Genetic Engineering in a Mongrel Society


Home cocker spaniel
Image via Wikipedia

I find it somewhat bizarre that we live in what is, for all intents and purpose, a ‘mongrel’ society. One that decries any advantage (perceived or actual) based upon birth and breeding and is overtly proactive in enforcing the values of diversity in that society.

We berate any form of  ‘pedigree’ in humans yet, in the dog world, we actively promote selective breeding. Indeed, we appear more than happy to allow almost Nazi tendencies amongst those who breed our dogs.

March is an important time of year for our nation of dog lovers. Hundreds of owners and breaders will this week (8th – 11th March) converge on the NEC Birmingham for Crufts dog Show. However, this annual showcase for all things doggy, is despised by nearly as many people as the number that actually support it. As a lifelong dog owner, of mostly working breeds, I have a tendency to fall into the latter category.

Crufts – A Parade of Genetic Freaks: This week sees the woeful return of Crufts, Britain’s annual genetic-mutant pageant. The entrants in this sad spectacle would not be out of place in a Victorian freak show – except that they’re dogs…(Yvonne Taylor)

The event has a long, many would say, chequered history but today it’s billed by The Kennel Club (KC) as a; “prime opportunity to talk to Assured Breeders, rescue charities and breed experts about how to responsibly buy, train and enjoy life with your dog.” The KC has been working hard to negate the adverse stereotypical images that have haunted dog breeders for years.

The show was first held in 1891 and, apart from a few mainly war years, has been held annually ever since. But many critics of the show view dog breeders with the same levels of disgust that were aimed at the Nazi party during WWII. Hardly surprising I suppose, as over recent years dog breeders have been restricting the canine gene pool with fashion based selective breeding programs. This has resulted in reduced biological fitness and an increased chance of illness in many breeds of dog. These actions are wholly reminiscent of the misguided engineering of a Master Race.

As with many aspects of today’s society, much of it revolves around what is / isn’t fashionable, that and the desire to run with the in crowd. But, the competitive nature of many also means that just as many can’t cope unless they are at the pinnacle of that fashion. It defeats me why so many people, and subsequently their dogs, can’t just be happy in being a little more individual. 

Just as clothes fly off the shelf after Kate has worn them, now interest in the Cocker Spaniel breed has skyrocketed since William and Kate bought Cocker Spaniel, Lupo, at the end of last year…(

Perhaps not every dog breeder is an Adolf Hitler and perhaps finally, those in control at the KC are finally showing more concern about what fashion is doing to our dogs.

When you look at the ‘Breed Standards‘ within many Breed Society websites, the information is generally all about desirable appearance and the aesthetics of a particular breed. The Rottweiler Breed Society is no different to the majority, ‘standards’ have to be published for the dog show world however; I like the notes about the breed at the Rottweiler Club

The breed we share is only given to us in trust.  Every decision we make must be made with the objective of preserving it for generations to come. Ultimately this is how we will be judged.  For if, in the end the breed no more looks, works or thinks like a Rottweiler – what have we gained?

From the early struggles of their foundation through their dramatic rise in popularity, the Rottweiler has had a punishing journey.  Along the way they have given us knowledge and education, unquestioning loyalty and devotion. It is essential that we ensure the breed can continue its journey in safe hands (The Rottweiler Club)

Rottweiler head

Perhaps if that type of ethos and mentality were a little more widespread, especially amongst those who see themselves as ‘custodians’ of a breed, dogs would get a better deal from us humans?

There’s no cash left in the Government pot for a new Dog Diversity Quango but even if there were, given the poor results of any government led ‘social engineering’ in the past, would we really want them interfering any way?