Dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years. The amazing companionship dogs provide is beyond anything we could ask for, but it seems that companionship is not enough.
For hundreds of years, humans have bred dogs to perform different jobs and to look distinctly different.
In a series of photos posted by Caen Elegans on Science and Dogs, reveals the “evolution” several dog breeds. The photo series shows how human’s obsession to create the “perfect canine” has made certain breeds almost unrecognizable today compared to hundreds of years ago. The breeding process has also unknowingly introduced some painful diseases in various modern-day breeds.
According to the Science of Dogs, humans have to date “designed” at least 167 different dog breeds. A breed “evolves” by identifying preferred traits – such as size, coat and demeanor.
Using the current methods of breeding, humans are slowly mutating and disfiguring our furry best friends and some of the changes have caused these animals unbearable pain.
Pressure to create the “perfect dog”may be due to following the American Kennel Club standards – the official guidelines for show dogs.These standards can include eye color, paw size, body shape, ear shape, and the curve of the dog’s tail.
“Nowadays, many breeds are highly inbred and express an extraordinary variety of genetic defects as a consequence: defects ranging from anatomical problems, like hip dysplasia, that cause chronic suffering, to impaired immune function and loss of resistance to fatal diseases like cancer,” James A. Serpell, a professor of Animal Ethics and Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, told WhoWhatWhy.
“The only sensible way out of this genetic dead-end is through selective out-crossing with dogs from other breeds, but this is considered anathema by most breeders since it would inevitably affect the genetic ‘purity’ of their breeds,” Professor Serpell added.
According to Tech Insider, most of the modern day dog breeds can only be traced back about 150 years when the breeds were first registered and codified during the Victorian Era in England. During this era London experienced an industrial boom, which caused people to replace farm animals working in cities with more modern machinery.
This was also the time when humans started to view their dogs as part of the family and many moved their pooches inside their homes to become pets rather than working dogs.
Here are some dog breeds that have shown significant differences in appearance after a century of breeding. Caen Elegans notes that the photos on the left are from the 1915 book, Breeds of All Nations by W.E. Mason while the ones on the right are from multiple resources.
This dog breed is essentially a cross between the Bulldog and the Old English Terrier, but there is also a bit of Spanish Pointer in the bloodline.
The Bull Terrier breed originated in 1830 and was bred to attack bulls in combat sports. By 1850 they had been replaced by the White Cavalier and have since been used for a variety of purposes, including guard dogs, ratters, herders and watchdogs.
“It seems incredible that at one time the Bull Terrier was a handsome, athletic dog. Somewhere along its journey to a mutated skull and thick abdomen the bull terrier also picked up a number of other maladies like supernumerary teeth and compulsive tail-chasing,” says Caen Elegans in Science and Dogs.
This is a short-legged, long-bodied dog breed that belongs to the hound family.
The standard size Dachshund was bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature Dachshund was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits.
“The Dachshund used to have functional legs and necks that made sense for their size. Backs and necks have gotten longer, chest jutted forward and legs have shrunk to such proportions that there is barely any clearance between the chest and floor,” Eleganssays.“The Dachschund has the highest risk of any breed for intervertebral disc disease which can result in paralysis; they are also prone to achondroplastic related pathologies, PRA and problems with their legs.”
The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular breeds due to both his wonderful personality and versatility in the jobs he performs.
German Shepherds have a distinctive look with their plush coats, long tails and pricked ears.
“In Dogs of All Nations, the GSD is described as a medium-sized dog (25 kg /55 lb), this is a far cry from the angulated, barrel-chested, sloping back, ataxic, 85-pounders (38 kg) we are used to seeing in the conformation ring. There was a time when the GSD could clear a 2.5 meter (8.5 ft) wall; that time is long gone,” Elegans explained.
This breed is solid, stocky and medium sized with powerful jaws. The Boxer is used for search and rescue, police and military work.
Over the years, the Boxer dog’s snout has become shorter and has become slightly turned up.
The Boxer – like all bracecyphalic dogs – has difficulty controlling his temperature in hot weather and this limits his physical performance, according to Science and Dogs. The breed also has one of the highest cancer rates.
This dog breed is moderate in size, heavy, and built low to the ground. Bulldogs are strong, kind, amiable and brave dogs.
“A 2004 survey by the Kennel Club found that they die at the median age of 6.25 years (n=180). There really is no such thing as a healthy Bulldog,”writes Caem Elegans.
The leading cause of death is cardiac arrest, cancer and old age.
A recent survey in 2013 found the median life span of the Bulldog has increased to 8.4 years with some living to 11. 3 years.
In the 1600s, the monks of Great St. Bernard Pass kept large sized dogs to use as draft animals and guard dogs. The dogs were used as rescue dogs in the 1700s.
The Saint Bernard dogs feature a large blocky head with big jowls, long fluffy tail and a plush coat.
“Once a noble working dog, the modern St. Bernard has been oversized, had its faced squished in, and bred for abundant skin,” Caen Elegans writes. “You will not see this type of dog working, they can’t handle it as they quickly overheat. The diseases include entropion, ectropion, Stockard’s paralysis, hemophilia, osteosarcoma, aphakia, fibrinogen deficiency.”
This dog breed is one of the most recognized and popular breeds across the world. Their flat face combined with triangular ears and curled tail gives them a friendly and comical appearance.
Pugs are often at risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, low oxygenation, difficulty breathing, tendency to overheat, dentition problems, and skin fold dermatitis.
According to Science and Dogs, the Pug’s highly desirable double-curl tail is actually a genetic defect, which in more serious forms it leads to paralysis.
This leaves us wondering if we’ve been good family members to our canine companions.