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After 10 years of crusading against the brachycephalic breeds, British scientist Rowena Packer (yes, the one from the CFR!) has realised that she has not been able to change perceptions about these breeds.

The English bulldog, French bulldog and pug have, despite all the efforts of technocrats (‘experts’) and awareness campaigns to prevent this, become much more popular in both the United Kingdom and the United States. And that after all her warnings (2012) and studies (2015) that should have brought about falling popularity.

In her latest research (2020), she went in search of the reason why. And that among owners of the three breeds mentioned above. This led to remarkable conclusions. The research showed that people may be more or less aware of the health risks of these breeds, but are no less enthusiastic about them. After investigating numerous possible causes and side-ways, she concluded that the majority (93.0%) of owners said they would buy their breed again in the future. About two-thirds (65.5%) of the owners would even recommend their breed!

The companion dog as a lucky charm.

The scientists had not counted on this kind of result. However, if technocrats had had their way, alcohol, fat, sugar, meat, fast food and many other “substances of pleasure” would have long gone the way of illegality – like drugs – or at least been heavily taxed like cigarettes. Rowena Packer, too, has already put on record that she may want to criminalise these breeds. However, one must be very careful not to want to impose and criminalise too much from above. There are plenty of examples in history where this has gone wrong.

Although the research shows

‘ Although owners are initially attracted to the distinctive appearance of brachycephalic dogs, perceived breed-related behavioural traits are a core component of why owners perceive their breed positively, alongside the strong emotional bonds they inspire and perceived suitability for sedentary lifestyles’ according to Packer (2020) in plain language about breed-related behavioural traits being at the heart of the appeal. Therefore, it is pointless to come up with wild crossbreds  that have lost the behavioural traits so typical of the pedigree dog.

It would be wiser perhaps to accept that these breeds, with their short skulls, also evoke something in many people. Both dogs and humans produce dopamine when they see each other.  A neurotansmitter that brings about the feeling of happiness in both dogs and humans. 

Gordon or Lady Gaga, for example, with her French bulldogs that were stolen, turned out to have been more than millions of euros’ worth of advertising for this breed worldwide. The value of her French bulldogs was expressed in a $500,000 reward for returning them. The chairman of the Dutch political party ‘Party .v.d. Dieren’ in the Senate calls this ‘free publicity’.  A few celebrities can wipe out many years of work by technocrats in one fell swoop. After all, it is about emotion,……. just like football.

The technocrats on the wrong track.

This inability to discourage or ban breeding with brachycephalic breeds on health grounds has drawn a part of the technocrats over a line between truth and ideology.  A line that has genuinely frightened the entire dog world. Not because breeds do not have genetic problems that need solutions, but because the ideology used does not lead to solutions but polarises. To dismiss the behavioural characteristics of purebred dogs by making wild crossbreeds is as much an attack on the intrinsic value of the purebred dog as it is to neglect its health.

The pedigree dog needs both.

In the purebred dog, the body and the breed-related behavioural characteristics are attuned or in balance. That is the attraction of the pedigree dog.

In short, it would be better if serious breeders, who want to improve the health of their breed, would cooperate with serious population geneticists. In my opinion, they will understand each other faster than two ideologies that do not see eye to eye.

Come for the looks, stay for the personality? A mixed methods investigation of reacquisition and owner recommendation of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs

Rowena M. A. Packer , Dan G. O’Neill, Francesca Fletcher, Mark J. Farnworth Published: August 26, 2020

Lady Gaga’ and the scientists in the dark

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