Weird-looking Dogs

Actually, I never tell people that their dog looks weird.  I also don’t tell them that their dog looks grotesque, strange or deformed, even when that’s what they are.  The word I use is extreme, as in extreme conformation.   Extreme is a very fashionable word these days.

We are quite accustomed to seeing an incredible variety of dog breeds with extreme conformation.  Remember watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on television?   So many beautiful dogs, and such a variety of shapes, sizes, coat textures and colors.  It just seems like the natural order of things, but it’s not.

The natural order of things would be the wild canidae of the world.  Take a look at wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, dingos, and the wild dogs of Africa — you will note some common themes.  They all have a long, pointy nose and their ears stand up wide open.  They have long, skinny legs and big, bushy tails.  Their coats are dense and of a medium length, neither slick nor flowing.    They ALL look that way, every one of them.  If they all look that way, THAT MUST BE WHAT WORKS!!

Now look at your dog.  Notice the parts that look wolf-like and the parts that don’t.  What kind of a wolf percentage do you have?  Chances are that the lower your wolf-score, the more built-in problems your pet has. 

Humans are a perverse species.  They see a little puppy born with some sad deformity and think, "Man, that’s cool-looking.  People would pay extra to have an unusual, cool-looking dog like that.  Little fella, you are going to have a lot of offspring."  What kind of sad deformities, you may ask?

Nothing cuter than a little Pug puppy, I’d say.  His little (I mean big) eyes bug out of his head: number eight eyes and number five sockets.  And where’s his little nose?  Has he been chasing parked cars?  If you looked at a C-T scan of his cute little head, you’d see that it really looks like somebody squashed his nose into his head.  It’s not just shorter — all the structures inside are crammed into a small space and wadded up.  His soft palate is about to choke him and his nostrils and nasal passages have almost no openings.  He’s more congested on the best day he ever had than a normal dog would be with pneumonia. 

At least the rest of the Pug’s body is normal.  What if he were a Shar Pei, or an English Bulldog?  The poor English Bulldog… their heads are too big; their eyelids either hang open or roll in against their eyeball (or some combination of both); the tongue hangs out of the mouth; their ears are screwed shut; not only is their nose closed like the Pug, they have tiny airways in their chest, as well.   They have such big fronts and such tiny hineys that the males cannot rear up for natural mating, and the big puppy heads can’t get out the teensy birth canals.  English Bulldogs are almost all conceived through artificial insemination and delivered by C-section.  And don’t get me started on their rampant allergy problems.  Talk about a high-maintenance pet!

There are certainly other breed-specific medical problems that result from less obvious genetic accidents (allergies, bleeding problems and such), but there are lots of problems that arise just because the dog is a weird shape has extreme conformation.

Now don’t get the wrong idea here.  You might think that I don’t like to see these extreme dogs, but that’s not true.  Certainly I feel sorry for some of them, but their weirdness doesn’t keep them from being great pets.  And don’t forget, I like to get to know people and help them, and if you have a high maintenance pet, it gives me a lot more opportunity to do that.  Of course, if that doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to consider the "wolf score" before going puppy-shopping.

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