Inbreeding has left Golden Retrievers facing early cancer at a rate approaching 70 per cent. We see a close up of the open face of the dog. His tongue extends from his mouth, but he appears at peace.

Inbreeding has left Golden Retrievers facing early cancer at a rate approaching 70 per cent.
Photo Credit: cbc.ca

Inbreeding for status: a helluva way to treat man’s best friend

Having a dog in Canada presents something of a serious challenge.

This Bernese mountain dog was saved after he fell through some ice, but he faces an early death and plenty of pain because of inbreeding. We see a little boy (maybe two or three years old) in pajamas on the right hugging a big, mainly black dog with a white stripe down his forehead. In the background is a garbage bin next to a pinic table.
This Bernese mountain dog was saved after he fell through some ice, but he faces an early death and plenty of pain because of inbreeding. © cbc. ca

In the summer, it’s just fine.

This weekend members of the 35 per cent of Canadian households who have pet dogs will be out walking one or more of the nearly six million pet dogs that live here. A good time will be had by all.

In the winter, not so much.

Getting up at the crack of dawn in minus-10 Celsius temperatures before breakfast and walking and picking up after a pet is an experience that tests one loyality.

Of course, that loyality is a simply a matter of repayment. Dogs, after all, are the creatures that comfort us when we are down and share our joy when we are up.

For a great number of us, dogs really are man’s best friend.

Insurance companies say the inbreeding and structural deformities of English Bulldogs has made them the sickest breed on the market. We see a large dog lying on a floor. He is a mix of colour: his face mainly white, his body mainly a light brown. His tongue is hanging out. But then has there ever been an English bulldog whose tongue was not hanging out?
Insurance companies say the inbreeding and structural deformities of English Bulldogs has made them the sickest breed on the market. © cbc.ca

But way too many of them are getting a very bum deal. Too many are bred for show, too many serve as status symbols. That means too many of them wind up very sick and living lives far too short.

Michael Brandow knows dogs well. Dividing his time between Montreal and New York, he works as a professional dog walker and dog sitter.

He is also the author of “A Matter of Breeding: A Biting History of Pedigree Dogs and How the Quest for Status Has Harmed Man’s Best Friend”, an investigation of how the pursuit for so-called “purebred” dogs is creating some very sick animals.

Brandow is passionate in his love of dogs. He is also very concerned about the way too many humans treat them

He spoke to RCI by phone from his apartment in Montreal.

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