Saturday, 31 January 2015

Is this *really* the pits?

Yesterday on the PDE Facebook page (over 3,000 members now... check us out here), I posted this picture of a Pit Bull/Dachshund x and asked what people thought of him.

Rami, who is in rescue and looking for a new home through Moulrie Colquitt County Humane Society, prompted mostly outrage.

Here's a selection of responses from people who presumed Rami had been bred deliberately (something that is not, in fact, known).
"Sadly I don't believe this example will be unique and others will be finding other such sad (in so many senses of the word) ways of abusing man's best friend (seems the compliment is not returned by some). Don't suppose the people who breed such ' mutants' will be needing a 'breed standard'"
"Who ever bred that should be shot!"
"Are you suggesting this dog might have a form of dwarfism... breeding dogs with such even underlying genetic conditions is not very helpful." 
"Soo sad this is why I hate cross breeding so much"
"... disgrace of a dog in the vision of another shitty breeder"

So here's the challenge... Could anyone tell me why it is OK to be shocked by Rami and not, say, by this dog?

Or how about this one? 

The shock of Rami is that the breeding - whether on purpose or an accident - has disabled the Pitbull; that in removing its legs, in turning into a dwarf, it has destroyed a dog celebrated for its fitness and athleticism.  

When we see this anew, it is genuinely troubling.

But what on earth do you think a Basset Hound is if not exactly the same beast? Indeed, the Basset textbooks make no secret of this.

You think it makes it OK because one had a pedigree and the other doesn't?

Not to the dog!

So the answer to the question in the headline above is "yes". But the same applies to every dwarf dog,  purebred or otherwise.

Friday, 16 January 2015


There is a ceremony in Edinburgh this afternoon to mark the 143rd anniversary of Greyfriars Bobby - a Skye Terrier who supposedly spent 14 yrs guarding the grave of his owner until he himself died on 14th January 1872.

Bobby is commemorated in Edinburgh with this statue.

They are described as "a low, hardy terrier" but,  in reality, the modern Skye is anything but hardy. The breed barely exists outside of the show-ring and there, sadly, the set of the dogs' ears is way more important that its ability to be useful on a smallholding on the windswept Isle of Skye.

Today, the Skye Terrier is one of the most inbred, most endangered native UK breeds, dead on average by just 11 years old (terrible for a terrier). It is blighted by several different cancers, auto-immune disease, renal dysplasia, Skye Terrier hepatitis and back problems (the last no huge surprise given the show-ring selection for a dog with short legs and a long back). It also has a high-maintenance coat - not always the case historically.

© Michal Maňas
Registrations in the UK? Only seventeen Skye pups were registered in 2013, prompting a huge panic and much talk about how to increase numbers.  More puppies were born in 2014, but the breed cannot survive much longer without something way more radical than the few existing breeders trying to produce more pups from their inbred stock and the Kennel Club trying to extol the breed's  dubious virtues to puppy buyers.

What breeders and the KC should be doing of course is planning a careful outcross - if, that is, there is truly enough appetite to stop this breed sliding into oblivion.

And that's because it is ethically unacceptable to continue to breed Skye Terriers without an injection of new blood when there's such a high propensity for suffering.

Are there any enlightened breeders planning an outcross for this breed - perhaps to its more hardy, more moderate cousin the Cairn Terrier?

Please let me know.