Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking the Spark Out of Sparky

Sweden thinks your dog is dumb.

Whoa, whoa, hold the phone! My dog may lick bookshelves as a hobby, but who are you scientists to call him stupid??

Actually, I kind of have to agree.

No, it's not like what the cats have been telling us for years. Not every dog is dimming down. When you think about it, you can guess the likely culprits. You got it - that parade of primped-up pooches who trot around the show ring every year at Westminster.

Look at it this way: If Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline had babies, and we bred those babies to each other, you wouldn't exactly be expecting rocket science from those offspring.

Also, the study did only cover 31 breeds, out of about 158 registered with the AKC. But they took care to examine some of the breeds that were once prided for their working ability, now too dull to investigate an unfamiliar object when they find one. Yikes. This is why we fought so hard to keep Border collies out of the Kennel Club!

Pete the Vet ends the article on an optimistic note: "Will we now start to see a swing towards healthier, smarter pedigree dogs?" I certainly hope so. But the road to healthier, smarter pedigree dogs might prove too strenuous for the AKC. After all, we're talking about abandoning that tired old "we're just a registry" excuse, breed standard revisions, opening the closed registry system, and now, perhaps, asking for working performance from our show dogs instead of just good looks. Madness!

(Poor breeders. I know some of you out there are rockstars ..!)


GoLightly said...

Totally agree, we've bred for looks, not smarts.
Rough Collies now have no brain case at all.
Most of 'em aren't near as smart as they were.
I'm kind of disappointed that my breed is rapidly approaching CKC recognition. Hope it doesn't signal their demise, too.

Great Post!

Franna said...

I appreciate your message - that purebred dog breeders need to consider the whole dog, not just looks. However, as with all generalities, there are plenty of examples of the opposite side. Any buyer needs to determine what they're looking for and then not be swayed by the cuteness factor. Buyers pressure will go a long ways toward encouraging the breeding of sound dogs.

If you're using the tail chasing Husky as an example of stupidity - I take issue with that. We have a very smart, trainable, high energy young Labrador. His parents are both AKC Champions with performance titles. He's learned to chase his tail as a default behavior when he'd rather be racing through the house. It's an excellent energy release for him, and earns praise and laughter rather than chastisement.

Thanks for spreading your message, but please don't sell the responsible breeders short.

- Franna

Franna said...

PS. GoLightly, I agree many Rough Collies are lacking in brain power. I know of show bred Rough Collies who put Border Collies to shame as farm dogs. They are relaxed and confident, alert, have instinctive knowledge of working stock, able to put them at ease rather than working by intimidation, impressive as guards, know how to put forth just enough energy for the situation. These dogs are low key and low maintenance - perfect farm dogs, and beautiful to look at. You just have to know where to look for them - and it's not through the high profile, big money breeders.
- Franna

muttpuppiesontrial said...

No subtle underlying message behind the tail-chasing husky. I'm not saying huskies are dumb or tail-chasers are dumb. He just gave me a giggle and seemed to fit the theme. I have a sense of humour and like to inject it into my posts any way I can. Sorry that you take issue with the image, but there's nothing mean-spirited behind it.

I'm certainly not one to sell a good breeder short. And I know there are good purebreed breeders out there - that's why I included the post-script. But I think we're on the same page when I state that breeding a collie to the point where it no longer has the capacity to work stock is not good breeding.