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Animal Rights 2: Selective Breeding

Updated on September 1, 2015

What is it?

Selective breeding can be easily defined as anything that involves human input and intervention during reproduction of a species. This doesn't just mean cross-breeding or "mix-breeding" to create a new breed or to keep the "cute" or "desirable" physical characteristics. Such as in the case of the Greyhound, who are bred for their speed. I have chosen to focus this piece on the selective breeding of dogs, however, other animals and even plants can be selectively bred.

1890's Bulldog scull compared to modern day Bulldog scull.

On the left is a Bulldog scull from the 1890's. On the right is a more modern day Bulldog scull.
On the left is a Bulldog scull from the 1890's. On the right is a more modern day Bulldog scull. | Source

"We've made them cuter, but they can't breathe"

Some of you may look at the comparison in the photo above and think very little of the physical differences. However, the 1890's dog scull on the left most likely had very little to no health problems. He most likely lived a very long, happy life and then passed away from old age.

The more modern day dog on the right was most likely not as lucky. I'm sure he lived with a nice family who loved him and played with him. But, he probably suffered from multiple diseases and other health problems.

With the physical changes like in the muzzle of a Bull Dog certain health problems can arise. "...cardiac and respiratory disease, hip dysplasia, cherry eye, and other concerns. They are extremely susceptible to heat problems, can easily drown in swimming pools or other water, and require daily cleaning of their skin folds to avoid problems".
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Any dog or cat that is brachycephalic (When the skull bones are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a "pushed in" appearance)will suffer from many of the same health problems. This trait is part of the selectively bred trait list and may be cute to humans, but is torture for the animal.


The selective breeding story of the running machine!

Greyhounds are naturally fast and agile, which is why many proprietors only view them as money makers. The dogs are produced in large quantities so that the "breeders" have enough to choose from. Unlike the Bulldog, the Greyhound isn't necessarily selectively bred to improve his looks. In general, a breeder will choose two of his fastest and most successful racing dogs and breed them. Their offspring are then expected to be even faster (and so on and so forth). Those who are not fast enough or don't have the "ribbon winning" characteristics are often times dumped at a shelter; left to die, or killed on the spot. I have included two real-life examples of the horror I'm talking about.

Greyhound races are still going on in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia.There have also been cases in the UK. Life for a racing greyhound is a hard one. If they aren't racing, they are usually housed in stacked crates for 20 or more hours per day. Racing is also incredibly dangerous. After being confined for so long in a crate without proper nutrition or care, the dogs are then thrown onto the racetrack where many end up injured. "Injuries include severed toes, broken legs, spinal cord paralysis, broken necks and cardiac arrest. And because so many dogs are kept in close quarters, contagious respiratory diseases can sweep through kennels, affecting both racing schedules and adoption efforts when a kennel is quarantined."

The following two stories are from:

  1. In a horrific example of the industry’s cruelty, in 2002 the remains of approximately 3,000 greyhounds from Florida racetracks were discovered on the Alabama property of a former racetrack security guard who had been “retiring” unwanted greyhounds with a .22-caliber rifle for more than 40 years. The attorney for the accused said, “If there’s anybody to be indicted here, it’s the industry because this is what they’re doing to these animals. The misery begins the day they’re born. The misery ends when my client gets a hold of them and puts a bullet in the head.”
  2. In a similar case in the U.K., an undercover investigation by the Sunday Times revealed that a builder’s merchant had been taking healthy greyhounds who had been judged by their trainers to be too slow to race, killing them with a bolt gun, and burying them in a 1-acre plot behind his home. The paper estimated that the man had killed more than 10,000 dogs over a 15-year span.


Adopt a retired race dog! Help stop the vicious cycle.

This cartoon demonstrates a real-life possible outcome for these poor animals. Making these beautiful dogs race and be overworked until they are deemed useless is a crime. It's a crime for mankind to care more about entertainment and physical traits than the health and well-being of an animal, any animal. It's also a crime to then take those deemed useless and end their lives at the young ages of 18 months-4 years just because they aren't profitable anymore. Help stop this cycle. Adopt a retired race dog and give him the life he deserves.


Ways to help

  • Do not attend, or support dog races
  • Educate others of the animal welfare and safety concerns
  • Adoption
  • Work with the ASPCA to pass legislation that prohibits Greyhound racing. Stay up-to-date about current legislation to end Greyhound racing by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.


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    • crazycatlady7 profile image

      Bailey DeWitt 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY

      Exactly. Let them mate with who they want!

    • profile image

      bella 2 years ago

      Sometimes, it just boils down to the old cliche, "leave well enough alone".