by Michele Hollow
Take a look at an old photo of the iconic German Shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, who died in 1932. Now look at a photo of another of the breed, a German shepherd show dog of today. Notice the difference?
The second photo shows a German Shepherd with a sloping back and legs splayed apart. Some people call today’s German shepherds “half-frog dogs” because of the position of their legs.
Today’s dachshunds and basset hounds also look amazingly different from those bred as little as 50 years ago. Their legs are shorter, their bodies are longer, and their bellies almost drag on the ground.
And Pekingese and pugs have flatter faces. Both have trouble breathing because of their pushed-in noses.
These remarkable changes stem from an obsession among dog breeders to create the perfect dog—perfect that is, according to the standards for purebreds competing in dog shows like the annual extravaganza of the Westminster Kennel Club. This breeding is slowly disfiguring, often in unbearable ways, the very animals that dog show fans claim to love.
Now, a number of concerned animal-welfare people, along with allies in the dog-show crowd, are trying to change the way breeders manipulate the genome of these animals.
No breed has suffered more from the quest for “exaggerated” features than the Pekingese—a breed once favored by the Emperors of China. Back then, the animal would have looked very different than the show dogs of today. In the last thirty years, Peke show dogs have undergone troubling changes.
“A Peke actually had a nose in the 1980s,” says Wayne Cavanaugh, president of the United Kennel Club (UKC). “It was pronounced just enough to give them an airway. Today’s Pekingese winners are photographed sitting on blocks of ice because they are overheated and are just barely breathing.”
Please read the rest of this story at WhoWhatWhy.