Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Editor’s note: Crystal Miller-Spiegel has a Master of Science degree from the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She is a policy analyst for the American Anti-Vivisection Society and is the author of numerous papers, articles and reports on animal welfare issues. The opinion expressed here is her own.
An April segment of HBO’s
Real Sports, aptly titled “
Unnatural Selection,” focused on the inhumanity of show
dog breeding. The widely discussed segment was initially available only to subscribers, but clips have been popping up on dog-related sites across the Internet since it aired.
The HBO segment highlighted one breed in particular,
the Bulldog, and described the various physical features that have been altered by selective breeding to fit the
American Kennel Club’s “breed standard.” In essence, some
Bulldogs struggle to breathe and exercise because of artificial selection through breeding to meet the standard. The “desired” traits of an enlarged, foreshortened skull and an undershot jaw are so unnatural that they can become lethal. In fact,
Real Sports reported that
Bulldogs are not usually capable of natural reproduction. Females are often artificially inseminated because the dogs might overexert themselves when mating, and puppies are usually removed via cesarean section for improved survival and because the size of their heads often makes natural delivery impossible.
Below is a short clip that HBO posted. More coverage of the show is available
Real Sports highlighted the debilitating effects of selective breeding on other AKC breeds as well, such as the
German Shepherd, which suffers from more than 50 inherited diseases, including
hip dysplasia. The most saddening footage featured a
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel screaming in agony because of syringomyelia, a condition in which affected
dogs do not have enough space in their small skulls for their brains. In some dogs, this can result in tremendous pain, and the only cure is surgery to remove portions of the skull and first vertebra. While not all dogs affected by the condition suffer as much as the dog in the HBO clip, it is a serious genetic disease prevalent within the breed. Extreme inbreeding among purebred dogs is also common and is not prohibited by the AKC. In fact,
Banana Joe, the Affenpinscher who won Best in Show at the 2013
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, is the offspring of a father-daughter mating.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Smelly is finally back with his family after
a Good Samaritan found him on the
street and brought him to a vet.
A little miffed that your canine won't be
your bedmate? Dr. Marty Becker shares
reasons some pups prefer to doze…
From getting out the laser pointer to
playing hide-and-seek, there are plenty of
ways to keep your indoor cat…
It's back-to-school time, but is it a good
idea to take your dog when you pick up
the kids after class? We asked an…
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.