General, pedigree dogs exposed, Responsible Breeding

Bulldogs at the turn of the century

Fantastic! The best resource I've found to date of what early fanciers were looking for, with TONS of photographs of real show dogs. Compare especially the desired head (p. 29) with the head in the current illustrated standard. The angle of the jaw, the length of nose, the fit of the lips and teeth – it's all the same. The current illustrator really likes to draw wrinkles, but the underlying skull shape is the same. 





If this was helpful to you and you'd like to help us rescue and foster dogs, here are Amazon links to the books and tools mentioned in the article – and thank you so much!

– Joanna

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Beth August 2, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Having trouble getting on site at home. I invite you to read page 40, wherin it explains that a show-winning bitch is not suitable for breeding because it is a risk to her life to give birth, and explain how a standard can reward such a thing as a dog who can’t reproduce.

  • Reply Pai August 2, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Problem is, Joanna, even the Bulldog Club of America admits the original bulldogs were longer faced and less exaggerrated:

  • Reply Beth August 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Ok, finally able to get on here at home.

    Joanna, in light of everything you’ve said in the past about how a breeding program, first and foremost, should not hurt dogs; and what you’ve also said about form being about function, and your anger about backyard breeders who don’t health-test because they might end up with a preventable disease, I really am curious how you would comment on the below passage from page 40 of the book you were kind enough to link to above. This is right from the bulldog people, breeding according to their own standards, in 1905:

    “Brood Bitches and Show Bitches–

    With many breeds, there is no marked difference between bitches that are exhibited and those that are kept for breeding purposes. The show terrier-bitch can be bred from with as little risk as can a bitch that is not fit for show, but in the case of Bulldogs it is different.

    “The very points that would qualify a Bull-bitch for high honours on the show bench, render her quite unfit to become a mother. A show bitch should be short in the back, and compact; indeed, the shorter she is in back the better, but if an attempt is made to breed from her the result would usually prove disastrous. As the show bitch is short and compact, so is the brood bitch large-framed and roomy. She must have room to carry her puppies naturally, and give birth to them without endangering her own life.”

    By the words of the author, the show-bitch is not suitable for breeding, with results being “disastrous”. Indeed, it would endanger her own life.

    By what moral justification can we, for reasons of aesthetics (since these are not modern working dogs, but rather companions and pets and show dogs) choose to select as fine exemplars of the breed those very dogs who lack the form for that most basic of functions: giving birth?

    I have been arguing right along that English Bulldogs can rarely birth naturally, based on info from their own sites. You argue (all on your own) that they can. Apparently all the C-section did for the Bulldog was change things so that now winning bitches can be brood-bitches, even though they still can’t birth naturally (and haven’t been able to, apparently, since at least 1905).

    The fact that a tradition is a century old does not make it right.

    I will say again that I have no problem with show breeders, and our own dogs who are from a wonderful breeder who I would send anyone to in a heartbeat for one of her fabulous puppies. But you can’t give overarching arguments about “show breeders” because different breeds and different clubs have different standards.

  • Reply Beth August 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    You know, I can’t help but point out the extreme irony of this.

    The reason why bench shows only allow intact dogs and bitches to compete is because a bench show is meant to highlight breeding stock and potential breeding stock.

    And yet according to this expert source, in this particular breed at this particular time, winning females were physically too risky to breed.

    A competition is set up to select breeding stock, and the winners of the competition are not capable of breeding. By most people’s definition, that’s a little bit crazy.

  • Reply Joanna August 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Beth – note that the reason he says it’s too risky is body length; nothing else. You’re focusing on heads again.

    Your original soapbox about bulldogs was that show breeding had changed them recently. I’ve shown in as many ways as I possibly can that they’ve been the same since the breed began in the AKC, so now your soapbox is – what? That they shouldn’t exist at all?

    You own dogs who have a substantial connective tissue deformity and are almost certainly at this moment experiencing degenerative changes in their spinal cords (since the overwhelming majority of Pems are genetically at risk for DM). Your own dogs are an order of magnitude more likely to be paralyzed than a bulldog is. But you’d send people to your breeder in a second.

