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.


  1. You nailed it.

    Let's make it simple: some people do not really like DOGS. They like the pretension of status that comes from dogs.

    Yes this Pit X Dachs cross is odd looking, but oddness seems to be celebrated if we give it a history and a job, and never mind if both are bunko.

    Attach this story to it and see what happens:

    "The Heugervein Wall Dog was first created in 1650 by William Emmitt, the groundskeeper at Heugervein Castle, to keep badger from undermining the Ha-ha surround that property. With the head of a fighting dog, it could face down any badger that began to tunnel into the walls and embankment, but with short legs, it could not hope to catch up and worry sheep.

    "The Heugervein Wall Dog has been bred at the Heugervein Castle (and three other nearby properties) for over 350 years, and were much admired by Queen Victoria's John Brown."

    1. Please tell me where I can get one ? I hope they are only born by c-section also, not that frightfully messy natural birthing which is so unfashionable.

    2. Find out all about them here..

    3. Thanks for that. Jemima and Pburns, you have hit the nail square on the head.

    4. Ok Im going to seem a little contra here and say that there are fully functional dogs who do do a job that have little short legs, the working Dachshund comes to mind. The working Dachshund doesn't have such a deep keel as the showing Dachshund but it certainly has tiny little legs and an elongated body and is small in every way.

      Only difference to the Pit/Dachshund is that its head is proportionate, so the working Dachshund doesn't look out of kilter like a basset or corgi does or this dog does.

      The dachshund is a different type of dwarfism (Achondroplasia) to a basset but it's certainly a dwarf. Even a JRT with long legs is a dwarf, it has quite a high degree of pituitary dwarfism, is there a difference between a shorter legged JRT? Not at all, the proportionate shorter legged JRT just has more Dachshund in it than mini terrier type.

      As long as there is a purpose and function these types will have been bred along working lines and I dont see anything terribly wrong with that, these dogs are fully functional and etc.

      To say that anything small with short legs is a travesty I feel is not true. Where would we be for example without the truly magnificent and extremely functional and hardy Croatian Posavac.

      BTW Im almost sure as odd looking as this Dachshund/Pit is it's also going to be extremely functional primarily because of the Pit.

      So to me at any rate this dog looks subjectively at least just as much of a monster as a pedigree showing basset does yes but but its a much more functional "monster" and the dogs welfare shouldn't be compromised much at all in my honest opinion.

      I must admit there is something photoshop about that dog the head looks like it's straight off a pitbull litraly, but I have seen some strange looking dogs so who knows.

    5. I gotta say, I suspected possibly photoshoppery going on. The head just doesn't look like it 'sits' naturally on the dog, and it appears to have cropped ears? Would someone go to the trouble to crop a mix breed? I dont wanna be all 'OMG PHOTOSHOP!!!' because it bugs me when people cry that at anything odd; it could just as likely be a real dog, but it did catch my eye as.....suspicious at least. I'd like to see more than the one pic of it.

    6. No, not photoshopped. There's a video of this dog running around in existence. It's definitely cropped and definitely has that big head on its little body. I'm sure if you search for the video you'll find it.

  2. UrbanCollieChick31 January 2015 at 15:45

    People aren't shocked by bassets and corgis primarily because everyone is used to seeing them. They aren't used to seeing a pit head on this long body and those pitiful legs. They are used to seeing them on a more normal build. Ergo..shock.

    It's a form of desensitization. People don't stop to think about what's freakish about a dog being short legged.

    Being used to something however, doesn't make it right.

    Of course I could be wrong. Cats with this same leg mutation are being bred now. Despite its newness, some people clearly like it, or they wouldn't be intentionally continuing this madness and calling the cat a breed. And what could be more lithe and inherently graceful than a cat? Their balance, and jumping and leaping prowess is generally admired by those who love felines. These are among their admirable traits.

    Thankfully scores of cat lovers do find this appalling. Particularly anyone who doesn't give a crap about cat shows.

    Anyone who finds doing this to a cat, or any animal, acceptable, amusing, or CUTE, is someone with a disturbing mindset.

    1. I see the same with American bullies. Even the ones that aren't that extreme, they're just a little... "bully", people will shout "YUK they look like mutated hippos!" "OHMIGOD that's so DISGUSTING! Poor dogs!"
      ...but when they see an English bulldog, with the same (or worse) build but MUCH MUCH worse because of its face, the same people say "yeah that's bad I guess" or even "oooh, they're so cute!"


    2. From what I've seen those short cats are completely dysfunctional.

  3. This is absolutely spot on - as are all the comments.
    It should be widely circulated so that as many people as possible hopefully have the same "Yes, that's so true!!!" moment as I did.

  4. He's not even more jacked up looking than other chondrodysplastic dog. That is to say, he is pretty jacked up looking. I agree, why would anyone deliberately breed a dog like this? *looks over her glasses at the Basset, Corgi, Dachshund, et al breeders*

  5. Boom, there it is.
    Also, how much are you willing to bet that if you point out this hypocrisy to them, they're going to cry: "but breed standard says...!". Because we all know that if something is written is standard, it suddenly makes every deformation normal, healthy and desired.

  6. Spot on Jemima!! Now lets hear the explanations then....

  7. Wow, Jemima, this is such a good blog entry, and the comments above are great, too. The quoted reactions to that photo reveal not only hypocrisy, but also a lack of understanding about domestication, and what dogs really are.

