Yes, other animals are affected
For as long as animals have been kept domestically, humans have bred them selectively for function and appearance.
Dogs are perhaps the most obvious pets affected by selective breeding. But similar issues affect other animals such as horses, rabbits, cats, birds and fish.
Breeding for appearance
Companion animal breeding is now often based primarily on appearance. Selection for appearance in companion animals has intensified since showing competitions became popular.
- Exaggerated physical features
Exaggerated physical features can be seen in many kinds of pets and may lead to unnecessary pain, discomfort, illness and/or behavioural problems.
Exaggerated physical features include:
- extremes of size
- very long fur, or lack of fur or feathers
- short legs
- flat faces
- very long ears
- altered tail structure
And it’s not just dogs that are affected by inherited diseases. For example, some cats have an increased risk of glaucoma (a very serious eye condition), and some canaries have an increased risk of vitamin A deficiency.
These are just a couple of examples - there are many more. Just as in dogs, more research is needed to fully assess the extent of the problem in other animals.
Urgent need to change breeding practices
No animal should be bred primarily for how he/she looks, but with health, welfare, quality of life and temperament in mind.
There is an urgent need to review and reform breed standards and breeding practices for all companion animal species.
Find out more about our position on pedigree dog welfare.