    Bulldogs live longer than Bernese Mountain Dogs, Goldens, Flatcoats, and a bunch of other average-LOOKING dogs. They certainly live longer than Danes. Which I owned, and bred, and would recommend in a second.

    They do typically have c-sections in order to save every puppy. So do most of the toy breeds and a whole ton of the giant breeds.

    So what shouldn’t exist? Dogs who routinely have c-sections? Dogs who have exaggerated body types? Dogs who have harmful mutations? Dogs who don’t live very long? Dogs who are more likely than the background population to have any one disorder?

    You’re down to about five ten breeds at this point – Canaan dog would be one of them, probably. I just went looking for others but all my immediate candidates were shot down – Brittanys are prone to very nasty chest infections, for example. The sighthounds have liver problems.

    The basic job of every breeder is the same – produce a dog who can live the longest and happiest life. Soundness is universal – if you watch the Bulldog class here: you can see the judge checking all the same things I recommended checking. Where the shoulder meets the body, the length of upper arm, the strength of topline, the length of ribbing, whether the back legs are balanced with the front, etc. The bitch who won (who is the top bulldog right now) is famous not for her head but for her extreme balance and beautiful movement.

    • Reply Beth August 3, 2010 at 6:15 am

      First of all, I did not mention heads in my post at all. Second of all, dogs have been bred for thousands of years, dog shows popular for about 150, so yes, 100 years ago is “recent” in the history of breeding dogs.

      Third of all, you are trying to make a moral equivalency out of a dog who might, because of structure, have some old-age arthritis, combined with an increased risk of disk disease; with a dog who cannot, by design, give birth. You are comparing some increase in one of the risks of life every dog faces, with almost guaranteed fatal failure of form and weighing them up in your own mind as if they are the same thing. Bulldogs don’t typically have c-sections to “save every puppy.” Joanna, you are the only source I’ve ever seen make that claim. They have C-sections to preserve the life of the mother who is not fit to give birth otherwise.

      Lest you think I’m picking on dogs, it disgusts me that domestic turkeys are not capable of mating on their own, and that dairy cows frequently (as opposed to rarely for most other farm critters) need help birthing. When we, by choice, breed an animal that is extremely likely (as opposed to normal risks) to die in birthing if we are not present to intervene, we have, for our own purposes, created an animal who faces unnecessary risks.

      You have, in the end, proven to approach the debate with a religious-like faith rather than scientific reason. You change your arguments to suit your chosen ideas rather than base your ideas on the merit of the argument. By your own argument, form is for function. You will argue all over the internet that it is the show dog who is BEST-bred because so many other people get to evaluate your stock. And yet we have here in black-and-white, from a source YOU chose, admission that a winning show-bitch (and a show, remember, is to choose breeding stock) was not in 1905 suitable for breeding. Let me repeat that: a dog who won at a breeding-stock show could not be safely bred. So instead of sitting down and scratching their heads and saying “Why don’t we change what wins to dogs who can, you know, actually BE bred; it makes no sense to say our best dogs cannot be safely bred. Why are they, then, our best dogs?”, they kept the standard until the saving grace of the C-section made them whole.

      I will own a dog who has increased risk of certain problems because that is the nature of life. Eliminating one set often gives rise to another, unanticipated, set. You have argued that point and I agree with it. I will NOT own a dog, intentionally, who’s every day existence (or in this case, very being) is severely compromised by conscious choices made over and over again by thousands of breeders over many decades. The bulldog, as we know him, would be extinct within a generation or two if allowed to try to breed on his own. Yes, all dogs start to revert to a “generic” form over time, but it is extreme indeed to willfully and with knowledge aforethought sit down and say “I know, let’s create a breed who is not capable of birthing. And why? Well, because we can, of course!” because the modern bulldog was developed as a show-dog, NOT a bull-baiting dog, and so his conformation is chosen with the dog show in mind, based on the ideas of some fanciers. His extreme face that calls for air-conditioning all summer is another issue of mine (and one that is shared with pugs, Frenchies, and a handful of others), but certainly not one that I addressed in this post.