    As I've said, dogs are domesticated wolves that have been with people longer than any other animal (over 30,000 years). In animal science, breeds do matter, but in biology, it's the species level that matters most. All dogs, as well as wolves, belong to the same species, Canis lupus. Replace the word "breed" with the word "population," and you suddenly realize how bizarre it is that domestic wolves these days are usually not allowed to outcross the way wild ones are. In the wild, wolves and other animals (including humans) have an aversion to incest, because it results in inbreeding depression. Domestic wolves, however, are expected to somehow magically be able to engage in incest (euphemistically called "line breeding") without negative effects. Anyone who says they are against crossing or mixing simply does not know what they're talking about. This is especially true given that pure breeds are simply animals selected to breed "true" (i.e. more predictably), which means they're either representatives from a larger landrace gene pool, or else dogs whose history includes mixing, but no longer exhibit variability due to inbreeding.

    For most of the 30,000 years we've kept dogs, they looked like huskies and dingos. Around 5,000 years ago came types such as the sight hound, scent hound, earth dog, and molosser, but still no formal breeds. This obsession with breeds, as Jemima has shown, is a relatively recent problem from only 200 years ago, with pretentiousness and ignorance keeping it firmly in place.

    This dog, Rami, probably is a bit more functional than a modern dachshund, a bit less functional than a pitbull terrier, and with more genetic diversity than either one. He may not have the athleticism of a pitbull, but he might live longer, and have fewer ailments while he's here. I've always kept mixes of primitive, working, and sporting dogs myself, but this dog represents a refreshing and partial return to the dachshunds of old, who were a lot better off than today's conformation bred ones.

    1. Ha ha Partial return to the Dachshunds of old. Thats going to rile a few purists.

      Interesting I didn't know earth dogs or terriers were so ancient, does this mean they come from quite primitive stock?

    2. I would say he's rather less functional than a typical Dachshund, as his heavy head probably throws off his balance. And very, very much less functional than a Pit Bull. His legs are a tad shorter than my own Dachshund's, actually.

  8. Quite Right Jem - another example of blinkered selective outrage - unless of course the mutant happens to be one of a "favoured breed". It seems OK to mess around mercilessly with some animals, but not with others. I wonder why? Might it have something to do with show prestige and

  9. Really are you trying to do anything to get a reaction and make out to the national press that you should be paid even more to spout your drivel just before Crufts, well it was shown over time just what a hack you really was, the BBC dropped you, the much trumpeted film work dried up, the various panels and committee learned your more about fiction than facts. What a long was you fallen since you would wonder around Crufts "undercover" with photographer in tow and list of pre written sound bites.

    1. Really Anonymous 00:45, is that all you have to offer, a personal attack. The fact that you even care to comment on here, means she obviously is rattling your cage. If what you say is so, why are you here, wasting your time spitting vitriol at her ?

  10. And not even accurate vitriol. I'm in the middle of making a major television series for the BBC, to be broadcast in 2016, and I've never gone "undercover" to Crufts with a photographer in tow.

    1. Which just makes anonymous 00:45 look incredibly stupid!

    2. Is it about torture breeding? Because we need the psychos responsible to be held accountable. Such a brilliant blog post. It was an undercover test for the people who are deeply afflicted with the cognitive bias related to dog breeding. The breed standard was created by humans you fools! These people follow the 'rules' like lambs to the slaughter unable to think critically or evaluate or honestly assess the practices they blindly sign up to.

      Sad and disturbing. It's the dogs who suffer while they get the absurd 'glory' bestowed by the show ring.

    3. Ya I don't yet people like Vitriol. Quiet honestly I wish someone would go under cover camera in brief case stylie. I just fail to see what all the secrecy is about.

      Why secrecy at the vet check, why is permission needed for filming for example? No ones much bothers if you film the vet inspection at an eventing competition, everyone's got their phones out filming and taking pictures.

      All a bit troubling if you ask me. Maybe the whole damn thing is a sham.

  11. Just listening to Caroline Kisko telling people that cross breeding is a dangerous thing to do on Radio 4. Apparently, the Corgi is now a vulnerable breed.
    'Let's hear it for the Corgi, but not the Dorgi'. This was on the Today programme today....

    Please, please stop this madness....

    1. The funny thing is the danger is because they have bred such unhealthy pure breeds. If all dog breeds were healthy and functional, there would not be no more danger and in most cases less danger than pure breeding. I think she might be trying to tell us, "Because we have made such a bloody fine mess of pure breeding totally tunneled visioned to anything else, that pure breeds are not healthy enough and it would be dangerous to use them in cross breeding" Lol

    2. Sort of a home goal for the KC to say, "cross breeding is dangerous" because the danger lies in the fact you use pure breeds, so the danger must be that pure breeds are unhealthy dogs.

    3. However, she wants everyone to go to Crufts and find out about Corgis so that they can buy one....even though she did actually mention about such low numbers reducing genetic diversity and increasing risk of disease burden etc. What foolish behaviour.....she is basically trying to drum up demand when they don't have the population to sustain it! She had a breeder on with her insisting she will only breed pure breds too. But, it's OK for the Queen to breed Dorgis, by the way Because she is the Queen (FFS!). It was an embarrassment to listen to.

      The poor old labraoodle fanciers got a good slagging off 'They don't screen for diseases.'

  12. Um, surely the shock is the disparity between the size of the head and the size of the body, and not just that the dog has short legs?

    Interesting to note that a Pembroke Welsh Corgi just won his 12 inch class in agility at the Westminster dog show, beating out lots of normal-legged dogs. Another Corgi came in 4th in the 8 inch class. Poor things, so terribly handicapped by their short legs that they can't.... well, they can't, you know, do.... whatever. Lots and lots and lots of Corgis have their MACH title. While they have an increased risk of arthritis, the fact is that fewer Corgis than people have arthritis. So it is very tough to argue on practical merits that breeding them is somehow wrong.

