I don’t think most people really care about their pets, in the sense of them being three dimensional entities of their own. For all practical purposes, a dog or a cat is a two dimensional entity to you, that serves one purpose in your life: It exists to be cute. If people accepted dogs as beings of their own, with their own will and feelings, there wouldn’t be such a thing as “dog breeds”. Fundamentally, the bigger problem is that people see dogs as their property. Dogs are animals with an entirely different mind than ours, so we’ll always struggle to empathize with them, but it would be most fair if we went about treating them the way we treat two year old children.
A dog is not meant to be a person’s property. It’s the nature of canids that they seek out alliances with other large mammals. Wolves and bears will hunt together. Some apes will adopt dog puppies and raise them. Dogs and apes are often found to be good at tolerating each other’s presence. At some point in history, dogs began to hang out around humans, eating our waste. Over time, this led to what we call domestication: Dogs become friendlier and more docile.
Eventually, humans and dogs actively began to work together. Some dogs would help humans hunt, some dogs would guard, yet other dogs would pull sleds or carts, other dogs would simply get rid of vermin. Dogs almost always had a meaningful role in society, a thing to do. Over time, if generations of dogs do the same job, then their bodies will change to become good at said job. That’s what happened to dogs. Just as the Inuit have bodies that are good at surviving in the Arctic, the Tibetans have bodies that’ are good at surviving in mountains and Europeans have bodies that are well fitted for eating cereal grains and practicing agriculture, dogs adapted to the jobs they would do. Because they’re sexually mature at a much earlier age than humans, this all happened pretty rapidly.
If you traveled around the world in the 19th century, you would notice that dogs look different in different places. However, there would be no such thing as a “dog breed”. People hadn’t invented such a thing yet. You simply had dogs with different jobs. In the late 19th century, as people figured out genetics, they began to apply the principles of genetics to dogs, to gradually design dogs that fit whatever expectations they have of them. In the process, a mutually beneficial relationship turned into a cruel form of slavery.
People began holding competitions where they would have “breed standards”, those dogs that won these competitions would then go on to sire the most offspring. This leads to a big problem. In nature, most of the time, there’s a comparatively small standard deviation in reproduction. A bitch will raise two puppies into adulthood on average. Some might be relatively successful and raise three or four, others might fail and raise just one or even none. But now, dogs were classified into “good” and “bad” dogs, not depending on whether they are healthy or not, but based on how they happen to look.
Now dogs that were perfectly healthy would not breed because they didn’t fit people’s expectations, while a small minority of dogs, sired all the offspring. This is not how things work in nature for any species that takes care of its offspring. Almost all the animals that make it into adulthood should breed, to make sure that genetic diversity is preserved. When you don’t have that, you lose genetic diversity in every generation, ensuring that health gradually goes into decline. Most commonly this leads to immune problems. On average, 90% of genetic diversity in dog breeds is lost over six generations.
With dogs we didn’t allow them to mate on their own inclination. Rather, we created a new occupation: Dog breeder. You could now make a living by mating different dogs together, other people would then buy those dogs from you. As long as this process continues, genetic diversity declines every generation. That’s why over time dog breeds tend to develop worsening health problems and some dog breeds go extinct altogether.
Here you can see the results. The above is how a bull terrier used to look, the below is what a bull terrier looks like now. You are for all practical purposes just dealing with an animal that humans bred to become deformed. If you wonder why I’m a misanthrope, just look at how man treats his self-proclaimed “best friend”. You take them to competitions, a judge decides which of these dogs look good, you then force those dogs to reproduce (typically raping the bitch in the process), spay the other dogs (lol it’s just a dog amirite, it’s not as if screwing up its hormones might screw up its brain and turn formerly aggressive energetic animals into passive depressed shadows of themselves that spend the whole day laying on your couch) and you end up creating monsters, with deformed tails, skulls too small for their brains, hearts that swell up and kill them before they’re eight and ears that scrape over the floor.
If I had a magical lamp, COVID19 would suddenly have a 100% fatality rate and after that the genie would be set free. You think this is a joke, but it’s 100% serious and I have to refrain myself from writing post after post about this. You might think that the secret occult knowledge I got from all these psychedelics is something along the lines of “God is pure love and we are all made of stardust mann and there is a paradigm shift coming after which we will eat our own fermented diarrhea in our tiny houses and live forever sustainably and happily ever after.” Rather, I figured out we’re a cosmological error. What psychedelics have to teach you is the same as what the Buddha had to teach us: Your attachment is the cause of misery, the solution is to learn to become content with complete nothingness.
Anyway, it’s not the problem that “some dog breeds” have genetic problems, or that breed standards emphasize “unhealthy traits”. That’s just compounded stupidity. The original mistake was this idea that you should take a symbiotic sentient organism and turn it into whatever shape appeals to your eye and segregate those different groups of dogs into “breeds”. That’s where the problem began. It’s a 19th century form of thinking, based on a 19th century level of understanding of genetics. As we see so often in our society, a little bit of understanding of nature causes people to think they should try to control things that are not meant to be under human control.
For what it’s worth, humans haven’t just done this to dogs, I just feel like emphasizing dogs because they’re an animal you encounter on a daily basis. Cats suffer the same problem. At some point, someone encountered a deformed cat born without a tail and decided “I like this”. People then began breeding those cats together and we ended up as a result with the Manx cat, a cat with a mutation that makes it lose its tail. When you breed two of these cats together, 25% will die before birth because they inherit the same mutation twice. If the Manx cat was developed today, we would prohibit it as animal abuse. This dysfunctional inbred island however is as proud of its deformed inbred cats as it is of its “COVID free” status that the animal breed is artificially kept alive.
If you really want to open a can of worms however, you have to look at how humans breed the animals who stand a step below our pets: The animals we use for food. There you will find true misery, of cows bred to produce as much milk as possible, chickens who can’t stand on their legs and other misery. If you really start thinking this through, you’ll end up in a dark place pretty rapidly. Depression after all, is not a mental illness: It’s simply a neurological variety that makes you aware of inconvenient truths that other people manage to ignore. That’s why smart people on average seem more miserable than dumb people too. Depression is probably a prerequisite for enlightenment. Buying product X instead of product Y in the supermarket won’t solve this problem, even Buddhists don’t reject food with meat when it’s offered to them, as this problem is effectively intrinsic to the human condition.
There are two ways of fixing this problem. We could go for the gradualist route and decide to bring an end to the idiotic 19th century experiment known as “dog breeding”. That doesn’t mean dogs have to go extinct, although there’s something intrinsically perverse about the concept of “pets” in general. We could just have normal dogs and allow them to decide for themselves whether they want to breed or not. There are also still plenty of stray dogs out there. Those dogs generally become perfectly nice and friendly when raised around humans, especially when they’re adopted at a young age. This is what you would do if you genuinely loved dogs, but most people don’t genuinely love dogs, they just treat them as a product.
Of course my suggestion would be instead: We should set up a kickstarter to help fund Shi Zhengli’s important work on
COVID21: Electric Boogaloo gain of function research in chimeric bat corona viruses to find new mutations that lead to enhanced virulence and adaptability to human receptors. Don’t ask me how this sort of scientific research that has been going on for years benefits humanity exactly, but it’s definitely research I can get behind and I think your dog approvingly wags his tail in support too.