hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
[personal profile] hummingbirdmadgirl
these two articles are amazing:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/magazine/can-the-bulldog-be-saved.html
http://dogbehaviorscience.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/100-years-of-breed-improvement/

i love irish wolfhounds, i think they are the most regal and beautiful dogs in the world. i'm sure the fact that i grew up around them influences this, but they are huge, gentle dogs that are just astounding. they also don't live very long as they are super prone to mast cell cancer, bone cancer, and a whole host of pulmonary problems. the breed went extinct in the 1700s and was revived using deerhounds and great danes in an attempt to bring back the massive wolf killing dogs that one would read about in the book of kells. however since this was done quickly, you end up with a giant dog that has a heart and lungs more optimal for a smaller dog, meaning that its body worked twice as hard, even at rest, resulting in a very short lifespan. the last time my parents were looking into getting a wolfhound (about ten years ago) they noticed that the ones being bred by the most reputable breeders were smaller than the ones they had previously had, and didn't really like that aesthetic, which is a shame because even though it wasn't as awe inspiring, it meant the dogs might stand a chance at being healthier. sadly over the past few years the wolfhouds i've seen have been fucking huge, way larger than any of the ones I had growing up so I guess that more breeders are aiming for aesthetics again vs overall health of the dog.

when i decided i wanted a dog, i knew that getting a wolfhound was a bad idea. we live in an apartment, we move a lot, we don't know if we're putting down roots in LA, ethan had never owned a dog before, there were a whole host of reasons why getting a giant breed was not a good idea. plus there is a part of me that sort of feels guilt in the whole idea of helping perpetuate a breed that is not healthy, or helping perpetuate the current standard which is not particularly healthy. in reading about breeds i realized i really liked a lot of the characteristics of bulldogs.

before we go any further, yes i know that i could totally be viewed a privileged asshole for buying a dog vs adopting. but at the time we had a very old cat and i wanted to bring a puppy into the house. i also wanted a dog that wouldn't be a detriment for finding an apartment and considering how many dogs/puppies in shelters out here are part pitbull that wasn't a tenable situation since most apartments out here won't rent to you if your dog is even part pitbull (which is a shame because they're awesome dogs). but even aside from that, i wanted a dog that i wanted. i wanted a puppy since it would more easily integrate with the cats and wouldn't be bringing any baggage into the house with it (since hey, dogs don't like being abandoned), i wanted a smaller dog, so i made the choice to buy vs adopt. i've always been responsible in not buying from mills or pet stores, adopting when i can, not buying wild caught exotics, so i sort of feel that if i want to be selfish in selecting a companion animal, whatever. it's not like we don't already know i'm selfish.

one thing that i noticed the more i read about bulldogs was how unhealthy they were. heart disease, allergies, skin disease, eye problems, palate deformation that could lead to a massive host of breathing problems, just every goddamn problem in the book seemed to be wrong with this breed. which was really disheartening because they are so adorable. but the idea of spending $x on a dog and then piling up massive vet bills (or even worse vet bills that we might not be able to pay) seemed like a really bad idea.

from there i started reading about french bulldogs, another small breed i've always liked, and found that if they were bred well, they might still have some health issues, but markedly less than the english bulldog. so we started looking at breeders and Ethan found a woman in the OC and set up an appointment to meet her.

the first thing that struck me was that her dogs were zipping around her substantial yard (she owns a ranch as she also has horses). frenchies are more active than english bulldogs, but they're not really known for their stamina...but even before meeting the puppies we got to see their parents and even a grand parent tearing up the yard like nobody's business. the fact that the puppies grandmother (the grandfather was not on the premises) was alive and happy and super healthy was a sign in the right direction. we had to talk to the breeder for a while about what we wanted in a dog, what my experience in caring for dogs had been, what sort of time/money we were willing to dedicate to this pet, it felt almost like a job interview. she explained that she bred her dogs for health first and foremost. her dogs were all champions in agility as well as show, meaning that they were bred for endurance as well as appearance, however they all tended to have more accolades in the agility stuff. looking at pictures (as well as being there) it was obvious her dogs were more slender, had longer faces and larger noses than other frenchies that i'd seen. their chest's weren't as barrelled, their torsos were longer, their nostrils were wider, their heads weren't as massive, their hips weren't as thin, they mated on their own, their eyes weren't as big, they still looked awesome and clearly like french bulldogs, but slightly different. more like little boxers vs little torpid tanks. she was also super against fad or rare colors so i was sold on her ethics. then we met the puppies and bones just killed me. he was honestly sort of the opposite of what i thought i'd wanted but when i saw him i just knew he was perfect for me. i also talked with other reputable breeders in the SoCal area and the ones vetted by the AKC all said that the breeder we were thinking of getting bones from was a phenomenal breeder and also very picky who she sold dogs to.

