To live in a perfect world is a dream that man has long strived to behold. The Oxford-English Dictionary defines utopia as a place, state, or condition ideally perfect in respect of politics, laws, customs, and conditions. It also describes utopia as an impossibly ideal scheme, especially for social improvement. As impossibly ideal it may seen, since the 1700s and 1800s of the Victoria era, man has taken strong interest in creating everything as perfect as can be.  None are exempt of the consequences, including man’s own best friend, the dog. There are many dogs that suffer from medical defects and health issues directly related to the irresponsible breeding of our canine companions; two of these breeds in particular are the Australian Shepherd and the pug.

Australian shepherds, or Aussies as they are often referred to, are a hardy and versatile breed of herding dog that was developed in the Western United States and has become widely popular today both as pets and working animals.  Because of the increase in their popularity irresponsible breeding has led to a subsequent increase in genetic problems and defects.  One of these problems has been commonly coined “Lethal White” or double merle, and leads to partial or complete blindness and/or deafness in dogs that carry a double recessive merle coat pattern allele.

Australian Shepherds come in a wide variety of coat colors and combinations including black and tan,  red (liver), blue merle, and red merle.  The merle allele produces a patchwork combination of dark and light areas and is the most common coloration associated with the breed.  However, when two merles are bred there is a 25% probability that the offspring will end up with two copies of the merle gene (double merle) and the result is an overabundance of white in the dog’s coat.  The lack of pigment results in hearing loss and multiple eye defects leaving most double merle dogs blind and severely hearing impaired, if not totally deaf.

Disreputable and uninformed backyard breeders and puppy mills are to blame for mostly to blame for the continuation of genetic problems such as double merle in Aussies and other breeds.  Breeding for the sake of a bottom line dollar sale rather than the health of the breed as a whole causes many dogs to land in shelters or culled because families unknowingly sold a “rare white Aussie” are unequipped to deal with the challenges of raising a blind/deaf puppy or they are simply unwanted.

The pug breed is widely known to be a very sickly breed of dog, requiring frequent veterinary visits and susceptible to a myriad of health problems and issues such as, NME also known as pug dog encephalitis (PDE),an inflammation of the brain and meninges, to which there is no know cause or cure. They are also prone to  hemivertebrae. The screwtail is an example of a hemivertebrae, but when it occurs in other areas of the spine it can be devastating, causing such severe paralysis that euthanasia is a serious recommendation. The list goes on…. Hip dysplasia. “Reverse Sneezing” also known as Pharyngeal Gag Reflex, Demodectic mange, also know as demodex.

The main reason for all of the pugs ailments can be directly linked to breeding or more specifically, the irresponsible inbreeding by breeders. A recent BBC  investigative documentary revealed that the 10,000 pugs within Europe have a gene pool the equivalent of 50 individual dogs. This history and active practice of inbreeding is not exclusive to Europe nor to the breed of pugs in general, but a very real problem that encompasses many breeds of dogs across the world.

As overwhelming as these problems may seem, there are still things that people can to do help prevent the mistreatment of dogs. Simple plans such as checking out who or where you are getting your dog, or researching how reputable a breeder is, can slowly help bring the problem of over-breeding or inbreeding to a level where hopefully one day it can be controlled. A great choice for people looking to get a dog would be to just go to a local shelter, many of which have loving animals looking for a great home.

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7 responses »

  1. Kasia Dybek says:

    This is a fascinating note. Dog, being a man’s best friend, has become his puppet and a gadget. Instead of treating it as a companion, people take it for an object to modify, change according to their preferences and get rid of, in case of not reaching the expectations. It is truly terrifying to think that people would rather have a unique, pretty looking dog, than a healthy one with its own characteristics. Without much experience in the field, people breed their dogs for financial benefits and for their egos. In return, dogs suffer from genetic diseases, affecting their hearing and seeing abilities and also mental illnesses. As mentioned in the above note, ‘10,000 pugs within Europe have a gene pool the equivalent of 50 individual dogs’. It shows how many unnatural mutations people have created. I believe it is not only lack of awareness of the possible consequences (diseases, etc.), but also lack of morality. Treating a dog as a guinea pig is unacceptable. There are thousand of strong, healthy dogs ready to be adopted and brought home from the local shelters. Feeling bond with the pet, saved from the loneliness and possible starvation, is more important than the look and perfect gene pool.

    – Kasia (Katarzyna) Dybek

  2. Mistreatment of dogs is one of those things that really get to me. It’s so frustrating, that people can do these things to these innocent animals, trying to genetically perfect a breed. They were fine to begin with, it’s human strive for perfection that screwed them up, and has now endangered them to medical and health problems. I’m pretty sure that was the complete opposite of the result they were actually going for, and yet they still conduct these experiments to create solutions to the problems that were created by them in the first place. I’m not the biggest fan of pugs, and now I sympathize with them; even ugly dogs don’t deserve their mistreatment.

  3. woao! who could think the cutest things in the world, would have a complete different side to them! i think we just have to try and solve the problem! but not mis-treat with or towards them! that is against morality and humanity!

    Chitra 😀

  4. Dave Swanson says:

    Puppy mills are a very big problem for us here in the states. More and more people believe that they can make a buck by caging dogs and using them as if they are cattle. Dogs aren’t cattle though. It is highly inhumane what they do to them and to think that these pups will never get the proper care in their infancy that dogs require is very sad. I sternly urge people to avoid dog stores and and instead look up a local AKC certified breeder in your area, there are many well qualified breeders with properly raised pups looking for a good home. It costs more of course but if we keep feeding the machine then it will continue to make a profit. we must be just as responsible when getting a puppy as we are when we think about our own well being.

  5. Patrick Bradford says:

    sad that pugs are so prone to disease that was going to be my first dog when i get out of school! the diseases that they can get are horrifying ive never heard of reverse sneazing and having their spines twisted like their tails seems like it is straight out of a horror movie. im not a big dog fan but it sickens me that people are mistreating these helpless creatures and inbreeding them it makes no sense to do so if they have all of these problems so i cant understand why people still do it!

  6. Jillian :D says:

    Oh my goodness! I didn’t think there were that many things that could go wrong in Pugs. My sister loves them wants one when she gets older. This reverse sneezing sounds ridiculous, but it actually happens. I had to reread that sentence and look it up for further information. The Aussies are a sad case as well. The fact that the breeders are still breeding purebred Aussies is so sad because of the major health issues most can develop. 😦

  7. I hold dogs to a higher standard than people. So it really hurts me to see these beautiful creatures being polluted by us. Especially the “Aussie”, they really are a great breed.

    ~Mackenzie Vartanian

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