Last year, the BBC launched a documentary on pedigree dogs in the UK called "Pedigree Dogs Exposed".
The program featured several breeds of dogs that were known to have genetic health problems -- however, the Kennel Club still seems to reward exaggerated breed traits. The push for these exaggerated breed traits has created a wealth of health problems: brain tumors in some spaniels, bulldogs that can barely breath -- and cannot breed on their own -- among other health problems.
Last week, ABC News ran a segment entitled "Best in Show?" that highlights many of the same problems that exist in AKC dogs in the US. It's an 8 minute or so segment -- and really a pretty solid program.
The program isolates two breeding issues that are causing most of the problems: Massive in-breeding and line-breeding; and breeding for exaggerated looks (think heavily wrinkled or really short muzzles). Maybe the most distrubing part of the entire program was that instead of accepting being interviewed for the program, the AKC refused to be interviewed.
In its conclusion, the program reaches the same conclusion that Chrisitie proposed last year -- that the AKC needs to open up their breed registry - or, encourage some cross breeding to get rid of some of the exaggerated features.
You can watch the ABC Segment here in its entirety.
Terrierman has much of the program in written text here. Terrierman was also interviewed for the segment. He had really good statements that most dogs are bred for pets, not for jobs, which is fine, but if the primary purpose of a dog is to be a pet, then health should be a primary goal of breeding. But it's not. You can also get his thoughts on English Bulldogs here. What has become of the English Bulldog is a very visual example of what these programs are talking about.
You can also watch the entire segment of Pedigree Dogs Exposed (about 60 minutes long) here with my thoughts on that one here and here.
Not only is pet homelessness an issue that we need to address -- but we also need to be sure that the people who ARE breeding pets are doing so responsibly. And that doesn't just mean AKC breeders, because many of them aren't either. Not everyone who is breeding dogs is bad (most aren't), but we need to be sure that they are breeding dogs to be healthy, not for exaggerated looks that cause health problems in our breeds.