a year and a half later and i'm still thrilled with the decision we made. honestly at first i was sort of concerned that he was too tiny or not husky enough (mostly because of seeing other french bulldogs that are way stouter than he is, because in the end i think i'm a big dog person at heart) but overall according to his vet, Bones is one of the healthiest frenchies she's seen. he has no spine or palate problems, his breathing is perfectly normal, he doesn't snore or click, overall he's just a happy, healthy, and awesome dog. i've taken some precautions like having him registered as an emotional support dog, (which is essentially the new medical marijuana) so that he doesn't have to fly in cargo when we travel since i don't want to risk the whole overheating thing...but he's small enough that he can fly in the cabin anyway since he fits in a carrier the size of carry on luggage. overall he's awesome except for being allergic to fleas, though to be fair, it's not like i want him full of fleas anyway so it's not like bathing him and cleaning the apartment is a real chore.

so when these articles started making the rounds, especially the ones about what breeds looked like 100 years ago vs how they look now, i totally got sucked into them. it's just really striking and sad in so many ways to see how breeds have been destroyed to attain physical characteristics that, like the irish wolfhound being ginormous, are in no way sensical other than aesthetics. so i poked around looking at vintage pictures of frenchies and was pretty psyched to see that the bear looks pretty similar to those pictures vs the ones of modern frenchies. obviously i completely lucked out when it came to this dog and i'm grateful that there are breeders who are being more attentive to health vs cartoonishly adorable dogs. the one thing that makes me nervous is if i want another frenchie (and i do) i worry that bones is an anomaly and the next dog we get will end up being some genetic train wreck or something. i'm trying my best to hold out and see what sort of frenchies are up for rescue, though truthfully i think i'd wait until wingnut passes away before bringing a rescue into the house since many of the ones i've seen aren't good with cats or just display levels of food or toy aggression that i think would be too much for a 10 year old cat. who knows though. i know i want bones to have a dog sibling at some point.

on a footnote completely unrelated but buried at the bottom because i have little faith that people actually read livejournal posts and that makes me feel most comfortable discussing this here vs fb or twitter because i feel like it could come across as some sort of self congratulatory bullshit, but that's not where this is going. there are a lot of homeless people in hollywood. one of the great things about the dog is that they want to play with him and he wants to play with everyone ever. which sort of turns into a good way to connect with people you might not otherwise. the end result being that i talk to a lot of homeless people (or in a lot of cases they just talk to the dog, but that's fine because he's kind of cooler than i am anyway). the weather this week has been unusually cold and is only going to get colder. so ethan and i decided to gather up a bunch of blankets and socks and clothing to give to people since it's going to be in the 30s at night. so last night was part 1 of a multi-night series of giving stuff out to people, which was moderately successful,but the best part, the reason it was only moderately successful? someone had beat us to it and had started handing out jackets earlier in the evening. how awesome is that? it's really goddamn awesome is what it is. i sort of went out there last night feeling like we were doing the bare minimum and feeling kind of disheartened about the world and my own contributions to it, and came home feeling so happy that someone else had taken some serious initiative in helping people out. i still feel so happy about it.

so yeah, my dog is awesome and i love him and i'm glad that while he really wouldn't exist in nature without selective breeding, i'm glad that he was bred ethically and that he's not a heaving snorting mess that can't walk a mile without passing out.

Date: 2013-12-06 11:52 pm (UTC)
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
From: [personal profile] alonewiththemoon
I read LJ, all the way to the end, and you guys are awesome :-)

Your breeder sounds perfect. I think when you find a person like that, you kind of get a pass on the buy vs. adopt debate because you are buying from a person who is strengthening the breed, and it is good to reinforce economic demand for healthier animals. That said, I totally understand the conundrum. I face it every time I get a ferret, all the more so because their life spans are so short--buy a baby from a big breeder, get a lifetime with that ferret but also encourage big breeding*, adopt an older no less awesome ferret but only get a few years at best. And they're all equally deserving of a good home. I try to alternate.

