PUREBRED DOG HEALTH VS ANIMAL RIGHTS DOG HEALTH
By E. M. Gilbert Jr.
Purebred dog health problems are being researched by the American Kennel Club/Canine Health Foundation. This work is accomplished in conjunction with the Breed Parent Clubs and breeders providing inputs to the researchers. This collaboration has and is continuing to benefit all dogs and also humans – one medicine for both canine and human.
When the RSPCA states that “health, welfare and temperament should be prioritised over appearance” it states a conclusion and denies breed specific solutions. An excellent case in point is The Kennel Club animal rights solution to the health problem in the Pekingese. People unfamiliar with the breed changed the breed Standard.
The Kennel Club released the first of the new breed standards in October 2008, for the Pekingese. The Kennel Club took a tough line with the breed following extensive and abortive consultations with the breed club. The Kennel Club’s mistaken position is they will radically improve the health of the Pekingese which for nearly a hundred years was bred to have a flat face; a feature which can lead to breathing problems; under the new health plan the breed will be required to have a defined muzzle. The October 2008 Kennel Club Standard states: “Head and Skull - Head fairly large, proportionately wider than deep. Skull moderately broad, wide and flat between ears, not domed, wide between eyes. Nose not too short, broad, nostrils large and open. A slight wrinkle, preferably broken, may extend from the cheeks to the bridge of the nose in a wide inverted ‘v’. This must never adversely affect or obscure eyes or nose. Pinched nostrils and heavy over-nose wrinkles are unacceptable and should be heavily penalised. Muzzle must be evident, but may be relatively short and wide. Firm underjaw. Lips not obscuring a well defined chin. Defined stop. Black pigment essential on nose, lips and eye rims.” This is an animal rights sledge hammer approach – elimination of breed type. This may lead to a healthy dog – but it will not be a Peke. Calling the color black white, does not make black white. Requiring a defined stop in the Peke, sets back breed type well over several hundred years. Calling a dog with a defined stop a Peke, does not make it a Peke. It’s all about breed type stupid.
You can have a healthy Peke and have breed type when the health issue is properly defined. According to John D. French, President and Education Chair for the Pekingese Club of America, there is a health problem associated with breathing. But elimination of the flat face is not the answer. The proper answer is having an open airway by having wide open nostrils on a good size nose without any wrinkle covering the nose while keeping the nose in proportion to the facial features of the dog. “Pinched nostrils…, as are crunched faces, recessed noses, concavity in the center of the face, small noses, and to a lesser degree, narrow tracheas and elongated soft palates” are problems which affect breathing.
The AKC Standard, March 2004, states: “Head - Face - The topskull is massive, broad and flat and, when combined with the wide set eyes, cheekbones and broad lower jaw, forms the correctly shaped face. When viewed from the front, the skull is wider than deep, which contributes to the desired rectangular, envelope-shaped appearance of the head. In profile, the face is flat. When viewed from the side, the chin, nose leather and brow all lie in one plane, which slants very slightly backward from chin to forehead. Ears - They are heart-shaped, …. Eyes - They are large, very dark, round, lustrous and set wide apart. …. Nose - It is broad, short and black. Nostrils are wide and open rather than pinched. A line drawn horizontally over the top of the nose intersects slightly above the center of the eyes. Wrinkle - It effectively separates the upper and lower areas of the face. It is a hair-covered fold of skin extending from one cheek over the bridge of the nose in a wide inverted V to the other cheek. It is never so prominent or heavy as to crowd the facial features, obscure more than a small portion of the eyes, or fall forward over any portion of the nose leather. Stop - It is obscured from view by the over-nose wrinkle. Muzzle - It is very flat, broad, and well filled-in below the eyes. The skin is black on all colors. Whiskers add to the desired expression. Mouth - The lower jaw is undershot and broad. The black lips meet neatly and neither teeth nor tongue show when the mouth is closed.”
Judges need to be aware of the life threatening features – and judge accordingly. The AKC Standard is quite clear and properly takes into account the health problems in the breed. The AKC Standard does not need change – it needs enforcement by the judges.
Peke breeders around the world are aware of the health problem and now are breeding for wide open nostrils and air passages.
The Pekingese Club of America created a Health Committee in February 2008 to address health problems in the Peke. For more information go to the web site: www.thepekingeseclubofamerica.com and go to the “Pekingese Health Committee” page.
When there is a health problem in a breed the Parent Club and breeders are an important part of a proper solution. The animal rights agenda has no place in Breed Standards, nor in defining health problems. Is your breed next?