High-profit industry: Inbreeding of pugs, labradors skyrockets as demand goes up
Inbreeding could lead dogs to become blind, obese and develop diabetesmumbai Updated: Jun 03, 2017 10:20 IST
As the demand for certain breeds of dogs increases, pet shops and breeders have taken to inbreeding, leaving many canines with serious health problems.
Inbreeding is mating siblings, cousins and offspring with each other or their parents, said Dr JC Khanna, in charge of the Parel-based Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Hospital,
“Most people are unaware that inbreeding among animals increases the likelihood of the offspring acquiring genetic abnormalities,” Dr Khanna said.
The most common abnormalities from inbreeding in dogs are hip dislocation, blindness, diabetes and obesity.
“Several hereditary conditions and illnesses are inherited only when the pups inherit ‘recessive genes’ from both parents. Now, the likelihood of them having two parents with such genes is obviously much higher if the parents are related,” said Dr Gopal Rayate, a senior veterinary surgeon.
According to Dr Khanna, the high demand for certain breeds, such as Pugs and Labradors is one of the reasons inbreeding is happening. “It is a high-profit industry. Pugs are sold anywhere between Rs25,000 to Rs50,000. Customers who buy them however, are unaware that they are inbred,” said Dr Rayate.
Veterinarians also said pet owners with male dogs, sometimes charge a ‘mating fee’ from owners of female dogs. This discourages them to breed outside the family line. “An owner of a female German Shepherd had told me he was asked to pay Rs10,000 by a male dog’s pet owner. No one wants to pay for this. They would rather breed their dogs within the family,” said a doctor from the Bombay Veterinary College.
The lack of awareness about the risks associated with inbreeding is also a concern, especially because more and more people want pet dogs, said veterinarians.
“In India, breeding is an unorganised sector. Pet owners don’t get their dogs registered with the Indian National Kennel Club and Kennel Club of India, leading to a lack of authentic data of the dog’s genetic background,” said Dr Makarand Chavan, veterinary physician and surgeon at Dogs and Cats Veterinary Clinic, Dadar.
A pet owner HT spoke to said she learnt about the risks of inbreeding after reading an article. Sonia Vohra, 45, a resident of Malad, who owns a female pug, said she had no clue about the potential risks of inbreeding. “My family has had pets for years, but I had no idea that inbreeding increases health problems.”
Veterinarians have urged pet owners to breed their dogs more responsibly. “Inbreeding dogs is similar to how it works in humans. People must seek professional help if they want to breed their dogs. Once a dog is diagnosed with a problem that has genetic links, treatment is a challenge,” said Dr Chavan.