What is a Breed?

The Encyclopaedia of Sport, Volume 1 (Google eBook) Front Cover Henry Charles Howard Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire, Hedley Peek, Frederick George Aflalo Lawrence and Bullen, 1897

The Encyclopaedia of Sport, Volume 1 
Front Cover
Henry Charles Howard Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire, Hedley Peek, Frederick George Aflalo
Lawrence and Bullen, 1897

What is a breed? We humans want to classify everything in life in order to control it enough to examine and understand within our given abilities each item. In the case of dogs, breeds have gone beyond a dog’s color and abilities. Breed descriptions have become rather rigid and allow us to better understand dogs within each breed by simplifying the attributes allowed to be bred. Our very simple minds can more easily handle a cookie cutter dog type than to allow a more organic progression of dog breeding. Because of our human short shortsightedness and limited information processing abilities, we have institutions such as the AKC and events such as the Westminster or Crufts.

When the above article was written regarding the Retriever, the specialized retrieving dog was a newer concept. There were many sportsmen breeding various combinations of dogs to retrieve and the sport of breeding that perfect dog was quite a contest.

Today, because of our human need to have the AKC and similar registries, retrievers have been placed into very specific and rigid categories. Like children who don’t want there peas and carrots mixed up with their mashed potatoes, dogs from these various categories are not allowed to breed to one another. They must remain “pure.” Since the breed is controlled in this manner, our dogs are not very healthy and do not live very long lives.

Having breeding standards for health including functional structure is a good thing. Can true health be found within these rigid registries?

When I watch the Westminster, it’s the extreme dogs that draw attention however, all these dogs could be healthier and better off if they were bred more responsibly. Breeding responsibly means not breeding for the breed ring win.

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