So you think that Korean Mastiff you imported for a crore made you the top dog in canine circles? Wrong. Not only was it cruel to import a breed that has no business living in this tropical climate, it has been bred in such a way that it’s wrinkly skin will trouble it life long.
Dogs have been bred for centuries to suit our needs. Some for companionship, some to hunt and some to just look cute. In the process, their lifespans have become shorter, filled with health problems. So are strays better? The jury is still out.
At a recent Crufts dog show (one of the most famous dog shows in the world), an award winning German Shepherd got many people worried. The dog had a badly sloping back and wobbly legs. But when vets checked the animal the dog was given a clean bill of health. That is just one of the many problems that breeding has caused.
“Strays have stronger immune systems. In their cases it is natural selection that leads to their breeding, as opposed to humans selecting a breed based on its looks. Because when humans select they don’t really pay attention to the problems that they face,” says veterinary Dr Lakshmi.
Most of the pedigree dogs today can’t give birth to babies without assisted help. Take for instance the bulldog. There hasn’t been a recent case where the breed has been able to deliver babies naturally. Owing to its large head, bulldog puppies are only born through C-sections.
“These days a lot of pet owners want dogs that are cute. Pugs are one of the most bought breeds today. But what makes them cute also adds to their health problems. Their eyes that pop out often cause a lot of problems. They can’t blink completely and the heat leaves the eyes very dry,” adds Dr Lakshmi.
For someone who has owned both pedigrees and a strays, Shaila Mullerpatten believes that both come with their own problems. “With a decent amount of training, both dogs are good. Yes, we have had a Doberman and she did have issues with ‘bloat’, which is a very common problem with the breed. Our Indian breeds on the other hand lived quite long lives without many problems. I don’t think I can choose from either of the breeds.”
But, that doesn’t mean that strays don’t have their problems. Philip B., CEO of Commando Kennels says, “Every dog (pedigrees and strays) have their own set of problems. The thing is that not much study has been done on stray dogs once that is done it will be evident that they also suffer from problems. So, it’s not safe to say that pedigrees alone, suffer from problems.”