Lifestyle Awards 2013
Wellness & Relationship
Be Indian, Bark Indian
Let Birds Fly Free
How Much is that Doggie in the Window?
Elephants in Captivity: a Giant Injustice
Compassion's In Fashion
Global Warming: Less Meat, Less Heat
I am willing to bet the advertisement that uses a Pug to plug phones has sold almost as many dogs as mobile connections. Pity. The Chinese miniature Pug is about the most genetically deformed breed in the world.
Among the only canines born through Caesarean section, the heads of Pugs are broader than their hips - just one of many health problems that can also include an enlarged heart, breathing difficulties, eye infections and dental disorders.
Entirely unsuited to India's hot, humid climate, Pugs must be kept in an air-conditioned space, discouraged from running or jumping and constantly monitored to prevent heatstroke.
When you breed or buy one of these dogs, you are condemning an animal to a short and stressful life. Get a phone instead.
These problems are not limited to Pugs. A recent BBC investigative documentary exposed the shocking levels of disability, deformity and disease in pedigreed dogs.
As their natural form has been altered to suit some curious notion of beauty, many purebred dogs suffer from genetic disorders.
Breeding primarily for appearance means that some physical features get so exaggerated that they affect the dog's health.
Add to this the problem of inbreeding: Modern dog breeds started from a small number of individuals, and mating close relatives with the desired physical traits to increase the chances of pups having those attributes also increased the chances of those offspring suffering from inherited diseases.
Decades of inbreeding have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills. Here is a partial list of pedigree problems:
A Bridge Too Far
: Originally bred in Germany as duck hunters, the Dachshund's elongated back and short legs are a disastrous combination.
Any engineer will confirm that a long length cannot be supported by short struts. As a result, many Dachshunds suffer from backaches their whole life, and they often dislike running, jumping or any other vigorous exercise.
: Pomeranians, Dalmatians and all other albino breeds are prone to deafness as the gene that produces whiteness also leads to auditory failure.
This is why Poms are often so yappy. Just as deaf people tend to talk louder, these dogs have a louder, shriller bark.
Hips Don't Lie
: Alsatians and German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket connection. If the joint is malformed, the head of the femur will not properly align with the cup of the hip socket.
This misalignment can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, the dog can lead a full and active life with a proper diet and exercise.
In more severe cases, surgical correction or euthanasia are the only alternatives. Labrador Retrievers also commonly suffer from hip disorders.
Play Misty for Me
: Basset Hounds are prone to eye infections. The folds beneath their eyes act like ashtrays, mopping up dust and germs, which results in frequent eye irritations. Irish Setters are often afflicted with retinal failure.
Every Breath You Take
: For all Pug varieties (Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Pekingese, etc), every breath is a struggle. Their shortened muzzles and pinched nostrils constrict breathing, causing frequent wheezing, panting and a foamy nasal discharge.
As their eyes bulge unnaturally, the retina is at risk of being scratched and damaged. Their shorter lower jaw often leads to mouth tumours and dental disorders.
Pointers and Golden Retrievers are prone to lymphomas, Terriers to allergies, Boxers to epilepsy and Dobermans to bleeding disorders.
A third of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
develop an agonising condition known as syringomyelia because the skull is too small for the brain (equivalent to a size 10 foot shoved into a size 6 shoe).
So if we are not supposed to breed these deformed, disabled, disease-prone animals, where can we find dogs?
Well, you do not have to look beyond your own street for the brightest, bravest creatures on four legs. That is where they live, feeding off scraps and fending off attacks, not just from other dogs but also from cruel and foolish humans.
Look at the words we use for them: Stray,
, pariah, mongrel. The word "mongrel" actually comes from Meng and means "bits of this and that".
In Australia, they refer to these dogs as "Bitsers" - and that is essentially what an Indian dog is, a little bit of this and that.
So why get a Dalmatian, a Poodle or a Pug when you can have all three rolled into one?
An Indian dog has the tenacity of a Terrier, the loyalty of a Labrador, the intelligence of an Alsatian,
Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
There are 101 Reasons to Adopt a
or an Indian dog; the following are as many as the space of this column will allow:
: I know this from experience but it should be pretty self-evident that dogs who fend for themselves naturally need to be smart.
This goes into their evolutionary make up and has become part of their doggie DNA. So whether adopted off the street / shelter or born at home, Indian dogs are cleverer than their pedigreed counterparts.
That's just simple common sense. But since good sense is neither simple nor common, here's empirical evidence.
British researchers put 100 dogs through seven separate tests, marking them for intelligence as demonstrated through problem solving and other abilities.
The results showed that crossbreds are indeed brighter than purebreds. A
dog quickly and naturally becomes top dog.
Health and Wealth
: Blessed with natural hybrid vigour and limited predisposition to disease, Indian dogs are naturally adapted to our climate and conditions.
Average-sized with average-length fur, they shed less in summer and reduce the risk of allergies.. A healthier dog and a healthier owner mean cheaper medical bills.
One of a Kind
: Pedigreed dogs vary little in appearance - one often looks just like the next. The exciting thing about Indian dogs is that each one is different, so you have a uniquely wonderful creature.
: Indian dogs are very loving and loyal towards their humans and are usually very gentle with children, making them great family dogs.
Free for All
: Pedigreed dogs can cost obscene amounts of money, and buying them supports terrible cruelty, such as repeat pregnancies, inbreeding, crowding, theft and so on.
Adopting an Indian dog off the street or from an animal shelter not only gives a needy animal a home but also gives you a best friend for free.
They can enrich your life in so many ways - a Slum Dog could truly make you a millionaire! Name yours "Oscar".
About the Author:
Ambika Shukla is not an animal 'lover', she is simply a firm believer that animals too have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She is currently Director Media & Communications, PETA India.
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