    1. The cross breed dog is not stood very well, unlike the photos of the show dogs, which is probably why the head looks even more out of proportion. I suspect stood more square, it would look no more extreme than the Corgi or Basset, both breeds have been bred with shorter and shorter legs without reduction in body head size. Which in the long term for most cannot be for the best. You will always find exceptions to the rule, but for those few, is it okay to have the majority suffer ?

    2. What planet do you inhabit!?

      The fact that fewer Corgis than people have arthritis are not viable comparators! It is the prevalence within the population that is significant.

      I mean, how many Corgis are on the planet compared to people!?

      Talk about biased...and inaccurate! Gross...

    3. Yaaaay! That's ok then. That pointless anecdote means that it's absolutely ok to continue with Victorian eugenics to breed dysfunctional and deformed dogs that are aesthetically appealing to a warped human minority.


      Forgive me for searching the internet for questionable evidence but many more dogs develop osteoarthritis (20%) compared to humans (7%). Also, you can't compare Corgi's (breed) to people (humans - species). It's just silly and inaccurate. You are clutching at straws trying to justify breeding knowingly deformed dogs.

    5. Anonymous 14:14, most people will develop arthritis if they live long enough. Not just 7%. Not sure where you got those bad statistics.

      "Advancing age is one of the strongest risk factors for OA. The condition rarely occurs in people younger than age 40, but at least 80 percent of people over age 55 have some x-ray evidence of the disorder. However, not all people with arthritis on an x-ray have joint pain or other joint problems" Who's clutching at straws again?

    6. Oh dear. There are many different data sources for arthritis related stats, so case definitions and terminology can vary.

      The CDC state that nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic OA by age 85 years. 2 in 3 people who are obese may develop symptomatic knee OA in their lifetime. 1 in 4 people may develop painful hip arthritis in their lifetime. As for the prevalence, well that seems to vary....

      Interview Survey (NHIS)(1), an estimated
      52.5 million (22.7%) of adults have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

      22.7 million (9.8% of all adults) have arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation.
      Based on 2003 NHIS data (2) a projected
      67 million (25%) adults aged 18 years or older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2030.

      An estimated 37% (25 million adults) of those with arthritis will report arthritis-attributable activity limitations by the year 2030.

      I think IT DEPENDS. But the point being that comparing the knowingly deformed Corgi dog breed to the average human population species is pretty silly. Different animals and different life expectancies!

    7. Anon, the point is that it's very hard to get people riled up because a dog MIGHT get arthritis in its old age when most people do get arthritis in their old age. Originally this blog railed about extreme dogs who cannot function. It's morally fairly high ground to argue that one should not breed a dog who is guaranteed not to breathe properly ever, at any age, due to an intentional foreshortening of its face to such an extreme that it can't tolerate temperatures above 70F. It's morally high ground to argue that the extreme backends of German Shepherds, which prevent them from standing without trembling limbs, is wrong.

      But how can we argue that it's morally unacceptable to breed a dog who MIGHT get arthritis in old age when many (most) Corgis are active without symptomatic arthritis til they die of something else? What percent increase in risk is unacceptable? Many dogs of many backgrounds will get symptomatic arthritis, just as many people will. Who is the arbiter that gets to decide what percent increased risk is not acceptable?

      Corgis are active, athletic, go-getters of the dog world. They are in the AKC top 10 for agility dogs. Many are still competing into fairly old age. The Corgi I linked that won at Westminster is either 7 or 8. My own eight-year-old is never sore after any activity level and we've done agility; my 10 year old is not so lucky but she had two bad falls on the stairs due to issues that have nothing to do with her being a Corgi and I believe she injured her back as a result. But still until she was 10 she at most would be a little stiff for a half day after hikes over 3 or 4 miles (as the people travel). Is that a reason that a dog should never exist?

      Every breeding decision increases risks of some things and decreases risks of others. It's not a zero-sum game. The problem with starting down the path of what is and is not ok is that a lot of times the only fair conclusion is that we should not purpose-breed animals at all. But had we not done so, we could not keep dogs.

      I once posted here a long list of mutts that I personally knew with an equally long list of health problems with known genetic risk--- wobblers, glaucoma, hip dysplasia, torn knee ligaments, and so on. I was actually accused of making it up, because of course my stories did not match the general thought around here that pedigree dog= genetic disaster, mutt= genetic gold. EVERY dog has increased genetic risk for some things and decreased genetic risk for others. To say we should not breed dogs whose very form means they can't function is one thing. To say we should not breed dogs who have increased risk of already common maladies is to start down a slippery slope with no real way to hit the breaks.

      Jemima wrote multiple blogs singing the praises of the Albany bassets. And now she writes this one. The two points of view cannot be reconciled. I supported her original view of the bassets more or less completely-- that would be that Bassets should be bred with a form that fits their function. I cannot support her current view, which seems to be that since Bassets are dwarf dogs, they should not be bred.

    8. Beth, the point of this particular post was to point out the disconnect in people's thinking - i.e. that if they're shocked by the pit x then they should also be shocked by other dwarf breeds.

      My view is unchanged. When breeding imposes welfare issues on the dog, it should be questioned. Chondrodysplasia is a disease. We would not deliberately breed humans with it because the cost is obvious and all dwarf breeds of dogs are handicapped to some extent.

      Clearly, however, some dwarf breeds - and some individuals within those breeds - are much more compromised than others. My beef has always been with the way the show-ring picks up on those breed-defining features -- short legs, long backs, loose skin - and turns them into a fetish.

