My thoughts on the Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show

As a dog lover, I try to watch everything on TV about dogs. I have a real thirst for knowledge and the view point of others.

But this year the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was not on my list of things to watch. You see, late last week the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show announced that they were dropping Pedigree Brand Dog Food as its sponsor of almost a quarter of a century.

While it’s a free country, and they have every right to do it, I found the reasoning behind the decision a tad bit strange! It seams that they did it because Pedigree’s advertising direction (focusing on stray and abandoned dogs) is “too depressing” for them.

If you’ve been on a different planet, or just haven’t seen one of them, Pedigree’s more recent commercials focus on pet adoption by using emotional stories that tell about the lives of shelter dogs that have been abandoned, neglected or in some cases even abused.

This direction obviously doesn’t align with the kennel club’s showcase animals. They are into the pure-bred dogs with registered and distinguished bloodlines. (ironically this kind of dog is referred to as having a pedigree). WKC is obviously not about lovable mutts. It seams that they are only interested in and only want the top 1% of dogs. (After all, have you ever seen a mutt class at their show?)

The club’s director of communications David Frei, stating in a recent New York Times article that they want  “…people to think of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives” and went on to say,  “Show me an ad with a dog and a smile; don’t shame me” (NYTimes.com, 2012).

David, wouldn’t you say that saving a dog from utter destruction is a pretty good way to have a “celebration of the dogs in our lives?” After all, we can’t all afford a million dollar show dog!

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with a few “happy” and “upbeat” ads aired WITH the current Pedigree spots? And, I know they have them, because I see them everyday. The one that mentions nutrition and say something like: “From the tip of their nose to their wiggly butt” comes to mind.

While it’s sad that the show has decided to part ways with Pedigree for reasons that seem strange at best, the worst thing about it is that the adoption ads that Pedigree airs have had a tremendous impact on the numbers of pets being adopted. In 2007, Pedigree received $500,000 in pledges after the ads were shown over the course of the two-day show.

In a time when thousands of dogs are put down every day only because they don’t have a home, we are ashamed and saddened that the dog show has ended its partnership with Pedigree without finding some kind of middle ground. As a result, this puts thousands of shelters and rescues all over the county much shorter on the funds they need and the dogs that need these funds are at serious risk and may not live long enough to find a forever home.

What I find really disturbing is that while they (WKC) finds Pedigree’s ads depressing, they don’t have any problem allowing some of their members to “Breed IN” genetic problems and defects into their lines of “show” dogs. One case was recently brought to my attention through a website I visited.

It was about a merle Collie that is a Best of Breed winner at Westminster and currently ranked as the number one Collie in the USA.  The dog is a merle Collie who was sired by A double merle Collie who is BLIND and DEAF. The dog was intentionally bred so that he would ALWAYS produce litters of all merle puppies.

For those who may not know, “merle” is not a coat color. It is actually the definition of an incomplete dominant gene that controls coat color in dogs. Breeding two merle dogs together statistically results in 25% of the resulting litter being double merles. Puppies that result from double merle breeding are often smaller and the litters will frequently have stillborn puppies.

In most countries the breeding of two merles is forbidden due to the probability of the resulting puppies having severe health problems including:

– Deafness – from birth or will happen as the dog ages.
– Iris Coloboma – part of the iris is missing
– Corectopia – off center pupil
– Microphthalmia – Abnormally small eye(s)
– Anophthalmia – absence of eye(s)
– Blindness – blind from birth or may go blind as they age

(Read the full Story about merles) at: http://networkedblogs.com/tX0sN?a=share&ref=nf )

If you would like to let the club know what you think or if you agree with them, here is the contact info from their website.

Westminster Kennel Club
Director of Communications
David Frei
(212) 213-3212
david@westminsterkennelclub.org

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2 thoughts on “My thoughts on the Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful and excellent post, which runs with my line of thinking. We need to base discussion of dog breeding as not a beauty contest. The most important factor is what you write about here, dogs health and not breeding more dogs than there are good homes for.

    Sharing this now.

  2. Wow. This is a very enlightening article. I had no idea. I’m glad I didn’t watch it. I did hear about the merle issue. It is so sad that some people are so stuck up that they care more about how the dog looks and how much attention it gets them rather than about the dog itself. Or that they put so much emphasis on their uppity purebred dogs without a care for the real dogs in our lives. They may be ‘ordinary’ in their view but they are extraordinary to us.

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