Breeding Will Tell The Importance Of Pedigrees

Sep 08 2013, 12:04 IST
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SummaryAsk a street dog to herd a flock of sheep, or sniff out a bomb or lead the blind, and it might have a problem. Ask a sheepdog, or a beagle or a Labrador to do those things respectively and they’ll come out tops. The whole idea behind developing different breeds of dogs was to specialise them for a particular function

Ask a street dog to herd a flock of sheep, or sniff out a bomb or lead the blind, and it might have a problem. Ask a sheepdog, or a beagle or a Labrador to do those things respectively and they’ll come out tops. The whole idea behind developing different breeds of dogs was to specialise them for a particular function

Of late, it’s become something of a fetish among dog lovers to bash pedigree pooches. Their eyebrows shoot up, their upper lips curl, they sneer and sniff rather in the manner a Parisian poodle would at a ragamuffin mongrel — “Hideously inbred, genetically defective, grossly overpriced, always falling ill, fastidious about food, need air-conditioned environs. Look at the pariah street dog: local, sturdy, can eat and live on rubbish, needs very little care, a good guard, is as loving (or not), and best of all, free, free, free — just pick up a pup from the roadside or one of the animal shelters, what the heck is your problem?"Valid, noble points, all of them. Street dogs are fighters and survivors. No pansy pedigree pooch can even cross a road on its own, for god’s sake! Street dogs are the sturdiest of the lot — the canine epitome of “survival of the fittest”, the top dogs.

Top dogs for their environment, yes, because um, that’s what they’ve bred themselves for, so to speak. That’s what their breed standard is. That’s their pedigree. Ask a street dog to herd a flock of sheep, or sniff out a bomb, or win the first prize at a dog show, or lead the blind, and it might have a problem. Ask a sheepdog, or a beagle or a poodle or Labrador to do those things respectively and they’ll come out tops. The whole idea behind developing different breeds of dogs was to specialise them for a particular function. Some of those “functions”, alas, are deplorable: like breeding poodles so small they can fit into coffee cups or breeding pit-bulls, period. But many are not. Alsatians, Dobermans and Rottweilers have made a name for themselves as guards; the hounds will track your child down when it’s lost, the spaniels will make soulful eyes at you, the Labradors and retrievers will help you cross the road if you’re blind, and the Boxers will make you laugh.

The problem with pedigree pooches lies not with the breed, but with the

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