      I praise the Albany Bassets because they present a healthier template.

      So no, I am not saying that since Bassets or Corgis are dwarf dogs they should not be bred. I'm saying that great care needs to be taken when doing so so as not to impose too great a welfare burden on the dog.

    9. Why would anyone want to deliberately breed a dwarf dog? Function purposes? Most little dogs are pets right? So, breeding a Corgi for function (nipping at the heels of cattle) is no longer a valid reason to select for chondroplasia.

      Please explain what the biological advantage is for selecting for chondroplasia is and also why having a dwarf dog is of benefit to the people who keep them as pets (perhaps easier to 'pick up' the dog or easier to manage socially?) Pretty lame excuse, pardon the pun.

      Most importantly, why is being deliberately bred to be a dwarf of genetic advantage to the domestic canine species as a whole.

      It isn't is it? So, the reasoning for selecting dwarves as dogs is a purely human selfish reason. Just admit that you think it's OK to manipulate the canine genome to suit the human beings requirements and I may engage with you with a little more respect.

      Because that is what it boils down to. Some people respect nature and animal welfare and do not actually believe that it's OK to do what the hell you want to our companion animals to suit an aesthetic whim.

      And as far as I am concerned, the people who DO choose to do whatever they want in this regard and brush it off as 'it's OK! because some of these dogs can trek 90 miles in the heat.' blah blah blah and continue to justify their choices are part of the problem and always will be when it comes to animal welfare.

  13. Clearly, dwarfism has ruined this dog's athleticism:

    1. Not yet it hasn't but give it time.

  14. Since one could argue that Keebler is clearly not a "typey" Corgi---he's lighter in the body and longer in the leg than most of the show ring dogs--- here is a show-type Corgi running agility. Just a random pick from You Tube:

    1. Sorry, that's so funny. That you think a dog jumping barely a foot, climbing a ramp or two and going in and out of some sticks shows it's exactly what, it's on on the low end of what a dog can do. One thing all dogs should have is stamina and all this shows is the dog can jump low things, climb ramps and duck in and out of things.
      By the way most dogs 12 inches and under have some form of dwarfism, so the comment above about, "beating out lots of normal-legged dogs" is probably incorrect.
      A dog running for around thirty five seconds going over and through what should be easy objects for a dog is hardly a test of a dogs athleticism.This should be a dog just getting warmed up to be athletic lol

    2. Let's just pick random YouTube clips from the Internet to 'prove' my point. The fact is that breeding dogs deliberately with known deformities is not akin to good breeding! Regardless of the fact that there is breed standard, and let's face it, how many Corgis work anyway? They are bred as cute looking pets. Deformed is not cute to normal, empathetic human beings

    3. I have a three legged dog (She lost it through an accident). She could easily do that agility course with only three legs and she is only 10 inches at the shoulder, but I know that only having three legs, her active life, due to the uneven strain on her pelvis will be shortened.
      Severe Dwarfism is similar, it will shorten the active lifetime of a dog in the majority of cases.Does not mean a dog dwarfism cannot be active, but it's about how long they can be active for.

    4. The point is that you didn't knowingly breed the dog with three legs!

    5. The other point is I don't think that just because she has three legs and can get around an agility course (as above), I should start breeding dogs with three legs, as I would not think it okay to breed dogs deliberately with dwarfism.

      People think she's incredible cute with just three legs, maybe I should ? I am being sarcastic with that remark. Of course you should not breed something into a dog just because it's cute and you know will cause the dog suffering in the long run.

    6. Exactly! Deformity is not cute or desirable. It leaves animals vulnerable and susceptible to suffering, either by disease or restrictive movement. Using a YouTube clip to verify that Corgis are fine because there are examples of them clearing an agility course is twisting facts to fit warped theories.

  15. Personally I think the most important issue is about extremes, and it's just one issue amongst many facing pedigree dogs bred for the show ring. A corgi who manages to do an obstacle course is doing well, no doubt about it and deserves high praise given its handicap.

    I saw a black and tan Dachshund on the beach in Australia and not having seen a Dachshund in a long time I found it very strange. My companion who has never been exposed to pedigree dogs exposed or any of the issues facing pedigree dogs turned to me as I silently watched the dog and exclaimed loudly "it looks just like a seal".
    A standard Dachshund, it could barely make its way through the sand on its tiny legs and deep keel. Its back end was making a ditch as it ploughed and its tiny front "legs" were frantically trying to pull it along, its head bobbing up and down in the extreme effort. All the other dogs on the beach were sprinting backwards and forwards around it including assorted quite short but not extreme JRTS who easily kept up with the most athletic long legged dogs there.

    The dachshund did look like a shiny seal even moved the way seals move on land. If it had flippers instead of useless legs it might even have been able to swim. To me it just looked deformed and was battling the elements as a result. Its tiny legs and deep body where just useless. This dog we later learnt was a retired champion of its kind in the show ring. Having said that working bred dachshunds don't have this problem, they are taller and have less of a keel.

    "General appearance" as stated on the AKC (for example) standard states "Low to the ground". So the lower the better it seems. Lowish might be a healthier requirement.

    For me one of the most shocking elements facing pedigree animals is inbreeding and line breeding, though.

    Where I was staying there were two pedigree Siamese cats brothers. One had won a ribbon as a youngster. I was truly shocked at how inbred they were. They both suffered from assorted problems. One couldn't keep its eyes still they sort of flickered around in its head, it had problems keeping on any weight so always looked thin and at deaths door. The other was completely neurotic the slightest sound or movement and it would leap across the room flinging itself off the walls, it also had immunity problems so it always had a runny nose. Just so sad so extremely sad. These had both won ribbons as youngsters at cat shows I was "reassured".

