In recent years there has been a surge in demand for ‘designer’ breeds, and crossbreeds, of animals, particularly of dogs.
We believe that all animals should be bred to enjoy a normal life and be able to freely express normal behaviours, which includes being free from pain.
Let’s be clear, not every pedigree dog breed is at risk of suffering from major health defects.
However, the Scottish SPCA, Scotland’s animal welfare charity, does have significant concerns about a certain number of breeds and cross-breeds.
This isn’t scaremongering, it’s a rational response to a fact the Kennel Club recognises itself – that of the 100 or so recognised pedigree breeds around 10 to 15 per cent have severe problems. These issues have also been highlighted by the British Veterinary Association.
Quite simply, we are alarmed at the development of certain breeds, not all pedigrees.
Today, we see King Charles Spaniels with brains too big for the size of their skulls, meaning their brains push against their spinal columns, causing severe pain.
We also see Boxers suffering from epilepsy and Bulldogs hardly able to walk the length of themselves because they are bred in such a way that they are shaped to conform to a certain standard.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to a rare form of deafness, Pugs can have breathing problems and German Shepherds often suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, while their bones do not fit properly, leading to lameness and osteoarthritis.
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St Bernards can have weakened hearts and Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds can die from lung and liver problems.
Again, simply, the fewer of these kinds of dogs which are bred the better.
Mike Flynn is chief superintendent of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals