had a couple of quarter horses, with papers, they were sound and lived to be in their 20's. They did not look all lumpy and small-headed like that poor horse, thankfully.

Anyway, here's my adopted mutt. She's a spitz type + tasmanian devil.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:02 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who's a good doggy?
posted by brundlefly at 2:27 PM on December 4, 2013


Because of this thread, I wanted to see what a chihuahua might have looked like in the 19th century. And not long ago, indeed, somebody sold a chihuahua from the 19th century. He looks much healthier than the breed standard, but not enormously different in features.

(I don't think those ears can be quite right. Surely they should be at an angle.)
posted by Countess Elena at 5:54 PM on December 4, 2013


My dog came from the purebred border collie rescue. And yet people never believe me when I tell them that he's clearly a purebred even though he displays a high energy level, razor-sharp herding instincts, and breed-conforming appearance.

Ok, really I just wanted to post pics of my dog, but he came from the rescue at about a year-and-a-half old after living with a foster who was able to describe most of the quirks of his personality. Adopting a teenaged-to-adult dog is so much more reliable than trusting to even the best breeding.
posted by stet at 6:25 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh good we've gotten to the pictures. Here's that purebred and our rangy red heinz57 hound dog who everyone sort of thought was a ridgeback when she first showed up lost at our door. Somebody said that upthread and made me laugh - yes, she has a ridge, but I doubt there's been a purebred, let alone a rare and expensive purebred, in her ancestry in . . many generations. If ever. And then it was probably a hound. It is interesting, what the general mutt looks like in different areas. When we got Toby in Baltimore in 91, it was before the huge influx of pits into every city shelter: instead, there were a lot of shepherd looking dogs around. Theo came from the Madison County animal shelter here in western NC - he's mostly collie, which makes a sort of sense for an area with a huge Scots Irish immigrant population. And Perdita, another WNC mutt, has totally got that stereotypical lay around under the porch - well, okay, substitute couch for porch - hound heritage without which no hillbilly cartoon would be complete.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:47 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Behold! The elusive otter/terrier mix!
posted by scody at 8:31 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are pure bred dogs because people want them. My Conan (he was supposed to be a cat, but, well, I fell in love with a little red puppy when I went to the shelter) was part chow. I never cared what the rest might be, but for the 18 years he lived, friends, people on the street, kids in the park...everyone else swore the non-chow part was their favourite breed.

Conan was a friendly, stubborn, tough, cat worshiping fuzz ball of a spotted tongued dog. While both Conan and I enjoyed the attention he attracted (he was gorgeous), I never understood the attraction of the breed game.
posted by QIbHom at 1:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love it when people post pictures of their pets. So many adorable puppies in this thread! I want to scritch them all!
posted by rmd1023 at 1:24 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kenda is my 24-pound fiendishly smart probably-Border-Collie-and-something-sneaky mix, adopted from the Humane Society. She's my hiking, swimming and sidecar buddy.

Maeby joined us in January of 2013, a lost bear-hunting dog that Kenda and I met while hiking way out in the backcountry. We were unable to find her people so she's ours now. No idea what kind of dog she is; at 43 pounds she's a dead ringer for a Schillerstövare but seriously, who hunts bears in East Tennessee with Schillerstövare?
posted by workerant at 6:49 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, er, is there some sort of "heirloom dog" movement afoot to breed back to the originals, or undo this tinkering, or are the original breeds lost to us?
posted by scrump at 1:51 PM on December 9, 2013


To bring in another MeFi favorite, here's the John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme sketch on dog shows.
posted by Lexica at 3:14 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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