    I often see Siamese cats in Thailand when Im there on business mostly feral city cats and they look and behave nothing like these. Beautiful cats functional cats, thrifty cats without any of the exaggerations. In type just slightly smaller or finer than most domestic cats you see in Europe.

    1. A corgi who manages to clear an obstacle course deserves high praise indeed. Really?

      Fact is, the dog doesn't understand it's a dwarf does it? It's simply doing the best it can with what it has got,

      The point surely is to question why we continue to breed knowingly deformed dogs for our bloody entertainment!

    2. In the case of the corgi it was always meant to be an athletic dog, its a cow herder remember, nipping at the heels of cattle. Being short and athletic was what was needed. Nothing to do with entertainment.

      Obviously 'most' show bred corgies couldn't herd cattle anymore so yes any corgis that are still athletic deserve praise, these types should be encouraged and bred for rather than to strict standards and confirmation classes that place emphasis on extreme of type rather.

      A corgi has a type of dwarfism so do all small dogs mixes or otherwise, are you suggesting we shouldnt have small dogs at all? I don't agree I think small dogs are very important part of the dog world not least because so many people live in small places these days but they also make very good working dogs.

      To me a completely dysfunctional show basset hound barely able to run never mind walk is a traversty but a working basset line able to follow horses is not. Yes they both have the same form of dwarfism one is just bred for more extremes than the other.

    3. There are degrees of the dwarfism type causing short legs. For example the very active and athletic Swedish Valhund has longer legs than corgis, but then Corgis going back in time had longer legs including champion ones. The advantage I suppose was for the humans to have a low to ground dog to go under gates and to heel cattle.

      Many of the hound breeds are short legged (so that people on foot could hunt with them) like the PBGV, but not so short legged to be labelled deformed or handicapped by most people.

      Many terrier breeds are short legged, as of course are Dachshunds, for going to ground. Sadly this trait has been exaggerated in some breeds. Working Dachs and continental ones I have seen too, for example have leg lwenth more agin to a JRT.

  16. Clearly none of you know any actual Corgis. A 12 inch Corgi beating every other dog in its size in agility at Westminster, our biggest dog show, is no small feat. The size of the jumps is the size ALL dogs that height jump. Sure some Corgis run in preferred (4 inches lower than their shoulder height) but this one and many others run in open competition. Getting a MACH on any dog is a sign of a major performance accomplishment and lots of Corgis earn their MACH title. In fact Corgis are one of the most popular breeds to run agility here in the States because they are exceptionally athletic. So the argument that dwarfism ruins athleticism is easily disproven. My Corgis can outrun a labrador but not a pointer. They are very fast. Corgis excel at many other sports such as tracking and flyball.

    1. Clearly none of you know any actual Corgis.

      Why do you jump to that conclusion? Because we don't agree with you? I know plenty of these dogs having worked with a breeder in the past. Like all dogs, they are wonderful and yes they have drive and are ken as mustard to work, play and generally love life. We are not disagreeing with any of that. The fact is that dogs with dwarfism are handicapped, we know it and we continue to do so knowing it's an abnormality. That's just not healthy cognitive processing by the human beings! It's flawed, warped and pretty damned selfish.

      I had dachshunds when I didn't know better. One lived to be 17. However, I fully acknowledge that just because one lived to be17 that doesn't make it ok to continue to breed an animal that is deformed and compromised, despite them having an amazing character that may suggest that they are absolutely fine with all we inflict on them.

      If you justify breeding animals in this regard, you are behaving selfishly and are making excuses for manipulating nature to suit your thinking.

    2. Beth, stop making me laugh, A Corgi running up and down (about twenty metres) jumping about half a foot is an example of of being exceptionally athletic.
      I'm sure they can be fast over a few meters because you have a lot more dog to leg, but I doubt they could keep up with a healthy fit working Labrador all day.

    3. "In fact Corgis are one of the most popular breeds to run agility with in the states......."

      So corgis aren't as endangered as we are led to believe? I saw an article about how endangered the queens prefered dawgs were and was quite surprised myself. In our local dog rescue there are at least six looking for homes right now.

      I don't believe we should be extremist in our thinking about short and small dogs myself. I don't think Dachshunds are neccesarily all a traversty, because they're not, nor are they all particularily "handicapped".

      I think Anon@11:16 and others need to put this issue into perspective. If I could find a decent line of working mini dachshunds in my neck of the woods I would snap them up and be extremely proud of them. No I wouldnt expect them to keep up with a grey hound or cover terraine a foxhound might but nor would I expect a grey hound or lurcher to go down a hole or fit under my arm.

      Yes they are a type of dwarf but they don't suffer from it at all unless they're inbred show bred for conformation extremes, those are mini bassets and have problems even running.

  17. Someone said stamina. Ok, let's talk stamina. I post on a Corgi board and one of the biggest issues that comes up year in and year out is "How do I tire out my Corgi?" They have tons of stamina. They are not built to run full speed for long distances, but can trot all day. I have yet to tire out my 8 year old. We've gone on 4 mile hikes where the off-leash dogs easily travel 2 to 3 times that distance and after a half-hour power nap, he's dropping tennis balls at my feet to play again. He still has the energy of a two-year-old. Someone we know online regularly does backwoods multi-day hikes over dozens of miles, including above the treeline, with his two showline Pembrokes. He did 90 miles in 9 days with one. With the other, he once did 23 miles in 14 hours with 9000 feet gain in elevation as part of a three--day hike. So please do your homework before making assumptions.

