Eugenics and Dog Breeding (post contains affiliate links).
Dog Breeding and Eugenics
Ever since I studied population genetics at the Institute for Creation Research, I have thought a lot about purebred dogs and why they seem to have so many health problems.
The answer is partly explained by the fact that when you breed an animal for specific characteristics, you are bottlenecking the gene pool.
Think of an upside-down bottle (or funnel) that starts out big and narrows to a small hole.
The top of the funnel—mutt—contains a greater variety of genes. As you go down, only some of the genes will be left over in the container—Dalmatian, for example. That is, the entire gene pool/potential you start with will be reduced as you go down through the funnel.
So, not only do you reduce the genetic potential as you create your purebred dog, when you go down the funnel, if some of the genes passed down are mutations, the chances of a mutation passing down and being expressed in the final “product,” has been greatly increased.
So, why would anyone want to do such a thing?
Firstly, a little background to explain why dog breeding became such a hot thing starting in the 1800s.
Dog types go back 1000s of years, and some selective breeding has been used as a way to make dogs more useful to help with work. For example, making dogs more useful for hunting, shepherding, and retrieving. In the 1800s, however, the idea of breeding for selective characteristics took on a whole new life
Charles Darwin’s new thoughts on the inheritance of characteristics as well as the ideas of Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin, and the Father of Eugenics, fueled this new movement of dog breeding.
What is Eugenics?
The term Eugenics is the study and control of procreation as a means of improving hereditary characteristics of future generations.
Francis Galton, the Father of Eugenics, believed that humans, like animals should be selectively bred.
Two examples of Eugenics in practice:
- Hitler and Nazi Germany – Eugenics is one of the main theories that fed Hitler’s ideas for creating the “Superior Race.”
- Involuntary sterilization practices in the USA–that’s right folks—as late as 2010!*
“Few ideas have done more harm to the human race in the last 120 years than those of Sir Francis Galton. He founded the evolutionary pseudo-science of eugenics. Today, ethnic cleansing, the use of abortion to eliminate ‘defective’ unborn babies, infanticide, euthanasia, and the harvesting of unborn babies for research purposes (and forced sterilization—my note), all have a common foundation in the survival-of-the-fittest theory of eugenics.”
(Note that prior to World War II, Eugenics was a commonly used term. After World War II, however, the term became a dirty word. Now eugenicists are known as “population scientists,” and “human geneticists,” while “Eugenics Quarterly” has been renamed, “Journal of Social Biology).”
So, what exactly is dog breeding?
Dog breeding is the practice of mating selected dogs with the intent to maintain or produce specific qualities and characteristics. When dogs reproduce without human intervention, their offspring’s characteristics are determined by natural selection. On the other hand, “dog breeding” refers specifically to the artificial selection of dogs, in which dogs are intentionally bred by their owners:
The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. (Not Macroevolution).**
“‘Selective breeding’ is the process by which humans use animal breeding…to selectively develop particular phenotypic traits by choosing which animals…will sexually reproduce and have offspring together.”
Original Dog Kind
All dogs are descendents of a wolf-like ancestor. In fact, the genetic diversity of the original wolf-life ancestor allows for variations such as Chihuahuas and Great Danes. It also allows for the fact that there are currently at least 200 different breeds of dogs.
So, if it wasn’t for this original diversity, humans would never have been able to create dog breeds in the first place. Not only that but
When a dog breed IS created, it decreases the gene pool of the animal being bred.
This, in turn, reduces the variability and the genetic potential of the offspring.
Problems with Purebreds – Some examples
- French Bulldog – This dog is considered more valuable when the head is larger. So, the French Bulldog is bred to produce a bigger and bigger head circumference. As a result, >90% of French Bulldog puppies have to be delivered by Caesarean Birth.
- King Charles Spaniel – This breed has a mutation that causes “Syringomyelia,” which means the skull is too small to house the brain. As a result, when the brain gets too big for the skull, the dog experiences severe pain.
- Rhodesian Ridgback – This breed is valued for the ridges on its back. If a puppy is born without proper ridges, they are “culled.” (READ: SLAUGHTERED). Although, it is claimed this no longer happens. To make matters worse, when the “proper ridges” exist, this is considerd a mild form of Spina Bifida. Thus, the diseased animal is preferred to the healthy animal simply because of the ridges.
- Dalmatians – Virtually all Dalmatians lack the ability to break down Uric Acid . This is the result of a mutation in their bloodline. Thus, when a person owns a Dalmation, they have to feed the animal a special diet to prevent bladder stones which are potentially fatal. Breeders have fixed this problem by adding back the gene to the bloodline. However, many consider these “LUA” (Low Uric Acid) variants to be “mongrels.”
Let’s Talk About Poodles
According to Wikipedia:
“The poodle has been bred in at least three sizes, including Standard, Miniature, and Toy. According to the American Kennel Club, which recognized the breed in 1887, the Standard Poodle is the oldest of the three varieties, and was later bred down to the miniature and toy sizes. The British Kennel Club also recognizes three sizes, stating that the miniature and toy are scaled down versions of the standard.”
(a) Standard –
- Most likely of all dog breeds to develop a serious skin disease called “sebaceous adenitis”
- High risk for thyroid disease
- 40% of this breed die from cancer.
(b) Toy – Because they are so small, they have a high “miscarriage” rate. They require assistance, pups are often stillborn, and caesarians are common.
Parents at one point tried to breed poodles for a little extra money. They purchased 3 dogs; 2 females and 1 male.
Dog 1 – Female – out of 2 litters, only one puppy survived (stillborn).
Dog 2 – Female – Too small – at risk of death if gave birth, so had to be spayed; developed kidney failure at a young age.
Dog 3 – Male – Had genetic defect that precluded breeding him. Parents found out after purchasing him and after the first litter (none of which survived).
It’s understandable why certain dog breeds would be wanted and needed. For example, blind and other handicapped service dogs. But iI think t’s important to keep in mind the risks and the suffering involved in the breeding of dogs.
There are so many unwanted non-purebred (and even purebred) dogs in the animal shelters that could use a good home. If you just want a healthy dog for a pet. One that will probably live longer and have less healthy problems, I believe your best bet is to find a “mutt” and give him or her a home.
Here’s a great place to start: Mutt Rescue
If you’re a dog lover, check these adorable bookmarks out.
Notes and References
*Make sure you read this article, which is a PBS report. This subject is incredibly important to be educated on but is beyond the scope of subject I’m discussing.
**Note that evolutionists (and Wikipedia) have a bias that states that new species are proof of macroevolution. Creationists do not use the term macroevolution in the same way. A new type of bird is not an increase in genetic information, which is what is necessary for TRUE macroevolution to occur.