Canine breeding aimed at satisfying extreme aesthetic needs and expectations of owners is an increasingly evident trend that has severe consequences on the welfare of dogs. A classic example is the well-known brachycephalic syndrome that characterizes some breeds, such as the French Bulldog. The shortness of the muzzle, the roundness of the skull and the eyes (neotenic characteristics) communicate a sense of cuteness and the need for protection and care. Tiny dogs with bulging eyes, like Chihuahuas, elicit similar feelings. Unfortunately, these hyper-types often have severe physical and behavioral problems. However, in a paradox difficult to explain, owners of these animals show loyalty to the breed, which they tend to repurchase in the event of their dog's death. Such a choice would depend on owners’ preference for the breed personality rather than its aesthetics. In this context, the veterinarian's role should be decisive in making those who intend to buy these dogs at least aware of the consequences of their choice. To this end, breed-related issues should be given vital importance during studies in Veterinary Medicine. Another more recent trend are the so-called designer dogs, hybrids obtained from the mating of individuals of different breeds and marketed as new breeds, often at higher prices than the parent breeds. These dogs are sought after for aesthetic and fashion reasons and because it is believed (but without solid scientific evidence) that some of them are hypoallergenic (for example, the Labradoodle, which derives from the cross between a Labrador and a Poodle). However, despite the phenomenon called hybrid vigour, increased disease resistance has not been demonstrated in designer dogs, probably due to the absence of selection in the parental lines, as parents are only used to obtain the desired phenotype of hybrids. Conversely, designer dogs appear to have higher risks for some pathologies than their parent breeds. However, the literature on designer dogs is still very scarce, and more studies are needed to come to firmer conclusions. From a regulatory point of view, according to Legislative Decree 30 December 1992 n. 529, the sale of hybrids cannot be equated to that of purebred individuals. Therefore, the diffusion of designer dogs could become a shortcut for marketing and spreading animals without any ethical, legal or medical guarantee. It will, thus, once again, be the task of veterinarians to provide adequate support to future owners.

Breeding for aesthetics: a growing challenge for canine welfare

Rubini G.;Nannoni E.;Martelli G.
2023

Abstract

Canine breeding aimed at satisfying extreme aesthetic needs and expectations of owners is an increasingly evident trend that has severe consequences on the welfare of dogs. A classic example is the well-known brachycephalic syndrome that characterizes some breeds, such as the French Bulldog. The shortness of the muzzle, the roundness of the skull and the eyes (neotenic characteristics) communicate a sense of cuteness and the need for protection and care. Tiny dogs with bulging eyes, like Chihuahuas, elicit similar feelings. Unfortunately, these hyper-types often have severe physical and behavioral problems. However, in a paradox difficult to explain, owners of these animals show loyalty to the breed, which they tend to repurchase in the event of their dog's death. Such a choice would depend on owners’ preference for the breed personality rather than its aesthetics. In this context, the veterinarian's role should be decisive in making those who intend to buy these dogs at least aware of the consequences of their choice. To this end, breed-related issues should be given vital importance during studies in Veterinary Medicine. Another more recent trend are the so-called designer dogs, hybrids obtained from the mating of individuals of different breeds and marketed as new breeds, often at higher prices than the parent breeds. These dogs are sought after for aesthetic and fashion reasons and because it is believed (but without solid scientific evidence) that some of them are hypoallergenic (for example, the Labradoodle, which derives from the cross between a Labrador and a Poodle). However, despite the phenomenon called hybrid vigour, increased disease resistance has not been demonstrated in designer dogs, probably due to the absence of selection in the parental lines, as parents are only used to obtain the desired phenotype of hybrids. Conversely, designer dogs appear to have higher risks for some pathologies than their parent breeds. However, the literature on designer dogs is still very scarce, and more studies are needed to come to firmer conclusions. From a regulatory point of view, according to Legislative Decree 30 December 1992 n. 529, the sale of hybrids cannot be equated to that of purebred individuals. Therefore, the diffusion of designer dogs could become a shortcut for marketing and spreading animals without any ethical, legal or medical guarantee. It will, thus, once again, be the task of veterinarians to provide adequate support to future owners.
2023
Atti del 76° Convegno SISVet
32
32
Rubini G., Nannoni E., Martelli G.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/938213
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