Iron silhouette sculptures in Heidelberg, Germany, depicting Boxers with cropped ears and docked tails, practices now prohibited by German law.
Sat, 05/07/2022 - 7:56am

Paranoid or Simply Realistic?

Purebred-dog fanciers should stand up and fight for what they believe in, says Geir Flyckt-Pedersen

Hopefully I was not the only person about to cry when reading about all these new, so-called “health checks” imposed on the world of dog shows in Europe.

It is a sad fact that, historically, whenever there have been attacks on the world of purebred dogs and dog shows, instead of standing up and fighting, the kennel clubs in many countries, including the U.K., have just rolled over and thus admitted guilt. While as the sovereign authorities in this field, they should have stood their ground.

I think most of us, when actively showing and breeding dogs, were so caught up in all the hustle and bustle to do so successfully, we left the field open to those, in my opinion, unqualified organizations and fanatics whose only ambition seemingly is to erase anything involved with the preservation or improvement of purebred dogs.

I am old enough to remember when the ear-cropping ban was enforced in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, which came as a shock to many people who were unaware of the “underground” forces that had been lobbying politicians for decades.

But as with any legal restrictions, breeders of particularly Boxers and Dobes found ways around it, as dogs could still be shown cropped as long as born in a country where no ban existed! And for the Nordic countries, Finland was the place to go. Many bitches were transferred to Finnish owners and reportedly whelped their litters on the ferry between Finland and Sweden.

Eventually even the Finnish pro-cropping campaigners lost their fight. But still no ban on showing the dogs, for which I give the kennel clubs credit!

I think the U.K. must have had a very different set of rules at the time and suspect that cropping was not banned in general, but cropped dogs could not be shown, whether imported or not.

But a number of fabulous Dobes from the famous Tavey establishment and Boxers carrying that quality prefix Witherford came cropped to Scandinavia and did really well.

And all this of course caused a lot of unrest between those who, if at times reluctantly, followed the new law and those with resources to bypass the restrictions.

Lots of breeders were considering simply giving up the breeds involved, as they firmly believed that the “new” ear carriage would destroy the breeds’ popularity. Which I think for a while it probably did.

Then for years we heard quiet murmurs about the “underground” forces lobbying politicians to extend the cropping ban to even include tail docking. But again, those of us who should have stood up fighting believed it would never happen due to the fact that the “hunting brigade” opposed it. And they were a force to be reckoned with in any kennel-club activity. Obviously the cropping hadn’t affected their breeds, but tail docking would.

As we all know, in the ’80s docking was banned in most FCI countries. But as recently as up to a couple of years ago, dogs born in countries where docking was still legal could be shown anywhere.

So again we experienced a conflict of interest, as those docked would definitely have an advantage in the show ring. Which I think they had.

However, it is a fact that a large number of breeds were “abandoned” by longtime, serious and successful breeders. For a variety of reasons.

And many of those who decided to carry on had to spend lots of money on emergency amputation of injured tails on adult dogs ….

It always intrigued me that more or less every year in the months prior to Crufts, some British tabloid came up with horror stories about those totally selfish breeders and exhibitors of pedigree dogs. Normally initiated by a disgruntled person fired by a famous breeder, dog paper – or even the kennel club. And as usual, all the material fed was swallowed by the readers without reservations.

Never ever can I recall anybody from within our community or kennel club coming out with any kind of defense. I think the policy and idea was that by ignoring the accusations it would all just evaporate and disappear into the atmosphere.

But it didn’t, which again was proved by that so destructive BBC program all those years ago – and then again illustrated by that ridiculous tail-lifting incident at Crufts.

That you are not supposed to swing a cat by the tail is something we all know, but what a terrier tail can tolerate is a totally different story.

It is my personal opinion that the Swedes carry some responsibility for these crazy new rules, as they started this system that when judging breeds where certain issues were highlighted by the fanatic purebred opponents, you were handed a form to fill in if any of these points had reason for attention. I was very lucky not to find any reason to report any problems …

And that’s the truth.

Regarding animal welfare in general, there are so many areas which could easily justify stricter rules and regulations. I don’t think that we in the world of pedigree dogs (from responsible breeders) should just sit down and accept these attacks.

I also think it is very interesting when I read somewhere a while ago that French Bulldogs based on veterinarian statistics have more problems than most other breeds. But how many of these are bred by responsible breeders – and not just arrived in hundreds across the borders from other countries?

Using the right tactics, I think you can prove anything by statistics, but there again, I have not been able to find any comments or corrections from the authorities we expect to respect and protect our “sport,” hobby or passion.

I have no clue or any suggestions to protect and conserve our sport, but just wonder if any kennel club anywhere in the world has lobbyists on their payroll? Who can actively and forcefully give relevant and understandable information to the politicians and lawmakers who have absolutely no idea of who we are and what we stand for?

And therefore just follow the only advice and information they get at this point in time – all coming from the groups so inadvertently calling themselves Animal Rights Activists!

And repeat again and again those words spoken by Pat Trotter: “All pets are not show dogs. But all show dogs are pets.”

Until next time …



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