Deliberately Deformed Dog Breeds Suffer Multiple Health Conditions – PETA Calls For Banning Such Breeds At Westminister Kennel Club

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First Germany, Now Westminster? PETA Calls On Kennel Club to Ban Deliberately Deformed Dog Breeds
Editor’s note: Staten Islander News has previously covered PETA’s stand on these kennel club events that encourage the entry of popular breeds whose traits cause them significant health problems and suffering here.  We’ve also covered the shelter animal crisis and debate over shelters that euthanize vs those that don’t.
The following questions were answered by PETA to bring clarity to the issues mentioned in their release: 

1- Is it known why golden retrievers and German shepherds suffer from epilepsy and dysplasias? What trait were breeders seeking when this condition was introduced?

A-German shepherds suffer from hip dysplasia because they’re bred to have sloped backs, which forces them to move asymmetrically by placing more weight on their front legs. Over time, a lack of muscle balance leads to misalignment of the hip socket and the ball of the femur. This condition makes simple things German shepherds love to do—like walking, running, and playing—impossible without severe pain. Some dogs undergo intensive surgeries to ease symptoms.

Elbow dysplasia—that is, when elbow cartilage fails to develop normally—is another painful condition German shepherds suffer from that’s thought to be a genetic condition caused by generations of selective breeding. Treatments can include surgery and painkillers, but dogs with this condition will likely be in some amount of pain for their entire lives, starting at 6 months of age or even younger.

Epilepsy is more common in German shepherds and golden retrievers due to selective breeding. The frequency and severity vary among dogs.

2- What breeding-related conditions do dachshunds suffer from that are fatal, and about what percentage of this breed suffers a fatality?  What percentage overall suffers from a condition requiring treatment?


A-Back issues are especially common in dachshunds due to their disproportionately long spines. At least one in every four of them suffers from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a neurological disorder in which the discs between the vertebrae become diseased and compress the spinal cord, leading to pain, weakness, and paralysis. Dachshunds are 10 to 12 times more likely to develop IVDD than other breeds. With their heightened risk of back issues, dachshunds are discouraged from everyday activities like jumping off a bed or into a car, being carried, and running. Controlling the pain from IVDD—which can last for days or weeks—using drugs can be difficult, and it’s a condition that can lead to death or require euthanasia.

3- Can you provide more info on the syringomyelia condition suffered by the spaniels? About what percentage of this breed suffers from this condition, and how fatal is it? When not fatal, is it understood what kind of suffering the condition causes to the dog? Do they express indications of pain or headaches, or do they suffer from seizures due to the condition? Or do they have similar reactions to those experienced by humans, such as muscle wasting and fatigue or loss of reflexes?

A- Syringomyelia (SM) affects more than 90% of all Cavalier King Charles spaniels. It’s a malformation that squeezes their brain through the foramen magnum—the hole at the back of the skull—and blocks cerebrospinal fluid from flowing properly, leading to abnormal pressure that creates fluid-filled cavities, or syringes, near the brain. The disorder causes dogs to yelp in pain after sudden changes in posture and to scratch their ears, chest, neck, and shoulders uncontrollably. Humans suffering from this condition describe feeling like insects are crawling on their skin, with the most extreme pain akin to severe burning. Dogs may also lick and chew their paws, shake or rub their head, and experience weakness, poor coordination, and scoliosis (or curvature of the spine). Once the pain begins, it tends to last throughout a dog’s lifetime.

There’s no cure for SM, and medical management typically doesn’t resolve the clinical signs. The only option for severe cases is surgery, which entails opening the foramen magnum by removing a portion of the occipital bone and usually part of the first vertebrae

The original release follows: 
New York — Lawmakers around the world are introducing bills that would ban the breeding of dogs who are the victims of “torture breeding”—bred to have such malformed noses and shortened faces that they endure a lifetime of breathing problems or bred to have dangerously lengthened spines—so PETA rushed a letter today to Westminster Kennel Club President and Show Chair Donald G. Sturz calling on him to act responsibly and humanely by prohibiting dachshunds and breathing-impaired breeds (BIB), such as French bulldogs and pugs, from competing in the Westminster dog show.
In its letter, PETA points out that Germany recently proposed a ban on breeding dogs with “skeletal anomalies”—including dachshunds, whose long spines and stubby legs often result in herniated discs and other painful back and joint problems that require surgery or are fatal.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in New Hampshire last month proposed a similar bill to ban the breeding of French bulldogs and other flat-faced dogs, whose deliberately distorted airways can lead to a multitude of health problems, expensive medical procedures, and premature death—and whose reproductive systems are so malformed that they can’t breed or give birth normally and are bred using artificial insemination and delivered via cesarean section instead.
“Disqualifying deliberately deformed dogs from the competition is the least the Westminster Kennel Club can do after years of recklessly driving demand for the creation of dogs prone to a lifetime of suffering,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on this organization to stop promoting Frankendogs who are deliberately inbred to be malformed simply to provide a look that some humans fancy, and urges everyone to adopt dogs and never to buy them from breeders or pet stores.”
PETA notes that most, if not all, “top” dog breeds suffer from numerous ailments because of generations of selective breeding. Bulldogs, pugs, and other BIBs suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome, which makes breathing nearly impossible for them and is the leading cause of death for bulldogs. German shepherds and golden retrievers suffer from epilepsy and hip and elbow dysplasia. Cavalier King Charles spaniels’ skulls are too small for their brains, forcing the brain tissue to protrude through the base of the skull—a condition called syringomyelia—and dachshunds face a higher risk of lifelong spinal, knee, and other joint problems. Breeding any dog contributes to the homeless-animal crisis, with more than 70 million dogs and cats homeless in the U.S. at any given time.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on XFacebook, or Instagram.
Banner Image: Westminister Kennel protest. Image Credit – PETA

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, and PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally. PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview, and focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: in laboratories, in the food industry, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment business. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of rodents, birds, and other animals who are often considered “pests” as well as cruelty to domesticated animals. PETA works through public education, investigative newsgathering and reporting, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.

3 Comments

  • Avatar ShellAtTheBeach says:

    Anyone who can force a dog to endure a lifetime of medical issues and struggling to breathe just to suit a certain look doesn’t really love dogs. Let dogs be healthy, and adopt, don’t shop.

  • Avatar LucyP says:

    With 70 million homeless animals, no one should be breeding more of any type–especially not dogs who can’t even breathe.

  • Avatar Melissa S says:

    No dog should have to suffer a lifetime of debilitating health troubles just to be a “show” dog. And with shelters literally overflowing and millions of animals with nowhere to call home, breeding any dog is irresponsible and callous.

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