    1. Christ on a bike. You really don't get it do you?

      Have you actually read the remit of this blog? I wonder why you continue to post such defensive anecdotes if people's concerns about breeding deformed dogs is all just rubbish.

    2. The dogs have the drive to work and high energy levels. They have been selectively bred for those behaviour traits. The musculoskeletal health problems with Corgis dwarfism are very well documented. Do you deny this?

      These dogs do not know any different do they? They are not self aware and even have the ability to contemplate a handicap! Just because they can keep up on treks is not justification for breeding anatomical and physiological deformities in these type of dogs! You really are missing the point...

    3. Im not sure anecdotal evidence about someones show line Pembrokes is enough to convince me that show bred Corgis are athletic and have stamina but I guess they have a lot more than show bred basset hounds or mastiffs.


    1. A photo of a dog Corgi dressed up. And your point is exactly what ?

  19. Folks, there is a very good reason this blog used to get hundreds of posts from a broad cross section and now gets a few dozen from a group who seems to be against breeding any dogs, period. This is a post by Jemima from not so long ago, where she praises the (dwarfed) Albany Bassets. Now she seems to think no one should have ANY Bassets because they are dwarfs:

    You folks name-call anyone who does not support your very narrow view of what is and is not ok in the world of dogs. EVERY dog, mutt or purebred, is a mutant compared to the wolf. Most every dog trait out there has pros and cons. Corgis are more prone to arthritis and IVDD due to dwarfism, but most live long healthy lives. The pros are they corner better, are better on hills, and need less food than a full-height dog. But every dog is a mutant. Dogs with down ears are more prone to ear infection (painful) than dogs with prick ears. So let's say anyone who breeds down-ear dogs is not concerned with welfare and is obviously delusional. Small dogs live the longest of all dogs, on average, but are more prone to luxating patella and dental problems because of their size. So we should only breed small dogs because they live the longest. Or wait, maybe we should NEVER breed small dogs because of knees and teeth? Larger dogs live shorter lives than medium ones, so clearly anyone who breeds a dog more than 60 pounds just doesn't know any better and is handicapping their dog. And dogs with very short coats can't handle the weather extreme of wolf-coated dogs, so let's get rid of those. But longer coats can get tangled and cause skin problems, so let's get rid of those. And so on. And if you DON'T agree with me, clearly you are just defensive and ill-informed and frankly don't know any better.

    And when Jemima sang the praises of the Albany Bassets, why she was correct of course because she said so. But now when she says dwarf dogs are some sort of disgrace and shouldn't be bred (did she tell the Albany Basset people this?) clearly she's right because she said so.

    And when people post anecdotes y'all agree with, well of course those anecdotes are valuable. But when they post anecdotes you DON'T agree with, they are just feeding their own delusions and selfishness. And if a Corgi can hike 90 miles in 9 days that just proves nothing because the poor dwarf dogs don't know any better, and the fact that the dogs are happy and sound at 10 and 11 is indicative of nothing because you folks say so, that's why.

    And none of it has anything to do with something called confirmation bias, where you just find information you agree with and reject what you don't. Oh no, because you are all just right and everyone else is wrong.

    And the fact that this was once a thoughtful blog about more careful breeding but has now turned into a dumping ground for people who bash just about everything to do with purebred dogs is the saddest part of it all.

    1. Agreed.

      A show basset is an extreme, a working one isn't, yes both are very obviously dwarves, one is very much more functional the other.

      "Working" is obviously also not the only function dogs have, being a companion is as important a function as any other.

      We shouldn't be breeding dysfunctional dogs be they dwarves, or giants? Extremes of anything. I wont keep a very large heavy breed dog again. I was devastated when mine died age seven, dogs live short enough lives as it is. Am I biased, yes it was heartbreaking. A dog has a right to a long and normal life everything going well so does a horse, so Im at odds with the dog racing industry and horse racing industry for example.

      Yet Im quite happy to eat a chunk of beef from a young bullock, though not a dwarf one and preferably organic free range grass fed (: You have to laugh.

      Seems we are a very complex, contradiction prone species fumbling through life.

    2. Sad. Usually when people blurt out huge diatribes they are defending their own inadequacies in their thinking and reasoning and clearly this is happening here.

      All dogs are mutants. What a bizarre statement indeed. This is an irrational post.

      I think you really misunderstand that wanting to move away from purebred (which is a 19th century term and practice) and focus on wellbred is the right thing to do for the welfare of pet dogs. This blog challenges that belief system and some people take it personally.

      That is the saddest thing of all

    3. Beth, if you are produced from sexual reproduction, you are a mutant. asexual reproduction creates a duplicate of it's parent, but sexual reproduction takes two, so something between the two is created, thus not a duplicate of either parent, so even you are a mutant. Might pay to read up on genetics.

      Arthritis is an awful thing to bare and I personally would take any of the other conditions you mention above over the continual pain of arthritis.

      Can I ask why you want a dog to corner better and go up hill better like climbing ramps, would it be so you can win more often doing agility ?

    4. 'EVERY dog, mutt or purebred, is a mutant compared to the wolf.'

      Hmmmm…..not sure what THAT is really supposed to mean in this context? The dog’s evolution from the grey wolf was tied to the development of its temperament and function as it lived alongside human beings. It was ‘selectively bred’ at that time to a standard for perfectly rational and logical reasons:

      ‘It won’t kill me and it’s hardy to trek alongside me while we forage and as it takes time to build a bond, I want it to live for as long as possible.’ i.e. healthy and functional.

