Max is a 4-year-old boxer terrier mix. Max’s favorite foods include anything he can get his hands on, but he LOVES cheese. Max lives at home with Brady, with whom he spends time playing, fighting, and lounging in the sun. Because of the breed’s natural athleticism, the Boxer tends to be a healthy dog, but there are exceptions. For instance, Max suffers from canine hip dysplasia, which results in the joints grinding against each other, leading to a deterioration in the hip socket. Our values of beauty affect how we communicate with ourselves, our peers, and our communities. Beauty standards affect everyone, but they should be left out of the lives of dogs.
Tail docking, selective breeding, declawing, etc. all focus on superficial aspects of dogs in attempts to make them more psychically appealing to us, and these are just some of many examples of body modification in dogs. Events such as dog competitions underline the cruelty of interfering with the psychical and mental being of dogs, by emphasizing only the psychical attributes and the performance of so said dog.
Often, selective breeding for traits leads to evolutionary changes in dogs’ psychical body that affects their health and performance. Some examples include bulldogs whose small nostrils, elongated soft palate, and narrow trachea result in snoring, and difficulty breathing which can often result in bulldogs becoming overheated or overtired at faster rates. Additionally, many large breeds are prone to hip dysplasia. In hip dysplasia, the joint’s ball and socket don’t fit together properly, which causes pain, arthritis, and problems walking. Often large breeds such as German shepherds suffer from hip dysplasia.
Domestication implies full autonomy over another species giving them no decision in breeding, organization of the territory, and food supply (Clutton-Brock, 1977). To ensure that we as dog owners aren’t overstepping the natural evolution of dogs, we need to talk about the ethics of all types of body modification that stem from pure vanity and appearance. Most modern dog breeds are predisposed to inherited defects and diseases since almost 700 hereditary diseases are registered in dogs (Farstad, 2018). To minimize both psychical and mental barriers due to selective breeding, we must talk about the dangers of breeding with the pure purpose of altering psychical features and rather than purchasing purebred dogs, adopting sheltered dogs.
Clutton-Brock, J. (1977). Man-Made Dogs. Science, 197(4311), 1340–1342. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1744697
Farstad W. (2018). Ethics in animal breeding. Reproduction in domestic animals = Zuchthygiene, 53 Suppl 3, 4–13. https://doi.org/10.1111/rda.13335