      • Reply Beth August 3, 2010 at 6:18 am

        And before you bring out the dwarfism thing again, as if it’s equivalent, I will remind you that Corgis are not hurt every day by that decision, first, and second that it decreased the risk of injury in their original job and so was not a cosmetic choice but a practical one.

        • Reply rufflyspeaking August 3, 2010 at 6:46 am

          Corgis are hurt every single day by that decision. EVERY DAY.

          Because of the way the dwarfism changes the connective tissue, their discs age and degenerate rapidly; arthritic changes are an absolute given and disc degeneration has begun by the time the dog is a year or two old.

          If the Absolute Emergency is free-whelping, then Berners are in GREAT shape, though they only live to be 7. If the Absolute Emergency is free-whelping, then Salukis, who have a cancer rate that is staggering, are in GREAT shape.

          I don’t think that free-whelping is the emergency. It’s one day in a dog’s life, it’s not very painful, and pregnant bulldog bitches are treated better than most royalty. And if we make it the emergency, we’re also taking out all the pugs, frenchies, Maltese, most of the Cavaliers, a bunch of the giant breeds, and so on.

          For me, the emergency is a normal lifespan, as free from pain as we can possibly make it. According to that criterion, Bulldogs are doing just fine.

          Every single breed would die out in a generation if we didn’t interfere with breeding – we make every choice for them. If left on their own they’d choose the Lab down the street, not the champion I pick out from five countries away.

          Here’s a good c-section reference:

          note the following: “Elective cesarean-sections (C-sections) have become recognized as a successful method to increase neonatal survival. It is a common surgical procedure that can be useful and rewarding to both the client and the veterinarian.”

          There. Now you’ve heard it from me AND from one of the nation’s most recognized canine reproduction experts.

          • rufflyspeaking August 3, 2010 at 7:08 am

            And, I should add, I DO breed corgis, knowing that they are more likely to be in pain because of their dwarfism, because the body shape offers other benefits. I don’t fool myself, though, into thinking that I’m awesome and a bulldog breeder is horrible. We’re each making decisions based on a strong belief in the worth of keeping a breed going. And I do my best to minimize the effects; I feed joint supplement every day of their lives, and I breed dogs that are as light as possible within the standard, and I keep them thin, and I exercise the heck out of them. And the bulldog breeders I know are just as passionate and just as careful as I am, and just as passionate and just as careful as your corgi’s breeder is. I suspect if you asked her if bulldogs, frenchies, pugs, mastiffs, and the toy breeds shouldn’t exist, she’d have much the same response that I do – the important part is not one day of their lives at a vet’s office. The important part is a happy life as a whole.

          • rufflyspeaking August 3, 2010 at 7:26 am

            Another one:
            “Cesarean Section:

            C-section circumvents the risk of dystocia during vaginal delivery, all but guaranteeing the safe delivery of the entire litter. [emphasis mine] The bitch enjoys decreased duration of labor, decreased physical exertion, and the benefits of analgesia. The breeder forgoes whelping anxieties. And cost-benefit analysis will reveal that preventing the loss of even one puppy compensates the expense of the timing and the surgery.

            Given all these wonderful benefits, why aren’t all whelpings scheduled for elective c-section?

            The answer to that question is a moral conundrum. Once the monetary component is eliminated, it becomes a question of ethical consideration. 90% of natural deliveries progress without complications. Therefore, elective C-section of all pregnant bitches necessitates 90% of the bitches enduring unnecessary surgery. Is it worth the risks of surgery to avoid potential complications in 10% of pregnancies? Bulldog breeders have determined that elective c-sections are essential to the breed, their dystocia rate, however, exceeds the 10% natural average.


            Scheduled C-sections are often a feasible and economic option to guarantee delivery of the greatest number of healthy, viable puppies [again, emphasis mine] and preserving the life of the dam. A well established veterinary-client relationship should be developed, and forethought and excellent breeding management should be followed to ensure the greatest success.

            Richard Wheeler, DVM, Diplomate ACT (Board Certified, Reproduction)
            Poudre River Veterinary Clinic
            Affiliate: CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital
            Fort Collins, CO”

            I do have very strong feelings about dog stuff, but I do my best not to make facts up :).

