Canine behaviour problems and breeding


My view on breeding practices is quite simple. I believe we breed far too many dogs, mainly driven from the perspective of making money. Of course, it is clear that breeding over the years has resulted in many physical problems in our dogs driven by the desire for a certain aesthetic.

We need only to look at short-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs such as Pugs, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Pekingese and Lhasa Apso to name a few. All of these dogs suffer from physical problems caused by their breeding.

However, what about behavioral problems?

A Finnish study \’Prevalence, co-morbidity, and breed differences in canine anxiety in 13,700 Finnish pet dogs\’ has taken a, fairly, in-depth look at behavioural problems across a number of breeds. It makes for interesting reading.  I am, usually, a little dubious about questionnaires, particularly if from a small group. However, this looks at a meaningful number of dogs over a range of breeds.

The authors of the study, conclude after looking at 13,715 dogs in 264 breeds that canine anxieties and behaviour problems are common across the breeds.

Given that there are around 77 millions dog in the US and 85 million in Europe it is clear that millions can be suffering with behavioural problems.

The authors think that anxiety impairs welfare and problematic behaviour may be an indication of poor welfare and, therefore, efforts should be made to decrease the prevalence of canine anxieties. Ongoing research efforts will be focused on identifying environmental and genetic risk factors behind the canine anxiety-related traits across the breeds. There is, they think, a role to be played by breeders in improving dog welfare through selective breeding for improved behavioural characteristics.

Of course, this is an admirable goal, however, I am unsure that the breeders, as a body, can be persuaded to follow such a path.

I am sure, though, that these dogs can be helped through responsible and understanding dog owners working with canine behavourists to help affected dogs with their behavioural problems.

In addition, education will play an important role in helping our dogs. a deeper understanding about dogs in general can only help owners / prospective owners to think, carefully, about continuing to facilitate the demand for dogs that, through no fault of their own, are bred to meet demand whether it be through fashion, fad, fame or anything else.

Mixed breed dogs featured fairly highly in various categories examined. However, there is no data provided about what the mixed breeds were – therefore, results can be skewed by virtue of what the ‘mixes’ were composed of. Bottom line, DON\’T be put of rescuing a dog.