*which in ferrets is also resulting in genetic problems linked to "adorable" traits like white stripes on their heads, extra fluffy coats, squished faces, etc. Humanity seems to have a real knack for messing up perfectly good animals :-/

Date: 2013-12-07 04:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brigid.livejournal.com
it's always a hard call...because on one hand there's a desire (i think maybe even moreso if you don't have or want kids) to get the optimal experience with your pet, and for some people that might mean choosing what they look like or having them from the time they're a baby...but yeah there's always that concern about encouraging big or over or irresponsible breeding. i know right now with frenchies, one big issue is the fad colors...blue has become reallllllly popular, however it's a recessive trait so blue frenchies tend to have all sorts of behavior and physical problems, but of course they are goddamn adorable and people are willing to pay an insane premium for them, which just increases the demand since they're almost seen more as a luxury version of the dog.

Date: 2013-12-07 02:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayun.livejournal.com
The next-to-last paragraph is good.

Bones is good. I'm glad he's a sturdy hardy little bear who will continue to make you and all of Hollywood (or wherever you live) happy for years and years to come.

Date: 2013-12-07 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brigid.livejournal.com
i hope so! it's crazy, a neighbor of ours has 2 frenchies that were given to them by some producer and before he was given the dogs they racked up 30k in medical expenses (one of them is a fad color) which is insane. while bones isn't typical for what a modern frenchie "should" be, to date aside from being allergic to fleas or angsty over skateboarders he's doing very well!

Date: 2013-12-07 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crystalns.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you've had good experiences with getting your dog from a good breeder (which isn't a bad thing IMO--if, like you did, you do your research and get a dog from someoen who cares about the dogs they're breeding). Bones sounds like an absolutely awesome dog.

The part about the blankets and stuff is really cool as well, because I dunno, you just don't hear about that stuff a lot, I guess? Like you might hear about a shelter doing it sometimes but it's rare to see individuals doing it, so I think it's awesome you did that.

Date: 2013-12-07 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clevernonsense.livejournal.com
Bones!!

In my general puppy research, I found a lot of breeders in the same category as the one you had. I guess an issue they might face is if they don't also maintain the breed standards they could lose their association or ability to register their pups (or whatever the lingo is called--not really something I care about). So even great, responsible breeders have breed standards to consider that might not always align with their ethics.

That's one of the things about American Mastiffs that really appeals to me. They basically took the English Mastiff and made it a MUCH healthier animal and the entire focus of the breed is making a giant breed that's a perfect family member--I don't think they even can be shown. They live around 12 years on average, which is more than most(/all?) other giant breeds. Rachel is starting to fall in love with German Shepherds though, so we may have to fight this one out (my solution of one of each hasn't gone over so well for now).

I also feel like while adopting/rescuing is a super awesome thing to do, sometimes there are reasons why it's not the best option. It kinda irks me how judgy some people get about it.

Date: 2013-12-08 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brigid.livejournal.com
yeah i get frustrated because i've often felt -super- judged for buying Bones vs getting a rescue. i mean, i believe that there are a lot of awesome humans up for adoption but i don't give my friends who opted to have their own kids a hard time. sometimes you want what you want and having to put up with judgmental bullshit just gets tired.

from my own experience, having a german shepard was a fucking nightmare. it could've just been the one we had, or the fact i named it Loki, but good lord I never had a dog that was a bigger pain in the ass or required constant stimulation. plus they're one of the few breeds that always seems to get aggressive with the beat so i think that's also colored my view of them. but the american mastiff sounds great. we met one when we were in Seattle and it was seriously like a huge version of Bones, just more chill.

i know i give you guys shit on facebook about just getting a dog already but i really do think it's awesome that it's something you're not rushing in to

Date: 2013-12-08 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayun.livejournal.com
Actually, on that point - one of the biggest reasons I'm wary of purebred dogs is that they all seem to have really common, fairly severe health problems related to the fact that they've been so carefully bred to an aesthetic standard. Sounds like, with some carefully-researched exceptions, bulldogs are a bad choice, and the photos in the other article give me some clues, but it seems like the breed organizations themselves are probably the most unreliable sources and...how do you even do the research?