            When I took Clue in for her scheduled c-section (which was, by the way, definitely not my first section) the vet said “After this you will never want to free-whelp again.” And I have to say that never a truer statement has been made. Free-whelping is TORTURE. You’re incredibly worried, you lose puppies, you don’t know if things are normal, the bitch is often confused, you’re trying to wake up wet and gasping puppies, you’re trying to bring back dead puppies, it takes up to 24 hours, it’s the PITS. Scheduled c-sections (with a good vet) are a miracle. Every puppy born alive and happy, you have all the help you need, the bitch trots out the door a half-hour later. If I could, I would section every single whelping from now until I no longer have dogs.

      • Reply rufflyspeaking August 3, 2010 at 7:00 am

        You are entirely right that across all breeds, form follows function. I assume that at Thanksgiving you are not traveling to a farm to buy a heritage-breed turkey for $60 and roasting it and then cutting two pounds of meat off a fifteen-pound bird; you want to go to the grocery store and buy a 15-lb bird who gives you six pounds of meat and cost $25. In order to make those possible, turkey bodies have been changed. I assume you’re not buying wool sweaters made only from Soas wool; you’re buying them made from Merino, which have major problems with lambing and mothering. You’re not buying a gallon of aurochs milk (which, if they even existed anymore, is the only way you’d get an unchanged cow – there’s no such thing as a primitive-breed cow anymore, because they’ve been domesticated so long). If you look at the contents of your fridge and your closet, there’s not a single thing in there that’s from a primitive and free-breeding animal. If you want these VERY functional animals to perform, you change their bodies, and with that comes the increased responsibility to supervise their breeding.

        As with dogs, for me the question is about quality of life, freedom from pain as much as is possible, freedom from confusion. Not whether one day in their lives is harder because they need a lamb pulled.

  • Reply Beth August 3, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I can show you dozens of human references that show that vaginal birth is less risky overall than c-section. Regardless, if your argument is that it is OK to breed dogs that are not capable of one of the basic definitions of life (that is, reproducing) then your argument is not going to convince many people.

    Look, the modern bulldog was NOT bred for any purpose except to meet the style the dog fancy preferred. With just a few minor changes to the standard, they could breed a dog that looked very much like the current bulldog, yet could give birth and could breathe on a hot day. If the breeding bitches of the early 1900’s could free whelp (and the average litter size was about 8, compared to about 4 now) AND were close enough to the standard to produce show-winning dogs, then they are close enough to the standard to be recognized as bulldogs with the added benefit of being able to give birth. If you are looking at one group of dogs who can breed freely, and another group of very similar dogs who cannot, and you BY CHOICE decide the ones who can’t are the better dog to base your standard on, then shame on the lot of you. That standard is a show standard, not a working standard and always was. The reason for the choice was preference, not utility.

    They have chosen, willfully, for the sole reason of aesthetic preference, to breed a dog that is very prone to heatstroke, has trouble breathing, and can rarely free-whelp. A few minor tweaks would resolve most of those issues without severely impacting the style of the breed.

    You are a-ok with that, yet it makes you furious if a small breeder, who owns a breed not even prone to hip dysplasia, does not test hips because there might be some incrementally larger chance that they may eventually end up with hip problems. So you are ok with people intentionally breeding dogs that, by definition, have real problems every single day; but not ok with someone breeding a dog that is likely to be healthy yet has a tiny tiny chance of having a hip problem.

    Your arguments utterly lack in moral consistency. Yes, all breeds have potential health problems. But people don’t intentionally breed retrievers to have cancer, or Corgis to have IVDD, or labs to have bad hips. They are breeding dogs that, by fluke or earlier bad choices, have those things in their gene pool. They try, usually, to breed away from it. But a handful of purebred dogs are intentionally bred with health problems built into the breed standard. Bulldogs are one of them.

