Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Terrierman blogged: Dogs Shows As Human Failing

My Comment:

Terrierman didn't actually write any of this particular blog, he just pasted in an article entitled Why Televised Dog Shows Are a Sham by Sacha Zimmerman that was printed in The New Republic, 12.14.06.

Ms. Zimmerman goes on at great length about her distaste for dog shows and she makes it very clear that she has no real understanding or knowledge of dog shows as such. Perhaps the only ones she has seen are are the televised ones with lame commentary? Regardless, her assertion that a dog's "soul" is never taken into consideration is way off base.

A dog can fit the breed standard to a "T" and be one of the best of it's breed from a conformation perspective and yet not be a great show dog or even a good show dog.

The one elusive quality of a great show dog is showmanship, that enthusiastic, outgoing personality that makes you notice a dog out of all the others. And it can carry a dog a great ways in the show ring even when the dog has faults or is not the best representative of the breed standard standing in the ring.

A dog's "spirit" or "soul" can make it a great show dog, and when coupled with sound structure that conforms to the breed standard, it will make it a great representative of the breed.

And Ms. Zimmerman fails to understand that dog shows are occassional events and that the dogs all go home after the show and do what dogs do including spending time with their owners that "wear frumpy clothes, have less than perfect posture, lack good muscle tone" etc. Dog shows are just a small part of a dog's life or show career. The majority of a show dog's life is spent just being a dog and companion to it's owner. Most dogs love going to shows because it is a full day of activity with their owner, and from a dog's perspective nothing is better than spending time with your owner.

Ms. Zimmerman's also makes reference to eugenics and dogs and stated "many of which suffer from genetic diseases due to inbreeding".

First off, eugenics refers to the selective breeding of human beings not animals. The use of selection is morally reprehensible to human beings, but not for animals. Selecting for health, temperament, structure, and appearance in dogs is intended to improve and preserve health and breed characteristics. Used appropriately, careful selection for positive and useful attributes can be beneficial in the breeding of dogs.

Secondly, inbreeding itself does not cause genetic diseases. Genetic diseases are caused by the combination of defective genes that exist in both of the dogs that are bred together. Inbreeding is not going to create unhealthy dogs unless both parents carry for the same defective recessive genes or one parent passes on an unexpressed defective dominant gene (one having incomplete penetrance).

The same would be true of a breeding of two mixed breed dogs if they both carried for the same defective genes, or if one parent carried an unexpressed defective dominant gene. The same applies for line-breeding and outcrossing. It's not the breeding method that is used that matters, it is whether the two dogs that are being bred carry the same defective genes or one carries for an unexpressed dominant gene.

It's about gene combinations and gene expression not breeding methods.

As for comment Retrieverman left for the Dogs Shows As Human Failing blog:

Retrieverman, you need to get with it. There are a lot of Irish Setters that can hunt, including the show bred ones. Many show bred Irish Setters are earning or working towards Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter, and Master Hunter titles and in the past year alone the Irish Setter Club of America has seen 4 new Dual Champions (Show Championship + Field Championship). The field championship is earned in direct competition with dogs that are bred only for the field so it is a fully deserved title. Irish Setters have been given a bad rap for the wrong reason. Many Irish Setters are in pet homes and never get an opportunity to prove what they can do in the field. Hunting is not needed anymore to put food on the tables and many owners are not interested in pursuing it. It's very expensive to put a field title on a dog, the entries are high, as is the training time commitment and travel that is needed to develop a competitive dog. Blame the owners if you must, but unless the dogs have the opportunity to prove themselves in the field then you have no business just dismissing their hunting potential so offhandedly.

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  1. No one in their right mind would use an inefficient, useless show setter with no brain. Titles schmitles-- I don't know of any serious bird hunter who'd use a dog like that. What you're talking about is show dogs that get titles. There are lots of them. They are not the same thing as dogs that serious bird hunters or pointing dog trialers would use.

    We already have many working strains of setter-- including working red setters, which have their own registry. They look and act NOTHING like show setters.

    I know you chaps are busy trying to defend your perversion and distortions. Your war on genetic science is only equaled by Stalin's.

  2. You must have missed this sentence: "The field championship is earned in direct competition with dogs that are bred only for the field so it is a fully deserved title." In fact they are in direct competition with other pointing breeds including field bred German Shorthaired Pointers and the lines of working Red Setters that were AKC registered prior to AKC rescinding reciprocal registration with FDSB for Irish Setters.