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Publication - Dr Nicola Rooney

    Deleterious effects of pedigree dog breeding on behaviour


    Rooney, N, 2016, ‘Deleterious effects of pedigree dog breeding on behaviour’., pp. 24


    Pedigree dog breeding has led to both direct welfare issues caused by selection for exaggerated
    anatomical features and indirect issues by selecting predominantly for appearance without due
    consideration of health and behaviour. This paper describes how each of these issues can impact
    negatively on the dog’s behaviour, and suitability as a companion in addition to the health implications
    commonly discussed. Anatomical features can affect the dog’s capacity to carry out normal behaviours,
    and an observation study of naturalistic dog-dog encounters suggests that dogs with very modified
    anatomical features, and reduced signalling capacity, are interacted and played with, less often than
    those with fuller signalling capacity. By selecting predominantly for physical appearance, breeders
    may also have inadvertently selected dogs ill-suited to the companion environment and with a higher
    likelihood of developing a range of behavioural problems.
    This paper highlights the lack of behavioural data and the dangers in assuming that behavioural
    differences are genetically controlled, when the effects of rearing environment may be equally strong.
    There are risks if future selection concentrates on the elimination of specific diseases, whilst still
    retaining a breed-specific phenotype, and a closed genetic pool. Future breed management plans must
    therefore take temperament into consideration, and systems to record and monitor behaviour and the
    occurrence of problems should be considered. We all, veterinarians and behaviourists alike, have a role
    to play in ensuring we safeguard the behaviour and welfare of future generations of pedigree dogs.

    Full details in the University publications repository