The “superficial charm” of show dogs

The Country-Side, November 16, 1907

“Does dog kennelling destroy the sagacity of the dog?” was the title of an unsigned article published in The Country-Side in the November 16, 1907 issue. The relevant excerpts:

The Country-Side, November 16, 1907

I note that the writer suggests not just breeding for intelligence but also awarding prizes for it – a savvy approach when pitching an idea to the dog show crowd. Selecting dogs for breeding based on cognitive abilities would hardly be a temptation for those accustomed to winning prize money for their dogs’ appearance. I did not notice any responses to the article in the issues which followed. Apparently the idea did not spark joy with breeders at the time.

2 thoughts on “The “superficial charm” of show dogs

  1. Sadly, dog shows are mostly a beauty contest, not a sport or anything else. No surprise that breeders would show no interest. The narrowing of the Collie’s head is thought to have decreased its brain size, and made it more stupid. Intelligence is valued in Border Collies, and their owners did not want them in dog shows because they were afraid breeders would emphasize looks, not talent. And syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, where the skull is too small for the brain. No doubt there are other dog breeds where appearance has been emphasized to the dog’s detriment, especially in working breeds. It would be nice to see breeding for intelligence and longer life. They could start with the winners of agility or herding contests.

  2. Renate (above) is wrong but it isn’t a mystery as to why. She is not involved in the world of purebred dogs and writes without knowing. Since this article was written, Obedience was invented and became all the rage in the purebred dog sport. Many of the top winning Poodles of the day were soon sporting Obedience titles because of dedicated dog breeder, Ms. Blanche Saunders. Many more breeds followed as breeders and owners became interested in promoting the intelligence of their lines. Now we have all kinds of venues for demonstrating a dog’s intelligence and we do! Many champion dogs are also champions in other disciplines within the sport of purebred dogs. I just watched a herding trial for Collies where they masterfully guided the sheep into their awaiting pens. Currently (in my own dog club) are three rough collies working on their Utility Dog Certificate. They are _far from being stupid and they are all champions. It is very easy to slam something which is not understood. The people actually involved in the purebred dog world are dedicated to healthy, well-adjusted dogs and we are having the time of our lives, working with the dogs that we love and preserving them for future generations. Here’s a great article:

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