  • Reply Beth August 3, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    By the way, I am stunned that you, who constantly tout that “natural” choices are better for dogs, somehow think that by circumventing nature’s plan and doing c-sections on all dogs you are doing them and their pups a favor. C-section is a wonderful option when it is necessary, but the birthing process is a complex one full of hormones and antibodies and all sorts of things. Many studies have shone that vaginal birth is better for moms and kids, on average, than c-section. Everything from hormone changes to exposure to vaginal bacteria has a purpose.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking August 4, 2010 at 2:03 am here are my posts on hip dysplasia. In them I again and again and again and AGAIN say that we should not base our definition of good breeder or bad breeder on whether they test for hips. I believe that testing is for the sake of the bitch, not for the sake of the puppies – we test hips so we are sure we are not breeding a painful bitch, not because it appreciably changes the outcome for the puppies. So I am not sure which blogger got mad at a small breeder whose breed doesn’t even have HD for not testing for hips and said it was because it would radically change the outcome for the puppies, but it wasn’t me.

      Wait, as I think about it, are you talking about the fact that I responded to someone on mycorgi and told her that she was doing it wrong? If so, good grief. She’s a complete backyard breeder who does NOT have “working corgis.” She has badly bred corgis who did not come from working lines, who had never been worked, she bought them from other bad breeders and she put them out on her property to chase sheep around and decided that made her a “working breeder.” I know all her dogs; I know their pedigrees. Not a single one comes from any actual working bloodline; they’re just poorly bred, long-legged, unsound Pems who (against all odds) retained some herding instinct. She doesn’t trial them or do anything with them except let them push sheep around. And Pems do NOT have a low incidence of hip dysplasia. Mycorgi is an absolute paradise for backyard breeders because they’re allowed to advertise litters; there are very, very few good Pem breeders on there. That’s why I keep posting “How to tell a bad breeder” guides and so on. They may be wonderful people, they may have fifteen thousand posts, they may be your best friends or my best friends. They’re terrible breeders. The particular person I believe you are thinking of doesn’t do ANY testing, including for things that are very much passed along, like PRA and vWD and all the other things that Pems should be checked for.

      Getting back to your original point…

      When we breed corgis we are DELIBERATELY breeding a problem that could be EASILY gotten rid of by making the breed long-legged. Of course we intentionally breed corgis to have IVDD. It’s not a fluke; dwarfism leads to IVDD. The health problem is built into the breed standard. The liver problems in sighthounds are because of their incredibly low body fat. A health problem built into the breed standard. Giant dogs are prone to all kinds of things because their vascular systems can’t sustain their size. A health problem built into the breed standard. The heavy dogs have higher incidences of hip dysplasia because of their weight-to-height ratio. A health problem built into the breed standard.

      That’s why I don’t get any kind of permission to get on my high horse about my choice of breed. Every breed that doesn’t exactly resemble a coyote in shape experiences consequences that are a direct result of the different shape. We who believe in the function of dogs as working partners and companions make tradeoffs in order to have a body shape that helps us or pleases us. You bought a dog with a body shape that pleased you; in so doing you asked a breeder to produce a dog with a dramatically higher risk of back problems and other joint injuries, and told her to amputate a healthy tail as well. Those were the choices you made for your own good, not for the dog’s. Nobody gets a free pass on this, unless you own one of the very few (and very rare) truly primitive dog breeds.

      You say that “a few minor” changes would make the bulldog free from all these whelping issues – what are they? Boston Terriers, with their light and racy bodies, are also routinely sectioned, as are bullmastiffs with the MUCH longer faces and longer bodies. So which minor changes would solve the whole problem?

      On c-sections and mortality:

      If the definition of success is every puppy born alive, sections are preferable. You can’t compare the “safety” of free-whelping with human labor, unless humans had eight babies at a time. The reason that higher-order multiples in humans are always sectioned is the same reason that so many vets recommend sectioning bitches – when there are lots of babies in there, things don’t always go very well. I had four babies vaginally with no pain meds and minimal intervention, but I would have gone for a c-section in one flat second for a breech baby. That’s evidence-based care; the tipping point for the safety of vaginal birth versus c-section is about risk factors. Multiple births, breech or transverse presentation, septate uterus, uterine atony, placenta previa, and a ton of other factors tip it in the direction of a c-section being safer.

