Jul 28, 2010

Canine Diversity – How Man Sculpted Dog

No matter your belief, we all know that the human race has played a major role in creating some of the diversity we see in our canine companions.  From working dogs like the Border Collie to our Rottweiler protectors, with Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus in between, there is seemingly no end to the list of dog breeds in the world today. 

Because of this rich history in the decades of progression into our present day dog breeds, National Geographic is doing a two-hour special on the evolution of dogs over the ages called “And Man Created Dog,” airing Sept 8. 

For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, we have been breeding characteristics into dogs to produce a desired look or trait.  Whether it be functional, such as the thick coat and stamina of the Alaskan Malamute, or purely aesthetic, like the cute little snout on a Pug, we have tailored dogs to meet our wants and needs.  Nature may not have selected for some of these traits, yet we have come to adore them. 

We have designed breeds over years of careful…and sometimes not so careful…selection.  Along the way, though, we have also done some serious damage to man’s best friend.

Inbreeding and poor selection practices have led to a variety of issues in many breeds.  Hip dysplasia in dogs is one of the most prevalent problems in German Shepherds, as their beautifully angular posture has led to joints that often don’t quite fit together properly.  Labrador Retrievers are another popular breed that often experiences the same problem.  Hip dysplasia leads to arthritis in dogs. Dog arthritis, respiratory issues, skin conditions, and even chronic ear infections are some conditions seen due to poor breeding practices.

I encourage you to watch this special to learn more about different dog breeds.


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