I think it’s pretty much common knowledge that marrying your cousin and having a bunch of kids is a big no-no. I would hope that we are all aware of the many reasons why this would be a bad idea and are all in agreement that we should discourage others from shacking up with a family member.

Why is it so bad you ask? Well besides being more than a little creepy, procreating with someone who shares your genetics can produce some severe health defects. I don’t care what Jerry Springer says, its bad news. We know this, so we don’t do it. The problem is that we regularly do it with dogs.

Animals that form social groups in the wild (like wolves) will kick out male members once they reach sexual maturity. The banished animal will then look to join up with a different group, which contains a very different gene pool. This ensures that no inbreeding takes place and that only genetically sound reproduction takes place.

The truth is that pure breed dogs, thought of by many as a healthier, more reliable options compared to mixed mutts, have a very limited gene pool and many more physical and mental problems. You might say, well yes that’s true of irresponsible puppy mill dogs, but not all those legit breeders out there. Right? . . . Wrong.

I’m sorry to report that yes those legitimate breeders are also guilty of this whether they know it or not. The truth of the matter is that there are only a very finite number of each breed of dog and not matter what the breed their gene pool is surprisingly small. And because of that, family members are continually being mated and producing offspring. This is why there are so many breed specific health problems. We’re literally breeding these dogs to death.

When you mixed the breeds of dogs that are mated you don’t have the genetic conflicts which produce very healthy young. I’ve seen many of my clients pure bred dogs pass away long before their time due to breed specific ailments. It really breaks my heart to see what we’re doing to these dogs – all for the selfish pursuit of the “breed standard.”

I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail from dog show enthusiasts for stating this (just like I did when I blogged about cropping and docking), but all I can say is that I have the dog’s best interest in mind. That’s where many people miss the point. It’s not about what the tradition is or what’s always been done before, it must always be about what’s best for our dogs.

As much as I hate the names, I’m glad that designer dog breeds are now so popular. For most of the domestic dog’s existence mutts have been the less desirable underdog when compared to a pure bred pooch. But now we have Morkies and Cockapoos running around like crazy. Not long ago if your prized Pug was jumped by the neighborhood Beagle you would be ashamed of the bastard puppies. Now, however, you can call them Puggles and charge a few grand for each pup.

Even though I refuse to say these silly sounding hybrid names out loud, I love the popularity of them because it means we’re getting healthier dogs and reducing inbreeding. Today’s designer dogs are simply yesterday’s mutts. And if giving them a cute name makes people feel better, I’m fine with that. I just want to see us take better care of dogs, because they continually prove to always have our best interest in their hearts.

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