May 19, 2007
Dysgenic California Legislation Against Non-Pure Bred Dogs

Friends of Fido, Rover, and Lassie unite against a bad idea for dogs.

Assembly Bill 1634, which requires dogs over four months of age to be spayed or neutered, passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on April 24 by a vote of 7 to 3. The bill, sponsored by Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, requires dog owners to have their dogs spayed or neutered at their own expense. Registered, purebred dogs are exempt from the requirement. The bill has been re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

The goal of this California state legislation is likely to reduce the number of dogs euthanized in dog pounds and shelters. So Levine wants to reduce the killing of dogs. A laudable goal. But he hasn't thought through the consequences.

First off, he doesn't just restrict breeding to purebreds. He restricts breeding to registered purebreds. Now, the registered purebred societies have generated monster dogs in search of stupid ideal breed designs. Look at the flattening of the bull dog face. That's sadistic. So is the current bull dog body shape. From an engineering standpoint it is stupid. Or look at the short hind quarters of German Shepherds. Or how about the unnaturally much more narrow snout of today's rough collies? Lassie's descendants are probably dumber as a consquence of the skull shrink caused by the pursuit of a narrower snout. How about thinking of the quality of life of dogs before creating freak show animals and calling them normal?

When I first read that Australian Shepherds (note to Australian readers: they are an American breed that probably started out with Aussie herding dogs that were brought to California during the gold rush) were going to become an AKC registered breed I was angry. Oh no, those upper middle class ladies who like to parade highly primped dogs around at dog shows are going to ruin yet another excellent breed developed for herding (including herding of yours truly). I think the esthetic breeder types have a lot to answer for. Their in-breeding and pursuit of breed standards that can only be described as Frankensteinish should not be encouraged with state legislation.

My late great Australian Shepherd Oakley never got registered (and when I say great I'm describing the consensus of a lot of people who were more objective about him than I was). Under Lloyd Levine's law Oakley, as a non-registered dog, would be barred from breeding in the state of California. Instead, show dogs would breed and anyone who wanted to buy a dog would be required to choose among dogs that upper class dog show ladies find suitable. I do not want to live in that sort of world.

Among the consequences of Levine's proposal: New breeds could not be created. Any mixed breed dog that was the first attempt at creating a new breed would get neutered. Also, any breeds that exist today without recognition by the AKC or similar breed association would become an evolutionary dead end that would go extinct after the current living generation.

Levine's proposal fits a larger pattern where the big organizations called governments force more behavior to take place within the context of controls and rules of other big organizations. Want to breed a dog? Gotta get that dog registered and you can only register dogs that fit the arbitrary breed guidelines of existing associations. So the proposal pushes us toward a more bureaucratic society and a more dysgenic one to boot. Tell your elected officials to find another way to reduce dog over-population.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 May 19 01:11 PM  Evolution Animals Helpers

purenoiz said at May 19, 2007 7:09 PM:

is it a requirement that all legislators propose stupid abusive laws??
My aussie mix is the best dog ever. PERIOD
Iwould hate to think that I couldn't have a dog just like her in the future due to this eugenic idea.

Wolf-Dog said at May 19, 2007 7:26 PM:

Is it possible that the dog breeders have an interest in convincing the legislators to invent this law? After all, such a law would increase the demand for the expensive dogs that are sold by breeders?

But are there also less intrusive methods such as birth control pills for dogs?

Robert Schwartz said at May 19, 2007 8:37 PM:

The whole structure of ideas behind the AKC breeding philosophy is the last surviving example of 19th century racialist ideology (purity of bloodlines) and deserves only scorn.

Randall Parker said at May 19, 2007 8:51 PM:

Robert Schwartz,

I have no problem with the existence of distinct dog breeds. Breeds exist because of specialization of labor. It makes sense for, say, a herder to want to keep retriever genes or hunting genes out of his herding dog bloodline. This is practical.

I even have a favorite breed: Australian Shepherds. I even have a second most favorite breed: Border Collies. But I think the show breeders have chosen bad breed standards in many cases just from the standpoint of basic body architecture. Plus, they've pursued those features so hard that they've increased the frequencies of harmful alleles. Also, they've ignored other features of dogs and in the process have made dumb breeds and breeds with problematic personalities.

