People who are looking to get pets sometimes ask for ‘pure’ breeds, or physical characteristics such as blue eyes or snow white fur — what they might not know is that engineering a dog’s looks to suit our preferences often has negative consequences on their health. Selective breeding is responsible for a host of serious problems in pedigree puppies.
Senior veterinarian Dr. Priyadarshini Govind believes that the breeding industry is often an ugly world. “Some breeders don’t pay any attention to the fact that their breeding male or female may be carrying the deaf gene and will continue breeding them for commercial purposes,” she says, quoting an example. “Harlequin Great Danes when bred with Merlin Great Danes also produce deaf pups. Hip dysplasia is common in German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Labradors: the list is endless.”
She finds that the animals are not protected by regulations, and that this lack of accountability means they suffer. “No rules are laid down against breeding these animals,” she says, adding that foreign-origin dogs with thick coats will always struggle in our country. “In all the years of German Shepherds being bred in India, the dog has never adjusted itself to the changes in climatic conditions,” she says. “There is suddenly a growing demand for St. Bernards and Siberian Huskies. Though the breeders claim that these dogs have acclimatised themselves to sweltering Chennai summers, this is not true.”
Faizan Jaleel, director, Programmes, Federation for Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) directs potential pet-owners to adoption camps and animal shelters, instead of breeders. His advice for those who already have purebred animals is to be compassionate towards them and take good care of their special needs. He observes that several purebred pets get a raw deal for the second time when their owners abandon them after the pet develops health problems.
(The one-year-old male Rajapalayam in this picture is 80 per cent deaf, and was found in Poonamallee High Road. If he’s your missing pet, call 9840350212)