Improve the Breed?

How come "improvement" in dog breeds always seems to mean taking physical features to the extreme while minimizing health and longevity?

If the highest and best goal of eugenics is to improve the genetic composition of a breed, what–if anything–can we say has been improved in the pedigree dog in the last 100 years?

What breed lives longer today than a century ago?  Where do we find evidence of larger litter sizes and increased vitality? Has any insurance company lowered their rates for coverage of any breed because the breeding community has successfully created a healthier animal?  What breed has fewer total health problems in number and incidence today versus the past?

What breed is more capable?  What breed does its job better now than in the past?  What new job can dogs do well now that they couldn’t do before?  Has anyone founded a breed that meets a new working or sporting need driven by demand?

Do our dogs even look better on the most shallow of aesthetic measures?  Are consumers flocking to buy more dogs with excessive hair, excessive skin, or insufficient length of limb or depth of face?  Do the dogs that win in the show ring really win in the open market?  Are people more nostalgic for the dog of their childhood that no longer exists due to changing show fads or are they more impressed with the improved models and wonder how they ever got along with the less improved versions?

If there are tens of thousands of breeders creating millions of dogs every year in this country, where are the results?

100 years ago the human life expectancy was 50 years and in those five short decades you were likely to have lived without anything electronic or digital, no drip coffee or band-aids, no animation motion pictures, no quartz clocks, no disposable diapers or electric guitars, no internet, no TV, no bras.

We’ve lifted and separated humans in the last century, have we elevated and distinguished our dog breeds?

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.