      This was aeons before extremes of confirmation were enforced on the dog during the Victorian era when the human conditioning of breed standards and its associated damaging ideology took root in our culture. We have been conditioned that canine breed standards are ‘correct’ and should be upheld. Based on what evidence exactly? Why on earth should that not EVER be questioned in the light of empirical evidence, welfare concerns and rational thinking based on evolutionary biology?

      We know that all dogs regardless of ‘breed’ descended from mutts and Ray Coppinger passionately argued at the last SPARCS meeting he attended that in most parts of the world there are no mutts and there are no pedigree dogs. There are just dogs. And those dogs are fit for their purpose.

      It's the last couple of hundred years in particular that has buggered our dogs up as our breed ideology has been interpreted to an extremity by a lot of people who gain personal intrinsic satisfaction for breeding dogs that they regard as aesthetically pleasing. They are then reinforced for this by showing them off and winning prizes. This is illogical and arguable cruel when you are breeding dogs that are genetically unhealthy and end up physically sick as a result.

      I would argue that there is nothing wrong with breed standards, providing health and temperament are at the forefront, of which most currently are not. They are based on confirmation and not function. For pet and working dogs, that is not a rational process to be breeding dogs by, given that in the 21st century, they are finding it harder than ever to cope with the demands of our modern life. Why is it wrong to question the status quo? Times have changed. Dog’s functionality is primarily as a pet. They should be allowed to be selectively bred so that their welfare is number 1 priority. That is what the breed standard should reflect. Wellbred, not purebred.

      Crikey, call me empathetic!

      The crux of the issue at hand as I understand, is that selectively breeding for abnormalities within a closed gene pool are detrimental to the welfare of the animal. Not to mention the future of the breed, the Corgi is an example of 'vulnerable' status and perhaps will not see another 100 years.

      People should not be shouted down for seriously questioning why people want to selectively breed an abnormality into a breed of dog within a closed gene pool! It’s perfectly rational to question this practice, knowing that the abnormality causes a handicap which is of no benefit to the dog.

      What did the show ring do for dogs?

      It buggered them up....

    5. Some contradictions there @13 54.

      We are no longer hunters and gatherers with wolf like dogs hanging around in the shadows. Yes times have certainly changed.

      Dogs are bred for pure sporting purposes well beyond hunting, protection etc and very specific working purposes including hunting, companion etc.

      I don't agree with dogs been bred as show animals as they suffer the consequences of breeding to standards within closed registers for ever more desirable (winning) extremes attained by inbreeding which destroys their ability to function as dogs.

      Every pedigree dogs is abnormal compared to the the blue print the grey wolf, though.

      Should a sniffer dog be burdened with a heightened sense of smell and look like a bag of bones, should a grey hound run so fast and look like a hare, should a earth dog be so small it can fit down a hole and under an arm, a lap dog fit on a lap, a goofy retriever just retrieve, a neurotic Border collie who just wants to herd...........well yes why not unless it represents a welfare issue.

      The grey wolf is none of these things of course, physically and mentally we have changed, moulded and shaped the domestic dog.

      Some shapes and styles and functions have ended others have been taken over primarily as companion dogs but a lot of the very worst have become fashion and status symbols, rarity and extremes etc where the animal and its welfare are less important than what it looks like, showing dogs......

      I think this blog has done a lot to focus on these sad animals and here at least people shouldn't be looking at all pedigree dogs as though they are completely worthless. There is an organisation and plenty of blogging opportunity over at PETA for people who think such, and fair enough I dont think we should discount their arguments completely either.

      Unless Corgis are arthritic cripples living in any kind of pain Im not so worried for them quite honestly, but that doesn't mean there should be complacency either. Stoicism as a cover can be ruled out by a simple xray, that will tell us immediately if the breed is unsound in any way due to its build. If that is the case then yes the way we breed Corgis should change IMO.

      The comparison with human dwarves is not all that ideal when looking at corgis or perhaps dogs in general, though the pug model comes quite close. Now there is a dwarf with welfare issues second to none and it doesn't even have particularly short legs.

    6. 'I think this blog has done a lot to focus on these sad animals and here at least people shouldn't be looking at all pedigree dogs as though they are completely worthless. There is an organisation and plenty of blogging opportunity over at PETA for people who think such, and fair enough I dont think we should discount their arguments completely either.'

      I said there is nothing wrong with breed standards. IF, they are done with welfare as a priority. Humane treatment and consideration of animals does not necessarily make me a PETA advocate does it? I am all for selective breeding but the pedigree/purity mentality implies a false ‘genetic purity’ of which there has developed a ridiculous ideology where people actually think breeds of dogs are some sort of sacred shrine to worship and must never be cross bred (back to Caroline Kisko and her Corgi cronies on Radio 4). And if you challenge it, some people get very defensive. THAT is the scariest thing of all....Everything should be up for question here. That is how we progress as human beings.
      Every pedigree dog is 'abnormal' compared to the blueprint of the grey wolf.' What do you mean by that statement?

      The dog developed from the grey wolf (evidence suggests). Dogs today are not wolves as behaviourally, socially and physically they are very different. Genetically, one could argue they are the same. But then we share 98% of our DNA with chimps but we split from our common ancestor about 13 million years ago. We are not chimps are we? We know how breeding foxes for tameness changed their physical appearance don’t we? Of course dogs have evolved to not look like their ancestors. We have an understanding of evolutionary biology and the point of our knowledge, education and understanding is to ensure that physical deformities, particularly exaggerated ones, are not selected for in breeding programmes when there is plenty of evidence that it causes all types of dogs’ pain and suffering. Surely, it doesn't matter what the dog looks like if it is healthy, functional and has not had deliberate abnormalities bred into it to make it look 'attractive' as per breed standard.

