Ellen Whyte is no stranger to pet lovers here in Malaysia especially among the cat lovers. A cat lover herself, she first gained a huge readership writing the book Katz Tales and she writes for The Star newspaper’s Katz Tales/Dog Talk section published on most Saturdays. I met Ellen the first time back in 2010 when she was writing on Pet Ethics. She is a strong supporter of pet/animal welfare and most of the time, you will see an adoption section as part of the Dog Talk articles.
Today, she wrote a very compelling article entitled “Defects in purebred dogs“. This article is not only relevant to dog lovers but for all animal lovers alike because it affects whatever animal that is tagged as “pedigree”.
Like the experience shared by Ellen in her article, I too received numerous inquiries about the Holland Lop breed and at times, am lost for words. We cannot deny how cute these rabbits are but each do come with certain genetic related fault. As I said, the article is very relevant to any species “governed” by any sort of “breed standards” which simply put is a set of specification of man made or human interpreted desired of a certain animal. The article can be replicated 100% except changing the subject of dogs to any other animal species.
Do not get me wrong because I also believe that like every living thing under the sun, thoughtful planning and careful handling of any subject can help eliminate/lower the risk of bad traits manifesting when animals are bred. There are reputable and ethical breeders out there, just rare. It is a very difficult balance to strike between passion and profit. I do not normally recommend breeders because I just do not have as much confident or faith in the genetic composition of the animals sold. It is heart breaking to learn after a few months or years, that the animal purchased has developed some sort of hereditary sickness. It does no good to both owner and the pet. The outcome can often end with either a broken heart or an abandoned animal.
I have often encouraged people especially starters to adopt hybrids because these are the animals that have gone through generations of “natural selection” and possess hybrid vigour – in short, stronger.
No doubt, pedigree rabbits make good pets and not everyone who have pets breed them (and some are even against breeding). For those who are aspired to be breeders, all I can say is that, know your animals well and well enough to be sure they will produce defect free offspring. You must always prepare and know the right thing to do when defect surfaces and in other words, be responsible not only as a pet owner but one who passes on animals to others.
Again, I invite you to read Ellen’s article here and to understand the extensive damage that can occur if animals are bred too fanatically “close” to “breed standards”:
A short snippet from the BBC’s Pedigree Dog Exposed Documentary:
And here is the full documentary:
The documentary also mentions “dwarf” breeds and we too have those in the rabbit world. The dwarf gene makes a rabbit cute and chubby.
The take away point in this video is one of the last quotes: