Thursday 28 November 2013

Shar-pei - the eyes have it

Have what?

Well, quite often entropion - the turning in of the eye margins causing damage to the dogs' eyes.

It is a direct consequence of the wrinkling/skin folds that have become a defining feature of the Westernised version of the breed but was never a feature of the original Shar-pei (see here).

And, indeed, it is is so bad that "tacking" is routine in the breed -  a procedure in which the vet places sutures around the eye when the dogs are pups to prevent the eye surface being injured by the inward rolling of eyelashes.

This often does the trick; sometimes, though, Shar-pei need more surgery to correct the entropion when they are older.

Shar-pei breeders are so de-sensitised to this that tacking (and entropion surgery) is not considered a big deal in the breed. In fact, in the twisted logic adopted by some breeders, tacking is actually considered a sign of a responsible breeder. And although the Kennel Club dictated a few years back that dogs that have had their eyes tacked cannot be shown, insiders tell me that an awful lot of show dogs will have had their eyes tacked as pups. It is hard to prove one way or the other.

But there are some breeders taking a stand and one in particular I'd like to praise.

Three years ago, I blogged this photograph, as featured in a book by the photographer Tim Flach. As you can see, this very wrinkled eight-week-old pup is sporting a stitch above her right eye - a "tack".

It turned out that the pup was bred by a UK-based breeder called Ines Alarcao. She took quite a lot of stick at the time and has since withdrawn from showing.

But she's kept breeding Shar-pei and she recently sent me these pix of her current litter of eight pups. Here they are at six weeks old. They all have clear eyes and not a single one has had to be tacked. They also have fewer wrinkles and bigger ears (breeding for very small ears in Shar-pei has led to tiny ear canals prone to ear infections).

Have a look at these photos and then see below for what Ines says about these pups.

It's a big improvement - at least in terms of their conformation.

I asked Ines how she had achieved it:
"I bought two girls from different lines four years ago , with reasonable eyes and not many wrinkles and good ears. I have mated them with guys with the same features. One of them produced a blue boy with excellent eyes, the other produced a girl with good eyes too, and  I have now mated these two together and produced this guys.   Some people say that good eyes are a matter of luck. Not true! But I had to find it through trial and error. I am keeping two girls from this litter , I bought another one that has got less wrinkles and more traditional features, and I have another 6 mth-old girl that i bred and kept with really good eyes. My new breeding program will  be based on them."

Now these pups are still too immoderate for me. And, in my opinion, this breed is too inbred and has too many inherent health problems (notably Familial Shar-pei Fever) to be able to justify breeding it at all.

But I really was pleased to see these pix. A step in the right direction.

Lola the Bulldog: tu-tu much

Now I'm all for a good party. And I don't have any inherent objections to dogs being dressed up.

But let's not pretend that this is for the dogs, eh? Especially when the party girl has to be taken out every 10 minutes and be blasted with air-conditioning to stop her collapsing (see from 10.31).

See how Lola tries to take the matter into her own hands at 11.15 minutes in with a blatant attempt at suicide.

Suspect this video will be taken down pretty quickly... enjoy, or otherwise, while you can.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Pedigree Cats Exposed

Extreme cats at the Supreme Cat Show at the National Exhibiton Centre in Birmingham today.

We didn't just fuck up dogs.

We tried very hard to persuade the BBC to commission Pedigree Cats Exposed but after much deliberating, they turned it down. "Too like the dogs" was their verdict.

Well exactly. 

Haven't quite given up yet. 

Sunday 10 November 2013

Frenchies: breathtaking

Now one would think that given the current focus on French Bulldogs that the breed club would have been able to furnish one for the breed stand at Discover Dogs yesterday that had, you know, nostrils.

But no. There wasn't a nostril between them.

Cataracts too... perhaps just an older dog

Dogs pant through their mouths - but they breathe through their nostrils. To get an idea of what this feels like, close your mouth and pinch your nostrils. Even the slightest pressure feels awful. Increase it and it's impossible not to feel panic.

This is what too many in this breed has to endure. The restricted airflow means the dogs have to make an increased effort to breathe which leads to (or is accompanied by) a host of airway pathology, often requiring surgery.

Stenotic nares - before and after surgery
The breed Club had a lot of info on the stand on Frenchie health and they talk such a good game re health that the Kennel Club has just taken them off their high profile breeds list despite there being little concrete evidence that this breed has improved (see here).

But ask yourself this: if they were really that concerned, would they have allowed these dogs to be put on display as examples of the breed?

I can only see two other possible reasons:

Either they are ignorantly unaware of the suffering caused by breeding dogs with stenotic nares like this.

Or there aren't any Frenchies with normal nostrils.

Not of course that the public, equally culpable in all this, gives a shit. The French Bulldog breed stand was packed with lots of people cooing over the cute little dogs with the smushed-in faces.

Registrations for this breed are going through the roof.

There were just 349 French Bulldogs registered with the Kennel Club in 2003. Last year there were  4648 and, in just the first three quarters of this year, 4843.

I will be attending this event tomorrow... looking forward to it.

Saturday 9 November 2013