Thursday, February 18, 2016

Breeding for Stupid

I was at an agility trial this past weekend and got to talking with an agility friend about Anatolian Shepherds.  She's interested in them because she's recently adopted one (or a mix of one?) and I'm interested in livestock guarding dogs in general because maybe one day I'll have goats and chickens and who knows what all else and I'll need somebody to guard them.  Anyway she was hiking and ran into a man who had a pair of what looked like Anatolian Shepherds but were built with much more athleticism, not nearly as stocky.  She asked him about the dogs and sure enough they were Anatolian Shepherds but not from American lines.  'Pffffbt, Amercians, they breed for stupid,'  he explained.  And I had to laugh because we do.  At least when it comes to AKC lines.  There are some working breeds and lines of working breeds that have not been infected by the AKC and rosette-itis, but they're hard to find and not what the general public gravitates towards.  Because most people don't need a true working dog that can do this:

Instead they are transfixed by this:

Which makes the proponents of the working border collie throw up in their mouth a little.  O.k., a lot.  Actually probably down the hall in the bathroom heaving up breakfast, lunch, dinner and yesterday's dinner.  And lunch and breakfast.  I don't need a working border collie and probably won't ever have enough livestock that I will but still I get it, I get their anger and their nausea and why they put up a huge fight against the AKC registering border collies.  Donald McCaig has a book called 'The Dog Wars:  How the Border Collie Battled the American Kennel Club'.  This is perhaps the first book I've been unable to get from the Boulder Library and their inter-library system.  I put in a materials request for it, we'll see if they buy it or can get it from an out of system library.  I've put off reading it for years mostly because I'm sure it'll only aggravate me but the conversation with my friend re-ignited my interest.

And even though I'll likely never need a true working border collie I also don't want this:

I mean seriously, who does this?  On purpose?  For a stupid rosette and some money and an ego boost.  If only the breeders had to come back in their next lives as the dogs they bred and had to live in their deformed, diseased bodies.  But in the real world what's someone like me supposed to do?  I wonder about this as I contemplate my next dog.  Is there anyone out there breeding for health, longevity, good temperament, and a healthy athletic build?  I don't even care about breed, I just want a nice, confident, healthy, athletic DOG.  And even if someone wanted to breed such a dog, have too many dogs, purebred or mixes of purebreds, been compromised by all the 'Breeding for Stupid'?  And if the answer is 'yes', how do we fix it or can we even fix it?  Almost certainly my next dog will come from rescue but even if I wanted to go with a breeder I wouldn't know where to turn.  I know a couple of people looking for pet dogs and they're in the same boat.  All I can tell them is to avoid the lines with AKC conformation champions in them and maybe check out the shelter.

I suppose it's the bane of humanity being such a visual species, looks are so important to us.  But it's unfair to betray a whole species for our fancy.  I wish we could get over it and stop all the Breeding for Stupid.

Working hard or hardly working?

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