Show breeders aren't the only ones making problematic dogs. Look at the people breeding pit bulls and rottweilers for aggressive personalities. This gets people killed.

Beto Chavez said at May 19, 2007 8:56 PM:

It's a good idea. I agree with it...I wish they would also apply it to some people -- retarded children, people who go to jail, go on welfare, illegal immigrants...etc.

Wolf-Dog said at May 19, 2007 9:38 PM:

I was under the impression that at least for Labradors (which are my favorite dogs), in order to win a championship, the dog must have a lot more than physical perfection. I believe that they also test for health, as well as personality, intelligence, special skills, etc. Good Labrador breeders try to perfect all qualities such a temperament and intelligence.

Jerry Martinson said at May 21, 2007 12:11 AM:

I have no real knowledge of modern dog breeding but I've often thought of much of the aesthetics of it as an "echo" of an era from long ago when large portions of society confused superficial appearance with what's inside. It's hard to deny that there are strong parallels to traditional dog breeding goals focused on superficial traits and racism, specifically racist eugenics. That it continues to this day really reveals a lot about serious flaws in human critical thinking skills when it comes being irrationally biased on physical appearance. Having attended a very left-wing college and lived in liberal areas most of my life, I have heard leftist academics "deconstruct" all sorts of seemingly innocuous things into "crypto-racsim", etc... and most of the time it seems like they are deluded idiots who'd see a hidden swastika in any Rorschach ink-blot test. However, when my wife watches these dog shows on TV I keep thinking it's half way between some sort of beauty pageant and a Nazi-esqe phrenology evaluation.

It's not uncommon for people to have fallen in love with a particular breed of dog after having a good experience with one as a child. I must have dozens of friends who will mindlessly get another dog of the same breed but what they get is a dog that sucks because they bought the dog on appearance (and papers) alone without spending some time to evaluate the behavior. I've also had friends with ailing 14 year old pit bulls who couldn't get a place to rent or a homeowners insurance policy because physiognomy/canine racism is not only politically correct but de facto and de juro law.

I can understand the motivations for the bill: to reduce unwanted dogs which cause substantial financial cost to California and elsewhere. Dogs are animals and to compare doggie racism to human racism isn't fair. But it still is creepy that so many people accept it without seeing that what they are saying about dogs is following the same logic that Nazi's applied to people. Apparently there are many people creeped out about this kind of thing as a prominent sub-theme in JK Rowling's Harry Potter books seems to be a veiled attack on aristocratic dog breeding/human blood purity parallels.

I did see a NOVA show a few years back that talked about dog breeding a bit. Interestingly they did talk of a Russian researcher that bred wolves on personality alone and noted physiognomic changes in the wolves that were "friendly" that made them look more like dogs.

Ned said at May 21, 2007 8:51 AM:

How about a bill that requires all legislators to be spayed or neutered at their own expense? Seems like a good idea to me!

Brock said at May 21, 2007 9:01 AM:

This is probably one of the few posts on Futurepundit I have unequivocally agreed with. This is a very dumb law, for exactly the reasons that Randall puts forth. My dog (a mutt) is ten times the dog most show dogs are, and much more worthy of breeding.

As a more general matter, delegation of standards-setting to private, non-democractic & capital markets-unaccountable bodies is generally a bad idea.

As a more general matter, this law is good example of "Government butting in where basic liberties should prevail."

Randall Parker said at May 21, 2007 7:42 PM:

Again, I do not see dog breeding as racism. I think people should refrain from drawing excessive numbers of parallels with Nazism.

Men are more attracted to prettier women, Is that racism? Nazism? I do not think so. Women are more attracted to good looking guys. Is that racism?

As for always getting the same breed of dog: People do the same with cars. Is that racism? How about with brands of shoes? Racism? There's lots of brand loyalty because people base decisions on what they know about and they have very limited partial information. I see nothing wrong with doing that. Seems practical. Saves time.

