As an avid dog lover, there are two events every year that really get me excited. The first is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and the second is the Cruft’s show. Crufts has been held every year since the reign of Queen Victoria in the efforts to improve purebred dogs and is one of the most respected shows as dogs from around the world are bred to compete there and those who win bring fame and recognition to their breeders as well as the potential of their progeny.
However, it is shocking to know that a quarter of the dogs who competed at Crufts were overweight. Researchers from the University of Liverpool reported that none of the animals competing were underweight judging by the 1,000 images of twenty-eight dog breeds placed between first and fifth in their class during competitions from 2001-2013.
Not shockingly, the effects were more evident in certain breeds. Eighty per cent of pugs were overweight, sixty-eight per cent of Basset Hounds were overweight and sixty-three percent of Labrador Retrievers were excessively fat. While this may not sound terrible, it really is. The purpose of Crufts is to find the ideal specimens of their breeds, meaning that the dogs can do what they were bred to do.
Now, as someone who used to be quite involved in the dog show world, I am rather torn on this. On the one hand, I love them as they do help to promote quality dogs and keep some of the breeds we love around. However, overbreeding, and the wrong types of breeding, have allowed some breeds to lapse into this sort of look that might be cute (to some) but the dog could never physically do what it was originally bred to do. Labrador Retrievers should not look like barrels on peg legs, how would they be able to leap through grasses and swim swiftly to retrieve a downed bird? They would not. Which is even more evident when you consider you can buy a “show” quality Lab (also known as the barrel on peg legs), or a “hunt” quality Lab, with the hunt quality being much more lithe and athletic. Pugs faces never used to look the way they do now, but exaggerated breeding has mutated these creatures into things that are just unrecognizable.
I do think dog shows have a place in the world, but it is rather upsetting that the obesity pandemic that is affecting humans is now being allowed to affect some of the best of the canine world, especially when you consider that 5 extra pounds on a dog who is supposed to be 40 pounds, is quite a lot when you really think about it. The results of canine obesity is arthritis, diabetes, heart problems and others. My school of thought is that if you intend to take on the responsibility of a dog, it is your responsibility to keep it in shape, they have not asked you to take them on, you decided to. Now with that, I am off to run my mutt who I love quite dearly because it is good for his heart and his body and his mind, and it is my job to ensure he stays happy and healthy.