Man’s best friend comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors. You want a large dog with a beautiful coat; you can have that in a golden retriever. What about a dog who has a fierce bark to ward of intruders? A German Shepherd does the trick. Do you want a dog that can survive in the coldest climate and still function normally? A Siberian husky will do.

All this variety comes not necessarily due to natural selection- man has a hand in it through a process called selective breeding. The process has the advantage of creating dogs that look exactly as the breeders intend, but come with a variety of inherited disorders as listed below.

The flattened face of a pug or causes breathing problems because they have a shorter nasal cavity than their ancestors. The scientific name for this disorder is brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome. The nasal cavity of these dogs is intentionally shortened to match the breed standard.

Some dogs have difficulties giving birth because the breed standard dictates they should have a large head, broad shoulders, and a narrow pelvis. These characteristics mean the puppies have a large head, but the mother has a narrow pelvis so she is not able to give birth normally. The bulldog is one breed that has this problem, and almost always has to be assisted in giving birth via a caesarian section. The females also have to be artificially inseminated because their backs can’t hold the weight of a male.

Problems Caused by Selective Breeding in Dogs

Small dogs such as Chihuahuas and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are bred to look cuddly and doll-like. As breeders strive to make these breeds more doll-like, they create a disorder known as Chiari Malformation. This disorder causes certain parts of the brain to push through the base of the skull when certain skull bones fuse too soon. The effects are painful headaches due to too much pressure on the brain. They also have difficulty walking and can get paralyzed.

Large dogs such as Labradors, Great Danes and Rottweilers are heavy, causing a lot of pressure on their bones. This leads to higher incidence of bone cancer among these dogs. Hip dysplasia, the abnormal formation of the hip joint is also common among large breeds such as German Shepherds.

These are just some of the problems caused by selective breeding in dogs. Personally I like the physical traits and temperaments of my purebred dogs, and I wouldn’t trade these for anything. The predictability of purebred dogs makes it easy to choose a dog that fits into your home, but the problems caused by selective breeding are a pain. In my opinion, the best way forward is not to do away with the dogs, but to encourage responsible breeding that eliminates the problems. Breeders should put the health of the dogs first before the looks.

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The sporting group is made up of pointers, setters, retrievers, and spaniels. These dogs are simply a ball of energy to have around. They take to swimming like fish, and are at their best running wild in the outdoors. They require intensive exercise for optimum health and, just like dogs in the working group, are intelligent. They are easy to train and make for great companions on hikes and nature walks.

The hound group is made up of a wide variety of members who don’t share much in terms of appearance. What they do have in common is their natural instinct to hunt. Some track prey by scent, while some in this group use their impressive stamina to run after prey until the prey runs out of strength, after which the dogs holds the prey down for the master to hunt. Examples include the Norwegian Elkhounds, Afghans, Beagles, Basenji Basset Hound, Black and Tan Coonhound, and the Bloodhound.

Because hounds were bred to help their owners in hunting, they were also selectively bred for their ability to alert their owners when they had captured a target. Like stated in this article on Daily Dog Discoveries, baying is the sound exclusively emitted by hounds. Beagles bay when they catch the scent of a quarry, whereas Coonhounds bay when they have cornered (treed) a quarry. This sound can be disturbing to new owners especially if hunting is the last thing on your list of normal activities. You therefore need to decide if you are comfortable living with a hound, baying and all.

The last category is known as the non-sporting group. Unlike the other groups, dogs in this group have nothing in common. Some people say it’s a group assigned to dogs that could not fit into any of the other six categories. The group has members who vary greatly in size, behavior and appearance. Some members in this group are common names such as Poodles, Dalmatians and French Bulldogs. Others are the Tibetan Spaniel, Bichon Frise and Chow Chow breeds.

How Dogs are Categorized II

Dog owners need to know all they can about their dogs so that they can give their pets the best life possible. Some dogs require high energy exercises, while others require moderate exercise to stay healthy. Some dogs require specialized grooming, while others require only light grooming to look good. One way to know what to expect from your dog and the best way to care for them is to understand the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) dog groups. The AKC categorizes dogs into seven groups based on behavior and temperament.

The dogs in the terrier group were initially bred to kill vermin for their masters. These dogs vary in size from very small to large breeds. However, most of them share the characteristic trait of wiry fur that requires a specialized type of grooming known as stripping. Terries are aggressive in nature. They are gutsy and don’t stand down in a fight or argument. Sometimes they are even confrontational. They need an owner who is equally stubborn and one who doesn’t mind putting them in their place.

How Dogs are Categorized

The toy group is made up of cute, cuddly and tiny dogs. A Chihuahua comes to mind when this category is mentioned. The dogs were bred as lap dogs that owners can cuddle in cold weather and carry around with ease. Today, these dogs are preferred in apartments because of their small size that makes them easy to maintain. They require less time grooming, less food, and if they ever need physical restraining, their small size makes it easy to handle them.