Garson O'Toole said at May 22, 2007 2:48 AM:

Genetic knowledge concerning dogs continues to grow since the first full genome sequence of a dog was completed in 2005. This new information may substantially alter future dog breeding strategies. Consider this excerpt from a recent posting at Technology Review:

MetaMorphix, which also does genetic testing for the American Kennel Club, is now starting to use its canine DNA database to hunt for genetic variations linked to diseases. Its first target is chronic hip dysplasia, a degenerative joint disease most often seen in large breeds, such as German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, rottweilers, Great Danes, and golden retrievers. "Eventually, people buying dogs could use this test to ensure their dog is not predisposed to this disease," says Quattlebaum. "And breeders could use it to try to breed [that variation] out of their dogs."
This suggests that the selection pressures imposed by dog breeders will become more intricate and precise as knowledge accumulates.

Bob Badour said at May 22, 2007 10:22 AM:


While pressures may become more intricate and precise, I don't see why one should conclude they will become any more humane or sensible.

Randall Parker said at May 22, 2007 8:46 PM:


I agree with Bob. Sure, breeders will breed out hip dysplasia, deafness, and some other medical problems. But they won't breed out structural defects that are breed standards until the breed standards change.

Also, they will make each breed so uniform as to be boring.

R Morgan said at May 28, 2007 3:02 AM:

This bill isn't all roses for the registered dog owners either, it allows only "puppy mills" to breed dogs.. read below.

1)Responsible Breeders will Disappear
Most purebred dogs and cats in California are raised by hobby breeders who have occasional litters in their homes. The requirements for a breeder exemption are so harsh most California hobby breeders could not comply. They do not qualify for a business license in most jurisdictions and, therefore, could not receive an exemption. Without this large pool of responsible breeders Californians will have to rely on corporate or out-of-state breeders (puppy mills)as their only source of purebred pets.

2)Many Breeds Will Disappear
Many working dogs, and rare breeds of dogs and cats, are not "registered" with any registry. Even as purebreds, they could not be exempt from AB 1634 and, as a result of mandatory sterilization, their lines would die (yes extinction) out in California. Even if they could be registered as purebreds, most working or service dogs would not be exempt because they do not "compete" nor are they "being trained" before they are 4 months old. They would, therefore, fail any tests for an exemption and would have to be sterilized. Most future working and service dogs would have to come from out-of-state as certified trained adults. Californians would no longer be able own and train such animals as puppies. The bill will eliminate working dogs.

3) AB 1634 Will Cost Californians a Fortune
Shelter populations, rather than decreasing, will increase as fewer citizens are willing to take in stray animals resulting in significant increased costs for animal shelters throughout the state. In order to assure compliance with AB 1634's complex requirements every local jurisdiction in California will have to increase its enforcement staff

AB 1634 provides a limited exemption for non-residents visiting the state. Many out-of-state residents will not risk confiscation of their show animal. As a result tourism will suffer and dog and cat shows will cease to exist in California. Currently there are thousands of cat and dog shows held in California every year. Millions of dollars are spent at these events for entry fees, hotels, meals and supplies. Vendors who sell millions of dollars worth of goods at these shows will lose their livelihood and the state will lose the sales tax.

4)The Authors' of AB 1634 Don't Understand
The authors' of AB 1634 labor under the fallacy that the competitive show ring is what determines whether a cat or dog is worthy of breeding. That is simply not true. Many breeders choose not to show an animal until it is mature. In slow maturing breeds that may not happen until the animal is 3 or 4 years old. Working farm dogs are important to our agricultural industry, but they never compete. Other animals who have great genetics and strong breeding potential may never get to compete due to career ending injuries that disqualify them from competing but do not negatively impact the benefits they can contribute to their breed. None of these animals could qualify for an AB 1634 "intact permit" and their superior genetics would be lost forever.

IDK said at December 11, 2011 4:08 PM:

They should take that off. My dog can be participating in competitions right now. :(

Andy said at November 11, 2012 7:43 PM:

Wow. I can see why you're upset about this bill. It's a slap in the face to dog owners and responsible breeders. What ever happened to it? Did it pass?

- Andy

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