Date: 2013-12-08 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brigid.livejournal.com
it depends on the breed organization, when i was younger and we had wolfhounds, we'd usually go to Irish Wolfhound AKC related meetups (which happened a couple times a year) and talk to other owners about their experiences with breeders. right off the bat that was an easy way to figure out what breeder had closest to what we were looking for since we got to talk to pet owners instead of breeders.

from there talking to vets was usually a good option since for the most part your local vet had a pretty high chance of seeing most of the dogs from breeder x and they might be able to give you input on their experiences with a certain breeder/bloodline. same thing for rescues since most purebred rescues aren't typically healthy/happy dogs so they might be able to say "yeah i've noticed i get a lot of dogs from breeder x that seem to have heart problems/allergies/behavioral issues/etc"

going to a dog park can be a great way to see dogs, interact with owners, and find out where they got their dogs. they are also a great place to hear breed/breeder horror stories.


these days mailing lists and meetup and even reddit are great ways to find out about local breeders and people's experiences with them since again you can talk to pet owners vs breed organizations or other breeders. pretty much every breed as a subreddit or meetup group where you can get a ton of advice about breeders/vets/general questions...they're very useful tools. even talking to other breeders can be a good idea since while not every organization is 100% committed to the "right" standard for the dogs, most breeders don't want to breed super unhealthy dogs since on a totally economic note, most respected purebred breeders should offer you some sort of health insurance on their puppies so if they have a shitty line going they're going to pay for it. a really legit breeder will generally not talk unnecessary shit about their competition since ideally they will be cross breeding -with- their competition to ensure that their bloodlines aren't kept unique to their own brand since that will be the #1 flag that they're doing some serious inbreeding.

with frenchies, right now the biggest ways to go against the breed standard are the fad colors, which are achieved solely through inbreeding or breeding for specific traits, so if a breeder sells a fad color you know that they are selling overpriced dogs that are unhealthy. if someone has rares, you just should know to walk away. (this is a case where going against the standard is really bad. with some breeds like the olde english bulldogge or the american mastiff obviously going against the standard is better...but again if you do your research and talk to other owners, you'll be equipped to make your own decision)

another way to tell if a breeder is on the up and up is how many dogs they have for sale at a given time, if they'll let you come to their breeding facility, if they seem just as picky about you as you are about them (since a good breeder will want to make sure that their dogs go to good homes vs being under any sort of pressure to unload puppies). like, if a breeder breeds 5 different types of dogs, they might be doing it more for the money vs any real love for the breed. ideally they'll only be breeding once or twice a year at most, and ideally they'll stick to one breed. another kind of dorky way to tell is how they treat their dogs (sounds like a basic thing, but you'd be surprised how many breeders i've seen who've kept their dogs in a separate room, where their dogs don't respond to them which shows a lack of interaction) or even how into the breed they seem.

With Bones, we met his parents and grandmother who were all super healthy and happy. The dogs and the puppies got to play indoors and outdoogs and clearly responded to the breeder in a positive manner. in addition she only bred/showed frenchies (aside from doing dressage which is totally unrelated), other Socal breeders spoke VERY highly of her, she has a strict neuter/spade policy, and she had a ton of french bulldog tchotkes which was also a good sign she actually -liked- the breed as something more than a money making venture.

plus there is just looking at the dogs.
Edited Date: 2013-12-08 09:48 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-12-08 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brigid.livejournal.com
(get aggressive with the bear, not the beat.)

Date: 2013-12-09 09:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clevernonsense.livejournal.com
Thanks! We totally would have pulled the trigger last summer but Rachel's summer schedule suddenly went from "relatively easy and can be home all the time" to "insane and will never be home" so it didn't feel like good timing! And this semester is such that no one is home for about 10-12 hours per day. So we're just trying to arrange it so I can be home 90% of the time for the first week or two, and someone will be home for most of every day for the first couple months. Considering how much I talk about puppies on facebook, I certainly merit getting some shit about it.

My family/extended family has always had german shepherds and they should all always be named Loki, but I kinda love that about them. They are just so smart, big, and energetic that you REALLY need to be an assertive and present owner. May as well just have a baby :P

Date: 2013-12-09 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynsect.livejournal.com
you're all three of you awesome. thanks for that link!

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