      In larger litters it’s routine to lose one or more puppies. This is the “natural” outcome, and would have been natural in a wild wolf pack, as would a bunch of the rest of the puppies starving to death and some others killed by cars. However, for a breeder who has planned a precious litter for years and for whom each puppy is not just emotionally important but genetically priceless, not losing puppies trumps making a purely natural decision. I interfere rather heavily in whelping, I supplement puppies, I weigh constantly, I do a thousand things that are not “natural,” because I don’t want dogs to die.

      In free-whelped litters the mortality rate associated with simple asphyxia (the puppy smothered and died during the birth process) is around 8% ( In elective c-sections the overall mortality rate is 3.6% ). So, again, evidence-based care says that if the live birth of all puppies is the definition of success, c-sections are preferable.

      I am happy to keep answering these questions; I’ve thought them through very carefully and researched them for years. I try to never make any kind of factual statement on the blog that is not very thoroughly supported by evidence and studies, so it doesn’t bother me or scare me to have to address them again. But I wonder why you’re reading this blog and leaving these comments – it’s obvious that you don’t like me and no matter how fully I answer every question you’re just going to come back and tell me that I’m doing something else wrong. I’ve gotten to the point that I honestly dread posting that I went for a drive today because you’ll yell at me for, I dunno, leaving too big a carbon footprint or something. I’m very willing to keep explaining how I think or how breeders think or why we make the choices that we do, but it seems that you’re really making yourself miserable by reading what I write.

      • Reply K.B. August 4, 2010 at 5:53 am

        “the tipping point for the safety of vaginal birth versus c-section is about risk factors. Multiple births, breech or transverse presentation, septate uterus, uterine atony, placenta previa, and a ton of other factors tip it in the direction of a c-section being safer.” – RS

        “I can show you dozens of human references that show that vaginal birth is less risky overall than c-section.” – Beth

        That also the reason comparing mortality rates of vaginal vs. c-section deliveries is somewhat risky – you do NOT have an unbiased selection. Generally, those opting for c-sections are higher risk pregnancies, and thus would have a “natural” higher risk, so, yeah, vaginal births carry a lower risk, since they result from a greater proportion of lower-risk pregnancies.

        As for not making “natural” choices, DOGS ARE NOT NATURAL. No domesticated animal is “natural”. And any time we, as thinking animals, opt for any medical intervention, from getting a cavity filled to open-heart surgery to getting a c-section for a healthy bitch, we are not making “natural” choices. I doubt any of us here live a truly “natural” life.

      • Reply Beth August 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

        I started coming here to see puppy pictures, and ended up reading some of what you’d written. You write well and have a very enjoyable writing voice, and your stories of every-day life with your dogs are amusing. When it comes to blanket statements about show-breeders, I have not said much here that was not already discussed elsewhere.

        “I’ve gotten to the point that I honestly dread posting that I went for a drive today because you’ll yell at me for, I dunno, leaving too big a carbon footprint or something.” Ok, I have responded to something like 2 of your last 12 blog posts. Among my total responses here were one where I expressed condolences on the cancer diagnosis of a Dane you’d bred, and another in which I pretty much agreed with you about many Pems being obese. So I am puzzled by that statement, but feelings are what they are and I can’t argue with that.

        Moreover, in doing internet searches on various dog topics online, I have stumbled across you in the comments sections of several blogs, vehemently disagreeing with the blogger. So perhaps if having someone debate you on such issues makes you feel a certain way, then that is a perspective you can carry with you when you visit other sites.

        Be that as it may, it is your blog and you are entitled to blog in peace. I have not given you any more serious argument than you have given other people. I started posting because you were once again making some statements about “People who criticize show breeders fail to see xyz…”. I tried to give you some perspective from that side of the fence, having some experience with it, but you are not at a point where you are open to genuinely hearing the concerns. Therefore, there is not much point in addressing them further.

