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To Breed for the AKC Standards or Not



dog show judgingDogs are great. Simple, effective, and true for a vast number of pet owners. If you’re here on DogBreedsInfo, you probably have an affinity toward dogs and want to learn more about them in any way possible. But along with learning about dogs comes learning about the different breeds, and that general curiosity to learn can give way to something a bit more in the moral grey area: Determining the AKC breed standards. Should you be actively breeding your dogs to live up to these standards? Here’s something that may make you think long and hard about this.

The AKC, the American Kennel Club, is a group that regulates which dog breeds are considered official and which are just variations, as well as determine what features accentuate a particular breed and how points are assigned accordingly during the most prestigious dog shows.

Liking certain features on a dog is perfectly harmless of course. Like short tails? Plenty of dogs have naturally short tails. Like floppy ears? Plenty of dogs have those, too. It’s when we get into the realm of breeding where our love of these features can become a problem. Ask yourself if you like dogs with short snouts, like bulldogs. Did you know that dogs with short snouts consistently have trouble breathing? Now think hard about whether you want to breed that feature into future dogs. If you do, is it because you want it, or because it actually helps your dog?

Shockingly, a lot of the breed standards the AKC has determined actually have negative effects on the health of the breed. Wrinkly skin, for example, is encouraged on many breeds, but this causes an increase in skin problems and itchiness. The aforementioned short snouts result in breathing problems. Many breeds suffer from back problems as they’re bred to be longer and have shorter legs.

Most worth noting is that to be purebred, a dog must have parents that are also purebreds, resulting in only one breed mating over and over again. Rather than strengthen the breed, this causes serious health problems as negative aspects remain and become more prevalent. Some breeds are more likely to be prone to certain disease and conditions instead of diversifying and strengthening dogs as a species.

Oddly, when searching for a dog that’s statistically less likely to have health problems and will usually live longer, your best bet is to pick a rescue dog who appears to be a nearly indistinguishable mutt with multiple breeds. Selecting specifically from a purebred breeder will cost thousands of dollars and result in a pet that can indeed be every bit as loving, but may have a lot of inbred disabilities and health problems later down the line.

It all comes down to what you’re looking for. Not all breed standards are negative. Not all breeders are negative either. Demonizing anyone isn’t the answer here as it’s all coming from a place of love for dogs. But it still forces you to consider the ramifications of our actions. Is it right for us to interfere with the breeding process and selectively breed for the purpose of encouraging physical traits? Just please, when you decide, try and take your future dog’s needs into consideration. Do it because you want to see a happy, healthy pooch, not because you like the way their nose wrinkles.


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