      These are just pedantic points based on perceived inaccuracies. Let’s stick to the point. Seriously, what does it say about a human being who insists that a dog has no tail and is a dwarf because you like the way it looks….
      What I am challenging is that it is better for the domestic canine species if we consider a rational alternative to the purebred/pedigree/breed mentality and think about dogs as a species and take responsibility that their functional, health and welfare requirements are fit for the 21st century. Otherwise, they will not survive beyond it.

    7. Yes I agree with what you are saying.

      I don't like breed standards, though. These do for the most cause a lot of problems for pedigree dogs and other animals in the world of showing. Less is definitely more in this case. Breed standards where written with a picture in mind of the perfect dog unfortunately and not for the perfectly functioning dog. Most standards followed or rather immediately before registration into kennel clubs for the purposes of showing. Broader, looser standards for working dogs are far more preferable they allow for greater variety in type as long as the dog was/is also suited for the job primarily of being a dog.

      I think there is a an alternative to breeding dogs for showing that produces perfectly happy sound functional dogs be they for pets and companions or for sniffing out drugs at the airport whatever the breed.

      PETA I think has a place too, there is a lot of extremism there obviously but many of their arguments are in fact based around the simple and correct premiss that animals are not on this planet simply to be of use to Humans. Its quite an advanced argument if you ask me. Im sure we would understand it better if there was another species controlling and breeding us, its not difficult making that leap in imagination.

      I grew up riding horses to me a horse was an animal to be ridden as naturally as a carrot was to be eaten. But its of course not at all natural to be sitting on a horses back, not for the horse as I grew up believing and many many horses suffer as a result of this erroneous thinking. I don't believe we shouldn't ride horses as PETA might but we owe it to the horse to make sure sitting on its back is as acceptable to the horse as possible, even if this goes against traditional or establishment held views. Just as our dogs should not be suffering because of the way we thought was a good way to breed them not when we know its the wrong way.

      We do need to question as you say and all the time. Is there a better way forward so animals aren't the ones suffering. Why do elephants have to be tortured into submission when you can train them perfectly well using positive reinforcement, why does a French bulldog's nose and throat have to be blocked so it can't breath why......? Because thats the way its always been done in Aisia because those are the dogs winning in shows??? No way.

  20. Clearly there is nothing wrong with breeding small dogs as many live a long healthy life with very few problems, clearly there is a big problem with breeding for extremes in any size dog be it flatness of face, size or depth of keel length of leg etc.

    Beth is absolutely right IMO unless the dog is exactly the height size and weight of a wild wolf its been moulded by humans for whatever reason.

    This article to me makes a lot of sense. Not all of the breeds in these categories (one or more) do I find alarming on welfare grounds. Absolutely not.

    Not all small dogs have teeth problems or breathing problems or arthritis problems or sight problems....they just don't, many have no problems if they are well bred and don't have extremes to cope with.

    Many do have problems. A showing Pekingese for example is a travesty no question. Its not Pedigree dogs its how they are bred.

    1. Small doesn't necessarily mean dwarf!

    2. Well it does, yes. All small dogs are dwarfs of some type or other.

      Some large breeds throw dwarfs. German shepherds do for example and its quite common with line breeding. These pups mostly after a few months die young, all their hair falls out and their skin has no elasticity, hard and cracks easily.

      Why other pituitary or proportional dwarfs thrive for generations and generations hundreds of years as breeds even I don't know. Achondroplastic dwarfs with more or less normal sized torsos and heads but short legs do too, like corgis, bassets and standard Dachshunds.

      I suppose its all in the degree of dwarfism and type, how much hormone a dog needs to either thrive normally or perish.

  21. A comment for Beth.

    See Anna's post on recent 'Vet checks' blog post on here regarding Corgi's. Scroll down to the bottom of the posts.....a Finnish Corgi owner who it would seem has a more pragmatic, honest and realistic viewpoint on the state of the breed IMO.

    1. Yes it is all about how they're bred. This issue brings up standards also as mentioned @16 53 and else where on Jeminas blog.

      A large, big headed, heavy corgi, keel almost on the floor because of tiny stumps of legs, with a visualy at least extreme long back apparently causes problems and it wouldn't be difficult seeing why, just as it causes showing bassets problems.

      This brings us back to this blog entry of course and the pitbull with the tiny legs, yes no less shocking, even if in my opinon its going to be quite a functional dog because of the injection of the highly game and capable pit in there.

      But what about a corgi with a proportional head (like the one pictured above) whose legs aren't extremely compressed and which is more square than low rectangle an fully functional and sound? In my honest opinion it could do with a tail too. But what about a working type corgi bred for things like agility rather than the show bench?

      This is where standards and adhereing to them too religeously for reference in the showing animal lets breeds down, inbreeding to fix those winning extremes etc etc.

    2. I agree with Beth. The shock is the mismatch between Pit bull head & Dachshund body.
      Dachshunds are obviously not able to do the same things as Shelties, but neither can Shelties do the same work as German Shepherds.

      Original Dachshunds were bred for function, & were quite athletic. Indeed, my first dog, a 15lb. Dachshund, could outrun me until I was a teenager. Notice the weight- at that size he was neither Standard nor Mini, so could never have been shown. He was working/pet bred.

      Not all short-legged dogs are disabled, it's breeding for ever shorter legs & ever longer backs that did the real damage.