        As far as being factual, you regularly blur the lines between fact and opinion, and that is your right. You had said repeatedly on another site that Bulldogs can free-whelp, owners just choose not to in order to save every puppy. We had a poster whose mother breeds and shows Frenchies come back and report that it is not true, that something like 85% cannot free whelp. You were also given links from bulldog sites supporting the same. And yet here you were, once again asserting that bulldog breeders choose to c-section “to save every puppy.” Why would someone continue to repeat info as fact when she knows it is not true, to further an argument? I am not sure of that. However, when faced with information from your own source that show-winning girls can’t free whelp safely, you seamlessly switched your argument without even acknowledging that your early assertion was incorrect.

        That is your choice. So fare ye well. I have certainly paid you more compliments than you have every paid me. I will say again, as I have in the past, that you clearly love your dogs very much and strive to do right by them, and I admire that even though I regularly disagree with your opinions about certain issues.

        • Reply rufflyspeaking August 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm

          You’ve been commenting on the blog for only two weeks, and in that time have left 36 comments. 34 were negative. None were complimentary.

          I am absolutely fine with debate; I’m very willing to keep talking and talking and talking about this. For example, I’m seeing probably a third of all Cardigan labors either begin or end with c-sections. Some people haven’t had a free-whelp for several litters in a row. This is a breed that is shaped like a skinny bullet. Why are we making such a huge proportion of decisions to section? Because we don’t tolerate what we would have HAD to tolerate fifty years ago, which is a bunch of dead puppies.

          C-sections are becoming more and more common across all breeds, as are artificial breedings. I know MANY breeders who do NOT allow any natural ties (and this is across all breeds) and the number doing c-sections as a matter of course is skyrocketing. Repro vets are beginning to recommend them as a standard choice. This atmosphere, of the complete normalcy of and in many cases preference for inseminations and sections, is SEEN by people who are not involved in breeding but PERCEIVED to be something it’s very much not. If c-sections in Cardigans are up several thousand percent and many breeders now answer “no” to “would you ever let them free-whelp?”, does that mean they “can’t” free-whelp? Does it mean the body shape is different?

          If bulldogs were the only breed doing routine inseminations and sections, I’d agree with you that something is weird and wrong and those breeders are acting in a way that’s completely against the grain. I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I don’t like the croup and hock assembly of the German Shepherd and it seems obvious that the GSD people are not listening to the voice of the dog-showing world. But if routine inseminations and sections mean a breed is in the wrong, then we need to wipe out masses of breeds because it’s NOT just the bulldog. It’s not even MOSTLY the bulldog. Did you know that bulldogs are not a particularly common show dog? About as many of them are in the ring each year as are Afghan Hounds. Many more sections are being done on the rest of the show dogs than are being done on Bulldogs.

          I keep saying that it’s not just the bulldog and you keep coming back to the bulldog. So I really do want to hear your opinion – how do you respond to the fact that most toy breeds are routinely sectioned? Many giant breeds (I had a fabulous Mastiff breeder tell me that she fired her vet because he wouldn’t do a section on her bitch – she sections every single bitch – until the bitch’s temp dropped, so the bitch was in heavy labor by the time he got in there)? Bullmastiffs? Sussex Spaniels? Virtually all breeds if there is only one or two puppies in the x-ray?

          I do not mind, and am happy to have, lots and lots of discussions. What gets me more annoyed is that I’ve never heard a single show breeder say that all those working breeders were stupid. Never. I’ve never said that someone who breeds field-line Springers has it all wrong. But somehow it’s acceptable to say absolutely terrible things about show breeders, as though they’re not real people, as though they don’t have names. The people who say those things have, almost universally, never been to a single show. Usually they’ve never been to a single trial either. Never trained a dog of their own. They are completely separated from knowing anyone personally or having to look anyone in the face and say those things. The serious field breeders aren’t the ones saying that stuff; they love a good dog wherever it exists.

          Why don’t you join a bulldog breed club, get to know a ton of breeders, co-own a dog, breed a couple of litters, and THEN tell everyone what terrible shape the breed is in? Or why don’t you join a Springer club, get involved, help put on a specialty show, go to a couple of Nationals, and THEN tell everybody that the show breeders have it all wrong? That way you’d have GREAT evidence. Or you may find, as I strongly suspect you would, that the breeders adore their dogs, who are fantastic dogs, and are a group of people who are working incredibly hard to make their dogs’ lives wonderful.

    Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge